Archives for category: Society

There is a huge uproar in the land of the lions about the Advanced Level results being completely unreliable. So, I thought I’d add my 2 cents on the subject.
Disclaimer: I did study math at uni, but I’ve forgotten all most of it and I took only one stat class. So, I will keep it simple – that is not by choice, I am forced to.

The problem has arisen due to two different sets of exams taking place due to two different syllabi being employed. There are repeaters from 2009 and 2010 doing the old syllabus and then there are the 2011 kids doing the new syllabus. So, the outcome is that there were two sets of results.

But for university entry there needs to be a result set from which the top few can be selected. From what I understand, they took the two means of the Z-score distributions and polled it to get an adjusted mean. From this the adjusted Z-score was calculated.

There are 2 main errors in this process.

First, the Z-score calculation is not a linear function. Results from non-linear functions cannot be treated with linear functions. A simple example is to take the square function.
10+3=13 but 102+32 ≠ 132
Similarly, linear manipulation (polling the mean) of results from non-linear functions (Z-score) gives erroneous outcomes.

Second, how can 2 different exams be matched up properly? Two people who got the exact same result on two different exams cannot be deemed as equals. Furthermore, taking the mean, median etc are all flawed methods.Since the population taking the exams are varied there is no way to match one to the other.

So, the bottom line is that there is no correct (or should I say justifiable) way of doing this. 2 different exams – 1 result. One way or the other, some people will get the short end of the stick. But, I guess that’s life people – it’s not fair. You just have to live with it.

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A lot happened recently in the social networking arena. Google plus arrived. After the epic failures of Buzz and Wave, the search giant has come up with something that may actually rival fb. Do you remember something called MySpace? Well, it was sold at a loss of over $500 million. Interesting to note that MySpace at its peak was worth $50 billion and it was sold for a mere $35 million!

The arrival of Google+ sparked the idea to carry out a simple social networking test. I wanted to test whether people still use the “poke” button on FB. That is if they ever did use it in the first place. So, I went ahead and “poked” about 200 friends on FB. When I say friends here, it means FB friends which include family, people I’ve known for nearly 3 decades, people I’ve met for 5 seconds, people I’ve only ‘met’ online, teachers from school days, students in my tutorial classes, work colleagues etc. So I just “poked” a bunch of them at random to see what sort of reaction(s) I get.

The first to react was the wife who PMed me immediately demanding “why did u poke me in fb?”. Here is another reaction:

I got about 25 “pokes” back within 12 hour as well:

All in all, it can be said the people still use the utterly pointless feature of “poking” on FB. I really couldn’t see why this feature was in FB. But it is one of the few features that has survived the many many changes that FB has gone through. Maybe Mark Z is a big fan of “poking” people in real life!

Speaking on social networking, check out this vid.

From time to time I receive E-mails which are pretty much about tell us how simple and good things were back in the day how complicated things are today. Here is an extract of such an email:

As children, we rode in cars with no seat belts or air bags. Even though all the shops closed at 8.00pm and most of them didn’t open on the weekends, somehow we didn’t starve! Our homes were always open & no security alarms installed. We did not have Television, DVDs & PlayStations, Nintendo Wii ,X-box 360’s, no video games at all, no 999 channels on SKY, no video/DVD films, no mobile phones, no personal computers, no Internet or Internet chat rooms, but we had such imaginations and we never found ourselves bored……….

These emails go on and on like this. Basically they would be running down all the complicated and ‘evil’ things that we find today and hyping up the simple and ‘good’ of things from yesteryear. I can understand the appeal for such emails, but I would like to ask a simple question from you (by you, I mean everyone who writes such email, everyone who goes ‘yep, that’s so true’ while reading such emails and forwards them with a smirk on your face)

Why did you invent all this crap if you didn’t want your young to grow up with it? It wasn’t your kids that invented mobile phones, video games, computers, the internet and with it free porn, social networking, childproof containers, neighbourhood watch, TVs, iPods, childrens rights, and all the other things that you seem to be condemning. OK, maybe you didn’t invent it, but it was your generation. You invented shiny gizmos, gave it to your young ones, and now complain that the same young ones won’t let go of the shiny gizmos. Duh, what were you expecting? It just means that the gizmo was really really good – take it as a compliment 🙂

PS – I like to think that I had the best of both worlds. I used to muck about outdoors for days and also play computer games on the family 386SX PC. So, I’m not taking sides here but merely commenting as an observer…

PPS – If you really wanted your kids to grow up like in the olden days you should have created a Village or gone amish.