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Journal: in which i am a noob all over again 17

Journal by CleverNickName

I haven't posted a journal here in almost three years, because I couldn't find the button to start a new entry. ...yeah, it turns out that it's at the bottom of the page.

So... hi, Slashdot. I used to be really active here, but now I mostly lurk and read. I've missed you.

Comment: Re:You're mistaken (Score 1) 244

by macrom (#37567312) Attached to: Top 1% of iOS Game Developers Make a Third of All Revenue
Actually, that's not entirely correct either, as iPhone and iPod Touch apps will run on iPad without a special version. The plus denotes that the developer has bundled the iPhone/iPod Touch and iPad-specific version together. Example: if Angry Birds didn't have a separate iPad app that was customized to the iPad's device metrics and UX but rather bundled in as a single install, you would see the plus icon meaning that you get both the "normal" and the "HD" version. If you only have Angry Birds for iPhone/iPod Touch, you can still run that on your iPad. You just won't get the "native" iPad experience.

I don't know where this idea that "plus means in-app purchase" got started, but the entire Internet community seems to believe in this misconception.

Comment: Re:It's Already Online Many Places (Score 1) 261

by macrom (#37522860) Attached to: Should College Go Online?
I find that community/junior colleges are embracing the online courses way more than traditional four-year universities. I would love to complete my BS in Computer Science (left school a long time ago, in 1997) but there are precious few programs for a *true* BSCS. Florida State University is the only Tier 1 school that I've found to offer it.

I live in Dallas, Texas, and we have several good schools to chose from in the state. Baylor, Texas A&M, University of Texas, Texas Tech, University of Texas @ Dallas, Southern Methodist University, Texas Christian University; absolutely none of them offer anything remotely technical as a distance learning program. Texas Tech has a degree in General Studies online, and I've seen some other school offering things like English or Humanities. It's always some sort of basic, generic degree, and that's a frustrating fact.

I should clarify that I'm referring to Bachelor's degrees. Graduate programs seem to be plentiful at many schools. I guess they want the young kids to come spend their money and go to class. Despite discussing the issue with those friends and acquaintances in education, I've never heard a convincing answer. "I don't really know" seems to be the standard response.
Education

Quantum Physics For Everybody 145

Posted by kdawson
from the this-time-without-the-math dept.
fiziko writes in with a self-described "blatant self-promotion" of a worthwhile service for those wishing to go beyond Khan Academy physics: namely Bureau 42's Summer School. "As those who subscribe to the 'Sci-Fi News' slashbox may know, Bureau 42 has launched its first Summer School. This year we're doing a nine-part series (every Monday in July and August) taking readers from high school physics to graduate level physics, with no particular mathematical background required. Follow the link for part 1."

Comment: iTunesU + older textbooks (Score 1) 467

by macrom (#31720998) Attached to: Help Me Get My Math Back?
It's so funny that this question has been posed. I thought for a second that I had actually posted this! :)

I'm pretty much in your same situation. I dropped out of college back in the late 90s, and the last math class that I successfully passed was Calculus II. I took a Calculus III class, but stopped going around the time I dropped out. This puts me at almost 15 years since I've attended a structure math class at the university level. Before that, I look Precalculus in high school...in 1991. I haven't had an Algebra class since 1990.

I can recall many things, but definitely NOT enough to pass a college exam. I decided that I would go back to school and start with Calculus I. After all, SURELY if I've had this material before I could easily get an A! Ahem. I could remember the basics, I could remember the rules of derivation and integration, but I couldn't remember the Trigonometry. Finding the derivative of something involving sine, cosine or tangent confounded me. At the behest of the professor, I enrolled in Precalculus. After the first week, we had a test covering the basics of Algebra. I flunked that. I couldn't remember every last detail, and it's been nearly 20 years since I've seen this material directly in a classroom environment.

After consulting with a friend, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I'm not willing to spend the time (and money) in a classroom retaking math classes, so I headed to my local Half Price Books. I'm fortunate enough to live in Dallas where we have several large stores with a massive stock of older college texts. I picked up a book on Algebra, Trigonometry and Precalculus. I also acquired the teachers manuals and student's solutions manuals for these texts, giving me a nice base of information to jog my brain. Math hasn't changed a whole lot in the last few years, and the main thing that I find that dates the books is the calculator requirement. Some of these books use a TI-85 or TI-86 in their chapter sample exercises, but these are the calculators I have lying around since my college days.

iTunesU is also an awesome source. Go search on Algebra and other math subjects to get full courses on any subject you lack. You can get older courses and cheap textbooks on Amazon if you want to precisely follow along. Th Algebra videos from Harrisburg Area Community College have helped me immensely.

As mentioned above, MIT's OCW can help you, but if you were so inclined to teach yourself mathematics with MIT's material you probably wouldn't be posting on Slashdot asking for some assistance. I don't mean this as an insult in the slightest; I'm not one to learn this type of material on my own, either!

In summary: hit iTunesU and get some FULL courses to fill you in. Go get some used, older textbooks either online or at a local used bookstore if you have such a resource in your area. Outside of these self-help options, you can always enroll at a local community college to basically start over. I know the Dallas area colleges sometimes have rolling enrollment and/or compressed schedule courses. You may find that you can plow through classes like College Algebra, Trigonometry and Precalculus in a shorter time since you're basically refreshing your knowledge.

