Thursday, June 25, 2009

voices from iran

they pull away the dead into trucks - like factory - no human can do this - we beg Allah for save us - #Iranelection

Lalezar Sq is same as Baharestan - unbelevable - ppls murdered everywhere - #Iranelection

they catch ppl with mobile - so many killed today - so many injured - Allah Akbar - they take one of us - #Iranelection

in Baharestan we saw militia with axe choping ppl like meat - blood everywhere - like butcher - Allah Akbar - #Iranelection RT RT RT

phone line was cut and we lost internet - #Iranelection - getting more difficult to log into net - #Iranelection

ppl run into alleys and militia standing there waiting - from 2 sides they attack ppl in middle of alleys #Iranelection

saw 7/8 militia beating one woman with baton on ground - she had no defense nothing - #Iranelection sure that she is dead

they were waiting for us - they all have guns and riot uniforms - it was like a mouse trap - ppl being shot like animals #Iranelection

I see many ppl with broken arms/legs/heads - blood everywhere - pepper gas like war - #Iranelection

all hospitals is surrounded by militia to check why ppl going in - if gun or baton injury - they arrest and beat u #Iranelection

all foreign embassys surrounded by militia to stop ppl going in - #Iranelection

the only question now is how will the end happen - peacefully or with civil war - #Iranelection

the ppl have lost all faith in this Gov - Iran can never be same as b4 again - #Iranelection

the city is full of Baseej and Revolutionary Guards and plain closthes militia carrying baton and tear gas - #Iranelection

Sunday, June 21, 2009

the future of iran

As horrible as this is, the protests and violence still do not approach the scale of 1979. But if they ever start to, then if Ayatollah Rafsanjani can't get the Assembly of Experts to dismiss Khamenei, the state will be a failed state with no real government, only a strongman.
- PhosphoenolPirate
Rafsanjani is the head of the powerful Assembly of Experts, which comprises senior clerics who can elect and dismiss the country's supreme leader
After his loss at the presidential elections in 2005, a growing tension between him and President Ahmadinejad arose. Rafsanjani has criticized Ahmadinejad's administration several times for conducting a purge of government officials [19], slow move towards privatization [20] and recently hostile foreign policy in particular the atomic energy policy [21][22]. In return Ahmadinejad has fought back that Rafsanjani failed to differentiate privatization with the corrupt takeover of government-owned companies and of foreign policies which led to sanctions against Iran in 1995 and 1996.[23][24]. He also implicitly denounced Rafsanjani and his followers by calling those who criticize his nuclear program as "traitors"
- Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani (wikipedia)
I'm pessimistic about the short term outcome. It is far from certain that the Basij and Revolutionary Guards would accept the overthrow of Khamenei. I was half expecting to wake up this morning with news of a massacre but thankfully that has not happened yet.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

handheld learning

Derek Robertson - Hero Innovator

Here is a report, from Scotland, on the educational use of commercial handhelds, in this case running the game Nintendogs on the Nintendo DS handheld and where the game play is based around nurturing a puppy to adulthood, entering shows, working out budget’s for feeding and health as well as a multitude of other dog related activities

(this is not my ideal approach but I won't digress here)

The reporting is fantastic because it contains a variety of video clips providing perspective from the leader, the kids, the older kid mentors, the Principal and parents.

I was particular taken by the interviews with the mentors, older kids who with some prompting reported and also did a little meta reflection on the learning and the parents, who were initially skeptical but then changed their minds. I've embedded these two videos below. On the original site they are the sixth and ninth videos from the top

Friday, June 19, 2009

ocean heat

GISS = NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies

Have changes in ocean heat falsified the global warming hypothesis?

