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Comment: Grades by Category (Score 2) 73

by Tablizer (#47978449) Attached to: Sci-fi Predictions, True and False (Video 1)

Here's my general assessment of the pace of progress we've actually made compared to what was predicted since around the Sputnik era:

Earth transportation: D- (relatively cheap air-fare about only gain. NO flying cars.)
Space transportation/exploration: C- (chem rockets still expensive as hell)
Artificial Intelligence: B-
Electronics/Computers: A (arguably only area faster than expected)
Medical: B-
Poverty: D (still not solved)
Reduced Work Week: D+
Population Overload or Resource Shortages: C- (problems less than anticipated)
Big Brother: B

Comment: Re:How is that supposed to work? (Score 1) 93

by sdguero (#47978357) Attached to: The Site That Teaches You To Code Well Enough To Get a Job
Pro-Am photography hsa turned into some kind of weird piramid scheme in our circles of friends. It seems like we can't go to a party anymore without some woman in her late 20s (90% of the time it IS a younger woman) trying to sell us photo sessions for $50. Extra weird when they show up taking photos, then facebook friend you and try to sell you prints of the watermarked photos they posted to FB.

Comment: Re: Read Slashdot (Score 1) 334

by jedidiah (#47977379) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Finding a Job After Completing Computer Science Ph.D?

Nope. If it's not in an area relevant to the kinds of jobs he's been applying for, that PhD might as well be in philosophy. Most employers are cheapskate dirt bags. They're already trying to undercut you with outsourcing and H1-Bs. You need to demonstrate that you're going to be valuable to them and a good value.

Having an overpriced degree undermines that. They don't care about your extra brownie points. They certainly don't want to pay extra for them.

There is also such a thing as being overqualified.

The whole "they resent my brilliance" attitude is a clear manifestation of this.

Comment: Re:Thanks for the fraud, Turbotax (Score 1) 236

We wouldn't have this problem if we filed our taxes online. Turbotax has prevented that, because they want to charge us for doing what the government could do free...

After the debacle, I don't think many are ready to support that idea. Make sure that puppy is well-tested BEFORE launch this time.

Plus, relying on TurboTax dumps any hacking blame onto a private company. Politicians don't want that risk.

Comment: Re:Corporate taxes (Score 1, Flamebait) 236

If you are whining about US taxation rates you are clearly a poser that has never had any actual experience with this stuff. The US tax code specifically panders to corporations. The nominal rates are a pure fiction to distract ignorant RV dwelling GOP supporters.

Comment: Re:List the STL? Seriously? (Score 5, Interesting) 334

by Tablizer (#47975971) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Finding a Job After Completing Computer Science Ph.D?

listing all the container classes in STL from the top of my head

I was once was asked a similar kind of question about a library, and told them "I tend not to index them that way in my head. How about asking me what class or function I'd use to perform a particular task? That's how my head stores things."

They seemed to be satisfied with that response and proceeded to ask me "how to" code questions, which I readily answered.

Comment: Re:Right... (Score 1) 455

Actually the book was from 1988, and uses a huge set of research.

Also, rote memorization was the research topic as such because it seeks to push your brain's memory functions directly, rather than train techniques. That's why research showing improvement has gone on to discover subjects which improved had developed memory systems, not made their brains stronger by flexing them repeatedly.

Finally, let's excerpt from your paper:

Participants were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 groups: 10-session group training for memory (verbal episodic memory; n=711), or reasoning (ability to solve problems that follow a serial pattern; n=705), or speed of processing (visual search and identification; n=712); or a no-contact control group (n=704). For the 3 treatment groups, 4-session booster training was offered to a 60% random sample 11 months later.

So far, so good.

