Don’t We All Feel Safer?

TSA at Gate B9

The TSA has released their top 10 confiscations of 2011.  Have a look at them:

10) Snakes, turtles, and birds
9) A science project
8) An artfully concealed non-metallic martial arts weapon called a “Tactical Spike”
7) Inert landmines
6) A stun gun disguised as a smart phone
5) A flare gun with seven flares
4) Two throwing knives  
3) Over 1,200 firearms
2) A loaded .380 pistol  
1) Small chunks of C4 explosives

I agree with Bruce Schneier….this just proves how worthless the TSA is.  Take a look at what he says:

That’s right; not a single terrorist on the list. Mostly forgetful, and entirely innocent, people. Note that they fail to point out that the firearms and knives would have been just as easily caught by pre-9/11 screening procedures. And that the C4 — their #1 “good catch” — was on the return flight; they missed it the first time. So only 1 for 2 on that one.

Boy I sure feel safer when I fly.  How about you?!

Image from stuben via flickr

Lydia and Her Tangled Hair

When Lydia started school back in October, Cyndi would put her hair up every day.  After about 2 months, Lydia started taking them out.  Now, it has progressed to where Lydia wants to have her hair down all the time.  She calls it her tangled hair (after Rapunzel in the Disney movie Tangled).  I thought I’d post about so I took some pictures this morning.  For now, Lydia consistently has her hair down and talks about how long it is.  She really likes her tangled hair (but not literally tangles….she doesn’t like having it bruised out).  Here are some pictures I took this morning to blog about this:

Dublin Dr. Pepper

dublin dr pepper

I know lots of people from Texas.  Last week, all of them started moaning that The Dublin Bottling Works wasn’t going to make Dublin Dr. Pepper any more.  Most of them were moaning and blaming Dr. Pepper.  From what I understand, the problem lies solely with Dublin Dr. Pepper.

For those who don’t know, “Dublin” Dr. Pepper had continued to make (and market) Dr. Pepper made with 100% cane sugar (instead of HFCS).  It was good and was really popular.  As people moved away, they still wanted their fix of Dublin Dr. Pepper.  Right there is the problem…..As you can see from the picture, they were marketing the Dr. Pepper not just as plain old Dr. Pepper but “Dublin” Dr. Pepper.  Dr. Pepper stepped in to protect their trademark.  That is why I think the problem was with the bottler.

If they had simply lapeled their product Dr. Pepper just like everything else there would have been no problem.  People would have driven to Dublin Texas (or the surrounding counties), sought out the Dr. Pepper bottled by the Dublin Plant (it is on the cans), and everything would have been honkey dorey.  But things weren’t.  From the articles I’ve read, that is why Dr. Pepper took them to court in the first place.

BTW, no one is going to loose the taste of Dublin Dr. Pepper.  Dr. Pepper has said they are going to continue marketing cane sweetened pop to the counties that should have been serviced by The Dublin Bottling Works.

Image from brendangates via flickr

What does it mean to teach computers?

Computer Mess

Today on Sky News, there was a news report talking about the state of computer education in the UK.  They had a computer teacher on (I believe he was the equivalent of a US high school teacher) who made the point that as it stands today, computer education in the UK is worthless.  He went on to describe it as teaching kids how to download apps to accomplish a task.  Wow!  Unfortunately, I don’t have a link to that, but I’ve found a link where the government is making changes to computer education.

Now, I have a BS degree in Computer Science and Software Engineering.  I think that most people don’t have a clue about computers because they have never been taught how to think.  At Marshall, I had a teacher (who was not very good) but he loved to say there was a difference between education and training.  I never knew what he meant until I graduated and was placed in the work world.  I then discovered what he meant.  I found a plethora of people who didn’t know how to do anything unless it was laid out step by step in front of them.  Those people had been trained.  If you forgot one small thing, the people couldn’t think and determine what to do next.

I think that is the problem with computer education in general.  Having a class to teach a person how to use word and calling it computer education is a joke.  Sure, they might come away knowing how to use word…but then they can’t use open office (even though the concepts are 75% or more the same).  They’ve been trained how to use word but haven’t ever been taught how to think about a problem.

In my mind, 50% (or more) of working with computers is nothing but problem solving (perhaps more like 80%).  You have a problem and you have to find a solution.  Then you have to determine how to make that solution work.  Then you have to determine how to implement it and fix problems because you did it wrong.  You see where that goes….more and more problem solving.

Therefore, I think the solution lies in teaching kids less how to do simple tasks and more in teaching them to think.  Sure, you’ve got to teach kids tasks (how to tie shoes, how to write, how to cypher, etc….) but there needs to be a way to make certain computer classes don’t focus on the ctrl+b bolds text in word (or similar concepts in other disciplines).  As I learned from the Mythical Man Month, computer engineering/software engineering isn’t exactly like other disciplines.  Well, it may be; however, software engineering has only been around less than 75 years….people have been building bridges since preRoman times.

The conversation reminds me about this video:

Image from phil g via flickr

7 Generators?!


I’ve just started watching Gold Rush Alaska.  They just mentioned those guys planned to use 7 generators to power their camp.  HOLY COW!  I can’t believe how much gasoline that must take.  I also can’t believe they can’t make do with less electric….  For example, it showed them using an electric pump to pump water out of a spring into their water tanks….they could have put the pipe up a bit and let gravity fill it up.

I’ll probably keep watching, but these guys won’t get gold unless they get lucky.  They don’t have a clue.  It makes me think of this.

I wish I could watch more Gold Fever.  Sure, the theme song is over the top, but it is an awesome show.

[Update 2012-01-14 10:46:35] The seven generators were just for their camp.  They had a large 300kw generator to power their wash plant.

Image from endora57 via flickr


Michelle Obama

…and since when should the First Lady have any influence on policy?  See this article in the Telegraph.  Now, certainly, a man’s wife has considerable influence over her husband…even world leaders…I’m not trying to nock that.  But do we really want her sitting in on meetings with the President?  I for one don’t think so.  Her job is wife and mother NOT playing government leader.

Image from ann althouse via flickr