This article argues that ocean heat provides a good correlation for the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) hypothesis and that since ocean heat has declined in the past 6 years that we ought to take another hard look at that hypothesis

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Friday, June 12, 2009

Schwarzenegger terminates textbooks

California's Governor Schwarzenegger has announced a digital textbooks initiative.
"The first phase will bring high school math and science classes access to free digital textbooks by fall 2009 - with additional content to follow"
One of the spins on this, from the video, was "flexbooks" rather than textbooks, the interactive potential. Schwarzenegger mentioned various positives but he mainly stressed the saving of money in the worst economic times since the Great Depression:
The average textbook costs about $75 to $100 per student. For a school district with about 10,000 high school students, the use of free digital textbooks in just science and math classes could save up to $2 million dollars
It wasn't mentioned that the seed for this idea was planted in part by the OLPC:

Thursday, June 11, 2009

is ubuntu superior?

Due to the agreement between our Education Department and Microsoft I work in a Microsoft centric environment. So when our network manager recently became very enthusiastic about the latest Ubuntu release (9.04), I asked him to spell it out. This is what he said:

Ubuntu is better than Windows (eg. Vista) as follows:
  • managing memory
  • easier to install virtual box, for testing multiple OS environments
  • managing multiple OS environments, it can run 4 separate sessions without noticeable lag (cf. 2 sessions max with Vista and VMware)
  • app support out of the box - it just tells you what you need to run an app and then installs it for you
  • no need to run anti virus software
  • more stable, it never seems to fully crash (blue screen of death)
  • if the window does freeze then it has a kill an app feature which works
btw I bought a dell mini inspiron last year and am now running Ubuntu netbook remix on it.

Monday, June 08, 2009

remember the bushfires

netbooks and schools: an evolution

I am presenting on this topic at Computer Education Group of South Australia (CEGSA) in July

I have finished my slides and notes. If you want a copy then leave a comment or send me an email (billkerr at gmail dot com) and I'll organise something.

The presentation consists of a review of some modern technologies and attitudes towards technologies.

Technologies reviewed: smart phones, ebook readers, (educationally customised) handhelds, enhanced screen (Mary Lou Jepson), Cloud computing, OLPC and netbooks.

Attitudes reviewed: Just a tool, Them and us (damnation, salvation), Us as them (augmentation), The pencil metaphor (Seymour Papert), Misuse of computers (Larry Cuban), Disruptive innovation (Clayton Christensen), Software as medium, The historical analogy of the printing press, Personal dynamic medium (Alan Kay, Adele Goldberg)

It is only intended to be a broad introductory document to the interaction between these technologies and attitudes. Hopefully it will lead to further discussion

Update (15th June): I now have the presentation uploaded to my website: netbooks and schools: an evolution

Arrrr ...

Great news!

The Swedish Pirate Party has gathered enough votes to be guaranteed a seat in the European Parliament... the Pirates have 7.1 percent of the votes ... This means that the Pirate Party will get at least one, but most likely two of the 18 (+2) available seats Sweden has at the European Parliament

Pirate Party leader Rick Falkvinge:
"Together, we have today changed the landscape of European politics. No matter how this night ends, we have changed it. This feels wonderful. The citizens have understood it’s time to make a difference. The older politicians have taken apart young peoples’ lifestyle, bit by bit. We do not accept the authorities’ mass-surveillance"
Just a little corruption in Sweden
Swedes Demonstrate in support of Pirate Bay

Thursday, June 04, 2009

editing 20 year old memories

A couple of things that I remember from this massacre. Elements of the so called "peoples army" were called in from remote provinces to crush the protest. They didn't know what they were crushing. As they fired into the unarmed crowd, sections of the crowd responded by singing The Internationale, the communist anthem. Notice that many of the protesters are carrying red flags. Mao warned that this sort of thing could happen before he died in 1976, if his supporters (the "Gang of Four") were defeated. I can dig up the quotes.

It's good to point out how ruthlessly the Chinese government is still editing this massacre. Nevertheless, our western press also edits our memory of what really happened, albeit more subtly.

It wouldn't do to be too critical of a government on which we now apparently depend for saving capitalist economies from total collapse.