Dial-a-Translator Idea

After reading of the termination of an in-hospital translation service, Patrick Hall suggests a way to make some money:

Asterisk + Wireless network + Laptops + Webcams + Subscriptions + Nationwide (Worldwide?) network of on-call interpreters for lots of languages.

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Pen-based Calculator

New Scientist is reporting about a nifty calculator program that recognizes handwriting (see the demo movie):

They were surprised to find that people using ordinary calculators got the wrong answer 51% of the time. […] For example when working out the answer to 4 x -5 it is easy to end up with the answer -1 instead of the correct answer of -20. People using the new device, by comparison, got wrong answers only 19% of the time and this was due to inaccurate character recognition, an error that is easy to spot and so correct.

Revisions to UW Math Program Proposed

The faculty of Mathematics at the University of Waterloo is considering allowing students to fail more courses:

For the past decade the Faculty has had a serious attrition problem, which is now about to become disastrous. These changes will allow some students to fail more courses before being required to leave Honours or the Faculty, but will also encourage students to repeat courses with poor grades that are prerequisites for other required courses. It will allow students who begin disastrously to recover without having seriously impaired averages dragging them down. It will also allow students who discover in second or third year that they are in the wrong major to eliminate some of the bad grades from their effective record, to avoid carrying that burden into a new major.

uwstudent.org reports:

According to David Taylor, the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies in the Math Faculty, the changes are necessitated by an extremely poor performance by students who started in Fall 2004. “Over 20% of the first-year class had a “Probation” or worse decision at the end of their first term; 15% had an average below 55%, meaning that there is very little chance, under current rules, that they will be able to continue in Honours (and not a very good chance of success in General).”