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Comment: Re:Opinion from experience (Score 1) 700

by xeos (#48980269) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Pros and Cons of Homeschooling?

The key observation from you post is that college classes don't have any prerequisites (this was my experience as well). You can learn everything there for the first time, no harm. So maybe it doesn't matter how much material you cover in home school. I covered very little before college, but went on to get a PhD

Comment: Personal experience: easy and excellent outcome (Score 1) 700

by xeos (#48980229) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Pros and Cons of Homeschooling?

My personal experience as a homeschooled kid was excellent academically, and somewhat difficult socially.

First, academics: my parents did little beyond the first couple years. They helped me learn to read and do basic math, and then let the books teach me, but really I didn't bother much with the books. I was intellectually curious about the world, however, which I think more than made up for book learning. At 16 I started taking college classes, first at a community college, then at a reasonable state school (VT.edu). By 18 I had 1/3 of a degree's worth of college credits, all As, at which point I transferred to a good liberal arts college (Hampshire.edu), which didn't have grades. I also did well there, as evidenced by getting into several very good PhD programs (MIT, UCSD, Brown). I chose UCSD, and aside from taking a long time to get the PhD I also did very well there.

Did my easy going home schooling experience hurt me? I don't think so. Yes, there were many topics I learned about the very first time in college, but as it turns out that's a fine time to first encounter difficult material. My first community college class was all I really needed to adjust to school learning. It wasn't an easy adjustment, but we are only talking 3 months of my life here, and I still got an A in the class. So, to sum up: home schooling can be pretty easy on the parents and the student.

As for the social side: it was isolating. But I was living in a very small town, where the only other kids were 15 minutes car ride away, or more. I was lonely a lot, and only had a few friends. That started to change when I first went to college, but as a commuter at a state school, the opportunities weren't that good for a shy kid. Going to the residential liberal arts college really helped, and I made lots of friends there, some of which I keep in touch with in the real world (not just facebook). I hope that living in a big city (san diego) will make the socialization part easier for my daughter at an earlier age than it was for me.

To conclude: it worked well for me, and wasn't that hard for my parents. I plan to homeschool my daughter.

Comment: solution: religious protection (Score 1) 784

by xeos (#48829601) Attached to: Parents Investigated For Neglect For Letting Kids Walk Home Alone

It seems like >95% of the posts here are in support of the parents. The next logical question should be "what can we do about this"? Sure, there are political avenues, but those are slow.

I think there might be a much faster way - we already have a special class of people who can mistreat their children by most of societies standards and get away with it - I'm thinking here of the Christian Scientists who deny almost all medial treatment to their children, and the Jehovah's witnesses who deny a smaller but still measurable subset (anything requiring blood transfusions).

If you can use religious freedom to justify clearly life-threatening decisions for your children, then I suspect so called "free-range parenting" could also gain protection given the right scripture. Perhaps the religion that offers this already exists; if not it shouldn't be so hard to create....

Comment: Re:The best gift? (Score 5, Insightful) 113

by xeos (#48584885) Attached to: 2014 Geek Gift Guide

Agreed. I thought maybe this piece would be interesting because it would feature interesting gear rather than poorly thought out opinions and commentary. But apparently he can't even choose interesting gifts let alone solve mildly difficult real-world problems.

I'd use slashdot beta if it offered Haselton free reading.

Comment: Matlab is not elegant, but it is useful (Score 1) 205

by xeos (#48175771) Attached to: The One App You Need On Your Resume If You Want a Job At Google

I've used Matlab for 10 years. I do not enjoy its syntax, but it's fast at what it does (matrix math) and has a huge library of tools built in that are also quite fast. It's also very cheap for academics, which is why it has such a stronghold there. People who say "switch to C or Python" for huge immediate speedups rarely know what they are talking about - they only projects I know of that tried that found that their code (again, matrix heavy) ran slower, not faster. With a lot of optimizing and the right libraries, yes, it is possible. But for most Matlab users their time is mostly spent developing, so that would be a poor tradeoff.

It's much more pleasurable to write or read python (or lisp (or smalltalk)) code, but you lose the kitchen sink. Here's a quick example: printf. Yes, it's ugly. And takes a little while to learn. But, it's very good at formatting text, and has all the options you need, want, or will ever want. Well, matlab is a language filled with printf style functions for every kind of data visualization you could want.

That said, TFA sounds like a load of crap. Anybody in google want to share what really goes on? I'm sure it depends a lot on which group you are in - machine vision and AI surely use a lot of matlab, whereas search probably never heard of it.

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