Sunday, January 25, 2009

The problems with driver's license testing

I keep trying to find the best way to phrase this. So far I’ve had little luck. Passing a test is something that is becoming less and less difficult and therefore the results shown by that test are becoming less and less accurate. The main test I have currently in mind is the United States driver license test, particularly Colorado’s. Now before people start to assume that Colorado is my focus due to some nefarious reason, it is not. It’s only due to my being a native of Colorado and having never lived in another state, therefore I do not wish to generalize and assume that these issues are nationally or globally wide in nature, though I believe they may be.

So I call out the test for the State of Colorado’s driver’s license burrow as being improperly given and graded. In the last year I have witnessed, first hand, how pathetic this exam has become. I had a relative of mine who did not practice or have any intuitive driving ability take this test and pass. I can speak with confidence of my relative’s abilities as I went out the day prior to this relative’s driver’s test, to be the “licensed adult” in the car. By the end of the day I had become all too aware that my relative had zero control in steering, zero ability process all of the necessary information required to change lanes, and zero ability process instructions, while traveling in a straight line, regarding upcoming navigation. This relative, at that time, was 18 years old, had been in possession of a learners permit since being legally able to obtain it at just over 15 years of age, for having enrolled in a driver’s education class. During the class my relative did well but still needed more experience in order to be eligible to take the test. Sadly this relative and this relatives parents “never had the time” to collect the state required hours behind the wheel to qualify for taking the exam at age 16. Therefore my relative had to wait to age 18 when the hours behind the wheel rule expired, for some as yet unknown reason. All that back history said, my relative somehow passed! Ever since I learned about that complete farce of a test I have wondered just how many lives have been altered or ended because some high up idiot decided that driving is a right instead of a privilege. Now for all those out there who will say “but you have to be able to drive in today’s world” I know many people in person or in passing who choose not to drive or who have chosen to not learn to drive. These people do quite well and are perfectly happy with their decision. So no, it is not required one be able to drive in order to live. Driving is a responsibility that must be taken deadly seriously, because if not it does cause death! For my part I told my relative that day that I did not believe he was ready to drive yet and should act as if he still only possesses a learners permit until he feels confidant and comfortable behind the wheel. I also made it quite clear that if his inability resulted in someone else’s injury or death that he should not attempt to communicate with me ever again! This holds a special weight as I am very much a “family first” type of person and have a strong bond with this relative.

As this is already becoming a rather long post I’ll keep this part short. Parents if your child is learning to drive please do all you can to ensure their ability is thoroughly trained and well executed. Future drivers please make the time to learn all you can about driving and if you feel you’re not that good of a driver and shouldn’t be licensed yet don’t take the test until you feel you should be. For everyone please use your rights to vote to ensure that privilege’s remain separate from perceived rights, as it could save many lives including you or your loved ones. Responsibility is not an old world custom that only your elders should follow, it’s a way to ensure that which should or should not be, is.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

MyScribe Equals Fail

My College DeVry University has made the decision to switch their online text books to MyScribe. I have spent the last week working with the system and contacting both DeVry and MyScribe support and have found the MyScribe system to be woefully lacking. MyScribe is an online book reading system provided by CafeScribe this reader is just that you can read highlight and add notes but you have to be on a computer to access it. I, like many of my online classmates, purchased an Ebook for my previous classes so I could bring my textbook with me wherever I go. As with most online students I have other daily activities such as work, commuting, and other travel that takes me away from my computer. This switch to a solely computer based system has killed my ability to read my text book when away from home. Yes, MyScribe allows you to transfer the book to a USB drive (ie. A thumb drive) for use “away from home” but, as I had to explain to DeVry University, that still requires a computer. The MyScribe system takes closed source to extremes unlike the previously used system of Adobe Digital Editions, as stated earlier reading a book on MyScribe is limited to use only through their reader that can only be accessed on a computer. Adobe Digital Editions is accessible through the computer and through Ebook readers such as my Sony PRS-505 . MyScribe and Adobe have the same DRM (digital rights management) abilities to prevent copyright infringement so that is not an issue. Both systems appear to provide free software to read and just charge for the actual books, so that is also not an issue for competition. I have been unable to find any logical, financial, or preferential reason for the switch. The actual useability of the computer software to read the books though is an issue of contention I have. The MyScribe software has an annoying strong blue default color scheme that I have yet to find a way to change, which distracts from the text. Whereas Adobe has a Black background color that helps to emphasize the text and even though I have not found a way to change this default color scheme I don’t feel a need to do so unlike with MyScribe.
Some of the lesser but still annoying issues I have found are, MyScribe defaults on my computer to a two page view that, for me, is too small to read and when I changed it to default to a single page view it automatically sets the zoom to 256% which, for me, is way too large and limits text per page to the point where I am constantly scrolling. Another issue I have with MyScribe’s software is the fact I cannot Minimize the screen by clicking on the windows taskbar. This is a habit and a function I find critical because when I jump between screens I have to click on the little task bar icon to switch to another program, and when I switch I Minimize the window I’m on to allow easier access to the desktop should I need to launch yet another program. Examples of the programs I use simultaneously are the text book reader software, Microsoft Word for the reports or related homework, FireFox for internet access, and Itunes for my background study music. All of which I toggle between through the task bar. Another issue I just found while toggling is you cannot access a right click menu through the MyScribe software in order to Minimize, Maximize, Restore, or Close. All of which are functions I regularly use especially the Close function, because the close function through right click as it is easier than clicking on the task bar icon at the bottom of the screen and then moving the mouse up to the top right of the screen to click the Close button.

With these issues of lack of portability, distracting background color scheme, missing common functions, and poor “ease of use” I ask. Why would anyone let alone a university see the MyScribe system as a good choice? Why would anyone let alone a university switch from a flexible worldwide accepted system such as Adobe Digital Editions to the very limited and poorly designed MyScribe system? Because I cannot find any logical, financial, or preferential reason myself.

Update Note: Some potential solutions have shown up since I first posted this blog. While these or any potential solutions are still not being offered by the responsible parties for this technological farce. There are a couple freeware programs that seem to work the way we wish MyScribe could and should. Check out PrimoPDF and PDFCreator For more information please read the comment section of this post for other readers opinions and suggestions. We are not alone, or helpless, thanks to the hive mind of the internet.