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Ask Slashdot: Professionally Packaged Tools For Teaching Kids To Program?

oneiros27 Turtle Logo! wait, I mean Lua. (107 comments)

As you specifically mentioned that your kid's interested in minecraft, see if they'd be interested in ComputerCraft which that lets you build 'turtles' that can be programmed to do things using lua.

You can then give her challenges of increasing difficulty to teach her to break things down into steps, and to build on what she's already learned:

  • Tunneling (note, they come with a pre-defined 'tunnel', but it's really slow)
  • Tunneling through gravel areas
  • Tunneling and refueling as needed.
  • Tunneling and setting torches every 10 blocks
  • Leveling out an area
  • Planting a garden
  • Harvesting the garden
  • De-limbing a tree
  • ...etc

I've done the various tunneling stuff ... I assume the other stuff is possible, but I haven't actually tried them. Note that you need diamond tools to make the various types of turtles, so mining turtles should be first ... but then you have a diamond pick that doesn't wear down.

about a month ago
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Boeing Readies For First Ever Conjoined Satellite Launch

oneiros27 "First Ever Conjoined Satellite Launch" ? (67 comments)

Um ... so then what was STEREO? (launched in 2006)

There are pictures of them stacked together

It was even launched from a Boeing Delta II, so they can't claim it was their first conjoined launch. (which caused major launch delays ... due to the Boeing strike, then the batteries in the second stage being de-certified ... then once the strike was over, the Air Force kept cutting in line for launch pads)

Disclaimer : I work for the Solar Data Analysis Center. which operates the STEREO Science Center.

about a month ago
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Shift Work Dulls Brain Performance

oneiros27 Until who realizes? (131 comments)

We've got groups fighting the idea that maybe airborne polution is affecting our environment ... most likely because it affects their corporate profits.

If you say that shift work is hazardous to worker's health, no matter what you do (easiest might be to consider it hazardous, and therefore suitable for hazard pay and/or require some monitoring of the employees), it's going to affect corporate profits and therefore, people are going to fight against it.

I'm guessing that the group likely to study this further will be the military ... you can't have people making bad decisions because they're keeping abnormal shifts when it might affect starting World War 3. For all we know, this might've been a factor in the nuclear cheating scandal ... either the need to cheat on the test (because the folks had gotten stupid after working shifts), or the stupid decision to cheat on the test.

about a month and a half ago
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In this year's US mid-term elections ...

oneiros27 to get third parties matching funds (551 comments)

If enough people vote third party, then they have a chance to get matching funds. It's also a reminder to the two in charge that maybe they should actually do something for the country, not just to prop up their party.

If you're not sure who the third-party candidates are in yourarea, or what their platforms are, go to I Side With, fill out their little survey (how you feel about various issues + how important you think those issues are), and they'll tell you the candidates whos positions closest match your responses.

(they have state election info, but they don't have county and local stuff ... you can also try Project Vote Smart, but they're better for deeper research into an existing politician ... they send their survey to a wider set (I Side With catalogs public statements, I don't think they directly contact the politicians) , but not all respond back and you spend a lot of time jumping around)

about a month and a half ago
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The Most Highly Cited Scientific Papers of All Time

oneiros27 Re:True for IEEE (81 comments)

Nope, it had been approved, went through peer review (and was accepted) without a single mention of that. I was going through some system to check to see if my paper was formatted correctly when I gave up. I was told that wasn't even the system to submit the paper to.

And I've never published in EE before ... the workshop was 'Solar Astronomy Big Data', and I've only dealt with journals from solar physics, science informatics / data science, and library & information science. There's always been an exemption for work that was done on government funded time.

Their form allowed you *some* rights as it was government funded (eg, to publish it to any required repositories) but they still wanted the copyright. Even my boss (one of the workshop organizers) thought it was over-reaching.

AGU had some assinine rules that kept me from publishing in their journals (they counted posters and talks posted online as 'published', so wouldn't accept any papers from me.) ... but I also cut my ties to them this year (after having been very active with the Earth and Space Science Informatics focus group; was nominated to be secretary last year) when I realized that in their response to an RFI on public access to federally funded research, they called themselves a 'publisher' and never a 'scientific society' ... that was the last straw, as I already knew that I disagreed with just about everything in their statement.

about a month and a half ago
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Suspected Ebola carriers in the U.S. ...

oneiros27 The financial perspective (349 comments)

You're telling people that they're not allowed to go to work and earn a living. Depending on their job, they might get fired if they have to take 3 weeks off without notice.

