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Tesla About To Start Battery-Swap Pilot Program

dbc Re:But what about my burger? (127 comments)

Narrow minded? Wha??? All I said was that this is a great test precisely because there is a very good alternative to the battery swap. Have you ever designed a meaningful experiment for *anything*? Have you looked at how quickly the Tesla super charger can bring a Tesla up to 80%? Knee jerk much?

yesterday
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Tesla About To Start Battery-Swap Pilot Program

dbc But what about my burger? (127 comments)

Tesla already has a fast charger at the Harris Ranch location. Which, if you are driving Sili Valley to LA, is a good place to stop for a lunch break. If I had a Tesla, the thought of a battery swap would not be compelling, since I'd be thinking of making the lunch/recharge stop anyway. OTOH, this is a good test -- when at the same location you have the choice between a battery swap verus a rapid charge plus good lunch, do people still go for the battery swap? It is an interesting marketing test precisely because the competing option is compelling.

2 days ago
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Hackers' Shutdown of 'The Interview' Confirms Coding Is a Superpower

dbc Re:Define "Good" (220 comments)

Roger Moore, Roger Moore,
Riding through the land, ....

2 days ago
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New AP Course, "Computer Science Principles," Aims To Make CS More Accessible

dbc Re:It's about self-confidence in bench skills (208 comments)

You are quite right. It's because most parents don't involve their daughters in workshop and construction projects, but they do involve their sons.

Not every girl is going to groove on helping assemble a new set of bookshelves form Ikea. Neither is every boy. But both can benefit from being taught about fasteners and tools.

More to the point, we are talking about why girls fall off the tech track, not what gets them on the tech track in the first place. Girls simply don't get appropriate mentoring at a young enough age, and my contention is that appropriate mentoring is training in hands-on bench skills (defined loosely to include code monkey skills) that will reduce self-doubt when they end up getting surrounded by people who do have the bench skills.

3 days ago
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New AP Course, "Computer Science Principles," Aims To Make CS More Accessible

dbc It's about self-confidence in bench skills (208 comments)

Girls drop off the tech track (CS, engineering, etc) because they are intimidated (wrongly) by the boys who come in with "bench skills" already formed -- the boys have been tinkering and taking things apart and building and coding and have their own toolbox (literal and figurative) already. The girls see that, and don't think they will be able to compete -- an inaccurate conclusion, because success in engineering school does *not* depend on having the resistor color code already memorized, nor on having memorized the API's to three dozen Python libraries already. Success comes from the deeper analytical skills.

Girls need tinkering opportunities that will build their bench skills. When they have their own toolkits (literal and figurative) then the boys will no longer intimidate them.

Math is a different issue. The critical years for developing the self-perception that you belong with the math crowd is the same years that girls are trying hard to fit in. The population density of girls in the USA (and it seems to be a problem for us, not for other parts of the world) who enjoy math is low enough that it is hard to fit in socially and be "mathy". For my daughter, we found a math camp (Mathpath.org) where the population of girls was high enough that she found a peer group of girls where it was *cool* to like and be good at math. That made a huge difference.

4 days ago
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Google Suggests Separating Students With 'Some CS Knowledge' From Novices

dbc Re:just treat CS like football ... (307 comments)

No, I'm sure he means: Do athletes take PE? Would you expect someone coming in on a full-ride Division I gymnastics scholarship to be forced to take the PE class in basic tumbling before they showed up for the gymnastics team's training camp? That would be insanity. Likewise, a semester spent teaching someone where the semicolons go in Java is a waste of everyone's time if that person is up to speed on the basics of coding and is ready for introductory data structures.

about a week ago
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Google Suggests Separating Students With 'Some CS Knowledge' From Novices

dbc It's about mitigating unwarented self-perception (307 comments)

My experience in this goes back over 30 years ago, to when one of my friends was one of three women Electrical Engineering majors. She lived in the same house, and was in the same intro circuits analysis class. She bailed a few weeks in and changed majors. Why? To quote: "Because you guys have been building Heathkits and fixing televisions since you were 10 years old. I haven't." In short, she was intimidated by the *perception* that she couldn't keep up with us. Nobody was making her feel unwelcome. And she would have probably sliced out the liver of anyone who tried, but that's another story... she had fight in her. But despite having the grades and doing well, she felt intimidated for no good reason whatsoever. She would have done fine. That Heathkit experience helped, sure, but it wasn't make-or-break.

