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Comment Go With Your Gut (Score 5, Insightful) 407

Unless these kids already have a programming proficiency, go with your gut.

The exercise is as much about allowing them to test the programming waters as it is about them winning. If you are starting with a blank slate, that means you need to create an environment that is intriguing. If YOU think Python is the thing, you'll be passionate ... and that is a lot of what makes a good coach/tutor in an olympiad.

Further, I think you could do a lot worse than Python. It is really a great language and is popping up in a lot of disciplines as the scripting tool of choice. It will perform well and has great characteristics that make it well suited for someone learning the ropes. Plus, the language is modern enough to be relevant should they desire to pursue IT further.

I would stay away from C/C++. In the hands of novices in a timed activity, I would wager it would be more trouble than it's worth.


Windows Breaks Into Supercomputer Top 10 294

yanx0016 writes "Wow, that's some news this week at SuperComputing 08. Apparently Microsoft Windows HPC Server 2008, with a Chinese hardware OEM (Dawning), made #10 on the Top500 list, edging out #11 by only 600 Gflops. Folks were shocked to see Microsoft getting so serious around HPC; I think we are only beginning to see a glimpse of Microsoft in the HPC field."

Submission + - Enigma of Ancient Computer Solved

zentropa writes: "A 2,100-year-old clockwork machine whose remains were retrieved from a shipwreck more than a century ago has turned out to be the celestial supercomputer of the ancient world, scientists say. Using 21st-century technology to peer beneath the surface of the encrusted gearwheels, stunned scientists say the so-called Antikythera Mechanism could predict the ballet of the Sun and Moon over decades and calculate a lunar anomaly that would bedevil Isaac Newton himself. Built in Greece around 150 to 100 BC and possibly linked to the astronomer and mathematician Hipparchos, its complexity was probably unrivalled for at least a thousand years, the boffins reckon."

Journal Journal: AMD Describes Road to 45-nm Processors

AMD described their road to 45-nm processors this week in academic papers. The strategy is based on three fundamental techniques: "the use of immersion lithography, which uses a lens of purified water to help manufacture the components; an "ultra" low-k dielectric, which lowers the capacitance of the chip, allowing lower power consumption; and an improved version of "strained silicon," which has applied four different
It's funny.  Laugh.

Submission + - WiiSaber Turns Your Wiimote into a Lightsaber

Simon Vincent writes: "You might recall the MacSaber application from a while back. The same guy has released a beta version of his new WiiSaber app. The application looks and works just like MacSaber, but the input device is the WiiMote instead of your Apple laptop. This means no more worrying that your laptop will break while playing Jedi/Sith, unless the Wiimote slips out of your hand and smashes your Mac. Many TV sets have already suffered the WiiMote pain. I wonder how long it will be until we see a Mac like that, now that the WiiSaber app is out."

Ares I Rocket Rumored To Be Too Heavy 165

eldavojohn writes "In an article entitled "Constellation Battles the Blogosphere," problems with the Ares I lift vehicle are dispelled by NASA. An e-mail containing the rumor that the payload was a metric ton too heavy spurred this post which caused a lot of sidelines speculation that NASA might be setting themselves up for failure and simply need to start over. From the article, '[M]any who carp from the sidelines do not seem to understand the systems engineering process. They instead want to sensationalize any issue to whatever end or preferred outcome they wish," wrote Jeff Hanley the NASA official leading the development of the rockets and spacecraft the United States is building to replace the space shuttle and to return to the Moon.' The article also mentions that NASA looked at 10,000 to 20,000 different iterations of designs in their "Exploration Systems Architecture Study." As armchair speculators of space exploration, do our posts & blogs create negative fallout for NASA or is public criticism like this healthy for keeping government agencies in line?"

Will the U.S. Lose Control of the Internet? 553

MattSparkes writes "The first UN-sponsored Internet Governance Forum (IGF) meeting is taking place next week in Athens, which aims to 'contribute to a better understanding of how the internet can be used to its full potential.' It is likely that several countries will object to the US monopoly on Internet governance, as they did at the last meeting, where the US cited fears of a loss of freedom of speech as the reason for retaining power. Other topics to be discussed include online security, access for non-English users and spam."

Make Linux "Gorgeous," Says Ubuntu Leader 688

OSS_ilation writes "They say beauty is only skin deep, but when it comes to Linux and the free software movement, people like Mark Shuttleworth think looks have an important part to play. On his blog and an article on, Shuttleworth and a slew of open source end users say that the look and feel of open source is also a matter of wider acceptance among enterprise players who are used to Windows, yet crave Mac OS X and the functionality of Linux. 'If we want the world to embrace free software, we have to make it beautiful,' Shuttleworth said. "We have to make it gorgeous. We have to make it easy on the eye. We have to make it take your friend's breath away.' With the early success of Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10, Shuttleworth and company may be onto something."

All great ideas are controversial, or have been at one time.