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Comment Sounds like Hugo Gernsback's "teleducation" (Score 4, Informative) 352

Hugo Gernsback wrote an editorial advocating a similar idea in the May 1956 issue of his "Radio-Electronics" magazine as a solution to the educational needs of the USA to produce enough technicians and engineers to defeat the Soviets in the technological arms race. See page 33 in the PDF scan of that issue at
"... The threat to our future can be met ..."

"In short, without going into details, this is the way the proposed system, outlined by the writer in 1945, works:

"From a central point or points the best technical and science teachers in the land instruct via large wall projection color television AA the classes in the land. If the instructor of the moment is at Yale, the rest of the country is connected to that point. The next lecture may come from MIT in Massachusetts, from Caltech in California or from any other point because all institutions of learning are tied in to the national teleducation closed-circuit hookup. Such lectures will not be merely talk. The teacher - be he a physics, chemical, electrical or electronics professor - will instruct directly from the laboratory all important experiments and make clear any technical point by actual physical demonstration."

Comment Re:Visualization (Score 1) 175

You want Bootstrap, which is billed as "algebraic video game programming".

"Unlike Python, Scratch or Javascript, functions and variables behave exactly the same way in Bootstrap that they do in your child's math book."


It also provides a good foundation for further CS education:

Comment Re:Who cares? R is a lousy language, anyway (Score 1) 105

I think that's being too harsh. As the paper described in its conclusions of the 3 groups who make use of R, the largest and primary group is the users, people who don't do programming in R, but rather make use of it for generating and displaying statistics in an interactive environment.

In other words, it's a good programming language if you don't do any programming, but just feed parameters to analysis and plotting packages. So no, it would not be a good "computational vehicle" for AP Statistics. That is, not if the students are actually learning anything in AP Statistics.

Comment Re:MIssed point Apples - Oranges (Score 1) 185

No one uses R for it's amazing language*. The language sucks.

From Morandat, Hill, Osvald, Vitek, "Evaluating the Design of the R Language",

"R is a dynamic language for statistical computing that combines lazy functional features and object-oriented programming. This rather unlikely linguistic cocktail would probably never have been prepared by computer scientists, yet the language has become surprisingly popular. With millions of lines of R code available in repositories, we have an opportunity to evaluate the fundamental choices underlying the R language design. Using a combination of static and dynamic program analysis we assess the success of different language features."

Comment Re:man 3 fsync (Score 2) 63

Normally, writes to disk can't be confirmed faster than one per full revolution of the platters. Thus, a 7200 RPM disk can not perform more than 7200 transactions a minute.

It can perform transactions at a much higher rate than that by using group commit, and any performance-sensitive system (including journaling file systems) will indeed use group commit. But the mean latency for any one commit does end up being limited to the time to perform half a disk rotation, and that's what non-volatile DIMMs are about - reduced I/O latency.

Comment Re:Why did these require so much power? (Score 1) 88

Because those battery tubes, to achieve their low filament-power consumption, used directly-heated cathodes (as you noted). If you think about this a bit further, you'll realize that this greatly limits the number of circuit topologies, because all of the cathodes in every tube must be connected together via the filament power supply. Imagine constructing logic gates where every transistor's emitter had to be directly connected to ground. Do-able, but limiting.

Comment Re:More articles like this please (Score 1) 551

For anyone whose interested, the Planet Money blog and podcast is a great place to start. Their reporting and research is done by actual economists rather than ideologues and talking heads

Planet Money is a joke. None of their correspondents are economists. David Kestenbaum is a journalist who happens to have a PhD in physics. Adam Davidson is not an economist; his background is journalism. Davidson clearly has a Milton Friedman bias in his economic reporting; just look at his blog posts on the subject of economic stimulus.

For a critical look at NPR (Nice Polite Republicans) check out the NPR Check blog.

Comment Re:toposhaba (Score 2, Insightful) 792

Don't we want to encourage more fuel-efficient road vehicles? Seems like upping the gas tax would be a good way to do that.

Perhaps once we're all driving electric vehicles we might then consider a per-mile tax. Until then, the incursion on civil liberties and privacy from vehicle tracking doesn't seem to be outweighed by the societal benefits.

It seems to me that these vehicle-tracking ideas are a clever political scam that combines avoidance of a politically-costly raising of the gas tax, corporate welfare for some well-connected companies, and a plausible-sounding policy-wonkish cover story.

Comment Re:Less Lethal... (Score 1) 334

That's a little unfair; you've no citations in your post :-)

However, the fact that batons leave marks (physical evidence) whereas tasers do not implies that police are less likely to inappropriately use batons than tasers, since the inappropriate use of batons results in evidence visible to a board of review.

It's clear from news reports that police are overusing Tasers by using them as torture devices in circumstances where, if they had instead beaten the subject with a baton, the evidence of physical injury would have resulted in the censure or firing of the police officer.

Comment Re:Less Lethal... (Score 1) 334

It seems that there are quite a few incidents wherein police officers have reached for their TASER rather than reaching for their deescalation skills. I don't think you can blame this on the tool though -- you have to blame it on the operator. These same personalities would probably have wielded the police baton in the same inappropriate manner.

The police baton is less likely to result in death.

Comment Use the text "How to Design Programs" (Score 1) 214

Use the textbook "How to design programs" by Matthias Felleisen, Robert Bruce Findler, Matthew Flatt and Shriram Krishnamurthi., It's available free on the web or hardcopy from MIT press. Unfortunately the HtDP web-site seems to be down today. Check out the wikipedia entry. It's been used in high schools. They have a summer seminar for teachers, too.

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