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Comment Exposure to computers. (Score 1) 632

I was (for better or worse) exposed to an Apple II circa 1980. I was in 5th grade and was already keen on science (I was going to be a botanist), but hadn't previously known computers even existed. but got hooked immediately. There was of course little to no formal (or even informal) computer instruction, however I was lucky and had a great science teacher, who gave me (and a few other kids) time with the machines in (and after) class. Before long I was peeking and poking, and then came the vic20 and the c64 and my 99/4a. I even got to meet a PDP 11/15 that lived at our elementary school (!) for a time. But I digress. For traditional high school there was little or no opportunity to study computers, so I did the only logical thing and went to a technical school, where they had a PDP 11/44. COBOL, RPG, IBM S/36, more RPG. Then the IBM PC. More RPG, but then: Word processing. Desktop Publishing. Databases. Many software titles.

So my experience in High School was untypical for the time. Technical education? Yes it exists, but even today, not really in mainstream schools, at least not on any practical level. I think most people that got into computers, whether it was 1980, 1990 or 2000, or 2012 for that matter, got sucked into them one way or another.

There are some great teachers out there that have guided kids one way or another into technical understanding of computers and related systems but I would imagine many or even most of those kids were already into them after merely being exposed to them, and were able to just figure them out on their own, at least on a "fundamentals" level. Sad that with the test-centric environment the public schools have become, the great teachers that might identify a kid interested in a particular subject that resonates with their own interests, might not have the time, or latitude, to tutor them in that direction.

Computers are also kind of ho-hum in today's world. Whereas for those of us in our 40s and 50s, when we first had access to them, we were getting to actually see and use things that (in a 5th graders mind) only Sci-Fi TV characters and real-life mad scientists got to play with. So there was a sense of awe I think. Today? iDevice? I'll just get an iDevice n+1 next month or whatever. It might as well be a brand of hair product. Techno-bling.

The latest computer system is hardly more than another technical commodity like a threaded screw or a formed concrete block (both world changing technical achievements). It is a thing that can be mostly taken for granted by those who have always known them to exist. Which is, in some ways, tragic, since if anything, there are orders of magnitude more unexplored possibilities open now than there were 30 years ago. Though in other ways, probably exactly as it should be. Computers aren't (yet anyway) the magical creatures we dreamed them to be from exposure to science fiction and our own imaginations. They're tools, much like any other.

I guess I digressed again. Sorry about that.

Comment Re:Yay for SSD boot drive. (Score 1) 187

I use some "cloud" storage as a *third* (or fourth) copy, for some stuff. Mostly small-ish stuff, though that includes all my email. Managing backups over a long timespan is usually hard, expensive, or both, but worth it. I have as a pretty simple system though. I like to have all my photos and music on two live, spinning disks, with the "cream" also stored offline, and maybe also on a server I control, and maybe also elsewhere on the internet. My system is far from ideal, and not as robust (or automated) as it should be, but the primary "two spinning disk" rule is a pretty good first line of defense against hardware failure and accidental deletion. I don't mirror disks, I just add new stuff to both disks.

This will only ever be a problem (for me) if disks stop getting bigger, since I invariably replace a (still functioning) drive every few years, with one 2-3 times bigger than the previous one, and then just copy the whole old disk to the new one.

Comment Yay for SSD boot drive. (Score 4, Insightful) 187

Just did a re-install about a month ago: 128GB adata SX900 -- which newegg now has for $15 less than I paid (always happens) -- on a 3+ year old system.

Best. Upgrade. Ever.

12 second boot instead of 45 seconds (not that I reboot much) but the big win: lag is nonexistent. Disk intensive stuff like browsing/picking through my heavy photo catalog just flies. Most of my stuff is, of course, still on spinning drives, but key apps & data, like email and photo libraries I'm working with are on the SSD. Actions that used to take several seconds (per photo) now are nearly instantaneous. Full-text searching through email is a lot faster. Sleep/Hibernate is practically instantaneous. $100 is nothing for not having to wait a few seconds (every few seconds!) when doing photo work. I make backups of critical data onto multiple spinning disks, regardless of what kind of disk I'm using, so reliability isn't a concern. I wish I took the plunge sooner.

