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Ask Slashdot: How To Pick Up Astronomy and Physics As an Adult?

bscott Mentor? (230 comments)

There's something of a dearth of material out there for people who want to learn STEM topics on a casual basis and are somewhere in between a layperson and a specialist. Most of what you can find to read is either written for the general public (popular science books and magazines) or dry scientific papers. I've also had a lifelong interest in science, but did not pursue it as a career, and it's always a challenge to find stuff which I can read and yet which hasn't had the details filtered out...

"Science News" magazine is a stand-out example though - it's science reporting written for an educated audience, often people who are scientists themselves who want to keep up in other fields. It's amazing how concise and information-packed the articles can become when you can use words above the typical 6th-grade reading level (or whatever they use for newspapers these days).

But, I digress. In your position I'd try to find a mentor - maybe barter some IT services in return. There are lots of people out there who'd probably enjoy the process of helping a mature student get started.

2 days ago
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Ask Slashdot: In What Other Occupations Are IT Skills and Background Useful?

bscott Re:Content Developer here (158 comments)

By the way - the coolest thing about transitioning OUT of IT is that when the office network goes down, it's neither your fault nor your problem... you get to hang around the coffee machine and complain with everyone else!

I don't tell most of my coworkers about my background. If they know you can fix computers... well, it's like owning a pickup truck, and everyone asks you to help them move!

about 4 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: In What Other Occupations Are IT Skills and Background Useful?

bscott Content Developer here (158 comments)

After ~20 years working in every area of IT, for a number of reasons I've recently transitioned over to "Online Content Developer" as a career track.

I'm just starting a new job with a major supplier of accounting / tax software. Most of the reason I was hired was my IT background, since a big part of my job will be helping manage the flow of information (internally and, eventually, to the public) from the tech support and consulting departments to other areas of the company.

In this new role, I use some of my technical skills just getting the most from all the internal systems and platforms here, but mostly I draw from my experience with helping people use technology. I understand tech support from both sides of the equation, and can help translate issues to people who don't. Later on I'll be tasked with helping interpret complex accounting software issues for the general public as well.

In the past I've done similar work for a vocational training company, and again my experience with developing helpdesk materials, Knowledge Bases and other forms of online training was a big reason why I was hired. (I also have a track record in writing and video production, with lots of exposure to online marketing methods as well - but many people have that without being techies)

FWIW!

about 4 months ago
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Grace Hopper Documentary Edges on Successful Crowdfunding

bscott Re:Pop culture exposure (65 comments)

Yeah, how awful that the first-ever high level language isn't as good as the ones that came after! Booooo!!!

about 4 months ago
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Scientists Propose Collider That Could Turn Light Into Matter

bscott Re:What am I missing here? (223 comments)

That also helps, thanks.

about 4 months ago
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Scientists Propose Collider That Could Turn Light Into Matter

bscott Re:What am I missing here? (223 comments)

Thanks for that, I knew they interact but I didn't think they could "collide" per se, and from your explanation maybe "collide" is just the wrong word to be using?

about 4 months ago
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Scientists Propose Collider That Could Turn Light Into Matter

bscott What am I missing here? (223 comments)

I preface this with an admission that my serious physics studies were like 25 years ago now, but - photons are bosons, how can they "collide"?

about 4 months ago
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Stephen Colbert To Be Letterman's Successor

bscott Re:WHy would he do it? (193 comments)

> His bank account will see a significant step up

Not as much as you might think. He makes more than half what Letterman does now ($8 mil/yr vs Dave's ~$15mil) and it's unlikely CBS will pay him as much as they paid Dave, at least not to begin with.

Since Dave (and Leno for that matter) took pay cuts a few years back due to declining audiences across the board, Jon Stewart has been the highest-paid talk show host on the air.

about 5 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Are Linux Desktop Users More Pragmatic Now Or Is It Inertia?

bscott Re:Pragmatism (503 comments)

You could usually see it coming at my last job, when a Dvorak user would step up to - for instance - a communal computer used for presentations, and attempted to log into something. They always had to type their password twice, the second time after wincing in realization of what they'd done the first time...

about 8 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Are Linux Desktop Users More Pragmatic Now Or Is It Inertia?

bscott Re:Pragmatism (503 comments)

I should add - I'm glad those features are there, I think they're cool, and I sometimes wish I could use them. If I had only one computer to use for the rest of eternity, it'd be so customized I'd only need eyeblinks to do everything.

But those features are only good insofar as they don't take away from stability. And when my Linux desktop encounters an error, it's pretty much always Compiz these days... this has been true across the last two revs of Ubuntu, v11-v13 and across two separate hardware platforms Dell-Lenovo, and reinstalls every few months. Never had problems with Ubuntu v8-v10...

about 8 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Are Linux Desktop Users More Pragmatic Now Or Is It Inertia?

bscott Pragmatism (503 comments)

If you can't have a consistent experience across even one day, why get too reliant on customizations and shortcuts?