... so let's put a price tag on the whole thing. If keeping people away from the public is so important, the government should be willing to :

  1. Pay them at least twice the salary that they'd have missed out on. (remember, it's not a vacation ... they're stuck at home or wherever, so straight pay is not necessarily a fair compensation)
  2. Pay their employer at least their base salary for their lost productivity, and cover any other benefits that they would otherwise cover if working (retirement, health & life insurance, etc.)
  3. Have government staff manage delivery of any items that the people might want (eg, it's 10pm at night, and you're in the mood for a pizza ... can't have that pizza guy coming into contact with them, right? What if they run out of toilet paper or other hygeine products ... can't have them running down to the local grocery store or drugstore, and coughing on somene.

If it's in the best interest of the government to quarantine them, then there's an acceptable price that the government should be willing to spend to do it ... and some of that money should go directly to the people being inconvenienced by the quarantine.

I don't know how you'd fairly compensate children or people who are unemployeed ... I really wouldn't want to be locked up for 3 weeks in an apartment and have to tell a 4 year old that they're not allowed to go outside and play.

about a month and a half ago
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The Most Highly Cited Scientific Papers of All Time

oneiros27 Data & Software Citation. (81 comments)

The top 100 most cited papers are actually a motley crew of methods, data resources and software tools that through usability, practicality and a little bit of luck have propelled them to the top of an enormous corpus of scientific literature.

The article itself never mention 'data resources' that I saw, but there's a problem in many fields that the standards are to cite the 'first results' paper for that data ... for which the results portion may have already been disproved or otherwise be crap. There are a number of efforts working on being able to cite 'data' separately from 'results of the data', and in a manner that's consistent across all disciplines (as we don't know in advance who might make use of our data). You also run into problems, as the paper being cited may describe the initial release of the data, and not be useful to determine which edition was used (as that may be significant to recreate their results). See the Joint Declaration of Data Ctation Principlies, DataCite (metadata schema + DOI registry system), and the 2012 CODATA-ICSTI report, "Out of Cite, Out of Mind: The Current State of Practice, Policy, and Technology for the Citation of Data".

There are similar issues with software citation -- everyone's citing the announcement of the existing of the software, but how can you track who might've relied on a buggy version to let them know that they may need to re-run their analysis? I'm not as active in this field, but the arguments remain the same (giving proper attribution, documenting everything to make it reproducible, etc.). See the 2013 Knepley et.al paper, "Accurately Citing Software and Algorithms used in Publications" and the work of the Software Sustainability Institute (which also covers topics on writing better research software, as was alluded to in the article)

It's probably also work mentioning that our current ways of tracking 'importance' of papers are flawed. See the Altmetrics Manifesto for a collection of links to efforts to come up with other metrics and CiTO, the Citation Typing Ontology to enable a way to classify why something was cited (it might be for criticism; in most of the cases in the article, it would be "uses method in", which not all disciples feel needs to be cited).

about a month and a half ago
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The Most Highly Cited Scientific Papers of All Time

oneiros27 True for IEEE (81 comments)

After getting the final submission rejected 6 times. (The first failure was because it was PDF4, and they wanted PDF5 ... as if the couldn't up convert ... so I tried giving them the original source for them to use, but giving them ODF and DOC files resulted in font screwups ... so I tried generating the PDF through other mechanisms ... but they complained I had bookmarks (none of which showed up in Abobe Acrobat Professional) ... then their website said I had sent them too many PDFs (3), so I had to use their other methods ...

After spending hours on trying to get their damned website to accept my paper, I then got told by my boss that IEEE *also* makes you sign over copyright of your paper to them ... why, because you use their damned MS Word template that they can't even generate a clean paper from?

So I said fuck it, and withdrew the paper, and withdrew from the workshop (which is today) entirely. Never again will I even consider submitting a paper to IEEE.

about a month and a half ago
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Why CurrentC Will Beat Out Apple Pay

oneiros27 Re:ACH = Automated Clearing House (631 comments)

"Direct Deposit" of your paycheck would be an example of ACH. Your company's bank doesn't want to make individual deals with every last bank that their employees might use ... so they go through a clearing house that makes all of the connections for them.

Credit cards go through a clearing house, too, and it's not actually run by Visa or MasterCard.

The thing is ... the clearing houses make only a small fraction of the tranaction ... nowhere near the transaction fees that the credit card companies collect (which is based in part on how likely someone's going to request a chargeback, but can also be a 'we don't like your type of business' penalty). I want to say that there's a third significant factor that might affect the fees, but I don't work in the industry ... a few of my former co-workers do, and I got the quick brain dump over drinks a couple months back. (and I paid the tab in cash ... *grin*)

about 1 month ago
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FCC Postpones Spectrum Auction Until 2016

oneiros27 Why is it a 'sale' ? (31 comments)

As spectrum so important, why are they sold at all? Shouldn't they be leased out, so it can be revoked if it's not being used for a given number of years, to put it in the hands of companies that aren't just going to sit on them to keep it out of the hands of their competitors, or other actions not in the public interest?

