06 December 2011

The duality of learning: the two roles of the "Teacher"

Recently I had to remind students of where the line of help lies. I help them learn, I don't train them to score marks. Specifically I got an email begging to be passed for some reason or another (not usual mind you). The student asked to be passed because I had been helpful in the classroom, so I should likewise help by awarding the passing grade.  The response went something like this:
Dear student: do not mistake my friendly smile, classroom patience, and simple explanations as "easy marking" - You might be shocked.

Most teachers have to do two things: TEACH and ASSESS.  They are not the same thing. 

The person who teaches is there to assist learning.  They are your friend, and it's their job to assist you get ahead in anyway they can. Your job is to get everything out of that person that you can.

The person who assesses is there to measure if learning has occurred. Their role is certification or assurance. They are not your friend, and it's their job to only allow those strong enough to pass.  You job is to demonstrate that you are good enough. (You are of course, aren't you?)

01 December 2011

Professor says: "Friends Don’t Let Friends Get Into Finance"

Friends Don’t Let Friends Get Into Finance
The above article is really quite an interesting article but I have to say I am very disappointed with the professor’s attitude towards his students. Possibly on of the one most important things to me is that all of my students are as successful as they possibly can be.  If that means making millions of dollars at investment banks then so be it.

You learn the science of money,
But don't go making your own"
It's very very important to me to make sure that everything that I teach in the classroom is somehow related to what the students will do somehow.  That might be immediately related in assessments or alternatively somehow to work practice into the future. To indulge in the belief that your area of expertise is far more important than your students well-being seems to me to be selfish in the extreme. By that, extremely arrogant also.

Don't tell me academics aren't selfish basteds sometimes. 

26 November 2011

How to improve your LMS: Formative online checkpoint test to drive engagement

Practical eLearning Tool Pedagogy

These days it seem to be all about iPads. I am not convinced that the shiny stuff makes for good learning. You simply just don't need the best toy to learn the most. 

This is  an example guide of how use simple eLearning tools. It is deliberately not revolutionary; just very effective. 

  • Student boredom –Subject is Advanced Accounting Theory after all
  • Poor textbook purchase rate, reading previously almost non-existent
  • Poor sustained student effort – tendency to cram
  • Student tendency for “collaborative rote” – commonly known as “cheating”
  • Increase student engagement, earlier
  • Create a “natural” learning experience
  • Provide early warning for students-at-risk
  • Follow sustainable assessment concepts (Boud, 2000)
    • Spread formative assessment across the semester
    • Flexibly allow for student sickness, interruptions, etc
    • Not to increase teacher marking loads
Strategy & Implementation: formative assessment.
  • Students are set a weekly quiz (checkpoint test), online via the LMS
  • Each checkpoint test is between 10-14 MCQs
  • The average of all online quizzes constitutes 10% of final grade
  • Students can do this whenever they want, but the longer they leave it, pressure mounts
  • Each checkpoint test unlocks the next topic:
    • Student must do the quiz for week 1 to get to week 2 learning material
    • Notes, handouts, powerpoint slides, suggested tutorial solutions are all hidden until student engages online
    • Prevents cramming
    • Encourages studying and reading before progressing
  • Questions are grouped by learning objectives to ensure complete subject coverage
  • Only one attempt, time limited to 1 hour
    • Enough time to consider each response
    • Most students take between 20 to 30 minutes to complete each checkpoint test
  • Both question order and multiple choice answer order is randomised
  • Questions are difficult and can be VERY specific about the textbook
  • Students receive an “early warning notice” in week 8 if they have not yet attempted 2 checkpoint tests or have not yet logged on
  • Only the final mark is provided
    • It’s not sustainable on the academic to endlessly rewrite new questions
    • Exact answer right/wrong not automatically provided, but are provided for viewing at face to face sessions where guidance is given on the spot
    • Encourages students to be self-critical
  • It’s simple & elegant, everyone understands what they have to do
  • Scatter plots of relative class performance are provided on the LMS
  • Tool is equally effective for online courses as it is for blended delivery

