Tech Today w/ Ken May

Archive for March 4th, 2012

Math Textbooks a Textbook Example of Bad Textbooks

Posted by kenmay on March - 4 - 2012

theodp writes “Over at Salon, Annie Keeghan does an Upton Sinclair number on the math textbook industry. In recent years, Keeghan explains, math has become the subject du jour due to government initiatives and efforts to raise the rankings of lagging U.S. students. But with state and local budgets constrained, math textbook publishers competing for fewer available dollars are rushing their products to market before their competitors, resulting in product that in many instances is inherently, tragically flawed. Keeghan writes: ‘There may be a reason you can’t figure out some of those math problems in your son or daughter’s math text and it might have nothing at all to do with you. That math homework you’re trying to help your child muddle through might include problems with no possible solution. It could be that key information or steps are missing, that the problem involves a concept your child hasn’t yet been introduced to, or that the math problem is structurally unsound for a host of other reasons.’ The comments on Keeghan’s article are also an eye-opener — here’s a sample: ‘Sales and marketing budgets are astronomical because the expenses pay off more than investments in product. Sadly, most teachers are not curriculum experts and are swayed by the surface pitches. Teachers make the decisions, but are not the users (students) nor are they spending their own money. As a result, products that make their lives easier and that come with free meals and gifts are the most successful.’ So, can open source or competitions build better math textbooks?” Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Current solar cell designs need to be aimed directly at the sun to be most efficient. But a Japanese company has come up with a clever new approach using spherical micro cells that can harness the sun’s rays from any direction. More »

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BitTorrent’s elite switches from Xvid to x264

Posted by kenmay on March - 4 - 2012

A high-level summit of the torrenting world’s elite release groups — the groups responsible for the highest quality, earliest infringing video releases — has resulted in a consensus on dumping the venerable Xvid codec (a video compression scheme) for x264, requiring the torrent-downloading public to rethink which tools, devices and converters they use. Here’s the official consensus . Torrentfreak’s Enigmax has more: The document – ‘The SD x264 TV Releasing Standards 2012′ – is extremely detailed and covers all sorts of technical issues, but the main controversy stems from the adoption of the x264 codec. “x264 has become the most advanced video codec over the past few years. Compared to Xvid, it is able to provide higher quality and compression at greater SD resolutions,” the rule document begins. “This standard aims to bring quality control back to SD releases. There are many standalone players/streamers such as TviX, Popcorn Hour, WDTV HD Media Player, Boxee, Xtreamer, PS3, XBOX 360, iPad, & HDTVs that can playback H264 and AAC encapsulated in MP4,” the doc adds. From February 22nd and earlier in some cases, release groups including ASAP, BAJSKORV, C4TV, D2V, DiVERGE, FTP, KYR, LMAO, LOL, MOMENTUM, SYS, TLA and YesTV began releasing TV shows in the new format. Out went Xvid and avi, in came x264 and MP4. BitTorrent Pirates Go Nuts After TV Release Groups Dump Xvid

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It’s a sad day for the concept art world. Ralph McQuarrie, the artist who created concept designs for the first Star Wars trilogy, the original Battlestar Galactica television show, Close Encounters of the Third Kind , E.T. , and other science fiction classics, has passed away at age 82. He set our minds on fire and made so many of us fall in love with science fiction. He’ll be missed. [ Tor ] More »

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BitTorrent’s elite switches from Xvid to H.264

Posted by kenmay on March - 4 - 2012

A high-level summit of the torrenting world’s elite release groups — the groups responsible for the highest quality, earliest infringing video releases — has resulted in a consensus on dumping the venerable Xvid codec (a video compression scheme) for H.264, requiring the torrent-downloading public to rethink which tools, devices and converters they use. Here’s the official consensus . Torrentfreak’s Enigmax has more: The document – ‘The SD x264 TV Releasing Standards 2012′ – is extremely detailed and covers all sorts of technical issues, but the main controversy stems from the adoption of the x264 codec. “x264 has become the most advanced video codec over the past few years. Compared to Xvid, it is able to provide higher quality and compression at greater SD resolutions,” the rule document begins. “This standard aims to bring quality control back to SD releases. There are many standalone players/streamers such as TviX, Popcorn Hour, WDTV HD Media Player, Boxee, Xtreamer, PS3, XBOX 360, iPad, & HDTVs that can playback H264 and AAC encapsulated in MP4,” the doc adds. From February 22nd and earlier in some cases, release groups including ASAP, BAJSKORV, C4TV, D2V, DiVERGE, FTP, KYR, LMAO, LOL, MOMENTUM, SYS, TLA and YesTV began releasing TV shows in the new format. Out went Xvid and avi, in came x264 and MP4. BitTorrent Pirates Go Nuts After TV Release Groups Dump Xvid

Categories: Uncategorized