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Los riesgos de Wikipedia

(Last edited: sábado, 4 fevereiro 2006, 4:37 )
Na Nación, http://www.lanacion.com.ar/edicionimpresa/suplementos/enfoques/nota.asp?nota_id=775943

Texto recomendado por João Cruz

Publicado en la ed. impresa: Enfoques
Domingo 29 de enero de 2006

Debate

Los riesgos de Wikipedia

Aunque rescata el papel de Internet como herramienta de conocimiento si es bien utilizada, el autor se suma al debate sobre la enciclopedia on line y advierte que la falta de rigurosidad en sus contenidos puede conducir a peligrosos equívocos

Un debate está agitando el mundo de Internet, y es el debate sobre la Wikipedia.

Para los que no lo sepan, se trata de una enciclopedia on line escrita directamente por el público. No sé hasta qué punto una redacción central controla las contribuciones que llegan de todas las partes del mundo, pero es verdad que cuando he tenido la ocasión de consultarla sobre argumentos que conocía (para controlar una fecha o el título de un libro), la he encontrado siempre bastante bien hecha y bien informada. Claro que eso de estar abierta a la colaboración de cualquiera presenta sus riesgos, y ha sucedido que a algunas personas se les atribuyera cosas que no han hecho e incluso acciones reprobables. Naturalmente, protestaron y el artículo se corrigió.

La Wikipedia tiene también otra propiedad: cualquiera puede corregir un artículo que considera equivocado. Hice la prueba con el artículo que me concierne: contenía un dato biográfico impreciso, lo corregí y desde entonces el artículo ya no contiene ese error. Además, en el resumen de uno de mis libros estaba la que yo consideraba una interpretación incorrecta, dado que se decía que yo "desarrollo" una cierta idea de Nietzsche mientras que, de hecho, la contesto. Corregí "develops" con "argues against", y también esta corrección fue aceptada.

El asunto no me tranquiliza en absoluto. Cualquiera, el día de mañana, podría intervenir otra vez sobre este artículo y atribuirme (por espíritu de burla, por maldad, por estupidez) lo contrario de lo que he dicho o hecho. Además, dado que en Internet circula todavía un texto donde se dice que yo sería Luther Blissett, el conocido falsificador (e incluso años después de que los autores del truco llevaran a cabo su buen coming out y se presentaran con nombre y apellido), podría ser yo tan socarrón como para dedicarme a contaminar los artículos que conciernen a autores que me resultan antipáticos, atribuyéndoles falsos escritos, episodios pedófilos, o vínculos con los Hijos de Satanás.

¿Quién controla en la Wikipedia no sólo los textos sino también sus correcciones? ¿O actúa una suerte de compensación estadística, por la cual una noticia falsa antes o después se localiza? El caso de la Wikipedia es, por otra parte, poco preocupante con respecto a otro de los problemas cruciales de Internet. Junto a sitios absolutamente dignos de confianza, hechos por personas competentes, existen sitios de lo más engañosos, elaborados por incompetentes, desequilibrados o incluso por criminales nazis, y no todos los usuarios de la red son capaces de establecer si un sitio es fidedigno o no.

El asunto tiene una repercusión educativa dramática, porque a estas alturas sabemos ya que escolares y estudiantes suelen evitar consultar libros de texto y enciclopedias y van directamente a sacar noticias de Internet, tanto que desde hace tiempo sostengo que la nueva y fundamental asignatura que hay que enseñar en el colegio debería ser una técnica de selección de las noticias de la red; el problema es que se trata de una asignatura difícil de enseñar porque a menudo los profesores están en una condición de indefensión equivalente a la de sus alumnos.

Muchos educadores se quejan, además, de que los chicos, si tienen que escribir el texto de un trabajo o incluso de una tesina universitaria, copian lo que encuentran en Internet. Cuando copian de un sitio poco creíble, deberíamos suponer que el profesor se da cuenta de que están diciendo pavadas, pero es obvio que sobre algunos temas muy especializados es difícil establecer inmediatamente si el estudiante dice algo falso. Supongamos que un estudiante elija hacer una tesina sobre un autor muy pero muy marginal, que el profesor conoce de segunda mano, y se le atribuya una determinada obra. ¿Sería capaz el docente de decir que ese autor nunca ha escrito ese libro? Lo podría hacer sólo si por cada texto que recibe (y a veces pueden ser decenas y decenas de trabajos) consigue llevar a cabo un cuidadoso control sobre las fuentes.

No sólo eso: el estudiante puede presentar un trabajo que parece correcto (y lo es) pero que está directamente copiado de Internet mediante "copia y pega". Soy propenso a no considerar trágico este fenómeno porque también copiar bien es un arte que no es fácil, y un estudiante que copia bien tiene derecho a una buena nota. Por otra parte, también cuando no existía Internet, los estudiantes podían copiar de un libro hallado en la biblioteca y el asunto no cambiaba (salvo que implicaba más esfuerzo manual). Y, por último, un buen docente se da cuenta siempre cuando se copia un texto sin criterio y se huele el truco (repito, si se copia con discernimiento, hay que quitarse el sombrero).

Ahora bien, considero que existe una forma muy eficaz de aprovechar pedagógicamente los defectos de Internet. Planteen ustedes como ejercicio en clase, trabajo para casa o tesina universitaria, el siguiente tema: "Encontrar sobre el argumento X una serie de elaboraciones completamente infundadas que estén a disposición en Internet, y explicar por qué no son dignas de crédito". He aquí una investigación que requiere capacidad crítica y habilidad para comparar fuentes distintas, que ejercitaría a los estudiantes en el arte del discernimiento.

Por Umberto Eco
© LA NACION y L´Espresso


Traducción: Helena Lozano Miralles

Link corto: http://www.lanacion.com.ar/775943

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Umberto Eco

Entry link: Los riesgos de Wikipedia

Francis Wheen's top 10 modern delusions

(Last edited: domingo, 29 janeiro 2006, 5:47 )
Francis Wheen's top 10 modern delusions

http://books.guardian.co.uk/top10s/top10/0,6109,1140156,00.html


Francis Wheen is a journalist and author of several books, including a highly acclaimed biography of Karl Marx. His collected journalism, Hoo-Hahs and Passing Frenzies, won the George Orwell prize in 2003.
Francis Wheen's new book, How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World: A Short History of Modern Delusions, is published by Fourth Estate.

