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Comment: Re:It's time (Score 1) 63

by Cute Fuzzy Bunny (#47389443) Attached to: Does Google Have Too Much Influence Over K-12 CS Education?

That's one way to possibly solve the problem. If you've got a long time to work with and aren't concerned with what happens to the kids currently in the programs. It'd turn out badly in areas of low affluence. When California tried reducing class sizes without thinking about making more qualified teachers, as jobs opened at the schools in affluent areas, the good teachers ran to them and the schools in poor areas had to hire crap teachers just to fill the jobs. Quality of education plummeted right in lock step with how wealthy the neighborhoods were.

The other way would be to do what the top education graded countries do. All education free from kindergarten to college. Longer school days but about 50% of it extracurricular and fun. Highly trained and certified teachers. Low student to teacher ratios. Minimal standardized testing since the teachers are trusted to handle education issues in the class room and the low ratios and rigorous teacher certification actually allow that to happen. We happen to be doing the exact opposite.

I have a son in public elementary school and have dealt with the issues. The principal is a bureaucrat and low grade politician, but she isn't very good at it. She'd last about a month as a first line manager in a fortune 500 company. The superintendent is a pure politician. Neither has an education bone in their body. The teachers are all unionized, and right now they're forcing out one of the best teachers in the school because they keep expanding class sizes (past 30 to one teacher) and she's got the least tenure. Half the teachers suck so badly I'm surprised the kids learn anything. Some are decent, but badly undertrained or inexperienced and the huge class load burns them out.

There's a big push to use technology as a teaching replacement. Only problem is that many of the younger kids have no computer experience. What's worse is I live in an extremely affluent area, yet mommy doesn't want little Jimmy playing with her computer and many of them won't cough up the $200 for a dedicated machine for the kid.

This is the top end experience for public schools, due to the affluence in my area. Schools in run down areas are horrific by comparison. Private schools aren't much of a panacea. There is very little to go on when trying to figure out which private schools are good and which aren't. Many of the better private schools are religion based and after my experience with private Catholic schools, I'll just say no thank you. A lot of the private schools are really no better than the public schools and if you complain, they'll show you the door and keep your tuition. Plenty more people in line waiting to pay.

We know how to do it. There are dozens of countries that spend a fraction of what we spend and they don't depend on competition. Our universities and major companies are full of their graduates. We'll just keep doing the same wrong things over and over again (and moreso!) and hope to magically end up with a different result.

Comment: Horrible (Score 1) 63

by Cute Fuzzy Bunny (#47389377) Attached to: Does Google Have Too Much Influence Over K-12 CS Education?

I totally hate it when billion dollar companies dump money into education. I spend so much time turning the whole thing over in my head looking for the downside that its too much of a time waster.

But the tone of the article is correct. Instead of corporations investing and looking for ways to innovate, we should keep having substandard teachers, throw billions into testing because we don't know if the teachers are any good, and somewhere along the line we'll magically have good education by doing the exact opposite of what successful education programs around the world are doing.

Comment: It doesn't matter (Score 1) 281

by Cute Fuzzy Bunny (#47389357) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Often Should You Change Jobs?

I'm retired now, but I tended to change jobs every ~2 years. Companies get stuck on this "we can only give you a single digit % raise" thing. The competition didn't feel bad about shelling out a 30-40% raise after getting their butts handed to them a few times. Had I stayed with one company for 4-5 years, I'd have fallen behind badly in salary.

Not to mention a great company this year may easily get plowed under or become irrelevant in 5 years.

Once when I'd changed jobs about 5 times in 6 years, a hiring manager said "Gee, you tend to jump around a lot". When I explained the salary bumps I got for each of those changes and the radically different stuff I got to do at each company, he didn't seem to be that bothered by it.

Comment: Dead company walking (Score 1) 67

by Cute Fuzzy Bunny (#47293883) Attached to: BlackBerry Back In Profit

Selling phones below cost and major cost cutting doesn't turn into a positive long term trend. It just gets the CEO paid well for a while, nice golden parachute and lines them up for a job with a company that actually has a chance of surviving.

