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Comment Re:One reason it's so high (Score 1) 398

A couple of minor corrections:

PDD/NOS (pervasive developmental disorder-not specified)
IEP - individual *education* plan

And for the record, we got our services without shenanigans - my kids were far enough delayed and had such an obvious diagnosis (dyspraxia) that it was never an issue.

That's what I get for posting before my wife and friendly neighborhood fact-checker is awake.

Comment One reason it's so high (Score 1) 398

My wife is a public school teacher (6th grade), and we're parents of two preschoolers (ages 2 and 3) with cognitive delays (dyspraxia). As a result, we've come in contact over the past few years with a *lot* of people who have children all over the developmental spectrum.

We've seen many cases where a parent sees a developmental delay in their child and takes them for testing. The doctor agrees that they may have a slight delay, but doesn't really have a name for it. This gets you no services from the school system. Often, the doctor will offer to diagnose with an "autism spectrum disorder" (usually PPD/NOS) so that the child can get services.

Why? Autism is *huge* right now. Funding is there. Services are there. A doctor attaching a finding of autism means your kid is guaranteed to get an IEP (individual instruction plan) which can be an incredible boost to a kid like mine. Believe me, I know - my daughter has made amazing strides since she started our county's developmental preschool program in September.

Other times I've seen cases where the first doctor refuses to diagnose autism. The parents then shop around doctors until they find someone who is willing to diagnose autism so they can get services for their kid. There's a university program near me that seems to basically be writing blank checks for whatever diagnosis you think your kid has.

Autism is real, and it's a terrible, terrible disease. But over the years they've expanded the definition to the point where it has become meaningless, and well-meaning doctors and parents who are just trying to get help for the kids in their care have been behind a lot of it.

Comment Re:Great holiday for DIY electronics (Score 1) 249

Sure thing, here ya go.

The eyes came out a little cockeyed, but meh. The servo is supported with puddy and the whole works are held together with binary epoxy. You can also see the control box, which basically just takes RS232 via the DB9 and converts into signals for the servo. There are six total servo channels, only one of which is in use currently (I was ambitious once upon a time).

Comment Great holiday for DIY electronics (Score 5, Interesting) 249

Before the kids came along, I built a number of fun electronics projects for Halloween. I built a flicker circuit I got off of Wolfstone (a great site for would-be haunters).

Along with a couple of friends, I built a coffin-leaper one year, too. I built the electronics (a pressure sensitive mat that activated a solenoid valve). Another fellow built the pneumatics and another built the actual coffin and dummy. When you'd step on the mat, the dummy would spring up and a loop tape with sounds effect and a strobe would go off.

I also built a lightning/thunder machine using a "color organ" (basically a device that causes different flood lights to flash in time to various sound frequencies) that came from a Velleman kit. I set up an old pair of PC speakers playing a loop CD of some thunder and use that to drive the color organ. I usually get a few good jumps from kids who aren't expecting it.

I have a commercial fog machine that I use with a timer to give my house a nice cloud of low-hanging fog. I built a fog-chiller out of a cheapo foam beer cooler by cutting two holes in either side and running a flexible piece of aluminum ducting through it (with a twist in the middle and holes punched in it to increase surface area). This keeps the fog hanging low. Another tip is to spray down the area with the fog using a garden hose.

I started working on animating a Bucky skull a while back, too. I added eyes attached to a servo and wrote a program in Windows that let you move them with sliders. I intended to animate the mouth, too, but my kids came along shortly after that. I still pull out my decorations every year, but my own little goblins have taken priority over my projects - so it goes.

I'd love to finish the Bucky skull and maybe build a bookshelf where the books pop out on their own (driven by a motor and series of cams). Maybe one day when I have some time to myself again ...

Hope this gave everyone a few good ideas for projects to scare the neighborhood kids -- happy haunting!!


Best Education Path To Learn Video Game Programming? 240

Proudrooster writes "Fellow Slashdotters, I have transitioned to teaching and my students have asked me what is the best path to take to work in the video game programming industry. Which would be of more benefit: pursing a Computer Science degree or taking an accelerated program like those at FullSail? I have a CS degree, and suspect that the CS degree would be of more benefit in the long run, but I would like anyone in the industry to share their wisdom and experience with my students trying to follow in your footsteps. If you could recommend some programs in your replies it would be appreciated." A couple other questions that might help those students: what non-academic methods would you recommend to students looking for a career in the games industry? What projects and tools are good starting points for learning the ropes?

