Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
Slashdot Deals: Deal of the Day - 6 month subscription of Pandora One at 46% off. ×

Comment Play is a legitimate activity (Score 2) 662

I'm surprised by comments that Ahmed "just" took things apart and put them together. Do you remember getting your first chemistry set, or bicycle, or learning how switches work? I'll bet that you tried things out, many times.

If you played basketball, I bet you went out to shoot baskets, just because you could.

If you took shop class, did you invent wood, or drills, or nails? I bet you did things that somebody showed you.

If you played a musical instrument, I bet you played the same practice pieces over and over.

Those activities are "play" and most mammals do that. They practice their skills, even if they are not immediately needed to survive. That is a developmentally appropriate thing to do! There are parts of your brain that are not wired up to the rational, language using parts, and those parts need to develop.

I don't care if all Ahmed did was take something apart and put it together again. That was encouraged in me, and I hope it will be encouraged in others.

Comment Re:Proton or anti-proton accelerator (Score 2) 311

Last year, I had my first recurrence of an atypical meningioma. That's a growth between the skull and the brain. Not something to play around with.

The hospital "tumor board" recommended one of two treatment options: (1) The proton accelerator. (2) An older technique. I found out how extraordinarily expensive the proton accelerator was, and just couldn't stomach consuming that much health care. I chose (2).

Comment I thought programming was supposed to be fun. (Score 4, Informative) 179

Making something "mandatory in all grades" breeds dislike. Young kids often like programming, (or math, or art, or language, or music) and understand right away that it can be fun. Then the schools mess it up. If you haven't read it, I recommend the essay known as Lockhart's Lament:

A musician wakes from a terrible nightmare. In his dream he finds himself in a society where
music education has been made mandatory. “We are helping our students become more
competitive in an increasingly sound-filled world.” Educators, school systems, and the state are
put in charge of this vital project. Studies are commissioned, committees are formed, and
decisions are made— all without the advice or participation of a single working musician or

My wife, an educator, just heard me ranting and popped into the room: "Preschoolers need to play. That is the developmentally appropriate thing for them to be doing." She also reminded me that Steve Jobs didn't want his children looking at screens - he wanted them talking and reading.

Comment What is the time resolution of our knowledge? (Score 3, Insightful) 417

I believe that ocean acidification is one of the planet's greatest problems. But I am ignorant about the timing.

The article is about the Permian Extinction. It took place 250 million years ago. When geologists or biologists say that something happened "fast" they might be talking about 10 years, or ten thousand years, or ten million years. That matters. If the scale is long then I don't care because we have *no idea* what life will be like then.

Comment What are they smoking? (Score 1) 33

I have a strong bias in favor of kids who are growing up in the most chaotic environments.

In the poor neighborhoods I know, schools don't let kids take home *books*. What fool thinks taking home computers is a good idea? Anyway, who lets hardware manufacturers influence educational policy?

bleeding heart liberal.

Submission + - New MIT paper reveals encryption is less secure than everyone thought

rjmarvin writes: Researchers from MIT and the National University of Ireland have discovered http://sdt.bz/63006 a flaw to disprove the Shannon Theory, the 1948 standard assumption for information entropy. According to the paper, Shannon's theory of averages does not account for the improbable correlations of cryptography. Bottom line: hackers and code breakers can crack encryptions significantly faster than anyone thought. How does this affect email encryption? SIM cards? Embedded chips in credit cards? We'll see...

Comment Dave Cutler's work lives on (Score 1) 336

Obsolete? Not the ideas.

Dave Cutler designed and wrote much of the popular RSX-11M operating system for the PDP-11. He went on to design the OS for the Vax (VMS). Programmers observed that it was just like RSX-11M, but better. Microsoft hired him to lead a team that designed Windows NT. That kernel lives on in modern versions of Windows.

Comment simple (Score 1) 768

I believe that there should be limits to the authority of the state. There is a sphere of privacy that includes the thoughts in my head. A sort of no trespassing sign, if you wish.

I am an atheist, but there are religious objections to self-incrimination. Christianity contains the idea that forgiveness is possible, if one confesses to God. In the middle ages, it was accepted that civil authority was inferior to God's authority. This was not a minor matter; people were killed for refusing to lie about their religious beliefs.

I reject the restrictions of the poster of the question.


Submission + - Google Tipped off EU about Microsoft Browser Ballot (theatlanticwire.com) 1

Dupple writes: The tired spat between Google and Microsoft just got a lot more interesting after reports that the search giant tipped off European authorities to antitrust concerns, a tip that will now cost the Windows-maker nearly a billion dollars. When news of the fine levied by the European Union's competition watchdog broke on Wednesday, nobody was too surprised that the European Commission was punishing Microsoft for bullying consumers. But with a recent headline-stealing dispute between the Redwood, Washington company and Google, it's competitor down in Mountain View, California, bloggers got curious. Early Wednesday evening, The Wall Street Journal's Tom Gara wondered, "Did Google Snitch?" According to a Financial Times report published a few minutes later, the answer is yes.

The link to the FT in the original article is sadly behind a pay wall

To do two things at once is to do neither. -- Publilius Syrus