Archive for the 'Technology' Category

Coursera Week #2 Recap

I just finished week 2 of my Coursera course, and I am exhausted. The assignment was around 70 pages of reading–two chapters from the book–plus the lecture and 3-4 articles that were just “recommended reading.” I’ve been taking notes of the reading and pretty much ignoring everything else, honestly. This week’s material covers IP, a subject I covered fairly extensively in law school, so maybe I’ll try relying more on the lectures.

So, it turns out that the 14-day deadline for the quiz was just for the first quiz; all the subsequent quizzes have a 1-week deadline. I just made the deadline for Week 2 because it took so long to get through all the reading. (Seriously, most of my law school assignments weren’t this long and involved!)

The content is still fine—the book is informative and thorough, and the few lectures I’ve watched were clear and easy to follow. I’m not crazy about the emphasis on forum participation, though. I reviewed the class policies last weekend, and it turns out that participation in the forum is a significant portion of the grading. Forum participation is based on number of posts, upvotes, starting threads, and some other criteria, but basically, I have to make 20 posts in order to get full credit. Meh. The class is so big that forum participation is difficult. I’m looking for smaller threads to participate in; I should be able to meet the requirements, but even if I don’t, it’s not like I’m taking the class for credit.

I’m not following along with the case study as well as I should—it’s been hard enough to get through the reading. My goals for next week are to work more on the case study and watch all the lectures.  Hopefully, doing these things will help me strike the balance between the readings and the social aspects of the class.

Coursera Course, Week 1

I signed up for a course on Coursera almost a year ago, and it finally got underway. Of course, it started the same week I was on vacation, so I’m a week behind, but I just started Week 1. It’s interesting so far–the professors are using a mixture of video and e-textbooks. I hope I can stick with it over the next six weeks or so!

I’m going to try to blog about the course, too, to get me writing again and to help me decide how I feel about these courses. Thus far, my approach to the course has been to read the textbook and take notes, and then watch the lectures. I’ll try to track how (or whether) my approach evolves over the next few weeks.

Impressions after completing Week 1:

– The forum appears to be mostly useless. It’s a huge class, with some threads having more than 500 posts, and a lot of the thread topics are questions that are easily answered if you read the material. In other words, it’s about as useful as the Blackboard forums I had in college.

– The textbook chapters run a little long, but not too long. It contains legal terms and jargon without explaining all of them—I could see where that could get confusing for non-lawyers or people not acquainted with these terms. That makes me a little nervous about starting the Computer Science class I signed up for…

– The course material seems daunting (a textbook chapter, four lecture videos, a discussion forum, a case study, AND a quiz?,) but it really isn’t that bad. The lectures are all less than 5 minutes each. The first quiz was short, and you could take it up to 3 times. It took me under an hour to do it all, and the deadline for the quiz was really generous–about 2 weeks.

– The course is using Bitstrips for images. No. No no no no no.

I’m going to start Week 2 tomorrow so I can get caught up with the rest of the class. I like it so far, and I think the course does a good job of providing information and giving you chances to apply what you learned in different problems and case studies. It’s somewhat similar to how my IP professor in law school ran lectures. I like it.

Hackers Elect Bender from Futurama to the DC School Board (PC World)

Bender Bending Rodriguez Elected to DC School Board after hackers are encouraged to break into the network.

Yeah, that’s right—the hackers were basically dared to compromise the security of the network. From the article:

“This was not some nefarious attack from a group of rogue hackers: The DC school board actually dared hackers to crack its new Web-based absentee voting system four days ahead of the real election. University of Michigan professor Alexander Halderman, along with two graduate students, did the deed within a few hours.”

Sheesh. I wonder whether the hackers could have just deleted their cookies and voted over and over again…

Wednesday Morning Linkspam

Discovery Launch as Seen from a Passing Airliner

iPad Gets Approval from FAA to Replace Paper Flight Charts and Maps

Obama Administration joins critics of ICANN

Apple: If “App Store” trademark is Generic, so is Microsoft “Windows” I had a deep discussion with someone about this; I think “App Store” is a fairly generic term, but I can also make a strong argument in favor of the trademark. (For example, neither Droid nor Microsoft use “app” or “store” for their store fronts—it’s the Android Market, Microsoft Marketplace. RIM has the Blackberry App World, though.)

Charlie Sheen Quotes Presented by Superheroes They actually make more sense this way. The only thing that’s missing is Tigra from Thundercats talking about having Tiger’s Blood. 😄

Snow Leopard can kiss my ass.