Result: Successful implementation (past 3 semesters)
  • Students sit the test with textbook in front of them
    • Students effectively forced to read the textbook closely, or at least, search for details in short periods of time
      • (an important professional / academic skill)
    • Students without texts are effectively penalised
      • (Lesson: a professional must be equipped with the right tools)
  • Students collude – groups of 4 are common
    • This actually deepens their understanding since they are now exposed to 40 questions rather than just 10 each
    • No doubt, there is group discussion
    • The student’s natural tendency to “cheat” tricks them into learning more, in a more natural setting
  • Validation: Because of the open book / MCQ nature, the task has a very low weighting (only 10%)
    • Enough to make it matter to students…
    • …but not enough to be a decisive factor in a pass / fail situation
    • This assessment tool does not assess competence by itself, rather it rewards interaction 
  • Authentication: “cheating” aspect is minimised since it is only worth 10% of the final grade
    • Each student maintains their own incentives to remain engaged since the mark goes against their name.
  • To the student, it (deceptively) feels like standard summative assessment
    • Compare to “assess a reflective blog on Moodle”
  • Students agonise over their MCQ result despite the low weighting
    • This encourages deeper learning earlier on
    • Low scores are used as early warning indicators
  • Online formative MCQs reduces the exam weighting, diversifying the mechanisms a student demonstrates achieved learning
  • Anecdotally, exam responses have significantly improved with deeper understanding
  • I acknowledge I do not have quantitative evidence to prove the efficacy of these claims; however I am looking for research opportunities for verification.
If you have any queries or would like to find out more about this program please do not hesitate to contact me via email phillip.wong@holmesglen.edu.au


Boud, D. (2000). Sustainable assessment: rethinking assessment for the learning society. Studies in Continuing Education , 151-167.

11 August 2011

TAFE < Uni? On snobs, schools and skills

It annoys me the most is the fact that university always considered to be more than TAFE. But different is not better. VET has a different knowledge set, different pedagogy, and indeed much of it is more powerful (useful) than university study.

I now teach accounting in a TAFE, at the degree level. There is a LOT of similarity between the Diploma of Accounting and the Bachelor of Accounting. Similar body of knowledge, and (perhaps unfortunately) the style of teaching is delivered rather similar also. But they are in no ways substitutable. 

I graduated from a Masters of Professional Accounting, got the workforce, and I found myself frustratingly useless.  I had paid close to $50,000, gained a large number of “critical thinking” skills and essentially none of it was useful for taxation practice.  All the know-how was missing, but I had plenty of analyse-why.  For my $60’000 and 6 odd years of my life, there shouldn’t have been ANYTHING missing.

I found the real-world-workforce very difficult as I simply had to learn the craft of bookkeeping - from scratch - on the job. This slowness cost my employer money, and he let me know about it. It damaged my confidence, disappointed my employer and crushed any hope of promotion in that firm.  

Good accountants need good bookkeeping skills; likewise doctors SHOULD have good nursing skills.  This is almost never the case, and perhaps this is the root of the problem.  

Many believe that if one can do high order statistics and vast amounts of metric algebra, you should also be able to do the “basic” mental arithmetic. The truth is  these are completely divorced skill sets.  I openly and honestly admit that my primary school was completely lacking.  During the 1980s Steiner Schools was all the rage.  Basic numeracy and spelling was irrelevant, but the child’s creativity was sacrosanct.  Now we have an adult generation tht sp33l lik dis, u no wat i mean? Steiner was extremely damaging to an entire generation of workers.  Thanks hippies.   

Aside: I am in the strange position where I cannot do something that my parents, and children seem to do very naturally - add, subtract, multiply and divide my head.  (Oddly enough, I can also actually do something that neither my parents, children can do: and that is program a VCR.)

Employer groups agree: the current model is in desperate need of change.  They aren’t getting what they expect from the kids.  The “kids” come out of higher and higher levels of school and they are still terrible when they hit the ground.  I met a senior person from the Swinburne TAFE Curriculum Development Unit who described their industry discussions.  Here is a liberal paraphrasing:
Swinburne asked “What do you want as employers?”
Industry: “We want graduates who are equipped with both the foresight (analysis) enough know-how (skills) to put it into practice.
Swinburne: “YES! We’ve got this great program where kids go from TAFE to Uni, which means…”
Industry: “No no NO!  You have got it backwards. They should go to uni FIRST so they know why they are there, and THEN to TAFE to learn how to put it into practice.  This way they learn practical skill more efficiently since they are not blindly following orders”.

