22
Aug, 2012

From Scientific American:

Most teachers would agree that it is important that students remember much of what they read. Yet one of the most common sights on high school and college campuses across the land is that of students poring over textbooks, yellow marker in hand, highlighting pertinent passages—which often end up including most of the page. Later in the semester, to prepare for their exams, students hit the textbooks again, rereading the yellow blocks of text.

Studies have shown that highlighting and rereading text is among the least effective ways for students to remember the content of what they have read. A far better technique is for students to quiz themselves. In one study, students who read a text once and then tried to recall it on three occasions scored 50 percent higher on exams than students who read the text and then reread it three times. And yet many teachers persist in encouraging—or at least not discouraging—the techniques that science has proved to fall short.

….

It is easy to argue that teachers ought to do a better job of keeping up with science, but teaching is already a labor-intensive profession. And it is difficult for the nonspecialist to separate scientific research from the usual flood of quackery and pseudoscience. Peddlers of expensive and supposedly research-based nostrums lobby school districts. Other products that may have scientific validity have not yet been thoroughly tested. For example, theories of mathematical learning suggest that linear (but not circular) board games may boost math preparedness in preschoolers, but the idea needs large-scale testing.

How are educators supposed to know which practices to use? An institution that vets research and summarizes it for educators could solve the problem. Medicine provides a precedent. Practicing physicians do not have the time to keep up with the tens of thousands of research articles published annually that might suggest a change in treatment. Instead they rely on reputable summaries of research, published annually, that draw conclusions as to whether the accumulated evidence merits a change in medical practice. Teachers have nothing like these authoritative reviews. They are on their own.

Link to the rest at Scientific American

22
Aug, 2012

 

From The Wall Street Journal:

The 116-year-old company, run by one of America’s oldest CEOs, has become increasingly secretive over the years, severing nearly all of its connections to the outside world. Tootsie Roll shuns journalists, refuses to hold quarterly earnings calls, and issues crookedly-scanned PDFs for its earnings releases. The last securities industry analyst to maintain coverage of the company stopped last year because it was too hard to get information.

….

Tootsie Roll’s Chicago headquarters is a modern-day Willy Wonka factory. Massive puffs of steam billow out of humming machines on the roofs of the gray cinder block and red brick buildings, which sit surrounded by off-kilter “no trespassing” signs. The Gordons haven’t granted an interview in years. The company declined repeated interview requests, saying “we have opted to use our quarterly earnings releases as a way to provide continuing updates to all business media at once.”

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal, via The Atlantic Wire

All I know is I want my golden ticket, Mr. Wonka!

21
Aug, 2012

Bill Cosby Wants To Protect His Sweaters (And the Rest of His Likeness) | Syndicated From The Atlantic Wire

When he dies, Bill Cosby doesn’t want to go the way of Fred Astaire shilling for Dirt Devil or Audrey Hepburn selling Gap black pants, so he’s backing a law that would protect his likeness—and that of everyone else who lives in Massachusetts—by passing those rights to their heirs. According to The Boston Globe’s Leon Neyfakh, Cosby is hoping his heirs can avoid a situation  Bob Marley’s family faced in 2007 when Verizon and Universal went over the family’s head to start using Marley’s songs and images to sell ringtones or when Michael Jackson’s family, earlier this year, reached a deal with Pepsi to use his likeness in a new marketing campaign. (Beastie Boy Adam Yauch, for one, added a clause to his will to prevent the use of his music or image for any advertisements.) Cosby has taken matters into his own hands, getting some help from Massachusetts State Senator Stanley Rosenberg in creating a bill, and it could be a law by the end of the year. Neyfakh explains:

If the bill becomes law, people in Massachusetts—most notably those who, like Bill Cosby, have built up bankable personas over the course of their lives—will be able to treat their identities as pieces of property that continue to exist in the world long after they do. For 70 years after your death, according to the proposed bill, your identity will legally live on, and your heirs will be able to own it, or sell it, or sue anyone who uses it without asking.

There’s obviously a Jell-O Pudding (or Kodak, or New Coke or E.F. Hutton or Texas Instruments orService Merchandise or Crest Toothpaste ) joke in here somewhere, right?

For the full read head on over to The Boston Globe.

21
Aug, 2012

 

Why passwords have never been weaker—and crackers have never been stronger | Ars Technica

Ars Technica’s Dan Goodin Explains:

  • Our password habits have gotten worse.

    “The average Web user maintains 25 separate accounts but uses just 6.5 passwords to protect them, according to a landmark study (PDF) from 2007,” he writes. We have more things for which we need to create codes and it takes far too much brain space to store 25 different combos. Having the same passwords for various accounts was what did Fallows’ wife in. Plus, the passwords we pick are stupid, as we learned from the Yahoo Voices hack, in which “123456” was (still!) a popular choice. It takes 10 minutes to crack a lower case 6 character password. To avoid this possible issue, we have before suggested picking dumb passwords for sites that don’t matter.

  • Password cracking has gotten better.

    “Now used increasingly for computing, graphics processors allow password-cracking programs to work thousands of times faster than they did just a decade ago on similarly priced PCs that used traditional CPUs alone,” adds Goodin, who details the various tech advancements in hacking. The LinkedIn breach taught us this, leading us to the conclusion that perhaps we need to accept that the modern password isn’t good enough anymore.

  • There is a hacking network effect.

