Learning JavaScript, for beginners

Some good links to get started with JavaScript:

Try not to use W3Schools!

Modernizer’s documentation gives really good context to why certain things are done today. I was just reading it yesterday and it got me thinking quite a bit. Skim through though! It only is meaningful when you encounter the cases before.

Trilobites

I thought I should share what I learn today — trilobites. Trilobites are a well-known fossil group of extinct marine arthropods that form the class Trilobita. The reason why it is so fascinating is that they were one of the most successful of all early animals, roaming the oceans for over 270 million years. They’ve developed eyes to see during that period too.

Here’s an excerpt from David Attenborough’s excellent documentary First Life on this specific topic.

Cambridge refuses censorship on chip-and-PIN vulnerabilities

According to BoingBoing, the UK banking trade association wrote to Cambridge to have a student’s master’s thesis censored as it documented a well-known flaw in the chip-and-PIN system, Cambridge University’s Ross Anderson replied with the following:

Second, you seem to think that we might censor a student’s thesis, which is lawful and already in the public domain, simply because a powerful interest finds it inconvenient. This shows a deep misconception of what universities are and how we work. Cambridge is the University of Erasmus, of Newton, and of Darwin; censoring writings that offend the powerful is offensive to our deepest values. Thus even though the decision to put the thesis online was Omar’s, we have no choice but to back him. That would hold even if we did not agree with the material! Accordingly I have authorised the thesis to be issued as a Computer Laboratory Technical Report. This will make it easier for people to find and to cite, and will ensure that its presence on our web site is permanent….

You complain that our work may undermine public confidence in the payments system. What will support public confidence in the payments system is evidence that the banks are frank and honest in admitting its weaknesses when they are exposed, and diligent in effecting the necessary remedies. Your letter shows that, instead, your member banks do their lamentable best to deprecate the work of those outside their cosy club, and indeed to censor it. [Source: Cambridge]

The reply is full of win, academic world scores one.

The shadow scholar

Interesting article from The Chronicle by a man who gets paid writing thesis for students:

The Shadow Scholar

The man who writes your students’ papers tells his story

You’ve never heard of me, but there’s a good chance that you’ve read some of my work. I’m a hired gun, a doctor of everything, an academic mercenary. My customers are your students. I promise you that. Somebody in your classroom uses a service that you can’t detect, that you can’t defend against, that you may not even know exists.

I work at an online company that generates tens of thousands of dollars a month by creating original essays based on specific instructions provided by cheating students. I’ve worked there full time since 2004. On any day of the academic year, I am working on upward of 20 assignments.

Read more at The Chronicle.

List of cats with fraudulent diplomas

This is a weird Wikipedia article: List of cats with fraudulent diplomas. It is a list of cats getting higher education certifications. On several occasions, people who desired to expose a diploma mill have registered their pet cat as a student. Upon its speedy graduation, the cat and its diploma are displayed to the news media.

One of the cats is Colby Nolan and here’s the story from Wiki:

Colby Nolan

Colby Nolan is a housecat who was awarded an MBA degree in 2004 by Trinity Southern University, a Dallas, Texas-based diploma mill, sparking a fraud lawsuit by the Pennsylvania attorney general‘s office.[1] Continue reading “List of cats with fraudulent diplomas”

California: The sad state of a failing state

Are things that bad? If you have 10 minutes to spare and are in the mood for reading, read the Guardian article:

Will California become America’s first failed state?

… California is like a patient on life support. At the start of summer the state government was so deeply in debt that it began to issue IOUs instead of wages. Its unemployment rate has soared to more than 12%, the highest figure in 70 years. Desperate to pay off a crippling budget deficit, California is slashing spending in education and healthcare, laying off vast numbers of workers and forcing others to take unpaid leave. In a state made up of sprawling suburbs the collapse of the housing bubble has impoverished millions and kicked tens of thousands of families out of their homes. Its political system is locked in paralysis and the two-term rule of former movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger is seen as a disaster – his approval ratings having sunk to levels that would make George W Bush blush. The crisis is so deep that Professor Kenneth Starr, who has written an acclaimed history of the state, recently declared: “California is on the verge of becoming the first failed state in America.”

… California is currently cutting healthcare, slashing the “Healthy Families” programme that helped an estimated one million of its poorest children. Los Angeles now has a poverty rate of 20%. Other cities across the state, such as Fresno and Modesto, have jobless rates that rival Detroit’s. In order to pass its state budget, California’s government has had to agree to a deal that cuts billions of dollars from education and sacks 60,000 state employees. Some teachers have launched a hunger strike in protest. California’s education system has become so poor so quickly that it is now effectively failing its future workforce. The percentage of 19-year-olds at college in the state dropped from 43% to 30% between 1996 and 2004, one of the highest falls ever recorded for any developed world economy. California’s schools are ranked 47th out of 50 in the nation. Its government-issued bonds have been ranked just above “junk”.