So TAFE should follow uni?  Now there’s a real education revolution.

You mean "hire" education right?
So what is it about higher education that is "higher"?  If there is so much more nitty-gritty stuff at the TAFE level, then why is it seemed to be “less than” university?  In the egalitarian society that Australia is, it is extremely common to see the bookkeeper earned $70-$80,000 per annum. At the same time a graduate accountant will earn a meagre $35,000.  While one can always argue that professional accounting has an essentially endless upper ceiling, if you found the expected wage adjusted for attrition, including those graduates who just simply “didn’t ever make it into the industry”, you would find that the expected wage for accountants is far less than those of their “brainless” bookkeeping counterparts.

Somehow the mechanic in this country seems to earn more than the engineer. 

Ultimately it all boils down to supply and demand.  The professions are in constant flush supply of eager young graduates.  Employers are spoilt for choice, and consistently demand that all the training be done at school, and never on their own expense.  Compare this to industry skills, where employers are constantly falling over themselves to update the staff skills of technicians, and the savvy technician can easily outstrip the wages of the professional.  Anyone who has worked in mine can attest to this.

Compare my brother and myself.  My brother (the tradesman) complained to me about the pathetic wages he received as an apprentice during his trade school years.  He told me of how the unions were out there to protect him from the evil capitalists.  In my case I went to undergraduate, and then postgraduate studies, both at Go8 universities. I was never paid to study, rather, I racked up an obscene amount on the HECS bill.  At least six full-time years of my life have been poured into higher education. Only now is paying off.  Not a great ROI in any financial analysis. 

On the other hand, my brother was paid the entire time throughout his training, and being a VET level course he was essentially subsidised by the government such that it cost him less than $100 a semester to go to school.  On the other hand my textbooks were frequently $150 each.

Social expectations
So what is "quality" or "better" anyway?  Students mistake a higher price tag for higher quality (since it's all about exclusivity).  Employers mistake "higher qualifications" for "better" qualifications.  Students love elitism, but hate hard tests and failing.  So they just BUY elitism if they can afford it.  But when they graduate, they quickly become are one of the many; as important as a full stop in the National Library. 

The problem is both snobbery and simultaneously the lack of it. If we weren't snobs we'd look to the VET sector to provide skills that we need.  Or if we were absolutely snobby to the point of a caste system, then we wouldn't care less about skills, since caste is about who you are and not what you know or can/can't do.  

Both purgatory and no man's land are likewise unhappy medium places.   

In a stratified society, such as those in Asia, or indeed the United Kingdom, this snobbery could be justified.  Australians, with their so-called “fair go” ways, have an inherent distrust for anybody who believes in this snobbery.  Essentially the financial rewards simply aren't there, and nor are the social aspects either. 

There are opportunities for the open minded
There is a very large number of young and able students, who see the VET articulation path as a price driven opportunity.  Doing a VET diploma for one year and then articulating into another two years of higher education, essentially means that you are receiving a one third discount on your entire degree. 33% Cheaper you say? Forget about upfront HECS payments, this is the way to go.

Essentially the solution should include 1 of 2 things: ONE, either we restore they returns to higher education and really do make it “higher” where it simply is failing students currently, or TWO we should drop the backwards notion that TAFE is less than university at all. Going from Uni to TAFE isn't a downgrade - it's sharpening the knife you just forged. 

TAFE is different, it is not less than higher education.  

-Tetracarbon out

27 June 2011

Doing it for the LULZ: calling it quits after only 50 days.

In all seriousness, I do not think that anybody really truly believes that LulzSec have called it quits after only 50 days. Maybe had decided to quit while they were ahead. Maybe after hacking CIA.gov that they all had a FBI party buses parked in front of their homes. Maybe after the last arrest they have decided that they just need to lay low for a bit. Who knows?

The fact that Ryan Cleary, has already been arrested and appeared in court may have been something to do with this. (scared pussies).There is a very large question as to how much LulzSec was cooperating with Anonymous.

Really the staying power of LulzSec was quite disappointing, they're not exactly anonymous, Al Qaeda or the red brigade. However I do have to say that they cause the biggest splash on hacking scene for as many years as I can remember.

