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Comment: Lead by example (Score 1) 584

If parents are *curious* and keep stumbling across interesting questions then there is some hope that the children might pick it up. Curiosity and being able to use the data as information in a complex intellectual model is what makes the difference between a technician (hairdresser, programmer, etc.) and a scientist exploring the world and interpreting data. Neither technicians or engineers are scientists. Everyone uses technology, engineers make technology given a scientific input.

To be able to express a complex intellectual model and describe things accurately requires *language*. (Also having a large vocabulary of interesting words is a real intellectual-class winner in the school playground.)

And finally from me, find compelling analogues or fun experiments. If the Earth was the size of a full stop, the Sun would be about the size of a ten pence piece 2 metres away. Now as our good friend Mister Oxbarrow says "On the scale of fishy that's a whole lot of pilchards." When you think about it the idea of a speck floating in some infinity around a blob all that distance away is bizarre. If you roll a marble past a football it keeps going straight and doesn't get bent towards the football by gravity. The whole thing is clearly bonkers.

Comment: Group psychology =/= individual competence (Score 1) 306

by Peter (Professor) Fo (#48258717) Attached to: We Are All Confident Idiots
A lot of knowledgeable, experienced and clever people have 'been there, done that' when it comes to committees etc. As their interest may not be in leadership but delivering tech or just getting things done without a lot of opinionated discussion from people who exhibit the D-K effect, they take a back seat and find excuses to avoid management meetings and responsibility. Many management methods are designed to leech the brains from the better qualified so why would I want to join in with what is essentially a bunch of amateurs diluting my competence, wasting my time, arguing and deciding to be idiots regardless of my clear advice.

Comment: Curiosity (Score 3) 44

Hi! It's great you're curious and not afraid to (what other people would disparagingly call shoot your mouth off ) tell us about what you've found interesting. The world needs people who find the world interesting. Like Richard Feynman who was one of those ace boffins who found everything interesting and tried to make all of us interested in 'being interested'. (I particularly like the craft he used in his lecture 'cargo cult science' to draw us into his way of thinking.) But if I asked you, say, "What's interesting about bed' would you say nothing? There are dozens of questions to be asked, some of which may have been answered but it's the curious mind that wonders simple things like why are beds raised off the ground and what sort of bedclothes and why we might change into specialist nightwear? From what's the smallest uninteresting number to what's the economic impact of being able to identify a protozoa in the salivary glands of a particular species of mosquito we need inquisitive people without narrow vision. So here is my question. Are you a fanatical specialist or a sponge for all the world's knowledge?

Comment: (2) Teaching materials (Score 1) 97

Different people learn in different ways. For some watching is enough but others need to 'do'. There's a lot of work been done on the various ways. Videos are unlikely to be the whole answer. In fact they may not be suitable at all if they concentrate on click-this-click-that. The task is in the person's head and they may need careful preparation of information or mental triggers to check for odd circumstances. So the task is not 'clicking at the orders screen' but 'taking an order and making sure nothing can go wrong(using the orders screen)'.

Comment: (1) What's in it for me. Instant gratification. (Score 1) 97

"Hey new boy. Browse those manuals/videos and ask a few guys what they're doing." That's not a good approach because : (a) It's not structured (b) There are no objectives (How does new boy know what's important/frequent/tricky?) (c) There's no 'reward' for learning a skill. Chucking somebody at a wiki suffers from these issues.

A tutorial is not the same as a reference manual. A wiki is the latter.

If you want to teach somebody a bunch of skills you need to print out a worksheet with the skills listed in a step-by-step order with spaces for review by supervisor. (This works for audit as well). The progress (hopefully backed with encouragement from the superviso, drives the long slog.)

Comment: Ignoramus interrupts... (Score 0) 221

by Peter (Professor) Fo (#47970509) Attached to: Outlining Thin Linux
To me as as someone who has a linux box, isn't afraid of the command line but really gets pissed of with the idea that you have to remember magic strings of characters to get the bastard working the the way you want it rather than the way 'they' have decided is the one true way I'm fully in agreeance with the OP. The trouble is the more skilfully tuned your distro is so the up-front and follow-though documentation assumes guru level of *nixism. Strange thing! I run a computer to get work done not to type "sudo foo --x y z" Hey I'll run a http server, what could be simpler, but oh dear that partition is mysteriously out of bounds. Perhaps I'd better change the start-up programs (and I'm not talking grovelling with services/daemons here) but either I can't or the system calls me a stranger and then can't make any defaultchoices that actually eanble me to get on with my life.

Admins of systems that serve serious stuff will know how to secure their systems, but the box-or-two business will be running back to Windows (with good reason) due to the horror of not wearing a bloody useless cycle helmet - oh I mean not logging ion as root.

