Mozilla Firefox dropping .zip builds

Chase says Firefox is dropping the .zip builds. The comments on that post alone ought to be enough to get them to bring them back.
I’ve been using them since I discovered that the unattended/silent install didn’t work as advertised. They claimed to have fixed that bug, but I haven’t had time to look at it yet. I’ve gotten addicted to the easy plugin install method of just copying the contents of the previous plugins folder over to the new install and going on.
I’m handling this update using the low tech method mentioned in the forum thread: Install in new directory on one machine, copy directory to server, treat like a zip build.
That works for now.

Movie Reviews

For some reason, the wife and I have been on an odd movie kick:

Next up, Life of Brian.

More computers make students learn?

One of those subjects that make me twinge: computers in classrooms can’t replace teachers. Students don’t just magically learn better or faster because they get more time with technology? I’m flabbergasted.

I’ve got to be careful here, since technology in the classroom pays 100% of my part-time job (and my full-time job probably wouldn’t exist if college students didn’t need access to computers and the internet). The part-time job is at a smaller k-12 district in east central Illinois dealing with the behind the scenes part of delivering the internet to the desktop, with Linux based web proxy servers, email, and other infrastructure.

In my limited direct dealings with teachers, I’ve noticed that some are able to use new tools better than others. Dealing with change is something we all have to do, some grasp it, become inspired and move forward. Others look at it as an obstacle and curse it. Most of us are somewhere in between, embracing what we like, dealing with what we must and resisting that which makes us uncomfortable.

There isn’t a magic box that we can place in the classroom to instantly transfer knowledge to students, there will always need to be an instructor who knows the material and is willing to transfer that knowledge to students using methods that keep the students interested. This isn’t always going to happen, some humans just have no interest in science (or math or english or wood shop or…), but we can hope that one instructor finds that at least one way to connect with one student.

Credit Cards and compound interest pain

Why is it that every time I’m reading some financial advice column, they say something like:


Can the human brain not be taught to understand the pitfalls of the credit card industry? Most financial columnists seem to think this is about as likely as Farleigh-Dickinson winning the NCAA basketball championship this year.
Luckily, this college professor is a little more positive:

I taught a unit on financial mathematics. I found this section a lot less interesting than the rest of the course, but taught it with the same enthusiasm that I bring to all of my classes. And something strange happened: for the first time ever (other than at camp), my students were more interested in a topic than I was. One kid, who sat front row centre, summed it up: “This stuff is useful.”

(Via this weeks’ Carnival of Education)

This has parallels to the sex education debate, but most people aren’t going to like the ones I draw. Telling students about the ways to stay safe while doing things does not mean you are forcing, or even encouraging, them to do anything, you are just giving them the tools to protect themselves if they so choose. So, spending a week or two in high school explaining why paying the minimum payment on a $2000 credit card bill every month with an APR of 19.9% isn’t going to get that balance down just might be a good thing.

I will grant that some people simply cannot control themselves when given the temptations of a seemingly limitless source of cash and they should follow the financial planner advice, but surely not every twentysomething falls into this category.

small mindedness

One of the guest writers over at TPM finally brings up one of the more important points of the right-wing talk radio and FoxNews revolution:

Why on Earth should anybody confine their reading to those writers with whom they agree on everything? The best way to learn is to read arguments you disagree with.

That’s precisely the reason buffoons like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly are on the air, people like to have their narrow-minded talking points reinforced to the point they have to be true.
And this quote gives a nice little window into the “high minded, hoity-toityness” that Rush and Bill like to pin on the Democrats:

if you spurn it or any other voice solely on ideological grounds, you’re dooming yourself to small-mindedness. Sorry to get preachy. I just find this mentality baffling.

It’s fine to stand outside the debate and say “I’m not going to lower myself to your level of thinking” but when the other side spins that back as “See, they think they are better than you, you’re just a bunch of dumb rednecks and religious nuts to them”, you’ve got to do something.

And, now, Harry Shearer, of The Simpsons and Spinal Tap is taking over TPM for a few days.