Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Microsoft is introducing a new social networking service in May called Vine.MS created the service to keep families in touch with one another in case of emergencies. Vine would use alerts and news source feeds to keep people informed during a crisis situation. Information from NOAA and other agencies would be available on the site through a dashboard that connects friends and families. However, the technology would be available only if the user had XP2 or Vista on the computer's hardware. The site, furthermore, would be available through subscription.

Pfft. The best friend for information that one can have in a critical predicament is a low-tech gadget called a transistor radio with fresh batteries or a radio that can be cranked by hand. My family owns both. A computer will not work as a source of edification if the power goes out. The hand-cranked radio also has a flashlight which is something that the monolith in Redmond can't supply with this late-in-the-running SNS attempt.

Microsoft does not understand that there are plenty of social networking services like Twitter and Facebook, and innovations like RSS feeds, that can deliver on-demand information in the presence of an emergency. There are also ample non-software based venues for creating crises intelligence in a community. Microsoft's Vine deserves to be chopped.

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Thursday, April 09, 2009


The British Columbia Teacher's Federation wants the government to abandon the Foundation Skills Assessment tests for students in fourth, seventh, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grades. The tests measure basic skills like maths and reading. The teachers' union is afraid that the tests are harming education by allowing parents to know which schools fare poorly.

I think the term necessary at this point is truth in advertising. I am a parent and, naturally, I wish to know the status of my child's education. The BCTF's reluctance to have accountability is devious and self-serving to the union. Put up or shut up comes to mind. Either teachers will perform well in the classroom or they will fail. The FSA is a measure that they need to consider while they teach.

There should be higher standards for education but I am dubious about BC school workers' ability to deliver excellence. The public school education that I have seen in the province is crap. Teachers with mental and competency issues are styled into "education experts". Curriculum is either dumb downed to the level of a nematode or is esoterically academic. It is a blessing that the only correct thing that BCTF has promulgated is the call for less homework for younger children. The reading material provided in most classrooms is idiot makelit and the maths are pigeon droppings from an ivory tower.

Education south of the border, in America, is as clueless. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan wishes to have classes meet seven days a week, eleven months out of the year. What fyking planet is he on? When will children be able to learn on their own when the school system has them captive for an entire week? There will be no time to read literature but only the unimaginative and sanitized pap spewed from the textbook companies. Literature is a bold, messy, rude middle finger to the corporate niceness of most school test-based dribblings that masquerade as genuine books in the typical classroom. Less schools and more libraries would be the best remedy for education. Children, the plastic deities of academics forbid, might learn to think... and to think for themselves.

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