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Comment: Re:The best toy I ever got (Score 1) 314

by gstovall (#48824749) Attached to: Radio Shack Reported To Be Ready for Bankruptcy Filing

I *LOVED* that kit!

Yes, I already had a commercial built transitor radio, but there was something special about building the crystal radio and listening to AM broadcasts with something self-assembled.

My favorite one was a modification I did off the light alarm circuit -- Hook the output to the transformer and drive a piece of wire, and it made a great TV disruptor. Turn it on, and any rabbit-ear attached TV for a couple of houses in every direction got nothing but vertical black and white bars on the screen -- and back then, precioius few people had cable. :)

I gave my kit to my younger brother when I went off to college. Don't know when he got rid of it.

Comment: Re:Are you telling me? (Score 1) 207

by gstovall (#47907545) Attached to: Sapphire Glass Didn't Pass iPhone Drop Test According to Reports

Yep. It's amazing how common they are in the old volcanic crater in Arkansas. People find diamonds there every weekend, and some are sizable -- in just the first three months of this year (last time I checked) a $20K and a $100K diamond were found by individuals out with a bucket and shovel.

Comment: Re:Are you telling me? (Score 1) 207

by gstovall (#47907369) Attached to: Sapphire Glass Didn't Pass iPhone Drop Test According to Reports

Good choice!

My wife's original wedding ring is diamond, but she chose moissanite for her 20th anniversary ring because of its superior brillance and better value (larger gem for the money) -- it truly was her choice -- she came to ME excited about a ring she had found.

Diamonds are relatively poor value -- you're just feeding the DeBeers monopoly, unless you pick up your own diamond at Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas.

Comment: Re:coding standards (Score 2) 664

by gstovall (#46308923) Attached to: Stack Overflow Could Explain Toyota Vehicles' Unintended Acceleration

:) Which is why we had to spend the first 6 months after hiring any new grad, retraining them in development techniques that actually worked in our embedded near-real-time, real-world sitations. I still have no idea why colleges convince their graduates that they actually know anything. College is an opportunity to learn how to think and how to learn, not to learn what's needed to be an instant star. We all have to learn constantly our whole lives to stay on top of the technology.

That's not to say I've not met a couple that were instant stars upon graduation...however, they were usually the ones who had done several coop terms with us learning the ropes already.

Comment: Re:Not actually a bad idea. (Score 1) 368

by gstovall (#43765849) Attached to: Bloomberg To HS Grads: Be a Plumber

:) The senior architect on the product I work on (multimedia communications system) is a C.S. grad, and he is truly brilliant.

I work with some really great people, and quite a number of them have C.S. degrees.

The work we do is multi-processing, multi-threaded, multi-server, across multiple different operating systems, and I have the privilege of working with a group of people with varying educational backgrounds, but all of them are extremely competent, and all of them, C.S. or not, know their way around creating and using shared libraries on Windows and Linux. It's kind of strange to say just those two now. I remember when we used to routinely do work on AIX, HPUX, Solaris...

The point I was trying to make was that a C.S. degree does not make someone a successful software designer -- skill, talent, and an eagerness to learn do.

Comment: Re:Not actually a bad idea. (Score 2) 368

by gstovall (#43761923) Attached to: Bloomberg To HS Grads: Be a Plumber

Sorry to reply to my own post.

I personally don't think holding a degree should even be the primary criteris...

Am friends with a couple of high ranking software architects at a major (world-wide) package delivery service. One of them has a degree in physics. The other worked his way up from a manual labor job in the shipping department -- he showed a willingness to self teach on computers so he could fix a problem in the shipping department process, and his aptitude, inclination, and hard work propelled him along to his position of authority/influence.

Comment: Re:America has become pussy nation (Score 1) 1078

by gstovall (#43613157) Attached to: Florida Teen Expelled and Arrested For Science Experiment

Understood. I was kind of admiring of their guts at the time, but I wouldn't have done it for fear of reprimand. And they did get scolded for that incident.

The point was, it was a stupid stunt that shouldn't have been done, but they did not end up being labeled criminals for it.

Comment: Re:America has become pussy nation (Score 1) 1078

by gstovall (#43609521) Attached to: Florida Teen Expelled and Arrested For Science Experiment

And when my father was 15, he worked in a rock quarry -- he was the dynamite setter. Would drill the holes, use his own key to the dynamite shed to go fetch the dynamite, and set the charges. The master would be the one responsible for checking his work and actually initiating the blaster, but my dad did all the manual work.

There are people now that would throw an absolute hissy fit over a 15 year old being allowed to handle explosives. :) My dad learned very quickly not to wipe his forehead after handling dynamite. The leaking nitroglycerin gives massive headaches when absorbed through the skin.

Comment: Re:America has become pussy nation (Score 5, Interesting) 1078

by gstovall (#43609297) Attached to: Florida Teen Expelled and Arrested For Science Experiment

Shoot. When I was in high school (in the very early 1980s), we made nitroglycerin and nitrogen triiodide as part of chemistry class.

The instructions for making nitroglycerin were in the high school chemistry text book, and it even helpfully explained how to improve the rate of the reaction for faster production.

The guys making nitrogen triiodide were doing so in the enclosed vent chamber, and they sternly warned the instructor not to throw open the door. He failed to heed their warnings, and it exploded and burned off his hair and eyebrows. There were no lectures or discipline -- he acknowledged that they had carefully warned him not to be careless.

What they did with the liquid suspension was rather creative. :) It's basically inert while in suspension, but very unstable when dry. So they took eye droppers and wandered the halls of the school, randomly dropping drops of it on the floor. It dried in time for classes to swich. Lots of little firecracker bangs as people walked down the hallway and activated the dried samples on the floor. :)

As a junior high student (and high school student), I used to go around the school demonstrating potassium permanganate and glycerin for various classes. It was a great way to get young minds interested in the sciences and fascinated with chemistry.

Now, all 4 of my children have had high school chemistry (youngest is just now finishing it up). There is NO experimentation or lab work -- they are not allowed to touch any chemicals. The teacher is not even allowed to do the potassium permanganate experiment -- it is deemed too likely to cause students to become terrorists. I'm thoroughly disgusted by what has happened to the educational process in this country.

My oldest is graduating college in 2 days. Over the last 4 years, he has brought home horror stories about the rigid mindset that he has experienced in the classroom. Nearly all the college instructors (and this is at a large public university) absolutely insist that their perspective be parroted back -- there is zero tolerance for discussion and debate. People with differing beliefs and perceptions are publicly ridiculed and humiliated.

When I was in college at Texas A&M, my philosophy prof was the faculty advisor for the Gay and Lesbian student association. Despite the fact that he and I shared very few common positions on the topics discussed and written about in class, we got along well. He commended me at the end of the class, saying that I had presented my positions with clarity and precision, and I achieved a high A in his class. Apparently, that experience would be rare now.

I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the demigodic party. -- Dennis Ritchie