Comment Re:Unless you can give everyone birth control.... (Score 3, Insightful) 190

Your take is a generalization, and overly simplistic, though so is the idea that simply reducing the death rate will curb population growth. The facts are totally uncontroversial. Girls education:

is the main way that the birth rate declines, that and access to family planning, for those women once they understand what the options are.

We're going to be 10 billion humans by 2050, and most of the population models predict a stable population after that. Provided we can hold it all together that long... Our systems for production, government and education will need to change quite a bit to work in a world with a steady-state population. (read: a steady-state economy)

Here's a fantastic explanation of the current models on population:

Comment Re:I visited the National Ignition Facility this y (Score 2) 543

I wish I had a mod point for you, though I hope you won't need my mod point.

The fourth thing we don't need (which holds the other three together) is the "revolving door" between giant industrial corporations and government. It's too bad we don't have a separation of corporations and state, in the "... make no law establishing preference for a specific corporate entity or sector" sense.

I don't mean to say corporations (large special-purpose pools of private capital) shouldn't exist. On the contrary, they have been and could continue to be useful to society, aka the "public good". The heads of that corporation simply have no business being able to influence a democracy more than any random group of people with the same number of employees (and supporters) that corporation might happen to have. Undue influence is anathema to a democracy. I don't understand why this issue is not discussed more. It's hardly the only issue we face, but it's high on the list. Paul Ryan certainly isn't discussing it. Obama's pretty much silent too. Gee, I wonder why? It's not simple corruption. It's the way the system works.

Comment Re:So? (Score 1) 409

The 1996 games was the last one where I had any real interest. The crass commercialism (which has only gotten worse since then) completely turned me off. Then in 2002 when it became 100% clear that the IOC was corrupt to the core, and that the host city selection process basically goes to the biggest bribe, that pretty well cinched it. Especially since Salt Lake City was still allowed to host the games after the revelation, and that the official investigation essentially turned up nothing. I had some hope the Athens games would restore some semblance of the original premise of the Olympics, though unfortunately, it didn't. It's sad because an organization like the Olympics can provide a channel for cultural exchange as well as camaraderie in a world that seems to be increasingly insular, even as we are surrounded by technological marvels in communication. Apparently, however, the only real exchange on the global stage that happens on a mass-scale anymore involves capital, not human endeavor and culture. The irony being that if human culture withers away, and the human spirit is reduced to marketing slogans, our capital (and our very existence) probably won't last very long.

Comment Re:Use a Lupo engine (Score 1) 543

Most cars cannot fit more than two child seats

Solution: have no more than two children (which is in fact what most women do these days). Though there are a number of efficient and safe six-passenger vehicles out there, the MAZDA5 being one good example.

Raising two children instead of three will result in a *much* lower environmental impact than not driving an SUV. If you think of it that way, and you really want to "save the environment", have fewer children, and drive whatever strikes your fancy.

Personally, I think most SUVs are kind of ridiculous. A pick-up is much more useful if you actually need to haul stuff regularly, also there are plenty of fuel-efficient 5-door vehicles, that have almost as much usable cargo space as a giant SUV, and won't roll over as easily if you cut the wheel sharply at high-speed. Though I guess that's just my opinion really. *shrug*

Comment Never really used it until 7 (Score 1) 857

I've never really used the start button, except to shut down (go figure), that is until windows 7, which, as others have said, has a (very) useful search.

So as long as they keep a quickly accessible search/run entry box and a way to sleep, poweroff or reboot easily I couldn't care less what they do with the start button. I always used the quick launch bar, and now pinning for web browser(s), filesystem browser(s), email, putty, cmd, text editor(s), office apps and a few other apps. Everything else is on the desktop. I sort of preferred the quick launch bar for it's simplicity, but I'm used to pinning now, so it's fine. I see others have similar feelings about pinning.

