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When I am bad

Sometimes I’m good but when I’m bad I’m even better.
(Aerosmith – Fallin’ in love)

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CIE and the Standard of Education

The first thing that struck me when I was offered to teach Cambridge International Examination’s O and A level computer science was that most of it was either out of date or was just completely inaccurate. I was very reluctant to jump into teaching something that I was not comfortable with in the first place.

Things got better over the years, but just a little. I still see things that are so darn wrong that it makes you feel what standards CIE follows for ensuring the accuracy of the information in their syllabi, recommended books, exam papers and most of all the mark schemes. So many time we have complained against this lack of professionalism in designing education support material and assessments, sometimes directly to the examiners and syllabus setters, but to no effect.

Beside giving students incorrect knowledge, it also puts their futures at stake. Firstly, because most students take the mark schemes as the definitive guideline to answering the exam questions and end up learning the wrong answers. Secondly, as Internet access is widely available in schools, better students develop the habit of researching the subject material. When they use the ‘correct’ material from the Internet they take a risk of getting penalized in exams as their answers would differ greatly from that of CIE examiner’s.

This is indeed a very frustrating situation and although some teachers keep raising their voices on the official Teacher’s Forum, the response is not that favorable. I think CIE examiners and syllabus setters should be more open to the standards that are widely accepted in the computing industry and should produce errata to their syllabi and mark schemes/exam papers accordingly.

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Microsoft LiveWriter: Yeah Baby!

It works! It really works (and its from Microsoft). Well it hasn’t broken down yet, and I am keeping my fingers crossed.

I have tested LiveWriter a bit and it seems to be pretty user-friendly and feature rich product for blogging. I didn’t have any problems during the (mostly automatic) installation and it imported all my blog settings from the server where the blog is hosted.

The interface is pretty neat looking with things are present where they should be. Loads of features, and the one I am drooling over is the ability to upload pictures ‘without’ the hassles in WordPress’ web interface that almost made me quit.

I am actually enjoying this blogging stuff now.

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Mozilla FireFox 3.5

I hated FireFox. But that was way back when it was in its infancy. Now that its all grown up and matured, I took another look at it, and, loved it! I think its one of the coolest web browsers out there.

I was using Maxthon (a shell based on IE engine) as my primary browser but today I have changed that to Mozilla FireFox 3.5.2 and I am impressed with its speed, stability, simplicity and functionality. Sure there are some really silly left outs, e.g. there isn’t a simple way to change were FireFox puts your temporary Internet files (its cache). You will have to go down and dirty with its configuration file and set these yourself. And unlike Maxthon, some simple and everyday functionality is only available via plugins.

But the Mozilla FireFox deserves the status of the ‘Best Browser’. There are just too many features, plugins and support that makes it worth the effort of setting a few things the hard way.

However, I read something somewhere (I think it was c|Net) that make its future a bit cloudy. What the article said was that major funding for FireFox development is being provided by Google. It served Google’s purpose as it was struggling to make its mark in the search engine market and Mozilla was a popular browser. So, Google provided funding and Mozilla made Google its default search engine in the browser. The deal worked out beautifully, but – and this is a big but, Google now has its own browser (Chrome) in the market. At some point, Google would like to focus on promoting Chrome and wining back some of the market share from browsers based on Mozilla (FireFox and Flock etc.) Although it won’t kill FireFox but a major investor pulling out may not such a good news for Mozilla and folks who are associated with it, not to mention the users.

I don’t care. I now like the darn thing too much to worry about such ‘little’ things. FireFox – rock on!

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Long time no Blog.

Its been almost three months since I wrote my last post. The Computing projects were taking so much of my time that I barely managed to do anything else. Especially the month of March was crazy and at one time it was looking as if some of the students will miss their submission deadline.

Its all quite now, and will remain quite for another three months before the frenzy begins all over again.

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You are not a god!

Doc Scurlock: “William H. Bonney! You are NOT a god!”
William H. Bonney: “Why don’t you pull the trigger and find out?”

From the motion picture Young Guns II

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Ink

Just finished watching the movie β€œInk” and felt compelled to write this post.

It is not very often that you come across a movie that is not only fresh in idea but also has some soul. I was pleasantly surprised by Ink as both the director and the cast are relatively unknown. I am not going to spit out the plot here and spoil the fun for those who haven’t watched.

The ‘battle between good and evil’ theme, although not a new one, has a prospective that is indeed interesting. Main focus is on our actions and decisions that dictate what we become, how things turn out for us and for those around us. The movie is well acted, albeit some rawness in few of the characters, and the music matches the eerie atmosphere created by the movie. The art direction is pretty impressive, even though its not a big budget production.

Highly recommended.

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Dancing in The Rain

Today I bathed in the rain. I can’t remember when was the last time I did that. Maybe 20 years? Something like that. I was so wrapped up in my ‘busy’ life that I never though about these little things.

When I woke up this morning there were dark clouds in the sky. By the time my daughter Amina and I finished our breakfast, it was raining. Amina loves the rain but is, for some weird reason, scared of bathing in the rain. So I just walked onto the terrace in the rain. I think she felt encouraged seeing her father enjoying himself, and then, reluctantly, she joined me. In five minutes she was screaming with joy, jumping and playing with water. We played and sang kiddy songs for almost half an hour. I had to drag her back in.

The point of writing all this? I think I just wanted to say that even small things like bathing in the rain with your kids, which may seem so silly to grown ups, is such a blessing. I think activities like these bring family closer and creates stronger bonds. Ever once in a while we should indulge in silly things like these. I felt like a kid again. We were dancing in the rain.