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Comment Re:One reason it's so high (Score 1) 398 398

A couple of minor corrections:

PDD/NOS (pervasive developmental disorder-not specified)
IEP - individual *education* plan

And for the record, we got our services without shenanigans - my kids were far enough delayed and had such an obvious diagnosis (dyspraxia) that it was never an issue.

That's what I get for posting before my wife and friendly neighborhood fact-checker is awake.

Comment One reason it's so high (Score 1) 398 398

My wife is a public school teacher (6th grade), and we're parents of two preschoolers (ages 2 and 3) with cognitive delays (dyspraxia). As a result, we've come in contact over the past few years with a *lot* of people who have children all over the developmental spectrum.

We've seen many cases where a parent sees a developmental delay in their child and takes them for testing. The doctor agrees that they may have a slight delay, but doesn't really have a name for it. This gets you no services from the school system. Often, the doctor will offer to diagnose with an "autism spectrum disorder" (usually PPD/NOS) so that the child can get services.

Why? Autism is *huge* right now. Funding is there. Services are there. A doctor attaching a finding of autism means your kid is guaranteed to get an IEP (individual instruction plan) which can be an incredible boost to a kid like mine. Believe me, I know - my daughter has made amazing strides since she started our county's developmental preschool program in September.

Other times I've seen cases where the first doctor refuses to diagnose autism. The parents then shop around doctors until they find someone who is willing to diagnose autism so they can get services for their kid. There's a university program near me that seems to basically be writing blank checks for whatever diagnosis you think your kid has.

Autism is real, and it's a terrible, terrible disease. But over the years they've expanded the definition to the point where it has become meaningless, and well-meaning doctors and parents who are just trying to get help for the kids in their care have been behind a lot of it.


Microsoft Patent Aims To Curb Obnoxious Employee Behavior 312 312

theodp writes "GeekWire reports that a pending Microsoft patent for monitoring workplace behavior would do Dwight Schrute proud. Three Microsoft inventors propose curbing obnoxious workplace habits in an equally obnoxious fashion — using a computer device for monitoring and analyzing workers' interactions over video conferences, telephone, text messages and other forms of digital communication to look for patterns of negative and positive behavior, and assigning behavior scores to employees based on what the system finds. Bad behavior, Microsoft explains, might include wearing dark glasses in a video conference, wearing unacceptable clothing to a business meeting, cutting off others during conversation, prolonged monologues, and even how one nods one's head in agreement, shakes one's head indicating disagreement, and makes hand gestures."

Comment Re:Great holiday for DIY electronics (Score 1) 249 249

Sure thing, here ya go.

The eyes came out a little cockeyed, but meh. The servo is supported with puddy and the whole works are held together with binary epoxy. You can also see the control box, which basically just takes RS232 via the DB9 and converts into signals for the servo. There are six total servo channels, only one of which is in use currently (I was ambitious once upon a time).

Comment Great holiday for DIY electronics (Score 5, Interesting) 249 249

Before the kids came along, I built a number of fun electronics projects for Halloween. I built a flicker circuit I got off of Wolfstone (a great site for would-be haunters).

Along with a couple of friends, I built a coffin-leaper one year, too. I built the electronics (a pressure sensitive mat that activated a solenoid valve). Another fellow built the pneumatics and another built the actual coffin and dummy. When you'd step on the mat, the dummy would spring up and a loop tape with sounds effect and a strobe would go off.

I also built a lightning/thunder machine using a "color organ" (basically a device that causes different flood lights to flash in time to various sound frequencies) that came from a Velleman kit. I set up an old pair of PC speakers playing a loop CD of some thunder and use that to drive the color organ. I usually get a few good jumps from kids who aren't expecting it.

I have a commercial fog machine that I use with a timer to give my house a nice cloud of low-hanging fog. I built a fog-chiller out of a cheapo foam beer cooler by cutting two holes in either side and running a flexible piece of aluminum ducting through it (with a twist in the middle and holes punched in it to increase surface area). This keeps the fog hanging low. Another tip is to spray down the area with the fog using a garden hose.

I started working on animating a Bucky skull a while back, too. I added eyes attached to a servo and wrote a program in Windows that let you move them with sliders. I intended to animate the mouth, too, but my kids came along shortly after that. I still pull out my decorations every year, but my own little goblins have taken priority over my projects - so it goes.

I'd love to finish the Bucky skull and maybe build a bookshelf where the books pop out on their own (driven by a motor and series of cams). Maybe one day when I have some time to myself again ...

Hope this gave everyone a few good ideas for projects to scare the neighborhood kids -- happy haunting!!

Comment Re:effectiveness in 2011 (Score 1) 271 271

I thought the same thing recently when I watched a DVR'd TV show displaying an emergency announcement about a tornado from three days ago. Fat lot of good that did me, it just interrupted my show - if the tornado was going to get me, it would have done it three days ago.

