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Comment: Primitive calculators hold back math understanding (Score 1) 359

by xtal (#47827367) Attached to: How the Outdated TI-84 Plus Still Holds a Monopoly On Classrooms

Number crunching is stupid.

Math students should be using computers to visualize and manipulate math, and help them understand what it is they're solving for.

This is best done with modern, kick ass graphics, and on any modern tablet, can be done in real-time.

It's an embarrassment to the entire teaching profession that calculators are needed on any exam, but more over, it is doing a serious disservice to students to not use them for what they should be used for - math visualizing machines. The TI calculators are used by and large to hand-hold lazy teachers and provide them with busywork for students.


Also, HP48GX forever.. but I didn't need it until engineering school. I completed all of the math courses for my EE without a calculator - they weren't allowed by the math department, and rightly so.

Comment: Re:Another very good reason... (Score 1) 192

by xtal (#47296989) Attached to: China Builds Artificial Islands In South China Sea

The problem is there is no alternative to oil.


Nuclear may provide energy dense alternatives but you'd need to have been building plants 10 years ago. Coal is an option, but you will turn the sky grey.

Green technologies do not have the energy density needed. Simple napkin math can demonstrate this. There are no conspiracies; the world runs on oil because there are no alternatives available. A refusal to recognize the underlying thermodynamics and energy requirements in real world units, rather than fluffy unicorns and windmills, holds back adult discussions of what needs to happen and when.

The only technology available is nuclear. Manhattan-project style efforts to crack fusion technologies, or more usefully, the battery problem, would go a long way to help. We're not just there yet.

Comment: ...paper replacement (Score 5, Insightful) 321

by xtal (#47108783) Attached to: I Want a Kindle Killer

All I want is a paper replacement.

There are large e-ink displays, but they all lack high resolution input - as high as a 0.5mm pencil can get you.

15 years after I graduated, I still carry engineering paper, and I get it from the same bookstore. All that's changed is I take pictures of my notes instead of scan them now.

Come on Apple - want to innovate? Figure that one out. I triple dog dare you.

Comment: Focus on your studies as much as possible (Score 5, Interesting) 309

by xtal (#46975117) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Computer Science Freshman, Too Soon To Job Hunt?

You are making a huge financial investment in both real dollars and opportunity cost.

Don't worry about developing web sites. Spend that time advancing your core knowledge. Learn as deep and as abstractly as you can. The technologies will change, the knowledge will not.

Any job you take now will likely not impact your career. Find out if there's a professor you can work with in another faculty instead - by going up and down halls knocking on doors if possible. Chances are they have some IT problems that need solving this summer or know someone who does.

Comment: This is a good thing! (Score 2) 218

by xtal (#46975099) Attached to: Google Testing Gmail Redesign

It's so goddamn awful, it will drive me away from Gmail, its uncomplicated and great search results, and make me get off my lazy ass, and set up my own cloud service that I control.

It might even make me motivated enough to limit my exposure to Google in other ways, too.

The volume of non-work email I deal with has been dropping steadily, anyway - to the point where my own solution managed in my own cloud service might be worthwhile.

I strongly suspect I am not alone.

Full speed ahead Google!

Comment: Re: Motivated rejection of science (Score 1) 661

The standard model has been verified in countless experiments, and made predictions that have been subsequently verified.

Opinion is not the same as experimental validation, and I am unaware of such experimental rigor as applied to climate modelling.

You don't get it both ways. Unfortunately, we've gone down the road where you can't question climate science anymore, and that's where it stops being science and starts being something else.

Are we changing the planet? Almost certainly. How much? Unknown. What is the impact? Also unknown. We do know that the climate has changed large amounts in a short period in the past, and will do so again. That's about it.

It doesn't matter anyway - nobody is going to stop driving, nobody is going to accept the sacrifice. Our best bet is to accept the change headlong, and pour our intellectual capital - all those people - into figuring out ways to engineer the planet's climate, and develop clean, high density power that can drive those technologies (that is code for nuclear power).

C'est la vie. But don't compare climate science with the standard model or general relativity. You are wrong.

Time sharing: The use of many people by the computer.