* Posts by antiquam bombulum

10 posts • joined 25 Mar 2015

Nearly half of IBM's $1bn Aussie framework deal comes from mainframes

antiquam bombulum

Re: Hadn't been planned well?

Having been driven to distraction by their godawful excuse for a website for a number of years, I really wonder how anyone knew that the links didn't go anywhere, as opposed to stuff just being unfindable by any reasonable process. It is the absolute worst website I have ever had to use. If someone had set out to design an obtuse website, they could not have made one as bad as this one. Finding patches, updates and documentation is excruciating. I don't think those twerps have any idea at all about what a decent site should be like to use, nor do I think they care.

Murdoch's Fox empire is set to become a literal Mickey Mouse outfit

antiquam bombulum

Dirty Digger?

As an Australian from the home town of his original paper (the execrable and unlamented "News"), it is with great relief that I state that he is no longer a "digger" (although "dirty" he may well be in a number of senses), having relinquished Australian citizenship in order to buy US companies. And I'd go further and add, with some feeling, that he's not just "not Australian", he's "un-Australian". An utterly malignant individual.

The UK isn't ditching Boeing defence kit any time soon

antiquam bombulum

Re: Pot... Kettle ... Black... hmmm I know there's a sentence in there somewhere...

Indeed. For them to say it's not fair because Airbus got government seed capital is disingenuous. They can huff and puff all they like about level playing fields when it is as clear as day to anyone not totally partisan that Boeing does everything it can to ensure the playing field is not level. In their case, they use their lobbyists to ensure that their Congressmen will vote a collective "wrong answer" if any tender decision favours a non-US supplier. Europe may well provide subsidies to get their manufacturers underway, but Boeing and other major suppliers use underhanded methods to subvert tender processes that provide like-for-like comparisons that end up deciding on a non-US supplier. They ensure that any decision that comes up with a decision in favour of a non-US supplier will be appealed til the end of time. (BTW: I have not yet heard whether the European startup subsidies are required to subsequently be repaid at more-or-less commercial rates. It would not surprise me in the least if the US manufacturers' lobbyists ignore this.)

Failed cancer data integration project means labs can't see patient histories

antiquam bombulum

Re: Serious Questions

The states and territories already have their own registries, but these are not integrated with one another.

There are people whose cancer diagnosis turns up in a registry without there being any prior record of hospital admissions. This may be because they moved to a new state, then got diagnosed with cancer for the first time in that state. So the only record about that person's cancer in that state will be that they were diagnosed on a certain date with a certain type of cancer. not very helpful without their medical history. It can also happen when Aboriginal people from central Australia go to a hospital in another state and there are no records for that person in that state, so all a cancer researcher has is a record of a cancer diagnosis. Cancer outcomes for Aboriginal people are much poorer than those for non Aboriginal people and nobody yet knows why, so more complete records for them would make understanding the reasons for their poorer outcomes easier.

Cancer research projects on a national scale are much easier if there is only one body with whom to negotiate access to the data. South Australia is notoriously difficult to do any kind of health research in, so researchers in this area will find it a bit easier with one less set of hurdles to jump. I know a very eminent researcher who has spent several years trying to get access to data for one particular project because of that. A national register would make cancer research more about doing research and less about fighting foot-dragging of bureaucrats who just can't be bothered.

So, while it's not an obvious Commonwealth responsibility (since they don't run the hospitals and states do), there are good reasons for creating a national registry.

nbn™ says nobody needs gigabit internet, trumpets XG-Fast at 8Gbps anyway

antiquam bombulum

They never address pricing in this context

Given how much more they charge for speeds above what you get on ADSL2, it's hardly surprising that punters are choosing to pay about what they were before. If they lowered the price of higher speeds, they'd get the uptake. They could have chosen to offer higher speeds at the current prices at the same cost to themselves.

Surface Book nightmare: Microsoft won't fix 'Sleep of Death' bug

antiquam bombulum

I had a similar, but not identical problem with my SP3. It would occasionally overheat while asleep, but that problem went away, to be replaced by one in which the Surface Cover driver would drop out of the list of devices in Device Manager. Naturally the keyboard would stop working. I would have to do a full re-start to get it back. This grew more frequent till it would happen as quickly as an hour after the last one. Once this phase of losing the keyboard driver every hour began, it also acquired the Sleep of Death syndrome too. Two 'nuke from orbit' system reinstalls failed to cure it. It was replaced under my extended warranty with a Surface Pro 4 and I have had zero problems in the 4 months I've had it. I took the option of purchasing a third-party 3-year extended warranty again (the original problem occurred after 14 months so the manufacturer's warranty had expired). Mine was diagnosed by the insurer's tech people as a motherboard problem. The fact that driver updates are not fixing these problems makes me suspect there may be windespread quality-control problems with the hardware. The things are a nightmare when they are not working properly, but this new one has been a delight.

