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Comment Re:Just (Score 1) 163

Oops, correction: Yamaha's upgraded pads are silicone, not mesh. (Roland's upgraded pads are mesh). I just know they're "the white pads I like that feel better than the black rubber ones".

Also, the drumset I have is the DTX530K, not DTX550K. The only difference is that the DTX550K includes an extra cymbal (which can be purchased separately anyway). I can never keep the specific product numbers straight in my mind.

Comment Re:Just (Score 1) 163

It all depends on your expectations. (Also, I haven't tried very many kits--mostly the one I ultimately bought, the Yamaha DTX550K at close to $1000--so I'm basing my opinion on that.)

Sound: It'll probably be fine. Modern drumsets do a decent job of approximating the sounds of the real thing, with enough variety that the casual listener won't be able to tell the difference. The one thing that I can't get to sound convincing is a cymbal swell, but I don't normally use those anyway so it's not a big loss for me.
This is also the easiest thing to preview before you buy, both in a music store and by simply watching videos. For example, here's a drummer who is much better than I am, using the same set as me.
One big upside of electronic drums is that you can switch between a variety of sound banks with a push of a button. With real drums, you'd have to buy multiple drumsets to get the same result.

Feel: There's no getting around that electronic drums feel different from real drums. This is the biggest drawback, and will take some adjustment if you're used to regular drums. Definitely try before you buy.
I do like mesh pads (the DTX550K includes a mesh snare) but they are significantly more expensive. Luckily these can be upgraded over time. Cymbals are likely to be disappointing no matter what you choose. Also note that some low end kits have only a pedal for the hi-hat; I chose my set partly because it includes a proper hi-hat.

Recording: I haven't done any kind of recording, but I would guess that having a direct line for the drums' sound instead of using microphones would be a benefit. You can also capture the MIDI output if you would have a use for it.

Noise level: It's about the same as rubber practice pads. (And mesh pads are even quieter still.)
I once apologized to someone in the next apartment over for playing the drums late at night. She had no idea I even had a drumset.

Comment Re:Just (Score 1) 163

But that's just where the usefulness ends. Sure, you now appreciate rock music, but can you play it in real life on real instruments? Millions of kids bought Guitar Hero and Rock Band to realize their dreams of actually becoming ROCK MUSICIANS. Sadly, all the games do is to train you to press colored buttons in sequence with colored lights. Those skills are not transferable to real instruments, and in fact, won't even get you an audition.

Yes, as a matter of fact I can play it on a real instrument, provided that you consider an electronic drumset "real". (And I don't mean the toy drums designed for Rock Band: I use a low end Yamaha set. I have neighbors who would not appreciate the volume of a normal drumset, so this is the best I can do.) The same drumset that I play as a standalone instrument is also my controller for Rock Band 3, thanks to a $20 MIDI adapter.

I'll never be a great drummer--I'm passable at best, and don't have the drive to improve beyond that--but I did develop some of my early skills using Rock Band games.

Comment Re:Anyone else think Neo900 is too little, too lat (Score 1) 192

I don't know about Nexus phones specifically, but unless the hardware is locked down you should be able to put Android in a chroot jail instead, with a proper GNU/Linux environment on the outside. Then in the Android world you can run a VNC client app, or ssh in a terminal app (with optional X server app), to break back out.

I got it working on my N900 substitute, a $200 "Samsung Galaxy S Relay 4G" (SGH-T699), which has a great 5 row slide out keyboard to make up for its otherwise unremarkable (but still better than N900) hardware. There are still a lot of rough edges to smooth out--currently to direct audio to the headphone port I use a shell script with 9 amixer commands, for example--but I get the sense that this is just a matter of putting in more time tinkering.

Comment Re:Who gives a shit? (Score 2) 593

I think there is a significant number of women who are interested but are dissuaded from studying computer science for some other reason(s).

My school had an overall male/female ratio of something like 70/30, and most of my computer science classes were closer to 90/10. But "pure" math courses tended to be close to 50/50 as well as more racially diverse if I remember correctly. Courses cross-listed between both departments fell somewhere in between.

Shouldn't there have been a large overlap between the groups of people interested in, for example, complexity theory (computer science department) and graph theory (math department)? Besides covering related content, both courses emphasized a similar set of skills, primarily reading/writing formal proofs, and had similar difficulty and workload levels. Neither course was required for any major or had formal prerequisites. Yet complexity theory was dominated by white men and graph theory was not. Why is that?

