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Comment Courtesy? (Score 1) 174

Legal issues aside, if she was aware of the operator's location, it was a dick move to destroy the drone without simply talking to the operator first. Half the drones I see are being operated by kids with their parents standing by as a fun hobby. There's not always nearby or sufficient public land for the activity, and it's normal to want to try out new flying locations. If she had a problem with operating a drone in the area, she could have told them so. 99% of drone operators are going to comply in that sort of situation. If they were rude after being asked to leave, then I can see justification for shooting the drone down.

Comment Thank You! (Score 1) 211

In a perfect world where everyone has a photographic memory, we would change all of our passwords ever 30 days and be better for it. In the real world, people are often tasked with remembering the passwords for dozens of accounts with different password policies, different change policies, and differing security needs. This causes frequent forgotten passwords (leading to overuse of password recovery tools, easy to guess passwords, and password reuse.

In theory, you could simply use good mnemonic devices for passwords (see XKCD example), but in practice this is often thwarted by differing password policies. One requires special characters, the other prohibits. One has a maximum of 10 characters, the other 100. One requires caps, the other isn't case sensitive. As a result of these passwords, I've often ended up in "vicious cycles" for infrequently used accounts. I can't remember my password because I only log in every few months, so I have to reset the password. I can't remember the password the next time because I'm always having to reset it.

Bottom line: we need something better. The current state of passwords can be bewildering for a techie, and fatal to technology use for the non-technically inclined. With the proliferation of the cloud and other online services, It's gotten to the point that every single time I try to help my mom or other layperson with something on the computer, it's nothing but a battle of trying to remember to passwords.

Comment I don't (Score 1) 385

Simple answer: I don't, I probably can't and it probably doesn't matter. I suppose I'm a bit fatalistic about it at this point, but my credit/debit cards have been subject to fraud on pretty much an annual basis for the last decade. The card company indemnifies me, and all that I lose is half an hour of my time calling in the fraud.

Comment Not that Surprising (Score 2) 278

It's more than I expected (I was guessing ~$400), but I can't say that I am all that surprised or outraged. For a long time, the Oculus folks insisted that they were going to focus on making it good, not making it affordable. This makes sense, because VR technology has been around for decades, but nobody has really managed to make a GOOD VR set prior to the Oculus. Assuming the consumer version is in fact good, they can then focus on making it affordable. If you want affordable, there's always the cardboard VR sets to play with.

If they manage to succeed with making a good set, then VR will start to catch on and prices will fall for other good sets. I wouldn't be surprised if Oculus eventually releases different models to fulfill low and high end price points.

I also don't understand the outrage over the PC specs. The fact of the matter is that based on years of testing, it was determined that you really needed high resolution (i.e. 4k) to get rid of the screen door effect that has always been the bane of VR implementations. I wouldn't be surprised if 8k will be needed to really get rid of it. That takes a lot of computing horsepower and there just isn't any way around it.

Comment Re:Before a human walks on Mars... (Score 1) 285

Evolution of our species beyond recognition is inevitable well before then. Homo sapiens have only been around for a few hundred thousand years and you are worried about hundreds of millions of years from now?

Given the time frames, I'm pretty content to let whatever species is the closest descendant of homo sapiens figure it out in a few hundred million years. They may be far better suited biologically to interstellar travel.

Comment Re:Biased IQ tests (Score 1) 445

It's true that this can happen, but well-designed IQ tests try to avoid questions dependent on any specific cultural context, or don't score based on the answer itself, but how the answer is thought through.

A properly scored IQ test that did ask "what are the four seasons?" could actually give full credit to a response that involved hunting seasons. In that case, the person administering the test would be looking for whether the child understood why there were different hunting seasons and what that implied. If the child answered spring/summer/winter/fall, they would be looking for an understanding of what was happening when the seasons were changing.

Comment Re:Donna Ford is racist (Score 1) 445

The kid identified in the article demonstrated the issue well. His dad was working while going to school and didn't realize his kid was even being tested until right before it happened. A parent of higher socioeconomic status probably would have been asking about gifted testing before the kid was even signed up for Kindergarten. It's not that the dad didn't care, he probably just didn't know to ask.

Comment I Attended Gifted Programs in Houston (Score 3, Informative) 445

I attended elementary school in HISD and middle/high in SBISD. The article doesn't quite get to the root of the issue. The issue is that the programs tend to be targeted towards long time residents with a lot of cultural and political capital. These are the people that can make or break the career of a school administrator, so they get deference. This can happen because information about the programs are not publicized much. It's also expensive to run GT programs and the system doesn't want too many kids qualifying. As a result, the kids who end up in GT programs are those whose parents know all about the program (from knowing other parents with kids in the program) and have the wherewithal to lobby teachers to recommend their kids for testing and advocate that the kid get put in the appropriate program.

To illustrate how this works: my parents were not from Houston, but settled in the town shortly before I was born. They knew to get me tested, and I scored at a level that qualified me for any of HISD's gifted programs. However, what my parents were not told (and what could not easily be found out in a pre-internet age), was that there were actually multiple levels of gifted program. While I qualified for the higher tier program, nobody told my parents about it, and I ended up in the lower-tier program by default. My local school wanted it that way because I was a guaranteed pass on state standardized tests and the higher-tier program would have involved a transfer to a gifted magnet school. By the time my parents figured it out, we were moving to a nearby district that had a completely different system.

As far as the test being biased, it may be, but only to the extent IQ tests are biased. As far as I know, they are still using a version of an IQ test for selection, with certain additional diversity points available for kids on the margin. For a young child, providing some familiarity with the test could be helpful, so there's probably some benefit to savvy parents prepping. But I doubt any tweaks to testing procedures would make up for the cultural capital factor.

Comment Re:True (Score 2) 307

It's a little different in a real job, however. In a real job (at least at a reasonably well run organization), there is an established hierarchy (you know who is supposed to be in charge), and there are established roles (you know what you are supposed to be doing). In a class assignment, they throw 4 random kids into a group and leave them to figure everything out. In practice, it usually ends up being one smart/motivated kid doing everything while all the other kids socialize. The only thing in common is it teaches the kids doing nothing how to take credit for someone else's work.

Comment We are not yet at the age of exploration (Score 1) 684

While I love the romantic notion of space faring being the next logical step for humanity, I'm afraid we are nowhere close to where we need to be technologically. When it comes to space travel, we aren't 15th century Europeans with big sailing ships, we are the native Americans with dugout canoes. While it's technically possible to cross the Atlantic with a dugout canoe, actually attempting such a voyage would be close to suicidal, and could never become sufficiently routine to establish a viable colony. Likewise, inter-planetary travel with chemical rockets will never become sufficiently routine to establish a colony. Even after 80 years of liquid fuel rockets, the failure rate causes accidents to be almost routine. The costs are still astronomical and will always be due to the physical limitations of liquid rocket fuel (i.e. the tyranny of the rocket equation). Instead of dreaming about trying to go to Mars in our dugout canoes, we need to be figuring out sailing ships. That means a non-chemical rocket method of getting to space (space elevator?) and perfecting non-chemical rocket interplanetary propulsion.

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