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Comment Ditto (Score 1) 248

I installed a Simplisafe system three months ago and am quite happy so far.

At some point I'll have to replace a bunch of batteries, but I'll take that as a trade over putting in a lot of wiring. Some of the screws to attach sensors to walls are a bit small (I would avoid the double-sided tape). But that's it for nits to pick. The basic design and engineering are really good. Instalation and setup were easy.

I have the $20/month monitoring that includes e-mail alerts. The monitoring works.

It satisfied the home insurance folks.

It communicates with the monitoring service by cellphone, which is more robust and secure than landline or internet, and has a battery backup -- when I'm away, I find out about power blackouts because it sends me a little e-mail whenever the power goes out.

Comment Re:My dad told me he wanted a ciomputer as well (Score 1) 370

How much experience do you have teaching really elderly people how to work things?

Old people often lose significant cognitive capacity, and ability to learn new things. I have been through this with my folks. Things that seem obvious to you, like the difference between a DVD and a VHS tape, completely flummox them. They have much lower bandwidth than children and less ability to lay down new memories.

And credulity: In the years before my Dad died, a regular part of my visits was removing all the adware and crap that had accumulated on his browser, because he would click anything that said "click here." 20 years earlier he had been a software-writing scientist and nobody's fool, but his bullshit-detectors and underlying technical understanding had attenuated. There's a reason why a whole category of scams target old people.

So it's quite possible that the caring thing is not to get someone a computer.

Comment Reality check (Score 1) 625

This is a working paper by two guys. "Working paper" means it has not undergone any kind of review. The paper itself does not appear to be online.

Osborne's cv is here: http://www.robots.ox.ac.uk/~mosb/MAOsborne.pdf Can anyone find Frey's CV?

I see no point saying more without being able to read the paper, but I can't help notice the weasel words "at risk" in the published summary.

Comment Can we be less priggish? (Score 1) 459

Courtesy and respect are good, and asking yourself how a message will look to its recipient is good.

But business etiquette changes! The kind of writing *recommended* in the article would have seemed impertinent 40 years ago. I'm remembering the secretary's manual from which I learned typing in the early 1970s, which prescribed rigid rules of address and epistolary etiquette.

And texting ... I have the same gut reaction to "R U going" that you do. But I have to step back and realize that it's because I've got a stick up my butt. "R U going" is quite clear.

(a) Language always changes. (b) People's language use is basically formed in their early 20s. Ergo (c) part of the experience of growing old is that you will be increasingly surrounded by unfamiliar words and ways of speaking and writing. Being a curmudgeon is too easy.

Comment Re:Backwards (Score 5, Insightful) 459

+1. I remember when business was mostly done on the phone, and it was a really inefficient medium. So inefficient that you needed specialist employees whose job was placing calls... Every now and then I end up in contact with an industry that is still mostly phone-based (e.g. movers) and I'm reminded what that was like.

Phone is good when you have something sensitive or open-ended and/or you really need to sound someone out, hear their tone of voice, pauses and so forth. Interestingly, I've noticed that I and most folks set those calls up with an e-mail or text - we don't just cold-call. That feels rude now.

I've also noticed that not all of my fellow senior colleagues have adapted to e-mail well. Messages should be short and clear and not waste the recipient's time.

Beer at lunch, that was good.

Comment Re:Taking notes period lowers grades (Score 1) 313

A lot of people have never learned how to take notes!

I agree that anxiously trying to transcribe everything is distracting.

But good notes are not transcription or stenography. They are a way of processing and organizing what is going on, making it your own, and moving farther.

Think of notes as

1. Keeping an *outline* of the the content: even as you are recording, you are paying attentive to its structure.
2. Letting you record your own queries, doubts, confusions, and challenges as you go along.
3. Giving you a picture of the whole presentation: you can look back up the page at what has gone before and ask yourself if it hangs together. You can draw arrows linking parts.
4. More ambitiously, you can make diagrams of the argument, or start working out your own argument.


Tangentially, I've noticed that a lot of students anxiously copy any rubbish I write on the board, but stare into space if I tell them something they need to know.

Comment Re:Not religion, but purpose (Score 1) 931

This is about right. The linked study may not be very good, but the hypothesis is plausible.

I'm a nonbeliever with a (very smart) manic-depressive sibling, and said sibling has done way better during periods of religious belief than during periods of unbelief.

Putting aside ontological questions, religions give you an automatic community. You can find a church or equivalent, with people who will listen to you and help you and take you seriously. You also get texts/legends/liturgy that give you ways to think about stuff. There's also a lot to be said for ritual itself, for daily and weekly practice.

As I get older I'm less ready to assume that people who don't think like me are *complete* idiots.

Comment Re:Title and summary (Score 1) 276

Calculus has become institutionalized as the filter in college teaching: show us you can get through that, and we'll let you do what you want.

If we could start over, a lot of stuff could be done differently. We could teach basic probability in high schools. A lot of discrete stuff could be taught early. And so on.

Comment Re:Casual vs serious users (Score 2) 68

For the most part I agree -- one reason I'm reading and typing this on a Thinkpad.

But let's talk about read-only tasks.

First, a lot of those are now easier on a tablet than on a PC. Faster booting up, simpler interface. Touch what you want, it opens, you read/watch it. At the moment, anyway, tablets have better screen quality.

Second, ease of use and screen quality mean that activities are migrating from print and TV/DVD to tablets. I read a lot of pdfs as part of my work. Like you I watch zero TV, but I'll sometimes unwind with 10 minutes of Daily Show and I've started to watch an occasional episode of "The Thick of It" on Hulu, which is available nowhere else. My wife reads books and watches video on laptops or tablets routinely.

Maps, reading for work or pleasure, looking things up, video ... there's a lot of read-only in most of our lives. I haven't quite made the move, but I'm planning on buying the next version of a Nexus 10 that comes out. At work, I've seen a lot of colleagues who used to turn up at meetings with laptops bringing tablets.

Comment A recent retail experience (Score 3, Insightful) 86

I went to Northgate Mall in Seattle three weeks ago looking to get either a Nexus 4 or a Samsung galaxy s3.

Samsung products were everywhere.

The only place I could find a Nexus 4 was the Tmobile store, and yes, what tipped me to the Nexus was trying it out.

There was an unaffiliated tablet/phone store elsewhere in the mall that had a Nexus 7 and maybe a 10, but you had to look hard for them.

It still seems weird that you would need to open a whole store as opposed to striking deals for retail space for your stuff, though.

Comment Re:A bit exaggerated claims to a 2nd post? (Score 1) 79

yes. I'm not an expert, but there was clearly some combination of physical and psychological illness, though there's nothing definitive on what. Even by the standards of gentleman scientists he was awfully slow, and you can argue that science was ill-served by his slowness.

And yeah, in mid-19th-century Britain you would be criticized by the religious establishment, but it's not like they could hurt him or deny him an audience. The dude was wealthy, and a near-recluse in any case.

Darwin was a great scientist and had virtues we should honor. But we're ill-advised to turn fragile mortals into heroes.

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