Current Education System

The education system in the United States is severely lacking when compared to the educational systems of some other countries. In fact, if you’ve spent any time at all reading social media posts, you’ll notice straight away, that most individuals can’t even use proper grammar or spelling; what’s more, is that most don’t even care that their education is lacking. Part of this has to do with the way students are taught, which does little for their long-term retention of topics learned, and the way that the United States values education.

A lot of educational institutions try to force-feed information to students, and expect them to retain the information. As an example, some might think that online colleges, which are becoming more popular every day, aren’t as good as in-person colleges. One reason for this, could be the fact that, most of the time, online colleges permit open book exams. Most likely, because it would be difficult to require otherwise. There really isn’t an effective way to ensure that an online student isn’t going to use their textbook, or other resources, such as the Internet, while taking exams at home. So the use of these resources, is generally allowed.

So this leads to the question: Are students who attend in-person classes more intelligent than online students, merely because they take their exams without the use of outside resources? I think not, and here’s why:

First of all, requiring that a student stay up all night, to cram for an exam, does little for their long-term retention of the information, in which they were tested on. If a student stays up the night before, and studies vigorously for the few days leading up to the exam, they might do very well on the exam, and obtain a high grade, such as an A; however, take that exam, and set it aside, then, a year later, ask that same student to come back, and retake the test. If the student hasn’t been constantly using the material covered in the exam, in order to keep the information fresh, is it likely that the student will return a year later, and still receive an A on the exam?

Most likely not, because it’s likely that the main reason they did so well on the test, was because they studied so much, prior to taking the exam. It’s likely that most of the information, if not used on a regular basis, will be lost as time goes on, especially, if the student needs to cram for another exam during the following weeks, or months.

Being able to stay up all night, and pass an exam the next morning, with little-to-no-sleep, helps no one in the long-term. What’s more important, is the student’s ability to conduct valid research, and find the information they are looking for, especially, in today’s technological world, where information can be found on the Internet, within a moment’s notice, and where information changes so rapidly, that it doesn’t always pay to be an “expert”.

By the time someone graduates from college, it’s likely that most of the material they’ve learned will be outdated anyway, so it’s more important that a student has the skills required to continue learning in the future, by being able to properly search for, and discover the information they are looking for.

So, in the end, it would appear that, while there is nothing wrong with studying for exams in the old fashion way, our world now permits us to learn in new ways. Instead of requiring that students try to remember everything, provide them with the skills to find the information that they require, by taking advantage of the technology that exists.

Filling a student’s mind with a large amount of information, that is likely going to change in the short-term, is likely to result in a student that is unable to cope with our quickly changing world. Instead, the student needs to be able to think for themselves-think outside the box-and use the resources available to them. That being said, I see no problem in the way that online colleges work, as long as the college is a legitimate, accredited, institution.

Students who learn to adapt, and locate the information they are looking for, will likely be of more value to an employer (and to society) than a student that attempts to cram, and remember everything, while lacking the skills to change with the times. I’m forever surprised, by the number of students who are unable to properly locate information for themselves.

So, am I recommending that students become drones, learning nothing, and using technology to retrieve all the answers? Absolutely not!

The point is, that the way students are being taught, has serious flaws, in many areas. The student’s ability to learn, and retain information, will not come from all night study sessions, it will come from repetition, and experience. The longer a student works in a specific field, the more they will start to recall, and the more valuable they will become to society as a whole.

Burn Barrel Software

Seventeen years ago, when I was just learning how to write computer programs, I wanted to create a company called Burn Barrel. I’m not 100% sure where I got the name from, or why I picked it.

Yesterday, I was thinking about designing some video games. I have one that I have been trying to write since 2007, but it was never finished. I also have several other games that I would like to design. The memory of Burn Barrel flashed in my head, so I started pulling up my old computer files to see what I could find (Yes, I have all the files from that long ago).

I found the old icon that I made back in 2000, and the memories started flowing back. I also found several other projects I was working on back then. It’s clear, I’ve always had a passion for computer programming, and for running my own business.

Burn Barrel PropertiesAs I was looking at the files, I noticed that, I was attempting to start Burn Barrel seventeen years ago, to the day. Yesterday was May 11th 2017, and I created these files on May 11th, 2000. What a coincidence! I take that as a sign that I should spark up my programming career again.

So, today, I am at the public library, am I’m going to get started on my card game again. I figured that would be a good project to get me back into the swing of things, because I already have a huge portion of the game completed.

