The difference between wanting an education, and wanting a degree

Students seem to fall into two categories: people who want the letters after their name, and people who want to learn. That might seem like an unfair distinction, and everything I’ve been learning this year has cheap mlb jerseys with stressed that categorizing anything into two distinct groups is wrought of peril, but it seems to remain an applicable (if not necessarily accurate) differentiation, and one cheap nfl jerseys that I’d like to drill into a bit.

When I was doing my B.Sc., wholesale nba jerseys I spent a miserable year in a major that did Microsoft not suit me in the least. I knew that it wasn’t the path for me from the third week, but I was committed, and my university would not allow me to change majors until the first year was over. Trying to excel at something you don’t care about is hard, and my grade in Ordinary Differential Equations clearly showed that. I was aiming for the bare minimum: to pass, preferably with cheap jerseys a Scanning C, rather than the pity-pass D. cheap nfl jerseys I missed the pity-pass, and I still have no idea what an ODE is, let alone how to deal with them. Moving into a program I cared about changed things: I put more signe time and energy into my studies, did Wood my readings, and went to see my professors when I had questions. I failed another class (one I cared very much about), through poor cheap jerseys planning rather than neglect, and rest assured, when I took it again, my study skills had improved, and my colour-coding obsessiveness had reached new heights. More importantly, rather than simply trying to learn the material, I tried cheap jerseys to understand it, and to this day it’s the class I remember most clearly and can discuss most enthusiastically. Rather than trying to pass, I tried watch to learn, and it was incredibly fulfilling.

I am currently working with a partner on a major assignment designing a database as well as a web interface to interact with it. We’ve improved our Python programming skills (mine, at the very least, have improved dramatically; I suspect she started off with some more skillz), become reasonably adept at Sliders writing reasonably complex MySQL queries, and challenged ourselves to do more than the assignment called for. We were expected to deal with sessions: we chose to do so with cookies, rather than the suggested ‘send a random number as the token on each page’; we were expected to provide a way to log in (based on existing data in the DB): we chose to allow users to both sign up and then log in. Doing extra probably won’t affect our grade (though I am hopeful it might raise us from an A to A+) but it has been incredibly instructive.

If we hadn’t decided to do Titel a bit ‘more’ than necessary, I’d still have no ideas how Cookies work, and I probably wouldn’t have learned as wholesale nfl jerseys much about HTML and CSS as I did. If I didn’t do (most of) my readings, I’d have a much smaller repertoire to draw on. If I wasn’t transit trying to get as much out of this program as I can, I’d feel like I’m wasting my time and my money. If I hadn’t failed Animal Diversity during my Undergrad, I wouldn’t have obsessively studied the evolutionary development of Animalia, and wouldn’t be able to draw a (roughly accurate) molecular phylogeny from memory. I’d have wasting the opportunity to really learn.

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit excited that I’ll get to call myself a ‘Master of Information’ around this time next year. I would be lying if I said there was no part of me that likes the thought of having a bunch of letters after my name (or a ‘Dr’ in front of it) simply for the sake of having them (a larger part of me tends to say, “PhDs take ages, Allison… You do not do a cheap nba jerseys PhD for the Drhood”). It would, however, be horribly inaccurate to say that I’m currently spending two years of my life reading and writing and spending thousands of dollars and having no social life simply to be able to call myself Allison Moore, M.I.. At the end of the day, having the degree is not nearly as ???? useful as having the education, and I’m glad I’ve learned that.

Watching the Internets watch you

At the iSchool, we talk a lot about personal privacy and online tracking and the like. Classmates de have talked cheap nfl jerseys Happy bout exclusively using private browsing, obsessively clearing their history and cookies, or using ‘uncommon’ browsers that disallow all the tracking that goes on as one typically surfs the internets. I’ve not generally been so concerned: I’m alright with companies public like Google or Facebook collecting my data, labeling me as a 20-something techno-savvy university graduate who wholesale nfl jerseys likes tea and knitting and targeting my ads. I am interested in how people react to being tracked, however, so when Paul Reinheimer of directed me cheap mlb jerseys to Collusion, wholesale nba jerseys a super neat plugin for Firefox that helps you visualise who is tracking you, and how they share their data, I Women was instantly sucked in.

Playing around with wholesale nfl jerseys Collusion showed me just how ubiquitous is, and made me recognize that gossip websites like perez hilton or ‘women’s’ websites like are incredibly cheap nfl jerseys connected to ad networks. In contrast, Google is way less connected, sharing wholesale mlb jerseys less (but sucking an in more). In light of the hoopla surrounding the alleged dodgyness of Google’s ‘new’ privacy policy, in Collusion may prompt more productive discussions. From a more academic point of view, it would be interesting to see how seeing who is watching while you browse affects people’s behavior wholesale jerseys online. For ZWARTE anyone who’s interested in internet privacy, it’s a fun (and distracting) supplement to with normal cheap nba jerseys browsing.

It’s also cheap nfl jerseys fun to see how many weird connections you can make. To wit: Paul’s tweet.

On public transit in the Information Age

Since I started commuting to school/work after I graduated from high school lo ten years ago, I’ve spent countless hours waiting for busses, trains, and (more recently) streetcars, wondering if they were going to come.  When I was seventeen, I carried around a pile of bus schedules in my purse, and called AUTOBUS (the Montreal transport information system) regularly when I found myself schedule-less.  Today, paper schedules are relics of the past, and rather than calling a phone number and keying in the bus stop code, people can just look it up on their Smartphone.  Depending on the city you live in, your phone may actually know where the bus/train/streetcar is and live update the expected time.  The advent of Smartphones and of smart transportation systems harnessing user and transit network data could revolutionise how transit systems are designed and how users experience them.

I used to spend a lot of time freezing while waiting by the highway for buses that were coming in forty minutes, rather than in ten minutes as planned: commuters today (and going forward) shouldn’t need to do this.  Today’s commuter should be able to know where there bus is and how far out it is.  Intelligent transit systems can help users to make informed decisions about their movements. Auckland, New Zealand, has implemented ‘Real Time Boards’ in bus stops that report up-to-date information about bus’ locations; Vancouver B.C. uses intelligent transportation systems to keep passengers on some bus/Rapid-Transit lines informed. Smartphones and transit applications can help users to decide whether they’d rather wait twenty minutes for their bus, or go for the twenty minute walk home, but more importantly the data collected from users and from live tracking can enable a complete redesign of how we envisage transportation networks.

Originally, transit networks were designed around hubs and spokes: a passenger needed merely take the bus to the depot, where they could transfer to another route to get to their designation.  This made sense: passengers didn’t really need to know where they were going, they needed only find the hub and switch to the appropriate line.  The downside is that it can make for some incredibly indirect routes to nearby destinations.  In the neighbourhood I grew up in, for instance, a ten minute drive up a major street could take 1.5 hours on the bus because the depot was in the wrong direction, and no bus went directly.  Today, with Google Maps and Smartphones helping travellers with their way-finding, easily memorised routes become unnecessary: you don’t have to be able to memorize your trip, but instead can simply follow the directions on your phone, making routes that might have been quicker but too tricky for memorization feasible.  This also means that dispatchers could be empowered to make better decisions to alleviate congestion on popular routes, reroute buses to avoid traffic accidents, and generally make for a better transit experience for everyone, while users are kept in the loop via their mobile device.

Politicians, journalists, and we the public talk a lot these days about making transit better, about the importance of public transportation for alleviating traffic congestion, and for reducing pollution, but we rarely consider innovative ways to improve transportation.  New technologies provide an opportunity to transform the way that public transit works, for the better.