g r o t t o 1 1

Peeve Farm
Breeding peeves for show, not just to keep as pets
Brian Tiemann
Silicon ValleyNew York-based purveyor of a confusing mixture of Apple punditry, political bile, and sports car rentals.

btman at grotto11 dot com

Read These Too:

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James Lileks
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As the Apple Turns
Entropicana
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Capitalist Lion
Red Letter Day
Eric S. Raymond
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Aziz Poonawalla
Corsair the Rational Pirate
.clue
Ravishing Light
Rosenblog
Cartago Delenda Est



Cars without compromise.





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12/31/2001 -   1/6/2002
12/24/2001 - 12/30/2001
12/17/2001 - 12/23/2001
Saturday, February 27, 2010
18:57 - The aftermath

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Clawing my way back to the surface here...



No power outages that I could see, at least in my area; but the storm pretty much shut down all commerce for two days. Even the Taco Bell forgot to unlock its doors today, and it wasn't even snowing anymore.

Friday, February 26, 2010
13:39 - Wheee

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<McCoy>Well this is fun.</McCoy>


UPDATE: God dammit, can't a respectable news source hire writers with some command of the English language?

The historic and record setting storm system that wrecked havoc in the Northeast has stalled near Long Island and will now slowly wind down through the rest of the weekend.

That's WREAKED HAVOC, you illiterate ninny. GOD.

And lately I've been driven to distraction by people who apparently never learned that "should of" is really "should have". I mean, hel-lo, do you know how verb tenses work? Or are you just repeating meaningless syllables the way you hear them, like a parrot? How do you go through life using tools without comprehending the principles of their function?

Thursday, February 25, 2010
11:08 - N00b-proofing the future
http://dangrover.com/2010/02/17/toward-a-grand-unified-theory-of-n00bs/

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Dan Grover weighs in on the nerdosphere's collective smack upside the head by the "Facebook login" debacle:

PARTIAL SOLUTION 1: A COMPUTER COURSE FOR THE 21ST CENTURY

Should computers be dumbed down? Yeah, probably a bit. Programmers can't build software expecting that their users will dork out and explore its every facet. That's got to stop. The iPad is a bold step in the right direction that might even be going too far.

Another solution lies in education. I think programmers and "digerati" may have caught onto some trends that will become important for everyone in the 21st century. The solution lies in effectively teaching to these.

. . .

To create a computer course for laymen that does not do them a disservice, it should be rooted in things that we can reasonably anticipate will not change. I'm not quite sure what those are but the stumbling blocks outlined in the previous section are a good place to start. It should combine practical computer skills and general information literacy. It should be required and it should be rigorous, not a blowoff course.

Imagine how many fewer bank accounts or email accounts would be hacked if a section on the final exam gave students URLs and asked them to identify the domain name, the subdomains, the path, the port, and the protocol. This sounds like esoteric technobabble at first. But if high school students are expected to know how many valence electrons molybdenum has or how to define trigonometric functions in terms of each other, it's highly practical by comparison.

Teaching students how a hierarchical file system works would make sense. It could even briefly cover the directory structures on each popular OS at the time and where things go. I have my doubts on how long the idea will last, but I'm betting at least another 15 years.

I'm hoping email (as a means of communication) will die a horrible death in the near future. But if it doesn't, its technical intricacies should be taught in some detail.

Such a course might also include a primer in Boolean logic and proofs, plus basic set theory — nothing too comprehensive. This would certainly allow students to refine their Google queries if the first result isn't right (assuming they actually check).

Or there could be projects where students are asked to make simple relational database applications (not requiring any programming — just using a GUI) and to construct queries that join across tables to locate information. Or maybe they could use Yahoo Pipes to create mashups of multiple sites to solve a given problem.

Hell, a basic non-mathematical introduction to public key cryptography wouldn't be a bad addition. I don't think that's going away for a long time, at least not until we get quantum computers.

This course could give students research projects to hone critical thinking. They could be given news stories, Wikipedia articles, and whitepapers by interest groups and be asked to get to the heart of the matter and argue one way or another. Students should be able to recognize logical fallacies and propaganda techniques so often employed by politicians and forum trolls alike.

I get his point that if we're "educating" kids today by stuffing them full of meaningless trivia from disparate specialized disciplines that only a few will ever study with any interest or indeed encounter ever again, then we should be able to rationalize making true Internet-age literacy a core part of a modern curriculum.

But I think he's way too quick to dismiss a rethink in how software is written. He's suggesting courses in URL anatomy, when what we should be doing is redesigning how websites invisibly interact with each other when most people's primary means of navigation is Google. He says we should be teaching kids how to recognize phishing schemes and scams, when we should be developing better technologies to combat the weaknesses that make them possible to begin with. I know what he's saying—that this is what a Consumer Ec class should be in the 21st century, and that it's stupid to teach kids how to use Word when they've probably been typing longer than they've been writing. But we nerds can't get sucked back into the same trap that's brought about all these problems to begin with: saying it's Not Our Problem, because dammit all, we're the smart ones who built the whole system, so put some effort into getting up to speed, you dimwits!

A lot of people I've talked to in the wake of the iPad—old-school, Unix-oriented propellerheads with decades of experience—have expressed genuine concern that such next-gen products will put them out of a job. I don't know how blinkered you have to be to not see what an opportunity it is for people in the tech sector to embrace next-gen technology that caters to the non-technical. The more polished and usable the software, the more complexity—explicit and inherent—lies under its surface. An iPad app brings with it not just all the technologies we depend on for the Internet, but also the know-how underlying the grand paradigm shift of touch, invisible file systems, painless sync, seamless network availability, and the artistic sense of aesthetics and usability that makes an app appealing to the layman to begin with. It's a whole new discipline, a whole new way of thinking about software—and it'll require a whole workforce of savvy engineers who are fully in tune with the new rigorous mindset of touch interfaces and streamlined input methods. Anyone who wants to can write themselves a meal ticket in the new world; it just takes some investment in the new technology, which nobody more than nerds is better qualified to do.

Seems to me it's the nerds who need education, not the n00bs.

Via JMH.


04:24 - Stop leaving weather predictions up to groundhogs
http://www.weather.com/outlook/weather-news/news/articles/noreaster-timeline-slidesh

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Didn't we just do this last week? And the week before that?

A major snowstorm is once again targeting the Northeast beginning Thursday, continuing into Friday.

Here is what you need to know to prepare for this high-impact storm:



At least I'm getting lots of practice with this stuff, right?
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© Brian Tiemann