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Comment: Re:Price of using scientists as political pawns (Score 5, Insightful) 254

I don't think any serious person thinks that Galileo woke up one morning and said lets do politics. No, he was at church, the story goes, say the chandeliers swinging, and ended up being persecuted by the politicians of the time.

Most scientists don't take political positions. They make observations, and when a consensus is reached, they sometimes take actions. For instance, when it became pretty clear that lead was dangerous, there was a movement to remove it from gasoline. This became political because some interests were only interested in quarterly profits, not long term costs to taxpayers. Fortunately the taxpayers won. For instance, there is really good science linking the buildup in the environment of lead to the increase in crime, and the decrease in crime of the past decade or so to the decrease in lead. It is not just correlation, cut actual causation.

Now, as far as NPR is concerned, compared to Fox News of course it looks biased. NPR is not going to invite John McCain on the air to talk about when he was a kid you could kill black people, and know he has to deal with a black man, as he has been saying this past week. But the thing about NPR is it probably does a better job of using the public air waves than other.

Here is the rub. Fox News can say and do whatever it wants because it does not use free public resources. This is the key. Free public resources, not funding by the government. The government funds lots of things, and that does not necessarily absolutely limit speech. For instance, many churches take money for schools, which frees up money that they then use to do stuff like encourage people to attack people going about their day to day business. For instance, one church in my area bought cameras so they could photograph people going into a gay club. But radio stations were given public bandwidth and were supposed to use it responsible ways. I think NPR is responsible and balanced compared to some of what I hear on the AM stations. AM stations are using free resources. We could take it back and make a great deal of money leasing it to other agents. We don't. They agree to use it, and should be more responsible.

Comment: Re:SCSI madness (Score 1) 192

by fermion (#47498189) Attached to: The Almost Forgotten Story of the Amiga 2000
I never had a problem with SCSI. As a matter of fact, it was as plug and play as you could get a the time. For instance, the IOmega tape drives came in SCSI and parallel. Installing the parallel PC option was very difficult, even following instructions. On a Macintosh with SCSI, it was plug and play. The biggest issue I saw was just getting it plugged in and either using a setting a terminator. In other words, following instructions.

Comment: DUH (Score 2) 82

by fermion (#47496351) Attached to: High School Students Not Waiting For Schools To Go Online
Any student that is disciplined, self motivated, and has learned how to learn, will be more able to learn in a an independent fashion that students who do not have these skills. In a traditional education one went to school where one listened to a professor lecture or read books on the subject. The actual pedagogy, after the teen age years, was minimal, and often involved simple discipline, not teaching of the skills one needed to learn more independently in later life. As long as we could live with the vast majority population engaged in semi-skilled labor, this was fine. However, now we really have more a need for skilled labor. This requires more people to have than a high school education. So we need an advanced pedagogy to help people reach the potential where they can learn more.

All these computer classes are great for the natural learner, the 20% or so of students who have that ability. But these are the same students who have been graduating high school for year, who can go to the public library and learn everything that they would if they got an MBA(one of good friends did this), who, like reported in the NYT today, did not complete school but invented Scotch Tape.

While we need to make sure not to apply negative pressure to these kids, which means to let them take the online courses, give them independent study, allow to explore, we also cannot use this an excuse to stop the more expensive education of the kids who really need to be taught. The correlation between online courses and independent skills(Or as it says, habits of the mind) in no way indicates that online courses teach independent skills. Sure, you could put a kid a computer and give him an F if she does not complete statistics, but is that teaching? Some would say yes. I would say we are accepting that most of kids will be semi-skilled laborers without the jobs to insure a high rate of employment, which means more welfare checks.

Comment: Re:Really miss the 68k (Score 1) 236

by fermion (#47475299) Attached to: Nearly 25 Years Ago, IBM Helped Save Macintosh
When Mac came out things like graphics coprocessors were pretty rare. One problem with the MS Windows product was that there was no cheap way to incorporate the kind of graphics heavy capabilities of the Mac. The 68K was the way to go. It was a more elegant solution and there was really no comparable product for the price. Look at the price of an x-window system circa 1990. But the x86 did become better at graphics, and by the mid 1990s there were tolerable products that could be purchased for about the price. It was still a kludge, and would remain a kludge until NT was integrated with mainline MS Windows. And this was what lead to the PowerPC. It was a partnership with IBM, which was struggling to rebuild itself as services company, but wanted to remain relevant in the hardware business. It provided a platform that was superior to anything that Intel or related companies had to offer. No one saved anyone else. What I find annoying is that the current partnership is seen as groundbreaking or innovative. The people who are saying this are conflating user facing propaganda with internal realities. Apple and IBM are both system building. They are competators, but traditionally in different market segment. Apple is consumer/creative, IBM is corporate. Both compete with MS which only provides components, not solutions, but controls the market by controlling the key component, the OS. IBM has worked with Apple before, the present example being the PowerPC. But IBM is not in hardware anymore, at least not at the PC level. It provides integrated solutions. Apple can provide the hardware that is easy to integrate into a vertical solution, which is what IBM does. IBM wins because it can charge a lot for these services. Apple wins because it can sell a lot of iPads.

