Saturday, October 15, 2005
Entertaining: NYTimes and Judy Miller
The NYTimes tried to explain what happened to Judy Miller, and it seems like a classic foot-in-mouth situation. Arianna Huffington says it well.
Higher Education Woes for America
This issue of the New York Review of Books is pretty good! The article on the state of higher education in the US points out some well-known yet disturbing trends:
- Top Universities are not paying much attention to quality of undergraduate education.
- Tuition costs are increasing rapidly, but the quality of education isn't significantly better.
- There's too much flab at the top - hundreds of well-paid, tenured professors who don't do anything worthwhile - in large universities.
How good an education you get totally depends upon your peer group and not too much on your teachers or the university itself. That's where excellent but tiny Liberal Arts programs fail to produce the kind of world-beaters that regularly emerge from the Ivy League schools and big state universities like Berkeley.
Help for Pakistan Earthquake survivors
The blogs seemed to be very quiet initially about the earthquake in Pakistan. No more so: Here is one example of a very well-coordinate relief response.
Invasion of Iraq a Good Thing for Iraninans
Excellent article in the New York Review of Books about the current state of affairs in Iran. Optimistic bottomline: If Iraq is successfully democratized, the theocracy in Iran will almost certainly have to give way to democracy.
Friday, October 14, 2005
$200 Computer is already here
AMD announced a $200 computer in India. So I guess it's a matter of a few months before a real $100 computer - not some crippled network computer from the MIT think-gooders - is available commercially.
Sunday, October 09, 2005
Stanford Wins the Grand Challenge
The robot will be the chauffeur in 10 years and yet another job is lost to the machines.
There just aren't very many so-called 'menial' jobs - jobs that require less than an undergraduate degree - left in the world.
Product Placement on ZeeTV
In the middle of a Zee TV soap, the plot halts; the scene moves to the kitchen. The actors are enjoying a meal. They discuss why the food tastes so good - it's the masala, silly. The camera zooms in on a packet of "Aashirvaad Masala."
World XI RIP
The Australian cricket team massacred the World XI. Lesson for USA Basketball: instead of bringing together a bunch of superstars who haven't played together for more than a week, they should just field the NBA champion team for the Olympics.
Went shopping today. Realized the obvious: when brand name stuff is on sale, there are some amazing deals to be had. Wonder if there's a website that lists all the top stores that have a sale. Also, is there a website that tells you when items one likes are on sale?
Where Amazon.com fails
Also realized what is good about Amazon.com and where it sucks. I was looking for books for my 3-year-old nephew. I could not find anything worthwhile at Amazon.com. It was obvious that Amazon does have lots of books for kids. But how to find the good ones? There is a crappy "Editor's list," as well as the half-assed "look inside the book" feature. Neither is really useful. That's where Amazon fails. So we went to Barnes & Nobles and found lots and lots of amazing - truly fabulous - kids' books.
Then I looked for books for some older kids too at Barnes & Nobles. Lots of choices again, but this time I found missing a web-like search feature in the store. Is "The Wizard of Oz" appropriate for a 5-year old? Do they sell Enid Blytons in the US?
A combination of mobile phone and RFID/location technology can bring the best of the two worlds together. The mobile phone can help you search thru Amazon.com, Wikipedia and other sources when you are inside a store. The location/RFID technology can reduce the amount of information you need to type into the device (name of the book, shelf you're standing in front of etc.)
Will such a combination technology really benefit either Barnes & Noble or Amazon.com? That's not quite clear - it will certainly help the customer though.