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Comment Car of the Year? (Score 1) 303

I know... it's their award, they can do what they want, but I would assume that the "car of the year" would be the best mix of:
*Affordability
*Driver/Passenger Safety
*Safety for Other Road Users
*Fuel Economy/GHG Emissions per Mile
*Sustainability of Production and Retirement
*Attractiveness to the General Public
*Real-World Availability

Comment Online learning is not good enough for the masses (Score 5, Insightful) 570

I know Slashdot loves to pull up these kinds of articles every time they're available. TED is susceptible similar lectures as well, so we who have actually worked in education have to keep our eyes open before the "computers will solve all our complex problems" crowd runs away with an invaluable source of social evolution.

Before the average Slashdotter writes off brick-and-mortar schools in favor of online learning with justifications like, "I was always bored in class", "I was smarter than my teacher", and "Just be open to change!" consider this: Is your average Slashdotter ANYTHING like your average American student?

The answer is that they simply are not. Slashdotters likely grew up in smaller than average social groups with access to technology. We adapt to new technology with little issue. We understand the underlying concepts of nested menus and function taxonomy. We are nerds and geeks who thrive on learning.

The rest of America's children do not thrive on learning and providing online education will not change that.

Having worked in middle schools, high schools, with community college transfer students, and then the resulting university undergrads, I have to say: If the general population doesn't HAVE to learn something or if there isn't something someone sufficiently passionate to help them learn something new regardless, they won't bother. Humanity is curious about the universe in that we consistently have some extremely smart people come to global acclaim for their works, but most people just want to live easy, have sex, and do so as long as possible.

It's the role of the educator to affect everyone, regardless of station or passion, and get them the minimum (plus) standard of knowledge and analytical capability so that they can learn more things and more complex concepts at the next level. This is something a computer with programed or limited responses cannot do.

Yes, OLPC can get kids excited about new things. Those children will NOT be starting hospitals in their villages with simple access to online education. They will not become cultural philosophers through online education. They will not begin building Motorola Zoom tablets with they learned via online learning. The concepts required to do any of those complex actions cannot be taught in a single plug-and-play manner. It requires a talented individual and as social an environment as possible to adjust the content to the user, to adjust the lesson plan to the person that day.

The only way teachers will ever go obsolete is if we are ignorant to assume that computers will ever substitute for the adaptive human mind.

Comment Re:It's the software, stupid. (Score 1) 193

Thank you, sir, for doing the research I did not. The Transformer Book looks to be the right step in the right direction with my only concerns being, weight, heat, battery life, and cost (due to the hardware included). Since it's not yet in consumer or reviewer hands, I'll keep those concerns until I hear otherwise.

But that 11.6" version is already calling my name...

Comment WTF @ "Tablets need all-new applications..." (Score 1) 287

No... Tablets do NOT need all-new applications. What tablets need is a non-phone/device OS environment based on existing, established OSes (Windows, Linux, etc.) that is low-resource-intensive (scratch Windows), but still has the expectation of *multiple* users and each user being a content producer.

I understand the corporate rush to get in on the smart-device bandwagon, but where the evolution of the USER is going is towards scalable portability.

Desktops led to laptops which led to ultra portables (high-cost) and netbooks (low-cost). The next step is the net-vertible (like the ASUS Transformer) that can be a highly portable tablet or a portable workstation like a laptop. What we need to continue the honing of this next step in the evolution of the PC is for a genuine personal computer OS to work on low-power tablets.

Yes, Windows 8 is hoping to be that option, but the weight and power requirements of that OS will be prohibitive for net-vertibles.

Comment Re:It's the software, stupid. (Score 1) 193

I agree that those are frequently the most important, but for those of us looking for netvertibles (Asus Transformer, etc.), other important specs/features include:

-USB Ports
-SD card slots
-Repairability/upgradability (understanding that the trend is to create self-contained devices for increased device purchasing)
-Camera(s)

Wish-List
-- PC OS (not a phone OS)

Comment My perspective (30 years old) (Score 1) 632

I'm turning 30 this year and graduated high school in Southern California in 2000.

