Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Slashdot videos: Now with more Slashdot!

  • View

  • Discuss

  • Share

We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).

×

Comment: Re: Earthworks, not robots... (Score 1) 106

by taiwanjohn (#49500127) Attached to: Drought and Desertification: How Robots Might Help

What we NEED is colder winters.

What you need is more precipitation. Colder winters might help that happen, but they are not what you need, per se. What you need is lower global temperatures, especially in ocean waters, so that your regional climate is no longer fucked up by climate change.

I understand that the water-harvesting scenario in my previous post depends on rainfall -- of which California has seen practically none for several years in a row. But that's no reason not to start investing in the kind of infrastructure that could help alleviate these concerns over the long term.

Fixing climate change is going to take some time and effort, on several fronts simultaneously. We all have a role to play.

Comment: Re: Earthworks, not robots... (Score 1) 106

by taiwanjohn (#49499349) Attached to: Drought and Desertification: How Robots Might Help

What AZ, CA, and the whole region need is to slow down the rainwater and help it to soak into the soil. To do this, you need earthworks such as swales and dams (specifically gabions for the arid southwestern desert areas). Those arroyos and canyons in Arizona may be great ATV playgrounds for 11 months of the year, but for a few days they become raging torrents. And as it stands now, ALL of that water simply runs off down to the ocean. But it wouldn't be hard to save that water, and use it to re-green the entire region. (Here's a quick 1-min video which explains the basic process.)

Comment: Re:Dr. Oz is Still a Thing? (Score 3, Insightful) 253

by quenda (#49498027) Attached to: Columbia University Doctors Ask For Dr. Mehmet Oz's Dismissal

I thought Jamie Oliver comprehensively put this guy on the quack-heap: https://youtu.be/WA0wKeokWUU

A shame it wasn't Jamie Oliver or a few more people might have heard it.
I don't think there is much overlap between the Oprah audience and the John Oliver audience, and one Oprah endorsement is worth a thousand minor-celebrity condemnations.

Comment: Re:shocker (Score 1) 319

by TsuruchiBrian (#49497953) Attached to: LA Schools Seeking Refund Over Botched iPad Plan

OS matters. Lots of enterprise software comes on one OS, take it or leave it, and paying them to change anything would counteract any savings from buying less expensive hardware. Custom software can be appallingly expensive to develop.

They had a budget of $500 million for just the ipads and $800 million for just the software. I work in the defense industry and our contracts are to develop software AND hardware and are well below these figures.

Moreover, iPads are not particularly expensive for what you get. Getting quality Android tablets wouldn't cost all that much less, if any.

You can get quality android tablets for half the price of a comparable ipad. You can get a chromebook for half the price of a quality android tablet. And keep in mind these are school children that we are giving these devices to. They are going to be covered in food and thrown on the ground and stolen by bullies, etc. We should be buying the most cost effective devices, and I can all but guarantee that the ipad is not it, especially at the volumes we are talking about.

When I was in school back in the 90's we had to buy a $80 ti-82. Now you can get a chromebook for $200 that's more powerful than even the best laptops from a few years earlier. Even if we had the money to buy $700 ipads for every student, that extra $500 / per student would be far better spent on increasing teacher salaries and attracting better teachers.

With 1.3 billion dollars, the school district could have probably commissioned an electronic text book to be written in every single subject taught in school, they could have bought 6.5 million chromebooks without even negotiating a bulk discount.

Anyone who thinks this was a good idea needs to get their head examined. This is the LA school system, where kids can barely read and teachers and kids are living in poverty.

Comment: Re:Peak 3d printer (Score 1) 160

by anagama (#49497805) Attached to: MakerBot Lays Off 20 Percent of Its Employees

I keep going back and forth on whether to buy one, but I'm tending toward "no" -- a makerspace opened up near me and they have half a dozen different 3d printers but it usually seems that at most, two are ever working at the same time. Despite that, I recently needed an object printed, paid $50 for the membership fee for a month, then spent 13 hours babysitting a print. On the first try, it jumped 2mm on the X axis about 15 minutes into the print. Stopped, restarted, and after spending all day watching it, it jumped 2mm on X axis again with about 30 minutes left on 12 hour print job. Then I had to pay $15 for my scrap plastic.

I was pretty non-plussed, so I tried one of the online printers -- the type which use the very expensive powdered plastic machines -- my piece cost $65 which is pretty pricey, but they came out exactly like I expected. About 20 of those prints would buy a printer, and it is hard to resist that logic, except when I think back to spending an entire freakin day to get garbage and the fact that most of the printers at the makerspace are usually offline because a needed part is on order.