State of Virginia Technology Centers Down 190

bswooden writes "Some rather important departments (DMV, Social Services, Taxation) in the state of Virginia are currently without access to documents and information as a technology meltdown has caused much of their infrastructure to be offline for over 24 hours now. State CIO Sam Nixon said, 'A failure occurred in one memory card in what is known as a "storage area network," or SAN, at Virginia's Information Technologies Agency (VITA) suburban Richmond computing center, one of several data storage systems across Virginia.' How does the IT for some of the largest departments in a state come to a screeching halt over a single memory card? Oh, and also, the state is paying Northrup Grumman $2.4 billion over 10 years to manage the state's IT infrastructure." Reader miller60 adds, "Virginia's IT systems drew scrutiny last fall when state agencies reported rolling outages due to the lack of network redundancy."

Why Are Video Game Movies So Awful? 385

An article at CNN discusses why big screen interpretations of video games, even successful ones, often fail to succeed at the box office. Quoting: "The problem with successfully adapting video games into hit Hollywood spin-offs may lie in the way in which stories for both mediums are designed and implemented. Game makers chasing the dream of playing George Lucas or Steven Spielberg will always strive to coax human emotion and convincing drama from increasingly photorealistic virtual elements. The Hollywood machine, in its endless chase for big bucks, can't help but exploit the latest hit interactive outing, often failing to realize it's often a specific gameplay mechanic, psychological meme or technical feature that makes the title so compelling. Both sides may very well continue to look down in disdain on the work that the opposite is doing, which can doom any collaborative efforts. But where the two roads truly diverge is in the way stories are fundamentally told. Films offer a single, linear tale that's open to individual interpretation, whereas games are meant to be experienced differently and in a multitude of ways by every player." On a related note, reader OrangeMonkey11 points out that an 8-minute short has showed up online that appears part of a pitch for a potential Mortal Kombat reboot movie. Hit the link below to take a look.

FDA Approves Vaccine For Prostate Cancer 194

reverseengineer writes "The US Food and Drug Administration has given its first first approval for a therapeutic cancer vaccine. In a clinical trial 'involving 512 men, those who got Provenge (sipuleucel-T) had a median survival of 25.8 months after treatment, while those who got a placebo lived a median of 21.7 months. After three years, 32 percent of those who got Provenge were alive, compared with 23 percent of those who got the placebo. ... "The big story here is that this is the first proof of principle and proof that immunotherapy works in general in cancer, which I think is a huge observation," said Dr. Philip Kantoff, chief of solid tumor oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and the lead investigator in Dendreon's largest clinical trial for the drug. "I think this is a very big thing and will lead to a lot more enthusiasm for the approach."'"

Scientists Say Toads Can Predict Earthquakes 66

reillymj writes "Researchers claim toads sensed a severe earthquake last year five days before it hit. Last spring's L'Aquila earthquake devastated the medieval city of the same name in Italy. Five days earlier, a group of biologists noticed some toads behaving strangely in a pond nearby that would later be the quake's epicenter."

Simpler "Hello World" Demonstrated In C 582

An anonymous reader writes "Wondering where all that bloat comes from, causing even the classic 'Hello world' to weigh in at 11 KB? An MIT programmer decided to make a Linux C program so simple, she could explain every byte of the assembly. She found that gcc was including libc even when you don't ask for it. The blog shows how to compile a much simpler 'Hello world,' using no libraries at all. This takes me back to the days of programming bare-metal on DOS!"

Comment Hard time buying the premise. (Score 1) 834

I just simply had a difficult time buying Summer Glau as an unstoppable killing machine. It's the same way the T-X in Terminator 3 just didn't really work. It seemed like they were pandering to undersexed nerds.

I enjoy the Terminator films for the heebie-jeebies I still get from watching Arnold's terminator strafe Club Noire with robotic efficiency. Now that was some tasty sci-fi.


Go For a Masters, Or Not? 834

mx12 writes "I'm currently an undergrad in computer engineering and have been thinking about getting my masters. I have a year left in school. Most of my professors seem to think that getting a masters is a great idea, but I wanted to hear from people out in the working world. Is a masters in computer engineering better than two years of experience at a company?"

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In less than a century, computers will be making substantial progress on ... the overriding problem of war and peace. -- James Slagle