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Comment: GPL is about User/Owner Freedoms (Score 2) 116

by mx+b (#47713865) Attached to: Qt Upgrades From LGPLv2.1 to LGPLv3

The GPL wasn't designed with freedoms of the developer/company in mind; it was developed with freedoms of the client/user in mind. RMS started the whole thing partially because of his experience with a printer that the company refused to give drivers so he could make it work on his computer (see the section A Stark Moral Choice).

GPL protects the user's right to do what they want with the software once they've received it (either paid for it, or were given it for free - most software these days is free, but the GPL allows the developer to sell it too). GPLv3 was written when it was realized that a loophole was being used to prevent the owner of the device from changing out the software on the device -- a device the owner paid for and of course now owns! How ridiculous to let a company tell you that you are not allowed to tinker/update the thing you now own. So the "TiVoization" clause was added to prevent that in the future.

The GPL is more of a developer's promise that, once you have paid for the software (even if the price was $0), you will be given complete freedom to use the software as you see fit and the developer/seller will not interfere. That promise is made stronger legally with v3.

Comment: Teaching Windows/Linux (Score 5, Informative) 572

by mx+b (#47700785) Attached to: Munich Reverses Course, May Ditch Linux For Microsoft

I teach IT classes for a living right now, and my experience has actually been the opposite.

In our intro courses, we double check that the students know the basics of the Windows GUI (what's on the start menu, control panel, etc.) and then teach them basic administrative tasks. We also do the same for Linux.

Windows is NOT user friendly. Neither is MS Office, etc etc. Pretty much anything Microsoft. How do I know? Because we have plenty of older students -- we're talking age 35-40 -- that used to be mechanics, truck drivers, etc., that are going back to school for a degree and have to take a basic computer class. If they don't know Window's idiosyncracies, which trust me they don't in general, then they are COMPLETELY LOST.

We really take for granted how much we've been indoctrinated as IT professionals into the Microsoft way. I mean, I'm not even talking configuring group policies or IIS or anything -- I mean, just finding things on the start menu, understanding that icons on the desktop have HIDDEN extensions, knowing when to left and right click on menus to get what you want (seems to switch in every program!). Where did the A and B drive go, why is it C? Why is it called C: anyway instead of just "Main Harddrive" or maybe even simpler "Main Files". You click and drag a window to move it out the way and now suddenly you moved to far and it is maximized. Let's install Firefox -- uhoh, pop up telling me "This came from another computer. Do you want to continue?" SHOULD I? IS THAT BAD?.

This stuff absolutely confounds my students. Nothing says anywhere that icon extensions are hidden -- you have to know how to go enable that. Nothing says anywhere "Right click here to change resolution!". You just have to right click everywhere and figure out what menu you get in every place. Stuff like that. List goes on and on.

It takes a while to teach them the basics. They can "use computers" in the sense of get on the internet, but they really have no idea what goes on otherwise, and really Windows gives no direction on what to do, where to do it, what is possible, and only bare minimum of messages (such as the error message -- instead of yes/no, why can't it ask if you want to install or not? Or explain why it might be a bad thing, or why it might be ok?). I mean seriously, they flip out.

Windows is NOT user friendly to a newbie. It just seems that way because we are so used to it and interact with it so much, and since it was the only major player for so long, a lot of its terminology has rubbed off people. Not because its easy, but because we're just exposed to it.

I won't say Linux is perfect, but they seem to get it pretty well, at least as well as Windows. A lot of the students have told me they actually enjoyed Linux more.

Comment: Yes year-round, No to all-day (Score 1) 421

by mx+b (#47640009) Attached to: Slashdot Asks: Should Schooling Be Year-Round?

I think that having such a large break means that, in many cases, kids are forgetting important knowledge and skills over the summer break as they sit at home or play football or work jobs. My old school district "solved" this problem by assigning required reading and book reports for the summer -- but if you're going to do that, why not just have full class?

Personally, I think constant reinforcement is better for people to learn things. They should be in school year-round, being constantly reinforced and challenged a little bit more each time, rather than having to devote the first 1/4 of the school year just to refreshers.

On the other hand, I completely agree with the parent poster that kids need to BE KIDS. Making them "work" (go to school) and sit still and listen for 8 hours a day, then come home to do more homework on top of that doesn't let them ever be kids for most of the year.

Rather than being so bipolar, I would like to see year-round school, but lessening of the school day. Say, a 4 hour day or so. Devote an hour to class, then send everyone home to do homework and work on extracurriculars (which maybe the extracurriculars could be robot club at school, or whatever, but not required classes).