Good luck!

Comment: Re:Wash your hands! (Score 1) 374

by CleverNickName (#29392669) Attached to: Swine Flu Outbreak At PAX

This is good advice, and gives me an opportunity to speak to the community at large: some of us who go to cons and are in a position to shake tons of hands politely decline. It's not because we're being dicks, it's because we know it's a good way to substantially decrease our chances of catching and spreading any germs.

Comment: Oh, cruel irony (Score 2, Interesting) 374

by CleverNickName (#29392641) Attached to: Swine Flu Outbreak At PAX

I played the PAX Pandemic game, where the Enforcers handed out stickers to attendees that read [Carrier] [Infected] or [Immune] (There was also a [Patient Zero].

I got the [Immune] sticker, and by the time I got home on Monday, it was clear that I had the flu. I've had a fever between 100 and 104 all week that finally broke last night, but I'm going to the doctor today because I think whatever I had settled into my lungs. I'll tell him about the H1N1 outbreak and get tested if he wants to run the test, but at this point I think it's safe to assume that I was [Immune] to the Pig Plague, but definitely [Infected] with the damn PAX pox.

Even though it's been a week of misery, it was entirely worth it, and I don't regret going to PAX for a single second.

Comment: Re:Iron Man's Suit Defies Physics -- Mostly (Score 2, Interesting) 279

by John Carmack (#23266718) Attached to: The Science of Iron Man
Hydrogen peroxide powered rocket packs fly for around 30 seconds, because they have a specific impulse of around 125, meaning that one pound of propellant can make 125 pound-seconds of thrust, meaning that it takes about two pounds of propellant for every second you are in the air. Mass ratios are low for anything strapped to a human, so the exponential nature of the rocket equation can be safely ignored.

A pretty hot (both literally and figuratively) bipropellant rocket could manage about twice the specific impulse, and you could carry somewhat heavier tanks, but two minutes of flight on a rocket pack is probably about the upper limit with conventional propellants.

However, an actual jet pack that used atmospheric oxygen could have an Isp ten times higher, allowing theoretical flights of fifteen minutes or so. Here, it really is a matter of technical development, since jet engines have thrust to weight ratios too low to make it practical. There is movement on this technical front, but it will still take a while.

John Carmack

Comment: John Scalzi on why it won't work (Score 1) 370

by CleverNickName (#21961464) Attached to: Sony's Idea of DRM-Free Music
John Scalzi wrote a hilarious exchange on his blog the sums up perfectly why this idea is made of fail:

Sony BMG spokesperson: We're pleased to announce we are the final major music corporation to release electronic tracks without that pesky DRM! All you have to do is leave your house, go to a selected retail outlet, buy a special card there, go back to your house, scratch off the back of the card to find a code, go to our special MusicPass Web site, enter said code, and download one the 37 titles we have available, from Celine Dion to the Backstreet Boys!

Kid #1: Or, in the time it takes me to jump through all those hoops, I could just download all 37 of those albums off of Pirate Bay.

Kid #2: Or, I could just scratch off the back at the store, record the pin number, go home and download the album through a Tor connection, so you can't trace my IP number.

Kid #1: Also, what's with this first slate of artists? Celine Dion? Backstreet Boys? Kenny Chesney? Barry Manilow? Are you high?
There's much more, but I didn't want to jack his entire post.
Google

+ - The Google Phone is a Reality.

Submitted by
MrCrassic
MrCrassic writes "It appears that Google is initiating talks with well-known PDA/smartphone manufacturer HTC to make the Google phone a reality. With impressive tech specs and an already impressive concept underway , could Google be the next company to make a mark in the wireless device industry? From the main article:

However, a recent report by CrunchGear states that its own sources at mobile handset provider HTC have tipped the site off to multiple gPhone handsets being prepped for launch in the first quarter of 2008 and that the handsets will be coming out of Taiwan. There will supposedly be over 20 different handsets to choose from — some with GPS — and they will carry special versions of Google Maps, Google Calendar, Gmail, and VoIP-enabled Google Talk. Speaking of software, Google is rumored to be developing its own operating system for the gPhone. According to reports by Engadget, the OS has been in development since 2005 after Google's acquisition of a mobile software company called Android. The Android team has since developed a Linux-based mobile OS while at Google — a detail that is corroborated by the CrunchGear report — which of course comes with tight Google integration. Both sites appear to agree that their sources indicate Google isn't currently looking to develop the hardware... for now.
"
Sci-Fi

Simon Pegg to Play Scotty 233

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the take-ship-go-to-mum's-kill-phil-sorry dept.
In response to yesterday's casting news about Chris Pine possibly taking the captain's chair for the new Star Trek movie, apparently Simon Pegg will be playing the role of Scotty. Simon Pegg is known for his role as Shaun in Shaun of the Dead and more recently for his leading role in Hot Fuzz. "Pegg joins Zoe Saldana as Uhura, Anton Yelchin as Chekov, John Cho as Sulu and Zachary Quinto as Spock in the film which reportedly, and logically, 'chronicles the early days of the Enterprise crew.' Leonard Nimoy will also put in an appearance, while Eric Bana signed up this week as the movie's villain, Nero."

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