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+ - Stop starting school days so early, doctors say->

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An anonymous reader writes "U.S. high schools and middle schools should start classes later in the morning to allow kids some much-needed sleep, a leading group of pediatricians is urging.

Ideally, the American Academy of Pediatrics says, the first bell should ring at 8:30 a.m. or later — which is the case at only 15 percent of U.S. high schools right now.

At the very least, classes should start no earlier than 8 a.m., said Dr. Judith Owens, the lead author of a new academy policy statement on school start times.

The recommendations, published in the academy's journal Pediatrics, are based on research showing that U.S. kids are sleep-deprived, which has consequences for their health, school performance and safety.

"This is an important issue," said Dr. Marcel Deray, a Florida sleep specialist who wasn't involved in the recommendations.

"I see a lot of teenagers who are tired and have problems in school because they have to get up so early," said Deray, who directs the Sleep Disorders Center at Miami Children's Hospital. "Some kids are getting up at 5 a.m., 6 a.m."

Many people think the answer is for kids to just get to bed earlier, Owens noted. But it's not that easy, she said, because biology has other plans.

Around puberty, the body's natural sleep-wake cycle shifts, and it's actually hard for teenagers to fall asleep earlier than 11 p.m.

"Teenagers' bodies release melatonin later than (adults') do," Deray explained, referring to a hormone the brain secretes in the evening to induce drowsiness.

"The other issue," Owens said, "is that teenagers' sleep needs are greater than many people think. They need nine to nine-and-a-half hours."

Yet, 43 percent of U.S. public high schools start classes before 8 a.m., according to the U.S. Department of Education. Middle schools, meanwhile, typically start classes at 8 a.m. — with about 20 percent starting earlier than that."

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Comment: Re:Pick a different job. (Score 1) 548

Turning novel programming problems into an implementation that is non-clever, simple and clear is absolutely a creative pursuit. The "cleverness" that is (and/or should be) lambasted in programming is that which hides complexity. It's an expression of lax creativity. Creative programming can be a combination of a keen application of solved problems and actually clever solutions for unsolved problems. That cleverness is expressed by arriving at solutions that are simple and clear.

This is work that is a long way off from being expendable. It will come eventually, but until then a large subset of programming problems require deeply creative work.

Any programmer who feels that their work does not fit what I said above is almost certainly working on solved problems.

Comment: Re:Cry Me A River (Score 1) 608

by omfgnosis (#47415921) Attached to: Normal Humans Effectively Excluded From Developing Software

There's a problem with efforts to make programming more accessible to non-programmers at the technology level: it turns out that you still have to become a programmer to use the technology effectively. This very notion is how programming languages were developed in the first place—what if we could specify what a program should do, rather than writing the code that does it, and then have the computer generate the code? That is a programming language.

Modern programming is increasingly abstracted away from the metal, and compilers are a wonder unto themselves, but ultimately in order to effectively write a program you still need to do two very specialized things:

1. Design the damn thing well enough to at least get it working (and hopefully well enough to maintain and extend it).
2. Either know or discover—usually both—how to work around the warts of the chosen technology (because they all have warts).

Even if programming could be made so abstract that it's essentially a series of opaque building blocks, you'll always need to do #1, and only by vast inefficiencies and ignorance be able to avoid #2.

- - -

Side note:

Speaking of HyperCard, in many ways its spiritual descendant is Flash. Flash hosts a monstrosity of a language, with concepts from Java bolted onto JavaScript. I'm not saying it couldn't have been done another way, but it's little surprise that something designed to be simple for content producers could become so enormously complex.

Comment: Re:Netflix rating engine sucks (Score 2) 86

by omfgnosis (#47405359) Attached to: Netflix Is Looking To Pay Someone To Watch Netflix All Day

How's Netflix going to figure out why I rated that a 1 without asking me?

