When I look out at my classes these days I see a sea of laptops, with a growing number of tablets, but nary a pad of paper. I'm far too much a "live and let live" guy to seriously consider banning laptops as some of my purportedly "liberal" colleagues have done, but I do wonder whether my students are doing themselves a disservice, as Jonathan Adler explains:
Taking notes on laptops rather than in longhand is increasingly common. Many researchers have suggested that laptop note taking is less effective than longhand note taking for learning. Prior studies have primarily focused on students’ capacity for multitasking and distraction when using laptops. The present research suggests that even when laptops are used solely to take notes, they may still be impairing learning because their use results in shallower processing. In three studies, we found that students who took notes on laptops performed worse on conceptual questions than students who took notes longhand. We show that whereas taking more notes can be beneficial, laptop note takers’ tendency to transcribe lectures verbatim rather than processing information and reframing it in their own words is detrimental to learning.
It’s worth stressing that in this research the laptops were notconnected to the Internet. This means the results are not due to students spending time checking e-mail or surfing the Web. In most settings, such distractions will only impair performance even more. Indeed, prior research has found that laptop multitasking impairs learning and can even have negative effects on non-laptop users sitting nearby. In other words, laptop users may not be only hurting themselves.
Hmmm. Externalities? Maybe I should rethink a ban.
For the benefit those of you who are not avid players of 4X turn-based strategy computer games, Sid Meier is the evil genius behind the Civilization game series--quite possibly the most addictive set of games in history. I have wasted untold hours I should have spent on professional development playing one version of Civ after another. I've been up hours past my bedtime more nights than I can count playing "just one more turn."
Civilization is going to space. The next game in Sid Meier's iconic turn-based strategy series will take place on an alien planet, where you'll explore, colonize, and fight other factions as you attempt to navigate uncharted sci-fi territory. ...
"This is, for the whole team, just an amazing thrill to be able to cast off the shackles of historic context and work on something amazing like this," Shirk said. "Because it's been a while since Firaxis has gone into space, outside of XCOM. So just to go through the whole process, watch the designers go through the whole process, has been amazing."'
Science fiction and Civilization. Boy, it's a good thing I've got tenure.
Back when blogs were young the phrase "take the Boeing" was coined (at Instapundit, of course) to describe blogs that sold out affiliated with major media. As in "The Volokh Conspiracy took the Boeing," to describe their affiliation with WaPo. Given that jeff Bexos now owns the WaPo, however, I suggest that we should uopdate the phrase. As in "Mr. Bezos, I am prepated to take the Prime Air."
Jeff Bezos is nothing if not a showman. Amazon's CEO loves a good reveal, and took the opportunity afforded by a 60 Minutes segment to show off his company's latest creation: drones that can deliver packages up to 5 pounds to your house in less than half an hour. They're technically octocopters, as part of a program called "Amazon Prime Air."
Since it's not April Fools and the source isn't the Onion, I'm assuming its true. Which raises the question of what the drones will do if you're not home when they arrive. I'm not responsible for this answer, and don't know who to credit for it, but I like it a lot:
I used Scrivener to write my last two books and found it tremendously valuable, but now I'm doing a law review article. None of the built-in nonfiction templates really work for law review formatting. So if anybody's got a template for writing law review articles using Scrivener, I'd be grateful for a copy. And any other tips would also be welcome.
This will be my 7032nd blog post. Over on Twitter I've got 7,345 Tweets. Plus a ton of pictures on Flickr. Although I'm perfectly healthy and plan to keep going online indefinitely, blogging and tweeting have become a significant part of my professional and personal life. What happens to it when I pass away or become incapacitated?
I'd like to think that my online life will be preserved, just as my scholarship will be preserved. Unfortunately, the latter is on paper (a wonderful archival mechanism), while the former is on ephemeral bytes in cyberspace. TypePad is a paid service, as is Flickr Pro, and it seems I can only buy a domain name for 5 years at a time, so presumably they crap out when I stop paying. And free services, like Twitter or Blogger, can die at anytime (see, e.g., Google reader).
Is there a way to create some sort of permanent digital archive that will ensure the work we put into our online lives will be preserved?
The LAT tells us the obvious, namely phone scammers are ignoring the do not call registry:
Regardless of having registered a phone line with the Federal Trade Commission as a telemarketer-free zone, a growing number of consumers are saying that some businesses are ignoring their stated preference and calling anyway.
A particular annoyance: automated robocalls that get you on the line before looping in a human telemarketer. Such calls frequently use "spoofed" lines that hide their origin or make it look as if the call is from someone you know.
"I've given up answering the land line," said Rory Johnston, 67, of Hollywood. "They're nearly all robocalls."
It's not people's imagination that telemarketers are stepping up their game.
"We're definitely seeing an uptick in consumer complaints," acknowledged Lois Greisman, associate director of the FTC's division of marketing practices, which oversees enforcement of the do-not-call list.
Here at PB.com, we get about 5-10 calls a week from some outfit that calls itself various versions of the Home Improvemt Center. (It seems I'm not alone.)
It's an obvious scam, as they claim to have done work for us in the past, which is a bald faced lie (how dumb do they think we are). I assume they want to set us up for some sort of robbery (or maybe just fraudulent home repairs). As the LAT observes, the phone companies charge you an arm and a leg (well, a couple of toes, anyway) for "solutions" that don't work:
In California, Verizon charges $2.50 a month to block calls from anonymous numbers, although this won't stop spoofed numbers. The company also charges $4 a month to block calls from up to a dozen local numbers, but this will still allow "800" numbers to get through.
AT&T charges $7.50 a month for each of the same services, though the company says some customers may have them included in their calling plans.
If it doesn't stop 800 numbers or spoofed numbers, what good is it?
So I've tried being polite, hanging up, yelling, and nothing works. Now I want a way to hit back. Maybe some sort of computer virus that one could send back down the phone lines or something. Where's a public spirited hacker when you need one?
I've been looking for a very simple, no frills, easy to use task management program for a while. I've been using iProcrastinate for Mac and iPhone/iPad for a few weeks and it is exactly what I needed. It's doesn't have a lot of bells and whistles, but it does basic task management very very well. Recommended.