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Bruce Landon's Weblog for Students
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Friday, December 02, 2005

Yahoo & Google Testing Pay-Per-Call Ads. [Slashdot]
11:19:37 PM    comment

Merriam-Webster Launches Open Dictionary. [Slashdot]
11:17:10 PM    comment

Research universities to create distance learning web site - University of Washington. Fourteen major North American universities will have a Web site to showcase some of the best distance learning by some of the best institutions. The Web site, R1.edu, will be operational in September and will be hosted by the University of Washington. "W [Online Learning Update]
3:13:36 PM    comment

Master's Thesis on "OS software evaluation model" focused on Course Management Systems.


This thesis by Karin van den Berg was part of her Master's program at Tilburg University in the Netherlands. It does a nice job of boiling down many of the previous attempts at developing criteria for evaluating open source projects (see her references for the extensive list) and then uses as a case study the field of course management systems to try out the evaluative framework. Somewhat unsurprisingly to me, she hones in on Moodle and Atutor as being the top two contenders when these additional open source considerations are factored into the equation; it is nice though to have some substance to back up ones' instincts.

This piece was quite close to my heart for a few reasons, and thanks to Stuart Yeates posting on the Educause community blogs for finding it. It's meaningful to me first off because I've been looking at these CMS thingies for far too long now through the Edutools project. It was meaningful to me because she cites Edutools numerous times throughout the thesis, and it is nice to get some academic 'props.'

And finally it is meaningful because for the last year I have been going around giving a presentation that I think basically says a lot of the same thing, though I frame it slightly differently. The jist of that presentation is that making good open source choices is all about picking projects that are a suitable fit with the capabilities and maturity of your own organization, and trying to educate people on what some of the qualities of OS projects are that they can base those judgements on. The presentation was actually a summary of a funding proposal for an "open source suitability decision making tool," a proposal that didn't get funded. And I am really glad it didn't get funded. Not because such a tool wouldn't be useful. But instead because, as one of the reviewers astutely pointed out, and as this thesis backs up, the judgement of an open source project's "maturity" is too multivariate (and evolves too quickly) for it to be serviced well by both such a small one-time grant (we were really not asking for much) but also from such a centralized research model as we had proposed. Still, it is really vindicating for me to see basically the same set of criteria brought out in full in this thesis, as it makes me fill slightly less half-cocked (so, what, two-thirds cock'd?) - SWL

3:10:59 PM    comment

Microsoft's Answer to Google Base. [Slashdot]
3:01:31 PM    comment

Scientists directly view immune cells interacting to avert autoimmunity.

Using a new form of microscopy to penetrate living lymph nodes, UCSF scientists have for the first time viewed immune cells at work, helping clarify how T cells control autoimmunity. The technique, known as two-photon laser-scanning microscopy, was able to focus deep within the lymph node of a diabetic mouse, allowing the researchers to show that immune cells known as T regulatory, or Treg, cells control the destructive action of rogue autoimmune cells when each of the two cell types interact with a third kind of cell.

[Science Blog -]
2:54:17 PM    comment

People in relationships happier than singles.

People in relationships are generally happier than other people, a new Cornell University study finds. And spouses have the highest sense of well-being, whether they are happily married or not. The study of measures of well-being and happiness found that people who cohabit are next on the scale of happiness, followed by those in steady relationships and then those in casual relationships. Unpartnered people report the lowest levels of well-being.

[Science Blog -]
2:51:20 PM    comment

Microbe produces H2 from water, carbon monoxide.

Take a pot of scalding water, remove all the oxygen, mix in a bit of poisonous carbon monoxide, and add a pinch of hydrogen gas. It sounds like a recipe for a witch's brew. It may be, but it is also the preferred environment for a microbe known as Carboxydothermus hydrogenoformans.

[Science Blog -]
2:49:35 PM    comment

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