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Comment: Ladies and Gentlemen, this is a computer... (Score 1) 298

by DavidHumus (#49728539) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Tech Skills Do HS Students Need To Know Now?

Basic vocabulary is a good place to start. Going forward, knowing how to type and how to use an editor efficiently will probably stand them in good stead, brain-reading computer overlords excepted. Knowing how to look up relevant things on the internet might be a longer-term goal, which depends on having a good conceptual framework. Motivation is key but not something you can really teach other than by pointing out some of the possibilities and hoping something grabs their attention.

Comment: A larger view (Score 1) 244

by DavidHumus (#49690529) Attached to: RTFM? How To Write a Manual Worth Reading

For a comprehensive look at what can be done with a very unusual language, the J essays are hard to beat: . They provide context around why you might want to do something one way rather than another and are much more literary and wide-ranging than typical documentation.

The details of the vocabulary - linked to from the "Vocabulary" page ( are also pretty good because they combine general definitions with explicit usage examples.

Comment: Doesn't square with simple fact check (Score 1) 186

by DavidHumus (#49629493) Attached to: The World's Most Wasteful Megacity

This US gov't site - - lists New York state #50 in terms of per capita energy consumption. I recall reading elsewhere - sorry, no citation - that the energy consumption of a resident of NYC is 60% of the average in the USA, which makes sense based on personal experience. I, like many New Yorkers, don't own a car; most of my travel is by foot, bike or public transit, like most people I know who live here.

+ - Notorious "Patent Troll" to be the Commencement Speaker at UCLA

Submitted by onproton
onproton writes: This week Nathan Myhrvold, widely criticized for his industry role as a “patent troll,” was announced as the commencement speaker at UCLA’s graduation ceremony. The UCLA student newspaper quickly responded with a piece protesting the selection, describing Myhrvold’s company, Intellectual Ventures, as “the most hated company in tech.” Intellectual Ventures has purchased more than 70,000 patents, many of which are either sold to other identified patent trolls, or used by its shell corporations in litigation to extort companies actually involved in product development. These kinds of predatory organizations have resulted in a major decline in venture capital investment in startups, and as the “Daily Bruin” points out, make a mockery out of the legal processes involving intellectual property.

Comment: Re:With the best will in the world... (Score 1) 486

I thought that charging/discharging batteries was a major source of inefficiency but it appears better than I thought: up to about 90% according to this - . However, there is a lot of variation under practical considerations.

In any case, comparing 35% efficiency of internal combustion directly to a battery is misleading because it fails to take into account the full cycle of generating power, transmitting it, storing in a battery, then using it. This - - makes a stab at overall efficiency estimation but provides no references for its figures; it concludes that battery-powering a car is about 26% efficient as opposed to 20% for internal combustion.

Comment: Nothing new (Score 1) 292

by DavidHumus (#49217105) Attached to: Do Tech Companies Ask For Way Too Much From Job Candidates?

I remember seeing something very much like this - - billed as a "system programmer's exam" back in the '70s.

Among my favorites:

21) Sketch the development of human thought; estimate its significance. Compare with the development of any other kind of thought.
23) Define the universe in detail. List three examples.

Comment: The tedium of everyday programming... (Score 1) 65

by DavidHumus (#49118547) Attached to: How One Developer Got the Internet To Watch People Code well-expressed on that site: - over 2 1/2 hours.

It does provide a good contrast to doing the same thing using the power of a good functional notation:
  - Conway's Game Of Life in APL - in less than 8 minutes.

Comment: There used to be more women in the field (Score 0) 493

When I started in professional computing in the early '80s, there were probably 30-40% women in areas where I worked. It isn't some kind of innate preference - that tired excuse that gets trotted out to justify any conservative position.

What's changed is this idea of "tracking", as soft as it is. It used to be that a philosophy major, like myself, or an English or history major would get a programming job because most schools did not even offer CS courses, much less CS majors. Now, there is this idea of a course of study along the lines of math and engineering that leads to a career with computers. It's not any one thing that accounts for this shift, but turning the decision to work with technology from a late-stage one to an earlier, long-term one probably doesn't help. It's now like a long corridor of slight but persistent bias - highly evident in the bitter, stupid comments in this discussion - that weeds out women from the field.

+ - Bacteria discovered that both eats and excretes pure electrons

Submitted by Presto Vivace
Presto Vivace writes: Biologists discover electric bacteria that eat pure electrons rather than sugar, redefining the tenacity of life

Some intrepid biologists at the University of Southern California (USC) have discovered bacteria that survives on nothing but electricity — rather than food, they eat and excrete pure electrons. These bacteria yet again prove the almost miraculous tenacity of life — but, from a technology standpoint, they might also prove to be useful in enabling the creation of self-powered nanoscale devices that clean up pollution. Some of these bacteria also have the curious ability to form into ‘biocables,’ microbial nanowires that are centimeters long and conduct electricity as well as copper wires — a capability that might one day be tapped to build long, self-assembling subsurface networks for human use.

Dead? No excuse for laying off work.