She ended up in ceramic engineering, which was a great fit for her, so that much is good. But IMO she ended up in a good place for the wrong reasons.

The problem here is trying to convince people that some negative self-perceptions are completely unwarranted. Early experience is not what makes-or-breaks your ability to do well in the advanced classes that really count for something.

I *do* think hands-on experience is good for building the self-confidence that eliminates the negative self-perception. Maybe it sound silly, but perhaps some "remedial tinkering" classes just to get some bench time in a low-pressure environment is what it takes to build some self-confidence.

about a week ago
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Sony Reportedly Is Using Cyber-Attacks To Keep Leaked Files From Spreading

dbc Re:Really... (190 comments)

Try to keep up. In the Heller decision, the Supreme Court said in it's holdings that self-defense is a "core right" protected by the second amendment, and that right is independent from any tie to militia service.

about two weeks ago
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FTC: Online Billing Service Deceptively Collected Medical Records

dbc Re:I take it (25 comments)

Eh, I think HIPPA (or whatever the acronym is..) only threatens you with draconian fines.

about two weeks ago
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Programmer Father Asks: What Gets Little Girls Interested In Science?

dbc So build that princess a castle. (584 comments)

Princesses love castles.

Go to the local building supply center, and get enough lumber to build a playhouse in the back yard. Make sure the kid is out there actually swinging a hammer and measuring and cutting wood. I did this with my 4 year old daughter. We had a grand time. Of course, at 4 she couldn't really swing a framing hammer to full effect and needed a lot of help to sink the nails home, but hey, it was a great time. And participating in the entire project from beginning to end was a great way to learn a few practical things. But the most important of all was to treat the idea of a girl doing a construction project as a normal thing.

Also, bury the kid in enough Lego to build a couple of princess castles. At age 4, developing spacial reasoning through tactile learning is going to cause the brain development that becomes math/science/engineering thinking later on.

Another thing I did was as soon as my daughter could reliably count to twenty, I took her to the local electronic surplus houses and had her help me get parts. I'd hand her a box of switches or capacitors and tell her to count out 10 of them for me while I searched out the next part. And of course if she wanted a couple of pretty, shiny, purple caps for her own collection, that's OK too.

For starting on actual coding, Scratch and Lego robots go a long way. When the time comes for that.

So looking back, I'm not sure what I did that worked, or maybe nothing actually worked and my kid would have been an engineer regardless, but she is now in the middle of doing college applications to top engineering schools. And still likes pink and purple. If soldering irons and Bridgeport mills were available in pink, she'd be there. It is not necessary to do a princess-ectomy to end up with an engineer.

about two weeks ago
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Debian Forked Over Systemd

dbc Re:Wow... (647 comments)

You comment is well put. A distro that is "Debian without systemd dependencies" has a very large built-in audience right out of the gate. And that audience is technically sophisticated, with the ability to contribute. Regardless of whether or not you consider that audience a herd of Luddites (which I do not) it has both critical mass and sufficient know-how and motivation to give Devuan a fast ramp, which is the key to survival in today's crowded distro world.

about three weeks ago
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Microsoft Rolls Out Robot Security Guards

dbc Ha! Microsoft bought all the prototypes! (140 comments)

I've seen these robots, inside and out. Plywood and body putty, mainly, with off-the-shelf electronics and software glued together. Very spiffy-lookging UI, though. Gotta do the pretty part first, you know.

The CEO of the company has an interesting track record -- no time to google it now as I'm headed for the airport -- but he left the taxpayers of Indiana with a $75 million liability when his company harvested a bunch of tax credits and then cratered. Oh... and I think just a couple of weeks ago this CEO said they had built only a hanful of units so far, like under 10.