Buy How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World at Amazon.co.uk

1. "God is on our side"
George W Bush thinks so, as do Tony Blair and Osama bin Laden and an alarmingly high percentage of other important figures in today's world. After September 11 2001 Blair claimed that religion was the solution not the problem, since "Jews, Muslims and Christians are all children of Abraham" - unaware that the example of Abraham was also cited by Mohammed Atta, hijacker of the one of the planes that shattered the New York skyline. RH Tawney wrote in Religion and the Rise of Capitalism that "modern social theory, like modern political theory, developed only when society was given a naturalistic instead of a religious explanation". In which case modern social and political theory would now seem to be dead.

2. The market is rational
Financial sophisticates in the 21st century smile at the madness of the South Sea Bubble or the absurdity of the Dutch tulip craze. Yet only a few years ago they scrambled and jostled to buy shares in dotcom companies which had no earnings at all nor any prospect of ever turning a profit. To justify this apparent insanity, they maintained that such a revolutionary business as the internet required a new business model in which balance sheets were irrelevant. In short, they thought they had repealed the laws of financial gravity - until they came crashing down to earth.

3. There is no such thing as reality
Hence the inverted commas which postmodernists invariably place round the word. They see everything from history to quantum physics as a text, subject to the "infinite play of signification". But if all notions of truth and falsity cease to have any validity, how can one combat bogus ideas - or indeed outright lies? There is, for instance, a mass of carefully empirical research on the Nazi extermination of the Jews. As Professor Richard Evans points out, "To regard it as fictional, unreal or no nearer to historical reality than, say, the work of the 'revisionists' who deny that Auschwitz ever happened at all, is simply wrong. Here is an issue where evidence really counts, and can be used to establish the essential facts. Auschwitz was not a discourse."

4. We mustn't be "judgmental"
In 2002 the Guardian revealed that Christian fundamentalists had taken control of a state-funded school in Gateshead and were striving to "show the superiority" of creationist beliefs in their classes. When Jenny Tonge MP asked Tony Blair if he was happy that the Book of Genesis was now being promoted as the most reliable biology textbook, he replied: "Yes. . . In the end a more diverse school system will deliver better results for our children." This is the enfeebling consequence of unthinking cultural and intellectual relativism. If some schools start teaching that the moon is made of Swiss cheese or that the stars are God's daisy chain, no doubt that too will be officially welcomed as a healthy sign of educational diversity.

5. Laissez-faire capitalism is the prerequisite for trade and prosperity
The International Monetary Fund may say so, as it imposes Thatcher-style solutions all over the world, but its own figures tell a different story. Its report on The World Economy in the 20th Century", published in 2000, includes a graph - printed very small, perhaps in the hope that no one would notice - which shows that the pre-Thatcherite period between 1950 and 1973 was by far the most successful of the century. This was an era characterised by capital controls, fixed exchange rates, strong trade unions, a large public sector and a general acceptance of government's role in demand management. The average annual growth in "per capita real GDP" throughout the world was 2.9% - precisely twice as high as the average rate in the two decades since then.

6. Astrology and similar delusions are "harmless fun"
Those who say this never explain what is either funny or harmless in promoting a con-trick which preys on ignorance and anxiety. Yet even the Observer, Britain's most venerable and enlightened Sunday newspaper, now has a horoscope page.

7. Thin air is solid
Charles Leadbeater's book Living on Thin Air (1999), a starry-eyed guide to the "weightless economy", was described by Peter Mandelson as "a blueprint for what a radical modernising project will entail in years to come". The dustjacket also carried a tribute from Tony Blair, hailing Leadbeater as "an extraordinarily interesting thinker" whose book "raises criticial questions for Britain's future". Three years later, after the pricking of the dotcom bubble, industry secretary Patricia Hewitt admitted that "industrial policy in [Labour's] first term of office was mistaken, placing too much emphasis on the dotcom economy at the expense of Britain's manufacturing base...The idea of Living on Thin Air was so much hot air." Tactfully, she forgot to mention that the chief hot-air salesman had been her own leader.

8. Sentimental hysteria is a sign of emotional maturity
The psychotherapist Susie Orbach interpreted the 'floral revolution' outside Kensington Palace after Princess Diana's death as proof that we were "growing up as a nation". Will Hutton, radical social democrat and republican, said that the collective genuflection before a dead aristocrat showed that the British were "freeing ourselves from the reins of the past". The assumption is that emotional populism represents a new kind of collective politics. In fact, it is nothing more than narcissism in disguise.

9. America's economic success is entirely due to private enterprise
In the 19th century, the American government promoted the formation of a national economy, the building of railroads and the development of the telegraph. More recently, the internet was created by the Pentagon. American agriculture is heavily subsidised and protected, as are the steel industry and many other sectors of the world's biggest "free-market economy". At times of economic slowdown, even under presidents who denigrate the role of government, the US will increase its deficit to finance expansionary fiscal and monetary policies. But its leaders get very cross indeed if any developing country tries to follow this example.

10. "It could be you. . ."
This was the advertising slogan for the National Lottery, that monument to imbecility, which was introduced (fittingly enough) by John Major. And millions of British adults apparently believed it, even though the odds on winning the jackpot are 13m to one. It could be you. . . but it bloody well won't be.
Entry link: Francis Wheen's top 10 modern delusions