Many people question how effective their attacks were, or how serious their contribution was their contribution to hacktivism. There are many out there in the blogosphere who are now forming their own conspiracy theories that the whole thing was a government set up, so that the US Senate can force through more totalitarian anti-hacking measures. But let's face it, conspiracy theories is what Internet does best.

Many hactivists are angry because LulzSec was nothing more special than a bunch of script kiddies, who only attacked the very weak without any real justifiable cause. Indeed this was part of LulzSec mission statement, to point out the gaping holes that exist in the computer systems of some of the world's biggest corporations and governments. One thing is for sure, I do not believe that any Sony executive, security expert, or shareholder will see any lulz in of this experience. 

Something I really do not understand is why it LulzSec would attempt to attack a series of large game companies. I can understand why they would attack banks, the American government, or other like institutions. But these guys play games, and shall while they might be pissed off about some aspects of DRM, I'm not quite sure how the outright theft and resale of customers private details and credit card numbers achieves an anti-DRM message.  If anything quite the opposite.

I guess that's why they did it, just for the lulz.

I personally expect to see LulzSec again in the near future. I do not believe that the Lulz boat has cast off for good.

-Tetracarbon out.

Look who have the last laugh:
The FBI raids innocent firms - but it's hard to see through the Fog-of-internet-War when we you are fighting in the Cloud.

Ulgh... the Economist got it wrong.  An errata states it was a Latvian crime ring and not LulzSec.  This post now is retrospectively pointless.  Sorry! Even the Economist screws up from time to time.

25 June 2011

Educational Webcomics

Let's have a look at some Web comics that you may be able to use for your classes:

PhD Comics http://www.phdcomics.com/
PhD Comics have been a long time favorite. Very funny, and very relevant, unfortunately, PhD comics looks down on undergraduates, and therefore is unuseful for the vast majority of my teaching (mainly because I teach undergraduates).

Even still I think Ph.D. comics is one of the highest quality web comics on the web, and something that I very much relate to. (Even if it's not updated super frequently)

23 June 2011

Teaching standards - a response to a student's email

This semester I received an e-mail from a student who was thanking me for the effort I have put into the course of the semester, but more importantly started denigrating his work, and the value of the institution I work at.  The feeling was "second class students for a second rate school."

Here is my response: 


Dear Student

Thank you for your kind words.  I really am committed to trying to make this a better experience for students – teaching and learning just is not what it needs to be. I am by no means perfect, I can’t spell, I make mistakes and I am slow to do mental arithmetic.  I have a bad memory so I can not remember every tiny detail. 

BUT I do work hard.  Spelling and rapid addition/subtraction means I use MS Word and Excel to do things I do badly.  And if I can’t remember the exact section in tax act, or the exact citation – then I look it up.  By looking it up I have guaranteed that I have made no mistakes and I am using the most recent information.

Even if you are weak in some areas, lots of hard work and street smarts means that your flaws can not hold you back.

Hard work and drive is the key.  The world will very quickly forget the lazy.

Please do not think that Holmesglen is “below average” – there is a generally bad attitude that you have to look down or be ashamed of Holmesglen because it’s not <bigNameUni>.  RUBBISH!  (In my experience) the teaching in those institutions is WORSE.  I have been to 2 of the G of 8 schools, and I can tell you that the teaching is not exactly great.  For that you pay at least 4 times the price, you get better resources, but let’s face it, how many students read the text book from cover-to-cover? However you do buy a brandname at the big schools.  150 years of graduates means that they are well known.  Holmesglen has only 2 years of graduates.  Being relatively unknown does not mean you are weak.

Key idea: you think the quality of teaching is bad at Holmesglen?  I can pretty much guarantee you it’s certainly not better anywhere else.

Teaching needs to change.  School needs to ripped up and start again.  Really, it’s only student demand that can drive this change.


23 May 2011

Lift property tax to boost revenue, say OECD economists | The Australian

Congrats on your new home.
Here's a fat tax bill.
-Love ATO & OECD 
Lift property tax to boost revenue, say OECD economists 

That's a tricky one. The economics degree inside me says: "First, find the PAPER FIRST, THEN COMMENT". Annoyingly enough, journalists almost NEVER cite their sources.  So far, I haven't found it - let me know if you do.  The journalist that has presented the article has gotten to the key findings but failed to explain the logic AND, on the face of it, it's bad logic. Any drain to the cash of households will depress economic activity.

