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Comment Physical computing ... (Score 2) 175

The approach that I used, and it seemed to have worked out, for 6th grade students was to introduce them to physical computing. You need a microcontroller (Arduino, ARM, etc.) and basic sensors and output devices (LED, motor driver, LEGO interface, etc.) and you write very basic code to make things happen in the real world.

I find that this approach is more effective than over-promising and under-delivering (e.g, "you'll soon learn to make great arcade games in this class!") because the gap between writing a few lines of codes, and seeing things happen in the real world, is quite small. Kids get that. It's much more immediate and gratifying.

Comment Re:Suddenly Southern California ... (Score 1) 33

Well, knowing that it's Southern California narrows it down to a few deserts: Death Valley, Anza Borrego, Mojave or somewhere in the Hungry Valley region. OK, each of those is still pretty huge but you've ruled out other deserts in the US.

The terrain doesn't look like Death Valley. Advanced Tactics being based in El Segundo ... I bet they just hopped on to the 405 and went south to Anza Borrego.

That's just a guess :-)

Comment My choices are LMMono10 or Monaco (Score 1) 136

I keep going back to LMMono10 or Monaco. My reasons for preferring them over the others are the usual distinction between similar-looking letters like o, O, 0, i and so on. I use Monaco for the terminals because I prefer the slashed zero and the general look of Monaco. I use LMMono10 for gvim because it has distinctive italic version that looks great with syntax highlighting. Check it out!

Comment They each have their respective niche (Score 2) 62

Saying that there's one solution that's clearly superior to others show a profound lack of understanding. The MSP430 LaunchPad you speak of may cost only $4.30, but there is a price --- very small amount of RAM (512 bytes) for the Valueline.

While the Android phones are good platform if you need all the fancy hardware and touch screen, they are lousy if you have to deploy more than one or two, price-wise. On the other hand, if you need some of the features that are already available on Android (or, STM32, for example) for much lower price, it would make little sense to add those features (Ethernet or wifi, for example) to Arduino unless you have legitimate reasons.

It all depends on what your target applications, man.

Comment Re:Beside PXE and automated backup, (Score 1) 253

Yep. I had in my mind that he's doing this as part of a de-inventory process where the machines will then be sent off somewhere for disposal and the backup is just to cover cases where data might be needed later. You're right though that there's no recovery from this process. If he wants to re-use the machine then no, this is not the way to go. (But if he wants to re-use the machine then why bother with wiping the drive several times? It's practically impossible to recover data from, e.g., 'dd /dev/zero' anyway)

Comment Beside PXE and automated backup, (Score 1) 253

look into degaussing the hard drives with a dedicated unit. You can buy them anywhere from $2000 and up. They're usually good for hard drives and tapes as well and will erase everything including the factory servo tracks. This works regardless of the condition of the drive (bad controllers, no problem). It's good solution if you want accountability for audits, for example.

Comment It gets a little more complicated (Score 1) 599

We usually carry 5 extra gallons of gas when going into Death Valley. In calculating how much gas you need to cover your trip, you also need to factor in the lower tire pressure you're going to be running (if you're going to go over rocky terrains and washboard roads) --- that takes more gas than normal.

The two most common things in the Universe are hydrogen and stupidity. -- Harlan Ellison