And as they mention IRS tax issues (I assume for capital gains), why aren't they at least subject to property taxes? (although, that probably just gives companies more incentive to set up shell corporations in tax havens)

about 2 months ago
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Preferred smartphone screen size?

oneiros27 Whatever size gives the best battery life. (258 comments)

... which is a function of size, but also of the technology the screen's using.

I just want a smartphone that I can just sit on standby for 3+ days. Maybe 2 days if I send a few texts or play an hour of games while waiting somewhere.

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Event Sign-Up Software Options For a Non-Profit?

oneiros27 Perl ACT (104 comments)

You might not even have to start from scratch. I'd wager that ACT (A Conference Toolkit) could be customized to fit their specific needs. ... but they still haven't explained why it is that Event Brite or Brown Paper Tickets wouldn't work for them, other than expense. I guess they just assume that volunteer programmers are 'free' vs. the opportunity cost.

If nothing else, you then don't expose yourself to some security mistake because you rushed to put something together. Or some other simple mistake, like the conference I attended where everything was managed by e-mail ... only it seems their hosting service got flagged as a spam relay, and over 50% of the e-mail never went through. (so the organizers never got many people's talk proposals, and they had to scale back the meeting from 3 days to 2).

about 2 months ago
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Safercar.gov Overwhelmed By Recall For Deadly Airbags

oneiros27 Federal govt + cloud computing (120 comments)

Unless things have changed dramatically*, there are rules that make it harder to use commercial cloud computing, as not all can guarantee that the services will only be hosted in the U.S.

Most agency cloud computing efforts are for internal number crunching (eg, scientific computing), not public facing websites. When they *have* gone and done it, they couldn't come up with a viable cost model for different groups to be willing to convert to the service. (Oh ... you can't tell me the price, because you need to break-even, and you don't know how many people will agree to use it? Okay, that's a decent price; it's not that much more than what we pay now ... oh wait, I have to pay for 3 VMs for prod / test / dev?)

The problem w/ building up a cluster to scale is that it means that you have inefficiencies of having idle machines; the way to get around this is to have lots of unrelated services running on the same system so that they shouldn't all need to max out at once.

In practice, it's often easier to switch to a 'low resource' version of the site when you start getting hit heavy -- drop all of the pretty images cluttering up pages, and just serve the basic content. Webserver tuning also helps dramatically ... as simple as splitting your static content off to a seperate server (so that you can repoint it at a CDN if necessary), while your local servers take the brunt of the dynamic requests. (and possibly make the site less 'interactive' in times of high load.)

* which wouldn't surprise me, as I work for a federal contractor and we seem to be the last ones to know about policy changes ... I once spent more than a year dealing with waiver paperwork only to find that by the time it had been granted that it had been allowed for 6+ months.

about 2 months ago
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In UK, Internet Trolls Could Face Two Years In Jail

oneiros27 Re:There are limits to freedom of speach (489 comments)

My apologies ... I was going with the general U.S. definition of assault (which varies by state), as this is a U.S. based website and the "Freedom of speech is a fundamental right" argument is a typical American attitude due to the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

I didn't think that the UK had such attitudes, the 2013 Defamation Act came about in part from people suing for journals libel because they published facts about that person and "libel tourism" in general.

about 2 months ago
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NASA's HI-SEAS Project Results Suggests a Women-Only Mars Crew

oneiros27 or little people. (399 comments)

Their next alternative was people with dwarfism, but many of them suffer from problems that shorten their lifespan considerably. Actually, I kid ... the article *actually* said:

As reasonable as an all-female Mars mission is from an economic perspective, some might find the idea offensive. After all, it'd be an expedition that fails to represent half the world's population; an all-female Mars crew would strike many as exceptionally biased.

about 2 months ago
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In UK, Internet Trolls Could Face Two Years In Jail

oneiros27 There are limits to freedom of speach (489 comments)

Threatening to hit someone when you're in person is assault. Yet, if done over the internet, you can threaten to kill them, rape them, burn their house down, etc... and that should be legal?

Calling in a bomb threat isn't free speach, no matter if you were 'joking' or not. Screwing with people's lives, even if it's only one person and not a 'terroristic threat' shouldn't be, either.

And the strange thing is ... I'd normally agree with you about the freedom of speach and people need to grow a thicker skin... but once you get threats of violence, that's drawing the line.