(A)moralidade pública

(Last edited: segunda, 9 janeiro 2006, 5:46 )
Público, 9 de Janeiro de 2006

O meu parco optimismo sobre o futuro
resistiu estoicamente, toda a semana,
às notícias do Banco de Portugal, do
Tribunal de Contas, do caso Iberdrola
até soçobrar, na sexta-feira, à mais vulgar manchete
do Independente. Apetece-me meter férias como
analista, voltar a emigrar! Sexta fui confrontada
com a pior das verdades; a nossa doença, ao contrário
das soluções económicas que me parecem
familiares e de fácil implementação, exige outras
medicinas, extravasa largamente a economia e
entra num campo para mim desconhecido: a sociologia.
O problema não tem a ver com as contas
do Estado, mas com o ESTADO a que isto chegou
na gestão da coisa pública. É uma doença do foro
moral. Uma questão de civilização.
Quarta-feira ainda resisti, animadita, às revelações
do Banco de Portugal sobre o facto de estarmos
a viver o mais longo período de empobrecimento
relativo face à Europa desde a Segunda Guerra
Mundial. Permaneci incólume às quantificações
arrasadoras do relatório
do Tribunal de Contas
sobre os custos do
gigantesco flop da operação
de titularização
de dívida que salvou as
contas de 2003 mas perseguirá as contas públicas
dos anos seguintes. Falei-lhes desse risco, aqui
mesmo, antes do tempo...
Consegui mesmo fugir ao pânico perante a contabilização
feita pelo Tribunal de Contas sobre os
previsíveis custos das scuts e das variadíssimas parcerias
público privadas na saúde e companhia.
Confesso que, no relatório do TC, vi até razões
de optimismo. Apesar das desgraças e das mais de
noventa recomendações do Tribunal, o texto tem o
mérito de, por uma vez, cumprir os prazos e dizer
qualquer coisa de interessante enquanto ainda nos
lembramos do nome dos ministros responsáveis.
O antecessor de Guilherme de Oliveira Martins
nunca conseguiu semelhante proeza.
É claro que os visados têm pior memória do
que nós e já não se lembram muito bem do que
fizeram. Basta notar que Bagão Félix só admitiu
responsabilidades sobre a transferência do fundo
de pensões da CGD (o único que aparece como
devidamente provisionado) deixando todas as
operações de integração dos restantes fundos
(ANA, Imprensa Nacional, NAV, etc ), altamente
criticáveis e criticadas, na estranha condição de
filhas de pai incógnito. E todavia foram todas elas
realizadas no mesmo ano de 2004, já em finais do
ano e enquanto era ministro. Coisas…
O meu cada vez mais escasso optimismo não se
abalou sequer perante o anúncio de que o Estado
tinha pedido aos privados a escolha do gestor que
gostariam de ver à frente da EDP, preparando-se
para nomear o ex-ministro António Mexia para
o lugar. Isto, além de se preparar para dar voz no
Conselho superior da empresa à Iberdrola do Dr.
Pina Moura (que é tão só a empresa espanhola
concorrente). Resisti porque Sampaio tinha feito
constar que chamara o ministro a Belém e, pensava
eu ingenuamente, iria fazer saber que vetaria
o nome do novo gestor e o novo modelo de gestão.
Pensava eu que o Presidente não se esquecera
que fora Mexia, enquanto quadro do Grupo Espírito
Santo, a aconselhar ao Estado (nos tempos do
Governo Guterres) o polémico modelo de financiamento
das scuts. Para, mais tarde, já enquanto
ministro das Obras Públicas de Santana Lopes,
acusar o dito Estado de ter embarcado num modelo
de financiamento de forma totalmente irresponsável
e sem fazer contas ao risco que assumia!
Quando confrontado com esta contradição, o então
ministro disse à RR, com uma tranquilidade
espantosa, que não via nenhuma incompatibilidade
entre os conselhos dados ao Estado por si e
a posição anti-scuts assumida enquanto ministro.
Tanto mais que o modelo de financiamento das
scuts era (sic) “um modelo de financiamento como
outro qualquer” e que em si mesmo não lhe levantava
nenhum problema. O Estado só não o devia ter
adoptado para além das suas possibilidades de fazer
face aos respectivos pagamentos futuros. Tudo
muito simples, muito óbvio, sem sequer perceber
de onde vinha a possível contradição e as dúvidas
éticas levantadas pelo jornalista.
Ou seja, o cidadão Mexia, embora surja num
movimento que dá pelo nome de Compromisso
Portugal, não considerou sua obrigação de consciência
alertar o “cliente” Estado para a sua evidente
incapacidade financeira futura. Ou seja, o
consultor Mexia agiu como o mais vulgar vendedor
de time-sharing e achou isso, enquanto cidadão,
absolutamente normal! Diz alguma coisa sobre o
seu conceito de serviço público, ou não?
Pois, no dia seguinte, soube-se que afinal Mexia
ficava mas a Iberdrola de mote próprio adiara a
ida para o Conselho Superior da EDP, evitando
engulhos ao Governo português. A confirmação
de Mexia foi tão bem acolhida pelos privados que
nem acharam necessário esperar pelo “ período
da cerimónia”. O Banco Espírito Santo reforçou
em Bolsa a sua posição na eléctrica antes mesmo
de acabar a semana.
Quanto a Sampaio, desmentia ferozmente o
jornal que lhe apontava o mais louvável dos comportamentos.
Sampaio não queria que restassem
dúvidas: não tinha qualquer mérito no meio desfecho
positivo da história.
Há presidentes assim, que não gostam que se
goste deles e se esforçam por nos fazer acreditar
que não servem para nada! Estranha mensagem
em plena campanha…
Ainda assim, o meu já escasso optimismo só esmoreceu
na sexta-feira pelo mais improvável dos
motivos: uma manchete do Independente. Confesso
que a li sem lhe dar grande crédito e sem que me
fizesse grande mossa. Era mais um escândalo: a
história de Neidi, requisitada pelo Ministério da
Justiça para uma comissão de serviço de três anos,
sem concurso, e com a agravante de parecer ter
como habilitação específica a escassa experiência
da gestão de um restaurante. Era tudo triste. Uma
daquelas falsas investigações que começa num texto
do Jornal do Fundão e cheira a esturro e dor de
cotovelo, a denúncia anónima a léguas de distância…
Para cúmulo, havia um ridículo arrepiante
em todos os pormenores. O restaurante onde fora
recrutada a nova funcionária chamava-se “Sr
Bacalhau”, a nova sociedade gestora “Coiratos”…
Nem Eça caricaturava tanto. Animei-me a pensar
que a coisa não podia ser bem assim. Era mau de
mais para ser verdade. Mas era…
Não tardaram umas horas e surgia o telex a dar
conta da imediata exoneração dos dois protagonistas,
a senhora Neidi e o seu superior hierárquico
e recrutador. O Ministério da Justiça fazia ainda
notar que o IGFP, por si tutelado, gozava de autonomia
administrativa e financeira (sinónimo
aparente de total impunidade…) permitindo ao
Dr. Aberto Costa sacudir a água do capote.
Contra isto, não há optimismo que resista! Afinal
a notícia má demais conseguia ser ainda pior. Um
organismo, que o Portal do Governo aponta como
parte integrante da administração central com
a magna tarefa de ser responsável “ pela gestão
financeira e patrimonial dos recursos financeiros
provenientes do Cofre Geral dos Tribunais e do
Cofre dos Conservadores, Notários e Funcionários
de Justiça e dos bens afectos ao Ministério” recruta
os responsáveis assim. É para isto que serve a autonomia
administrativa e financeira concedida à
pala dos méritos da “gestão quase privada” a uma
míriade de institutos?
Há anos que ouvimos falar dos “excedentes” e da
contratação judiciosa e um a um de novos funcionários.
Tudo muito excepcional e com despachos
e justificações várias só na educação, na saúde,
nas forças de segurança, na justiça. Nós a pensarmos
no caos dos tribunais, e os recrutamentos a
serem feitos no senhor Bacalhau para uns vagos
departamentos de logística ministeriais. Enquanto
continuarmos assim não há solução para o país.
Não há Presidente interventivo que nos devolva
a auto-estima.
? Jornalista
Entry link: (A)moralidade pública

