[ Education ] What’s the difference between kids who excel and kids who don’t?

From my earliest childhood my mother told me I was smart as heck. For a long time I thought she was just being nice, because real-life experience kept showing me I was dumb as a stump, a process I now recognize as “learning.” But I think that repeated statement, along with lots of reading and books and newspapers, actually helped me devote myself to serious study.

There is a fascinating Quartz (qz.com) article on exactly this point that’s really caught my thoughts, “There’s one key difference between kids who excel at math and those who don’t” at
http://qz.com/139453/theres-one-key-difference-between-kids-who-excel-at-math-and-those-who-dont/.

Guess what that key difference is?

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[ App Development ] healthcare.gov: Web Dev Lessons We Can Take Away

The problems with the ACA/Obamacare website are old news by now, and the discussion is on about what went wrong. Testing was late and only perfunctory; features were being added right up until the deadline; the system was designed for the wrong scale. We get that.

As application developers, particularly those of us who work primarily in the web and mobile space, there are some serious things we should think about. One of these is the increasingly-popular “single page” web app. It’s tempting to keep all the business logic in that single file, but the resulting complexity makes debugging and regression testing tricky. Not to mention that any future changes run the risk of wrecking the whole app.

Apps designed for HTML5 and mobile devices tend to rely on the local SQLite browser database, rather than on the old standard, server-side storage. This is a risky proposition all by itself, for a number of reasons. (When was the last time you purged your local browser’s *database* cache?)

But the biggest problem is that the ACA site times out when you’re working with your data, usually without much of a comprehensible error message.

So you reload your page. But it’s a single-page application. So you’ve lost your place in line, and likely all your input. So you’re starting over again. (Tear out hair here.)

It’s worth it, as developers, to think about where we’re putting our data, on the client or on the server; about round-trip times for passing data; about clean, fast, economical code and data exchange. You know, all those things they used to teach in C class.

See this intelligent discussion:
http://virtualinterworks.com/2013/10/20/healthcare-gov-architectural-lessons-we-can-take-away/

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Standing For Or Against NSA Surveillance

The ideological battles are coming at us hard and fast. In the world of cyber security, the line seems to be drawn in concrete: do you endorse or decry the NSA’s data collection and surveillance?

At least we can see clearly who supports this activity – or at least, it seems we can.

Strongly in the Pro-Surveillance of US Citizens corner is Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.),  chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

“Our great strength today, ladies and gentlemen, in protecting this homeland is to be able to have the kind of technology that’s able to piece together data while protecting rights,” Feinstein said. “I will do everything I can to prevent this program from being canceled out.”
(https://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9242916/Senator_vows_fierce_defense_of_NSA_data_collection_surveillance_programs)

In the other corner,

“Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he will push for legislation that would end the NSA’s bulk collection of U.S. phone records. Leahy is lead sponsor of the FISA Accountability and Privacy Protection Act.” (from the same article)

We all should be thinking quite carefully about these issues. A surveillance state, once established, will require something like the total collapse of human civilization to remove. We’re deep in the quicksand here. It’s going to matter – a lot – which rope we grab.

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