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Comment: Re:like anything else.. (Score 1) 580

The place I worked was a State school with modest admissions standards. Moreover, if grades generally had been lower, we probably would have lowered the standards, which were mostly enrollment driven, so yes, they probably still would have been admitted. But the students would not have erroneously believed they were good at math and didn't have to work particularly hard at it, which I think would have been a win.

Comment: Re:like anything else.. (Score 4, Insightful) 580

The problem with math, if problem is the right word, is that it changes its character, and the kind of thinking that is required at each level is quite different. It helps to be painstaking, but that is true in many fields. The skills required in arithmetic, algebra, calculus, discrete math, linear algebra, and number theory are all quite different, and students who think they are good at math move to the next level and find something quite foraign and quite unpleasant.

Along with this is the problem of grade inflation in high schools. I spent most of my career as a college math professor, and I ran into students every year who thought they were good at math because they had gotten good grades in it, but when I handed out problem sets the first week which reviewed prerequisite material, they could not do them at all. Math is pretty standardized nationally - f you have completed Intermediate Algebra or Precalculus or Calculus 1, there is a standard collection of problems that the student ought to be able to solve - you can find them in any standard text. And since it was the first week, it wasn't because I was a bad teacher - they had barely been exposed to me. But even though their transcript said they had received an A or B in the course, they couldn't solve the problems at all. So suddenly they get to college and a subject that previously didn't require a lot of work, now requires a great deal of work. It happens all the time

Comment: Re:Is it just me? (Score 1) 66

by grizdog (#44198293) Attached to: Toxic Green Algae Takes Over Beaches Off Yellow Sea In China

No, it's not just you. The orignal article was quite short, and the summary is just a verbatim lift of most of the article. THe article was clearly written in a hurry, paerhaps from a press realease originally in some other language.

Also, one of my pet peeves shows up here, which I hoped we could keep off Slashdot. THe artical and the summary use "exponentially" to mean "fast", or at least, they don't give any data to show there is a constant doubling time. Slashdotters should know what "exponentially" means, let's use it correctly.

Comment: Re:Buzzword-heavy (Score 1) 54

by grizdog (#44048319) Attached to: Revisiting Amdahl's Law

I agree. The article is next to worthless. In particular, it appears (and that is the problem - the article is just too vague) that they are not counting the GPU time against Amdahl's law. That's splitting hairs, at best.

There might be some "there there" if they tried to refine Amdahl's law to include different kinds of processors, and the kinds of physical restrictions they talk about. All the article does is say such a thing might be possible - I think we already knew that.

Comment: Continuous improvement (Score 1) 360

by grizdog (#41629539) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Approach To Reenergize an Old Programmer?

As is often the case, we need more information. Several here have suggested acquiring facility with IDEs, and I agree wholeheartedly with that. Being an Eclipse wizard will improve your productivity immensely. There are a variety of tutorials that will help you with that, but it may not get you a paycheck tomorrow. You need to do it, though, if you don't want to end up right back here.

One problem you may be facing is that you are unaware of many of the new trends (where "new" may be 30 years or so) in programming languages. Computer Science students are typically required to program in a language like Scheme, Miranda, or Haskell not because anyone expects them to encounter them in a production environment, but because it allows them to design code for optimization and parallelization and other useful, modern features of computing. If you don't come up to speed with these kind of techniques, you will find yourself relegated to an ever shrinking niche of the industry, and a poorly paid one at that. This may be part of why you are having some trouble with your online course. I'm not recommending that you run out and learn those three languages, but maybe try to find a course of study that is a little more basic, even if some of it is old hat.

Also, there is no such thing as needing a paycheck from programming. You may need a paycheck, but as long it is ethicl and legal, it doesn't matter if it comes from programming or not. There are all kinds of oddball things you can do for a paycheck - I retired in 2007, and have been bouncing around among them. Probably the oddest was as Pace Instructor, teaching math on board navy ships. Not much money, and not for everyone, but I had a blast and it's just an example of what's out there.

Comment: There is no such thing as strictly random (Score 1) 210

by grizdog (#36781424) Attached to: Green Card Lottery Judgment Favors Mathematical Randomness

At least not as far as anyone knows. This is not a scientific question, it is more of a philosophical or even a theological question. If there are deterministic physical laws governing how objects interact, then it is possible to predict anything. Realistically, no one will have the computational power to make such a prediction, so achieving randomness is really just a matter of achieving something close enough to truly random that no one can predict it.

In the Eudemonic Pie, some young iconoclasts managed to predict the "random" behavior of a roulette wheel. Any randomizing algorithm that you can find in a standard library assumes some environmental condition - often related to the time - is unknown. These are probably pretty good assumptions, but the results are not truly random.

The only way we could have true randomness is if there are some sort of measurable phenomena that cannot be predicted. Quantum mechanics dances around this question, and even if there is a state change that is genuinely random, it would be difficult bordering on heroic to measure it in a practical way so as to create a random number generator.

Comment: It's not just criminals (Score 1) 391

by grizdog (#36700622) Attached to: PayPal Predicts the End of the Wallet By 2015

Criminals will not want to use e-money, but I think a lot of people will get creeped out when they buy something, and 10 seconds later they are texted a coupon for a store next door, for something they were Googling about last week. Don't get me wrong - some people will absolutely love that. But not everyone will. I wouldn't, which is why I intend to keep carrying cash.

Comment: Re:misquote in the summary (Score 1) 165

by grizdog (#36330260) Attached to: Judge Finds Cisco, US Authorities Deceived Canadian Courts

You're right, but shortly after that it says this:

"Justice McKinnon said little of what the Americans told Ottawa was true "

Either way, the judge didn't have a very constructive view of US Attorney. It would be nice to see some follow-up, on the US Attorney's "no comment", but I doubt we will.

Comment: Re:Pardon my ignorance (Score 1) 237

by grizdog (#35571262) Attached to: Amazon Stymies Lendle E-book Lending Service

Thanks for the reply. I guess I was thinking of API at a lower level than is the general use - showing my age.

I understand and appreciate your answer, but the question still lingers - I'll use Java as an example - it is a bad one since the source is available, but assume for a moment it were not - what if swing (showing my age again) had tests throughout it saying that if the panel/frame/container/whatever was going to appear on, then abort the program? I mean no one would ever do that, but what if they did? Could they? Has it already happened?

I'm not really feeling paranoid (yet), I'm wondering more about technical feasibility.

Comment: Pardon my ignorance (Score 3, Interesting) 237

by grizdog (#35570342) Attached to: Amazon Stymies Lendle E-book Lending Service

Does this sort of thing happen often? If Oracle decides I have too many weeds in my yard, will my Java programs stop working?

Seriously, is the wave of the present/future APIs with all sorts of tests in them so they do different things for different users? Sounds both intriguing and insidious.

Comment: The problem is psychological, not physiological (Score 4, Insightful) 333

by grizdog (#35465756) Attached to: Is Daylight Saving Time Bad For You?
The problem with DST is the free lunch mentality that goes with it. It was the first response of Congress to the "energy crisis" of the early 70's, and has remained the solution of choice for similar problems ever since. People genuinely believe they are getting "an extra hour of daylight", and expect other little bonuses to be handed to them just as painlessly. Sorry for the rant, but it's long been a pet peeve of mine.

Top Ten Things Overheard At The ANSI C Draft Committee Meetings: (7) Well, it's an excellent idea, but it would make the compilers too hard to write.