I'm not really sure what my ultimate decision will be, but the promise of consumer 3d printing seems to be more than it delivers at present.

Comment: Re:shocker (Score 1) 319

by TsuruchiBrian (#49497773) Attached to: LA Schools Seeking Refund Over Botched iPad Plan

The basic rule of picking a computer system is that you figure out what you need it to do, you figure out which applications will work, and you buy a system that runs those applications. If the available applications run on the iPad, paying to have them rewritten for Android is going to be far more expensive than just buying the iPads.

That's the basic rule when you are buying a few computers. It's not the rule when you are purchasing half a $1 billion of computer systems. When your computer budget is larger than the GDP of some small countries, you should be exploring the possibility of saving money by developing custom software.

Similarly, the average person will require a certain amount of training on new platforms and new software. Training costs. Moving to a different platform, even a less expensive one, can be more expensive, given the need for training and possibly different infrastructure and administration.

These kids aren't upgrading from a previous ipad.

There is no good argument that a teacher should become familiar with more than two similar types of computers. That isn't their job. Their job is to take what they can get and teach with it. For somebody like me, learning something new about computers is worthwhile, because if nothing else it broadens the experience that I live on. I'm not a teacher.

The computers don't matter. The OS barely matters, and it gets changed like 1 or 2 times a year. The application that is running on it is what matters, and even an idiot can be taught how to push the button to start an app on any OS, even one they've never used before.

This is like saying that people shouldn't be forced to learn to drive more than 2 makes of cars.

If anything this should be a reason *to* use android (if it was a good reason to begin with). There are more android phones out there, and more android users than iOS users. If anything, teachers are more likely to be familiar with android (52% market) than with iOS (35%).

Not that that should matter. Saying "I can't learn to use software" is like saying "I can't follow and remember instructions", and it should disqualify you from most jobs.

No one is asking anyone to be a hacker. Teachers are only being asked to do what every other person is required to do whether it's filling out an electronic timecard or entering products into an inventory software. It's just following directions. And it's usually a lot easier than the non-interactive paper counterpart.

Comment: Re:I thought we were trying to end sexism? (Score 1) 575

so culture/society is to blame? if so lets segregate? i mean clearly woman need all the help they can get in STEM but why stop there. Society has also demonstrated lack of wage equality so woman only corporations is the logical extension of this thinking. /endsomewhattroll

Comment: Re:Lets use correct terminology. (Score 1) 160

by anagama (#49497521) Attached to: MakerBot Lays Off 20 Percent of Its Employees

Doesn't a layoff imply that you still have a job to come back to when business improves? As another poster mentioned, the question is not firing, but whether it was for "cause" or more to the point, whether it was for misconduct.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L...

I see, I'm old enough to remember the older version of "layoff" -- in modern times, it just means fired not for reasons of misconduct.

Comment: Re:shocker (Score 1) 319

by TsuruchiBrian (#49497333) Attached to: LA Schools Seeking Refund Over Botched iPad Plan

Unity is definitely fast enough. Titanium, Phonegap, Xamarin... would also likely go fast enough. I was disagreeing with HTML5 by itself. Those aren't really designed for authors though.

I brought up HTML as a solution when I thought "interactive books" were like wikipedia pages with some buttons, which HTML5 is more than capable of doing and doing well.

No they aren't especially on iOS / Apple. Take a look at how many iOS applications have tablet specific versions.

Even the apps that have tablet specific version, no doubt share much (if not the vast majority) of the software. They may be separate apps for commercial purposes, or saving space in terms of higher resolution icons, sprites, etc. I don't consider that to be tablet specific development. It's development for one platform with a little bit of effort spent on specializing UI for phone or tablet.

They never had to. JavaScript porting languages always existed. The problem is that users notice cross platform's lowest common denominator and don't like it.

What I am saying is that they don't even get the performance problem anymore. Games used to be the one thing that couldn't be cross platform because of how hardware specific they were, are now fully capable of being targetted to multiple platforms including mobile platforms.

When done right, the apps written in cross platform environments are not noticeably slower than apps written specifically for one architecture in all but the most resource hungry apps.

Ideally what I would like to see is for school districts across states, and countries to form a consortium to develop open source text books (i.e. like a text book version of wikipedia), that schools could use royalty free. This would really help developing nations as well as American school districts. It would eliminate a lot of wasted effort in creating so many textbooks that contain basically the same information. A parabola still works the same way regardless of which edition of which math book we are using.

The textbook industry is rife with corruption, because of the massive payday you get if you can manage to get a constract for a whole school district. And the content is basically just current public domain knowledge packaged together with some artwork.