Home-linux distros needs nil access restrictions then good advice. Security depends on people so EMPOWER PEOPLE by EDUCATING them why layers of security are good and worth worrying about. SUDO is box-ticking for Linux.

Comment: Maturity is the word you're looking for. (Score 2) 275

Kids get all excited about things. When you grow up, have a family and realise the world is made of more than bits dressed-up as glossy pixels, then you'll understand that software is a craft to involve your inner programmer not a ski-slope for the sparkle-headed. Complacency is the wrong word. Look at people. Graduate, by study and research, into management. There are many disappointments to be had there but also many opportunities to use experience to pour oil on the waters of desperation and panic. Grow up.

Comment: Whatever I can avoid (Score 1) 635

by Peter (Professor) Fo (#47788151) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Old Technology Can't You Give Up?
Tech has to deliver a bonus. So a USB stick beats 8",5",3" floppies (It's scary) I have a mobile (not smart) phone but I write numbers I need on the cardboard case (a bog-roll inner tube) because that's quicker than farting about with a 0-9 keyboard. My best desktop utils (calendar, menu, password cache, documentation finder) were written 15 -- 20 years ago. There *IS*progress but mostly it isn't something to invest in until it becomes mature.

Comment: Keep a sample (Score 2) 122

by Peter (Professor) Fo (#44366845) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Keeping Digital Media After Imaging?

The actuality of bit-rot in media is uncertain. Many documents 500 years old are readable-ish if you have the skills and accept that some parts may have decayed. That tells us a lot about te exact media people used way back then.

The trouble with digital records is this:-
Searchability is a requirement (even though we don't expect that with written records). The reason is that there is so much of it when compared with the sparse records of times past. So you need a 'good' copy for data analysis and some original media to inform historians of the future how we looked upon the information, or what 'ordinary people' or 'ordinary businesses' had at their disposal.

Comment: An idea for the hackers (Score 1) 445

Outside You know the rows of path lights typically powered by a solar cell on the top that are a glowworm if you don't have long nights and short days? Well, if they're on a path or steps then make the one at each end responsive to some stimulus, eg the light from an opening door or a IR approach AND have the chain react sympathetically so they all light up one recognising the next's burst into life. This means the light output can be much higher for a short period rather than emitting a miserable glimmer all night. Once proven the tech could be baked in a 2-cent chip. Also the setting-up would give /.ers hours of tweaking fun.

Inside As a midnight programmer I often want to go downstairs to make a cup of tea etc. My computer room has subdued lighting and I don't want bright lights in the stairs when 3 leds will do. But I would like the simplicity of battery source with automatic operation.

Comment: No she doesn't (Score 1) 384

by Peter (Professor) Fo (#44356239) Attached to: The Book That Is Making All Movies the Same
  • She is the one who forces the issue with Witch and wizard.
  • Her 'friends' are companions who jump on her wagon for their own reasons.
  • OK there is some cute/schmaltzy/apple-pie stuff, but she's not growing the lion, tin man etc. but letting them free.

The reason it's a great film is that it has a vulnerable/confused girl becoming feisty and then at the end still lonely. That's the Monomyth writ large.

Comment: Save the alternatives! (Score 0) 384

by Peter (Professor) Fo (#44351547) Attached to: The Book That Is Making All Movies the Same

Snyder's book implies there's ONE way to plot a film. The danger is that this sort of story arc does not fit well with the way females do their heroing. (In short, boys go away to have an exciting time and the story is about them, girls stay at home and deal with whatever has to be dealt with and the story is about how people deal with issues.) A good example of the boy's story is the Wizard of Oz. A good example of the girl's way is the TV series Dad's Army. (There's a reason why the first is a film and the second TV. Notice of course the main protagonists are 'wrong-sex')

So if you follow 'Save the cat!' you'll miss out on lots of interesting plots with powerful characters. I've got an essay on the subject at http://vulpeculox.net/writing/HeroismForGirls.pdf for anyone who wants to compare and contrast.

Comment: Informed comment -v- Ignorance (Score 1) 406

SOME slashdoters want insights into how to passage the rapids of Information Technology. Possibly MOST. At the least it is about learning from other people's mistakes. So in the middle of a (possibly) heated _discussion_ about foo one or more twerps barge in. They have mouths but not ears. I'll just repeat that: They have mouths but not ears. (Their brains may be a bit tiny as well.) Now if I was in a pub I could stand up and tell them to DIAF and leave their betters to fix problems on behalf of everyone. (IME this works if you have at least one supporter who is fully behind you at the time.) The equivalent in the Internet/Forum/Developer Café is some sort of censorship.

I'm all for it. If you're in the elite then you should open your doors to the others but don't be afraid to 'Blackball' the scum that poison proper and necessary discussion.

Logic is a systematic method of coming to the wrong conclusion with confidence.