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Comment: Re:Do the Q&A (Score 1) 315

by nlawalker (#37804684) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What To Tell High-Schoolers About Computer Science?

My bad then. I didn't get any of that context from "I got drawn (without my intention) into three 20 minute sessions, talking to high school students about computer science and programming," which is all he said about why he's there.

The only other context I have to draw on is my own experience speaking on front of students, where what most of the students want is to not be sitting in class.

Comment: Do the Q&A (Score 2) 315

by nlawalker (#37804430) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What To Tell High-Schoolers About Computer Science?

Do the Q&A.

The most valuable thing you can give them is insight about your experience, not just as as someone in the technology field, but as someone who has had a long career in any field. They are high-school students - they go to football practice, go home and Facebook and play video games every night, they have no idea what it's like to find or to have a career. Ask the teacher to introduce you in a way that stresses that you have been in an important and growing industry for decades and you know what things are like out there, and to remind the students that they are all going to need to find jobs and really need to think about what they want to spend their future doing. Give a 3 or 4 minute introduction of yourself and what you do and then open it up for questions about anything the students are willing to ask, about technology or otherwise.

This way, you at least give students who want to draw from your experience the opportunity to do so. Not to make any assumptions about your presentation skills or ability to put together an engaging demonstration, but anything you do (especially related to computers) will put most of the class to sleep. I watched Steve Wozniak lecture to a classroom of 200 college students and I think about three of them were even remotely interested in anything he had to say - a not-Steve-Wozniak in a high school classroom will be lucky to do that well unless the students realize they have an opportunity to learn how they are going to survive and enjoy a life without Mom and Dad in a few years and can capitalize on that opportunity.

Comment: Credit without work (Score 1) 913

by nlawalker (#36568852) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: CS Degree Without Gen-Ed Requirements?

I see some comments here encouraging you to take the classes from the other requirements, insisting that they are good for you and your career long-term. I agree with them, and my message is essentially the same, but I'm going to take a different approach to my response in case they can't impress upon you the importance of those other subjects.

A bachelor's degree by definition requires education on a variety of enriching subjects other than your major. It signifies that you have received an education on those subjects. You are requesting a means to obtain something without earning it.

If you want a computer science education without the other requirements, there are a lot of options out there, including free ones (see MIT's OpenCourseWare). If you want some kind of proof that you have obtained a computer science education without the other requirements, there are trade schools. If you want a bachelor's degree, then you need to put in the work to get one, and that includes courses on subjects outside of CS.

United States

America's Tech Decline: a Reading Guide 611

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the going-down-in-a-ball-of-flames dept.
ErichTheRed writes "Computerworld has put together an interesting collection of links to various sources detailing the decline of US R&D/innovation in technology. The cross section of sources is interesting — everything from government to private industry. It's interesting to see that some people are actually concerned about this...even though all the US does is argue internally while rewarding the behaviour that hastens the decline."

Comment: Right sentiment, wrong execution (Score 2) 135

by nlawalker (#35682944) Attached to: It's World Backup Day

Today shouldn't be a day to back up your data, it should be a day to set up automated backups. This is where people need education - even laypeople understand the concept of a backup copy of something, they just don't know about modern tools that can be set up to do it for you automatically.

There's no excuse anymore to not have an automated backup system in place.

Comment: Re:GPL is the problem (Score 1) 1075

by nlawalker (#35600516) Attached to: Apple Remove Samba From OS X 10.7 Because of GPLv3

So it's "orwellian" to insist that the people who receive my software, via you, have the same rights as you did, and can use altered versions of it freely in place of the versions you gave them?

Maybe not "orwellian," but certainly not liberating. If your software was truly free, you wouldn't be insisting anything, you would just distribute the software.

That said, I of course understand your argument. It's like trying to achieve peace. Some will argue that war is needed, some will argue that we should all just be peaceful. In the case of freedom, some will argue that certain restrictions that attempt to enforce freedom are the best way to get there, others say "if you want to promote freedom, just make your work truly free."

Comment: Why the tipping point? (Score 2) 245

by nlawalker (#35535796) Attached to: Groupon Could Challenge Google's Record IPO

Why does Groupon retain the "tipping point" for all their deals? My understanding is that Groupon is the second or third iteration in a series that was based on this idea, and I suppose it was interesting when they were still a startup, no one had heard of them and businesses wanted a little insurance on their investment. But now that they're big, I don't see how it's still relevant. Since they started getting big press, has there been a single Groupon in any market that has failed to hit the tipping point?

Today's deal in Seattle tipped at 100 before 7AM and there are currently over 3000 purchases, with about 50 taking place just within the span of me writing this post. If anything, it seems like the right move now would be to emphasize purchasing before selling out, a la woot.