Memory training focused on verbal episodic memory. Participants were taught mnemonic strategies for remembering word lists and sequences of items, text material, and main ideas and details of stories. Participants received instruction in a strategy or mnemonic rule, exercises, individual and group feedback on performance, and a practice test. For example, participants were instructed how to organize word lists into meaningful categories and to form visual images and mental associations to recall words and texts. The exercises involved laboratory like memory tasks (eg, recalling a list of nouns, recalling a paragraph), as well as memory tasks related to cognitive activities of everyday life (eg, recalling a shopping list, recalling the details of a prescription label).

The memory training participants were taught new techniques. This is skill, not brute force. If you did push-ups exactly the same way, you'd get bigger muscles; but this is teaching people to do those push-ups by moving their hands to a correct position which requires less effort and more efficiently lifts the body.

Reasoning training focused on the ability to solve problems that follow a serial pattern. Such problems involve identifying the pattern in a letter or number series or understanding the pattern in an everyday activity such as prescription drug dosing or travel schedules. Participants were taught strategies to identify a pattern and were given an opportunity to practice the strategies in both individual and group exercises. The exercises involved abstract reasoning tasks (eg, letter series) as well as reasoning problems related to activities of daily living.

Reasoning training was based on teaching techniques to analyze and approach problems. Again, technique. This is like learning about Kepner-Tregoe problem analysis.

Speed-of-processing training focused on visual search skills and the ability to identify and locate visual information quickly in a divided-attention format. Participants practiced increasingly complex speed tasks on a computer. Task difficulty was manipulated by decreasing the duration of the stimuli, adding either visual or auditory distraction, increasing the number of tasks to be performed concurrently, or presenting targets over a wider spatial expanse. Difficulty was increased each time a participant achieved criterion performance on a particular task.

K. Anders Ericsson explains something called the "OK Plateau". Most people learn initially by cognitive effort, and then internalize that into autonomous task: it moves from activating the prefrontal cortex to activating the basal ganglia. At a point, people subconsciously decide they're doing good enough, and cease improving.

Ericsson outlines three strategies experts use. Deliberate focus brings the task into cognitive recognition; goal-oriented behavior demands improvement; and immediate feedback points out current performance so the experts can analyze and adjust for their shortcomings.

Having trained myself in speed-reading, I can relate to the speed-of-processing study. I've had to deliberately focus on the RSVP, analyzing my own cognitive process. Initially, my mind would mill over words, return back to words I'd read, and stop focusing on what I was reading. This can be done between words in free time to rebuild and reanalyze, but not for extended blocks of 1-2 seconds when RSVPing at 450-800 words per minute. My mind also tends to wander to other related thoughts--which I had to stop.

By increasing speed, the researchers demanded additional focus. By adding distractions, the researchers demanded improved filtering of distractions specifically (rather than just internal thought). These changes largely demand the subject improve focus, accept a certain error rate, and employ strategies to maximize recognition of the most information in the least time. When multiple cognitive tasks are present, the subject must recognize the recognizable information so as to attend to it first, and move to the less-recognizable once the delay in processing won't cost so much (diminishing returns); when multiple, time-sensitive tasks are presented, rapid prioritization becomes important.

This particular part of the research provided an environment in which direct focus was enforced, goals were obviated, and immediate feedback was provided. Pattern behavior would obviously develop from such a strict environment, up to physiological limits.

None of that research says the brain bench pressed a bunch of information and became stronger and tougher. It suggests skill development, or at least suggests the strong possibility of skill development. My above discourse about cognitive processing skills is an implied likelihood not addressed by the paper; while the paper itself specifies the teaching of specific, researcher-selected mnemonics and problem-solving skills, rather than the exercise of basic mental faculties.

Nothing in there suggests the brain is a muscle and benefits from exercise. Much of that directly references technique, while the remainder supplies a situation where technique could easily develop and would be useful. I would bet money that tasks requiring similar cognitive effort and load on the same mental faculties, yet wholly unaided by any technique which could improve any of the things tested, would show zero improvement after the experiment.