I like blackberry. Good solid hardware. The OS is far better than ios or android, at least until recently. The security is excellent.

But they rested on their laurels too long and everything they're doing now is too little, too late. I'm sure that certain verticals will keep using their stuff for a while, but the world has moved on.

Comment: Seen it (Score 1) 370

by Cute Fuzzy Bunny (#47293847) Attached to: Age Discrimination In the Tech Industry

Actually my old company had a group of former employees who'd been given the boot form an organization to fight the company's obvious age discrimination. They used a two prong approach. One was that 1/3 of your annual review process gauged you for 'new skill development', when many older employees are employing a broad range of skills but not necessarily developing new ones. On the other hand, 20-somethings have to develop new skills because they don't have many. The second prong was to move the 'underperforming' employees who weren't developing new skills as fast as they're younger counterparts into a 'redeployment' group where they could either choose to voluntarily resign with a payout or hang around and wait for a job offer from another department. Nobody wanted to take the older guys because it was a major fight to get them through the annual review process.

When I retired, a new manager took over the group and with HR's advice, put the two oldest guys in my department straight into redeployment, both guys in their 50's. Pretty invaluable employees too. I'd have a room full of young alpha male type A's sitting around arguing over who had the biggest one and it'd go in circles for hours. If I sent one of those older guys into the process, they'd settle it down, shoot down the bad ideas with their experience, get a plan formed and point the testosterone in the right direction to get something done. They were also better at fully forming plans, managing and monitoring progress, writing documentation, and handling senior management issues/politics.

At another job with a major company, I helped out a neighbor by putting his resume in with HR. The HR person told me to have him remove his photo from the resume, because he was clearly over 50 and many hiring managers would just toss it if they saw the picture and never interview him. A fine line between it being okay to not even process someone due to their age but once you interview them, you cross over into the discrimination area.

I had a long career with a dozen companies, mostly large and well known, and the mantra all along was that if you hadn't gotten yourself into a people/project/program management job by the time you were in your late 40's, you were screwed.

Comment: Besides reducing content providers to middleware (Score 1) 130

Its also that you simply cannot get any two people/organizations to accept 'not invented here'. We can't even agree on how to fasten a windshield wiper to an arm or what pieces of plumbing should be used to screw something into a water pipe with.

Tivo actually eliminated my need for other remotes most of the time because it made the satellite box/cable box a slave to it. I liked that, because I was able to switch from directv to dish to comcast and get their new customer deals, plug in the box and my shows still recorded. The remote worked the tv well enough. Only problem I had was when I wanted to watch a dvd. Of course, after a bit the satellite/cable companies reduced them to using an IR blaster and then refused to fix little glitches that messed up show recording when an IR action failed.

If my google tv with the built in blu-ray player was still being updated and had apps for hulu and an amazon app that wasn't just a web browser, and if all the flash streaming sites hadn't excluded it from playing their content, that also was a pretty close universal/one remote product that even solved playing physical disks. In one remote I could control the cable/sat aspect, stream netflix, control the tv/audio equipment, and even browse sites.

Nobody will allow their content to be subjugated to middleware. Everyone wants their box to be the primary interface. No two companies will ever agree on the same things. Whatever compromise shows up will be a PITA for customers to deal with.

Comment: There's more than one part to this (Score 2, Insightful) 1116

by Cute Fuzzy Bunny (#46697955) Attached to: Mozilla CEO Firestorm Likely Violated California Law

The first part is that there are basically two groups of people: those that feel they should be able to do whatever makes them happy as long as what they're doing doesn't adversely affect others, and those who feel they have the right to tell others what they can and can't do regardless of impact on themselves.

Make whatever convoluted case or slippery slope argument you want, Adam and Steve getting married has zero actual effect on anyone else. So what you have is a CEO basically giving his social opinion that he feels something is wrong that people who work for him feel is okay. My last company allowed employees to wear shorts to work because it was 120 out in the summer. One day someone brought that up in a room with a vice president in it and his comment was "Yeah, you're allowed to do it...but I think its damned unprofessional". Half the people in the room were wearing shorts. Word got around and nobody wore them anymore. So what a senior manager says has a significant effect on workers, right or wrong, rules/laws or not.