Part of Groupon's value is that they help businesses plan deals and write excellent and differentiating copy to sell them, and they do a good job of it, so I don't see why they still have the tipping point mechanic. Does anyone even look at it when they evaluate a deal?

Comment: Nothing is art (Score 1) 278

by nlawalker (#35506776) Attached to: Revisiting Ebert &mdash; Games <em>Can</em> Be Art, But Are They?

My knee-jerk reaction to the "games are not art" crap was orthogonal to most peoples' - "fine then, nothing is art."

Film certainly isn't. I mean, hey, who doesn't like going out on a date to a movie, or having some friends over to watch 300, or putting a rom-com on in the background while making dinner? We're not there for the movie, we're there to enjoy each others' company. Movies are just passive, background entertainment, not to mention totally commercial, and most of them are devoid of any artistic content. Ebert's wasting his time.

Painting and sculpture certainly aren't. I can blast through the Louvre in an hour or two and see most of the crap hung up on the walls there and not really be affected by it. Lots of people can make pretty pictures. Besides, most of "the good stuff" was made by people supported by rich people with agendas, and most everything else is devoid of true artistic content. Talk about commercial.

Writing most definitely isn't, regardless of the era it came from. Who ever got anything out of spending hours consuming a made-up story via one of the slowest mediums we have for transmitting information? Besides, most written word is crap.

Music? Feh. I've had it with corporate jingles, elevator music, and films that all have the same generic orchestral score. Besides, music has pretty much been distilled into a science now anyways - we know what sounds pleasant to human ears and what sound discordant. Besides, most of it is just noise. That certainly precludes it from being art.

Photography is so far from art it's not even funny. I mean, come on, you're taking stuff that already exists and recording it into a saved image. And nowadays, most people take that image and edit it anyways! Not to mention that most photos are totally uninspired.

What's that? You mean you can take creative expression in all of the above mediums and ponder it, learn about it and its history, be inspired and moved by it by it, read into its meaning, classify it into genres, think about the author's state of mind when he created it, compare individual works within or across genres, authors and time periods, and in general appreciate it? Hm. Wonder if anyone's ever done that with games.

Just because a lot of people sit and stare at games to kill time or chill with their friends doesn't mean they're not art, and just because games are part of a highly commercialized industry doesn't mean they're not art, and just because there are probably a lot of games out there that shouldn't be considered are doesn't mean that games as a whole aren't art. All of those statements apply equally Ebert's preferred art form as well. Both games and film (and writing, painting, sculpture, music, photography, underwater basket weaving and every other art form out there) are art because they can be appreciated, interpreted, and connected with. People who insist that art is primarily comprised of the mediums that they care about are either snobs or are trying to reassure themselves that the time and money they spend on what they like is more valuable than the time and money that other people spend on what they like.

Comment: Re:People think "stream" means no one can save it. (Score 1) 652

by nlawalker (#35505640) Attached to: White House Wants New Copyright Law Crackdown

Geek says:

What it ultimately means is that there are different laws for Geeks and hackers than for the rest of society, to the benefit of the former, as it should be.

Why does this sound so familiar?
Corporation says:

What it ultimately means is that there are different laws for large corporations than for the rest of society, to the benefit of the former, as it should be.

Ah, there we go. Laws are never for us, they're always for the other guys, right?

Comment: Perceived value (Score 2) 620

by nlawalker (#35496862) Attached to: Cutting Prices Is the Only Way To Stop Piracy

Discussion in these threads always centers on cost and not value, and value is where the center of the struggle is. How does one determine the value of a copy of an artistic work in a digital format, especially in comparison to ye olden times when buying music meant buying a physical object that couldn't be perfectly, freely and infinitely copied? The industry would like to pretend that the value hasn't changed. Rampant copyright infringement results in some pretty heavy cognitive dissonance on the part of consumers: is this song worth what I paid for it, is it worth more (obviously I wouldn't have paid for it if it was worth less... right?), or is it worth nothing because it doesn't cost anything to make a copy that is as good as the original?

Comment: Re:So what's the penalty? (Score 1) 811

by nlawalker (#35177290) Attached to: Amazon Pulling Out of Texas Over $269 Million Tax Bill
I don't think that's quite right, and I blame the article for what I believe is misleading wording:

"The online retailer said Thursday that it would shutter its Irving distribution facility April 12 and cancel plans to hire as many as 1,000 additional workers rather than pay Texas what the state says is owed in uncollected sales tax.

I could be wrong, but I don't think "rather" is the right word there. Whether or not they pay the bill is up to the negotiation and appeal process. I believe what Amazon is saying as part of the negotiation/appeal is "fine, if you make us pay the tax, we'll pack up and take our business to another state that isn't going to charge us such taxes in the future, and you can forget about the 1000 jobs we were going to add to your economy. Oh, and have fun dealing with all of our soon-to-be unemployed Texas staff."

Biology is the only science in which multiplication means the same thing as division.

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