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Comment: By By Google Maps (Score 2) 221

by Gim Tom (#49485693) Attached to: Google Sunsetting Old Version of Google Maps
I haven't seen the new version, but did see the announcement. It looks like I will be switching to another map service since I don't use one of the browsers or OS's on their list of requirements. Too bad I used them often, but when pointy hair managers start making the decisions on what their customers want then end is in sight.

Comment: The good, the bad and the in between (Score 4, Informative) 96

by Gim Tom (#49397999) Attached to: The Democratization of Medical Diagnosis and Discovery
I have had good doctors and I have had some bad doctors, but most of the doctors I have seen have been in between. In the mid 1990's when I was diagnosed with hypertension I bought a good automatic BP meter and have taken and recorded my BP regularly ever since. I also make notes when there are variations in either direction as to what MAY have been the cause, and try to make any needed changes in my lifestyle. I ALWAYS take my numbers to my checkups and most of the time the readings in the doctors office do not correlate well with the readings I get at home. I have even had it called "white coat hypertension" by more than one doctor. As a result of this over the years I have been able to reduce the prescribed medications, in agreement with my doctor, by well over half -- maybe more and my BP is within the normal range for me whenever I take it. And yes, I have checked the calibration of my meter.

Another issue I have had is the two lesser forms of skin cancer, many Basil cell cancers, and a few Squamous cell ones. Although I have a checkup by my dermatologist twice a year, most of the time I find something that I am suspicious of for him to examine. As recently as 2013 I had a very tiny growth very near my left eye that appeared suddenly in the late fall, shortly AFTER my exam. I was suspicious that it was a skin cancer and called and got another appointment for an exam. My dermatologist did a biopsy, which was positive for Squamous, and I was able to have Mohs surgery to have it removed before the end of the year. It was still small and the surgery was much less invasive than it would have been otherwise. If I had let it go until my next check up I would have had to have reconstructive plastic surgery in addition to the Mohs surgery.

While I am not a doctor, and never wanted to be one, I am very much in favor of any device that can let me monitor my own body and then find a doctor that will listen to me.

Comment: The State of The Art (Score 1) 397

by Gim Tom (#49382411) Attached to: Why America's Obsession With STEM Education Is Dangerous
I am a retired engineer who had a long and interesting career. The one thing that stands out in my mind is how much writing is involved in a technical career. Being able to do the work is often not enough. You have to be able to communicate with coworkers, managers, customers, and many others. The acronym STEM is in some places being replaced by STEAM, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math. The phrase, "State of The Art" is heard often in engineering circles and most people do not understand that engineering owes as much of its heritage to Art as to Science. All of the basic machines were in use long before there was any science to understand them. The Romans, and before them probably the Babylonians, built amazing aqueducts without knowledge of the science of Fluid Mechanics. The steam engine was invented and put to use before the science of Thermodynamics was developed. However, it is only when Science/Engineering is combined with the Arts do we have the amazing burst of invention that has characterized the last century or a bit more.

Whether it is called STEM or STEAM one problem is that too many people think in terms of training and not education. There is a huge difference, and only when both Art and Science are taught with the goal of imparting a true and deep understanding of how the world works is it really an education.

A simple way to remember the difference is to ask yourself one question. "Would you prefer to have your teenaged daughter enrolled in a sex education class or a sex training class?"

Comment: A little history (Score 2) 132

by Gim Tom (#49364917) Attached to: SpaceX's New Combustion Technologies
Problems with injector design and combustion instability go back to to the Germans and the V2. They may have even been a problem for Goddard. The V2 engine is really a bunch of small combustion chambers at the top feeding into the main engine bell. I believe this was done, at least in part, to reduce the problems with combustion instability.

A much better and more efficient way to accurately simulate this process can really offer a lot in many areas, not just rocket engines.

Comment: Fond Memories (Score 4, Interesting) 92

by Gim Tom (#49356155) Attached to: Rebuilding the PDP-8 With a Raspberry Pi
My first "personal computer" was a PDP-8i at Georgia Tech in the late 1960's. The ISy school had one in a small room in the basement with an ASR TTY (33 I think). There was another room with at least one more TTY with punch and you would code on that machine and after signing up for time on the PDP-8i you would take your paper tape in and after toggling in the boot sequence and loading the BIN tape then the Assembler you would run your tape to punch out your assembled program to run on the machine. I may be leaving out a number of steps since that was a while back.

in any case that was my first taste of writing any code in a machines assembly language and even then I dreamed of having my very own PDP-8.

This is a cool project and even for an Old Man I can fully relate to why it was done. I think this experience led to a life long career working with computers ranging from Big Iron mainframes to PC's networks and a variety of internal and Internet facing Servers. Yes, even though retired, I have a couple of Arduinos and Raspberry Pi's around to play with! Learning new things has kept me going all these years.

Comment: What the Bongo Player said (Score 1) 366

This does, somehow, seem to be applicable.

Reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.
--- Richard P. Feynman


The experiment is in progress. Nature will give us the answer in time, but by then it will probably be too late do do anything about it if we don't like that answer.

Comment: DST should pay interest! (Score 1) 277

by Gim Tom (#49205131) Attached to: Daylight Saving Time Change On Sunday For N. America
My main gripe about the changes back and forth are when they occur. Early March is too early to Spring Forward, even down here in the south, and early November is too late to Fall Back. I am old enough to remember when we DID go DST all year. I think it was in 1973 during the first oil embargo, and the idea was to save energy. Not really sure how, or if, that worked at all. I do know that in central Ohio, where I was at the time, it stayed dark until pretty late in the morning, and everyone was talking about the kids at the bus stop at Zero Dark Thirty.

There have been studies that show an increase in traffic accidents during a period after the transition, and other studies that we are more refreshed if we wake up to a slowly increasing level of light in the morning. I know I do.

Now, since this is a SAVINGS plan we really need to get some interest on the savings. We could save all that daylight during the summer when we have plenty and get it back in the winter when we need it!

Comment: Hertz and Marconi beat them to it (Score 2) 88

Uh, The spark gap transmitters used by Hertz and Marconi were digital (Morse code is a digital protocol) and for the most part the only tuning was done by the antenna. Latter there was some sort of tank circuit or resonant tuning added, but I don't think so in the beginning.

Comment: Did the poster even READ the article? (Score 1) 681

by Gim Tom (#49109085) Attached to: Bill Nye Disses "Regular" Software Writers' Science Knowledge
I read the article in the link in this post and it seems to be a complete disconnect from the post. Did he even read it? I don't disagree with Nye at all and everyone needs to have some basic understanding of science or else everything the least bit technical in this world is just magic.

A decade or more ago I had a temp working for me who was a CS student at a nearby university. He was good at the routine stuff, but one question and his reason for it blew my mind. It had to do with how a change in our DNS server got to all the other DNS servers on the Internet in just a few hours. After some discussion on how this worked I realized that his primary misunderstanding was that he did not realize that the speed of light was a wee bit faster than the speed of sound.

The trouble with the rat-race is that even if you win, you're still a rat. -- Lily Tomlin

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