Second part is that roughly half the people/customers/programmers/business owners/executives believe one way on this and the other half believe the opposite. You're therefore alienating half the people that work for the company and half the people it works with. Not a good idea from any perspective. Sure, the ones that feel like you do will rally behind you while the other half walk away. Probably okay if you're making chicken sandwiches. Not okay when you're trying to manage a major software company.

Bottom line: keep your social opinions to a personal level and keep them out of a professional environment. You can make all the legal arguments you want. The VP still thinks shorts are unprofessional and chances are if you wear them, you're going to be getting the crap jobs if he notices.

Comment: Translation: (Score 0) 331

by Cute Fuzzy Bunny (#44470771) Attached to: Why PBS Won't Do Android

"We're apple snobs who want donation money from people who blow money on i-products. Now roll out the usual lame claims about fragmentation and cheap flaky devices, which is totally overblown and irrelevant. Please don't ask how it is that everyone else on earth manages to turn out ios and android versions of anything and everything, and it works just fine for everyone except the people who bought knock off chinatabs and chinaphones, who aren't affected and don't care because half of the rest of the apps they try don't work either".

The sad truth is that the vast majority of android devices run on three versions of android and it hardly rocket surgery to get an app to work on those. Or you can do what many ios developers do and only allow the app to run on the more recent versions of android. I have a number of ~3 year old apple devices that won't run ios past v3 or v4, and lots and lots of apps that require 4 or 5 to operate. Why a recipe app requires ios5 is a mighty fine mystery to me, but there it is.

It is absolutely, positively no harder or more expensive to build an android app that runs only on gingerbread/ics/jellybean and only runs on majority well established devices than it is to write an app to work on ios v3-5. A choice was made, and that choice has absolutely, positively no grounding in technical complexity, market factors or anything else. The choice was "We're only going to spend $xxx, lets write for the audience we'll get the most donations from".

Comment: The truth is (Score 3, Informative) 707

by Cute Fuzzy Bunny (#44344401) Attached to: The Man Who Convinced Us We Needed Vitamin Supplements

that almost everything you know about nutrition is wrong, often started up by one person or a group of people who failed to prove even loose correlation, yet people take up their suggestions and after a while they become 'common knowledge'.

Most multivitamins contain ingredients that pass through your digestive tract without even being absorbed. What does get absorbed is excessive and the system is unfamiliar with these huge doses of bioavailable vitamins and your system works overtime to eliminate it. Puts a real beating on the kidneys.

To extend the ridiculousness, nobody has ever proved that fat or meat are bad for you, yet people avoid them both and suffer nutritionally. In the 50's, Ancel Keys wrote a paper on his lipid theory where he 'proved' that fat was bad for you by eliminating the data from 17 of 23 countries he studied. The 17 he threw out were large consumers of fats with no problems with heart disease or cancer, such as the Innuit and Masai. He also noted in his study that there was no connection between dietary cholesterol and cholesterol levels in blood, but everyone seems to have skipped that part.

50 years of studies showed that salt was also not at all harmful to the average person, but doctors couldn't shake the idea of salt raising blood pressure temporarily so they gamed a study called Intersalt, where...you guessed it...they deleted around 40% of the data that included people who ate plenty of salt and led perfectly healthy lives. The excuse? "We already know that salt is bad for you, so if people say they ate it and were healthy, then they were lying". Hmm. It should be interesting to note at this point that all these studies do go on what people say they did and didn't eat and did or didn't do. Faulty data in the first place.

No study has ever proven that MSG is bad for you, in fact its approved by each and every equivalent of the FDA worldwide with zero dissenters, and its been eaten by billions of people for a century with no ill health effects. All it does is make healthy food taste better so you're more likely to eat it. In fact, the studies that were run showed more false positives as a placebo effect than actual reactions. Fun part is the whole thing goes back to one doctor who wasn't a nutritional expert writing a letter noting a possible 'chinese food syndrome' that he suggested at random might be MSG related. Its an amino acid derived from boiling kombu seaweed.