Though I guess I'm hardly the typical windows user, but apparently they don't use the start button either.

Comment Biggest Problem: Poverty. (Score 1) 479

The biggest "problem" with our educational system is that kids living in households below the poverty level do poorly in school.

And in the last 30 years or so, the number of children living in poverty has increased dramatically.

Want to "fix" education? Make it so there are fewer poor kids that don't get a healthy diet or enough exercise.

It's that simple. I don't think anything else will "magically" make our schools better.

That's not to say that school doesn't suck for a lot of kids (even ones that aren't poor). It did for me, but lots of things in life suck. It seems to me that the "broken" educational system is probably one of the least of our societal ills. And that's me saying that, as someone who hated school most of the time.

Comment Gx1 (Score 1) 402

I'm (mostly) happy with my Lumix GF1 -- I bought mine with the 20mm lens, which is nice for indoor shots without a flash, and the 45-200, which is a nice lens for the money -- though the 100-300 is better for birds (also more expensive) -- I spent around a grand for everything including, a glass screen protector and uv(c) filters to protect the lenses, extra battery, lenspen and Bag. I also got a converter to use my old nikon manual lenses, which is fun.

I think the GX1 is a little better, but my one wish is that my GF1 had less noisy high-ISO. I can't really use anything beyond about 800, and in a lot of cases, really more like 400. I had hoped (based on reviews) that 800 would be usable. Perhaps the review sample's sensor was better then the one in my unit.

The other thing is that I don't really care for the "fly by wire" manual focus. I'm getting used to it, but I prefer the manual focus on my old Nikon lenses. I'm thinking of investing in a ClearViewer, for shooting in bright sun, since I don't have the EVF, since I figured that'd defeat the purpose of having a bulky, but still pocketable camera.

If I were doing it again now, I'd probably get the T3i -- though the GFX with the 14-45 pancake does look nice, and would certainly be in the running.

I do appreciate the fact that even full of kit, my bag is pretty light, and if I want to, with the 20mm pancake, I can put the whole camera in my coat pocket and run out the door. Can't do that with the T3i. There's the adage: You can't take any good photos if you don't have your camera with you. So there's something to be said for (relatively) light and pocketable.

Comment Re:Two Words (Score 1) 865

Too true. Though I have my home theater audio set up so I only sometimes need to ride the volume, even with less-then-stellar audio mastering on some DVDs... Though we don't watch a lot of explosion-centric movies. ac3filter config was useful when I used that, though my current setup seems not to need as much tweaking.

Comment Two Words (Score 4, Insightful) 865

Crappy Audio.

I've been to the movie theater maybe 7 times in the last 10 years. That's how many movies there have been of the requisite quality and type to make me want to actually go to the theater. I've watched nearly 1000 films in the same time period on my home theater system. I don't mind (and can enjoy) loud entertainment, but the louder you make your audio the more important it is that it NOT BE CRAPPY!

Every movie theater (except one) I've been in the last 10 years has had the audio too loud for the installed system to handle. It's crackly, tinny and rattly. Probably would have sounded BETTER turned down lower, with a compressor to pull up the low parts. If you want high dynamic range, you need good gear.

I did go to an iMax once. That was awesome, though I didn't see a title filmed with iMax. Havta do that someday. It was good though. Nice loud sound and huge screen.

So yeah, bad sound, and screens that are TOO SMALL. If I want to watch a movie on a small screen, I'll stay home. I want a HUGE screen. At least 10 meters. Most of the theaters around here have 3-4 meter screens or worse. And the selection is terrible. There are thousands of great films out there, it's just that most of them aren't shown in mainstream theaters.

How hard is it to set audio levels properly, or invest in clean amplification? That stuff shouldn't be that expensive nowadays.

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