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Comment Re:Let's hope Steam on Linux gathers... steam (Score 1) 553

The ribbon is what finally drove me to OpenOffice. Everyone I show OpenOffice to likes it better than Microsoft Office after about 10 minutes. I have even switched a few businesses and my dad's yacht club to it, which is not exactly a hotbeds of open source activity. Microsoft really is open sources best friend some times. I use Windows XP, 7 and several flavors of Linux. I tend to use a lot of open source even on my Windows boxes, not only is it cheaper it is often better designed and has more features. The only reason I still use windows at home is for games on my main computer and blu-rays on my HTPC.

Comment Re:The whole standardized test industry is the iss (Score 1) 564

My solution was to sleep through school or read something interesting during class, read the chapter summaries to pass the tests, and study what I wanted when not in school. I was in all honors and AP classes in high school, so its not like I just took the easy classes. That was 20 years ago, so not supporting the kids who are ahead is hardly new.

As for what to do for your kids now, home school or private school. If you can't afford it put some time into getting your child learning opportunities outside of school. A lot of junior colleges now allow enrollment by high school students or have summer programs for high school students. Otherwise it is easy to get discouraged and become despondent or a trouble maker. I know, I did both before figuring out how to deal with the system and finding opportunities outside of public school. I was definitely in the could not afford home or private school category, but I still managed to find opportunities during high school. Because of those opportunities and self learning I paid my own way through college without accruing a bunch of debt. I would say I learned far more outside of school on my own than I ever did in school, but college was worth it for the people I met and the degrees of course.

My wife and I will probably be home schooling our daughter, since economically it is a better value for us than private school and my wife is crazy enough to do it. She has a liberal arts education and I have a masters of software engineering and we are both life long learners, so between the two of us we can provide a good balance. The area we live in has a ton of independent educational resources as well. We are in an area with top rated schools, but even so their primary purpose seems to be daycare not education.

Comment Re:We already have driverless cars (Score 5, Informative) 648

Most of the studies I have seen on it suggest that cell phone conversation is more distracting for two reasons. The one I see in all the studies is the person on the phone does not react to what is going on in the car. So they keep talking even if something dangerous is going where someone in the car will stop and not expect an answer if you are in a situation that requires more attention on your driving. The second one I have seen suggested, but not as often is that your brain requires more "processing power" to talk on a cell phone due to quality of voice and lack of body language. And yes you would think that looking at the person you are talking to would be more dangerous, but your brain and visual system is designed to take in a wide field with only glances to build on. Most accidents are not caused by a vision problem but an attention problem. See Inattentional Blindness. And here is another study on cell phone vs passenger conversation (Sorry PDF).

Comment I could see these being useful (Score 1) 249

There is a lot of hate so far, but I could see these being useful. I am definitely not a teenager anymore either, solidly middle-aged family man. I listen to a ridiculously large amount of news, audio books and music on my phone. I also regularly use it for looking things up or getting directions when I am out. I find myself using it more and more for chat (text, google talk, etc) and email, even though I am near a computer almost all the time.

I would hope there is a way to control it with eye movement or something so it could be used silently for most things. For example, pausing what I am listening to is one of the big annoyances with my current phone setup, it would be nice to just look up and blink twice or something to pause the book or music. A do not disturb mode for when I was working on something that required being in the zone would be helpful, but if I am just hanging out I would not mind popups about messages. Calendar popups would be helpful as I have my work calendar synced to my google calendar and am often running from meeting to meeting. I would also want it to be integrated into the glasses I already wear or available with prescription lenses. I am slightly cross-eyed, so I can't use contacts effectively.

There will always be people who are obnoxious with whatever technology they have available, from people with boom boxes in the 80's to the blue tooth yellers of today. So I can't really hold that against the technology.

Comment Re:What about Google driverless car? (Score 1) 603

I too have ridden a motorcycle for more than a decade. I am a pretty mellow motorcycle rider, started because of a long commute and I wanted to use the carpool lane. Given that I have had to dodge to the median, quick stop and accelerate through plenty of situations. Some of the drivers were looking right at me and actively tried to push me out of my lane. It definitely gives you a different view of other drivers. Now even when I drive a car I just assume everyone else on the road is out to kill me.

Comment Re:Put your money where your mouth is (Score 1) 138

I run the standard Ubuntu releases (not the long term support, but not the betas either) on my media center box with an nVidia and I have not had to change a thing in the last several major upgrades. Movies and games both continue to work just fine. I am using the nVidia binaries. I like AMD processors, but have avoided the ATI cards due to previous driver issues. I am glad to hear they are releasing open source drivers and if they don't suck I will have more video cards to look at next time I upgrade.

Comment Re:Let me see if I'm following the math here... (Score 1) 380

You take a number which you don't know very well, so you estimate it. Then multiply it by a factor which you really don't know, so you just guess that. Next you multiply the result by another number which you may never know, so you just pull that one out of /dev/random, and multiply them all together.

And wow, you get a result that you like! That's amazing!

So its like project estimations. Probably about as accurate too.

Comment Re:So it's a fnacy nmae (Score 1) 1345

I am not sure what everyone is talking about schools not being tracked already. At least when I went to high school in California there was at least 3 levels, regular classes, honors classes and advanced placement classes. Elementary school had the gate program. I was in the advanced classes all the way through, but there were a few classes that you had to take like Drivers Ed (I know that dates me), Physical Ed and Health, that were mixed. It was actually a rather disturbing experience. It was like being put in a room with wild monkeys. It did give me an appreciation of how the other half lived though.

So I think a tracked system is valuable as it lets people learn at there own pace. If we really wanted to improve our system though we would tailor education not only to level but also learning style. For example I can learn very quickly from a book or doing something, but am awful at auditory learning. I usually read the chapter and then slept through the rest of lecture classes. In college I just skipped the lecture classes and showed up for the tests. By focusing on how each student learns and catering to that they can learn far more quickly regardless of their general intelligence. That is one of the reasons why homeschooling is so much more effective.


Submission + - New Car Company emerges from the Ashes (bigblockblog.com)

Keith MacDonald writes: "An all-new American car company, backed by Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens and headed-up by former Mazda designer Tom Matano plans to build environmentally friendly vehicles in Louisiana. According to their press release, V-Vehicle Company, or VVC, which is headquartered in San Diego, will begin assembling new cars in Monroe, LA. The project is slated to create over 1,400 direct jobs at an average annual salary of nearly $40,000, plus benefits, as well as a capital investment of at least $248 million."

Comment Re:In other news... (Score 1) 415

I am afraid I am speaking with people who have already closed their minds to the possibility that what they do not/cannot understand with logic must inherently not exist or be explainable with something besides logic.

This is slashdot. What did you expect? I am lucky enough to have a logical woman, but I still would not get in her way when it comes to our kid. Why are people so upset to think that our only purpose is to serve our genes? I have quite a good time doing it.

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