I survived another round of testing, but final exams are still two weeks away so the back to back exams I just endured were simply molehills on the side of the mountain.
What was most irritating to me was the pervasiveness of cheating on all the tests. TAMS is a hotbed of academic dishonesty, with students literally engaging in full conversations during tests all in plain view. After the exams, the cheaters involved all receive scores equivalent to or higher than the scores of those who did not cheat.
When others hear of academic dishonesty, they will typically respond along the lines of, “they’ll eventually get caught,” or “they’ll be at a disadvantage in the end.” But reality is a far cry from expectation. Ultimately, it is the dishonest and deceptive are the ones who enjoy an advantage.
For example, students are expected to do community service. The hours received are then submitted in an online application form to be approved. However, the approval system is lax, with many students simply falsifying hours. Some students have falsified over 10 hours of service. These falsified hours save 10 hours for the submitters, conserving crucial time during the school year. Alternately, the honest student works hour for hour, allocating valuable time that could be otherwise spent studying.
This interesting article describing psychopathy mentions that, “In a civilization made up primarily of law-abiding citizenry, the theory goes, an evolutionary niche opens up for a minority who would exploit the trusting masses”. While this behavior is not psychopathy, the overall principle is the same and suggests that because the dishonest are a minority in society, these few individuals are able to take advantage of the innate trust of the majority to gain an advantage.
Today I decided to browse through Google Labs, as there seemed to be a dearth of new features emerging. As it turns out, Live Image Search’s scratchpad is not entirely new, as Google offers its notebook. Oddly, each of these services is only available for one type of search, notebook only works on text searches, and scratchpad only for images. One interesting Google lab development is alternate views for search results, such as filtering by time or location. Other experiments such as text suggestions, are standard fare on Yahoo! In comparison, Windows Live offers useful and innovative services, but most are lacking in the refinement exhibited by Google and Yahoo!’s offerings.
SkyDrive is the best file storage service because of its synchronization with Spaces and Hotmail, but it completely fails to deliver in the function category, with tedious file manipulation methods, the inability to move files and a lack of drag and drop functionality. Spaces has great synchronization with Live Contacts, but it too is not a particularly polished service.
In addition, the style of Windows Live is in a constant state of flux, with some pages use the old Blue Vapor theme and others are using the new glassy theme. Many of the services are filled with bugs and errors, despite being out of beta. Google manages to continually add new features to their services while still maintaining full functionality, while the Live team can hardly fix existing bugs.
Windows Live has the potential to be great, but at the current pace of improvement it will never happen.
The Olympics are the world’s greatest celebrations. They are symbols of unity and an opportunity for differences to be set aside. The 2008 Olympic Torch relay was themed the Journey of Harmony. However, rampant protests and demonstrations have turned the event into a prolonged political demonstration. In Paris, supports rushed the torch and attempted to grab it. In London, the reception was much the same with demonstrators violently attempted to impede the torch.
Freedom of speech and peaceful public demonstration are perfectly acceptable. Manic attempts to extinguish the Olympic torch and steal it are not. While the protectors who engaged in such attempts may believe they were furthering the cause, they achieved nothing more than alienating supporters and ruining the event. Plans for boycotts by politicians and demonstrations are nothing more than insults to the host country, and destroy any progress toward a resolution to their cause.