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Comment Re:Excel & Paper (Score 1) 386

Last time I checked, the IRS would let you download PDFs of the tax filing forms, and these PDFs were the kind you could fill information in the blanks. When I still used the 1040EZ form that's what I did. I'd print one out, do it by hand with pencil and paper, then when I was ready, fill out the PDF then print it out, sign it, then mail it in with my W-2, etc.

My state had PDF forms too but they were the kind you could fill in data.

Comment Re:Grow up without music? (Score 2) 370

I think what he meant was "grow up without free music" (other than FM radio). I grew up when music wasn't free. You had FM radio, you had friends who'd share their CDs and records, trade tapes, maybe see a live show if you could afford it. Having a music collection meant a big investment of money, unless you could make lots of tapes off of other friends collections.

Anyone remember holding the tape recorder up to the radio to record their favorite song?

Comment Re:In need of more relays (Score 1) 186

Its not just NSA that you're hiding from, its your ISP and others. Who knows, maybe 5-10 years from now when you go to apply for a job, besides the drug screening, credit check, social media background check, they'll want to examine your internet usage to make sure you're not doing something your employer doesn't approve of.

Comment It started with Win95 (Score 2) 489

Does anyone remember the controversy (one of many) about Windows 95 when it would do the same thing? When you went to register it, it would supposedly tell Microsoft what programs you had installed. When I got my Win95 machine in December 1995 I watched carefully to see what it did. The phoning home and telling them what you had installed was voluntary, and the only program that Win95 could accurately detect was MS Office 95. It couldn't detect any of the DOS games I had installed, nor did it seem to recognize the 3rd party email apps, etc I had installed.

Comment Re:"Boiler Operator?" (Score 1) 580

You're absolutely right. My older brother is a licensed engineer who operates heating systems. He had to learn mechanics and physics, the real thing.

On Slashdot and other fora people seem to think only civil engineers who build bridges are real engineers. If a steam engineer doesn't know what he's doing the boiler could blow, taking out an entire building full of people.

Comment Re:is it just me? (Score 4, Interesting) 611

I grew up in the 1970's and had to listen to my parents complain about how great things used to be and how they sucked now (then). Didn't hear it so much in the late 1980's. When the recession hit in the early 1990's it was in all the newspaper editorials that the US was a fading empire like the Greeks, Romans, and British before us. Basically everything we're hearing now. Once we bounced back and had a big economic boom in the late 90's it wasn't the case anymore. Then the recession of the early 2000s hit and it was the same thing all over again. Our empire such as it is may be fading but whenever there is a economic downturn, we hear the same complaints.

Comment Re:Personal info disclosure here (Score 1) 490

I graduated from a Maryland High School (a Catholic private one though) in 1984 and I'm pretty sure Algebra II was required as well, along with Geometry and Chemistry. I don't remember if Trig was required or not. People who were bad at math struggled to get the requirements out of the way. They would take one year of "Algebra 1 part 1" and then Algebra 1 part 2". Most everyone took Algebra 1 Freshman year, Algebra 2 sophomore year, Geometry/Trig Junior year (1 semester for each course) and were highly encouraged to take either Pre-Calc or Calculus 1 their senior year. I took Calc 1 but it was nothing like college level Calc 1. What took us 3-4 weeks to cover in high school we covered in 1-1.5 weeks in college. The pace was way too fast for me and I had to drop the course.

Graduation requirements come and go with whatever is in fashion. Studying a foreign language was optional back then but it might be mandatory now. One religion class I had made us do some volunteer charity work and I think now it is a requirement for graduation, although I don't know if this applies to state schools as well.

Even though foreign language was optional when I was there, we were told that some colleges required it and we were encouraged to take two years of it. They offered Spanish, French, and Latin. I really wanted to learn a cool language like German, or Japanese but they didn't offer anything like that.

Comment Re:No science? (Score 1) 542

My college friends used to complain about "Anthrospeak" quite often, and when I took a upper divisional Anthropology class I found out exactly what they meant.

For example, we read a paper written by our teacher (an Anthropologist) who was studying a primitive tribe in Africa (it might have been the Bushmen) and tried to teach them how to play the game Monopoly. It took a lot of work, and the whole thing turned out to be a failure because of cultural differences. People didn't want to charge their friends rent when they landed on their properties, and they would haggle down to the last dollar. They also didn't like the fact you couldn't use pennies for setting prices.

I just paraphrased the article to make it sound interesting, and it could have been an interesting story, but the way it was written, filled with obscure jargon and twisted narrative made it a terrible bore. I can't really describe it any better than that. In reading Anthropology/Sociology Journals (the two were a combined major for a while at my school) I'd see what would look like an interesting topic but the writing would be so bad it turned me off to the field completely. I'm pretty sure it gave me some bad writing habits since I thought this is how you're supposed to write.

Comment Re:50's chemistry kit (Score 1) 446

I grew up in the 70's and had a chemistry set. It was fun, but the child safety caps they put on the chemical bottles were industrial strength. You needed either a special key, or as I found out later, a heavy duty screw driver to get the lids off. But it was still a lot of fun.

Around the same time, an older relative gave me an old chemistry set that had belonged to her older brother. No child safety caps, more interesting chemicals and experiments to run, and more interesting glassware (beakers, you could order a thistle funnel, etc). I wanted to order the more cool stuff out of their catalog but it was no longer available.

In high school chemistry, our class was 95% lecture. We only did lab work 2 or 3 times that I recall. The lab was there, but gathering dust. This was an honors chemistry class too.

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