I think this does the most to fix all the issues: kids can BE KIDS ALL YEAR LONG because they have plenty of time each day to sign up for clubs and sports activities after school, and aren't expected to "act like adults" and sit still for 8+ hours every day, but they also go to school all year so they don't get behind, instead always progressing and refreshing constantly. By the same token, our overworked teachers will also get some time off from classroom/school duties to actually get a damn vacation a few nights a week, and have time to actually sit and work on effective new teaching plans/projects to advance education even further (rather than being burned out and angry like they are now -- I know, I teach at tech schools and my sister is an elementary teacher). It seems kids and teachers will be happier.

The only negative I can think of is that with kids getting out after 4 hours, maybe some parents will need babysitters/after-school care and can't afford it? High schoolers can take care of themselves, and instead of current 6:30am to 2:30pm, why can't we let our kids sleep??? research has shown teens typically are night-owls, so lets let them sleep in and go to class 10:30-2:30pm instead). But elementary schools are more like 9am to 4:30pm, I imagine to fit work schedules for parents that need to pick up their young kids. Not sure about best thing to do with that, but I can say that kids that age need to be out of a classroom EVEN MORE than the older kids, so we need to rethink as a society that too.

Comment: Interdisciplinary and Badges (Score 4, Interesting) 205

by mx+b (#47615315) Attached to: MIT Considers Whether Courses Are Outdated

I think it may not be as bad as you guys think, depending how this is implemented.

Definitely, especially at the bachelors level, it needs to be a "guided tour" to help students learn about subjects they didn't even know they existed. They need exposure to certain important topics to serve as a base, allowing the student to go forward.

I think where this module idea can help is that, under the current system, you get a very direct track through basic major courses, then a bunch of liberal arts requirements to satisfy (arts, philosophy, etc.). There is not, in my experience, a whole lot of in-major electives. Everyone takes the same track. Degree programs are largely the same across the country.

I firmly believe our future Einsteins will come from the ranks of those trained in interdisciplinary thought -- the people that DON'T just take the same track, but go a little off script too. If a student understands the basic concepts of a field, but doesn't like it, why waste the student's time with more of that just to fit in 3 semester hours of a class to meet a checklist, when the student can switch half way through a semester to another field and see if that is a better fit? As long as the student understands the basics, I see no problem of letting the student explore a little more rather than trapping them in the class for another 6 weeks.

I think this would be the idea of a badges system -- rather than a degree and classes, you get badges when you show levels of mastery in topics (a novice badge, an intermediate badge, master badge, etc.). A bachelors could be awarded when X number of badges are obtained.

Comment: Re:Limits of Measurement (Score 1) 144

by mx+b (#47570043) Attached to: More Quantum Strangeness: Particles Separated From Their Properties

And here you are completely wrong. Finiteness of the universe disagrees.

I am not sure what "finiteness of the universe" means in this context. Could you elaborate why that immediately says particles must be in two places at once?

You are wrong again. Stop. Double slit experiment has been duplicated using *individual photons*. Yes, one photon fired at detector at a time. ONE. No more, just ONE. After waiting sufficiently long, interference pattern was produced on the detector. The photon appears to have interfered with itself.

The photon does appear to interfere with itself, but only after sufficient time. Is it really interfering with ITSELF? The experiment description on the page you link to says that photon is absorbed by an atom to knock off an electron, which starts an avalanche, and we read the resulting current as a detection. Now, the original photon has been absorbed, however, anytime an electron accelerates it releases radiation (brehmsstralung). So it actually sounds like the photon is causing (a) a current to form, and (b) extra photons to be emitted by the electrons as they bounce around. The new photons scatter in random directions to be sure, but some of them must make it back into the apparatus, bounce around, and come back to the detector, producing a new pattern. Eventually this will settle down as the electrons and photons lose energy over time, but it happens long enough to produce a pattern.

So I don't really see how the original photon interfered with itself; it appears that multiple photons were generated and recorded, and as energy is lost, these waves overlap differently and produce a pattern.

This is my interpretation and I am glad to say I am wrong if provided with some evidence that shows we can rule this possibility out.

Comment: Re:Limits of Measurement (Score 2) 144

by mx+b (#47569917) Attached to: More Quantum Strangeness: Particles Separated From Their Properties

Wrong. when single particles are allowed through a single path yes. However, if multiple paths are available even a single particle interferes with itself. Take enough samples of a single particle going through with multiple paths, and you get an interference pattern: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D...

