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Comment: Re:I'm sure /. will ridicule it, but... (Score 1) 113

A general knowledge of chemistry is not going to tell you what "tocopherols" or "methyl salicylate" are, except perhaps for a vague hint based on the name. You'd be better off with a bit of computer know-how so you can just look that information up yourself as you need it. And if someone wants to ban dihydrogen monoxide... well, education will cure ignorance, but it won't cure stupidity.

Cars are tools used nearly exclusively for transportation. Thus, you only need to learn how to use them, and only when it becomes necessary for a person to drive. Contrary to that, computers are general-purpose tools, and can be used to enhance the educational process by providing access to knowledge and research on a massive scale, or by providing interactive lessons, or any other number of education-friendly purposes.

Learning to program is learning how to better harness that power, and has practical benefits for a large number of professions who aren't necessarily professional programmers, like engineers, physicists, and yes, even chemists.

Comment: Re:I'm sure /. will ridicule it, but... (Score 5, Insightful) 113

Computers are pretty integral to modern learning. At the very least, kids nowadays need to be able to use a computer just like they need to know how to wield a pencil. As far as basics... computer programming is an excellent real-world opportunity to put basic skills to practical use, especially logic and math.

BTW, you call chemistry "basic"? Why is chemistry of any practical use to anyone but anyone but a chemist? I can't recall a single instance in my life when I had to apply any sort of chemistry-based knowledge. Let's apply that same logic to computer programming. How often are these kids going to be interacting with computers in their lifetimes? Might it not be handy to understand how those computers work, and perhaps even know how to write scripts to automate tasks, for instance? Which of the two knowledge or skill sets (programming or chemistry) is more likely to have a direct impact on these kids lives?

TL;DR version: nowadays, computers ARE fundamental.

Comment: Coding: Language Skills (Score 3, Interesting) 113

Learning to code is like learning a second language. It teaches you to think in the mindspace of the computer, so to speak... that is, the kids are learning about logic, arithmetic, flow control, and other such concepts. Once you get the basics down, learning other languages becomes much easier. Even if those kids don't become programmers, the familiarity they get with computers and the higher lessons learned should still be worthwhile.

Those of us who program for a living nowadays probably started programming on our own when we were younger. My first lessons were self-taught, thanks to an Apple II I had access to, as well as a book that taught AppleBASIC (and one designed for kids, of all things - I wish I could find that book somewhere). Later in college, I decided I wanted to become a programmer, and picked up Pascal, C, and C++ quite easily, thanks to my earlier lessons in BASIC.

As long as the curriculum is solid, this seems like a positive thing. I wonder if it's difficult to find qualified instructors, though?

Comment: Re:Sure... (Score 2) 153

by Dutch Gun (#49786409) Attached to: Heat Wave Kills More Than 1,100 In India

Yep, exactly. Living in a "tornado-prone" area describes a very large section of the US midwest and south. Hurricane prone region describes the entire south-east US coastline. Tsunamis or monsoons are a danger to anyone living near the coast of the Pacific or Indian Oceans. Flood plains are among the most fertile ground on the planet, so you're at least going to see farming communities living there. Oh, and don't live anywhere near a major fault line!

If you start looking for "completely safe" areas, you're going to exclude an awful lot of real estate on the earth. Mother nature is a bitch. We just have to deal with her as best we can.

Comment: Re:Is a reduction (Score 4, Insightful) 89

by Dutch Gun (#49773187) Attached to: Bats' White-Nose Syndrome May Be Cured


Very few people nowadays the word "decimation" with it's original meaning, and I'm guessing the author didn't here either. Or rather, we should probably say that the word has evolved to mean "an arbitrarily large percentage" and not just 10%. I see that definition listed as #3 in Merriam-Webster, where the original meaning is #1. Those should probably be reversed now. #2, in case you're wondering, is related to taxation. Go figure.

I went to the article to find out that this fungus was apparently introduced ten years ago, which obviously seems to indicates human involvement, and explains why the bat have no natural defense. I think this also justifies human involvement in finding a solution.

Comment: Re:Looking better (Score 2) 234

by Dutch Gun (#49769225) Attached to: Microsoft Tries Another Icon Theme For Windows 10

It's not "beyatching", it's feedback, and Microsoft is ASKING for feedback regarding Windows 10. As a beta user and long time customer, it's perfectly reasonable to let them know I think their icons look horrible. I've given feedback for more substantial improvements, but I make sure to let them know about any aesthetic issues I see as well.

Is it really a major deal? No, not really. Part of it, though, at least for me, is the notion that all the way up the chain of command at Microsoft, there isn't one person who looked at those icons and said "My God, those are hideous! Someone fix those damned icons!". It just feels sort of pathetic, I guess, in a "King's New Clothes" sort of way. The designers that made a mess of Windows 8 have apparently convinced everyone that ugly is the new sexy.

Comment: Re:Is anyone else bothered? (Score 2) 95

by Dutch Gun (#49739889) Attached to: Grand Theft Auto V Keeps Raking In Money

I've never enjoyed playing a bad guy in games. For whatever reason, I always want to play the hero. In Bioware games, I'll often go into a game thinking that this time I'll choose the "dark side" option as a real Darth Maul character, and I typically end up feeling bad enough that I only end up about as rogue-ish as Han Solo. It's sort of funny that I feel so guilty about treating some pixels and algorithms badly, but what can I do?