    With each hacker password revelation, future thieves learn more about the way the aggregate thinks. “The ever-growing list of leaked passwords allows programmers to write rules that make cracking algorithms faster and more accurate; password attacks have become cut-and-paste exercises that even script kiddies can perform with ease,” explains Goodin. For one, it proves people still use “123456” and “password,” even after being told lots of time to use better, different passwords. How many of you have started using Gmail’s two-tiered authentication?

  • Sites have gotten worse at protecting us.

    Again, a lesson we learned from LinkedIn, in which the company admitted its protective measures weren’t good enough. Honan blamed Apple and Amazon for his hack, too. The bulk of Goodin’s post goes into the technical specifics of this dangerous state of affairs. Many websites for example don’t have enough “”cryptographic ‘salt’ to passwords to render such attacks infeasible.” “To the detriment of millions of Internet users, going without salt is only one of the many sins that popular websites routinely commit against password security,” he writes.

Link to the entire article at Ars Technica, via the Atlantic Wire

21
Aug, 2012

The World of 100

The World of 100

The World of 100

The World of 100

The World of 100

The World of 100

The World of 100

The World of 100

The World of 100

The World of 100

overonehundred:

Toby Ng – The World of 100

Have you ever asked yourself, what would the World look like as a small community of 100 people? Probably not. However, it is something to think about, as the reality would be startling – as much as you’d think so, the village would only have 7 computers, and only 1 person in the World Village would be educated at University level.

These facts are something that designer Toby Ng has thought about very carefully, and turned the results of his findings into a series of twenty infographics depicting ‘The World of 100’. Although aesthetically beautiful, with sharp lines and bold, vibrant colours, these infographics are often horrifying.

The posters look as though they have come straight out of a children’s book; is this to mirror the naivety of those that are most likely to be looking at them on their computers?

“Look, this is the World we are living in.”

– Toby Ng

21
Aug, 2012

From Buzzfeed:

After a year spent looking at the dark underside of the Internet — including bestiality, necrophilia and child pornography — this Google contractor wasn’t even hired full-time.

“I had no one to talk to. I couldn’t bring it home to my girlfriend because I didn’t want to burden her with this bullshit. For seven, eight, nine months, I was looking at this kind of stuff and thinking I was fine, but it was putting me in a really dark place.

Google got someone from a federal agency to talk to me, and that’s when it occurred to me that I needed therapy. She showed me photos of seemingly innocuous activities (kind of like a modified Rorschach test) and asked me for my first visceral reaction. I was like, “That’s fucked up!” It was just a father and a child.”

Link to the rest at Buzzfeed

21
Aug, 2012

rosesollux:

I feel as if Tumblr as a whole gets upset far too easily. If you see someone doing something, like, say, eating meat (this is just an example), you can bet there will be someone there to viciously attack the person.

They will insult them, degrade them and harass them so that the whole world knows what an awful person they are. But when it comes straight down to it, harassment of that nature isn’t beneficial to anyone, not even the one sending it.

What does the sender achieve? What kind of a life must one lead, in which they are filled with so much negativity that they must delegate it to others? Why would someone choose to live their life this way? Not only are you lowering the quality of life of another human being, you are lowering the quality of your own. Calling someone “disgusting” and berating their life choices- regardless of which choice that may be- makes you no better than those at places like the Westboro Baptist Church, where religious extremists do just the same thing to people every day.

It also does not help the other party. Do you honestly think that someone is going to listen to you while you berate them and insult them? Do you really think insulting someone’s choices will make them “see the light”? Because it won’t. You aren’t facilitating change; you’re facilitating hate.

The point of this post isn’t to upset anyone. It’s to ask Tumblr to be a little more positive. Try to be happy. Optimistic. Don’t harass those around you for their life choices. It will make everyone happier. Try not to be hateful. Because for every nice and accepting person on Tumblr, there is a veritable hoard of hateful people standing right behind them.

So let’s just try and get along, all right?

I would even extend this more broadly toward American culture as a whole. Not just Tumblr. These days, when two party’s have a disagreement, they fight it out to the death. The other side must not coexist! And I’m not just talking politics. I’m also talking Janet vs. Americans who hate breasts; Kanye vs Taylor; [Insert comedian here who said comedic stuff] vs. [people who don’t share that comedian’s sense of humor]

It’s becoming more and more frequent that when someone to does or says something someone disagrees with, they get bullied into an apology or into disappearing all together. Some even receive death threats.

Now, death threats are an extreme example of harassment and it can be argued that the they come from the most extremist of personalities, who are few, existing on the fringes of any group. I would agree, mostly.

It can also be argued that dissenting voices tend to be loudest due to their passion. We barely hear from the kind and thoughtful personalities because they’re so soft spoken. Again, I would agree with this.

However, any amount of unkindness and lack of civility helps no one or a situation…if, in fact, helping is what these people are trying to do. Sometimes I’m not so sure. And the mentality of such individuals tends to imply that they are immune to making mistakes themselves, which is obviously untrue.

When we do something dumb, we let it slide with an explanation, but when someone else does something dumb, we crucify them.

It seems that portions of American society is losing comprehension of the subtle options in between love and hate, good and bad, right and wrong etc. There’s usually a middle ground, but we seem to be blinded by the forest of “Likes and Dislikes”. Indifference, tolerance, understanding, and the concept of “Live and Let Live” is becoming a lost art.