I've had a stalker, and even though she was just crazy, not violent, I can say that you will *never* understand what this can do to a person. I knew who my stalker was (she worked with me, and management wouldn't do crap about it; luckily, we worked different shifts) ... but you start panicking every time you see someone in a crowd that might be her. You shut down when someone that you've chatted with on mailing lists meets you in person for the first time and expresses enthusiasm for meeting you.

So, in summary : fuck you and I hope you die in a fire. (yay freedom of speach!)

about 2 months ago
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Apple Doesn't Design For Yesterday

oneiros27 Re:MacOS X == not sysadmin friendly (370 comments)

If you're gonna switch to FreeBSD anyway why not just a generic 19" x86 server ?

Price, and reliability. Dell rackmount servers hold up fine, but they're way overpriced. As for the generic 'built for linux' type servers, we've tried a few, and had way too many problems with them. (We got some machines from Penguin per the recommendation of another site involved on a project ... of the 4, two were RMA'd ... one had to be sent back a second time).

As I'm a federal facility, RMAs can add a week to however long it normally takes ... gotta blank the drives, fill out the paperwork to get the item untagged, fill out the shipping paperwork (even when freight's paid for, gotta declare what's going out), take it to the shipping warehouse ... wait ... wait for shipping and receiving to x-ray the returned item & tag it ... wait for shipping to deliver to our building (and they only deliver on Tuesdays & Thursdays for our building, due to staffing cutbacks) ... blank drives again (can't trust what came in as we didn't install it), install a fresh OS, reload from backup. (I left out the unrack / pack / unpack / re-rack, as you'd normally have to do that ... but that doesn't take much time, unless they send you back something diferent and the rails don't match).

The machine that had 2 RMAs I kept as a spare, rather than put it into service for anything that mattered ... it just wasn't worth dealing with the headaches from it ... not only was there the 2 months from RMAs, but procurement takes between 1-4 months, depending on if anyone bothers bidding when the SEWP request goes out.

Say what you will about Apple's OS ... the hardware's very reliable, and the minis are cheap enough that it can be put on a government purchase card when you need one without waiting 2 months. My only issue w/ running Mac Minis as servers is the single-tap power. Well, that and thunderbolt, but there's two thunderbolt taps on 'em now, so one for the storage, one for the KVM. (but I won't need the KVM if I'm not running MacOS).

about 2 months ago
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Apple Doesn't Design For Yesterday

oneiros27 MacOS X == not sysadmin friendly (370 comments)

ipfw's been gone for a while ... but they've made a lot of other stupid choices that might be good for general users, but make things a pain when you're administering lots of machines.

For instance, pushing all updates via the iTunes store; we have a centralized account that we put everything under ... so an iWorks update comes along, and sysadmins have to go and enter the password on each machine.

The 'server' package under the App store to get the server OS ... WTF? For apache, the config files are absolute crap now as there's a ton of if/then logic to alter the config if it's server or client.

And dear god, their replacing some languages (eg, perl), with wrappers that decide which version to call based on what system & user level config is present.

I've lost track of how many things have annoyed me ; I've been sitting on 10.6.8 for a long time now, but after this whole 'shellshock' issue, I was forced to upgrade to something that's still being supported ... and absolutely hate it.

The only good news is that they *finally* updated the mini ... which means we'll finally be getting new hardware to replace our xserves. (the cancelation of which should've been the clue that they didn't care about 'enterprise' type stuff anymore). I'm thinking of putting FreeBSD or similar on 'em though, rather than MacOSX.

about 2 months ago
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Maps Suggest Marco Polo May Have "Discovered" America

oneiros27 Re:Newsflash!!! (276 comments)

Hell, there have been all sorts of artifacts found from Egypt and China in the US from eons before this supposedly discovery

They explained this on the "History" channel.

It was aliens.

(you know, I think I prefered it when they were the Hitler Channel, and 95% of their shows were WW2-related)

about 2 months ago

Submissions

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Search for Evi Nemeth Continues

oneiros27 oneiros27 writes  |  about a year ago

oneiros27 (46144) writes "Although the initial search for Evi Nemeth (and some other people who didn't write Unix books) ended, family and friends of the missing crew are funding a private search effort for the crew. They've managed to get more images from DigitalGlobe of the drift area, but now need help looking through the pictures. If you've got some free time, you might be able to help save some lives."
Link to Original Source
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SpaceVenture : a new "Sierra" style game from the makers of Space Quest

oneiros27 oneiros27 writes  |  more than 2 years ago

oneiros27 (46144) writes "As previously covered a few years ago, sarien.net created a javascript interpreter for old Sierra games. Now, the original creators of Space Quest and the folks responsible for sarien.net are planning a new game, and have already put out some teasers to test browsers and show off the artwork, and show they haven't lost their sense of humor."
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