Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Psychics and their Tricks

Posted on January 21st, 2013 in Education, Life, Technology | No Comments »

This is a particularly interesting way to introduce people to the value of their information:

Great presentation, but I’m not sure ‘tricks’ like this really educate. They don’t recommend any action at the end of this video. I suppose my recommendation would be to sign up for your free annual credit report. That’s as good a first step as is available right now.

Book: Admission

Posted on August 5th, 2011 in Books, Education, Life | No Comments »

I should have written this book review months ago since I read the book last spring. I only needed about two or three evenings to read it, and as soon as I finished, I called Allison and urged her to read it. I had that same sort of euphoria that I had immediately after watching the Transformers movie for the first time, but I wonder if re-reading the book would also produce the same sort of “what the hell was I thinking” experience produced after watching the Transformers movie for the second time. Unfortunately, as a grad student, if you read a 464 page book over two or three evenings, then your next three months are going to be busy trying to catch up on all the work you didn’t complete. Needless to say, I’ve only read the book once, and I’m only now getting around to writing the review.

Admission by Jean Hanff Korelitz is about a Princeton University admissions officer named Portia Nathan. She begins the novel with complete faith that her role as an admissions office is critical to the success and prestige of Princeton University. Her work is demanding, perhaps brutally so, but she is clearly passionate about it. She also begins the novel in an idealized domestic relationship with a Princeton English professor, but it becomes clear early in the book that they have lost whatever passion they may have had for each other.

Portia’s romances are the main plot of the book, but they are a bit ham-fisted and read more like a soap opera than, well, some soap operas. In fact, the product description for the book uses the following phrase to describe it:

Admissions. Admission. Aren’t there two sides to the word? And two opposing sides…It’s what we let in, but it’s also what we let out.

Pretty cheesy, right? Ask anyone who knows me and you’ll find that I’m a big fan of puns, but this kind of wordplay fails to interest even me. Portia has a secret that gets “let out” over the course of the book, but I don’t have to tell you about it because it will be rather easy to guess once you start reading the book. The characters are interesting and the scenes are engaging, but the plot just doesn’t work when viewed holistically. It reads like the novel equivalent of taking a great commercial series and turning it into a complete television show.

Despite the somewhat clumsy love story, Admission does have an extremely engaging sub-plot surrounding the admissions process itself. Obviously, I am heavily biased as to whether or not this sub-plot is truly “engaging.” I’m a PhD Candidate in Computer Science at NCSU, and I’ve spent quite a lot of my life in some part of academia or another. It isn’t hard to convince me about the importance of education, and I’ve always been fascinated with attempts to measure learning, achievement, or accomplishment. Still, any one of the millions of people who have applied to college tacitly understands the idiosyncrasies, inaccuracies, and theater of this process. Although some reviews might say that the book “includes too many wooden monologues explaining in detail how [the admissions] process works,” I don’t think I’m alone in my interest for this part of the book.

Anyone who has applied to college (or has a child planning to do so) has almost certainly wondered about the admissions officers. Will someone actually read this? What are they really looking for? What will they think about my transcript, that award I won, or my extra-curricular activities? What will they think about me? For the somewhat introspective among us, applying to college can be even more brutal than the process Portia goes through to make her decisions in the book. Clichés are never more true for anyone than they are for high school senior applying to college. They are full of potential. They have their whole lives in front of them. They can be anything they want to be. Their future rests on what happens to that application.

College applicants are subject to the ultimate “fear of missing out” because of the ponderous implications of the admissions decision. The fear of missing out (FOMO, for short) has recently been described as “a crucial key to understanding social software” because:

Social media has made us even more aware of the things we are missing out on. You’re home alone, but watching your friends status updates tell of a great party happening somewhere. You are aware of more parties than ever before. And, like gym memberships, adding Bergman movies to your Netflix queue and piling up unread copies of the New Yorker, watching these feeds gives you a sense that you’re participating, not missing out, even when you are.

