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Yet another way to waste time
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5th-Apr-2007 10:06 am - Powerpoint and teaching methods
Many of you will already have seen references to this research:

Who knows exactly what the researchers think, but it has certainly been picked up by the popular press as "power point sucks". But leaving aside all the obvious counters, what amused me in the article, were these statements:

The findings that challenge common teaching methods suggest that instead of asking students to solve problems on their own, teachers helped students more if they presented already solved problems.

"Looking at an already solved problem reduces the working memory load and allows you to learn. It means the next time you come across a problem like that, you have a better chance at solving it," Professor Sweller said.

Do I even need to comment? Nah, i think i will just let the statements speak for themselves :)

P.S I am waiting for one of our Algorithms (451) students to tell us the homeworks are useless for their learning.
30th-Mar-2007 02:06 pm(no subject)

Entertaining way to write an opinion piece. Though, since I knew what she was on about after the first line or so, it may not be useful as a device to convince people.
24th-Mar-2007 05:26 pm - Some books read recently....
It has been a very long time since I blogged about any books I have read. So before I forget what they were, here is a list! Hopefully I have not forgotten anything.

Neverwhere: A Novel, by Neil Gaiman - fantasy fiction set underneath London. ***

Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut - cross between a war novel and an SF novel? ***

No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, by Alexander McCall Smith - pretty interesting/entertaining. ***

Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier - quite a good murder mystery. ***

Love in the Time of Cholera", by Gabriel Garcia Marquez - i did not like it at first, but then it drew me in. ****

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, by Dave Eggers - this is a memoir, somewhat pretentious and self-obsessed, but it is ultimately quite engrossing ... not sure how he did it. ****

Letters to a Young Poet, by Rainer Maria Rilke - pleasant to read. ***

Things Fall Apart, by Chinau Achebe - interesting, but also quite depressing account of life in Nigeria. ***1/2

Norwegian Wood, by Haruki Murakami - i love the way this guy writes. ****1/2

The Trial, by Franz Kafka - totally struggled through this. There were some interesting ideas, but I would have preferred it in short story form. *

Pale Fire, by Vladimir Nabokov - what can I say, Nabokov is a genius. *****

His Dark Materials - golden compass, by Philip Pullman - lots of fun. ****

I capture the castle, by Dodie Smith - quite endearing. ****

The Pillars of Earth, by Ken Follett - absolutely epic, like fantasy but without the magic, both interesting and entertaining. ****

Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh - all the characters annoyed me. **

Subtle Knife, by Philip Pullman - second book is as good as the first! ****
16th-Mar-2007 09:34 am - Pigs
Poor pigs: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/14/opinion/14niman.html?em&ex=1174190400&en=a08952256d38b787&ei=5087%0A

I was not aware pigs were kept in cages like chickens. I wonder if this happens in Australia too.
3rd-Mar-2007 04:10 pm - book meme
Anyone feel like a really long book meme?

Read more...Collapse )
5th-Dec-2006 03:28 pm - I have credit!
smiley cat
Woohoo! I finally have a somewhat reasonable credit rating!! I became suspicious that i might finally have decent credit when i succeeded in getting my brother a cell phone. I was wasting some time on amazon this afternoon, pondering what sort of camera i want to buy, when i was enticed by their little $30 off for signing up for a credit card ad. Given my recent cell phone success i figured why not give it a go... And guess what? I was instantly approved! Granted $800 is not a very useful credit limit, but given the number credit rejections i have suffered (I was even rejected for a secured credit card - my lack of credit record meant i could not be identified properly or some such nonsense), i am very happy.
30th-Nov-2006 10:58 pm - Reading Log
smiley cat
White Oleander by Janet Finch
One has to hope the series of LA foster parents depicted in this book are not a representative sample.

The Handmaid's Tale: A Novel by Margaret Atwood
Atwood writes about a totalitarian future where people's lives are tightly controlled and women are generally subjugated. It is not 1984, but it is pretty good.

Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk
Not sure what to say about his one. It took me a while to get into it, but i enjoyed it in the end. Palahniuk is certainly quite creative.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
I read this ages ago and forgot to note it down. I think this is the best book i have read in many months - gut wrenching, interesting, and compelling. I would write more, but i had better save my hands for work.
29th-Nov-2006 11:21 am - I had no idea...
smiley cat
According to Gary Bouma, writing in the SMH, I am a member of a religious group! :)

"How is the host of a dinner party, or corporate function, to cope with the dietary regulations of vegetarians, vegans, as well as those of other religious groups?"

Not sure how that one got past the editor.
20th-Nov-2006 05:50 pm - Crazy proposed copyright law
In Australia, the government is trying to get an amendment to the Copyright Act through parliament. This amendment would make it illegal to put tracks from a music CD you bought onto an iPod! Apparently it was meant to make this sort of copying LEGAL, but the lawmakers did not realise that iTunes keeps a copy on the HD as well as on the iPod...

It would also allow for on-the-spot fines of $1320 for copyright infringements. The cops could pretty much issue every household in the country such a fine! It is hard to imagine a house without, some video recorded from the TV, or some CD copied from a friend, or a few MP3s unpaid for.

You can read all about it at the SMH.

If the article is even half-way correct, I think whoever wrote this Bill should be fired for not using their brain...
16th-Nov-2006 04:25 pm - Swimmers
Anyone know a good place to buy some-what practical swimwear at this time of year?
10th-Nov-2006 10:57 pm - Reading Log
"Angela's Ashes" by Frank McCourt

Memoir about growing up poor in Ireland in the 1940s or thereabouts. Dad is a drunk, both parents are smokers, and the toddlers are often fed water with sugar instead of food. It was both humourous and depressing. This is an extremely popular book, and is worth a read for sure, but I would not rave about it.