I perhaps wasn't as careful with my language as I should have been. But even the article you link to says that you release more than one particle. It is one at a time, not perhaps the "flood" I stated (though I was thinking of a large number of electrons more so than time frame). But it is *more than one* particle, so I am not sure how this can be called "self-interference" with a single particle when other particles have already gone thru the apparatus.

If we could carefully release a SINGLE electron, and when we looked for it on the other side got multiple hits as if there were many electrons (or single electron in multiple places), then that would sound like interference. But since we get a single dot from one electron, then we release another and get another dot, and only over time see the interference, it sounds to me more like there is interference between the electron build up and the new electron than a "self" interference. The conditions in the apparatus are different than when the experiment started!

Comment: Re:Limits of Measurement (Score 1) 144

by mx+b (#47569819) Attached to: More Quantum Strangeness: Particles Separated From Their Properties

What you're describing is incorrect. The particle *actually* behaves as if it is two places at once - including things like interfering with itself.

I recall in classical electromagnetism class having to calculate the effects of the electric field of an object ON ITSELF as the particle was moving. I do not think strictly speaking it has to be a "weird" quantum effect if we had to do similar things in classical calculations. Are you aware of an argument on why it *must* be in two places at once, rather than simply seeming that way because of its interactions while moving (or interactions with nearby particles, which move and therefore change the potential on the original).

However, if you want an interpretation that seems more "intuitively correct" than the Copenhagen interpretation, I like Cramer's transactional interpretation of quantum mechanics. It avoids any "magic" and sticks with a single universe; it does, however, introduce zero mass transaction particles going at the speed of light backwards in time. Assuming relativity as true, this is fine, because at the speed of light time is compressed into nothing, so going backwards or forwards makes no real difference (as there is no change.)

Aha! Thank you for the link, this might have been what I was thinking of. The advanced/retarded waves were what I was thinking of in the electromagnetic response above.

Comment: Re:Limits of Measurement (Score 0) 144

by mx+b (#47569771) Attached to: More Quantum Strangeness: Particles Separated From Their Properties

Heisenberg's Principle comes out of the wave/particle duality. To localize a particle, you have to add waves of differing frequency to its wave function (ala Fourier). The more you localize it, the more waves of higher frequency you add. Momentum is derived from the wave frequency. Therefore, when you localize a particle, you are increasing the uncertainty of the momentum (by adding more and more higher frequency waves).

I understand the mathematics involved in Fourier analysis, but that is the mathematics -- is the electron ACTUALLY doing that, or was that simply a mathematical/logical proof that correlates highly with what we see?

Follow up to my own post.

The fact that you cannot measure the momentum and location of a particle exactly is NOT a limitation imposed by measuring apparatus. The fact is that a quantum particle HAS no exact momentum and location, as a result of its wave function.

Is there an experiment or theorem that shows specifically that it cannot be because of the apparatus? It has been a while since I've taken quantum mechanics, so maybe I am forgetting a theorem or something.

But my thought is: Until we measure something, I'm not sure how anyone can really say whether an object has or does not have a certain property. I understand this is basically superposition from quantum mechanics, and that quantum mechanics predicts things correctly -- but none of the mathematical arguments strictly imply that we have the correct conceptual framework of what the mathematics means. All of this mathematical physics has its root in formulas that were derived based on data collected in labs, so most definitely any mathematical argument invoking these formulas is at the mercy of our experimental data's precision/accuracy.

Comment: Re:Can we dumb it down some more? (Score 1) 144

by mx+b (#47569351) Attached to: More Quantum Strangeness: Particles Separated From Their Properties

It's hard to say without the actual paper, but I think I follow what they did.

I interpreted it to mean parallel (forward or back actually), vs the lower beam being opposite (so perpendicular to the field). If they applied a stronger magnetic field to the top, when the two beams recombined and filtered parallel, they got exactly what the expected -- same amount of neutrons as top beam, nothing weird. When they applied a stronger field on the lower beam, and recombined and filtered parallel, then they got amplification/cancellation of neutron spins.

If I understood correctly, this seems an intuitive result. Applying stronger field on the upper beam doesn't do anything other than make sure the neutrons stay aligned, so no numbers changed. If they applied a stronger parallel field to the perpendicular lower beam, then the field is strong enough now to perturb the neutron spins -- some of those spins will become aligned (though not necessarily all -- you can take a look at ferromagnetism and spin domains for an example). So when you recombine with the upper beam, ta-da!! Either there will be more (amplification) as you add up all the parallel from the top + the parallel from the bottom, or you will get cancellation, as the upper ones are parallel (say to the right, for sake of argument), and the lower ones are more often aligned antiparallel (still parallel, so they pass the filter, but pointing left instead of right) so the parallel/anti-parallel spins cancel out and make it look like there's less of them.