However, by assuming a flexible world, a tax on houses will reduce house prices (falling cost of housing), but will be offset by the tax (rising cost of housing), the net is no effect - the cost of housing to consumers is close enough to zero, but government receipts go up. Economists call this a "perfectly crowding out effect". Even if the total cost of house ownership became even higher, then this would direct capital savings away from houses and into productive assets (businesses) which will ultimately benefit everyone in the longer term.

While price point elasticities will impinge upon this theoretical result, let me point you to some evidence.  The First Home Owners Grant (FHOG) has done nothing to affect the buy in price for first home owners.  There is sufficient evidence that where the grant was increase, prices simply increased.  So Howard gave you 7 grand extra, prices just increased by 7 grand.  Where the FHOG when up to $24'000 prices rose sharply.  I admit however that prices have not come off since the FHOG was scaled back, but I might point to a general downward price stickiness in home as a reason why. The important thing is that the FHOG did not help the first home owner, it was a subsidy that was paid to older Australians who already owned capital.  If anything it made it harder on first homeowners through competition and timing transactions.

GST is exactly the same.  GST has a split between the legal and economic incidences of the tax. Who pays GST?  Economically it's consumers. Legally, its the enterprise that has to write a cheque to the ATO once a quarter (or month, or week, depending on your turnover). In this sense, the FHOG was paid to first home owners, but it was the sellers who benefited   At least the GST makes no pretense about being a consumption tax.  If we were all about honest government (which lets face it, no one is), then this should be called RVS or "The Residential Vendors Subsidy". 

What isn't addressed is the in equity of this plan. It will retrospectively penalise the young who recently bought houses as the high time by making them pay an unplanned tax on top of a bloody high mortgage. But those who jump in to a cheaper market now after the tax is imposed will benefit by way of a lower price (comparatively of course).  The way to fix that problem would be to grandfather the tax free status, but, that creates it's own economic problems as it encourages "market stickiness" where people will seek to hold on to assets that are tax free. Further, those who used their home as semi-retirement savings will find their depressed house prices will eat into their retirement budgets.

Which ever way you look at it, it's hard to find a strictly pareato improvement where you improvement the lot of every one over all and nobody is worse off.  Perhaps some times you just have to take the utilitiarian approach and admit that at  the end of the day, it's going to be some poor sucker that has to pay.  

The most important thing is that you can expect such a move to be disruptive. But disruptive is the whole point to reform, is it not?

13 February 2011

Behind The Scenes Of ‘The Social Network’ - fiction near fact is still useful fiction

This is a reply to the blog post below:
I wonder if it will also help remind people that the film nominated for eight Oscars isn’t a documentary about Facebook but rather a work of historical fiction.

The Social Network has been one of my favourite films over the past year.  It's quick, it's well thought out and has a killer sound track.  Best of all, even though it's not the "truth" (what ever that maybe) it's certainly enough that you can understand the background to Facebook which is now the world's biggest website. The argument here is, film is both entertaining and close enough to the truth.  In this sense it is very successful and educational at the same time.

It's a big budget movie; it is not a peer reviewed journal. Audiences ought to have a different expectation of truth, and ought to look a bit deeper on the matter if they wish to make judgements about Mr Zuckerberg‎ character or business management style.

So what if there weren't quite as many mostly naked girls in the real word? Timberlake was actually (surprisingly) a good actor and it was terribly entertaining.  Of course I know that nerds are no where near as cool as any film could ever possibly make out. Interestingly enough, I once met one of the Piranha Task Force detectives, and they were sledging the Underbelly because, as he put it "I followed Carl Williams for years, I listened to his every telephone call, I knew what he was up to, and never do I remember so much sex being involved".  Possibly because he being a professional voyeur, he might have enjoyed his work even more if that were the case.  Oddly enough however, all the other little details about the characters, (including their hair styles and choice of footwear) was rather accurate.

I'm sure that Hitler would claim that Downfall was incorrect. I'm lothe believe anything 100% from any one source, and especially not at the movies.  So ought  any other right minded person.  This isn't a courtroom, and facts are kind of slippery when you ask different people their sides of the story.

No. it's not an accurate representation, it's a dramatisation. But for the sake of telling a story (and a damn interesting one at that) - near enough IS actually good enough. 