FOMO is also crucial to understanding college admissions for basically the same reasons. What college graduate hasn’t wondered whether or not their life would have been “better” if only they went to a “better” college? Applicants fear missing out on some unknowable future. Admissions officers fear missing out on potential future prestige for their university if they aren’t able to accurately identify the best students. Admission explores FOMO from both sides throughout the book. Each chapter of the book begins with an admissions essay excerpt from one of the students that Portia is reviewing. The essays are humorous, serious, deep, and emotional. They may be the best part of the book because they so palpably convey the fear (and vulnerability) inherent on both sides of the process. I often found myself starting a new chapter simply because I wanted to read the lead-in essay.

Unfortunately, much like the love story, the admissions process subplot has a somewhat predictable climax involving Portia’s decision on a particular application. It’s not as inevitable as the ending for the love story, but Portia’s character seems to telegraph her decision a bit. Regardless, it’s a fascinating problem, and I’m not sure what I would have done in her position.

Despite my concerns with the plot, I would recommend this novel to anyone interested in exploring college admissions or anyone interested in exploring the broader impact of important decisions on young adults. The book has been out long enough that you should be able to find a used copy online without having to shell out much cash. It’s a fun, quick read, but I wouldn’t recommend buying a new copy.

The Marshmallow Test

Posted on April 11th, 2011 in Education, Entertainment | No Comments »

The Marshmallow Test is an experiment performed to examine the ability to delay gratification. On the surface, this little experiment seems rather meaningless, but follow-up studies have produced some interesting correlations. Jonah Leher’s 2009 article in the New Yorker explains:

The initial goal of the experiment was to identify the mental processes that allowed some people to delay gratification while others simply surrendered. After publishing a few papers on the Bing studies in the early seventies, Mischel moved on to other areas of personality research. “There are only so many things you can do with kids trying not to eat marshmallows.”

But occasionally Mischel would ask his three daughters, all of whom attended the Bing, about their friends from nursery school. “It was really just idle dinnertime conversation,” he says. “I’d ask them, ‘How’s Jane? How’s Eric? How are they doing in school?’ ” Mischel began to notice a link between the children’s academic performance as teen-agers and their ability to wait for the second marshmallow. He asked his daughters to assess their friends academically on a scale of zero to five. Comparing these ratings with the original data set, he saw a correlation. “That’s when I realized I had to do this seriously,” he says. Starting in 1981, Mischel sent out a questionnaire to all the reachable parents, teachers, and academic advisers of the six hundred and fifty-three subjects who had participated in the marshmallow task, who were by then in high school. He asked about every trait he could think of, from their capacity to plan and think ahead to their ability to “cope well with problems” and get along with their peers. He also requested their S.A.T. scores.

Once Mischel began analyzing the results, he noticed that low delayers, the children who rang the bell quickly, seemed more likely to have behavioral problems, both in school and at home. They got lower S.A.T. scores. They struggled in stressful situations, often had trouble paying attention, and found it difficult to maintain friendships. The child who could wait fifteen minutes had an S.A.T. score that was, on average, two hundred and ten points higher than that of the kid who could wait only thirty seconds.

It’s important to note that correlation does not imply causation. Just because a kid fails the Marshmallow Test doesn’t mean they are doomed to horrible S.A.T. scores. Besides, I sort of think watching kids take the Marshmallow Test is more fun than worrying about what the results mean anyway. Here’s a video of kids taking the Marshmallow Test:

And here’s a hilarious reproduction of adults doing the same:

I wonder how I would have done as a kid…or even as an adult.

:-)

A Factor of 26

Posted on March 2nd, 2011 in Education, Life, Technology | No Comments »

Matthew Lasar of Ars Technica recently wrote an article about Cisco’s latest Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast (pdf). In it Cisco claims that worldwide mobile data traffic will increase by a factor of 26 in the next four years. Obviously, Cisco is in the networking business, so they have some incentive to make the future of networking look good, but even if they are only half right, that’s a huge increase.