Meat is bad? The studies that say so point out that most of the people who eat meat, bacon and so forth also smoke, drink, don't exercise and live a lousy lifestyle. Of course they do, we've been telling people that meat is bad for them for 60 years, so anyone that eats it doesn't care about their health. Yet there is no study whatsoever that ever tested perfectly healthy people with a good lifestyle whose health suffered when they ate meat.

What IS bad for you are most pills, supplements, things in cans, fake 'diet' brownies and cookies, sugar, processed foods, vegetable oils except for olive, processed starches, and high energy/low nutrition foods that make up the bulk of the 'western diet'. Eat meat, quality fats, whole fruits and veg and steer clear of the high profit, easy to produce items made from grains and processed starches.

If that seems hard to believe, recall that we were told for decades that cigarettes were good for us, with doctors recommending particular brands. We were also moved from relatively healthy animal fats/butter to transfats, partially hydrogenated fats and so forth. That recommendation probably killed millions. Eggs are bad/good/bad/good/bad/good. By the way, they're just fine and a great source of B vitamins and protein.

Comment: Re:Definitely a problem (Score 2) 835

The real problem with this is simple escalation. Its rare for a government agency to get smaller or spend less, rather the opposite. We had huge growth in law enforcement during prohibition, and when prohibition ended we needed something for all of those people to do so as to maintain headcount and budgets, hence the war on drugs. When you max out reasonable law enforcement activities, you train a swat team and buy tanks for suburban neighborhood management. Gotta keep the budgets and headcounts heading north.

Comment: Definitely a problem (Score 4, Informative) 835

To preface this, I live in a fairly affluent area with extremely low crime. My town has no standing police force, just a satellite sheriffs office. Next town over has about the same demographics but has a 300+ member police force. A few years ago they trained a swat team and bought a very expensive 'urban assault vehicle'. I'm not sure for what, there is zero gang related activity, almost no drug stuff aside from the usual medical marijuana, and as far as I know no dangerous criminals have ever been brought in from the community.

Of course, this comes at the expense of things like schools, where we're jamming 30+ kids in a classroom and the teachers can barely do classroom management, let alone actually teach something.

Comment: Re:Maybe somewhere along the line... (Score 1) 70

by Cute Fuzzy Bunny (#41303595) Attached to: A Few Photos From Secretive Blue Origin: Is That a Crew Capsule?

...someone should have mentioned WTF "Blue Origin" is. Apparently its so secretive, I have no idea as to what it is. Not interested enough to find out either...

Yes, we do a shitty job of reporting information, like leaving out large portions of "what the hell is this and what does it mean", and thats worthy of a -1 troll rating.

I used to think the group moderation scheme was a good one, but apparently many people don't understand how it works. You see, a 'troll' is when someone posts something wrong or unnecessarily inflammatory, with the primary intention of riling people up.

Reporting a story saying "Wow, this is really exciting!" without saying what it is, or why its exciting...well...thats a little less than worthless. If you already know, then you didn't really need the news. If you don't, then reporting incompletely stories isn't particularly worthwhile.

Comment: Re:First Step: ban tv (Score 1) 93

by Cute Fuzzy Bunny (#41299903) Attached to: The Fight To Reform Forensic Science

So, what is a high confidence level? 90% 99%? 1 part per million error? What is considered good enough statistics for a conviction??? What does "beyond a reasonable doubt" mean? If I'm only 99% sure someone did it, should I convict?

(this is why I'm never picked for a jury).

I think its important to follow the whole process from start to finish. Since I've been on both side of this issue, several times, perhaps I have a unique perspective.

The bottom line: you get the justice you can afford.

The system relies on scaring the crap out of people charged with a crime so that they'll avoid the option of a jury trial, since that costs $3000-15000 and up, depending on the scope of the case. This forces people to plea out even if they're innocent, because most people can't afford justice. If you're indigent, you'll get a free lawyer thats worth somewhat less than they're paid.