11 February 2011

Teacher Suspended Over Blog About Students

OK: I know that I'd better be careful about what's on this blog. But then likewise, you should be careful about what you post on your Facebook page since the two are pretty much very close.

What's interesting is that people feel like there is some sort of privacy expected or an invasion of privacy where employers use Facebook posts to prejudice a employee. Yet  no such general expectation of privacy exists for open blogs.

 In this sense, the marketing and user interface people at Facebook Inc have done a very good job of convincing you that you live in walled garden. The truth is more like that you live in walled pit where everyone can look in but you can't actually see out.

Bucks Co. Teacher Suspended Over Blog About Students « CBS Philly

"English teacher Natalie Munroe is in a bit of hot water after she described the precious snowflakes in her class as: “Frightfully dim,” “Rat-like,” “Am concerned your kid is going to open fire on the school,” “I hate your kid,” and “Seems smarter than she actually is,” on her blog. The Central Bucks School District has suspended Natalie after parents complained to administrators. "

iPad THREE already? Comparisons on tablets, and future development.

OK.  I have blogged enough about Apple products of late.  But I can see the value of tablets in education.  At least, I can see why they really can add to textbooks, although I am not sure if they can replace textbooks.

Already there is a lot of talk about "iPhone 5" and  "iPad 2"  - however there is already SOME speculation about iPad THREE!  More to the point, the tablet market didn't exist 12 months ago and is likely to become full if Apple doesn't move quickly.  Therefore it makes sense that  a "low hanging fruit" iPad 2 would come out, closely followed by something that fixed a lot of the stupidities of the earlier model.  Think of the iPhone 3G and the iPhone 3GS.  The 3GS had double the RAM, faster processor, better camera, etc etc etc... the fact that Apple put it in the same shell meant that consumers (especially Apples' consumers) really didn't understand or care about the difference.  Sales of both would remain strong.

Yes, Apple Is Lining Up For A “Surprise” This Fall. And Yes, It’s Likely An “iPad 3″: "
the new iPad we may see in the fall will be more of a “iPad 2.5″, whereas my guess was the other way around. He thinks the launch date could have more to do with Apple attempting to move the yearly release schedule of the iPad to be closer to the holiday season. Again, that’s just his guess, but it also makes quite a bit of sense.

However if you are still interested in the tablet revolution but hold onto a old-man style of hatred for a company like Apple (like I do), then perhaps you want to see what are the alternatives. Engaget have a face off between 4 of the biggest competitors out there and lay them end to end in an easy to compare table.

The only problem is that this table misses the point.  The ONLY reason I, and many others will put up with Apple is because of the app market.  I hate the idea of being mind controlled by one company.  Why can't I have a Playboy app if I want to?  It's not the point that I (probably) wouldn't download it anyway, the point is that I don't think that is your call to make, Mr Apple Jobes.

But I do actually want lots of apps. I do actually "want an app for that".  It's frustrating because with ubiquity we get interoperability of sorts. "Interoperability" in this company's view means the program can run on different versions of the iOS.  Frustrating as hell, but for now the trend isn't reversing.

In fact, rather than computers coming to phones, think rather that the touch basis of phone interface  is more likely to be coming to computers.  Although Windows 7 has drivers for multi touch screens, I haven't seen LG, Benq or other LCD manufactures jump on the bandwagon.  Why not?  It's not hard.  Get a bloody big LCD and lay a touch sensor over it.  It's as old technology and as about as difficult as Apple's facetime revolution.  Yet it will take Apple to play the "revolutionizer" and bring the iPad interface design to the MacBook Air to get this "revolution" happening.

At the moment the whole concept of "window focus" is tied up in the hardware of a mouse.  I'm sure that the Microsoft Windows 7 team actually know this. But in the same way that Windows 95 beat the market with IPTV bloatware, so too has Windows 7 built-it-and-no-one-came-to-the-party.

That's actually very sad.  I DO actually want a touch based glass desktop.  For the sake of going to cinemas, it should look like something out of Minority Report. Or Tron's computer desk.  Or the thing the old Adam Sandler was working on in the movie Click.  These are fairly reasonable suggestions as to what can be done. And the iPad is the kick starter for long over due tablet craze, then surely these lessons will be brought to Apple's computer interface.  You may find the next version of the MacBook Air has NO track pad at all, but looks more like a iPad with built-in (or even detachable) tactile keyboard.

