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Comment: Anything made by HP (Score 1) 307

-Anything I've had made by HP has broken way before it's time.
-Power supplies: When I lived in my last house I was only a mile away from a power sub-station. The voltage was high (125VAC). But the worst part was that - when you have that little wire in between you and a power station that blows up (lightning would strike a transformer or something... You could often see a bright flash of blue light followed by a BANG! (not thunder - definitely)) - the current spikes that occur when the power goes out are BRUTAL on the power supply. My EE degree has me think it's because wire carries some inductance, the longer the wire, the more the spike is "smoothed out". When you have no inductance, the power going from 125 to 0 instantly causes an infinite (by math - real world has other factors that never make it infinite) current to go through all of your electronics that are plugged into the wall for an instant in time. a TRUE spike, the current is infinite and the dt is zero. Reality is (I'm pulling these numbers out of my ass) more like 100,000 volts for a microsecond. Now that I live many miles away from a power station, I haven't lost a power supply.

FYI: When a power supply fails in a machine, usually the mode of failure is such that certain pathways stop working. First power supply I lost, the machine would boot up but eventually blue screen, Eventually it wouldn't boot up. At first it appeared to be disk related. It wasn't. When I finally checked the power supply, one of the 12V rails was down to like 8V.

So, my point is, a lot of times it appears that something else is wrong - but always be suspicious of the power supply....

Comment: Re:wow, this is just great (Score 1) 305

by Pro923 (#49268001) Attached to: Prison Program Aims To Turn Criminals Into Coders

Well that's exactly the current perception that is held by almost everyone - except me of course. There's a special ability that very few possess that makes them great coders - this is the ability to take an idea and turn it into code in a way that hasn't been done before, or in a way that is better than that which has been done before. Most people on the planet don't have the ability to make something "out of the blue" - meaning (I doubt I can phrase this in such a way that I get my idea across) that most people take a problem and solve it by using algorithms that have been written before for solving a similar problem. Take Einstein for example. What made him so brilliant - in my mind - was that he came up with the idea of special relativity by just thinking it up. The idea behind it - that we're trapped in a very small frame of reference compared to the vast scale of velocities - is brilliant because he had no example or physical hint that gave him the idea. He just thought it up. Afterwards, we were able to prove some of it through experimentation - but the initial idea, without any of that experimental evidence is a very rare and unique brain indeed. Some people use a bubble sort algorithm. I prefer to rethink the problem every time. When I was about 10, I realized that a nested loop resembles a square and is somewhat inefficient by a factor of 2. All you really need is a triangle.
for a = 1 to 10; a++
    for b = 1 to a; b++
        if b is greater than a, switch a and b

I'm not saying that I'm Einstein or even nearly possess his intelligence or ability to perceive, but I excel at that part that you describe as a monkey - which I personally believe has a lot more value than most people think.

Comment: respectfully disagree (Score 1, Interesting) 78

by Pro923 (#49235317) Attached to: Why We Need Free Digital Hardware Designs
Making something free turns it into shit quality. Look at music for a great example. I've never really thought that software should be free, because it cheapens what I do and makes my field pay less. It seems like it's easy to make it free because it's easy to copy. Hardware is not the same. no one is going to even give away the raw materials.

Comment: i've been interviewing recently... (Score 1) 292

by Pro923 (#49217641) Attached to: Do Tech Companies Ask For Way Too Much From Job Candidates?
And I have to say - it seems crazy to me. Firstly, they seem to expect you to know everything about the technology that they happen to be working with. The thing is, the field has become so vast that I can't imagine that there is anyone who knows all of these things off the top of their head. Second, the interview process has become extremely stretched out. First you generally deal with a headhunter. Then you deal with HR. Then you spend a few hours on the phone talking with engineers - half of whom you can actually understand. Then if you make it past that, you go to the office and spend about 5 hours interviewing with another handful of people that are generally difficult to communicate with. All the while, the questions that people ask seem to be getting more and more obscure - presumably because the field itself continues to widen and the different technologies and tools continue to grow. People are using so many different languages, tools, OSs, etc... All the while, they seem to expect you to know everything that they're using right off the top of your head. It doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

Comment: negative comments? (Score 4, Informative) 215

by Pro923 (#49207355) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Strategies For Teaching Kids CS Skills With Basic?
I see a lot of negative comments pertaining to teaching basic as a first step in understanding how to code. I respectfully disagree. I believe that basic removes all of the complexity that gets in the way of learning pure logic skills. I don't see any sense in teaching kids to program and having pointers or even compiling and linking when the best thing for them to learn is the purity of understanding how to create simple algorithms to solve problems. If they show an interest, they can figure out more complex things like compilers, and the complexities of lower level languages like C. I stated in another comment, I learned how to code on a TRS80 color computer, and I think it was invaluable to master that before moving on to more complex and real-world things...