Back in the day, I had to switch between Data General (terminals), MacOS, and Amiga keyboards and UIs on a daily basis between work and home. These days, of course, everything has changed - now I bounce from Linux to Android to OSX, and more than occasionally Windows too. It's just never paid off to build a super-custom setup when you can't stick with it.

I use Linux for my main desktop at home partly because it is so quick and easy to reinstall - just keep your data on a backed-up server and you can virtually forget about maintenance or troubleshooting. Get used to the default setup and just reinstall whenever you run into something you can't work around - 15 minutes to get back to a familiar desktop is quicker than any full restore-from-backup I'm aware of. (I actually like Linux internals but every time I learn something, I end up forgetting it before I need it a second time; it gets frustrating...)

I'm aware I'm giving up a fair amount of potential productivity and convenience. I don't care any more. I'm just happy when I remember not to try and touch the monitor on my wife's iMac.

I got friends and colleagues who, for example, use Dvorak. More power to 'em. They're younger and more stubborn than I, and most of the time they have one laptop they use both at home and at work. As a wise man once remarked, I'm older now, I got to move my car on street-sweeping day, I can't be doing just anything I want any more...

about 8 months ago
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Largest Bitcoin Mining Pool Pledges Not To Execute '51% Attack'

bscott Not enough (351 comments)

Would it not do more for the community they claim to be supporting if they were to cap their membership at 50% (allowing their current proportion to rebalance by attrition or as the rest of the network continues to grow) thus preventing anyone ELSE from doing it as well?

about 8 months ago
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Who Is Liable When a Self-Driving Car Crashes?

bscott "What's the point of a baby, sir?" (937 comments)

> what's the point of a self-driving car if you can't relax or do something else while 'driving?'"

It's early days yet, give it time.

There was no point in cars AT ALL when they first were introduced: they were slower than horses, you needed to bring a mechanic along with you 'cos they broke down every mile. Some cities you had to employ a guy to walk ahead of the car with flags to warn people. Utterly without practical use, they were.

They got better, laws adapted. You have to start somewhere though!

about 8 months ago
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Swarms of Small Satellites Set To Deliver Close To Real-Time Imagery of Earth

bscott Finally, life catches up to Max Headroom (112 comments)

Been rewatching "Max Headroom" (one of my all-time faves) lately and have been so impressed with how much they foresaw. Sure, today's cameras are a lot smaller and several details about society and industry were a bit off-base, but the idea that information is more valuable than money, the rise of corporate power while governments decline in relevance, and a lot of other things they got spot on.

That said, the live telemetry from "satcams" is something which has been missing. Google made a big leap forward with Maps and Streetview, I just wanted it to all connect together in realtime like at Theora's console... nice to know we're still making progress!

about 8 months ago
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Is Computer Science Education Racist and Sexist?

bscott Racist? Ask this man... (612 comments)

I've obscured the name of the company so as to avoid a messy copyright battle, but this is the photo selected for the "Security Threats" chapter of my networking class: http://goo.gl/R67PWF

Takeaway message: be wary of inter-dimensional black guys in dungarees...

about 9 months ago
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What Sci-Fi Movies Teach Us About Project Management Skills

bscott Science Fact (186 comments)

You don't need to reach for SF to get a great project management lesson, just look at the Apollo program.

A triumph of the human spirit, of technology, of ingenuity, sure - but mainly, an overwhelming triumph of project management. Who says the government can't handle any big jobs, eh? (well, anyone who's been watching for the last 40 years maybe...)

about 9 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Package Redirection Service For Shipping to Australia?

bscott Friends?! (206 comments)

I have to wonder, did you leave the U.S. because you had no friends?

I moved to Australia 7 years ago and I still have friends back in America. Although I can get a lot more things here now than I used to, I still occasionally have a friend help forward things to me. There's no reason to go with a service, just Paypal them the postage.

Maybe you can send them things they might enjoy too - my friend's wife developed a taste for Tim Tams (cookies) and so we have a regular exchange going, as my Aussie wife misses the "graham crackers" she could get in the U.S. which are unheard-of here...

about a year ago
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Ask Slashdot: Package Redirection Service For Shipping to Australia?

bscott Re:welcome to the socialist wonderland (206 comments)

FWIW I can confirm, having experienced hospitalization in the U.S. - with top-tier Blue Cross coverage - and later in Australia as well - the ordinary everyday Medicare system - there is no real difference in the quality of care.

The equipment, the people, and the access are all very good in both countries - assuming you have insurance in the U.S., and I'm comparing major cities to major cities here of course.

What's dramatically different is the cost, and the level of paperwork. In America we were snowed under for years with insurance company statements and bills from a dozen providers - we ended up just sorting them by color and then weighing them... and we had to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket after Blue Cross was finished.

In Australia, you pay maybe $80 for a doctor visit, and get some of it back from the government Prescriptions average $10-$20. If you go to the ER and get admitted to a room, you have to pay $6 a day if you want the TV to work. And I think you sign like one form on your way out. You never hear from them again.

about a year ago

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