The most compelling piece of this story for me is summarized by two lines in the executive summary:

Average smartphone usage doubled in 2010. The average amount of traffic per smartphone in 2010 was 79 MB per month, up from 35 MB per month in 2009.

Smartphones represent only 13 percent of total global handsets in use today, but they represent over 78 percent of total global handset traffic. In 2010, the typical smartphone generated 24 times more mobile data traffic (79 MB per month) than the typical basic-feature cell phone (which generated only 3.3 MB per month of mobile data traffic).

Prior to getting an iPhone, I spent about 6 years using a simple Nokia phone. It was my primary phone, and I used it almost exclusively for phone calls. Put simply, the way I interacted with computers fundamentally changed when I got an iPhone. The best analogy I can think of is when my family bought our first home computer. I knew what computers were before getting one, and I knew how to use them to some degree. However, I didn’t realize the impact they could have on my life until the first day I spent on that home computer. I believe the same is true for anyone going from a standard phone to a smart phone. In fact, I believe this is the minimum we should predict if Cisco is right.

How many people will experience a similar transition as a result of those two points I highlighted from the executive summary of the Cisco report? Smart phones are better than computers for numerous activities, and phones are being used for an increasing number of things that were traditionally desktop-only or laptop-only. More importantly, smart phones are only 13 percent of the total mobile phone market. Add this to the fact that mobile phones are the only real connection to the Internet for much of the world, and it becomes pretty clear that we’re still at the beginning of the computer revolution.

We can (and should) also think about Cisco’s prediction in global terms, but finding the best analogy to describe the sort of change that Cisco is predicting is hard. One way to think about it is by comparing it to previous instances where practical access to education, information, and participation was granted to large populations over a short period of time. Prior to both the civil rights movement and the women’s rights movement in the United States, we were basically limiting our “best and brightest” to at most a third of our society. Quite simply, by limiting access to higher education and acceptance of certain races or genders in society, we limit human innovation. The digital divide is another fundamental limitation to human innovation, and bridging this divide could change the world just as much as the civil rights movement or the women’s rights movement. (See also this book I read several years ago.)

Consider the story of Srinivasa Ramanujan. He was born in India in 1887. His family was not particularly well-off, but given just a little access to basic information, he became a world-renown mathematician. Here’s Wikipedia:

By age 11, he had exhausted the mathematical knowledge of two college students who were lodgers at his home. He was later lent a book on advanced trigonometry written by S. L. Loney. He completely mastered this book by the age of 13 and discovered sophisticated theorems on his own.

By 14, he was receiving merit certificates and academic awards which continued throughout his school career and also assisted the school in the logistics of assigning its 1200 students (each with their own needs) to its 35-odd teachers. He completed mathematical exams in half the allotted time, and showed a familiarity with infinite series.

When he was 16, Ramanujan came across the book A Synopsis of Elementary Results in Pure and Applied Mathematics by George S. Carr. This book was a collection of 5000 theorems, and it introduced Ramanujan to the world of mathematics. The next year, he had independently developed and investigated the Bernoulli numbers and had calculated Euler’s constant up to 15 decimal places. His peers of the time commented that they “rarely understood him” and “stood in respectful awe” of him.

Obviously, not everyone can be a mathematical genius or even a genius of any kind, but the fact remains that there are many people in the world who currently never even have a chance to be one simply because they don’t have access. This could change rapidly if Cisco’s prediction turns out to be accurate. Here’s another fascinating tidbit from the report:

There are 48 million people in the world who have mobile phones, even though they do not have electricity at home. The mobile network has extended beyond the boundaries of the power grid.