I’ll be posting more updates later, as things move forward.

Cryonics

I recently saw a video on YouTube, which covered cryonics. The video got me thinking… The theory behind cryonics, is that a person can be frozen, and then revived, with technology, at some point in the distant future. The goal, is to allow a person to become “immortal”.

The process involves refrigerating the body in a steel container, which is filled with liquid nitrogen. The blood is removed from the body, and replaced with a cryo-protectant fluid. The fluid will prevent ice crystals from forming inside the body when its frozen, which would damage the cells.

The bodies are suspended upside down inside the container, in order to ensure that the head stays the coldest. The temperature inside the container is then lowered to -320°F (-196°C).

The Issue?

If you’re someone that believes in God, and life after death, then reviving them would be pointless. The body is supposed to be a vessel. Once you die, your soul is supposed to leave your body.

Even if they could revive your body in the future, the person would be brain dead, or, never regain consciousness, because the conscious soul would be gone, in haven, or where ever it goes. You might be able to revive the body with technology, but you can’t put the soul back into the body. God could, but another human couldn’t. If a human could put a soul back into a body, then they have, themselves, became Gods. Technology can’t make us Gods.

The heart might beat, and the blood might flow, but it would be no different than a person in a hospital bed, who is brain dead. A body with no soul.

Putting someone into cold storage, wouldn’t prevent their soul from leaving the body, because the person is dead before they are put into the cold storage.

If they can revive a person, and bring them back to conscious life, then they’ve just proven that life, and consciousness, is nothing more than a chemical reaction within the brain, which can be stopped, and started, given the correct technological skills

That would mean that the “soul” doesn’t exist, and, therefore, never left the body. When the person awakens, it would be similar to waking up from sleep. They would wake up, and time would have passed.

So, if they can be revived, we know the answer, to whether or not the soul, and, therefore, God, actually exists.

Forever

In life, one of the most harmful thoughts, is that nothing will ever stay the same. Nothing lasts forever, and, therefore, nothing is worth pursuing.

Why start a new relationship, or make new friends, when the odds are against your success? Why start a new business, or invent a new product, when, again, the odds are against you?

Life is about change. There are many different seasons in life. Nothing last forever, not even life itself. Instead of being fearful about change, embrace it, expect it, and use it as an opportunity to grow.

Life is change.

My Backstory

I have always had an interest in computers. When I was around 13 years old, I would use the Apple computers in my middle school to play classic games like The Oregon Trail. I still remember needing to insert a 5 ¼ disk into the drive to get the game to boot up. Basic word processing programs required the use of the command line. Even when I was in high school, we had some computers that were still running DOS.

I started working a paper route when I was around 13 years old, and saved up as much money as I could. When I was around 15, I purchased my first computer, an IBM Aptiva, for $1,500, from my sister. I used the computer constantly, to explore, play games, and attempt to access my dial-up Internet connection, for which I had to run a nearly 50′ phone cable through the entire apartment, just to connect it to my computer.

As I started to learn more, I started exploring deeper into the computer. One day, I came across the receipt for my computer, and noticed it was supposed to have 64 MB of RAM. I figured out how to check the RAM on my computer, and realized it only had 32 MB.

I called IBM’s technical support to ask about the problem. This was back when technical support was actually useful; back in the late 1990s. The lady on the phone told me that it was possible one of the RAM sticks had become loose, and it needed to be reseated. Back in the 1990s, it wasn’t uncommon for things like chip creep to happen. Although, I had no idea what that meant at the time.

The lady told me that I could take the case off my computer, and inspect the RAM to see if it was seated properly. I was terrified about removing the cover, because I had previously heard about something called ESD, and I didn’t want to die from it.

Nonetheless, I decided to take the case off the computer. I was able to locate the RAM sticks, by following the lady’s instructions. She asked if I could get to them, or if the power supply needed to be removed. I had no problem seeing the RAM, but I was curious about other parts of the computer, so I lied. I told the lady I couldn’t see the RAM, and the power supply needed to be removed.

She gave me instructions on removing the power supply, which wasn’t that hard. It was only a single clip that held it into place. I removed the power supply, jiggled the RAM, and then followed her instructions on reassembling everything. Once everything was back together, I powered on the computer… and it was fixed! My computer was now showing the correct amount of RAM. I was hooked!

From that point on, I couldn’t get enough of computers. I was always taking them apart. I would take them apart, just so I could reassemble them again. Since that day, I’ve never stopped sticking my hands inside of computers.

