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Comment OSC Pathfinder series (Score 1) 193

Obviously not a completely original concept, but the first book I thought of was Orson Scott Card's Ruins and Visitors (books 2 and 3 of the Pathfinder series), probably being the most recent I've read. He took the concept quite a bit further with thousands of years of evolution after the initial DNA blending.

Comment An alternative test of natural language (Score 1) 309

As has been repeatedly emphasized, the Turing Test itself is rather subjective. Most schools measure language ability by way of standardized reading comprehension tests, ranging in difficulty according to grade level. I suggest that all natural language programs be similarly graded, using the exact same tests given to students, with the same criteria for passing. Any bot that can pass the college entrance exam (SAT, any version; ACT; or other similar exam) with a perfect score may be considered intelligent.

Comment Barriers to teaching (Score 1, Interesting) 122

As someone who has spent his career in IT, and actually acquired a Master's Degree in Education while working IT full time, I can give a couple things that have kept me from completing the transition. The biggest, number one reason is student teaching. While I qualify to become a teacher in every way, it is impossible for me to enter a classroom in that role unless I completely give up all working for four months. I've done pretty good putting money away for emergencies; but the return on investment simply isn't there to give up an income for four months. A few places offer in-service student teaching, but the list of qualifications for those programs is very long, targeting a very specific subset of the population. One of the reasons there is such a barrier to becoming a teacher is the teacher's union. There may be some states where it's different, but the ones I know about force all registered teachers to pay dues to the union whether they want to join or not. Because education is compulsory, all taxpayers are held hostage by the union's demands. There is no option to lock out the union, no option to balance negotiations. Hiring decisions, training decisions, and certification requirements are all heavily influenced, if not completely determined, by the union. The existing status quo cannot change until either the attitude of the union changes, or the law changes to weaken the union's power.
It's funny.  Laugh.

King James Programming 184

Jah-Wren Ryel writes "What do you get when you train a Markov chain on the King James Bible and a copy of Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs? King James Programming — a tumblr of auto-generated pseudo-scripture (or pseudo-compsci lessons). Some examples: -- 'The LORD is the beginning (or prefix) of the code for the body of the procedure.' -- 'More precisely, if P and Q are polynomials, let O1 be the order of blessed.' -- ''In APL all data are represented as arrays, and there shall they see the Son of man, in whose sight I brought them out.'"

Comment We should (Score 3, Insightful) 295

The biggest mistake in teaching mathematics is learning to start counting at one. That's fine if the only math ever learned is basic arithmetic; but higher order concepts including fractions, algebra, and number sets beyond whole numbers become much more difficult as a result. Why do we start counting at zero? Because zero is "Origin". When we count, what we are actually doing is this: I have zero. Adding one, I have one. Adding one, I have two. Adding one, I have three. Etc. By using zero as our origin, we can teach arithmetic using the integer set, rather than the whole number set. We can teach that the minus sign just means a change of direction, and that addition and subtraction are actually the same thing. So addition/subtraction is nothing more than repeated counting - a shortcut. Multiplication and division are repeated addition. Fractions are just another way of expressing division. Exponents/roots are repeated multiplication. "If you can count, you can do math. Everything else is a shortcut." Counting from zero allows us to teach euclidean coordinates / geometry as an extension of what students already are familiar with, rather than something new. Why do we start counting at zero? Because zero is "Origin".

Comment Host it yourself (Score 2) 69

Set up a slackware server (can even be on high-end workstation class hardware as long as you have a UPS powering it) running SVN Server and apache. There are plenty of good browser based CMS packages available. I like Drupal + Storm, but that's just me. If SQL Server is an absolute requirement, rather than MySQL, set up each developer's workstation with SQL Server Express. TortoiseSVN is a great Windows SVN client that may be easier to set up than git. Using github gives you the advantage of a decentralized repository, but doesn't come with any kind of project management. DynDNS will allow you to register your own box by name without having to pay for a static public IP address and public nameserver. Remember, though, that you don't necessarily have to host your project management and your code repository in the same place. That seems like where you're getting yourself confused.

Comment Re:I'm not even a fan, but (Score 1) 1174

I think if you polled most religious individuals in the U.S. with the compromise, allow the same legal contractual benefits and obligations to gay couples as to traditional married couples without the word "marriage", a majority of those individuals would accept the compromise. Offer the same compromise to the homosexual activist community, and it would be soundly rejected. This battle isn't about legal rights. If it were, I don't think there would have been any media attention or activism against Mr. Card or DC Comics. It's about the conformity, and any idea that violates the currently accepted conformity must be silenced. Perhaps we would all do well to reread Orwell's 1984 in light of our current cultural and political attitudes.

