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Comment Re:A couple good options (Score 1) 338

Uh, no. I own neither iPhone nor iPad nor iPod nor iAnything else, and detest using my boss's button-less Apple mouse (which incidentally she has set up to scroll in an inverted way---just to fuck with me, I'm pretty sure).

My daughter was 2 (well, 23 months old, to be precise) when I set up her computer. I started her off with a typical, full-sized Microsoft laser mouse with two buttons and a scroll wheel. It was very confusing for her. I eventually ordered this mouse. It was a much better fit. FWIW, Amazon's reviewers overwhelmingly agree.

I'm sure she could handle a wheel-mouse now without trouble. But back then it made a big difference.

Comment Re:A couple good options (Score 2) 338

Mod parent up!

Qimo is great. It's a whole Linux distro geared toward young children, and includes Childsplay, GCompris, and TuxPaint.

I set it up an old P4 for my daughter when she turned 2. I remember sitting next to her and watching in awe as, over the course of 20 minutes of playing this "uncover the animal picture" game, she became proficient in using the mouse. Almost two years later, she is still playing very good, fun, appropriate, challenging games. She has always loved the painting program, which is really cool and has all kinds of fun things (e.g., draw with cats!). She opens programs by herself, chooses her own games, knows how to shut it down, etc.


  1. Get a one button mouse! You can find a small one geared towards a child's hand. It makes a world of difference when getting started to not have the confusion of two buttons and a scroll wheel.
  2. Get some cheap speakers for it, since the games (and even the painting program) have lots of sounds.

And of course, make computer time a together activity. Sit next to her, actively watching, encouraging, explaining, and participating.

Comment Re:oversimplified (Score 1) 403

so what that means is that *regardless* of the fact that CISC instructions are translated into RISC ones, the main part of the CPU has to run at a *much* faster clock rate than an equivalent RISC processor, just to keep up with decode rate.

I don't understand this reasoning.

If the backend can't keep up with the decode rate, say because

  • each CISC instruction is turning into a few RISC-equivalent micro-instructions, and
  • CISC instructions have an edge w.r.t. memory density, so you can keep more of them in the icache and have fewer stalls waiting for the next instruction to come from RAM.

Then aren't you winning?

  • You aren't stalled out trying to figure out what to do next.
  • Your execution units are busy doing productive work.
  • You can turn off the frontend fetch/decode stuff to save some power.

Obviously there has to be some balance. An anemic backend with an overpowered frontend will slow you down. But if the backend is reasonably powerful, it seems like you want to have it working as fast as it can, rather than idly waiting for the frontend to tell it what to do next.

Comment Re:Open source? (Score 1) 302


Whatever folks think is gained from open source here is a lie. Why? Like it or not, you have no way to verify the open source code is what the machine is running.

Using computers for voting is just a disaster, open source or not.

Scantron-style forms can be processed very quickly, can't be subverted en masse, and can be verified by actual people. Using anything else just reeks of corruption.

Comment Re:This is hardly specific to computer science... (Score 1) 314

I agree that blame doesn't lay with the schools.

Your counterpoint (if girls think this way then why don't boys) is so obvious that I'm surprised I hadn't considered it before.

I guess, well---when I was in high school, I was a socially-inept nerd who liked science-fiction and computer games. So, in my case, no, this perception of the field wouldn't have been any deterrent, as the dream of being popular had been fully crushed by the reality of American high-school education. :)

So maybe the real question, why aren't more high-school girls into... uh... whatever passes for star wars, chess club, dungeons and dragons, etc., these days. Maybe the answer to that question is the root cause we're looking for.

Comment Re:This is hardly specific to computer science... (Score 1) 314

I wonder to what degree (if any) the cause might be related to the female perception of the males that inhabit the field.

In much of popular culture, the programmer seems to be that socially-inept, overweight nerd who lives in his parents' basement, covered in cheeto-dust, drinking mountain dew and playing computer games all day.

Should we be surprised if high-school- and college-aged girls, who presumably want to be popular and accepted by their peers, are not, on the average, eager to be associated with a profession/calling that is perceived in this way?

