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Comment Computing is in everything (Score 3, Insightful) 337

One argument is that since there's now a computer in everything, a modern intro to computers class should probably be diversified to cover a lot more than using a PC. It could almost be an "intro to modern life" class. Some topics for the syllabus might be:

Setting up a home network, including a FIOS/DSL router or a cable modem and a Tivo/DVR with a a cable card. Options for mobile computing/e-mail. Password strategies. Controlling what you share on social networks. Transferring files around between PC/smart phone/tablet/digital camera/etc. Keeping an offsite backup of important data. etc. etc.

Comment Why am I playing the game? (Score 1) 201

Type of game makes a big difference. Is it a strategy/tactics game where I need to be able to discern the overall situation from the screen, and see past the individual pixels? Or is it an eye candy RPG where part of the fun is reveling in the cinematography? Or a casual game like Angry Birds where the visuals reinforce some basic fun/humor element?

It's up to a game developer to figure out what the customers will care about and build appropriately; part of the trick to a blockbuster game is making those decisions correctly.

Comment Re:Wires are not the issue. (Score 1) 118

Transfer efficiency is an important point, but I might also be a bit concerned about heat generation; a lot of wireless inductive chargers I've seen for small devices like ipods and such do seem to generate a lot of heat, which doesn't always do great things for battery systems. The vandalism/weatherproofing issues are good points, though, and worth consideration.

To be fair, I admit some bias. Every time there's a push for electric cars, I can't help wanting to play Rush's "Red Barchetta" pretty loud. I can see myself at either end of that: the uncle that lovingly preserves the outlawed sports car for his nephew, or the nephew who goes on a weekly race/drive just for the fun of it and has to outwit cops along the way, who are limited by their technology.

Comment Re:16 Megapixles (Score 1) 66

Even for astronomy imaging, 16 megapixels isn't so impressive for "the fifth largest scope in the US." There are many amateur astronomers across the country imaging with CCD cameras based on KAF 16803 chips (4096 x 4096 pixels). Open an issue of "sky and telescope" to the pages where they present a gallery of readers' images, and you're very likely to see something taken with a 16 megapixel camera. They're high end cameras from an amateur standpoint, no doubt about it, but not super special. Think about it as being comparable to investing the cost of a used car in your hobby... the cost is around the same.

Comment It's only temporary (Score 5, Interesting) 291

Even in Asimov's world, psychohistory only works on groups that don't practice psychohistory themselves. Harry Seldon only kept things from going off the rails by making the science die out, and by starting a Second Foundation of telepaths.

Once someone starts making predictions from data aggregation more effective, the race will be on to duplicate or improve on it, and then nobody's prediction algorithms will work.

Almost sounds like someone should write a dystopian Foundation book, where the mathematicians race to predict each others' predictive abilities (and of course, stop them!)

Comment How many bloody G's are there? (Score 3, Interesting) 67

At some point, you'd think it might be more cost effective for the handset manufacturers to start using some form of software defined radio to allow handsets to switch between different bands. Or at least some sort of FPGA solution reprogrammable by something like a firmware update. I suppose there might be some antenna inefficiency as you start switching away from what your antenna is tuned for, but I'm not sure how much.

Comment Re:No worries (Score 1) 223

Unfortunately it does carry a certain amount of angular momentum from the rotation of the sun, so the CME doesn't quite travel in a straight line. It's mass that's moving, not just EM/light, otherwise it would be here 8 minutes after the flare (since we're 8 light minutes away) and the mass carries that momentum. The sun doesn't rotate uniformly, it's gaseous and the poles tend to rotate differently than the equator (I think less fast than the equator but can't recall for certain) but the flare originated from closer to the equator as many of them do.

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