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Average HS Student Given Little Chance of AP CS Success

RPI Geek Wow I was lucky... (293 comments)

Holy shit, after reading these comments I feel incredibly lucky.

I graduated HS in 2000, and to make a quick comparison to what I'm reading here:
- I took AP Calc, AP Physics, and AP Comp Sci but my (public) HS offered lots of other AP courses.
- The teachers were made available (my AP Physics class had 8 students - again, in a public school) and they all taught the material instead of the test.
- My AP Comp Science teacher actually knew the material and cared about his students. We had new(ish) computers and a Linux (or Unix - I didn't know the difference at the time) box to log in to.

For taking these 3 exams I got a semester's worth of credits when I went to college. Those 20 credits put me far enough ahead to take classes towards - and eventually earn - a dual degree.

These programs do pay off. I'm glad I had teachers who cared enough to fight for the students, and an administration who listened. To all of the AP teachers out there, thank you for doing what you do. Especially you, Mr Baciewicz.

about a month and a half ago
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New Service Lets You Hitch a Ride With Private Planes For Cost of Tank of Gas

RPI Geek Re:Private Aviation is Surprisingly Approachable (269 comments)

If you're interested in learning to fly, see if your area has any glider operations. It is usually significantly cheaper to fly a glider than a power plane. The club I joined last fall gets me in the air for less than half the cost of flying a power plane (depending on weather) and in my opinion, I am getting a better education than I did in power planes.

about 4 months ago
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Skydiver's Helmet Cam Captures a Falling Meteor

RPI Geek Re:Ummm, probably not (142 comments)

I could easily see the object being popped of of the top of his chute and then falling past him.

Because everyone knows that parachutes are ejected with explosive charges, or in the more modern versions, a bottle of compressed air.

I have gone skydiving, and the acceleration (or decelaration if you prefer) is rather violent. Without doing the math, I very much doubt that anything would be "popped off the top of the chute".

Another possible explanation is that the object fell from either the plane or another skydiver (as he was first out of the plane). I would deem this unlikely, but far more likely than a meteorite.

A rock of that size does not simply find its way into a plane, or into a skydiver's pocket. Gravel-sized rocks, sure. Something the size of your fist? No, just no.

about 4 months ago
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All In All, Kids Just Another Brick In the Data Wall

RPI Geek Supreme Court is NOT the highest court in NYS (110 comments)

I would like to take the opportunity to point out that the article is dead wrong on one specific point. In New York, the highest court is the Court of Appeals, not the Supreme Court proof.

about 5 months ago
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Why Engineers Must Consider the Ethical Implications of Their Work

RPI Geek Re:They do (406 comments)

A lot of the engineers I've known who worked on military equipment do consider the ethical implications of their work. They feel they are helping protect our troops ...

I graduated with a dual BS in Mechanical Engineering and Computer Science. At graduation time, I very much wanted to be an engineer rather than a programmer, but I also didn't want to contribute to war in any capacity; so I narrowly focused my job search on employers who were NOT in the defense sector. Nearly everyone I told about my decision gave me the very same argument as you. My self-imposed restrictions certainly made my job search harder, so I expanded my search to programming where I found a satisfying career path that has absolutely nothing to do with engineering. Que sera sera.

The joke goes like this: What's the difference between Civil Engineers and Mechanical Engineers? Mechanical Engineers make weapons and Civil Engineers make targets.

about 8 months ago
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Physicists Discover Geometry Underlying Particle Physics

RPI Geek Re:TL;DR (600 comments)

Probably. One of the most fun things about scientific discoveries and breakthroughs is how they tend to bleed over into other fields.

Ten years ago, would you have guessed that advances in AI and natural language processing would lead to better cancer treatment? Do you think that 50 years ago, anyone would guess that the space program would lead to better thermometers, highways, baby food, water purification, ovens, or mine safety?

about 10 months ago
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New York Passes Landmark Gun Law

RPI Geek Re:Seems perfectly reasonable (1591 comments)

Oh no. You might have to use a less powerful toy. Your poor liberty and freedom!

Did you even read my post? If anything, I'll switch to use a MORE powerful toy because of this law.

about a year and a half ago
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New York Passes Landmark Gun Law

RPI Geek Re:Seems perfectly reasonable (1591 comments)

Thank you for your input, AC. I'll try to explain why you're wrong.

There are millions of AR-15s owned by responsible people who will never use them to "cause mass mayhem". I own one and I use it for target shooting - I shoot paper targets at a proper range. Why do I need it? Well I guess I could use something else, but the AR-15 is widely available, easily customizable - there are lots of add-ons on the market that let me customize it to fit me just the way I like, it's cheap to shoot, and it's accurate. When I'm done with it for the day, it comes home with me and goes in the gun safe. A friend of mine uses his M14 (which is, by the way, 100% legal after this law even though it has 10-round magazines and has a much higher muzzle energy) for the same purpose - but his cost to shoot is higher. Most of the people who I shoot with at the matches also have AR-15s for the same reasons.