Enough guessing.

01 February 2011

What will the soon coming iPad2 have in it?

The iPad 2's new features: Which rumors are realistic? | Mobilize - InfoWorld

A quick and interesting piece on what the iPad might have in it.  A forward facing camera (or how about any bloody camera at all) seem somewhat obvious.  The so called retina display is here for good too.  If you really want a regular SIM card, proper antenna receiver, or a SD card dock then you would be looking for the Samsung Galaxy.

But Apple tragics don't need none of that standard stuff now do they?

After recently moving to the iPhone 4, I have to say that I am totally underwhelmed by the iOS interface.  A friend of mine described the iPhone as "MY FIRST SMART FONE", in the same way that Fisher Price and Hasbro's Playskool has a My First Cooking Oven toys for kids. That's pretty much right. I feel like I have been dupped by my own stupidity in actually dogfooding myself such a disappointing device.

I still respect Apple - but just like when I watch the Titanic film, "My heart fully of hate, will go on".

30 January 2011

Apple Obtains Patent For Solar-Powered Devices

Apple Obtains Patent For Solar-Powered Devices

This is something that should be out of the question.  Solar powered hand held devices are not new, and the technology seems so obvious that is hard to see how this doesn't constitute a prior art breach.

 It seems now that all your base load power now belong to Jobs. You know, for someone that doesn't really love Apple, I sure do seem to blog alot about them.

28 January 2011

Blackberry's long slide and wasted opportunities.

BlackBerry are running out of time: What can they do?

Obamba's ride to power promised change for America.  It was also the high point for the Canadian firm Research In Motion (AKA "RIM") as Obama was well known for his love of his Blackberry. The secret service tried hard to take it from him, but Obama fought hard to keep it.  He eventually won, but modifications had to be made. This generated a lot of publicity for the already dominant company and made the "dad's old business tool" something cool to have, even cooler than iPhones.

I never understand fashion very well.

For those who know me personally, you will have heard me bitching about the iPhone 4 I got recently, replacing the Blackberry Bold 9000.  The Bold was an older, slower device but has so many interface issues that are just obviously right. For one, it has a full tactile QWERTY keyboard.  Buttons are something that Steve Jobs notoriously hates.  So sure, they got the touch screen right, but it's still not and never will be a full keyboard. Menes - clear "right click" or "drop down" style menus.  No no, Apple doesn't like that idea. Gah - its what you think I should want, and not what I tell you what I actually want.

I recently lamented on Facebook that:
Moving from blackberry to iPhone is like dumping a great girlfriend for a hot fling. Sexy but useless. Jealous and controlling. Not helpful and does everything the way they want to do it no matter how backwards and idiotic that might be. 

It is such a shame to see a good company loose its way.  It gave in to some pretty totalitarian governments and let them search their databases. It's getting thumped by Apple, which is in so many ways an inferior product. The truth is that companies can rise and fall quickly. MS goes from dominant to Office only.  Palm the market maker to spare parts rubbish heap out the back of HP offices. I'd like the Blackberry NOT to slide into this category, although i'm sure there are already 75% on their way there.

There is a lot I didn't like about the Blackberry, but there is a lot more to hate about the iPhone as a user.  Reception being one of these things.

Movies on accounting and business - Part 1 (4 movies only)

It's sort of hard to believe but the number one reason people search my blog is for "ACCOUNTING MOVIES".  It just goes to show the world is full of nerds like myself.  So here goes the first three



Entrepreneurialism: Tells the story of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.  

Why it makes the list?

Great film, and accurate enough that you actually get a bit of important American computer history in there. You (of course) must remember that it is a DEPICTION of reality and not reality reality

Good or bad?


Self-Control In Kids Predicts Future Success

Not quite as new as the  new one, but interesting all the same.

"A new study suggests that a child's future success depends on the amount of self-control they exhibit. From the article: 'The international team of researchers looked at 1,037 children in New Zealand born in the early 1970s, observing their levels of self-control at ages 3 and 5. At ages 5, 7, 9 and 11, the team used parent, teacher and the children's own feedback to measure such factors as impulsive aggression, hyperactivity, lack of persistence and inattention.