Coming Soon to TV Land: The Internet, Actually

(Last edited: domingo, 8 janeiro 2006, 9:41 )

Coming Soon to TV Land: The Internet, Actually

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Published: January 7, 2006, NYT
 

LAS VEGAS, Jan. 6 - What would a world with television coming through the Internet be like?

Skip to next paragraph
davidpogue_ces.gif
New York Times technology reviewer David Pogue is at the 2006 Consumer Electronics Show, posting blog entries and daily video updates.

Instead of tuning into programs preset and determined by the broadcast network or cable or satellite TV provider, viewers would be able to search the Internet and choose from hundreds of thousands of programs sent to them from high-speed connections.

At the International Consumer Electronics Show here this week, a future dominated by Internet Protocol TV, or IPTV, seemed possible, maybe even inevitable.

Giants like Yahoo and Google turned their attentions to offering new Internet programming. Hardware companies like Intel introduced chips and platforms that can push videos sent via an Internet connection to living room screens. And Microsoft looked for alliances that would allow its software to dominate living rooms as well as the home office.

"At one level it's clear that the dam has broken," said Paul Otellini, chief executive of Intel. "There's an inevitable move to use the Internet as a distribution medium, and that's not going to stop."

The rapid emergence of the consumer electronics and computer companies as Internet video providers is certain to challenge the control of the cable, telephone and satellite companies, which seek to dominate the distribution of digital content to the home. Competition has intensified as more consumers have upgraded to digital televisions.

Indeed, the easy availability of on-demand content over the Internet is certain to accelerate consumer expectations that they will have more control over digital video content, both to watch programs when they want as well as to move video programs to different types of displays in different rooms of the home.

"Appointment-based television is dead," said William Randolph Hearst III, a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, the Silicon Valley venture capital firm. "The cable industry is really in danger of becoming commoditized."

Mr. Hearst sits on the board of Akimbo, a provider of an Internet service that permits users to download video content via the Internet to a set-top box digital video player. This week, Akimbo announced its first mainstream content deal to enable its customers to download Hollywood movies for later viewing on their televisions.

In the battle for the living room, cable, satellite, and increasingly, phone companies are trying to defend their turf by offering more choice through an array of content in video-on-demand programs.

But fending off the Internet's openness will be a struggle, one that the online companies themselves lost years ago.

At the onset of the dot-com era, large online service companies like AOL, Compuserve and MSN tried to lock customers into electronic walled gardens of digital information.

But it quickly became apparent that no single company could compete with the vast variety of information and entertainment sources provided on the Web.

The same phenomenon may well overtake traditional TV providers. Potentially, IPTV could replace the 100- or 500-channel world of the cable and satellite companies with millions of hybrid combinations that increasingly blend video, text from the Web, and even video-game-style interactivity.

Though still new, IPTV is already commercially available in limited areas both in the United States and internationally. To date, the new digital Internet content is hard to find and of uneven quality. Moreover, the consumer electronics industry is still struggling to complete copy protection agreements with Hollywood and other content providers.

But the advantage of IPTV is that it can potentially be deployed at lower cost than current cable television systems and can offer consumers features like the ability to record several programs simultaneously without having to add costly additional tuners. (And IPTV can potentially record many streams if bandwidth is available.)

A prototype of one feature of the Microsoft IPTV service, known in the industry as a matrix channel, allows several baseball games to be viewed simultaneously along with textual information like player statistics.

Internet search is also likely to play a defining role in shaping IPTV, according to executives attending the consumer electronics show.

Both Yahoo and Google announced plans to distribute video at the show, and Yahoo showed a new application intended to be used with a high-definition television to ease the search for video content, stream digital video and permit users to keep their personal information and files in sync whether they are viewing a PC, TV or mobile phone.


Proponents stress that the open- video Internet is still in its infancy and the battle may not be completely joined until a new generation of faster Internet connections reach the home. This is because to stream digital video requires about 1.5 megabits of bandwidth to send conventional NTSC video and from 6 to 8 megabits to send high-definition video.

Currently broadband data rates in the United States reach just 1.5 megabits or less, but those speeds are beginning to rise after years of delay as D.S.L. and cable companies upgrade their plant and equipment with fiber optic lines.

There are powerful companies that are now anxious to reach homes without being subjected to special content arrangements with D.S.L., cable and satellite providers.

They are companies like Apple, Google, Intel, Microsoft, Yahoo, and others, with all of them beginning to make available an ever-widening array of video content that looks more like a world of five million channels rather than 50 or even 500.

On Thursday, Intel introduced its new ViiV computer design that is intended to bring the abilities of the personal computer to the living room. ViiV is a set of computer hardware and software technologies that will go inside computers and set-top boxes.

Several hundred consumer electronics and computer companies announced plans to build ViiV-based systems, and Mr. Otellini said that more than 100 companies, including AOL, ESPN, MTV, NBC and Turner Broadcasting, would offer digital content for ViiV-based systems.

In his presentation at the consumer show Wednesday, Bill Gates, the Microsoft chairman, said that its home television Media Center version of Windows would be available for the new ViiV computers.

The logjam that has prevented such digital content delivery deals has been broken, Mr. Gates said, because the consumer electronics industry has now begun to reach so-called managed-content copyright protection agreements with Hollywood.

Moreover, many industry executives expect Steven P. Jobs to extend iTunes video service of Apple Computer from his company's portable iPods into the living room, possibly as early as next week at the company's annual MacWorld Exhibition in San Francisco.

