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Comment Calculators should not be needed in exams. (Score 1) 870

I don't understand this need for calculators in Physics exams. I spent 3 years in a Technical college in England studying Physics, among other things. This was for old English 'O' and 'A' levels. Then I spent three years in university and end up with a degree in physics. During none of that time was a calculator required for any physics or mathematics examinations. Despite the fact that 80% of your time on a physics degree is spent getting to grips with the mathematics of it all. If you are explaining how various experiments work, describing theories, and deriving various formula for this and that it's all done symbolically, you know, algebra and calculus and all the rest I have forgotten. That's why we have such things. Why would students be wasting their time merely crunching numbers rather than showing they understand what is going on?

Comment Only the Kahn Academy get's it right. (Score 1) 319

Using tech for teaching has been proposed ever since the 8 bit computers hit the world. There never seemed to be any rhyme or reason to this concept apart the vague idea that "it's high tech, therefore it's good". There still isn't. Then comes Salman Khan and his Kahn Academy. Finally here is someone with a passion for teaching who uses the internet and simple tech in such a way that the perceived distance between him and a student is minimal. You can feel his enthusiasm. Salman manages to deliver a lecture and write the notes in the way the best of my lecturers did with a piece of chalk and a black board. Real professors in front of real students don't need any tech in the way. If I have the privilege to be a student in such a situation I want eyeball to eyeball contact with that human. Not a power point to stare at and later download.

Comment Re:Did Microsoft REALLY just patent the diode brid (Score 1) 453

I think the genius here is not actually the mechanism but simply the fact that someone finally thought that "hey there is a niggle here that should be fixed" unlike the rest of the world that just lived with it assuming that's how life is. After realizing a solvable problem exists the solution may be trivial. As some have said here. Best idea Microsoft ever had, just for that, even if it does not work out in practice.

Comment This is best invention from Microsoft ever. (Score 5, Insightful) 453

I have to say it again. This is the most brilliant invention Microsoft has ever come up with. It fixes an every day niggle that every one has just accepted for decades. It's dead obvious but no one thought of it before (I assume so far). Perfect candidate for a patent. And for all those who don't read articles: No it does not uses diodes, it's purely mechanical therefore does not drop any battery voltage or waste power like a bridge would. It's probably as cheap to make as regular battery contacts. Just hope it is as reliable as normal contacts. Brilliant I say. Well done Microsoft. I always thought you had some innovation in you somewhere.

New Crossover Release With Improved Compatibility 104

solanum writes "On March 2nd Crossover 9.0 was released. CrossOver 9 features a new user interface that focuses on making installation of Windows software quicker and easier than previous versions. Another new feature is CrossOver's ability to download installation 'recipes' directly from CodeWeavers online Compatibility Database. 'If another CrossOver user has figured out how to use CrossOver to install a Windows application, they can upload that installation recipe to our database,' said Jeremy White, CodeWeavers chief executive officer. 'As we go forward, and build this online storehouse, CrossOver will begin to automatically install that same application for other users. This enables us to move closer to a world where CrossOver will begin to run the majority of Windows apps, and not just an officially supported subset. In other words, our diabolical plot for world domination is going exactly as planned,' he added. Early reviews and comments are positive, and my own experience is that many more Windows applications work in this new version than previously."

Comment Re:in case any other Americans are confused (Score 2, Informative) 342

Think about King Arthur and the Knights of The Round Table. Obviously questions were brought to the table, asked, answered and debated. Nothing "inert" about it. I guess any part of the history of our ancestors prior to the discovery of America is not taught over there very much.

Comment Similar thing happened to Inmos in the 70's (Score 5, Interesting) 211

Strangely enough Inmos had a similar pollution problem caused by the local water company in south Wales:

What had actually happened, as we found out three months later, was that on Christmas Eve the engineers at the local reservoir decided to celebrate. They were supposed to stay on site, so what they did was to dump 100 times the standard level of chlorine into the water supply, then go off and have a Christmas party. That chlorine totally ruined our semiconductor plant. The result was that the Americans said, "These Brits don't know what they're doing. Get rid of them!". The semiconductor facility was taken away and put under the control of the Americans who were deemed to understand these things.

Seems the the Yanks can't defend themselves against this sort of thing either!

Comment Re:Engineers are more effective at destroying thin (Score 1) 736

I threw scientists in there, perhaps hastily, because in my mind they are not "apples and oranges" to engineers. Quite the reverse, I see them as different degrees of the same thing (un-intentional pun). Both have to be logical, methodical, mathematical. You will find both doing experiments on things to find out what really goes on. Perhaps the engineer is not about to do original research or come up with new mathematical models but they overlap a lot. Being from the UK I have no experience of creationists. Never met one as far as I know, engineer or otherwise. Likewise I haven't met many engineers who waste a lot of their breath harping on about economics or politics. Could it be, given what you say and guessing that you are from the States, that the culture of engineers is different there? Like so many other cultural differences. And could it be that the culture of Islamic or whoever engineers is different again? Could be dangerous to generalize in that way.

Comment Engineers are more effective at destroying things (Score 1) 736

"engineers and engineering students are much more likely to hold strong conservative and religious views than a general cross section of the public" Nonsense, I've been hanging around with scientists and engineers most of my life. My observation is that few of them hold hard and fast convictions about anything they cannot measure or mathematically derive. Except possibly when it comes to debates about beer of the best editor to use. I think the reason to try and recruit terrorists from the engineering population is because they are far more likely to know how to destroy things effectively. Much like the way we build our military industry in the west.

Comment Parallax Propeller micro controller kit. (Score 2, Interesting) 799

Get him a Propeller micro controller kit from Parallax Inc A Propeller is a 32 bit micro-controller (well in fact 8 processors in a chip) with some RAM. Parallax have a number of ready made boards so that this thing is easy to program from USB. The IDE is dead easy to use. Starting out the first steps in programming with this is inspiring because one can immediately get things in the real world to happen. From flashing LEDs to controlling robots, to generating video. The high level language it uses, Spin, is sort of Pascal/Python/C like, very easy to begin programming with. When you get serious it's assembly language is about the easiest there is. The Propeller does VGA and TV video, there is even a games oriented kit. It's the closest thing we have to the C64 we have in this modern world. Wish I had one when I was 12.

Scientists Say a Dirty Child Is a Healthy Child 331

Researchers from the School of Medicine at the University of California have shown that the more germs a child is exposed to, the better their immune system in later life. Their study found that keeping a child's skin too clean impaired the skin's ability to heal itself. From the article: "'These germs are actually good for us,' said Professor Richard Gallo, who led the research. Common bacterial species, known as staphylococci, which can cause inflammation when under the skin, are 'good bacteria' when on the surface, where they can reduce inflammation."

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