You could still pay people to contribute to the textbooks, but the difference would be that the content would not be owned by publishers. It would be public domain.

Comment: Re:Buyer's remorse (Score 1) 319

by TsuruchiBrian (#49496933) Attached to: LA Schools Seeking Refund Over Botched iPad Plan

Affects child development. The pattern looks like autism, but nobody's drawn that conclusion; what they have concluded is that electronic devices are more interesting to children than the real world, and cause them to develop emotionally stunted, withdrawn, and more interested in things than people. It's notable you can identify an autistic infant by watching if it's interested in human faces or in objects.

Alright so where's the experiment that proves this? Where is the randomized controlled trial? You can;t just claim these things because they seem plausible. You actually have to do science (the whole part, not just the beginning).

How was emotional development measured? what was the sample size? How were confounding factors controlled for? And after that is proven, now you need to prove that the link of causal rather than just correlative.

How do you know it's not just that autistic kids prefer things over people? How do you know it's the phone causing the autism or autism like behavior?

This is the point where pseudo science assumes they know the answer and where real science (if it were being done) would start.

In real science, people try to prove that their hypothesis is wrong, to see if it can withstand scrutiny. In the pseudo science world you have these fake studies that set out to collect evidence to prove a conclusion that they have decided on beforehand.

I feel like your framing of this as "debating the science" implies an undeserved legitimacy to what I would more appropriately call "condemning pseudo science".

I don't expect parents to only do things that are scientifically proven to help their kids. I expect them to use their intuition and judgement. If you think screens are harming your kids, then restrict their use. Make your kids listen to Mozart for 3 hours a day. Feed them only whole foods. I am all for that. Just don't pretend it's based on science. And especially don't call it science because guessing (hypothesizing) is part of science too.

Comment: Re:shocker (Score 1) 319

by TsuruchiBrian (#49496821) Attached to: LA Schools Seeking Refund Over Botched iPad Plan

The superintendent felt that interactive books were the future of education and content absorption.

They also Pearson to make the software. (i.e. they weren't just buying existing software). They could have commisioned software to be made on any platform, or even for it to have been cross platform.

Your use of the word "video game" for these titles I think means you haven't seen then.

I have seen some screenshots, and I see why you don't think they would be perform well in HTML5. They have video game level graphics. This is also why I pointed out unity as an example of a popular framework that targets all the platforms I mentioned (that you seemed doubtful of). Unity is marketed as a game engine, but you can make whatever apps you want that require performant graphics.

The web is more interactive than a book. That allowed for vastly more content and student led exploration.

I agree with this statement. I think interactive books would be very helpful in illustrating concepts in ways that a static medium can't. I was envisioning something like wikipedia with it's animations and maybe some added interactivity. I don't think you need to see a emmersive 3d world of an artists conception of ancient Rome to effectively learn.

Interactive books do the same thing. For example a science book my daughter has allows her to conduct the experiments associated with a concept in a simulator right after learning the concept. That helps retention and understanding.

I think this can be done much more cheaply than ipads and proprietary interactive textbooks of the sort you are describing. I think kids are capable of learning concepts with a lower production value. (i.e. the kind found in HTML5, like wikipedia).

1) There are more of them

This is irrelevant if you are commissioning your own.

2) On average they are better written.

debatable and see my point for #1

3) They can be more easily written because there are a limited number of platforms

Developers actually prefer android for development, but prefer iOS for profit potential.

4) There are better authoring tools.

Such as? Android apps are java which has a much bigger following than objective C or swift.

No they aren't. And the way you can tell they aren't is by looking at variables on usage. For example average phone application interaction is 30 seconds. Average tablet interaction is closer to 5 minutes. The fact they run the same OS doesn't matter the fact the glass is bigger does.

The fact that they run the same OS means that the time spent on developing "phone software" vs. "tablet software" is the same, because the same software runs on both. While you may feel subjectively that phones and tablets are very different, the people developing the apps that run on them are targeting both platforms simultaneously. It's crazy not to. In fact, now the trend is to target phone, tablet, and desktop browser simultaneously with things like google polymer, and phonegap, etc.

Developers don't like writing different software for phone, tablet, and desktop, windows, mac, linux, and all combinations, and now with modern tools, they really don't have to.

The only thing the size of the glass effects is which UI profile gets loaded. Properly designed software can easily abstract the functionality from the presentation, like in a MVC (model view controller) design.

"Say yur prayers, yuh flea-pickin' varmint!" -- Yosemite Sam

Working...