I don't deny that there are fewer women overall who are interested in science and technology fields, but even among the women who are, in my experience a disproportionate number of women chose math over computer science. (Or perhaps it is the men who chose computer science over math?) Either way this suggests to me that the problem extends beyond level of interest in course content.

Comment Re:I kind of welcome the attention (Score 2) 173

I think one solution to this is for us to remind them they are actually our public servants as often as possible. If you are lost, then go up and ask them for directions if they seem to be standing around doing nothing. Hell, maybe even ask them if you are not lost just so they get to talk to a law abiding citizen for a change. Then, if they are helpful, be polite and courteous and make sure you say thanks.

They will still have to deal with utter some scumbags, but maybe if they spent more time dealing with people who are not then they might find it easier to not treat everyone like they are.

I have done this several times (not for this purpose but because I needed directions or other minor assistance). Each time the officer seemed to genuinely appreciate the chance to help and be seen as the "good guy" in the eyes of the person he was interacting with.

Not that my experiences are any more than anecdotes, but they line up with your thoughts. How many police officers assume the worst of us because we assume the worst of them and treat them accordingly?

Comment Re:Sure, why not (Score 1) 430

I'm not the grandparent poster, and my political and economic views are well to the left (within the US spectrum). But I, too, found that many candidates were astonishingly bad in a way that no amount of training would likely have corrected for.

At my previous job, our test/icebreaker was simple: we sat the candidate down at a computer with a C++ file to read and digest for up to half an hour, left the room and then returned with this question: "So, what does this code do?" There were no tricks--the file was about 300 lines long, was designed to be readable (with meaningful variable names and occasional comments), and used only the most basic of C++ features. It did nothing more sophisticated than applying some logical tests to an input object in order to select a return value.

You know what I did that impressed the team when I was asked "So, what does this code do" on my interview? I gave a one-sentence summary before diving into details. I was skeptical when my boss told me this shortly after starting the new job. But we interviewed a dozen or so additional candidates over the following year, and half of them were only capable of giving line-by-line explanations ("Well, at the top of this function first we check if this parameter is less than 60, if so we stop and return this value, otherwise...") even after we stopped them and specifically asked for a brief high level summary. They all interpreted the individual lines of code correctly, but only half could express what the code did as a whole.

We hired three people from this group (so about 1/4 of the people we interviewed). And we did provide plenty of training, or more accurately, we each taught each other based on our individual strengths. I had more SQL experience than the rest of the team, for example, so I took on the more difficult SQL-related tasks myself while others completed simpler tasks with my advice and guidance. Similarly, another member had more experience with pthreads than I did, so he helped me whenever I had issues related to multithreading. The end result was a team where everyone had specialties but could complete basic tasks in any relevant area.

Comment Re:What can they learn? (Score 2) 267

Texas has the federal government to fall back on in case of, for example, natural disaster. The federal government doesn't have such a safety net; it must self-insure. On top of that, the federal government has to be prepared for contingencies such as war that do not really apply at the state level.

The period of time, one year, is arbitrary. Requiring a balanced yearly federal budget would be like requiring a balanced personal budget every two week pay period, even though my biggest expenses occur monthly.

What we really need is some way to balance the federal budget over a much longer period of time, a decade or two perhaps, spanning a full boom/bust cycle. This is, of course, much easier said than done.

Comment Re:Make more than $48k, pay same as Bill Gates (Score 1) 398

No subsidy. Household of 1, 32 years old, income high enough that there is no subsidy (put 100k or whatever). A silver plan is estimated at $272/month.

Data points for comparison (non-smoker, no pre-existing conditions):
* 2005: Employer health plan similar to a silver plan. Monthly premium was $330/month of which the employer paid 75%. (Compare $231/month from the calculator for a 25 year old.)
* 2007: Unemployed. The cheapest individual plan I could find was $500/month, similar to a silver plan; COBRA let me keep the $330/month plan but I had to pay 100% of the premium. $150/month state-subsidized option would have been available but only after I depleted my assets. (Compare $241/month from the calculator for a 27 year old.)
* 2010: Employer health plan similar to a gold plan. Monthly premium was about $600/month of which the employer paid 75%. (Calculator doesn't give numbers for a gold plan.)
* 2012: Employer high deductible health plan similar to a silver plan, with the employer paying 100% of both premium and deductible used. Monthly premium was $350/month, and will remain unchanged through 2014. (Compare $272/month from the calculator for a 32 year old.)

Now, I live in New York rather than California, so I wouldn't have the rates given by California's calculator. Instead it looks like the cheapest silver plan where I live will be $300/month.

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