Other people use their AR-15s for hunting or for self-defense in the home (I would argue that a shotgun loaded with bird shot is a much better option for home defense, but I digress). Because they look scary though, and because a few of them were used by troubled people to do evil things, now the vast majority of us - who will never use them irresponsibly - need to suffer.

I'm not going to risk making a flawed analogy, but I resent the fact that people who know nothing about the safe handling of firearms and who have obviously never been to a shooting range can tell those of us who do and have, our own business. I suspect (since we're on slashdot) that we can agree that rules by people who aren't "in the know" often have the tendency of being profoundly misguided.

about a year and a half ago
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New York Passes Landmark Gun Law

RPI Geek Re:Chicken or Egg? (1591 comments)

How about house-holding - if someone in the same residence is a registered gun owner, will they be forced to surrender their weapons?

From the bill:

Safe Storage

To prevent, among other things, unauthorized and unlicensed use of guns, section 47 of the bill adds a new Penal Law 265.45 establishing safe storage requirements for rifles, shotguns and firearms. Under this new section, a gun owner who lives with someone who the owner has reason to know is prohibited from possessing a gun because the prohibited person has been convicted of a crime punishable by a term of imprisonment exceeding one year, has been adjudicated mentally defective or committed to a mental institution, is subject to a court order of protection or has been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence whose sentence has been completed in the last five years must, when the gun is out of the owner's immediate control, keep the gun secured in a safe storage depository (for example, a safe or similar secure container with a lock that can be opened only with a key or combination, or other locking mechanism) or render it incapable of being fired by putting a safety lock on the gun.

about a year and a half ago
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2013 FIRST Robotics Competition Kicks Off

RPI Geek Re:RC car or "real" robot or ? (64 comments)

This year the goal is to throw flying discs (frisbees) through goals of different heights (both in the sense of how high off the ground they are and how tall they are), and to get bonus points (awarded after the 2:15 match time runs out) by climbing a pyramid of bars (kind of like monkey bars on a playground, but a pyramid). The robots can weigh as much as 120#. Click here or look on YouTube for Ultimate Ascent.

On the topic of autonomous robots, the first 15 seconds of each match ARE autonomous! The thing is that each team (of high schoolers) is given 6 weeks from learning the rules of the game to design, build, write code for, and test their robot. Asking a team (which could have as few as 3 or 4 mentors and 5 high schoolers) to do that, and make the robot autonomous, is just asking too much. Even the bigger teams (I mentor for Team 250 - The Dynamos - and I am one of about 20 mentors and there are a few dozen students) have a hard enough time making the robot functional.

Lastly, it is very much against the spirit of FIRST to intentionally damage the other teams' robot; doing so will get you penalized and maybe even disqualified from the match. That doesn't mean no pushing and shoving though - playing defense is a valid strategy, but the game rules are designed to prevent damaging the other bots. In fact there are two term that are used widely in FIRST, gracious professionalism and coopertition. It is a common sight at competitions to see a team with a broken robot (either smoke pouring out or it just doesn't work) and people from other teams giving them parts, advice, and labor to get them back on the field.

about a year and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Was Your Favorite Web Comic of 2012?

RPI Geek Underdog / relatively unknown comics (321 comments)

I agree with a lot of other people on these, but I'm going to try to put a word out for my favorite comics that don't usually get the light of day.

Best overall:
I've been reading Supernormal Step since it was about a week old, and it quickly turned into my favorite comic. The art started out a bit amateurish, but has matured rather nicely. The characters are unique and likeable, the plot is constantly moving and twisting, and I'm quite happy with the small number of grammatical errors compared to a lot of the other comics I read.

Funniest:
Already mentioned, but go check out Gunshow (frequently NSFW). I love this one because the situations are so absurd. Both the serial comics and the one-offs are completely unpredictable (Wolves, Friday the 13th, Rabbits, Skulls). Honorable mention to The Non-Adventures of Wonderella.

Best art:
Also already mentioned, but for good reason: Dresden Codak is beautiful. I would have voted for Copper, but Kazu seems to have taken a hiatus from it and this IS supposed to be a list from 2012.

Most relevant to me:
This is a tough one, I don't really read comics for relevance. I'll put this out there though: Octopus Pie has some of the most REAL characters I've ever seen in a comic or webcomic.

about a year and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: Extreme Cable Management?

