A little privacy please?

So, by now you’ve probably heard of the iPhone location tracking debacle.  I don’t use an iPhone, and my iPad isn’t 3G so it doesn’t affect me… or does it?

Who knows?  I think it’s reasonable to assume that just about every device is tracking me, somehow.  I’ll know my Android phone is tracked by the cell towers, I know my online shopping is tracked, as is most likely all my surfing at work, my wife probably follows me around town, and we all know that those “vaccines” we get as children are really a bunch of microscopic tracking devices, right?

So, why worry about one more example?  Well, in this case, because it represents not a malicious intent, but just plain rank stupidity!  There is simply no excuse for Apple to have left a file like this completely accessible with a total lack of security at any reasonable level.  It’s an example of a culture of not giving a crap.  We’ve become so accepting of the cost of technology to our privacy that companies, programmers, manufacturers, and end users have stopped holding each other accountable.   We post personal information, pictures of our kids, our travel plans (I’m guilty of all these) with blatant abandon.  Hey, why don’t we go ahead and post the location of our spare key or bank pin while we’re at it?

So, if we’re so willing to give up our privacy, do we really have the right to blame a company for not protecting it?  What do you think?

Mourning the death of the Flip camera

Today, Cisco announced the demise of the Flip camera (http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/Cisco-Restructures-Consumer-Business-NASDAQ-CSCO-1426209.htm ).  While I certainly understand, I can’t help but be saddened.  The Flip camera was the first truly usable video camera that my department could offer faculty and staff.  We’ve seen widespread adoption of the product.  Videos have popped up all over campus largely because of the portability and simplicity of this product.  Sure, I have a smart phone that takes okay video, but I’m not going to loan it to a student to go out and shoot b-roll for me!  So, now I have to go out and find another camera I like as much.  Personally, I like my Zoom Q3HD camera, but the video is only average (as was the Flip) and it doesn’t seem nearly as rugged.  I’ve had Flips survive drops, kicks and new employees armed with cans of acetone.  I’m not about to subject my Zoom to that sort of life!

So, it would seem that for now I need to accept the loss, and learn to live without. Farewell, old friend.

On the subject of Instruction

My wife and I are struggling with finding the best education for our daughter.  It’s frustrating that in this day and age, with piles of research on what doesn’t and does not work in education, that the public school system is relegated to churning out students incapable of functioning in the real world.  My daughter’s school is full of great teachers – or so I would like to assume.  Based on the work that comes home from school, I’d be more likely to conclude that she’s spending the day with mindless teach-bots that spew useless busy work.  When it comes to math, we were actually told TOLD! that we should worry less on having her understand the underlying math, but rather focus our time on having her memorize all of the answer to addition and subtraction of numbers 1 -10.  GREAT!  So my daughter will pass the SOL on math, but won’t be able to apply the knowledge, so when it comes time to learn algebra she’ll still be clueless and struggling.   Homework (in first grade, no less) has no visible purpose.  It’s the same thing over and over, but no guidance on just WHAT is the teacher hoping my child will learn by doing it.  Hey!  Do you want her to learn the meaning of the words? How to spell the words? How to use the words? How to write neatly? C’mon!  A little thought on just what the point is would be nice – even if we agree to disagree on the effectiveness of homework (all the data says it’s useless, and even harmful at this point, but that’s another rant).

Salman Khan summed it up perfectly (I’m paraphasing here) “You’re about 80% able to ride a bike now, so time to learn the Unicyle”.  It really does feel that way.  What nut job actually thinks the kids we’re educating like this will actually be able to run our country in 20 years?  No wonder teachers are burned out.  Imagine the level of micromanagement that is going on in the classrooms right now.

You know, the more cynical side of me is convinced that this is our great leader’s way of moving us back to a time where ONLY the rich could get an education.  Think about it, it’s the perfect way to combat the “everyone should go to college” approach that the liberal leaders have promoted.  If we can effectively undermine the middle and lower classes ability to get a good basic education, they’ll never make it through college, and thus never be able to compete for jobs against those that have higher education.   Did you know that 70% of community college students require remedial education to get them to college level.  These are kids that GRADUATED from high school during the “no child left behind” system of education!

So, what do we do?  Do we accept that this is the best we can get and continue, hoping we as parents can make up the difference?  Do we put ourselves deeply in debt and forgo the possibility of saving for college by putting her in a private school that has a different philosophy and hope for the best?

What do you think?