Comment XAMPP (Score 1) 386

While it may be modded too low to appear, I haven't seen any comments about XAMPP. I've used it to teach a class on MySQL/PHP for several years, but it's just as good for simple HTML/CSS/Javascript. You can get it at http://www.apachefriends.org/en/xampp.html, and simply unzip it to the directory of your choice. The tone of the OP sounded like the company didn't mind programming being done during slow periods, but rather that they didn't want to violate their security policy by allowing someone to install software as local admin. Makes perfect sense to me. Many companies forbid bringing in personal computing equipment for similar reasons.

Comment This is a football (Score 1) 489

I am a math tutor, paid a tidy sum to correct the errors that most teachers make. Test yourself: start counting to 20. Now do it backwards. What number did you start with? Odds are that you started and ended with 1. This is the first mistake, that nearly every teacher makes all the way back in preschool and primary. You always start with 0. Zero means origin. Consider a full number line (1-dimensional) or 4-quadrant graph (2-dimensional). The center of the line or graph is marked zero (or 0,0 in a graph). Starting with 1 is fine as long as all you're doing is basic arithmetic. As soon as you get to fractions, everything falls apart. Consider, we think of 2+3=5; but really what we're doing is 0 +2 +3 = 5. Notice that the sign is attached to the number as opposed to being exclusively an operator. Having the correct starting place is critical to proper numeracy. The second error is even more fundamental. Most inability to perform arithmetic is psychological. If people learned a mantra, such as "If you can count, you can do math(s). Everything else is a shortcut," it would reinforce the notion that math is nothing more than a language to describe relationships. And all the other operations can be reduced to repeated counting. Once the basics are covered, the rest can fall into place much more easily.

Have Walled Gardens Killed the Personal Computer? 848

theodp writes "Harvard Law School Prof Jonathan Zittrain explains in The Personal Computer is Dead why you should be afraid — very afraid — of the snowballing replicability of the App Store Model. 'If we allow ourselves to be lulled into satisfaction with walled gardens,' warns Zittrain, 'we'll miss out on innovations to which the gardeners object, and we'll set ourselves up for censorship of code and content that was previously impossible. We need some angry nerds.' Searchblog's John Battelle, who's also solidly in the tear-down-this-walled-garden camp, adds: 'I'm not a nerd, quite, but I'm sure angry.'"

Cedega Being Replaced By GameTree Linux 124

An anonymous reader writes "TransGaming Cedega, the software forked from Wine that allows running Windows games under Linux, is being discontinued and replaced by GameTree Linux. This new software is also free. From the new website: 'TransGaming is pleased to announce the continued development of Cedega Technology under the GameTree Developer Program. This repositioning of the technology that powered the Cedega Gaming Service will allow the entire Linux community to gain free access going forward. Cedega is a cross-platform enablement technology that allows for Windows-native games to be executed on both the Linux desktop and embedded Linux platforms.'"

Comment Lat/Long (Score 5, Interesting) 560

Someone else may have caught this and it got buried in the deeper replies, but I find the 4 2-digit numbers to be very interesting. 74.14E 35.74N is right in the mountains of Pakistan controlled Kashmir. The second part of the message with the names is simply a phonetic spelling of the first part of the message. Naimina has several possible references, #1 on my list of likelihoods would refer to the owner of a website design company of that name targeting the Turkish language. No guess what 93 882 is - probably a predetermined instruction code undecipherable outside the network.

Comment Rights with Responsibility (Score 2, Insightful) 319

There is a general rule of law in the United States based on the concept of a "reasonable adult". Each of the first ten amendments of the American Constitution (and their analogues elsewhere) comes with the unwritten assumption that a reasonable adult will use these freedoms for the betterment of the community. The right to bear arms does not grant me the right to murder my neighbor because I don't like the car he drives. The right to peacefully assemble and protest the actions of government does not grant me the right to riot and destroy the property of others. In this case, the right to free speech does not grant the right to make false accusations. Despite a more liberal interpretation of law in recent years, slander and libel are still criminal acts, not protected by the first amendment. Would a reasonable adult consider J.L.'s parody to hold any truth? Probably not. Would a reasonable adult consider J.S.'s fake profile to hold any truth? Considering the forum on which it was placed, I would have to say yes, as there have been numerous instances of principals and teachers creating just such a profile. Therefore, the issue isn't whether schools have a right to police students' activities outside of school; but rather if actions taken in the world of cyberspace can or should be held to the same standards as those taken in print or public discourse.

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