This might be even more stunning than the prediction that mobile data traffic will increase by a factor of 26 in the next four years. Cicso discusses this further later in the report:

One of the most astonishing developments of the past few years has been the extension of mobile services even beyond the boundaries of the power grid. Mobile phones are reaching every corner of the earth. There are already 32 countries where mobile data has broken the electricity barrier. By the end of 2011, this effect will be visible at the regional level, when the total number of mobile users in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia exceeds the total on-grid population in those regions. By the end of 2013, the number of mobile users in the Middle East will exceed the Middle Eastern on-grid population, and by 2015 the number of mobile users in South Asia (India and surrounding countries) will exceed the South Asian on-grid population.

Thinking of this dramatic change in terms of the absolute best and the brightest may not the best way to frame the debate. It is probably better to think about how this growth in mobile data traffic could affect the ‘average’ person in the world. In 2006, only about 27% of the people in the United States had a college education. To many Americans, this seems extremely low. To much of the rest of the world, it seems like an unattainable pipe dream. Now, there’s a lot that’s wrong with using this metric as an absolute goal because a college education isn’t an end in and of itself; it’s a means to an end. Still, education is extremely important to society. What would it look like for the average person on the planet to have access to higher education materials? Even if they never end up getting a piece of paper to hang on the wall, simply having access to the information itself would dramatically change lives.

In 1966, the UN General Assembly adopted a multi-lateral treaty called the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. This treaty attempted to establish education as a ‘right’ of humanity. Sounds great on paper, doesn’t it? Who wouldn’t want to see everyone have every educational opportunity they desire? In reality though, education isn’t a right; it’s an economic good. It costs both time and money. Simply saying education should be viewed as a right in a treaty doesn’t change economic reality. One amazing potential result of Cisco’s prediction is that education could become a lot less expensive for a huge number of people on the planet. An increase in mobile communications by a factor of 26 in the next four years would do more for education than the UN’s treaty did in the last four decades.

Genuine political freedom may also become a lot less expensive. I haven’t seen a great article about this yet, but I am eagerly looking forward to an in-depth analysis of how communications technology impacted the recent protests and revolutions in Northern Africa. It clearly played a critical role, and I’m not sure we fully understand the implications of this yet. Furthermore, we must understand what this means if we’re to predict how the sort of increase in mobile communications that Cisco predicts would change the world. How much of the world would be able to organize relatively peaceful revolutions away from authoritarian leaders and towards a more free and open society four years from now? I’m not qualified to make this prediction, but it’s another possible result.

If Cisco is right about mobile data traffic exploding by a factor of 26 in the next four years, then can we really even begin to make predictions with even a remote chance at accuracy? I don’t think we can. The best we can do is be optimistic about the future, and I think we have a lot of reason to be optimistic.

Movie: Waiting for Superman

Posted on October 30th, 2010 in Education, Entertainment, Movies, Politics and Law | No Comments »

I saw Waiting for Superman last night, and I definitely recommend it to anyone who’s been on the fence. The movie is a documentary of the U.S. education system by Davis Guggenheim, who also made An Inconvenient Truth. The story follows a small handful of children from various backgrounds who have applied to be in the lottery for crowded public charter schools because the ‘normal’ public schools have failed them. To setup the ending, the movie starts with an introduction to these students and their different situations. As the movie progresses, it explains more of the recent history of public education in the United States, and both Allison and I sort of lost track of the fact that these were real students from real families. The ending actually shows the various lottery processes. I had been told that the ending was quite moving, so perhaps it didn’t affect me as much as it could have. Consider Kristen Paglia’s review at the Huffington Post:

From an education advocacy standpoint, this film is a gamechanger. As Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa stated at the screening, “If your blood is not boiling by the end of this film, then there is no blood pumping through your heart.” My blood was certainly boiling. Further, having fallen in love with these five children, it was hard to distinguish between the tears of rage, sorrow, and triumph by the end. This film will inspire change.