This isn't really hard, in the abstract. They just have to have much better metadata about the content, and then an ever-deeper analysis of relative ratings can follow from that. Inference of context will never be perfect, but then again neither will a questionnaire (even if people voluntarily devote their time to answering it) which could recursively be subject to the same criticism that it lacks context. Unless Netflix (or any similar service) deeply understands its content, its recommendations will always be lacking.

The reason online retailers can do relatively better is that a given product often has quite a lot of metadata that can be reasoned about, and it's often relatively easy to model in context of a given product's domain. The kind of qualities people discuss about content is generally much more vague and superficial in comparison.

For instance, Netflix is often confused into believing I have any interest in genre. It might be better at predicting my taste if there were a deeper wealth of data on the kinds of qualities I care about in the content I do like, but it's generally pretty self-evident that they don't. They use coincidence of ratings across users to approximate this, but it's all very hand-wavy and often leads to confusing (if unsurprising) results. Nothing is a substitute for a deeper (currently, at least, human) analysis of the content.

Comment: Re:And the question of the day is... (Score 1) 327

"The part after the first colon...

I stopped paying attention right there, and I actually know what you're describing (in fact I almost remembered the IRI RFC number off the top of my head even though I haven't looked at it for a couple years; I had transposed the 9 and the 8). It's not the users who are stupid, it's the systems and software designers. I have to know this shit because it's my job. Asking people to remember or comprehend an arbitrary sequence of characters that is not directly meaningful to them is bad design.

And it doesn't end there. URLs are a showcase of bad design. Numerous characters that have different meaning depending on context. Characters that are effectively meaningless but hey, they're required anyway. Characters that are allowed to be meaningless after they're meaningful. Escaping rules that are different depending on context. Segments that are literally never sent down the wire in a request. Fucking interchangeable delimiters in a query string! (But hey, depends on your web server. Good luck guessing. You have one fact on your side if you care enough to know any of this shit, and it's that the worst choice is by far the most common.) It's downright user-hostile to developers, and if you think I'm kidding go look for how developers try to match URLs, and I'm saying that as a guilty party (you can probably find that gem, if you can't I'll give you a few hints). And you want people who don't care to make sense of it?

URLs are probably never going away. There is too much infrastructure and frankly economy around the current design. But for fuck's sake no one should have to read a complete URL unless they want to, and unless they want to it's actually harmful to show it to them. The only thing most people need to know is the domain name and top level domain (and they shouldn't have to know the TLD either, thanks The rest is noise for anything but machines and nerds. And if anyone wants to become a nerd, according to the Chrome feature, finding the noise is only a click or key command away.

Comment: Re:And the question of the day is... (Score 1) 327

Navigating to a page with a dangerous payload isn't the only way browser users are exploited, and this isn't intended to address that issue. The point is that a phishing website, with a URL that looks legitimate to users who don't understand URLs, but bother to look anyway because their brat kids told them to, can exploit users that are trying to protect themselves. By hiding everything except the domain name, that user has added protection because they don't need to understand URLs.

It's a logical extension of the current behavior of most browsers to dim the non-domain portion of the URL; but some browsers even get that wrong. Look here:

If I don't understand how URLs work, I might think that I'm at a site called "tech". That could be improved simply by changing the dimming boundaries, but it still requires a user to filter a lot of unnecessary information. If I'm wondering where I've gone on the web, all I need to know is "". Even that is problematic (see

There are many potential vectors to exploit web users, and there are many potential pitfalls for the less technically inclined even as protections improve. Implemented well, the Chrome approach could come at no meaningful cost to "power users", but potentially improve some users' experience and safety using the web. There is no reason not to do this, unless it is done badly.

Comment: Re:So - who's in love with the government again? (Score 1) 397

by omfgnosis (#46803289) Attached to: Beer Price Crisis On the Horizon

First, if you can't trust the byproducts from breweries to be safe, you've got a bigger problem: the beer would be poisonous.

It wouldn't even get that far. Anything that could actually make you sick in beer (besides alcohol) would make the beer distinctly unpalatable and therefore unmarketable. As in, worse than (pick your favorite mass market beer to hate on here).

Wherever you go...There you are. - Buckaroo Banzai