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Comment: Ladies and Gentlemen, this is a computer... (Score 1) 302 302

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) 244 244

For a comprehensive look at what can be done with a very unusual language, the J essays are hard to beat: http://www.jsoftware.com/jwiki... . 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 (http://www.jsoftware.com/jwiki/Vocabulary) are also pretty good because they combine general definitions with explicit usage examples.

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

This US gov't site - http://www.eia.gov/state/?sid=... - 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

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) 486 486

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 - http://www.otherpower.com/imag... . 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 - http://auto.howstuffworks.com/... - 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) 292 292

I remember seeing something very much like this - http://www.gshotts.com/HUMOR/f... - 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.
and
23) Define the universe in detail. List three examples.

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

..is well-expressed on that site: https://www.youtube.com/watch?... - over 2 1/2 hours.

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

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

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.

Getting the job done is no excuse for not following the rules. Corollary: Following the rules will not get the job done.

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