The plywood and body putty issue can be solved with a few man-years of engineering so that doesn't bother me too much now except that the PR photos may be a bit misleading. The tendancy of the CEO to harvest large quantities of dollars and then move half a continent away must give pause.

about a month ago
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UK Hotel Adds Hefty Charge For Bad Reviews Online

dbc Basil? BASIL!? (307 comments)

Fawlty Towers was a documentary, not fiction.

about a month ago
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Intel Claims Chip Suppliers Will Flock To Its Mobile Tech

dbc Re:Cost per wafer? (91 comments)

You are partly right. The correct question is to ask *when* cost per wafer matters. You rightly state that Intel's cost per wafer is higher because it is running leading edge processes. To make money doing that, you have to deliver value to your customer in the form of a chip that can only be manufactured on a leading edge process. If your costomer can derive the same value from a chip made on a cheaper process, the ultimate end-game is that your office cube walls end up at an auction house.

about a month ago
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How 4H Is Helping Big Ag Take Over Africa

dbc Re:So, does water cost more? (377 comments)

??? Dude, that is the way my great-grandfather farmed when he moved from New York to homestead in the Iowa territory. Most grains haven't been grown from saved seed for two generations. Pigs are now hybred breeds. Dairy has been using artificial insemination breeding programs for two generations. You are a little behind the times, my friend. Before you go spouting off about agricultural science, I suggest you learn some..

about a month ago
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Google's Lease of NASA Airfield Criticized By Consumer Group

dbc And who else would rent it? (138 comments)

The Moffat authority has to be the worst landlord in Silicon Valley. I was involved in trying to find space for an educational non-profit (I am on the board). We looked at some space the Moffat authority had -- what they offered and the prices and terms they put forth were pure, unadultrated lifetime-government-employee unhingedness. It didn't even pass the giggle test. We snorted and moved on. Also... I have some friends at the Carnegie-Melon Silicon Valley campus, which rents from the Moffat authority. What they have to go through is goofy -- the rents are high, it takes forever to get permission to do anything, in part because Moffat has historic status. Hanger 1, in particular, is listed separately on the national register of historic buildings. So not only do you have to find a tennant who actually wants that behemouth space, you need to find a tennant that finds doing business with a capricious, narcissictic, and unhinged landlord entertaining. Good luck.

about a month ago
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Google To Lease and Refurbish Naval Air Base For Space Exploration

dbc Hanger 1 is big. No, really. (89 comments)

A few years back when the Navy was still at Moffat, I went to the open house during Fleet Week. They had a lot of interesting stuff going on. Some of the displays were set up in hanger 1, so I wandered in a side door and was looking at displays -- then I heard what sounded like the burner for a hot air balloon. When I looked toward the sound, I noticed it *was* a hot air balloon. They had a couple of balloons set up in a back corner, and they were giving people hot air balloon rides *inside* of hanger 1. And that wasn't the first thing I noticed. Hanger 1 is big.

about a month ago
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The Plane Crash That Gave Us GPS

dbc Re:timeline (236 comments)

Yes, well, I can't say if celestial is still part of the curriculum, since I don't sail any more and haven't kept up. I know I would NOT take off from San Francisco to Hawaii with some goofus that didn't know how to do celestical nav and was relying entirely on electronics -- but that's just me. At least not in a boat.... but of course it's been a long time since the airlines navigated the Pacific using a sextant.

about a month and a half ago
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EFF Hints At Lawsuit Against Verizon For Its Stealth Cookies

dbc Re:Surprised no violences (81 comments)

Definitely corporate paranoia. I've seen it in action. Company gets big enough that corporate security is a sizable organization. Security hires a couple of professional paranoids to do corporate level security planning. They identify various important people that need to be protected from threats -- they don't have to be actual threats yet, the planners are paid to be professional paranoids and plan for things that *might* happen. And since they can generalize from what has happened to similarly situated executives at other companies, it's hard to say they aren't doing their job correctly. Then you start seeing things like convenient drop-off/pick-up parking near the front door replaced with plazas and fountains so that truck bombs can't park in front of the headquarters lobby.

In any large enough population of employees you will find loonies and criminals, despite the best hiring and interview practices. I even have personal experience -- an employee (a good one) was prescribed some reeeeeally not good for him medication by a well-meaning doctor. The employee became extremely erratic and I was glad for the security measures we had in place. We also got him to a different doctor. In any sufficiently large population, stuff happens -- sometimes quite unpredictably.

about a month and a half ago

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