Again, it doesn't seem like quantum "weirdness" or a "paradox", just keeping track of what's going on.

It could be more deep than that, since the article is a summary and does not provide data, experimental method, etc., but that's my first thought.

Comment: Limits of Measurement (Score 3, Interesting) 144

by mx+b (#47569205) Attached to: More Quantum Strangeness: Particles Separated From Their Properties

I have never been a fan of the quantum "weirdness" either. Everyone gets caught up in the Copenhagen interpretation and Schroedingers' cat and all, and ignores a simpler explanation. I think you may be on the right track with zero dimensions not being realistic -- and I believe that is the hypothesis of string theory actually, to model objects as 1d strings instead of 0d points -- but even that I think is overlooking something easier.

The Heisenburg uncertainty principle illustrates the true nature, I think. We cannot measure position and momentum simultaneously. Why? Because on the scale of electrons, those electrons are very small and lightweight and can get jumbled around. We have to do something to measure speed. For cars, we can measure speed by bouncing light ways off them (radar guns). But try a light beam on an electron -- at that size, the electron can feel the full force of the electric field of the light wave, and gets moved out of the way. A car is so huge compared to a beam of light, that we don't affect a car when we measure its speed, but we DO affect the electron. So either we can use the light to find where it was (and knock it around so we're not sure what speed it was going), or we can use the light waves to get an accurate reading of how fast it was going, but now we've knocked the electron somewhere so we're less sure where it is now.

Particles can't really be two places at once. But since we're knocking things around with our light beam, we can't say for sure where it is now -- so we instead talk in terms of probabilities of where the electron is, rather than saying matter-of-factly where it is. This is what quantum mechanics does, it calculates probabilities that the electron is in a certain place, probability it was going a certain speed, etc.

The double slit experiment mentioned by another poster shows this is the correct interpretation too. As you can see from the photos on Wikipedia, when single particles are allowed thru, we see only single points on the detector. It is only when a flood of electrons are allowed that we see an interference pattern similar to that of a wave. Seems pretty weird!! But is it really? In actuality, as our detector reads electrons, it is knocking them around a little (think of billiard balls bouncing around, off of the detector). As electrons build up, the electric field also builds up in the area between the slits and detector. That electric field is so small that our instruments can't really detect it -- but it IS strong enough to again, knock around electrons. That slight push from the build-up electrons onto the electrons coming thru the slit means they get pushed away from the center, away from the build up, and then they settle down at the outer fringes of the build up. Naturally that means there's some gaps at play here, and so we observe it to be a wave interference pattern. This all happens so fast that it seems instantaneous too. But nothing particularly magical going on -- just the rules of forces mean that electrons get knocked around A LOT, even for imperceptible forces on the human scale (or scale of our equipment).

Other physicists have argued for this interpretation. I know, [citation needed], but I'm drawing a blank who. I want to say Ed Witten but not sure. In any case, I know there have been proponents of this interpretation rather than the "weird" Copenhagen interpretation. But hey, people couldn't make TV shows about how quantum strangeness leads to time traveling thru the multiverse if we did away with it.

Comment: Re:Unfortunately? (Score 1) 82

by mx+b (#47561249) Attached to: seL4 Verified Microkernel Now Open Source
But the clause in the statement of the GPLv2/3 is "or (at your option), any later version". There is nothing forcing someone to use v3 if it is released as v2+ -- you pick 2 or 3 based on your project since it is your option. I believe this is what GP was asking -- since you can choose forever, everyone can pick, how does it hurt anything to have "v2 or later at your option"?

Comment: Teach her to take care of herself and be happy (Score 3, Interesting) 509

by mx+b (#47459965) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Future-Proof Jobs?

I agree with Confucious there! As a teacher, I can say I have seen plenty of people chasing after the job-of-the-week. The company goes under, and you lose your job (or to keep it, you have to move out of state, country, live on an Antarctic glacier, etc.), then you have to retrain and spend a fortune. And they're not happy, because they lost their job, they're worried, they're in debt, more debt now because of student loans, and now they have to do some stupid job they don't really want to do for the oil company because that's the only way out they see. Nuh-uh. Don't let her grow up like that.

Everyone I know that followed their own path (granted, small sample size, etc etc), has seemed to end up way better off. They do what they love, they are in demand because they are good at what they do, and just everything seems to have a way of working out. Make sure she knows (1) what she loves; (2) how to think and solve new problems; (3) give her an entrepreneurial spirit, so she can CREATE HER OWN JOB and take care of herself if she doesn't want/find one in the market.