You don’t have to be super politically engaged to know that there’s a ton of problems with education in America. Sadly, it’s been a huge problem for years. Waiting for Superman does an excellent job highlighting some of the biggest problems. I’ll try not to spoil the movie for you by revealing too much, but one thing that stuck with me was an Illinois statistic about the rate of people losing their credentials for various professions. Here’s the NY Times review, which also focuses on this statistic:

In Illinois, where one in 57 doctors loses his medical license and one in 97 lawyers loses his law license, only one in 2,500 teachers loses his credentials, because of union rules.

Scary, right? The movie has a lot of other revealing things to say about the NEA and the AFT, which may come as more of a shocker to people who didn’t go into the movie thinking they were bad for education.

Guggenheim positions several people as heroic figures of a teaching revolution; it’s a stark contrast from his depiction of unions. Geoffrey Canada, Michelle Rhee, and the founders of KIPP come off looking like saints fighting the good fight. They should be lauded for their efforts, but it’s not really about finding heros. Finding heros is difficult, inconsistent, and probably not scalable. Again, from the HuffPo review:

We absolutely cannot underestimate the power of charismatic and visionary leaders, and I am grateful for the people who had the courage to make a film that celebrates education heroes, but there are not enough of those heroes to go around.

Even if we can find heros, the politics of teaching are such that they have the deck stacked against them. After the movie came out, Michelle Rhee was pushed into resigning as the D.C. Schools Chancellor. From Adam Schaeffer:

No man or woman, mayor, chancellor or superintendent can significantly and permanently reform the government education monopoly. It is unreformable. Rhee’s tenure and modest success underscores this fact. Entrenched interests regroup, respond, bide their time, and reformers move on or are shoved along.

What can we do? Well, we can realistically identify the teachers that aren’t getting the job done. Finding obviously bad teachers isn’t hard and would make a big difference. One of the reformers interviewed for the film said that if we could get rid of the bottom 6% to 10% of the profession our schools could be right back up near the best in the world. School superintendents should have the ability to fire the worst teachers rather than perform some idiotic dance of the lemons. What’s a dance of the lemons you ask? Here’s an explanation from the Hoover Institute article linked above:

Often, as a way to save time and money, an administrator will cut a deal with the union in which he agrees to give a bad teacher a satisfactory rating in return for union help in transferring the teacher to another district. The problem teacher gets quietly passed along to someone else. Administrators call it “the dance of the lemons” or “passing the trash.” Howard Fuller, the superintendent of Milwaukee public schools from 1991 to 1995, explains: “Administrators found they needed to trade bad teachers because it’s easier than getting rid of them. We had one teacher who put a student’s head down the toilet. He simply got moved to another school.”

It’s much easier to identify the worst 10% of the profession, but we can’t easily get rid of them. Remember: Illinois was only able to fire one teacher of every 2,500. That’s 249 bad teachers keeping their job for every one that gets fired.

If there’s a problem with Waiting for Superman, it is simply that the documentary needed to follow a compelling story. The most emotional aspect of the movie is watching these students as they go through the lotteries for their various charters. Unfortunately, this positions charter schools as “the answer,” when in reality those schools are still publicly funded schools. They are still subject to pressure for politicians and unions, albeit somewhat less than a normal public school. The story makes for a great documentary, but in reality we need a truly competitive environment for education. Here’s Neal McCluskey of the Cato Institute:

The only way to make educators truly put children first is to require that they satisfy parents — the customers — to get their money. And that can mean only one thing: transforming our education system into one in which parents control education funding and educators have to earn their business.

Think about this for a moment. If parents had complete control over who got paid to teach their children, would we have a problem getting rid of the worst 10% of the profession? Would we have trouble accurately compensating great teachers? Would we have children stuck in lotteries like those in the movie? One of those children was entered because her mother couldn’t continue to pay for her parochial school on top of paying taxes to support her local public school. What would be so bad about treating school as a business? Again, here’s Neal McCluskey:

If a firm isn’t happy with a supplier, does it call its congressman, hold fora, pen op-eds, badger reporters, all in the hope of eventually persuading the supplier to change? Of course not: If the supplier doesn’t improve, the firm just finds a new one and moves on!

