Readers weigh in on . . .

Re: Sault Ste. Marie telco puts broadband over power lines (Feb. 4)

This is a disaster waiting to happen. The radiated noise from the BPL technology is so bad that it literally wipes

out communications in the 2 to 80 MHz bands. If you doubt this, simply take a high frequency receiver near one of the BPL test areas and listen as audio receptions are drowned out by the fast rising edges of the spread spectrum BPL radiated noise.

Spread spectrum works on lower traffic rates because it “”smears”” the energy over a wide frequency range by hopping quickly around the radio spectrum. It becomes interference when there is so much traffic that all available hop spaces are occupied. Any electronics engineer will tell you that power lines are radiators at RF frequencies. In many cases aircraft communications is reduced or distorted beyond comprehension due to BPL radiated noise. The power companies see the golden goose in BPL, and quite frankly don’t care if aircraft crash or emergency radios don’t work. Sometimes the safety of citizens must go ahead of instant profits.

Sancar James Fredsti
Research Engineer
Owens Valley Radio Observatory

Re: IT educators grapple with theory vs. practice debate (Feb. 20)

I had to comment on your article. As a recent undergrad with an Honours degree I decided to enhance my health degree with an Applied IT Diploma. After looking at a variety of institutions I decided to go with IT.

I am currently enrolled in the IT (Institute for Information Technology) program and all the curriculum is outdated, even months before I graduate. As a single mother of two and $21,000 later this was not the way to go.

As prospective students we were promised the latest and current technology….we haven’t even touched .Net! The only way to keep abreast of the latest technology, I believe, is ongoing workshops . . . a happy balance of theory in class and the hands-on in workshops. Keeping part of the curriculum the same, such as information modeling or the software development lifecycle, but using workshops to reflect current trends in technology, etc.

The only good thing about IT is the networking/contacts I made and in particular the career services professionals they bring in to talk to us about such articles as the one you have posted!

Angelique Cain

Re: IT educators grapple with theory vs. practice debate (Feb. 20)

I was interested to read Ms. Clayton’s article on the theory vs. practice dilemma. A number of very solid observations were made, including the challenge of designing curriculum that is relevant to students graduating three years into the future.

A philosophy in use here at Sheridan Institute is to teach ‘technologies’ rather than products in the early semesters of our programs, narrowing down to specialized products in the later semesters. We try to deliver the conceptual understanding of how something works using a particular product — a representative, accessible one — as merely a vehicle for student learning. We do not like to become enamoured of any particular product, fearing that students might become one-hit wonders.

Clearly, with the fiscal constraints we face, colleges cannot keep pace with the capitalization required to refresh hardware and software environments. Furthermore, there is no getting around the fact that no matter how hard we try to model the workplace, its communication system, its real levels of accountability and responsibility, we simply can’t duplicate it in all its aspects.

Our response to this reality has been to rely on co-operative education to bring students face to face with more specific, current products, and the realities of the workplace. Here at Sheridan our students complete a significant, complex exit project of their choosing, much the same as a university-level thesis, but with the requirement that a product must be made. Most senior students opt to build something that derives from and supports their most recent co-op employers. Of course lately, with the IT industry in retrenchment, finding suitable student jobs has been very difficult.

Naturally, the IT industry wants job-ready skills from newly graduated contractors or employees. However, it is important to remember that university and college IT graduates start with zero years of workplace experience, aside from what they’ve learned in co-op work terms. Obviously, one can have three to five years experience and job-ready skills only if one acquires it, starting at none whatsoever.

One important contribution that the industry can make to its own health is to recognize this fact and, though it is costly, invest in its future by supporting the first three years of employee development.

Ted Bangay
Professor, School of Applied Computing and Engineering Sciences
Sheridan Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning

Re: Canadian airports bring biometrics on board (Feb. 24)

Hate to see the Canadian government and CATSA invest so much money in this aging biometric technology when there are other biometric systems available in the market such as the Iris Recognition Biometric system.

Unless that finger print scanner is sanitized after every use, I wouldn’t want to stick my finger on that thing! But again, with careless government spending, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if they hire a person for $30,000 a year to hand out Wet Ones and wipe the scanner!

All it takes is for one union worker to refuse the scan for fear that it may compromise his or her health. I can see your next headline… Government spends another $8 million to replace biometric security for health issues!

Chuck Dillinger

Re: Think tank thoughts (Feb. 26)

Has anyone thought that you may have too many academics in the tank and require some off-the-wall weirdos, eccentrics and free thinkers?

Frank Ogden

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