If you're serious about proving your innocence, you can probably get off if there isn't concrete evidence, although even there a five figure trial and a stupid jury will work in your favor. Most juries are people found to be less than smart, without a lot of well developed opinions, easily swayed by clever commentary. In other scenario's, they're called 'voters'. The only time I get picked for a jury is when I act dumb and appear to have no fixed opinions.

On the other side of the table is the police, who will make up stuff on police reports, labs full of incompetents who produce the "evidence" necessary to force a plea deal, and a DA measured by conviction rate, not just conviction rate. Couple that with a system of fines and high dollar privately operated penal institutions, and you get the idea that we're just herding people through the system to keep the conviction and incarceration rates up.

Lets look at my situation. I was charged with a misdemeanor that carried a couple of grand in fines and related items. Got a lawyer locked in for the case for $2500. He looked things over for a few weeks, we poked the cop and the DA for a couple of hours in court, and he said we could go forward as is and I'd lose. For about $7k we could hire "Some whore experts that will say whatever we want, 50/50 whether the jury goes for it" and for about $14-15k we could "Hire some top notch highly respected experts and put on a show. That'll scare the DA off his plea deal and he'll probably give you something lesser with a smaller fine, and theres a good 80-90% chance of acquittal...but you never know what a jury will do for sure".

In the end I took the original plea deal and bought a bunch of stuff with the money I saved, to make myself feel better about being convicted unjustly. I was able to pay for the couple of days of jail time to serve at home, while the guys with no money had to go sit in jail for a couple of days. I also could afford the fines, while most people would have been seriously screwed. Oh, and I could afford bail, so I got to sleep at home the night of my arrest while most people spent it on a concrete floor.

So we have at least 3 kinds of justice. The kind where many people because of skin color, neighborhood of residence or wallet thickness end up taking the pipe and paying up or sitting in jail, the kind where you can throw a little money at it and get a reduction or practical elimination of consequences, and when you're filthy rich and somewhat less than ridiculously guilty and you get off entirely.

On the jury end of things, I really never saw a concrete case. Lots of slip shod evidence and procedure, questionable test results passed off as solid, lots of 'he said/she said', circumstantial junk and I was never sure enough to put someone in jail. Everybody else wanted to get it over with so they could get home, they 'had a feeling!'.

Lab wise, in my case there was a test involved. The test was apparently done at the beginning of the month, recorded somehow (although its not clear how) and then that recording transferred to the official forms almost a month later. But that process isn't how its supposed to be done, and it appeared that there were many places along the process where procedures weren't followed and the likely result was a bad test. The same lab was later found to have samples with mismatched DNA from the alleged source people.

Yet the DA and the judge were unswayed by this, and said they'd allow the evidence to be presented with our rebuttal. Then the judge told my lawyer that he would have to try the case that week, when my lawyer was already booked for another case, he refused a continuance, and then said he was considering revoking my bail because I was "being difficult". Turns out he was retiring and this was his last case, and he wanted to get it over with. He'd also been censured for looking up hot womens names and addresses in the DMV database from license plate info given to him by a friend, so the friend could then harass the women. Real quality fellow, and a real upholder of the law.

So thats what you get from a close look at both sides of this. Thankfully I'm a wealthy white man that lives in a nice neighborhood. If I were a black kid in a hoodie, apparently I'd be dead or in jail.

Comment: Re:any decent computer, with Linux (Score 1) 423

by Cute Fuzzy Bunny (#41299497) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Computer For a 7-Year Old?

Again, I'm looking for the "aha!" in the linux home desktop space where windows and os x fall down, but linux works or has something the others don't.

I'm not sure I want to claim that there is any slam-dunk feature where Linux smokes the competition.

But the Linux package management system is so much better than the Windows situation. The Windows model is: go to web page, download installer, run installer, trust that the installer is not doing anything bad. Note that these are the same steps whether you go to "SafeVettedKidsSoftware.com" or "MalwareToWreckYourComputer.com".