Microsoft is also cooperating with two of the largest telephone service providers. After spending more than a decade courting the cable industry, with a plan that was originally called Cablesoft, Microsoft shifted allies and is now introducing its technology with telephone service providers.

Last fall, both AT&T, formerly SBC, and Verizon began limited introductions of Microsoft's version of IPTV.

Still, critics charge that the telephone companies are intentionally crippling the Internet capabilities of their services to appear much like traditional closed cable offerings.

"They're trying to construct their own separate world to keep their walled garden," said Robert Frankston, a personal computer industry pioneer and former Microsoft researcher.

The growing tension has begun to show in the objections of existing D.S.L. and cable providers that are threatening to create surcharges for Internet content providers as well as the prospect of the deployment of a two-tiered Internet in which favored customers would in effect have special high-performance lanes reserved for their use.

"They believe that if you control the user interface you make more money than if you are a dumb pipe," said Rob Glaser, chief executive of RealNetworks, the Internet music and video service provider.

Microsoft executives defend the way in which the telephone companies are deploying the company's IPTV technology, saying that if consumers are exposed to the chaos and uneven quality of the open Internet, it is likely to undermine the development of the new services.

"You need to begin with something that is easy to use and not overwhelming," said Christine A. Heckart, marketing general manager for Microsoft's TV division. "If we do this well you will have an experience much like TV today, only better."

She acknowledges that today's Internet generation may be far more receptive to a more interactive experience than traditional TV and eager not to be fenced in by their television service providers.

Microsoft has an early lead in offering IPTV technology both to the industry and to consumers, but at the electronics show this year Intel showed significant independence and introduced its own software features including digital video recording abilities with its ViiV platform.

Both companies, however, are trying to change the nature of television by making it possible for small start-ups to compete with giant networks by making available content that has never before been able to reach a global audience.

One such company is International Television Networks Inc. of Laguna Niguel, Calif. It recently struck an agreement with the National Lacrosse League to broadcast all of the league's games as well as customized player descriptions.

The company has adopted a strategy of making video content available for specialized markets, which was previously not possible using traditional television broadcasting technology.

"I can do everything a cable company can do," said David Koenig, the company's founder and chief technology officer, "but I will have 100,000 channels."



davidpogue_ces.gif
New York Times technology reviewer David Pogue is at the 2006 Consumer Electronics Show, posting blog entries and daily video updates.


Entry link: Coming Soon to TV Land: The Internet, Actually

Data, Music, Video: Raising a Curtain on Future Gadgetry

(Last edited: segunda, 2 janeiro 2006, 10:15 )


Data, Music, Video: Raising a Curtain on Future Gadgetry

Published: January 2, 2006, NYT
 

The flat-panel televisions will be getting bigger, the MP3 players and cellphones will be getting smaller. And almost everything will be getting cheaper.

02electronics.1841.jpg

A new control pad from Elan operates any number of items in the home, from the TV to the drapes.

But the biggest trend expected at the International Consumer Electronics Show, which begins this week in Las Vegas, is that these machines will be communicating with one another. The theme of this year's show might best be described as Convergence: This Time We Mean It.

For more than a decade, manufacturers of consumer electronics like televisions and audio gear have talked about blending their products with personal computers, so that consumers can enjoy a seamless stream of data, video and music anywhere. It has not happened, because the two industries do not have compatible technology standards and the requisite high-speed Internet connections have not been widespread enough.

This year all that changes, say executives who will be introducing new products at the show. They say that consumers will finally be able to sling images and sound wirelessly around a room or an entire house. The major electronics makers will be showing TV's with computer capabilities and phones that will play video and music, as well as the next generation of digital recording and storage devices.

While technological convergence may now be possible, some fear the industries have not yet made connecting all those devices simple enough for the average user.

"There is still a lot of confusion around the connected home," said Van L. Baker, a market analyst with Gartner, a technology research and consulting firm. "Reducing it will be the challenge to keeping the momentum going."

Getting consumers past the confusion of how to link, say, a PC to a TV will be the next big hurdle.

The show comes after a very good year for consumer electronics. Plasma and liquid-crystal display televisions, MP3 players and digital cameras with five or more megapixels of resolution have been big sellers.

"We don't see any reason that this will slow down anytime soon," Mr. Baker said. "The transition of entertainment from analog to digital, of time-shifting and place-shifting, is just getting under way."

Attendees of the electronics show, the biggest trade show in the country, will be scrambling to get a first glimpse at some of the products that will fuel the growth of the industry, which represents $126 billion in annual sales. The annual exhibition is off limits to the general public, but it is expected to attract 130,000 executives, dealers, journalists and investors.

More than 2,500 exhibitors, a record, spread across 1.6 million square feet, another record, will try to grab their attention. This year, 6 percent of the exhibitors will be from China, illustrating that nation's significance as a major player in the industry. Among foreign attendees, China will rank third, behind Canada and Taiwan.

The show is more than just a display of new technological toys. It is also a forum for industry executives to forge alliances and present new business strategies.

Bill Gates, the chairman of Microsoft, will give his vision of the future in a speech Wednesday evening. Sir Howard Stringer, the chairman and chief executive of Sony, will take his turn Thursday morning. On Friday morning Terry Semel, the chairman and chief executive of Yahoo, will speak, followed later that day by Larry Page, a co-founder of Google.

Intel plans a major announcement about its new Viiv (rhymes with drive) multimedia platform, which will power PC's built to deliver digital entertainment. Intel hopes that Viiv will transform the home computer in the same way that its Centrino platform transformed the laptop into a mobile communications device. Paul S. Otellini, the chief executive of Intel, will give a speech Thursday evening outlining Intel's road map.

Manufacturers are expecting another record year in 2006, but with continuing declines in prices. Across a broad swath of categories like cameras and audio and DVD players, consumers will pay less and get more features. Even in the flat-panel TV industry, prices dropped as much as 40 percent in 2005. This trend will translate into slower revenue growth in 2006.

As for new areas of growth, analysts are predicting big sales of game consoles in 2006 as Sony introduces its PlayStation 3 and Nintendo brings out its Revolution console. Both devices, like the new Microsoft Xbox 360, can be used as the central node for a wirelessly networked home.

Electronics companies will also be introducing new home media servers and TV's that can receive digital content wirelessly from a PC or via an HDMI cable (for high-definition multimedia interface). Another hot topic at the show will be IPTV, or Internet protocol television, which sends programming over the Internet through a broadband connection.