Should You Attend College?

If you’re considering whether or not you should attend a formal college, or just learn computer science on your own, there are a few things you need to consider.

If you’re serious about obtaining a job in a computer-related field, a formal degree might be a good choice. A lot of employers will list some type of IT-related degree as a requirement, however, that being said, in my experience, most employers still hire based on experience, and, based off of reputation. For example, if you know someone who works for the company, you will probably have a better chance of being hired, than someone else, even though that person might have a degree, and you don’t.

If you’re planning on working for yourself, or starting your own company, the degree might not be as important. It’s been my experience that very few, if any customers, will ask if you have a college degree. Again, most of them are going to hire by word of mouth, or you might hook a few from time-to-time using advertisements.

I’ve been a computer science student for nearly 10 years, and there’s nothing that I’ve learned at the technical college, or at the university, that I couldn’t have learned on my own. The difference is, that a college course will (usually) give you some type of structure, and organization to the material that you’re learning, and you (usually) have access to a paid instructor, who can answer your questions. In some larger colleges, you might be required to go through lab assistants, to get your questions answered.

You’ll also want to note, that computer science is a rapidly changing subject area, and even if you do go to college, by the time you graduate, most of the information that you’ve learned, will already be obsolete.

If you’re not sure whether or not you want to attend a formal college, you can always contact your local technical college, or university, and see if they have anything they can offer you. Many colleges allow people to audit their classes. Some might charge a fee for auditing the class. You might even have to pay for the entire class; however, some colleges allow you to audit the class for free. The exact process is going to vary, depending on the college, however, when you’re auditing a class, you normally attend the class, just as a regular student. You’re allowed to sit through the lectures, and may or may not be required to complete the homework that is assigned to enrolled students. Generally, you will not receive a grade for the class, even if you are required to complete the work.

If your local college offers this service, it might be a good way for you to get involved, and get a better idea of whether or not you want to enroll as a student.

Whether or not you attend college, is going to depend on your employment goals, and your personal choice, more than anything. College is great for someone who needs the extra structure, and motivation of actually being in a class, but it’s certainly not required anymore, as just about anything you learn from college, you can learn on your own. The Internet provides access to information that wasn’t readily accessible in the past.

Ultimately, the decision is up to you, but you should make an educated decision, based on your particular situation. Don’t think that college is, or isn’t, a good decision for you, based off what other people have said.

Medication. A Cure for Anxiety?

There are several types of medications that can be used for anxiety, depression, and related mental illnesses. Each medication has its own set of side effects, which patients may experience. While some of these side effects might seem terrifying, especially, if a person is already suffering from anxiety, not taking medications, can have just as many side effects. In fact, anxiety itself, is a side effect, which can disrupt the way someone functions, in day-to-day life. Some patients will see positive results from a specific medication, while others may see negative results.

Are Medications a Cure?

Someone who has the flu, might take a medication to help improve their health, and shorten the amount of time in which they are ill. The idea, is that, once the medication has run its course, the symptoms won’t return, and the patient can return to their normal day-to-day activities.

Anxiety is a mental illness, and it’s unlikely that any medication will prevent the symptoms from returning, once the patient is no longer taking the medication. Instead, these medications can help the patient manage their anxiety, allowing them to use other methods, such as meditation, or cognitive therapy, to improve their overall health.

While one patient might have success with a specific method, another may not. The symptoms of anxiety might be very similar from patient-to-patient, however, the exact method to manage those symptoms, will likely be different. As an example, some patients might find that drawing, or coloring, reduces their symptoms, while those same methods, might not have any effect with another patient.

Many patients might expect, that taking a medication will cure their symptoms, and allow them to live a “normal” life; however, these medications often need to be combined with other activities, to get the best result. If a patient simply relies on medication to solve their problem, they might find that the anxiety returns quickly, after the medication is stopped.

Are Medications for Everyone?

Medications may not work for everyone. Some patients may need to rely solely on a non-medicated approach, such as cognitive, or exposure therapies.

Cognitive Methods

When using these methods, a patient will adjust their thinking processes, to help them avoid, or quickly reduce, the symptoms that arise with anxiety. This process can help rationalize the thinking process, and the thoughts that are racing through a patient’s mind.

Exposure Therapy

When used correctly, exposure therapy can help a patient conquer their irrational fears, by facing them head on. If a patient has a fear of being in public, or being around other people, they can try going to a public library, and finding a quiet place to sit. There might be a strong urge to get up, and run out, however, doing so only reinforces those fears, and makes it harder to cope with them next time.