"The Inheritance of Loss" by Kiran Desai

I liked this one better than the last booker prize-winner, "The Sea", which I never even finished. The novel is largely set in the north-east of India, in the 1980s, against the back-drop of the Nepalese independence movement. It touches on many themes - young love, culture clash (both Indian and British and Indian and American), class divides etc. The words flow well, but the story less well. Some parts were excellent - well written and compelling, but as a whole I just thought it was lacking something.
The SMH had a funny article this morning: http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2006/11/09/1162661802875.html?from=top5

Some incredibly dumb tourist entered a water hole and splashed around in attempt to attract the attention of a Croc so he could photograph it. The crocodile, rather understandably, bit the tourist and now is going to be moved out of the water hole. The reporters managed to get the following quote from an upset, croc loving local - "If you were being taunted by that tourist you would bite him too." Clearly idiotic tourists should stay well away from Cape Trib. :)
6th-Nov-2006 03:53 pm - Carnegie and Mellon
Apparently there are two new biographies out - one about Carnegie and one about Mellon. The NYTimes has a joint
review. There are many "... Carnegie, Mellon .." and "Carnegie and Mellon" references in the review, but not one "Carnegie Mellon". :(
smiley cat

"The Poisonwood Bible" is the story of the Price family. The story is largely set in the Congo where Nathan Price, a Baptist minister, drags his family in 1959. The Prices find themselves in an isolated village where they have to rely on some of their supplies arriving by air. They are woefully unprepared and unsuitable for the situation.

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23rd-Oct-2006 08:54 pm - "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho **
smiley cat

"The Alchemist" is the story of Santiago, a Andalusian shepherd boy, who travels around the world in order to find his life's treasure. Santiago's desire to travel had lead to his becoming a shepherd, but at the start of the book he is contemplating settling down with a nice girl. However, a dream and a magical stranger combine to send him off to Egypt in search of treasure and his destiny. On the way, Santiago learns much about life and people. He learns to follow his own heart, to never give up on his dreams, to read omens, and even perform miracles.

The "magic" in the "The Alchemist" is strongly entwined with religion and the notion of a single creator God. The lessons for life delivered vary in quality. The main message is that if you want to achieve something, and never give up, you will achieve it eventually and the universe (read God I think) will conspire to help you. Following a dream is all very well and fine I suppose, but it seems that a person had better choose the dream that is actually their "destiny". It is no use telling someone who is 5 foot and wants to play in the NBA that they should devote their life to basketball.

"The Alchemist" is written in the style of a fable, and I am inclined to label it a children's book, though a child under 12 might find it hard to understand. "O Alquimista" was a huge hit in its original Portuguese, so it is has been translated into many languages, including English. :) I gave it only two stars ... but then i have never liked fables.
12th-Oct-2006 11:09 am - Nobel prize for literature
Turkish writer, Orhan Pamuk, won the Nobel prize for literature. Probably one of their less controversial choices.

Guardian Article
10th-Oct-2006 07:30 pm - Booker Prize
Kiran Desai won the Booker Prize for her novel "The Inheritance of Loss". Anyone read it? It has only 10 reviews on Amazon at the moment.... I expect that will be sky-rocketing soon.

The prize winning books are normally quite good.

Some previous winnersCollapse )
8th-Oct-2006 10:13 pm - "Forest Mage" by Robin Hobb ***
smiley cat

“Forest Mage” is the second book in Robin Hobb’s “The Soldier Son Trilogy”. The Trilogy is set in Gernia. The Gernians have taken over a landscape once primarily inhabited by the magic wielding Specks and Plainspeople. Although seemingly defeated, the Specks, at least, are still strongly resisting the take over in their own subtle way.

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6th-Oct-2006 05:49 pm - Mysteries of Pittsburgh
smiley cat
I read somewhere today that the Mysteries of Pittsburgh is being made into a movie. I guess it is about time i got around to reading it!
4th-Oct-2006 04:15 pm - Reading the newspaper makes me mad
This morning, the opinion section of the Sydney Morning Herald had a summarized version of the speech the prime minister, John Howard, made at the 50th anniversary of Quadrant (a right-wing literary magazine). You can find it here. The title is "Australia must fight in global struggle for freedom and liberty". Nothing wrong with that perhaps, but the whole thing was simply an attack on the left. By pairing such a title with the attack, he implies that since some people on the left were at some point supportive of communism, the left of today is not for liberty and freedom! Of course nothing could be further from the truth, it is conservative right-wingers like Howard who are not for liberty and freedom. They go on about freeing the Muslim world, but at home, it is these people that want to restrict liberties based on their own religious beliefs. Furthermore, it is the Howard government that introduced anti-terrorist legislation that goes counter to basic principles such as "innocent till proven guilty". So that got me mad this morning.

To make matters worse there was a follow up this afternoon by the Herald's most idiotic and nasty columnist, Miranda Devine. Devine spends most of her piece simply quoting Howard, but can't resist adding her own jabs as well. Miranda makes it clear what a great/smart/rightly thinking audience she thinks is present and she states "The consensus after the dinner of beef carpaccio and roast lamb (no vegans invited) was that the Prime Minister's speech was perhaps his finest". What the hell is up with the random jab at vegans? So annoying!

If i want to get work done i really should not read opinion articles it seems.
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