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Comment: Re:What do you expect? (Score 4, Insightful) 252

by Daniel_Staal (#49011993) Attached to: AP Test's Recursion Examples: An Exercise In Awkwardness

I'd argue that the solution to a problem is a lot easier to understand if you're given a context where the solution is needed FIRST. Starting with a degenerate problem that reduces to a trivial application serves to obscure the 'point' of the solution method.

This isn't the teaching materials. This is a test question. Yes, the teacher should teach the concept with a better example and explain it fully - but the question is enough to show if the student understands the concept and can apply it correctly. It's also quick to explain and short to answer, both good things for a test question.

This isn't the starting point - this is an ending point. (The end of the class.) The question is enough for that.

Comment: Re:and they make big bonfires, too (Score 1) 250

by Daniel_Staal (#48650109) Attached to: The Magic of Pallets

One of the big advantages of pallets over boxes or containers is that they are cheap enough that shipping them back isn't something you need to worry about in many cases. Yes, if there's a load (or a regular truck) going back to where they need to be loaded it's often better to ship back and re-use, but if they are delivering something and there's no load going back any time soon, they are cheap and easy enough to take apart that they can be discarded and used for other purposes.

Comment: Re:Suit gains a plaintiff (Score 1) 71

Just because we think the suit should continue to it's end doesn't mean we support DRM. Or even that we think the plaintiff should win. There is precedent to be set in this case, and continuing the suit to set it may well be a better outcome then getting it dismissed on a technicality.

Comment: Re:It boils down to energy storage costs (Score 2) 652

by Daniel_Staal (#48459315) Attached to: Two Google Engineers Say Renewables Can't Cure Climate Change

The second is a fair point: the main problem with coal and other fossil fuels is the external cost exported to society at large. (CO2 and other emissions.) If you could factor in that cost - and make the generators pay it - the cost of electricity from fossil fuels would go way up. (And, if they can afford to pay it - actually clean up their emissions to the point where they aren't harmful to the environment - then we don't actually have a problem with fossil fuels, except for the limited supply.)

Comment: Re:Hope it's better than the movies (Score 1) 242

by Daniel_Staal (#48376707) Attached to: HBO Developing Asimov's Foundation Series As TV Show

I actually think the 'I Robot' movie is anti-Asimov. One of the reasons the 'I Robot' stories are so famous is because Asimov treated robots as machines: They generally work as designed, but break or have flaws in their design that need to be fixed, and can be. They are complex machines, so they have complex flaws, but the flaws are the same types of flaws that you have in other complex machines, and the robots do not become monsters because of those flaws. Robot stories before him (and many after him, and nearly all in Hollywood...) tend to either treat robots as monsters, just waiting to get lose from their creators, or gods, able to fix all problems. The movie 'I Robot' is a prime example of the 'monster' archetype.

(People tend to bring up a couple of later stories he wrote when I bring up this argument - stories where his robots do start to evolve into fitting the god archetype. But: 1 - it's 'evolve', they were machines that were being perfected, not instant fixes, and 2 - they were later stories, where Asimov was subverting expectations about his own writing.)

Comment: Re:Yes! (Score 3, Informative) 242

by Daniel_Staal (#48363883) Attached to: HBO Developing Asimov's Foundation Series As TV Show

Depends on which books, and where in his career he was. He got fairly blatant around mid-career, although rarely actually explicit. When they say 'Foundation Series' it's open to interpretation on which books are likely meant - The original three were early in his career, and didn't really have much sex in them. The later two (mid-career) at the end have sex as a major plot driver/enabler, and the two prequels (end-career) feature it without making it a huge point. So it depends somewhat on where they start. I'm betting they'll start with the prequels - they have a strong central character, and can lead into the rest without much issue even after he dies. (And a fair amount of sex if they want it.)

The other point I'd be worried about is violence - the Foundation Series is about the fall of an empire and the rise of a new one, but actual fighting doesn't occur often. There are several places where it looks like it's about to, but then the forces of history make it unnecessary. (Or the populace gets mind-controlled, in one case...) It'd be very tempting for a director of a drama series to ramp up the violence, but it would change a large part of the point of the stories.

Oh, and in response to a couple levels up: They didn't use robots for sex in the stories. They didn't use robots for anything, in fact. There was a complete ban on higher-level AIs and on humanoid machines, to the level of taboo. (Although there were a few characters who where extremely humanoid robots in the prequels and sequels - and were basically the reason for the bans.)

Comment: Re:Please consider both sides... (Score 1) 139

by Daniel_Staal (#48295655) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Useful Are DMARC and DKIM?

Setting up SPF correctly for your domain does have the side-effect of stopping a lot of bounceback spam (where they forge your address and send it to someone else, so you get the rejection), and can be useful for that reason alone.

But yeah, incoming mail it's not really a big discriminator. Worth looking at slightly, but not really all that useful. (Which means in general it's just more work you'll need to do to set up an email server, which doesn't have much benefit.)

Comment: Re:For the rest of us (Score 2) 299

by Daniel_Staal (#48289679) Attached to: It's Time To Revive Hypercard

I used both BASIC and HyperCard - they were dramatically different approaches. If you want a modern BASIC, try Perl or Python or Ruby or - you get the picture. There are dozens of suitable replacements; simple direct languages that can write a short command-line program easily.

And you show the result to the average user out there and they won't even think it's a program. If you want a GUI - like everything out there today - you'll have to work on a major lift, some complex API that takes months to master, and days even for an experienced programmer to learn.

HyperCard could get you a simple GUI-based program in minutes, that even a beginner could do. You could actually get quite a ways without writing a single line of 'code' - though you still needed to think about the structure of how you moved through the application. It could even be argued that you can teach that structural thought easier to certain types of learners, as you get a more dramatic and visual result.

But the largest thing for a beginner that HyperCard could offer was a feeling of accomplishment: In a few minutes you had what 'felt' like a real application, with a GUI and everything. It doesn't look like a cliff to get to the point of writing a program that they can show off to their friends - even if it's a simple program.

There are roles for both, but to get someone interested in programming, I think HyperCard is probably better. Once you have that pull out the major arcania of complex API's and huge libraries.

Comment: Re:Many passwords just don't matter. (Score 2) 549

by Daniel_Staal (#48135127) Attached to: Password Security: Why the Horse Battery Staple Is Not Correct

I just had an excellent counter-argument today: Work uses one password to log into their benefits site and into the handheld scanner used on the floor. The handheld scanner has a keyboard of less than 20 keys - numbers are easy, letters are hard, capital letters are really hard, and special characters are impossible. And there's no other input.

My login to my benefits is now controlled by the password I can type into what's basically a telephone keypad. Because that's where I need to type it a couple of times a day.

Comment: Re:Analog displays are better in some situations. (Score 3, Insightful) 155

by Daniel_Staal (#48117793) Attached to: Liking Analog Meters Doesn't Make You a Luddite (Video)

Because the average human being can actually read it better off of a changing analog-style dial than they can understand a bare number. It has to do with us being well developed at judging distances for throwing and jumping. (And an analog dial allows you to read both off of one instrument.)

When it is not necessary to make a decision, it is necessary not to make a decision.