Comment: Re:ObBillGates (Score 2) 234

by jedidiah (#47974017) Attached to: Do Specs Matter Anymore For the Average Smartphone User?

Not quite. In 1981 there was already a microprocessor that could address 16M of RAM and used a flat relocatable address space. This microprocessor was used in a CONSUMER microcomputer only 3 short years later.

640k was not "supercomputer" territory by any stretch of the imagination.

That was the domain of mini-computers and that concept had already been shrunk to the size of a single integrated circuit.

There was already plenty of writing on the wall in 1981. You just have to bother to actually look for it (then or now).

Comment: Re:DAESH, not ISIL (Score 4, Insightful) 419

by jedidiah (#47973685) Attached to: US Strikes ISIL Targets In Syria


This works for every ism out there. That's why the "no true scottsman" fallacy is such a fallacy. You can only ever judge something by what it produces. This includes the battle of Tours, the siege of Vienna, and ISIL.

They are "muslim enough" to take and hold half of Syria and half of Iraq without being ejected from either by the native population.

Comment: Re:Right... (Score 1) 455

In the late 1800s, William James, often referred to as the father of American psychology, tested whether he could improve his memory by exercising it. He memorized some of Victor Hugo's works, and then practiced memorizing Milton for 38 days. After this practice, he memorized more form hugo, and found that he actually memorized a bit slower than he had previously; he reported similar results for several other people who tried the same task.

Similarly, twelve-year-old girls practiced memorizing poetry, scientific formulas, and geographical distances for 30 minutes a day, 4 days a week, for 6 weeks. The practice did not result in any improvement for their ability to memorize.

A more recent study found that after practicing several hours a week for 20 months, a college student was able to increase his short-term memory span for digits from 7 to 80. However, he showed no increased ability in other kinds of memory tasks, including short-term memory for letters or words: He improved his memory for digits because he had learned to apply a mnemonic technique to the digits, not because of any actual increase in the capacity of his short-term memory.

Note: Above was one giant paragraph; I corrected it. Continues in new paragraph as below.

There is no substantial evidence that practice alone makes a significant difference in improving memory. It is true that practicing memorizing can help improve memory, but what you *do* during practice is more important than the *amount* of practice. One classic study (discussed in chapter 6) found that 3 hours of practicing memorizing did not improve long-term memory, but that 3 hours of practice using certain techniques did improve long-term memory.

--Kenneth L. Higbee, Ph.D., "Your Memory: How It Works and How To Improve It".

The brain is not a muscle. That is an urban myth, along with the myth that you use only 10% of your brain (or 1%, or 4%, or 20%, or whatever bullshit number you've heard throughout your life).

Every memory forms neurological links in the brain. It's associative. Stronger associations are easier to grasp at than weaker associations: your brain will attach pancakes to a recipe for pancakes if you cook pancakes a lot, as well as to tastes and smells and visual appearance; but it may attach pickled garlic to an idea, and to the idea of garlic and pickling, attached to vinegar, rather than directly to tastes and smells and opinions and familiar visual imagery and a recipe (process, materials) for pickling garlic.

More recent and more familiar memories tend to associate more with your current, every-day life. When your life changes--which is all the time--those associations drop away. Ties back to them are maintained by the strong memory of your extended long-term recall. As the years pass, those things become mixed around, and eventually the links are hard to locate. That's why you forget things: they're memorable because they're meaningful, and because the thing that makes them meaningful is familiar--meaningful itself.

Your brain doesn't actually get stronger by doing mental bench-presses. You just solidify the information you're working with, or develop implicit mnemonics techniques (people learn to chunk double-digit numbers or make them meaningful, etc.), or tie a bunch of stuff together when working in the same domain. It's like a hard drive that accesses things faster and more reliably when there's more things on it, and when those things are similar--or like a node database.

The Tao doesn't take sides; it gives birth to both wins and losses. The Guru doesn't take sides; she welcomes both hackers and lusers.