Since it is election season, I’ve seen several commercials for political candidates that attempt to trash their opponents by saying they want to eliminate the Department of Education. Every time I see one I think, “Education is too important to be a department in the government!” Do we really want to put all our eggs in one basket?

If you haven’t really given education policy much thought before, consider seeing Waiting for Superman in theaters. It’s a good introduction to both the politics and the emotion surrounding education policy. Also, when we saw the movie last night, they gave us each a $15 gift card to use at DonorsChoose.org. Regardless, it was a great way to spend an evening.

Book: Rework

Posted on October 5th, 2010 in Books, Education, Life | No Comments »

Rework
Creative Commons License photo credit: mathieuthouvenin

Rework is a bit outside my normal reading since I’m an academic and not currently in business, but given the amount of buzz this book has garnered, I couldn’t ignore it. It was compiled by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson based on their experiences running 37signals. You may know these folks from popular products like Basecamp or Campfire. You may also know David as DHH, the creator of Ruby on Rails.

The book itself is a set of short, contrarian essays on business topics, and I should stress both the ‘short’ and the ‘contrarian’ parts of that description. Many of the essays are adapted, refined, and edited from Signal vs. Noise, the popular blog at 37signals. If you’re wondering whether you should spend your money on something that’s basically already published online, I understand where you’re coming from. It’s nice to have everything in a single, canonical place though.

Reading a book is contextually different than reading a blog, but this is surely the most blog-like book that I’ve ever read. The chapters are extremely short, well-written, and each comes with a reinforcing illustration. These illustrations serve as a somewhat functional, if sometimes jarring, transition from one idea to another. If you’re an avid book reader, I think you’ll find it difficult to get into any sort of reading rhythm simply because this book doesn’t really read like a book, which is probably intended. Having said all that, the chapters are clear and direct. If you read it as if it were a paper-based blog, then you’ll pick up one unmistakably clear and easily understood business idea at a time.

For all it’s faults as a book, Rework is filled with the unconventional business wisdom that makes Signal vs. Noise a popular blog. I wish this wisdom were more conventional. Most businesses (and most business books) are geared towards the ultimate goal of becoming multi-billion dollar empires. Rework shows over and over again just how idiotic that fallacy (and all the crap that it entails) is for actually running your own business. It’s geared towards small business owners and entrepreneurs that want to make a living doing what they love. Jason Fried and DHH are quick to point out that this humble goal is often overlooked. Who wouldn’t want to get paid to do something they genuinely love to do?

If you take the idea of making a living by doing something you love seriously and you don’t mind reading a book that feels more like a blog than anything else you’ve ever seen in paper, then I would highly recommend Rework. If you’re still on the fence, check out some of the popular posts on Signal vs. Noise.

John Wooded on TED

Posted on June 15th, 2010 in Education, Life, Sports | No Comments »

I know this is a rather popular TED Talk that has gotten a lot of links online since John Wooden’s death ten days ago. I am getting it from Michael Graham at Modern Pensées, who got it from The Evangelical Outpost, who probably got it from somewhere else. Regardless, John Wooden was an unbelievable coach, teacher, and Boilermaker. This is a must watch. It’s only about 18 minutes long, so you should be able to fit it in somewhere today.

The Making of OK Go’s Latest Video

Posted on June 7th, 2010 in Education, Entertainment, Music, Technology | No Comments »

If you haven’t seen OK Go’s latest video, it’s an absolute must-see. I tweeted about this when it was somewhat newer, and it holds up as entertaining many viewings later.

I’m posting about the video now because I just stumbled upon an interview with some of the folks that designed the contraption. It turns out that three of them work for NASA JPL:

  • Mike Pauken, Ph.D., a senior thermal systems engineer
  • Chris Becker, a graduate student at the Art Center College of Design and a JPL intern
  • Heather Knight, a former JPL engineering associate (instrumentation and robotics) who is now preparing to start work on a doctorate at Carnegie Mellon University
  • Eldar Noe Dobrea, Ph.D., a planetary scientist working to study landing sites for the upcoming Mars Science Laboratory.

