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Comment: overheat (Score 3, Insightful) 91

by rknop (#46317797) Attached to: Nostalgic For the ZX Spectrum? Soon You Can Play With a New One

I remember getting one of those when I was 10 or 11. First generation. All excited to finally have a computer. But I couldn't leave it on for more than an hour or two before it would just crash because it had overheated. Too frustrating to use. We sent it back before the necessary 10 days had passed.

I was sad.

Later (within the year? I don't remember) I got a Vic-20; a couple of years later, a Commodore 64. Then, in college, a Commodore 128. Those guys worked much better for me than the Sinclair ZX ever did.

Comment: Re:Mandatory gun ownership (Score 2) 694

You don't have health insurance, eh? Do you also have legal documents signed that the system does not need to help you and pay for the care you'll need if an unexpected condition or accident arises? Or are you assuming that if something like that happens that no non-ultra-rich person could handle, the system will back you up?

If you don' t have all the "let me suffer" documents signed, by not having health insurance you're a worse freeloader than any smoker.

Comment: Re:Worst Summary Ever? (Score 5, Interesting) 489

by rknop (#43369557) Attached to: Getting a Literature Ph.D. Will Make You Into a Horrible Person

It that you will *think* you're a horrible person. If you can't get a job in an academic tenure-track position, you'll think that you're worthless, a failure, that you haven't lived up to your own expectations of yourself and everybody else's expectations of you.

You won't *be* horrible, but you'll *think* you're horrible.

I've been there. Right now, I'm one of the EXCEPTIONALLY LUCKY in that I'm a 40-something who's in a Unviersity job. (We don't have tenure where I am, but it's a small teaching-oriented liberal arts college of exactly the sort I always wanted to teach at.) But, I've been in the position of trying to find a job and not being able to, and of being on the tenure track with certainty that I was going to get turned down because I couldn't get money out of highly overtaxed funding agencies. And I felt like a complete, worthless failure, somebody who's life didn't add up to a damn thing, somebody who couldn't do anything. THAT is how a PhD (mine is in Physics) turns you into a horrible person.

Comment: Re:But what is it? (Score 1) 173

by rknop (#43353351) Attached to: Dark Matter Found? $2 Billion Orbital Experiment Detects Hints

Dark Matter is not like the luminiferous aether. That was the title of a podcast I made three years ago -- here it is: http://cosmoquest.org/blog/365daysofastronomy/2010/06/26/june-26th-dark-matter-not-like-the-luminiferous-ether/

The luminiferous aether was a theory developed to explain a discrepancy... as was dark matter. The difference is, there are LOTS of different lines of evidence to point towards dark matter. With the luminiferous aether, the theory was tested, and it didn't stand up. With Dark Matter, the theory has been tested, and it DID stand up.

The Military

United States Begins Flying Stealth Bombers Over South Korea 567

Posted by samzenpus
from the nice-day-for-a-flight dept.
skade88 writes "The New York Times is reporting that the United States has started flying B-2 stealth bomber runs over South Korea as a show of force to North Korea. The bombers flew 6,500 miles to bomb a South Korean island with mock explosives. Earlier this month the U.S. Military ran mock B-52 bombing runs over the same South Korean island. The U.S. military says it shows that it can execute precision bombing runs at will with little notice needed. The U.S. also reaffirmed their commitment to protecting its allies in the region. The North Koreans have been making threats to turn South Korea into a sea of fire. North Korea has also made threats claiming they will nuke the United States' mainland."

Comment: Micropayments taken to the extreme (Score 2) 81

by rknop (#42785045) Attached to: Startup Offers Pay-Per-Page E-Books

Holy cow... like most people, I already don't like micropayments in most circumstances-- it leads to stress because you're watching what you do at all times knowing that every little thing leads to more money being charged, rather than the comfort of knowing that you've got what you got. This, however, is the concept metastasized.

This is the kind of headline I'd expect to read on April 1.

Comment: Re:It seems arrogant (Score 3, Interesting) 134

by rknop (#42715377) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Free and Open Source Apps For Android?

Free, open-source program repositories are littered with abandonware. That is one of the real hurdles for open-source adoption in enterprises

While strictly true, there is a difference. If something is proprietary, and the developer either goes out of business or decides not to update it any more, and if the developer doesn't sell or otherwise give away the rights, that's it. You're done. The app cannot legally be updated any more, and often can't even legally be available.