With Ubuntu, you can get the packages from an "app store" GUI application that pulls from the Ubuntu repositories. You can find a category (like "Games") and click around in the GUI, find something interesting, click, and it downloads. I don't care if you are an adult or a 7-year-old, that is just easier than Windows.

Windows wins on software availability. Almost all the software available on Linux is also available cross-platform, but the converse is definitely not true. But there is a ton of free cool stuff on Linux, and he is less likely to end up with malware installed and popping up porn ads.

I know a high-school boy who is has learned Linux; he wipes computers, installs Linux, installs additional packages... he doesn't use the "app store" GUI but rather uses the low-level tools. He has a better skill set than I had at his age (albeit he also had access to all this cool stuff and I didn't). I don't know if he will study computers when he goes to college, but if he does, he already knows a lot of the stuff that the intro classes will cover. Linux has been good for him.

steveha

The only problem with your thesis is that you presume there is a great chance of getting malware from non repository software.

Sorry, but I'm unlikely to get malware from Disney, Nickelodeon or the long time developers of Kidzui.

Plus my 7 year old appears to have mastered finding the software he wants, asking if he can install it, and doing so. So it seems to be not that complicated.

How many times have we gotten malware on our 7+ home computers? Never. Couple of times malwarebytes or security essentials complained about something, and on occasion they block access to a web site because its been reported to have malware. Zero infections, because we don't surf russian porn sites, we don't install shovelware, and we don't click OK on anything that pops up and says "Hi, can I install your free ?". Pretty straightforward.

Then there is the associated funny business with well established software, which mimics my linux OS installation experience. You always have to edit some files, find some obscure software, or use odd troubleshooting methods to make simple things that work just fine under windows work under linux.

To wit, here's the minecraft for linux download link description:

"The jar is executable and might work as-is. If you run into memory issues, try launching it with java -Xmx1024M -Xms512M -cp Minecraft.jar net.minecraft.LauncherFrame, also please use Sun's JVM."

MIGHT work as is. Or just use this obscure launch string to try to make it work. When that doesn't work, you can post a question on some forum, where 20 eleven year olds will taunt you to read the 400 page wiki, search the last 3 years of threads, and then declare you a dumbass because you can't figure it out on your own. Oh, and someone want to clue me in as to how my 7 year old will determine if he's having a memory issue or not?

Wizard 101 (the other hot elementary school kids game) has two pages of instructions on how to install on linux, including installing Wine and tweaking stuff. On the flip side, the 8 year old from across the street installed it on one of our windows machine, with a few helpful tips from my 7 year old. While my wife and I were watching tv undisturbed.

Then we're back to the original point of "Why do this when the computer already comes with windows, windows works fine, everybody knows it, they use it at school, and we've already determined that there is no killer app or capability that linux has that windows doesn't"?

Answer: People are fond of it for various reasons, but there isn't any good reason to foist this on a young child. You're going to give them something unfamiliar, complicated, and they won't derive any benefit from using it. About the only outcome of that is to make the child more dependent on you to resolve their issues, and when you have kids, you'll find that what you want is the opposite of that. You want to enable them to figure things out on their own.

Oh, and whoever keeps modding me 'troll' on this, grow up. Your little tech toy operating system isn't appropriate for small children or most other people for that matter. Get over it. At best you're limiting their worthwhile development scope by foisting this on them. At worst, you're teaching them stuff they'll have no use for, while skipping a prime opportunity for them to develop skills they can use on the computers at school.

To wit: my kid helps me start up all 30-something computers in the school lab, helps other kids log in, run the browser and get into their apps. He can do this because he's been given experience in the platform that ~95-something% of schools use. His peer students think he's a superhero. If he used linux at home? He'd have almost zero applicable skills to help his fellow students.

Once again, to get people to adopt something, you need a compelling story and capability set that is so much better or only available on a platform that it overwhelms the cost and hassles of adoption. That isnt and has never been the case with linux. Its a solution in search of a problem.

"I'm not a god, I was misquoted." -- Lister, Red Dwarf

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