Monday, April 8, 2013

Even criminals need an education

From WaPo:

The words on his robbery note were spelled incorrectly, authorities said, and he was unable to articulate his demands. So the confused teller at the downtown Washington bank turned the man away, saying she couldn’t help.
The FBI says the man didn’t fare much better at a second bank three blocks away. There, authorities said, it took the teller a few moments to realize that the man standing at her window April 1 was not a customer.
Authorities say that most bank robbers use notes, not guns, but the wording must be clear to be understood. Court documents say the note handed over at the SunTrust simply read, “100s 50s 20s 10s.”

“The teller was confused,” the FBI agent wrote in the affidavit, noting that the teller understood the man to say “money” but nothing else. She handed the note back, and the FBI says he wrote, “all mona.” The teller sent him away. It was only after he left, authorities said, that a customer who was in earshot told her that the man was trying to rob the bank.

The teller at the Bank of America seemed to understand what was happening a bit quicker, although the FBI said she, too, was at first confused by the note reading “all mona.”

Friday, April 5, 2013

Coursera certificates

At some time Coursera used to call them certificates but now they have changed them to “statement of accomplishment”. But whatever they are calling them I find them to be incredibly distracting. Unfortunately I seem to be unable to rise above them (as others can) and work on my own pace (in "archive" mode) and say “Begone with you Coursera certificate”.

I’m feeling some angst about this because I have hit a slew of courses that seem intent on using quizzes and homeworks not to teach but to test. These are the courses that only give you one attempt at getting the answers and this one attempt is the only one that counts as credit toward the certificate. A lot of times it also tests facts and recall rather than interpretationThis is of course the typical traditional college approach. While this doesn’t prevent me from multiple attempts it feels as though my efforts are diluted.

Irrational? You bet. So I try to say to myself, "the statement of accomplishment is meaningless". (And if one reads the fine print that comes with the statement it is readily apparent how meaningless it is.) Part of me wants to protest against these courses. Is unenrolling a better form of protest or a remaining a non participant until the course goes into archive?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Most interesting sentence today on Japanese electronics firms

From the BBC:

Sony makes far more money today out of selling life insurance than it does out of making electronics. Panasonic and Sharp have less to fall back on.

From the above link:

Japan's electronic giants once ruled the world. Sony, Panasonic, Sharp were household names. Now those same companies are in deep trouble, losing billions of dollars a year.
According to Tokyo-based economist Gerhard Fasol, the Japanese giants were overtaken by the digital revolution.

The Japanese giants, he says, actually built their empires on making complex electrical machines - colour televisions, radios, cassette players, refrigerators, washing machines.

Yes, they contained electronic components, but they were basically mechanical devices.
But then came the digital revolution, and the world changed.
"So it's hard to become rich today on the scale of a Panasonic just by manufacturing - you have to do a lot more."