Read it full at Guardian

It has this chilling effect for me.

The limits of sex education

The news article on ChannelNewsAsia reveals concerns over over-education of homosexuality issues.

Controversial content in AWARE’s sex education programme sparks debate

SINGAPORE: The debate over the sexuality education programme by the Association of Women for Action and Research boils down to a 15-minute segment of its three-hour workshop, TODAY has learnt after obtaining on Wednesday pages of the group’s Comprehensive Sexual Education: Basic Instructor Guide.

The section in question defines terms such as “anal sex”, “virginity”, “teenage pregnancy” and “homosexual”. As part of the workshop exercise, students are asked to associate these terms according to three categories: Positive, neutral and negative.

The rest of the guide deals with topics such as body image, HIV/Aids, contraception and relationships. But it is the description of terms such as homosexuality and anal sex that appears to be at the heart of the contention raised by self-declared “feminist mentor” and senior lawyer Thio Su Mien.

She took issue with homosexuality being seen as a neutral, not negative, word.

AWARE’s former programme manager Deeksha Vasundhra said the definitions are for instructors to facilitate discussions.

The “private and confidential” guide is never given to students, she said.

While the majority saw the importance of educating their children on sexuality and making the right choices, many also questioned the handling of controversial topics and the explicitness of the material.

“It’s okay to let them know (about sex) but not to this extent. I don’t want my son to learn such explicit things,” said Ms Nor, a mother of three.

Father of six, Rizan Jantan, 45, felt children could approach parents and “we can explain to them (right from wrong).”

A mother of two boys said it was “all natural”, while businessman Chung Toh Keong, 56, felt such issues should be taught, since we “don’t dare talk about such taboo topics”. (Source: ChannelNewsAsia)

What caught my attention is Ms Nor’s comments where she agrees with sex education but prefers it to take a slightly conservative approach where issues such as “anal sex” and so on are not discussed. Is ignorance really bliss? Should there be limits as to where sex education should discuss? Wouldn’t it be just a matter of time (at the rate things are going) these issues become common discussions?

Watch Bill Gates release mosquitoes to TED audience

Bill Gates talks about malaria and he says, “I brought some here so you can experience this and we’ll let those roam around the auditorium a little bit. There’s no reason only poor people should have this experience.” He then proceed to opening a jar of mosquito slightly and letting some mosquitoes out! You can see it somewhere at 5:10 of the video. The TED organizers quickly responded confirming the mosquitoes are malaria-free. Bill Gates hopes to solve some of the world’s biggest problems using a new kind of philanthropy. In a passionate and, yes, funny 18 minutes, he asks us to consider two big questions and how we might answer them.

Bill Gates: How I’m trying to change the world now

It’s a good speech. But what a badass! Haha!

8 year old passes Microsoft Cert, wants create “new operational system”

Wow, just wow. He wants to create a new operational system. Okay I don’t mean to laugh at his little mistake. He is the youngest certified computer system administrator. This is just ridiculous. It also goes to show how useless these certifications actually are.

And when congratulated by Microsoft, the 8 year old Casalan’s reaction was gold “The Microsoft officials gave me computer games and DVDs with cartoons when I passed the exams because I am a child. That was nice, but I’m not really interested in those things.” I somehow think the Microsoft officials did what’s most appropriate.

Marko Casalan, 8, is officially world’s youngest IT whizz

At the age of 8, Marko has become the world’s youngest certified computer system administrator and was deemed the Mozart of Computers by the press after passing exams for IT professionals with the computer giant Microsoft.

“The Microsoft officials gave me computer games and DVDs with cartoons when I passed the exams because I am a child. That was nice, but I’m not really interested in those things,” young Marko told The Times.

“I’d like to be a computer scientist when I grow up and create a new operational system.”

His parents, who are IT experts and run a computer school for children, are considering sending Marko abroad to a specialised institute of learning for gifted children, as none exists in Macedonia.

“Marko displayed exceptional learning abilities at a very early age. He was able to replicate a computer operation after only reading about it on the internet. Now we ask him for help when we have some IT related problem at work,” Marko’s mother, Radica Calasan, 38, told The Times. (Source: TimesOnline)

I generally don’t agree with putting kids through these gifted programs. They’re hardly that beneficial. I feel a kid who enjoys his or her childhood with other friends of similar age gain a hundred times more experience than a kid with an Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator (MCSA). Well, just saying.