Thursday, June 07, 2012

Friday Fragments

Money magazine did an uncharacteristically good piece on how to choose a community college.  It assumes a little more geographic mobility than is typically the case -- most people pick one within commuting distance of home -- but for people who have multiple practical options within driving distance, it may be useful.

Its “success rate” is more useful for intrastate comparisons than interstate ones, only because states with robust four-year college sectors tend to have a different student profile in the community colleges than states that don’t.  (If you click on the “state” column and read down, it takes quite a while for anything in the Northeast to make an appearance.)  But with the right grains of salt, it’s not a bad start.


Well done, Ray Bradbury.  Your work made my teen years just a little bit less awful.


Our Comcast DVR died this week, taking with it a bunch of stored programs and our ability to watch tv at all for several days.  With the efficiency characteristic of a monopoly, a “no service” call on Tuesday resulted in a promise of an appearance on Friday.  Nice.  

Matt Yglesias had a nice piece on why cable companies need to be regulated until there’s meaningful competition.  In my town, as in most, the choices for home internet are the local cable monopoly or dialup.  Which is to say, they have a real monopoly.  And I don’t even want to talk about what they charge, or how unspeakably awful their customer service is.

If we had a real second option for broadband, I’d happily cut the cord on tv.  But as long as the tv company also controls the internet pipe, we’re hosed.  Fans of deregulation are invited to explain why Comcast should be left to its own rapacious devices.


A big “thank you!” to Converge magazine for actually listening.  Recently it posted an article listing 50 higher ed administrators worth following on Twitter.  Notably, not a single one worked at a community college.  In the comments, I let fly a bit of snark, and suggested that overlooking a sector with over 1100 campuses in the US was just a little absurd.

They listened, and followed up with an article listing community college folk worth following on Twitter.  A few of them were entirely new to me, and I’ve enjoyed discovering some good new reads.  Thanks!


The news about the LinkedIn password breach was doubly annoying.  At one level, it means that hackers probably now know the password that I’ve long forgotten.  But more basically, it underscored the complete helplessness of people who use passwords.

As I see it, there are basically three options.  One is to try to remember (or, worse, write down) a different password for every web function out there.  With the proliferation of sites/apps requiring passwords, this is simply not tenable anymore.  The second is to recycle passwords across sites.  This has the virtue of relative simplicity, but it also brings vulnerability, since a breach of one site is effectively a breach of several more.  The third is some sort of password locker service, in which you have just one password to rule them all.  But that just seems to me to double down on the flaw of recycling passwords; if someone hacks your password locker, they have access to everything.

There must, must, must be a better way.  Maybe Comcast can work on it during the several days it takes them to find a DVR.


Actual quote from The Girl’s softball game, spoken by the opposing coach and directed at her left fielder: “Hey!  No puppy-watching!”

I’ll be glad when the season’s over.