Friday, January 7, 2011

Minimum Word Requirements Ruin Quality

This topic has come up a few times recently for me, being the beginning of a new semester and all.  When a instructor asks students to meet a certain word requirement, in my opinion it will most likely ruin the results.  For instance, I just completed about 1,000 words pertaining to a proposal for a final project.  In case that seems odd, I will repeat that, I wrote a 1,000 words describing a paper they want to reach 2,500 to 3,000 words.  I wrote a description of what I wanted to complete my final on, and looked down at the good old Microsoft Word word counter and saw a whopping 260 some odd words!  Hmmm... what the hell to do?  Well you read through it and then try to rewrite some things and extend some bit.  Couple hours of creative writing later I'm at about 400 words and at my wits end on how to add more without writing the paper, after all this is just the proposal.

I absolutely hate this feeling, like you've written enough to get your point across with sufficient background, examples, and sources; however, because that all important A requires you to add so many words, you have to become redundant.  Now here come the arguments, well if you're so far behind the requirements you can't possibly have enough information.  To that I say this, 'not true'. When discussing the college paper you have to realize we're simply talking about a 1,000 words equaling anything from 3-8 pages, depending.  Why do I need to add so much content when I can concisely express the same message with better clarity in less?  This is not a book, and I'm not writing anything on an expert level, yet.

So to get that A, what does one do in order to meet these ridiculous minimum word requirements?  You start repeating yourself, try to restate important points.  Basically, create this fluff that you don't really need and do not re-enforce anything in my brain other than my fleeting confidence that my paper is still poignant and written with quality.  I understand that minimums are in place to prevent lazy people from writing 300 words on what should really be 1,500 words, so a stupid requirement is passed along to those who try and can write with proficiency.

Solution?  Don't enforce a damn minimum, switch to a recommendation.  Read the paper and assess quality.  Why should grades be reduced purely based on a number?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Is Google Better Than Christmas?

This afternoon, on a very boring day during break, I answered the doorbell to the best guest.  A UPS truck driver!  Stumped, I had not ordered anything.  I opened the box bewildered.  I lifted the flap to the back of another box, and all I noticed were the words "lithium" and thought laptop immediately struck my mind.  Then, after a few moments I remembered back to a few weeks ago when I applied for the new Google Notebook.  Get the box open and sure enough, there it was!  The beautiful CR-48 Google Notebook.  

What proceeded were the longest 20 minutes of my life, it seemed.  See, I live in Michigan; which when in December is quite freezing.  I had to allow this thing to warm-up or I may break it before I even really touch it.  I finally get to turn it on and I spend the next minutes reading agreements and setting this bad boy up, it runs it's updates and I finally get to play.

Now, I'm an avid Chrome web browser user and love it.  I wasn't quite sure what to expect with the Chrome OS.  Really, it's the same thing essentially.  So, I decided I should take some time and browse around the web market.  Which by the way, if you don't have it set-up already, set-up the browser sync capability within the Chrome browser (I already had this set-up for when I go to class).  Anyway, the Web Market had some pretty interesting things, such as, SlideRocket (can't wait for my next presentation!), Vyew, TweetDeck, and SpringPad.  These were really all I left installed after a few hours of playing around with random apps.  

Now for a work in progress, I am a big fan of the OS.  I think it's come a long way since I tried the Chromium Project live USB.  It feels a lot more natural on the hardware provided by Google and it's CR-48.  As for hardware, the computer doesn't have much.  A smaller solid state drive, a couple of gigs of RAM, and a smaller single core ATOM processor from Intel.  But, you don't really need much when working with a cloud based operating system.  Plus, with smaller hardware you get some sweet battery life, around 8 hours on a full charge.  Performance was off and on and really seemed dependent on the wireless strength.   

Aesthetically, I love the look and feel of the device.  The keyboard is awesome and the replacement of the function keys and the caps lock key are not noticeable to me, if not a huge improvement.  I love the thing personally, other than one real big downside for me was the touch pad.  The requirement of two finger tap for right-click, doesn't work well to me (maybe I'm just not used to it).  For me though, the pro's greatly outweigh the con's.  Overall, it's a stupendous device and would like to thank Google for giving me the best Christmas gift I've gotten in a long time.

Google is better than Santa Clause!

*This was written on December 21, 2010