RPI Geek Take a couple of hours to start over. (242 comments)

Take this opportunity to reorganize and clean up your desk, you're going to start fresh!

1) Disconnect everything and clean up on/around your desk. Dust your monitors, wipe down the surface, move any papers that are piled up. When I dealt with rat nests of wires, I never was able to vacuum/dust. Do it now when it is easiest.
2) Put your desk on sliders. Even the heaviest hardwood desk on carpet becomes easy to move alone when you do this. If you're on hardwood or some other surface, clean around the desk before moving it, or you'll scratch it up.
3) Leave the desk away from the wall so you can get behind it. Set up everything exactly how you want it, but leave the loose cables wherever you put them before and leave the other cables (mouse, keyboard) bundled up next to their owners.

Now you're ready for the fun part!
Think about how you want to route the cables; that means don't let them touch the floor! I love routing them under the desk surface in the back because they're pretty much invisible and the cats don't chew on them. If you have a cheap fiberboard desk like I do, consider using screw-in hooks (use a small nail to make a pilot hole). If you have a metal/glass or an otherwise nice desk, use sticky hooks (3M Command hooks are usually too big - I like cable tie mounts with zip/twist ties set into a loose loop).
Start with the cables for the devices you'll move the least; this probably means your power strip, modem & router, and other network cables (I like to mount these to the side/back of my desk so they're out of the way but close to everything - this is especially important with the power strip). Move on to the monitors & speakers, then the external hard drives & USB hubs. The last things you want to hook up are probably your keyboard & mouse.

1) Once you've connected the device, stop and take a look at the cables; anything that you can group together, wrap it in spiral cable wrap, starting at the device and going back. Two network cables from the router to your towers? Wrap them together. Your monitor's DVI & power cables? Wrap them. Be sure to give yourself enough length of wrapped cable so you can move your devices around as far as you think you'll want to.
2) Now you take up any slack in the cable by bundling it - just be sure to leave a little bit of slack in the cable - just enough so it has a nice bend radius at the computer/router/wall. Hang the bundles together from a hook/anchor in an inconspicuous place. Use N+1 ties so you can get at it later - one for the hook/anchor, and one for each bundle (I especially love using twist ties for this part):
- For small DC cables, wrap the extra length neatly around 4 fingers, flatten the bundle. Secure with a twist / zip / velcro tie.
- For bigger cables, hold it in your palm and keep reversing direction across your palm - leave a reasonable bend radius. Secure it as above.
- For network cables; buy a crimping tool and learn to use it.

Push your desk back into place and you're done! Use weighted cable managers or adhesive to hold USB hubs from falling off your desk and enjoy!

about a year and a half ago
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Ralph Nader Moderates One Last 3rd-Party Debate for 2012

RPI Geek Why not vote D or R? Two reasons: (409 comments)

1) I live in NY. My electors' votes will go to Obama so essentially my vote for POTUS doesn't count; feels bad, man.
2) I want to send a message in the strongest possible way that the two-party system is broken, and the strongest way I can think to do so is with my vote.

about a year and a half ago
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White House Pulls Down TSA Petition

RPI Geek Re:I tried to sign it, but couldn't (638 comments)

The last 10 or so petitions I tried to sign resulted in an error that I needed to log in, despite the corner of the page welcoming me by name.

about 2 years ago
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Bitcoin-Based Drug Market Silk Road Thriving With $2 Million In Monthly Sales

RPI Geek Re:And in countries where it's legal? (498 comments)

I wish this hadn't been modded -1 Troll. A troll "is a prank comment intended to provoke indignant (or just confused) responses" (source).
Whenever the topic of drug legalization comes up - no matter the venue - this argument crops up. Just because it doesn't hold water to those of us on the "tax and legalize" side doesn't make it a troll, it just makes it an argument for the other side.
tl;dr I don't agree with parent either, but that doesn't make his/her post a troll.

about 2 years ago
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Bitcoin-Based Drug Market Silk Road Thriving With $2 Million In Monthly Sales

RPI Geek 420 Posts (498 comments)

When I read this article, there were 420 comments.
Coincidence?!?

about 2 years ago
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US Gov't Says They Can Still Freeze Megaupload Assets If the Case Is Dismissed

RPI Geek What about the 6th Amentment? (530 comments)

Doesn't this violate the Speedy Trial Clause?

about 2 years ago
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World Population Grows Beyond 7 Billion

RPI Geek Re:What nonsense (349 comments)

There is evidence (TED video) to support your hunch. The gist is that over time, countries trend towards having 2 children per mother. The presenter claims that after crunching the numbers (I haven't seen the calculations), it turns out the world will max out at around 10b people.

about 2 years ago

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