I think that last point is perhaps the most important. The best (and really only) way to prepare for the future is to learn how to take care of yourself. Create your own job, live on a budget and NOT be in debt (debt makes you a slave to the job trends since you can't settle for a more fun but less paying job), grow your own food, pick up a few trade skills to do house repair, etc... Of course definitely encourage higher level thought if she wants to be an engineer, but if she wants to be an artist, let her, as long as she knows how to take care of herself.

Comment: Job Creators and Creative Creators (Score 1) 401

by mx+b (#47401117) Attached to: No Shortage In Tech Workers, Advocacy Groups Say

I work in education largely currently, and it is similar. The teachers -- the ones producing the "product", though calling education a product kind of perturbs me -- are the ones that are paid the least. The administration and marketing (at a college it's known as "admissions", but basically the same thing) get WAY better salaries, perks, etc. Actually, the fact they have full time jobs at all is a step up, seeing as many teachers these days are adjuncts (part-time) with no benefits.

I don't want to say that the marketing isn't important -- because it is, if no one knows your school or program exists then you won't get students, I understand that -- but fundamentally, if there are no teachers, there is no school. You would think it would be even and on par. But no. The instructors are looked at more as a burden than anything else.

The spouse works in engineering, and basically same there. The salesmen look at the engineers as people that "get in the way" of making the big deal because they want to "add all this extra money to the price" (when really its adding safety clamps and shit to try to prevent it from exploding).

I honestly feel like the whole job creator debate was in a sense correct, but about the wrong class of people. The "job creators" are not the businessmen/marketing people -- it is the ENGINEERS, SCIENTISTS, PROGRAMMERS, TEACHERS that actually provide a service. And yet somehow, all of these creative professions that provide real-world value are the ones facing the most unemployment, lowest wages, longest hours, etc. It is really unfair, and we all need to unionize and get equal treatment to the executives/marketing people. I'm not saying they are unneeded -- just if they can get full time jobs with high salaries and perks, why can't we, when we actually MAKE the things they sell?

Comment: Re:Worked at a major university (Score 1) 538

by mx+b (#47291439) Attached to: Teaching College Is No Longer a Middle Class Job

I teach part-time at a few tech schools and universities (because, as discussed, there's practically no chance of tenure track at this point).

Here's how they pulled their shit on me: on paper, I make about $25/hr (it depends on school a little), which if it were full time, wouldn't be a completely terrible salary. Good enough for me since the hours are a bit flexible and I enjoy teaching, and live a pretty modest life anyway.

The problem gets to be that they tell you up front that the $25/hr is paid ONLY for contact hours with students each week -- hours you are physically in class. However, you are still expected to (1) work on curriculum, (2) hold office hours, (3) answer emails from home (within 24 hours), (4) grade papers and tests.

Considering that for every hour I am in class, I probably spend a good 2 hours or so of class prep and then another hour or two grading, I estimate that I, in actuality, make roughly $12/hr at a maximum if you take my salary and divide it by the total number of hours I spend on classes. $12/hr on the higher end, if it is a class I have taught before and I have older notes to work with -- probably more like $8/hr if it is a new class that I need to spend extra time on preparing materials. It is absolutely obscene.

I made $25k or so last year teaching -- and for most of the year, teaching full time, split between a few schools (in fact there was a semester that I counted and I probably put in about 70 hrs a week because I was teaching 6 classes - more like 80 when you include the commute times all over the city to the different schools). For what? To make myself insane, to see my bank account drain, and not even do a great job for my students -- not because I don't want to (I used to have excellent student reviews!), but because I'm just too damn exhausted to even care.

I'm in the process of winding down my teaching "career" now and moving back to private jobs. I started some work on contract jobs, and am currently interviewing at a few places so I doubt I will be teaching much longer. I simply can't afford to. Which is a shame, because I honestly love teaching, I have a lot of fun working with students, and it's been my dream job -- but actually doing it has been a nightmare of no sleep, no seeing family, and tightening the budget more and more "just in case they decide they can't give me 3 classes next semester and I have no where else to go". It's a good thing the wife could supplement a bit (though her job in industry wasn't safe -- she recently had to start training some Indians, yeah, can see where that is going...). NO MORE.

My silly dream, after I get my life together in a non-academic job/salary for a couple of years, is to go back and start my own damn college (maybe not a full university, but a specialized college in my field) and compete with these asshats. Better education, lower tuition, better instructor pay. I don't know how easy it is, but man would I love to do it.

Counting in binary is just like counting in decimal -- if you are all thumbs. -- Glaser and Way

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