United States

Tech Company To Build Science Ghost Town In New Mexico 198 198

Charliemopps sends this excerpt from an AP report: "New Mexico, home to several of the nation’s premier scientific, nuclear and military institutions, is planning to take part in an unprecedented science project — a 20-square-mile model of a small U.S. city. A Washington, D.C.-based technology company announced plans Tuesday to build the state’s newest ghost town to test everything from renewable energy innovations to intelligent traffic systems, next-generation wireless networks and smart-grid cyber security systems. Although no one will live there, the replica city will be modeled after a typical American town of 35,000 people, complete with highways, houses and commercial buildings, old and new."
The Military

DARPA Loses Contact With Hypersonic Glider 194 194

x_IamSpartacus_x writes "DARPA says contact with its experimental hypersonic glider was lost after launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base on the central California coast. The agency says in Twitter postings that its unmanned Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle-2 was launched Thursday atop a rocket, successfully separated from the booster and entered the mission's glide phase. The agency says telemetry was subsequently lost, but released no details."

Robots Successfully Invent Their Own Language 159 159

An anonymous reader writes "One group of Australian researchers have managed to teach robots to do something that, until now, was the reserve of humans and a few other animals: they've taught them how to invent and use spoken language. The robots, called LingoDroids, are introduced to each other. In order to share information, they need to communicate. Since they don't share a common language, they do the next best thing: they make one up. The LingoDroids invent words to describe areas on their maps, speak the word aloud to the other robot, and then find a way to connect the word and the place, the same way a human would point to themselves and speak their name to someone who doesn't speak their language."

SlashTweaks Let YOU Micro-Edit Slashdot 257 257

Here at Slashdot, we watched as Twitter discourse to just the perfect 140 characters, while showed us that everyone's voice mattered equally when creating the experience. We've taken the next step with SlashTweaks. Within each Slashdot you will be presented with several opportunities to make micro-edits: ranging from factual errors or tonal shifts to simple typos. Since Tweaks are just a single word, there is very little barrier to entry... you have no excuse not to participate. Stories will incorporate the highest rated socially and mathematically guaranteeing the best story possible. Our highest users can start new tweaks on individual words, while everyone else will be rating existing tweaks. Thanks for your participation and patience while we iterate on this, making sure that we are able to stay ahead of the edge of webbovation!

Self-Control In Kids Predicts Future Success 245 245

SpuriousLogic writes "A new study suggests that a child's future success depends on the amount of self-control they exhibit. From the article: 'The international team of researchers looked at 1,037 children in New Zealand born in the early 1970s, observing their levels of self-control at ages 3 and 5. At ages 5, 7, 9 and 11, the team used parent, teacher and the children's own feedback to measure such factors as impulsive aggression, hyperactivity, lack of persistence and inattention. At age 32, they used physical exams, blood tests, records searches and personal interviews of 96% of the original participants to determine how healthy, wealthy and law-abiding the subjects had turned out to be. The results were startling. In the fifth of children with the least self-control, 27% had multiple health problems. Compare that with the fifth of kids with the most self-control — at just 11%. Among the bottom fifth, 32% had an annual income below approximately $15,000, while only 10% of the top fifth fell into that low-income bracket. Just 26% of the top-fifth's offspring were raised in single-parent homes, compared with 58% of those in the bottom fifth. And 43% of the bottom fifth had been convicted of a crime, far outstripping the top fifth's 13% rate.'"
Data Storage

How Do You Store Your Personal Photos? 680 680

mxhf writes "I just came back from a four-week vacation to Mexico. This is the country for Aztecs and Maya Ruins and we visited plenty of them. Needless to say we took thousands of pictures with two cameras. Having arrived back home I realize that my hard-disk does not have enough space left to hold the additional 16GB that I collected on the other side of the globe. Now, my hard disk already is 250GB. I work exclusively on a laptop and do not want to change this. I know that there are larger disks today. But I figured that the time has come to finally move my image collection from my laptop to somewhere else. But where should I go? So, how do you store your photo collections? And how do you keep backups? These are obviously images that I want to keep for my life. So the need to survive fires, burglaries, etc. I think the amount of data I have rules online storage out. Should I just get two USB disks and leave one at a reasonably save location? I think this must be a common problem today. And yes — before you ask — I do know that the first thing to do is to go through your collection and dump what is not worth keeping."

Carbon Trading Halted After EU Exchange Is Hacked 228 228

chicksdaddy writes "The European Commission (EC) suspended trading in carbon credits on Wednesday after unknown hackers compromised the accounts of Czech traders and siphoned off around $38 million, Threatpost reports. EU countries including Estonia, Austria, The Czech Republic, Poland and France began closing their carbon trading registries yesterday after learning that carbon allowances had been siphoned from the account of the Czech based register. A notice posted on the Web site of the Czech based registry said that it was 'not accessible for technical reasons' on Thursday and the EC issued an order to cease spot trading until January 26 so that it can sort out what appears to be chronic security lapses within the system."

How Europe Will Lower Emissions — Self Driving Cars 317 317

thecarchik writes "Scientists in Europe are working closely with industry and government as part of a new initiative called SARTRE (SAfe Road TRains for the Environment), which hopes to develop self-driving technology that will allow vehicles to drive autonomously in long road trains on the highway. The team behind SARTRE has now conducted its first real world test, using a sole Volvo S60 sedan that followed a lead truck around the automaker's test facility near Gothenburg, Sweden. In the video, the driver is free to take his eyes off the road and his hands off the wheel. In fact, he uses neither his hands nor feet during the test. Subsequent phases of the work will be carried out in 2011, and early 2012 will see the concept demonstrated on a five-vehicle road train with strategies handling interaction with other road users."

The moon is made of green cheese. -- John Heywood