Then there are the companies, like Elan Home Systems, that want to get right in the middle and sell devices to control all the networked appliances. Elan will be at the show introducing a control pad for everything in your house, from electronic devices to the drapes.

While major players in the electronics industry continue to squabble over the format of the next generation of DVD's - Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD - both factions will be showing products that consumers can buy this year. The new players will be expensive, some costing more than $1,000. Still, the industry expects to sell about a half-million of the new players in 2006, mostly as components in PC's rather than as stand-alone devices.

In the audio sector, companies are seeking ways to take advantage of the popularity and dominance of the Apple iPod. Several manufacturers are planning to announce products that will work with the iPod to move music to devices around the house.

Another big trend, said Steve Tirado, chief executive of Silicon Image, a semiconductor maker, is bigger storage devices. "People want a place to consolidate their digital media."

Ross Rubin, the director for industry analysis at NPD, a market research firm, said that apart from home networking systems, some new technologies would make their way to consumer markets this year.

Canon and Toshiba will both present televisions with surface-conduction electron-emitter displays. The technology produces crisper pictures than can be offered by existing flat-panel televisions, the manufacturers say. The sets will go on sale later this year.

Other Asian TV manufacturers will also demonstrate sets built with new organic light-emitting diodes that use less energy and could one day be cheaper to produce than liquid-crystal display panels.

Another notable product development to be seen at the show is the miniaturization of cathode-ray tube technology to fit into flat-panel televisions, allowing what could be the best-quality picture yet. "They will be very high end, very expensive," said Mr. Rubin. But like that of so many products at the show, the price will eventually go down.

Entry link: Data, Music, Video: Raising a Curtain on Future Gadgetry

Quem nos liberta desta cruz? Resposta de João Filipe Matos

(Last edited: terça, 27 dezembro 2005, 12:01 )
Quem nos liberta desta cruz? Resposta de João Filipe Matos
Entry link: Quem nos liberta desta cruz? Resposta de João Filipe Matos

The computer and I

(Last edited: sexta, 23 dezembro 2005, 10:32 )

The computer and I

http://www.helpusgettobett.com/?p=25#more-25

Archived Entry

  • Post Date :
  • Friday, Sep 9th, 2005 at 12:26 am
  • Category :
  • Using Moodle


Hi,
Im Jim Robertson, from Provo, Utah, USA. Not exactly in the UK, sorry about that. Allow me to introduce myelf in this blog. Then I will make some comments about Moodle in another.

General Introduction: grew up in California (LA then bay area), oldest of 6 children. Family moved to Phoenix, Arizona (parents still there), went to Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah still here. Married, wife Judy from very small town (300) in Nevada. Have 9 children, 7 married, youngest started college this week. No empty nest proxmity to BYU (10 minutes) and large extended family guarantees someone always living in basement while attending BYU (right now is niece & husband & 3 children). Enjoy hiking, biking, swimming, cooking, reading (especially aloud to anyone wholl listen), discussing ideas, listening to music (but more on that elsewhere). I dont really like gardening, but I live on 1 acre and I like grape juice, peaches, apples, apricots, various berries and other fresh produce, so I maintain a large garden. Used to be one of 3 properties between 2 large orchards, had chickens, neighbors had sheep & goats (even pigs once). All but us & one neighbor sold & developed during last 2 years into posh neighborhood, wonder what they think about the two remaining eye sores in the middle. We sometimes feel a little like the couple in the old Good Neighbors sitcom.

CAI-relevant Introduction: First introduced to personal computing in 1961 when G.E. tried experiment with remote terminals in 100 local employees homes, used Basic and 8-bit punch tape. Didnt think it took at the time, but have never been far from it since. While a grad student at BYU (c. 1980) I became involved in volunteer work at our gradeschool, teaching computer skills to children in an early-moring program. We used PET computers (5K!) and BASIC, which proved to be a great tool for building problem solving skills and encouraging creativity. It didnt really strike me then that teaching 3rd-6th graders how to make the computer do something by programming it was rather innovative, but some of them have since told me it was something of a turning point.

I had also met some professors involved in early CAI projects and instructional design. Some of them helped start Wicat, a company for developing computer-assisted teaching. Wicat produced what was probably the first comprehensive K-12 computer-based curriculum, delivered from a mini mainframe to 30 workstations. I started working for Wicat and soon found that while I had been hired to develop a set of ability tests (Ph.D. in experimental psychology), I had a knack for programming and was increasingly involved in software design and coding. A reorganization sent me from the Education Division to the relatively small Training Division, where I did front-end analysis and design on CBT for aircraft pilot training. Not exactly the revolution in education, but still a great place for involvement with computer aided instruction. I became interested in making training program development more consistent and automating it as much as possible, so I again found myself increasingly doing programming tasks.

A common limitation in CBT was that practice segments were pretty much lock-step, whereas most tasks being trained could be accomplished through many differenct sequences. In the early 90s we began developing avionics simulations for the new glass cockpit airframes that were coming into service. These were delivered on desktop PCs and were intended to become part of an expert system training program (guided practice). Unfortunately, we could sell simulations better than educational concepts, and by 2000 we had been purchased by Faros (a French company) and had moved entirely to the simulation business, producing full-cockpit Flight Training Devices.

Airplanes are fun, no getting around it. But my interest in simulation had been as part of training software, not as a separate self-contained component. I spoke with some of my educational contacts about moving my career back towards education, but nothing came of it. Meanwhile, the troubled airline business caused further cutbacks; finally in March of this year Faros terminated Wicat operation, and I found myself looking for work.

On to Moodle: My next door neighbors own a small school, a medical-dental technical college. The husband runs the business aspects, the wife is the educational director. They suggested I might have a look at what they called some IT problems at their school, which might serve as employment while I looked for employment, or even become a long-term position. After two days of reviewing their computer and records systems, I concluded that what was needed was more than a patch, but a thorough-going systematic approach. I had heard of Blackboard and WebCT, but hadnt heard much good about them and their cost was prohibitive (the school has 20 full-time employees). Still, those represented a systematic approach. During the next few days an associate of the school introduced me to Moodle. By the end of the week I was sure I had found the solution.

One thing has led to another. We are a long way from the overall implementation envisioned, but have made a lot of progress. I dont know where this will lead (anyone got an opening for someone who is equal parts educator, programmer, psychologist, simulations designerand loves Moodle?), but for now I feel that Moodle represents the coming-of-age of computer-assisted teaching. I will describe this more fully in the following blog on Moodle.