The interview is short and worth reading.

Ten Plus Systems

Posted on December 20th, 2009 in Computer Security, Education, Technology | No Comments »

On Friday, December 11th, my MacBook Pro stopped working properly. I couldn’t get video regardless of what I did. I took it to the Apple store the next day, where I learned that my graphics logic board was the victim of the infamous NVIDIA recall. I was told that it would take up to 10 days to get it repaired. Just as I was starting to recover from the shock of being without my computer for 10 full days, the Apple employee who examined my laptop said they would need my username and password to complete the repairs.

There is no valid reason Apple needs a username and password to repair a graphics logic board. This is a basic principle of computer security: Do not give anyone your username and password. I asked why they wanted it, and I was told that they needed to be able to log into the machine to verify that it works. This is simply false, and I’m disappointed that Apple would claim it was true. Graphics can be tested in a variety of ways without using an existing username and password. First, they could have used the guest account on the machine. Second, they could have booted into an operating system on a CD/DVD such as Knoppix. Third, they could use a bootable USB drive. Fourth, they could boot from an external hard drive. These options are even documented on their website. Needless to say, I refused to give them my username and password. They refused to send the computer off to be fixed. I asked if there was anywhere else I could get it fixed. To their credit, the Apple store employees were prepared to give me a recommendation to Ten Plus Systems.

I knew almost immediately after walking into their store that Ten Plus Systems was a quality computer repair shop. First, I saw one of the technicians talking with the receptionist about a repair. They were clearly organized, and my gut told me immediately that the technician was a genuine computer geek. Second, they were selling an original, fully restored 1984 Macintosh. It was absolutely beautiful. It looked almost new, and a great deal of care clearly went into restoring this machine. I strongly believe that people who are experts in their field have an intuitive sense that allows them to identify other experts rapidly. (Read Blink by Malcolm Gladwell if you are interested in exploring this concept.) As a computer science PhD student who has built at least a dozen computers from parts, I consider myself an expert in this field. I could tell this store was run by experts.

I arrived Monday morning and my computer was fixed 26 hours later. It was basically a one day turn around on a repair that Apple said would probably take 10 days. They didn’t need my username or password. They didn’t even ask. Ten Plus Systems is an Apple-certified repair store, which means that any machine covered by AppleCare can be repaired there. They also repair Apple and PC machines not covered by AppleCare, and they recycle old computer parts for their customers. If you are near Raleigh and need computer repair work done, I would strongly recommend Ten Plus Systems based on my experiences with them.

Disclosure #1: According to the relatively new FTC rules for bloggers, I should disclose my connection with the companies I’m endorsing. I haven’t been paid for this post. I haven’t been given any gift of any kind for this post. I haven’t had an out-of-body experience in which I was in any way compensated for this post. (At least, not yet…) I’m just a genuinely satisfied customer.

Disclosure #2: I agree with Adam Thierer: the relatively new FTC rules for bloggers are almost completely unenforceable.

GANC Update

Posted on December 4th, 2009 in Books, Education | 2 Comments »

I’m going to do something in this post that was probably inevitable: I’m delaying my post for December. There are a myriad of reasons for this. Foremost amongst those is probably best said by Tim Lee:

It turns out that if you enroll in grad school in computer science, they expect you to do computer science work. And apparently writing a blog doesn’t qualify.

Having said that, it’s not all that clear to me that all the frenetic efforts that did take my time this month have produced anything else that might qualify.

Regardless, I will post a review of a book sometime this month. I will theoretically have time to catch up on some reading later in December, so I should be able to be make the January 4th deadline as well. I apologize to anyone who was genuinely interested in my next book review. (Yes, that’s you mom!)