Comment: Re:Subscription Everything (Score 1) 87

by fermion (#47468055) Attached to: Amazon Is Testing a $10-Per-Month Ebook Service
or convenience fee. Here is the problem with e-books and libraries. They are just like physical books. There is only one or two 'copies' to check out. For a physical library this was a real constraint, as the library could only house so many books. For e-books it is a fake constraint. Libraries should have access to as many copies of a book once they pay a basic fee to access the book, then simply pay a per use fee when the book is checked out. Maybe $5 for acess and a 50 cents for use. It costs the library more than 50 cents to process a book when checked out and returned. i think the reason this is not done is it would kill the book market. Even people like myself who spend my youth collecting a massive library are not buying new physical books as much. I don't even buy e-books that much because the authors are not getting as big a cut. But this, if it is structured correctly, could be the solution to e-books. We know ebooks are not as valuable to us because they can be recalled, they can be gone if the machine is discontinued, a whole bunch of issues that don't exist with physical books. The DRM makes e-books much less valuable. So if one bought an e-book reader, or just downloaded the software, then paid a fee to read books, that makes more sense than buying a book that for all intents and purposes is just being leased. It would especially be good if the authors get a better cut.

Comment: Re:Jobs aren't future proof, skills are (Score 1) 508

by fermion (#47462791) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Future-Proof Jobs?
In particular the law profession is no longer the guaranteed jump to the upper middle class it used to be. Large firms are cutting costs, outsourcing, and computer are taking over.

I learned to use a computer in middle school based on a teletype. My first real job was using MS Excel on a Mac. If I had been taught how to use a program, I would have been screwed. But I was taught a how to think how computers work, the skill of programming and use a computer, not just an application. I had to transfer my skills of using a t-square and triangle to using a 2d based schematic program to a 3D based rendering program. I can thank my teachers in high school for focusing on best practices instead of rote mechanics.

I firmly believe that if a kid goes to college, they should go to college for something they love. If they learn how to think and how problem solve, they be more likely to complete a degree with something they love, and if they are smart enough to work as they move through college, they will gain skills that will get them employment. If they go don't go to college, then get work that will teach you something. The entry level job should not only be about pay, it should be about learning.

There is no way to know what the world is going to look like in 30 years when today's teens are stuggling to complete that last 15 years of work before retirement, when all the kids who are born in 10 years are going to sniping at her back to take her job away because they are more up to date. Look how few parents were buying their kids computer in 1984. I wonder how many wish they had.

Comment: not a valid study (Score 1) 708

by fermion (#47454071) Attached to: People Who Claim To Worry About Climate Change Don't Cut Energy Use
Electricity use is largely driven by the stuff you have. The more stuff, the more electricity that is used. In the US one might use a lot of electricity, but maybe you buy your electricity from a company that has lower CO2 emmissions. Sure, the electricity one uses might come from coal, but you are creating demand for cleaner sources, and in the long term helping to control the situation. Conservation is part of the issue, but if you buying energy star equipment, for instance, and buy clean electricity, and still using more, then one can't say that you are not really concerned about global warming.

In any case there are probably more significant way that a person contributes to the carbon problem. Cars are a good example. Petrol is mostly carbon, and no matter how clean we make the exaust, and it is clean, there is still carbon that has to be expelled as CO and CO2. Asking someone how much petrol they consume a year is therefore a much better indicator, although in the UK the car ownership and use is probably not as great as in the US.

Then there is food. A kilowatt hour of electricity is like a kg of CO2, burning a gallon of gas is like 8kg, and eating a pound of beef is like 50 kg. Eating chicken, according to the OECD, cuts that in a quarter. So someone who uses too much electricity but each chicken instead of beef, or even tofu with cuts in a quarter again, is probably doing more good that some who has beef every day but is very frugal on the electricity.