Entry link: The computer and I

Os mitos

(Last edited: terça, 20 dezembro 2005, 11:18 )

Os mitos


Público, 20 de Dezembro de 2005


Jesus não nasceu a 25 de Dezembro, não foi dado à luz numa gruta, não havia burro ou vaca a assistir, os magos não eram reis nem eram três, não houve pastores a adorá-lo, não fugiu para o Egipto. As histórias de Natal estão cheias de pormenores que têm apenas uma intencionalidade teológica. Apenas? Não fossem essas histórias e onde estaria a dimensão do maravilhoso no Natal?


Por António Marujo


No cristianismo, o ponto de partida está na encarnação do Verbo. Aqui, não é apenas o homem a procurar Deus, mas é Deus que vem em pessoa falar de si ao homem e mostrar-lhe o caminho por onde é possível atingi-lo.

(João Paulo II, Carta apostólica Tertio Millenio Adveniente, sobre o início do terceiro milénio)


Nenhuma das histórias é verdade? A vinda dos magos do oriente, a acção da estrela, a conversa dos magos com Herodes, que pôs em alvoroço a cidade de Jerusalém, a adoração dos magos, o prazo de dois anos entre a vinda dos magos e a matança dos inocentes, a ida de Jesus, Maria e José para o exílio no Egipto, onde permanecem dois anos, é uma narrativa midráchica, artificial.

O padre Joaquim Carreira das Neves, biblista, sintetizava deste modo, a 6 de Outubro deste ano, na sua última lição pública, o modo como a exegese bíblica contemporânea olha para as narrativas da infância de Jesus contidas nos evangelhos. Midráchica designa uma narrativa maravilhosa para referir um facto de fé.

Nessa intervenção, que será em breve publicada na revista Didaskalia, da Universidade Católica, Carreira das Neves acrescentava: É anti-racional que Herodes tenha mandado matar as crianças de Belém e arredores, precisamente dois anos depois do aparecimento dos magos. A ser verdade, e não obstante os crimes do rei, Flávio Josefo [historiador do século I, autor de Antiguidades  Judaicas] não deixaria de apresentar este crime como o maior de todos os crimes.

Não há que enganar: as narrativas da infância de Jesus apenas contidas nos Evangelhos de Mateus e Lucas, e mesmo assim com elementos contraditórios
entre ambas servem propósitos bem determinados: pretendem ser uma teologia ou catequese em que cada evangelista escolhe a melhor pedagogia e linguagem para o anúncio do mesmo salvador a destinatários diferentes, escreve frei Lopes Morgado (Entrai, Pastores, Entrai, catálogo da exposição de presépios de Dezembro de 2002, em Évora). Ou, na expressão de Carreira das Neves (Jesus Cristo História e Mistério, ed. Franciscana), esses relatos que datam dos anos 75 a 85 pretendem informar não sobre a história do nascimento e da infância de Jesus, mas sobre a modalidade do ser dessa criança. Porque surgiram então tais relatos? Muitos dos mitos ligados ao Natal devem-se às histórias dos evangelhos apócrifos (reunidos na Biblioteca de Nag Hammadi, que acaba de ser editada em Portugal pela Esquilo). Esses textos, dos séculos III e IV, que ajudam a entender o gnosticismo cristão daquela época, retratam um Jesus que faz milagres desde bebé, que se zanga facilmente ou, pelo contrário, é capaz de ajudar intensa e miraculosamente
fazendo brotar água, por exemplo.

Uma espécie de um ser humano que se quer mais divino que o divino. Os dois evangelistas da infância Mateus e Lucas traduzem a mentalidade cristã do final do primeiro século, como explica ainda Charles Perrot (Narrativas da
Infância de Jesus, ed. Difusora Bíblica). Mas o seu maravilhoso, escreve France Queré (Os Evangelhos Apócrifos, ed. Estampa), tem a intenção de mostrar que o nascimento de Jesus dá um corpo sensível à devoção, começa-se a amar a Deus como a uma pessoa. O cristianismo insere-se na história, porque Deus se
tornou humano. E Jesus, o Deus que se torna homem, é o libertador para os tempos novos, um novo Moisés.

Entry link: Os mitos

And in This Corner ... The 'High-Tech Heretic'!

(Last edited: terça, 20 dezembro 2005, 12:42 )
And in This Corner ... The 'High-Tech Heretic'!

This is the e-interview that every educator will want to read! Clifford Stoll is the author of High-Tech Heretic: Why Computers Don't Belong in the Classroom and Other Reflections by a Computer Contrarian. He is also an MSNBC commentator, a Berkeley astronomer, an Internet pioneer, and a "full time, stay-at-home dad." Stoll shares with Education World readers his controversial thoughts about computers in the classroom.

Education World: The premise of your book High-Tech Heretic: Why Computers Don't Belong in the Classroom and Other Reflections by a Computer Contrarian is that computers don't belong in schools--

Clifford Stoll: Part of the premise.

EW: A good part of your book focuses on the idea that computers don't belong in classrooms. Education World is a Web site that, among other things, helps teachers integrate computers into their curriculum. I'm interested in why you think we shouldn't be doing that.

Stoll: Your teachers believe in using computers in the classroom?

EW: Many of them. Others are required to use computers in their classrooms, and they want to do it in the best way possible.

Stoll: What about the old-line teachers who don't want to use computers, who are being pushed aside and marginalized because of the techno-hucksters' view of what should go on in classrooms?

EW: Teachers are charged with preparing students for the future. Don't students need to learn how to use computers?

Stoll: In my visits to schools, I don't find children who are ill at ease behind a computer screen. I do find lots of kids who cannot read analytically, who do not read books, who cannot write legibly, who cannot assemble a 250-word essay. But I do not see many kids who can't use a computer. Do you think children don't have enough exposure to electronic messages? Children have too much exposure to electronic messages. Is the problem that they don't watch enough TV? That they don't get enough media? The problem is that they get too much media already! ... If I ask a student to tell me about Huckleberry Finn, I want that student to read the book. If he simply goes to the computer and finds information about Huckleberry Finn, what has he learned? Computers provide kids with information. They don't help them learn.