Comment Re:Found happiness elsewhere (Score 1) 818

Emacs and firefox together do an awful lot of this:
  - Emacs is hard to beat for Lisp development
  - Emacs (and Lisp's REPL, for that matter) are good calculators
  - Emacs shell mode is wonderful and replaces terminals
  - Firefox does my email
  - Most docs I work with are embedded in code, or are HTML or LaTeX, so they're easy to edit in Emacs

You're right that two buttons was an exaggeration. I do have some other buttons for XChat, OpenOffice, Gimp, Inkscape, and our cluster-monitoring GUI.

I probably think the window manager just isn't that important because the window managers I've used (gnome, kde, and xfce) always seem to be just fine.

Comment Re:Found happiness elsewhere (Score 1) 818

Because it's really very legitimate.

For most of us, almost any window manager is good enough, and it's very hard to compete with good enough.

Even if some window manager X is really awesome and much better than all competitors, it takes at least *some* effort to switch to it, and it's a multiplicative cost (your work computer, home computer, laptop, blah blah blah). Why spend the effort for something possibly better, when what you have is working?

Comment Re:I like their position (Score 1) 584

First off, many libraries surely *are* adult book stores, if you go to the right aisle.

But your response is more thoughtful than I expected, so I too will tone it down a notch.

AFAICT the guy in the article was watching porn in a library but was not in fact trying to "ram a five year old in the ass." You seem to believe that the two are essentially equivalent. I don't agree, but for the sake of argument assume you are right.

You propose to kill him, on the spot, in front of your daughter, even. You point out that animals will do extraordinary things to protect their young. But we aren't animals. We have cell phones to call for help, police who respond quickly, and a justice system to protect our values.

Your proposed approach is obviously (1) not within the bounds of justice, and (2) leaves your daughter traumatized and without a father for the rest of her childhood. My pithy reply was meant to highlight these observations. The proper response is obviously to instead call 911 and have the police come arrest him; if he tries to flee, then by all means make a citizen's arrest until the police arrive. You "protect" your daughter to an equal degree, and at worst expose yourself to a truly minor civil lawsuit compared to a criminal murder trial.

If children were being illegally exposed to porn, the responsible people who noticed this should have went to the police instead of the librarians; this is a matter of law, not of library policy. Otherwise, he committed no crime and did nothing wrong; telling him what he can and cannot view is cut and dry censorship, and the library is right to fight it.

Comment Re:I like their position (Score 1) 584

Your plan sounds pretty good, daddy-o.

But once you're all done murdering a guy in front of your daughter---to... uh... protect her from seeing naked people----and you're sitting in jail, content that defending her honor was worth it... Well, then you'll be locked up!

So who will be with her to kill the hobo in the park to protect her from seeing alcohol being consumed?
And who will be with her to kill the video store clerk to protect her from the inappropriate lyrics on his hip-hop cd?
And who will be with her to kill the oil-change guy to protect her from his sailor-like swearing after he burns his hand?

And who will give her love and guidance and, well, you know... keep her safe from actually harmful things?

Oh well, at least you got to sound pretty fierce on Slashdot.

Comment Re:Have the drug cartels met their match? (Score 1) 548

Think about why you would need a warning label. Oh yeah, because you want to put something into your body that you haven't taken the time to first research and learn about.

Seriously, what the hell.

When the doctor prescribes an antibiotic for my infant son, I remind him that he's also taking Prilosec for reflux and doesn't tolerate milk/soy, and ask if it's still the right thing to prescribe. When I pick up the prescription, I double check this with the pharmacist, and ask him whether I should give the medicines together or at different times, etc. When I get home, I read the labels and papers to see what I need to do for storing the medicine, what the right dosage is, etc.

You want to make this harder... so that "stupid" people will accidentally kill themselves and their children?

I'm good at math and programming. Do I deserve to die because I don't know foobarzacil + bazidrol = heart attack? For anyone who isn't a doctor/pharmacist/expert who has been trained about all of this stuff, having these discussions with experts and reading the labels is doing the research.

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