So, it's sort of a shame, because I absolutely love these sorts of huge, open world games, but I've just never really felt compelled to try out the GTA series. Red Dead Revolver, on the other hand, was awesome.

Comment: Re:In The Limit, It's the Things We Buy (Score 1) 827

by Dutch Gun (#49739747) Attached to: Oregon Testing Pay-Per-Mile Driving Fee To Replace Gas Tax

Pay-per-use means we have to track use, which means extra billing/administrative costs/HR involved, which means less of the money is actually going to what it is supposed to.

A great point, and one I also thought of only after I posted. An entire bureaucracy will need to be set up to install, monitor, and perform maintenance on these devices (or else it will be contracted out) at significant expense. It would be interesting to see exactly how much the overhead ends up costing per vehicle. And don't forget privacy concerns, as well as the fact that these devices will also track your use on private roads. There are so many negatives to this system, it's sort of hard to figure out why this is getting pushed through.

While per-vehicle fees are slightly less "fair" to those who drive less, you could also mitigate this by scaling by the cost of the car. Those who can afford the expensive cars can also shoulder a greater cost. This also tends to work well for commercial vehicles, which are typically much more expensive than your average car. And even so, I'd still offer slightly preferred rates to electric vehicles to get more of them out on the road. Once they're out there in greater numbers, you won't need to subsidize them.

Comment: Re: Tolls? (Score 1) 827

by Dutch Gun (#49739623) Attached to: Oregon Testing Pay-Per-Mile Driving Fee To Replace Gas Tax

the private car has become a symbol of the free market

I think the car has always been more a symbol of "personal freedom" than "free markets." Besides, any notion of cars being symbols of the free market died when the government bailed out GM, leaving taxpayers on the hook for over $11 billion.

Comment: Re:Tolls? (Score 4, Insightful) 827

by Dutch Gun (#49737015) Attached to: Oregon Testing Pay-Per-Mile Driving Fee To Replace Gas Tax

Maybe we should just nix the idea that road infrastructure needs to be paid for with gas or vehicle taxes, and start paying for it from the general fund. I don't have kids, but I still pay a crapload of taxes to pay for funding public schools. I'd argue that someone who doesn't own a car still indirectly benefits from the road infrastructure just like I benefit indirectly from our public education system.

Besides which, are we serious or not about encouraging people to buy and use electric vehicles? Why are we still offering subsidies if we're just going to stick it to the customer another way?

Additionally, I'd love to hear how officials expect to defeat those who attempt to hack or disconnect whatever methods are used to track mileage use. People are already plenty adept at rolling back odometers, and I'm sure creative folks will also find a way to defeat any system for mileage tracking.

Comment: Re: Do most of the work? (Score 4, Insightful) 441

by Dutch Gun (#49732487) Attached to: Choosing the Right IDE

Functions are named in human readable ways, and are designed to reflect the function they perform. If that functionality changes, then it makes sense that the function name has to change as well. Leaving a function name alone when it's functionality change is terrible programming practice, because the name is now actively misleading anyone who uses the function or reads code that uses it. There may be other considerations as well, such as the name simply doesn't match the style of naming conventions elsewhere in the project. People make mistakes, and code often has to be reworked or refactored.

True, it's not something that happens often enough (at least to me) that it would affect my productivity if I didn't have automatic renaming tools, but it's not like this is some new-fangled fad. I'm pretty sure you can find some advice on good naming conventions in "Code Complete", published a few decades ago.

Comment: Re:Tornados? (Score 2) 256

I don't see how it's any more dangerous than ripping off roofs or picking up cars or other random structures and debris and throwing them around. Tornadoes tend to have a relatively small footprint as well. The damage they do is severe, but limited in scale in most cases. It makes news only when a very large one happens to plow through a densely populated area, but keep in mind that there are hundreds of tornadoes each year, and most don't do widespread damage.

Wind farms also tend to be located in low-population areas. So, the odds of a blade flying off and hitting anything also seems low. If an F5 tornado rips through a wind farm, it's not like it's going to suddenly become significantly *more* deadly than it already is.

Comment: Re:This is possibly the dumbest things I've seen.. (Score 1) 68

The NSA was the first agency I thought of as well, but I thought I might be modded +Funny for even suggesting it. They know security, and they obviously know how to build massive datacenters. Why aren't they building centers for the Navy and Marines that remain under government control? For top military secrets, that seems to make a lot more sense than using commercial datacenters.

More of those "inter-agency walls" that were supposed to have been torn down under the reorganization of the Department of Homeland Defense, I'd guess? Or perhaps the DoD is more comfortable siphoning billions off to private contractors rather than a competing government agency? Who knows...

Comment: Re:Not Interested (Score 2) 118

You can't really buy good TVs nowadays without those "smart" features, but that SoC hardware is pretty cheap nowadays, so I don't think it's affecting the price too much. Just buy a TV based on it's picture, price, and general physical qualities. Fortunately, you can still treat your TV like a simple monitor and leave all the media wrangling to a dedicated box, whether it's a console, Roku, Amazon Fire, or some roll-your-own PC-based solution.

Comment: Re:Not sure if smart or retarded (Score 3, Interesting) 204

It appears to be a six month ban, not permanent. Also, although it's hard to be certain, part of the motivation may have been to combat farming of honor points in PvP, which apparently has been rampant. There are cheat programs designed to help players do just that in PvP, so it could be that Blizzard found a reliable way to detect those programs running, and laid down the ban-hammer on everyone caught using it.

Logic doesn't apply to the real world. -- Marvin Minsky