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Comment Re:yes (Score 1) 1010

People will only use tools they understand and find useful. For too many people, I would say this includes math beyond basic arithmetic. I use algebra commonly... scribbling out ratios to solve for X, etc. I also will use calculus to solve for min/max solutions, such as when gaming. These are just a few useful things I retained from my math education.

I think there should be a greater focus in math, and other subjects, on the order in which math concepts are taught, whether they are presented with a context and purpose and which ones are stressed over others.

I used to training for tech support for an ISP. In order for new hires to properly debug things, they needed to be taught how network stacks, most specifically IP, worked. IP relies heavily on the concept of a subnet mask, which relies heavily on understanding binary, which relies heavily on understanding numbering systems with different bases.

Over time, I found myself having to focus a lot on how decimal characters worked, pointing out the obvious relations between digits that no one really thought about to compare that to binary. Doing this seemed like taking it slow but I got a much higher success rate from the training. No wonder so many people have problems with any sort of math without a solid foundation in understanding how numbers work together to represent values.

Also, we need to get over these confusions on what math is and how it relates to science. Math is a philosophy and language (or rather, group of) that can be used to express relationships between quantities... and quantities only. However, these languages and philosophies can be applied to real world quantities to approximate and predict changes in the real world. Once you are doing this, you are in the realm of science. Please do note that math only allows for idealized approximations... even though physical scientistists have proven time and time again that these approximations can have extremely high degrees of accuracy.

Math somehow has taken on a mystical/barely understood place in our society - an arcane ritual that only the elite thinkers really need to understand. After all, I get all my science from Fox News and my pastor.


Microsoft Clears MechWarrior4 Free Launch 131

Vamman writes "If you've been following the drama surrounding the free release of MechWarrior4, then you're probably aware that the initial announcement, made last summer, was a bit premature. Now, nearly a year since that announcement was made, MekTek Studios has announced that Microsoft Legal has given clearance for the free release of Mechwarrior4. This move by Microsoft Games couldn't come at a better time for the community, as the owners of MechWarrior are attempting a reboot of the franchise."

3rd Grader Accused of Hacking Schools' Computer System 344

Gud writes "According to The Washington Post a 9-year-old was able to hack into his county's school computer network and change such things as passwords, course work, and enrollment info. From the article: 'Police say a 9-year-old McLean boy hacked into the Blackboard Learning System used by the county school system to change teachers' and staff members' passwords, change or delete course content, and change course enrollment. One of the victims was Fairfax Superintendent Jack D. Dale, according to an affidavit filed by a Fairfax detective in Fairfax Circuit Court this week. But police and school officials decided no harm, no foul. The boy did not intend to do any serious damage, and didn't, so the police withdrew and are allowing the school district to handle the half-grown hacker.'"
Role Playing (Games)

Fallout: New Vegas Coming This Fall, Trailer Released 100

Bethesda announced today that Fallout: New Vegas is scheduled for release sometime this fall, and they released a trailer as well. Details are scant yet on the official site, but they had this to say: "Experience all the sights and sounds of fabulous New Vegas, brought to you by Vault-Tec, America's First Choice in Post Nuclear Simulation. Explore the treacherous wastes of the Great Southwest from the safety and comfort of your very own vault: Meet new people, confront terrifying creatures, and arm yourself with the latest high-tech weaponry as you make a name for yourself on a thrilling new journey across the Mojave wasteland. A word of warning, however — while Vault-Tec engineers have prepared for every contingency,* in Vegas, fortunes can change in an instant. Enjoy your stay. (* Should not be construed as a legally-binding claim.)"

Comment language evolves with new communication media (Score 2, Insightful) 1343

Who here could pass a grammar test of Middle English?

By and large, the distinction between the middle versions of language and the modern versions of languages is around the time of the invention and proliferation of the printing press which widely changed how information was distributed and consumed. This has become and is still considered the norm.

Now, with instant short messaging becoming a reality, new, more abbreviated ways of communicating are becoming the norm as it is no longer necessary to pen out a long letter to communicate to someone at a distance... even email is becoming a bit passe for casual conversation. Thus, people's standards of communication are changing and that is bleeding over into other areas. The context of communication is changing, not the content.

It is sad that this may cause a lessening in what people would consider a more formal structure of communication but that is just an authoritarian and stodgy viewpoint I believe. I do believe that proper written grammar has its place and should be taught to students but it should also be stressed as seperate from the more casual forms of communication.

Comment Math a science? (Score 1) 1747

The original poster is already too confused to be able to do much with science if he puts Mathematics into that category.

What we consider math is a group of widely divergent philosophies sharing certain basic symbols for their expression. Of course, science is also in a similar state but it usualy has the additional characteristic of being applied to a physical universe in order to classify data.

Even though the application of math in science does allow for usable approximations of physical universe phenomenon, it has no direct relation to the physical universe itself.

Comment Re:The "bandwidth hogs" aren't using TCP (Score 1) 497

This analysis of TCP is extremely flawed.

TCP doesn't limit the amount of data sent if there is packet loss. This will only limit the amount of new data sent. TCP will continue resending data that hasn't been acknowledged as being received.

When there is network connection, the server doesn't send you less data, it only appears you are receiving less data per unit of time due to the packet loss.

Comment TCP isn't really self-limiting as described (Score 1) 497

The technical analysis of how TCP works is a bit flawed. Dropped packets from the server to the client show up as unacked bits in the stream being sent. The server will have a limit of how many bits it will send from the previous acked bit. Thus, if it stops receiving acks, it will continue to resend data that was sent previously but un-acked. Thus, the server does not reduce the number of packets it is sending, it just keeps re-sending data that has not been acked. The only rate limiting in TCP is the rate of 'new' data sent.

There are also other conditions that occur that break this assumption that TCP will slow everyone down equally. Any effects of TCP self-limiting its rate of transfer will only impact long connections, not connections that are established for a short period... such as an http get/response on a small file, DNS requests, etc.

Input Devices

Brain-Control Gaming Headset Launching Dec. 21 112

An anonymous reader writes "Controlling computers with our minds may sound like science fiction, but one Australian company claims to be able to let you do just that. The Emotiv device has been garnering attention at trade shows and conferences for several years, and now the company says it is set to launch the Emotiv EPOC headset on December 21. PC Authority spoke to co-founder Nam Do about the Emotiv technology and its potential as a mainstream gaming interface." One wonders what kind of adoption they expect with a $299 price tag.

Comment Re:Why is climate science being politicized? (Score 2, Interesting) 882

It is actually pretty simple. There are very popular economic theories that indicate that you control the flow of money by controlling what people are afraid of. Climate science would be a much smaller field with a lot less attention, money for grants and political debates if it wasn't sensationalized.

Also, look at how scientific data (data obstensibly gained through competent scientists following the scientific methods we learned in high school) winds up being consumed by the public. Being able to say you are green is a huge factor in marketing consumer products, without any regulations to explain exactly how your product impacts the climate less.

The real truth of the matter is that climatologists actually understand very little and are operating off modeling systems that can't track all factors and do not accurate predict results. I have yet to hear of a computer model that can take data from the 80s and accurately roll it forward to mirror today's climate.

Comment Microtransactions and casual, social gaming (Score 1) 95

Over the last few months, I have heard a lot about what is causing microtransaction games such a hard time and what is preventing them from being profitable; either through the lack of a solid microtransaction method, such as with mobile app based games to things like this where it is scammers that are affecting the market. My experiences playing Evony pointed out something to me. In order for a microtransaction game to succeed, it has to have #1) enjoyable game play regardless of whether someone chooses to engage in microtransactions and #2) not implement microtransactions so that it just over-balances the gameplay in favor of those willing to spend money.

This can be extended out to any game that has in-game currency that can be potentially traded for real life currency, including WoW, even though Blizzard strictly frowns upon it. In WoW, you can make your character stronger with less effort but not in a way that changes the game for you or for others other than you will have to spend less time 'farming' for stuff yourself.

In Evony, there was a ranking system that controlled how many cities you could control. You were able to move up the ranks by finding medals and turning them in to complete quests to get the next ranks. You can get these medals in game but they were extremely rare. There were other things you could buy to speed up various aspects of the game or do other minor things, like changing your name but the main draw were the medals. So, finally I put some money into it and stopped playing the game all together shortly after because I discovered that having more cities didn't fix the aspect of the game that was disappointing me. It was a PvP game that heavily favored defense over offense so the best strategy was to just build up your defenses and appear strong enough to not get attacked. You would need to be roughly 5x - 10x stronger than an enemy to be able to knock out their defenses, assuming equal knowledge in what to build... not a fun system and not one fixed by microtransactions.

Many people continue to make massive amounts of profit through selling gold in WoW despite many games trying to monetize off similar transactions as part of their systems. Problems with microtransactions aren't what is killing them... it is the lack of a compelling game in the first place.

Comment Re:The game (Score 1) 201

I play a very similar game called Evony.

I am currently ranked just outside the top 100 without ever spending any money, with a full time job, etc.

In WoW, I am a very competitive PVE player and consider myself highly skilled and highly geared. I have never bought gold.

There is a certain sector of gamers who are willing to either pull ahead by spending real live money or maintain a pace of a serious player without a serious schedule.

I have yet to see this ruin my ability to remain competitive in a game. It can lead to one making up excuses and getting discouraged faster than if they believed there was an even field of competition.

The vast majority of gamers in these games just want a free, fun game. However, that sector that will pay more for in-game benefits is enough to make this a workable model.

Comment Re:We all have broken the law (Score 1) 207

Well, it looks like the guilty until proven innocent is a bit of a blown up myth/propaganda. I have done some research that backs up what you state. It appears Napoleon was concerned about improper imprisonment before trial and explicitly states you are innocent until you are declared guilty by a cort of law.

However, now that I think about it... the way it was explained to me was that the difference was in the burden of proof. In the US, guilt has to be proven with evidence beyond a 'reasonable doubt'. In other words, if there is still a plausible scenario that leaves the accused innocent, he should legally walk. It was explained to me that in French law, it works differently where you have to do a much clearer job of proving your innocence.

I believe that is where the phrase 'guilty until proven innocent' come from because you do actually have to prove your innocence in court while in the U.S, you just have to cast a reasonable doubt on the prosecution.

Interesting to hear that the French Academy doesn't really mandate the French language as much as it probably thinks it does. I do feel that French is a much more consistent language than English is. I don't know how much of that is just from the evolution and influences of the language or how much of it stems from the French Academy.

Thank you for spotting my typo and interpreting it correctly.

I find it interesting that you bring up a lack of concern over privacy. In the U.S., I think there are a lot of concerns when it comes to privacy, especially surrounding identity theft and government and law enforcement agency.

Some of the things that occurred after 9/11 may give a different apparency, such as the establishment of our Department of Homeland Security. What a great way for paranoid rulers to keep their eyes on the populace.

I think you will find different Americans have widely varying opinions on these issues.

I don't know if this is an issue in France but in America, your average citizen is not good at analyzing data and its sources for reliability. People are willing to accept anything at face value if it comes from a 'proper' source, such as the news media. Thus, we wind up with a lot of things as public 'knowledge' that are really kind of crazy.

Comment Re:We all have broken the law (Score 1) 207

France is quite a bit different legally than the US. They still operate under Napoleonic law which puts the burden of proof on the defense, not the prosecution. In others words, you are guilty until proven innocent.

They also do not have a Bills of Rights as broad as ours. They do not have seperation of church and state. At one point, there was a board responsible for monitoring members of minority religions. This may still be in existence but I do not know for sure. It is illegal to congregate in public without a permit. Thus, it is illegal to form a peaceful protest demonstration or even go to the movie with 10 friends (technically). There are laws that are passed that broad, standard application would be impossible. However, the intent is usually to allow legal action to be taken against forces that may have things to say or do that threaten the national government.

They also have the French Academy, a body established by King Louis XIII which passes rulings on what officially is correct French. In other words, even their language is dictated by a centralized body where other languages are dictated by the active use of those communicating with the language.

In France, the populace has a much different relationship with the government than Americans do with theirs.

Having the right of the accuser to be present during proceedings taken away is one that will impact their civil liberties. However, the French standard for civil liberties is much lower.

Comment very important omitted factor from study (Score 1) 882

Traffic accidents cause traffic jams.

People driving in unpredictable fashions increase the risk of accidents.

The increased accident rate of 40% of people ignoring rules would have an inverse impact that would outweigh any optimal reactions to existing jams.

This is not the result of a scientific experiment. This is the result of common sense based on my daily commute, including my experience as a motorcyclist.

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