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Reader Pablo Aliskevicius uses Outlook 2007, with Word as an editor. He complained to us that when he types something the editor doesn't like, like a word in all caps, a blue lightning icon appears, hiding what he had just typed.

That's Word trying to help out. By default the AutoCorrect system fixes many common spelling errors and also applies some automatic formatting rules. If you point at the just-corrected text the icon you mentioned appears; clicking it reveals a menu that lets you undo the correction, suppress that correction in the future, or open the full AutoCorrect Options dialog.

Next time you see that icon open the menu and select Control AutoCorrect Options. Or, if you prefer to take care of this right away, click the round Office button at top left, click the Word Options button, click Proofing at the left, and click the AutoCorrect Options button. Uncheck the box titled Show AutoCorrect Options buttons and click OK. You won't be bothered by that icon in the future. If AutoCorrect makes a correction you don't want, just press Ctrl-Z to reverse it.

There's a similar feature that others may find annoying. When you paste formatted text into Word an icon appears offering a Paste Options menu. This lets you choose to make the pasted text match the formatting of the destination document, among other things. But it frequently gets in the way--even more so than the AutoCorrect Options button. To get rid of it, click the Office button, click the Word Options button at the bottom of the drop-down menu, click Advanced in the list at left and scroll down to Cut, copy, and paste. Uncheck the box titled Show Paste Options and click OK. Gone!


Throughout history, there are examples of men and women who were receptive to unexpected phenomena. They did not dismiss them right off as "bad experimental data." They were curious enough to explore further why the statistical "special cause" occurred. In most instances it could be explained within the accepted paradigm. However, "once in a blue moon," it could be an "accident" that leads to a revolutionary discovery. An employer who has such engineers or scientists has something more valuable than gold as an asset.

Now, some will say that such professionals have an inborn talent for accidental discoveries. I'm not so sure. I believe that a person can develop a set of skills with practice and constant awareness that there are major breakthroughs waiting to happen.

While reading the Epilogue in the book "Serendipity: Accidental Discoveries in Science" by Royston M. Roberts, I learned that an educator, Ronald Lenox (J. Chemical Education, Vol. 62, 1985), suggested several techniques for preparing one to recognize accidental occurrences. One suggestion is to be flexible in thinking and interpretations.

When analyzing data, perusing, or just scanning technical articles, the farsighted engineer and scientist will not dismiss unexplainable results because they don't fit an established paradigm, but will subject the results to a "sanity check," and then relate them to possible peripheral technologies. This, of course, requires careful and intensive knowledge of one's own field as well as surrounding fields. Young professionals can avail themselves of the services of libraries and search engines to expand their knowledge of their fields, and, thereby, prepare themselves to recognize unexpected discoveries in the workplace.
Moreover, they can gain an edge over their peers by taking advantage of the opportunities offered by the professional society associated with their fields of expertise. ASM International, The Materials Information Society, is a prime example. The programs offered by the Emerging Professionals Committee within ASM give professionals in the materials field a perfect forum for developing a mindset to recognize potential breakthrough technology in materials. Young engineers and scientists who attended the symposium on Perspectives for Emerging Materials Professionals: Early Strategies for Career Development at the 2009 MS&T Conference, and left with an awareness of what is expected of them as professionals in the workplace are headed in the direction of discovering the next breakthrough in their field.

Cultivating a mindset of asking whether or not an unexpected result is "bad data" or a clue to an accidental discovery will add value to your professional career and eventually the employer's bottom line.

Oh, by the way, this applies to our middle and senior professionals as well.

Our Experience Shows!

What will feed the uptake in data-rich mobile applications? They have to be sort of free, nearly free, or simply free.

What's going to be the business model to make that happen? Although just getting off the ground, expect to see an uptick in mobile advertising.

Our expectation of free applications stems from our personal computer experience. We don't pay a dime when we go to the Weather Channel, MapQuest, or And we don't bat an eye when we see the ads that finance these services.

Advertising will eventually drive mass adoption of mobile apps by bringing down or removing app fees paid by the consumer. Talk at the Mobile Marketing Forum and Navigation & Location '08 focused on the intersection of mobile applications, advertising, and location relevance.

I've heard all sorts of numbers; Generator Research found that more than 60 percent of mobile users would be interested in a deal that offered substantial discounts for voice and text, provided that users agreed to received a limited number of ads that were relevant based on a user-defined ad profile. Other studies reveal that location-specific ads or ads that are personalized to a person's interest are the most acceptable and often viewed as useful. Q Research Advertising and Mobiles Report indicates that 76 percent are interested in ads in exchange for discounts or special offers, 82 percent for top-up credit, and 71 percent for "only things I'm interested in."

Location information enables more targeted, less intrusive, and genuinely useful information to be sent to a user.
There are right ways and wrong ways to determine what interests a user. Privacy remains a sensitive issue that will bite those that cross the line. The industry is experimenting with how to best deliver advertising in the United States.
Advertisers don't yet know the available inventory of advertising opportunities, so you can expect advertising pricing to go through a number of adjustments as the learning curve develops.

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