EW: But don't kids always look for the easy way out? Before computers, we used Cliffs Notes. Don't good teachers make sure that students--

Stoll: Where did you get your Ph.D.? I got mine honestly. I didn't use Cliffs Notes.

stoll.jpg EW: In your book, you talk about a student "watching a monarch chrysalis in a field of milkweed." What about the students who might never see a field of milkweed? Can't technology expose children to things they would not ordinarily experience?

Stoll: You mean the "city kids who haven't seen a cow" argument? Do you really think those children exist who don't know what a cow looks like? Do you think kids look at a frog on a Budweiser billboard and don't know what it is? Computers cannot provide experiences. Think about the things you've "experienced" on a computer. Then think about the things you've experienced in real life. How do they compare? ... How much does a field trip cost? $100? $200? How much does a computer lab cost? Thousands of dollars? How many field trips can you take for that amount of money?

EW: What about those kids in inner city schools who, even if they go on those field trips, will need computer skills to compete in the job market?

Stoll: I live very near an inner city school, and I can tell you that the main problem in inner city schools is horrible discipline. In what way is that helped by a large computer budget? Often, computers in inner city schools are wrecked or stolen very quickly anyway. Even if the computers can be secured, the schools cannot. If the computers aren't wrecked by the kids, they're stolen by the neighbors. If the computers themselves aren't stolen, the cables are. In a nearby city high school, only about 5 of 35 computers in the computer lab are working. Educational technologists like to sit in their offices and dream of computers in idealized city schools, but that's not what really happens.

EW: In most classrooms, teachers need to work with individual students or with small groups of students. During those times, isn't it more valuable for other students to be working at the computer than to be doing traditional seat work?

Stoll: Working on the computer is seat work. The children aren't moving. They aren't doing anything active. They're sitting in their seats.

EW: They're doing more than simply filling in information on a work sheet.

Stoll: There is no reason for any student to use a work sheet in his or her entire school career.

cliff.jpg EW: Don't computers have any value, in any classroom?

Stoll: It would be bad enough if computers simply didn't add to a child's education. The problem is that the use of computers subtracts from the student-to-teacher contact hours. It directs attention away from the student-teacher relationship and directs it toward the student-computer relationship. It teaches students to focus on getting information rather than on exploring and creating. Which is more interactive-- a student and a teacher or a student and a computer? ... Suppose we wanted to create a nation without social skills? Can you think of a better way to do that than to tell students, "Don't interact with the teacher. Interact with a computer?" Suppose we wanted to create a nation that can't read? Can you think of a better way to do that than to say to students, "Don't get your information from a book. Look it up on the Web?" If we wanted to discourage students from exploration, what better way than to search for answers on a computer?

"Suppose we wanted to create a nation that can't read? Can you think of a better way to do that than to say to students, 'Don't get your information from a book. Look it up on the Web?'"

EW: So you believe that computer use actually detracts from the educational process?

Stoll: There's a cost to bringing computers into a school. And I'm not talking about just the initial costs-- which can be substantial-- or the upkeep-- which can be many times the initial cost. The real cost is what you are not going to be teaching. ... I've talked to a former kindergarten teacher who stopped teaching because the school replaced sandboxes with computers. You can't have sand or dirt or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in a classroom with computers. I've talked to a second-grade teacher who can't have real magnets in her classroom because they erase the software that goes with the seven computers in her room. So instead she has a software program about magnets, and kids learn about magnets on the computer. Which will help kids learn about magnets better-- real magnets or a computer program that simulates magnets? ... I go into a lot of schools and usually the first thing the principal does is bring me into the computer lab. The first question I always ask is, "What did this room use to be?" Often the answer I get is, "Oh, this was the music room, but we don't teach music anymore," or "This was the art room, but we don't teach much art anymore," or "This used to be the library, but now it's the media center. We keep the books in the closet. If a student wants one, we can probably find it."

EW: Problems existed in schools long before computers. Why blame them all on computers?

Stoll: The central issue is What problem is solved by bringing computers into the classroom? Do they provide a higher quality of education? Let me tell you what I see as the main problems in public schools, and you tell me how those problems can be solved by computers.

  • Overcrowding: Can that be solved by computers? At the very best, computers have no effect on the problem-- except to make the room more crowded.
  • Hyperkinetic kids: Can they be helped by computers? No! They're only getting more media, more stimulation, more of what caused the problem in the first place.
  • Poor attention toward the teacher: Can directing students' attention toward a computer increase students' attention to the teacher?
  • Poor attitude toward scholastics: Is it "scholastics" to download information from a computer?
The one thing that computers do extraordinarily well is bring information to kids. Computers give kids access to vast amounts of information.

EW: Don't computers have a place in the classroom, then, if merely as a source of information?

Stoll: Is a lack of information a problem in schools? I've never once had a teacher say to me "I don't have enough information." Teachers say they don't have enough time. The problem in classrooms is not a lack of information. It's too much information.

EW: Where do you think the money that's being spent on technology should be spent?

Stoll: The money should be spent on reducing class size, on providing teachers with more prep time, on improving school grounds so that students have the ability to study nature in nature, on providing lessons in the humanities and in other technologies, such as plumbing, woodworking, auto mechanics, home economics. ... Why are there so many pilot projects specific to computers, while so many other things go unfunded? I say this in my book, but I'll say it again. Imagine you have two millionaires and each one is donating $1 million to a local school. The first millionaire says, "You have to spend the money on technology." The second millionaire says, "You can spend the money on whatever you need." Which donation will benefit the kids more?

EW: Can't the computer be looked at as just one more tool for teachers?

Stoll: Saying the computer is just a tool makes it seem too neutral. It ignores how this tool changes our educational system. I have no doubt that though we're teaching our children how to use computers, we're also teaching them that when you have a problem, the first thing you should do is turn to a computer to solve it.

High-Tech Heretic: Why Computers Don't Belong in the Classroom and Other Reflections by a Computer Contrarian, written by Clifford Stoll, is published by Doubleday, 1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036.

Linda Starr
Education World®
Copyright © 2005 Education World

Entry link: And in This Corner ... The 'High-Tech Heretic'!

Maria de Lurdes Rodrigues, A Ministra de que os professores não gostam

(Last edited: domingo, 18 dezembro 2005, 10:26 )
Maria de Lurdes Rodrigues, A Ministra de que os professores não gostam
Entry link: Maria de Lurdes Rodrigues, A Ministra de que os professores não gostam


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