Comment: Re:TRS80 Color Computer (Score 1) 215

by Pro923 (#49206781) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Strategies For Teaching Kids CS Skills With Basic?
I found the extended color basic book, but not the first one (TRS80 color computer basic) or the 3'rd one (TRS80 color computer disk basic) I remember saving up for years and buying the $600 floppy drive that came with the controller. I cried because the first few didn't work. I didn't know at the time, but putting the drive on a rug rendered it useless. Anyway, here's a link to a nicely done pdf of the extended basic:

Comment: TRS80 Color Computer (Score 2) 215

by Pro923 (#49206515) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Strategies For Teaching Kids CS Skills With Basic?
This is what I leaned on when I was 10 - and I can't think of anything better to teach kids basic programming skills. This was a operating system that had basic built in, and you just programmed right into the OS, and ran right from the OS. I can't think of anything simpler. The simplicity of it also allowed for the learner to just focus on logic and programming. I truly think it's the best possible learning tool. Even graphics were simple - nothing fancy - just lines and set/reset statements, paint statements... All this stuff was on a single page - the same one that the text was written on. I loved it - and I still do, perhaps for nostalgic purposes. But I swear by it. You can run it in an emulator, you just need the ROM, which is pretty easy to find. Get the "Extended Basic one". The real key here would be to find those original books - those things were gold and they taught in a step by step manner. Those - I have no idea how to find. I'm gonna look though, and if I find it, I'll put a link to it up here. I might even have the original books in my old bedroom at my parents' house. If I can find them, I'll scan them page by page and post a link to those as well... Anyone else think this is the ultimate tool for leaning programming or is it just me?

Comment: Don't go to the food court at lunchtime (Score 1) 241

by Pro923 (#49107771) Attached to: Al-Shabaab Video Threat Means Heightened Security at Mall of America
I've always said that if I were a terrorist organization, my next move (after 9/11) would be: At 12:30 on Christmas eve, I would sent 50 different martyrs to a mall in each state, with a bomb in a backpack. The martyr would be instructed to go to the food court at 12:30 and detonate at exactly that time. On the news, the stories would pour in from every state in the union - and terror would ensue. People would be afraid to go to shopping malls, and the economy would take a massive beating.

Comment: Most socially defective peole ARE drawn to STEM (Score 2) 194

by Pro923 (#49107747) Attached to: The Imitation Game Fails Test of Inspiring the Next Turings
During my 23 years as a programming engineer, I've noticed that a lot of the people with the same job just aren't good at it. They tend to be nerdy. My speculative theory is that social dropouts are drawn towards computers, because a computer offers a very simple social interaction - whether it be with people connected through the network, or with a computer itself. I'd estimate that 80-90% of the people who claim software engineer as their profession, actually suck at it and chose it because there's nowhere else in the corporate world for them to fit. The other 10-20%, like myself are normal people with normal social desires and a slew of hobbies. I've always gotten along better with the sales guys than the other programmers. I like to golf, drink beer and eat steaks. It's pretty simple, really.

Comment: Re:Sweet F A (Score 1) 576

I'm not sure that FTL communication is impossible. If we had a base on say - pluto, we could put a probe midway between pluto and earth. That probe would emit entangled photons in both directions simultaneously. Once the photons reached one destination, they could be modified, and their modifications read instantly at the other point. In some sense, the law isn't violated because it takes a huge amount of time to get the probe physically in the proper point in the first place, then it takes time for the initial photons to make their way to their destinations. ie, the "startup cost" doesn't violate anything - but once that were established, we'd be able to communicate instantaneously.

Comment: What a bunch of crap (Score 1) 291

by Pro923 (#49056849) Attached to: Should We Really Try To Teach Everyone To Code?
What even is code these days? I don't even see professional software engineers writing much code. The last few projects I've worked on (I've been contracting, so several different companies) - everything is just a bunch of scripts and bloated freeware executable, more or less duct taped together. The elegance that used to be a well designed and written software application - I haven't seen that in at least 5 years. So, my question is, if we're going to teach people to code - what exactly are we going to teach them?

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton