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Comment This isn't a victory for Behring-Breivik. (Score 3, Insightful) 491

Someone once pointed out that hoping a rapist gets raped in prison isn't a victory for his victim(s), because it somehow gives him what he had coming to him, but it's actually a victory for rape and violence. I wish I could remember who said that, because they are right. The score doesn't go Rapist: 1 World: 1. It goes Rape: 2.

What this man did is unspeakable, and he absolutely deserves to spend the rest of his life in prison. If he needs to be kept away from other prisoners as a safety issue, there are ways to do that without keeping him in solitary confinement, which has been shown conclusively to be profoundly cruel and harmful.

Putting him in solitary confinement, as a punitive measure, is not a victory for the good people in the world. It's a victory for inhumane treatment of human beings. This ruling is, in my opinion, very good and very strong for human rights, *precisely* because it was brought by such a despicable and horrible person. It affirms that all of us have basic human rights, even the absolute worst of us on this planet.

User Journal

Journal Journal: in which i am a noob all over again 17

I haven't posted a journal here in almost three years, because I couldn't find the button to start a new entry. ...yeah, it turns out that it's at the bottom of the page.

So... hi, Slashdot. I used to be really active here, but now I mostly lurk and read. I've missed you.

Comment Re:You're mistaken (Score 1) 244

Actually, that's not entirely correct either, as iPhone and iPod Touch apps will run on iPad without a special version. The plus denotes that the developer has bundled the iPhone/iPod Touch and iPad-specific version together. Example: if Angry Birds didn't have a separate iPad app that was customized to the iPad's device metrics and UX but rather bundled in as a single install, you would see the plus icon meaning that you get both the "normal" and the "HD" version. If you only have Angry Birds for iPhone/iPod Touch, you can still run that on your iPad. You just won't get the "native" iPad experience.

I don't know where this idea that "plus means in-app purchase" got started, but the entire Internet community seems to believe in this misconception.

Comment Re:It's Already Online Many Places (Score 1) 261

I find that community/junior colleges are embracing the online courses way more than traditional four-year universities. I would love to complete my BS in Computer Science (left school a long time ago, in 1997) but there are precious few programs for a *true* BSCS. Florida State University is the only Tier 1 school that I've found to offer it.

I live in Dallas, Texas, and we have several good schools to chose from in the state. Baylor, Texas A&M, University of Texas, Texas Tech, University of Texas @ Dallas, Southern Methodist University, Texas Christian University; absolutely none of them offer anything remotely technical as a distance learning program. Texas Tech has a degree in General Studies online, and I've seen some other school offering things like English or Humanities. It's always some sort of basic, generic degree, and that's a frustrating fact.

I should clarify that I'm referring to Bachelor's degrees. Graduate programs seem to be plentiful at many schools. I guess they want the young kids to come spend their money and go to class. Despite discussing the issue with those friends and acquaintances in education, I've never heard a convincing answer. "I don't really know" seems to be the standard response.
Education

Quantum Physics For Everybody 145

fiziko writes in with a self-described "blatant self-promotion" of a worthwhile service for those wishing to go beyond Khan Academy physics: namely Bureau 42's Summer School. "As those who subscribe to the 'Sci-Fi News' slashbox may know, Bureau 42 has launched its first Summer School. This year we're doing a nine-part series (every Monday in July and August) taking readers from high school physics to graduate level physics, with no particular mathematical background required. Follow the link for part 1."

Comment iTunesU + older textbooks (Score 1) 467

It's so funny that this question has been posed. I thought for a second that I had actually posted this! :)

I'm pretty much in your same situation. I dropped out of college back in the late 90s, and the last math class that I successfully passed was Calculus II. I took a Calculus III class, but stopped going around the time I dropped out. This puts me at almost 15 years since I've attended a structure math class at the university level. Before that, I look Precalculus in high school...in 1991. I haven't had an Algebra class since 1990.

I can recall many things, but definitely NOT enough to pass a college exam. I decided that I would go back to school and start with Calculus I. After all, SURELY if I've had this material before I could easily get an A! Ahem. I could remember the basics, I could remember the rules of derivation and integration, but I couldn't remember the Trigonometry. Finding the derivative of something involving sine, cosine or tangent confounded me. At the behest of the professor, I enrolled in Precalculus. After the first week, we had a test covering the basics of Algebra. I flunked that. I couldn't remember every last detail, and it's been nearly 20 years since I've seen this material directly in a classroom environment.

After consulting with a friend, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I'm not willing to spend the time (and money) in a classroom retaking math classes, so I headed to my local Half Price Books. I'm fortunate enough to live in Dallas where we have several large stores with a massive stock of older college texts. I picked up a book on Algebra, Trigonometry and Precalculus. I also acquired the teachers manuals and student's solutions manuals for these texts, giving me a nice base of information to jog my brain. Math hasn't changed a whole lot in the last few years, and the main thing that I find that dates the books is the calculator requirement. Some of these books use a TI-85 or TI-86 in their chapter sample exercises, but these are the calculators I have lying around since my college days.

iTunesU is also an awesome source. Go search on Algebra and other math subjects to get full courses on any subject you lack. You can get older courses and cheap textbooks on Amazon if you want to precisely follow along. Th Algebra videos from Harrisburg Area Community College have helped me immensely.

As mentioned above, MIT's OCW can help you, but if you were so inclined to teach yourself mathematics with MIT's material you probably wouldn't be posting on Slashdot asking for some assistance. I don't mean this as an insult in the slightest; I'm not one to learn this type of material on my own, either!

In summary: hit iTunesU and get some FULL courses to fill you in. Go get some used, older textbooks either online or at a local used bookstore if you have such a resource in your area. Outside of these self-help options, you can always enroll at a local community college to basically start over. I know the Dallas area colleges sometimes have rolling enrollment and/or compressed schedule courses. You may find that you can plow through classes like College Algebra, Trigonometry and Precalculus in a shorter time since you're basically refreshing your knowledge.

Good luck!

Comment Re:Wash your hands! (Score 1) 374

This is good advice, and gives me an opportunity to speak to the community at large: some of us who go to cons and are in a position to shake tons of hands politely decline. It's not because we're being dicks, it's because we know it's a good way to substantially decrease our chances of catching and spreading any germs.

Comment Oh, cruel irony (Score 2, Interesting) 374

I played the PAX Pandemic game, where the Enforcers handed out stickers to attendees that read [Carrier] [Infected] or [Immune] (There was also a [Patient Zero].

I got the [Immune] sticker, and by the time I got home on Monday, it was clear that I had the flu. I've had a fever between 100 and 104 all week that finally broke last night, but I'm going to the doctor today because I think whatever I had settled into my lungs. I'll tell him about the H1N1 outbreak and get tested if he wants to run the test, but at this point I think it's safe to assume that I was [Immune] to the Pig Plague, but definitely [Infected] with the damn PAX pox.

Even though it's been a week of misery, it was entirely worth it, and I don't regret going to PAX for a single second.

Comment Re:Iron Man's Suit Defies Physics -- Mostly (Score 2, Interesting) 279

Hydrogen peroxide powered rocket packs fly for around 30 seconds, because they have a specific impulse of around 125, meaning that one pound of propellant can make 125 pound-seconds of thrust, meaning that it takes about two pounds of propellant for every second you are in the air. Mass ratios are low for anything strapped to a human, so the exponential nature of the rocket equation can be safely ignored.

A pretty hot (both literally and figuratively) bipropellant rocket could manage about twice the specific impulse, and you could carry somewhat heavier tanks, but two minutes of flight on a rocket pack is probably about the upper limit with conventional propellants.

However, an actual jet pack that used atmospheric oxygen could have an Isp ten times higher, allowing theoretical flights of fifteen minutes or so. Here, it really is a matter of technical development, since jet engines have thrust to weight ratios too low to make it practical. There is movement on this technical front, but it will still take a while.

John Carmack

Comment John Scalzi on why it won't work (Score 1) 370

John Scalzi wrote a hilarious exchange on his blog the sums up perfectly why this idea is made of fail:

Sony BMG spokesperson: We're pleased to announce we are the final major music corporation to release electronic tracks without that pesky DRM! All you have to do is leave your house, go to a selected retail outlet, buy a special card there, go back to your house, scratch off the back of the card to find a code, go to our special MusicPass Web site, enter said code, and download one the 37 titles we have available, from Celine Dion to the Backstreet Boys!

Kid #1: Or, in the time it takes me to jump through all those hoops, I could just download all 37 of those albums off of Pirate Bay.

Kid #2: Or, I could just scratch off the back at the store, record the pin number, go home and download the album through a Tor connection, so you can't trace my IP number.

Kid #1: Also, what's with this first slate of artists? Celine Dion? Backstreet Boys? Kenny Chesney? Barry Manilow? Are you high?
There's much more, but I didn't want to jack his entire post.

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