I finally upgraded to OSX Snow Leopard last week so that I could try out the FaceTime Beta and install the copy of Left 4 Dead 2 that I got on Steam and can apparently only play in Snow Leopard.

I thought the upgrade process went smoothly. I backed up everything beforehand and didn’t have any problems with the install. But shortly after getting all my icons back into place and making sure all my data was still there, I started getting Keychain errors. These errors were telling me that I entered an invalid MobileMe password. When I opened System Preferences, I got a Keychain Error telling me to open Keychain Utility. I had to click through that error FIVE TIMES before the box went away.

So I ran Keychain First Aid. The response was “No problems.” I was still getting the MobileMe error even though I had typed my password into System Preferences and told it to remember it in my Keychain. And now, in addition to those errors, I was getting errors for iChat and the Mail app. And by “errors,” I mean that I’m constantly prompted for passwords even though I check the “remember this in my Keychain!” box. And by “constantly,” I mean that I have to type my password in four times for each e-mail address I have in the Mail app. Basically, if the app has to manage a password, Snow Leopard can’t do it.

I’ve run Keychain First Aid about six times now. I’ve cleared my Keychain once, and that seemed to fix the problem temporarily, but I can’t do that over and over. I shouldn’t have to do that over and over. I’ve made an appointment for the Genius Bar on Thursday, and I’m making screencaps/keeping track of everything that’s going wrong. Primarily because I already have guys acting like somehow I’m at fault because Snow Leopard can’t manage my Keychain or acting like I’m a moron because I’m using iChat/have MobileMe/etc. (Someone actually told me “OMG it was SO MUCH WORSE way back in 10.3.”—aka, the “You don’t have a reason to complain about your problems” excuse.) So I’m (understandably) frustrated. BUT if anyone has encountered these issues to the extent that I have and can point me in the right direction of a solution, PLEASE, by all means, let me know.

Round-up: Gizmodo iPhone Leak

The Tale of Apple’s Next iPhone (Gizmodo) In case you weren’t aware, Gizmodo got its hands on a new iPhone. They took it apart, took pictures, and did a comprehensive write-up covering every feature, dimension, etc.

Lost iPhone prototype spurs police probe (CNET)
Police Seize Jason Chen’s Computers (Gizmodo)
iPhone Leak Investigation on hold as DA ponders shield law defense (Tech Crunch)
Gizmodo editor’s house raided, computer seized (ZDNet)

Gizmodo’s Trade Secret Liability
Instapundit: Lame-ass CA Cops raid home of Gizmodo blogger. Interesting point of view and commentary, as well as some links.
Bloggers weigh in on whether the Gawker editor could be considered a journalist (Bloggasm)

“Our Tech-Savvy Supreme Court” (WSJ)

A lot of people have sent me a link today about the Supreme Court having trouble understanding how texting works and distinguishing between pager and e-mail messages. My thoughts:

– I think you kind of have to take the Justices’ ages into consideration here. The youngest Justices are 55, so, at best, it’s like explaining these things to your parents. Yes, one would hope that the Supreme Court would have some knowledge about the issues brought to them, but remember: they can hear cases about anything. It isn’t possible for them to have a deep knowledge of everything they’re hearing. Plus, they’re supposed to be dealing with the legal issues of the case, not necessarily the semantics of whether the message was via text or e-mail.
– What’s wrong with hand-writing your opinions, anyway? It preserves your thoughts in a way a word processor can’t—scratching out text versus outright deleting it—and I’ve always thought it was easier to make lists and format stuff on paper. Doesn’t mean I can’t send an e-mail.
– It’s possible that the Justices were also asking questions in order to limit the scope of the case or to avoid overbreadth. They’ve got a lot of case law to refer back to—it might actually be relevant whether one could print out the text messages, or how they differ from an e-mail. I’m clinging to this one, if for no other reason than I don’t want to believe that SCOTUS really is that technologically inept. :\
– I am, however, still bothered at the legal profession’s resistance to incorporate technology into its processes. That may be one reason why I’m so drawn to IP—that branch deals with technology all the time. So yeah, at first glance this article made me facepalm (just like the writer did.) There are definitely problems with the way the legal profession understands and uses technology (or, you know, doesn’t), and it has a long way to go to catch up to other industries. Basically, as much as I want to believe that SCOTUS wasn’t totally ignorant about the stuff in that case, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they were.


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