I remember two distinctive attempts at computer education in my public education. First was in 4th and 5th grades when, at a new elementary school, the dedicated computer teacher who taught only computer classes brought us into the lab to teach us about the internals of a computer tower just as a biology teacher would teach us about the squishy bits inside of a frog. I remember the hardest thing to understand is that these new 3.5" floppy disks were not "floppy" like the 5.25" floppy disks, but should never be referred to as "hard disks". Those were completely different. Eventually, he would teach us the internals with moderate success.

Next, he taught us "Logo" or, as many of us called it, "turtle drawing". I had very limited success here and invested only as much effort as required so I could be allowed to play the Oregon Trail or "Freedom!" which was a game that put the player in the persona of a runaway slave in the antebellum South.

In high school, I elected to take a "computer" class, that was actually just a typing class. My hands were already too big for the iMac keyboards, so I learned to type without using my pinkies for anything but shift, alt, and ctrl keys. This was "wrong", however, and I would have to repeat my exercises if I was caught not using home row properly. Instead, I made it a goal to complete as many exercises as possible and then, when the teacher came around, to switch to the painful home row standard. I completed the "course" with a couple weeks to spare, so I found locked games that were installed on the iMacs, switched to a computer behind the teacher, and played those for the rest of the term.

The only other school-related computer education I had was the use of the "Computer Science" lab (PCs) after hours with actual computer science students playing Starcraft and Counter-Strike. I learned more with those guys playing those games than at any other time before graduating high school

Comment The Columbine Posts (Score 1) 145

As a someone who was in high school in the late 90s, who played first-person shooters, and who had long black hair while wearing dark clothes, I'll always feel a particular attachment to the Slashdot posts and discussions that followed the Columbine shootings.

I was held to multiple "counseling sessions" (read: interrogations) and was looked at with fear by those who didn't know me. Luckily, I was rather social, so the many that did know me laughed off the possibility of me going nuts with a gun.

It was genuinely comforting knowing that I wasn't the only one being profiled.

Comment Of course it's cheap after install... (Score 1) 332

FTFA: "The electricity used by the Supercharger comes from a solar carport system provided by SolarCity, which results in almost zero marginal energy cost after installation."

Well of course it will cost almost nothing after installation. That's the point of capital costs. You buy the land, pour the concrete, throw in a couple amenities, plant a massive battery and transformer system, and hook them up to the solar cells. Note that such an investment is utterly massive and unsustainable. With SO FEW Tesla drivers on the road (in that area, no less), they're going to rarely have a "customer".

But that's not how a public Level 3 charger would work. No way. Public Level 3 chargers would also require trenching from a strong enough power source since they will actually have regular customers. Then they will have to include the cost of all capital expenses (station, hardware, etc.) in the cost of the electricity that will be used during peak electricity usage (10am - 4pm) in some of the hottest areas in the nation when everyone is running their air conditioners (massive increase in electricity cost). Throw in the amount of energy lost when charging quickly and you have a compounded cost of simply fueling your car. This is why we encourage people to charge their cars at home and in the middle of the night.

Pure Electric Vehicles are an evolutionary speed bump. They exist to force manufacturers to accept the newer sensibilities of consumers and to seek better ways to reclaim power (regenerative braking, etc.), decrease wind resistance, and make lighter (and still affordable and sustainable) machines altogether.

Comment Re:buses don't have a 100% live link (Score 2) 135

Expense. Taxis have live links because they're profit-generating. A trip in a taxi is charged per mile and at a major premium. Bus fare is deficit-minimizing and offers the opportunity to to travel very long distances for very little cost.

Subways and light rail, though, can be different. Some charge per boarding while others charge per the distance between boarding and exiting.

Also, consider what would happen if cellular service was unavailable. You'd have to create a charge-caching system and then do bulk transactions when reception is found.

Live transactions are a bit more complex than "$1.50 from the amount on this card."

Comment Re:CHILDS PLAY (Score 1) 263

The children who receive access to these donations did not choose to live in America over other places. Do not condemn them for something they couldn't control. Also, when a kid has to spend the greater portion of his/her childhood in a bed due to leukemia, I have no problem throwin' down a couple bucks to make sure he/she isn't just staring at walls and monitoring machines that go beep.

If you find it better to give your money to a major multinational organization with tons of overhead that may or not actually be able to put your donation to use, do it. But don't go hating on kids just because they have a severe illness in one country instead of another.

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