The idea is, that the longer a patient stays at the public library, the easier it will become to remain there. This type of therapy might start off with short 5, or 10, minute sessions. Each time a session is completed, the timeframe can be slightly extended, until the patient no longer fears the situation.

Ms. Newman Scams Virginia Lottery

This is an old CNN, fake news report from 2015, that I just ran across. This is the story of a Virginia woman, Ms. Newman, who attempted to scam the Virginia Lottery, for $20,000. Upon watching the news report, I was appalled with the ignorance of the CNN reporters involved.

The video clearly shows that there are, in fact, two tickets, that have been cut in such a way, that makes them “appear” as one ticket. However, it’s obvious, to anyone with an elementary education, that these tickets have been altered. You can clearly see the perforations at the bottom of the ticket.

Lottery Ticket 1

You can also see that the ticket has been ripped at the top. The real story, is that Ms. Newman purchased several tickets, scratched them, and found that two adjoining tickets made up a winning ticket. At that point, she tore the tickets apart, in such a way, to make it appear as if they were actually one ticket. She tore both the top, and bottom, tickets.

You can clearly see that the tickets have been torn. It’s amusing that this report appeared on CNN’s “The RidicuList” program, because, this report clearly was “RidicuList”.

During the report, the reporter states:

I’m not sure I want to live in a world, where you can’t even trust your scratch-off tickets anymore.

Well, I’m not sure I want to live in a world, where you can’t even trust the news anymore. There was a time when reporters collected information, and reported on facts.

Upon further investigation, which was apparently not conducted by CNN, I found that this is not the first time Ms. Newman has had this “problem”. I found that she has done this in the past, with a “$52” ticket. In this case, she admitted to taping the tickets together, to create a winning ticket.

Lottery 2

I’m not sure which is more disgusting; the ignorance of CNN reporters, or Ms. Newman’s attempt to scam the system, and then clam she did nothing wrong.

C# Data Types

The smallest piece of data that a computer can hold, is called a bit. A bit can only have one of two values, either 0 (off), or 1 (on). A bit can be referred to as binary data, as it only has two possible values.

Primary and Secondary Storage Measurements

Computers typically measure primary and secondary storage using the following table:

Storage Type (1 unit)Measurement
bit1 bit
byte8 bits
kilobyte1,024 bytes
megabyte1,024 kilobytes
gigabyte1,024 megabytes
terabyte1,024 gigabytes

This table can be extended further, to include even larger storage types. The bit is the foundation of all storage types. Larger storage types build off the smaller storage types. Larger data types are used to make it easier to conceptualize large measurements of bits. It’s easier to conceptualize 1 terabyte, as opposed to 8,000,000,000,000 bits.

Bytes can also be grouped into words. Modern computers typically use 4-byte, and 8-byte words, which are 32-bit (x86), and 64-bit (x64) systems, respectively.

Elementary Data Types

Name (System)Type (C#)Size
Booleanbool2 bytes
Bytebyte1 byte
Characterchar2 bytes
16-bit Integer*short | ushort2 bytes
32-bit Integer*int | uint4 bytes
64-bit Integer*long | ulong8 bytes
Decimaldecimal16 bytes
Single-precision floating point numberfloat4 bytes
Double-precision floating point numberdouble8 bytes
StringstringPlatform Dependent

*Integer values can also be unsigned, which removes the ability to store negative integers, and increases the storage for positive integers, i.e.:

Signed Short-32,768 to 32,767
Unsigned Short0 to 65,535

External References

For a complete, and up-to-date list, search Google for:

Spanish Lessons 1-3

Lesson 1

EnglishSpanish
the boyel niño
the womanla mujer
the manel hombre
the girlel niña
the applela manzana
I am a womanyo soy una mujer
I am a manyo soy un hombre
a girluna niña
breadel pan

Lesson 2

EnglishSpanish
the milkla leche
She eats applesElla come manzanas
She is a womanElla es una mujer
He is a manÉl es un hombre
You are a manUsted es un hombre
You are a girlTú eres una niña

Lesson 3

EnglishSpanish
the waterel agua
You eat apples?¿Tú comes manzanas?
I eat applesYo como manzanas
You eat, I drinkUsted come, yo bebo
She drinks waterElla bebe agua
You drink waterTú bebes agua
I am a girl, I drink milkYo soy una niña, yo bebo leche