Comment: Re:SciFri / Staples (Score 1) 126

I don't see home depot as servicing the target market for these products. On a story I heard this morning, it seems like people think they can go home and print gaskets or a screw. Maybe, if you can find the file online or have a caliper a a disign progam you can, but why would you spend the money? I suppose you could print a custom handle for a door or a faucet, if you wanted a plastic handle, but people pay good money for metal parts. I suppose you could coat it in metal, and it would be as good as the low end products.

I think that 3D printers have a market and will get to the point where they will be Sold in Stores My concern with Home Depot is their ability to market them positively. Sure, $4K is low enough that many people will but it and take it home and try to use it. But if Home Depot is trying to push 3D printers to just anyone, many of them are going to get returned because they can't print washers. And the reviews are going to be bad, and 3D printing technology is going to be pushed back 5 years.

Comment: Re: Idiots (Score 1) 147

The US taxpayer gave away airwaves to broadcasters in exchange from free service. The broadcaster can recoup costs and make a profit through advertising. Cable companies pay because they collect all signals and transmit to everyone. Aero rents an antenna and a DVD and records specific shows. I think the SCOTUS only looked at present revenue, no the long term impact of limiting broadcaster viability in the age of the internet. I have the right to place an antenna anywhere and receive a personal signal or recording of the signal. If the broadcasters are not going to honor the original mandate, they should give our airwaves back.

On a related note, broadcaster have been increasingly ignoring the public service mandate, and our government has been complicit in this. Aero is just another example of the giveaway of public resources to the privileged few.

Comment: Re:speed is not really what they're lacking (Score 1) 203

but to a kid speed is all that matters. It is fast, are the explosions cool. The thing with a 3D printer is that the layers have to be laid accurately. I suspect any 3d printer can go fast if you leave accuracy. The same is true with inkjet, where my old $500 epson is not as fast as a $50 cannon, but it renders images better.

Comment: Re:Profit before subsidy? (Score 2) 247

by fermion (#47383981) Attached to: Tesla Aims For $30,000 Price, 2017 Launch For Model E
Many vehicles are subsidized. For instance, one reason there were so many Hummers on the road were because of the tax rules that applied to the purchase for business use. While passenger vehicles are depreciated at a normal rate, something like a Hummer can be depreciated much more quickly. And while something like and F350 is clearly a utilitarian vehicle, a Hummer is simply a loophole to have the taxpayer fund your luxury vehicle.

Comment: Re:First "OMG the common sense" post (Score 5, Insightful) 185

by fermion (#47377039) Attached to: Judge Frees "Cannibal Cop" Who Shared His Fantasies Online
It is because he was a cop. Recall that people have sent to jail for creating 'terrorist fantasies' because the FBI gave them the means and opportunity to carry out the fantasy. The courts do and have sent people to jail for fantasies. It is called conspiracy. In this case the fantasy targeted specific females, while the cop had means and opportunities to make those fantasies a reality. Remember that he went as far as using the police database to compile a list of real women he fantasized of eating, and was convicted for misuse of that database, so the fact this was moving out of fantasy has been proven. This is not a flight of reason. I am sure if a common person used a database to collect information on the judge or the judge's family and then wrote a detailed plan of how the family was to be murdered, we would not be getting of with a simple misuse of private information. This is clearly another case of no consequences for cops who break the law.

Comment: Re:Well, this sounds brilliant... (Score 1) 104

The advantage to the customer, I don't know. But it seems like a massive data leak waiting to happen. It would not seem difficult to transmit corporate information, in a way that the APP would just ignore, but so that someone standing outside of window could capture. Definitely, at this point, movie plot threat, but something to consider.

Comment: Re:And this surprises... who? (Score 1) 191

by fermion (#47364529) Attached to: 30% of Americans Aren't Ready For the Next Generation of Technology
Yes, most anyone over the age of 40. I know people in their mid 40s who can't figure out how to get a USB printer to work. OTOH, my mother who was born more than 20 years before the invention of the transistor had to learn to use to use a CRT terminal to look up information to help patrons, then a microcomputer, then had a computer in retirement for investments, email, and general web surfing. I think the difference is the expectation of education. If you just learn basic skills in high school, if you go to college just looking to get trained for a better job, then when new stuff comes around you aren't prepared to deal with it. There are people, however, who realize that during your high school years you can really learn general skills and processes, and in college you can use your core classes to learn to think deeply about things, and I think these people are the ones who can deal when something totally new comes along, with hardly blinking an eye. Of course some people have such skills more innately than others.

The bogosity meter just pegged.