Author: William

Have a .edu email address? Get Amazon Prime free

Amazon.com has a cool promotion going – sign up for Amazon Student and get a free year of Amazon Prime (and they reserve the right to possibly extend that). For those not in the know, Amazon Prime is a $79 a year service that entitles you to free second day shipping on anything that’s eligible for free super saver shipping (ie, pretty much everything Amazon sells); next day shipping costs $3.99 per item. When I saw this posted on Lifehacker, I ignored it at first because I already have Amazon Prime; I got in on a free trial years ago and found it to be too useful to do without.  Then a friend of mine who also has Prime added her student account and found that they canceled the remainder of her Prime subscription, refunded her for it, and signed her up for the free year. That got me moving; it turned out I was only a few months from renewal, so I got a year free and a $13 refund on my subscription. Woot! Share on...

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Scam, scam, scam

I hardly ever get chain emails, because I have a tendency to do a “reply all” debunking everything in them, which annoys the people sending them. I don’t know if they stopped sending them or just stopped sending them to me; either way, mission accomplished! However, my dad still gets them and he’ll pass them on to me to ask if there’s any truth in them (there generally isn’t). The latest one I got is regarding HR 1388, The Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, which expands the size of Americorps and other volunteer programs. The email claims that Congress and President Obama  are secretly spending over $20 million to bring members of Hamas to the United States. As with many email scams, it pulls from several actual bills to create something that will fool the gullible. HR 1388 is a real bill, that has nothing to do with Hamas, and Obama really did sign an order authorizing $20.3 million towards humanitarian needs in Gaza, on top of the $27.5 million that Bush  allocated for the same purpose two years earlier. Neither, of course, had anything to do with bringing members of Hamas (or anyone else) to the US. Really, people, there’s a pretty simple rule you can follow: if you get it through email and it makes outrageous claims, particularly about the democrats in Congress, it’s almost certainly...

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College: Still not for everybody

I know I already ranted about why not everyone should go to college, but I was reminded today of my first year at CSU. The class I TA’s my first three semesters was called CS 110: Personal Computing; it was an introduction to computers for non-majors that covered how to use Windows and Microsoft Office. Now, this is pretty much the easiest college class possible, because it’s divided into units (one for Windows, one for Word, etc) and you can opt out of a unit by getting 85% or higher on the pretest; then your pretest grade is your grade for that unit. A few people, but not many, take advantage of that, which is somewhat surprising considering that all of the pretest questions are available in advance. So let’s review. There’s a pool of questions, which make up the pre- and post-tests,  that are available from the beginning of the semester for anyone who wants to go over as often as they want. There are three TAs and over a dozen lab assistants to help you figure out the answers if you get stuck when practicing for the pretest. This is a 100-level (freshman) class. And yet…we have people who fail to graduate because they take the class senior year and don’t pass. I would like to offer commentary on this, but seriously…words fail me. If you’re an...

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Rant: Teacher Pay

So this afternoon I’ve been looking at job openings for community colleges in the Denver area. Not many places have full-time openings (and the ones that do have an annoying tendency to not answer their email in spite of requesting applications through email), but there tend to be a small number of adjunct positions open at each college. So what leads to today’s rant? I was looking at the salary listings for one of the community colleges.  Lecture classes, like math, pay $609.00 per credit hour, which is disgustingly low; even if you taught a full 5 classes per semester, that’s only $18,270 per year for a job that requires a master’s degree! On the other hand, if you teach a PE class, that pays a somewhat more respectable $1,218.00 per credit hour. Seriously? Teaching someone to throw a ball is worth twice as much as teaching them to do algebra? Anyway, suppose a class meets for only fifteen weeks each semester, twice per week for 75 minutes each time. A math class generally has homework due every week; assume that the instructor is pretty efficient and can finish grading the homework in four hours. That comes to a total of 6.5 hours of work each week, not counting office hours. A class that meets 2.5 hours per week would be three credit hours; 15 credit hours would thus work out...

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