Robert Pogson

One man, closing all the windows.

Daily Archives / Saturday, January 12, 2013

  • Jan 12 / 2013
  • 6
Teaching

Protecting Schools in Canada

The tragedy that unfolded in an elementary school in Connecticut, USA, could happen anywhere, even Canda. We have already had a few “school-shootings”. The reasons are simple:

  • schools are large soft targets,
  • schools are laid out like prisons with no ready means of escape or security beyond locking doors,
  • the media have spread the news that madness and violence gets intense coverage, and
  • madness and firearms are everywhere.

“A small town Ohio school board voted unanimously to allow four employees who have permits to carry concealed weapons to bring their guns to school once they have some tactical training, the school superintendent said on Friday.”
see Ohio town to allow some employees to bring guns to school – Ottawa Sun.

This story, about securing schools, is not important in the large scheme of things but that a newspaper in Canada bothers to write about it/cover the story is a major change. No legislation or wishful thinking can make madness and firearms (or other deadly means) go away so schools have to improve security. A layered defence is required to significantly reduce the dangers: better school routines, better buildings (layout, doors, windows and locks mostly), armed guards and training of staff and students in how to respond to threats. Some of these are already being done but fiscal restraints prevent most schools from doing what must be done. Federal or provincial programmes should be set up to make resources available to improve security in schools. There is no time to “study the matter” and “form a committee”. Gather the expertise, form a plan and execute before the next tragedy visits our schools. Fill in the gaps we have in anti-bullying, anger-management programmes and improve physical security now. Schools have a full plate. They need help to do this quickly. The news media have lit the fuse on the next event.

  • Jan 12 / 2013
  • 0
technology

RIP, Aaron Swartz

“Aaron accomplished some incredible things in his life. He was one of the early builders of Reddit (someone always turns up to point out that he was technically not a co-founder, but he was close enough as makes no damn), got bought by Wired/Conde Nast, engineered his own dismissal and got cashed out, and then became a full-time, uncompromising, reckless and delightful shit-disturber.

The post-Reddit era in Aaron’s life was really his coming of age. His stunts were breathtaking. At one point, he singlehandedly liberated 20 percent of US law. PACER, the system that gives Americans access to their own (public domain) case-law, charged a fee for each such access. After activists built RECAP (which allowed its users to put any caselaw they paid for into a free/public repository), Aaron spent a small fortune fetching a titanic amount of data and putting it into the public domain. The feds hated this. They smeared him, the FBI investigated him, and for a while, it looked like he’d be on the pointy end of some bad legal stuff, but he escaped it all, and emerged triumphant.


see RIP, Aaron Swartz – Boing Boing.

Another bright candle is extinguished.

  • Jan 12 / 2013
  • 0
technology

Computer-literacy In India

India, with over a billion people and a rapidly growing middle-class is ripe for a rapid uptake in IT yet poverty is still a huge factor in adoption. GNU/Linux and FLOSS is part of the answer to this problem. Another major part are small cheap computers now coming on the market. India is ready to catch the wave. The “Spoken Tutorial” project is the on-ramp to modern IT for people of all backgrounds in India. It is multi-lingual and reflective of many needs and abilities.

“The main purpose of this project is to make India computer literate,” reasons Moudgalya, adding that it is not possible if one relies only on commercial software. “We have to make the most use of open source software like LibreOffice and Latex and OS like Linux. It’s our only solution,”
see Found: Blueprint for a computer-literate India.

While uptake of FLOSS has been weak in some regions, India has many millions of users of IT coming on-line who are not locked in to Wintel. India alone could multiply the users of FLOSS within the next few years. I recommend Debian GNU/Linux to newbies everywhere. It takes a bit of learning to install but it has the flexibility people need to get things done.