Australian test finds robot essay assessors on par with human teachers

antiquam bombulum

Re: Not sure

The article is not so much about 'automated marking is always better for every purpose', but a much more specific one about whether, for the purposes of marking the writing component of the NAPLAN test, an automated system could do at least as well as human marking.

I think much of the intent of the NAPLAN marking automation was directed at optimising the logistics of the process. The time taken to manually mark was of the order of 6 weeks, if memory serves, and there was considerable pressure to reduce the time between sitting the tests (April, I think) and final results being published (September?). Despite hiring experienced people (usually former teachers and occasionally, principals) and conducting training beforehand, it was still necessary to remove markers who could not mark consistently (i.e. against pre-marked test scripts randomly inserted into the system). So if a piece of software can do the job consistently and at least as well as experienced markers, it's a simple choice.

Speed of marking obviously goes up as well as the consistency. Handwriting difficulties are removed (in the fully automated process, the students type their answers, rather than hand-writing them and then having them scanned, as at present). A considerable amount of garbage-removal is obviated because there are reduced opportunities for mis-identifying scripts - it was a constant bugbear that school staff would cross out the pre-printed name on a test book, hand-write a different student's name on the cover and then give it to the new student (usually done when the original student was absent and they'd run out of test books). They would leave the barcode that identified the original student and the test score would get automatically assigned to the original student. The list of things like this that have to be hunted down and cleaned up is lengthy. Eliminating the scope for stuff like that improves both timeliness and accuracy. (Any process that involves attempting to obtain the coordinated action of more than a handful of teachers and principals is like trying to herd cats and is best avoided.)

The wider issue of 'can automated marking get at the true subtleties and creative abilities of humans?' is a complex argument, but, for every example of where software falls short, you can point to equally many where highly experienced and knowledgeable humans do too. The Leavisite 'wars' are a good example of where it can go wrong in a particularly destructive way. But on a more practical level, where a student has been given mark that a school or parent believes is anomalous, a re-mark can always be requested. Re-marks do occasionally happen under the present system, and almost certainly would under a fully automated one too.

antiquam bombulum

Re: @James51 and originality

Schools can only withdraw a child on the grounds of disability, whether this is physical or psychological. Each instance must be justified by the principal. Students sometimes do have meltdowns about the test and schools are free to withdraw any child for whom there are good grounds for believing that they may suffer undue stress from doing the test.

Parental withdrawals have in some states been showing an increase, so there is some evidence for either an increased awareness by parents of their right to withdraw, or perhaps of more parents having reservations about the test where their child is concerned.

Withdrawing children is not a simple issue as absence of NAPLAN scores can affect assessments of applications to selective-entry schools, for example. A lot of the heat about the test has come from the way the media jumps on each year's results and looks for evidence of systemic failure. Early on they wanted to create 'league tables' of schools, again to highlight what they see as underperforming schools. It is a pity that the press have decided to use NAPLAN results in this way because it was intended to help schools and students by measuring against a common benchmark. Had the stakes not been so ludicrously raised as a result of the press wanting to use NAPLAN results demonise schools, it might have been possible to make the appropriate use of it - as just another view of each child's performance to give some sense of balance amongst all the other pieces of information.

This is what happens when a judge in New York orders an e-hit on a Chinese software biz

antiquam bombulum
Pirate

What a bunch of creeps

Chrome has been reporting the downloads from Fengtao's site as malware for the last few weeks. Maybe it's just a coincidence or maybe it's Google's way of assisting the court?

Like others, I use the ripping software for putting my (legal) movies onto my tablet and phone for watching when I'm stuck somewhere. And their Media Player is a great way of using my HTPC to get round the infuriating region encoding on my (also legally owned) discs bought from overseas to get round the morally stinking pricing these creeps behind the law suit have been imposing on punters in Australia (and other countries too, no doubt). I hope Fengtao continue to find workarounds for these court-imposed bits of robber baron behaviour.

Skull and cutlasses for the lawsuit plaintiffs (yeah, mixed metaphor. Apologies to Bernard Woolley).

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