With free software, however, there's no guarantee that it will continue to be updated. However, it's at least possible. This is a huge difference. This is why it was so great that Blender went Free Software when it's company gave up on it; there would be no Blender now if it weren't for the fact that it went free.

Comment: Re:just make your own character (Score 4, Insightful) 391

by rknop (#42226715) Attached to: How Corruption Is Strangling US Innovation

There is a WIDE gulf between completely lack of copyright,and the never-ending copyright terms that we have in the USA today. (And don't tell me that copyrights are finite, because they DO get extended every time things are about to start to enter the public domain again.)

Arguing against infinite copyrights doesn't necessarily mean arguing for absolutely no copyright at all.

Comment: Re:Global warming is politics, not science. (Score 5, Informative) 339

by rknop (#42226401) Attached to: Ticking Arctic Carbon Bomb May Be Bigger Than Expected

You confuse "global warming proponents" (by which I assume you mean lobbyist and such who are trying to convince the world that global warming is real) with "climate researchers".

The latter have reached an overwhelming consensus that anthrogenic global warming is real, and to deny that that is a "reasoned scienctific view" is right up there with denying evolution or the germ theory of disease, saying they're all just political movements.

It is true that there are some in the political area who have cried wolf or who have oversold things. But to deny the utter and overwhelming reality of the results of vast quantities of climate scientists (including some who came in skeptical when they started, but realized that, hey, the data say what the data say) is simply wrong.

Comment: Anathem (Score 1) 278

by rknop (#41757631) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Mathematical Fiction?

Also read "Anathem" by Stephenson. Mathematics plays a prominent role, although it's not as explicitly explored as it is in "Cryptonomicon". There are also passing references to things from general relativity (or, at least, a common formalism for tensor analysis) that you will not realize are there unless you've done some advanced undergraduate (or even graduate) Physics courses....

Comment: Re:Why are you asking permission? (Score 1) 383

by rknop (#41458713) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Explaining Version Control To Non-Technical People?

Exactly -- just do it. Download, install. Start doing "releases" of the tools for the social science researchers to use-- they can download tarballs (or whatever) and install them. You can also write a quick instruction web page for "how to get the latest version" that tells them how to svn (or hg or whatever) checkout the source, just in case anybody cares. But you'll have the version control for what you need. Only demand that the others learn it if they're banging on the code themselves.

Eventually, that's how I got the astrophysics group I was working with back in the late 1990's to move from a craptastic flat-file database (read once when the data analysis environment *started*, never updated even if other people saved changes until you restarted your environment) into a real-time updated combination of PostGreSQL and flat files. I realized pretty quickly that having meetings and getting permission would just involve a lot of discussion and no action. I was in a position where I was the one running things, so I must made the change. There were a few bumps in the road, but eventually things worked much better.

(One side effect, though, was that whenever anybody had any trouble with anything, "the database" got blamed and they came to me. I would get frantic calls that the database was broken when people who make typoes in simple commands.)

Comment: You're already "advanced" (Score 1) 1086

by rknop (#40935319) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Many of You Actually Use Math?

You say you've used trigonometry. if so, then you're already "advanced" beyond the level that Hacker was talking about in his article where he said that Math Is Too Hard For Our High School Students. He was advocating dumbing things down past algebra and trigonometry.

Now, mind you, I think of even trigonometry as high school math myself. But if you use it and know how to use it, you're already in the top half of the distribution of students in college.

Will you ever *need* Calculus in computer programming? Probably night. I might recommend taking a class in linear algebra if you're interested in computer graphics, because some of that applies. You may not use it, but the underlying engines rely on it. And, yeah, the underlying engines rely on numerical approximations to calculus for things like physics engines. Linear Algebra doesn't require calculus as a prerequisite.

However, Calculus is interesting and stimulating, and will stretch your mind to think in new ways. If all you're interested in is training for the job you want to do, then, no, you don't need it, but truthfully, except to match resume requirements to get through the door, you don't need most of college. If, on the other hand, you want to be broadly educated about the world and human intellectual achievements, then calculus is a good thing. Not necessary, but well worth the time.

"Right now I feel that I've got my feet on the ground as far as my head is concerned." -- Baseball pitcher Bo Belinsky

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