My Best Teaching Is One-on-One


Of course, I team teach and do special lessons, etc.


But my best work in the classroom is after the lesson is over --
going one-on-one,
helping individual students with their assignments.


It's kind of like with computer programs, walking the client through hands-on.
The job isn't really done until the customer is using the program.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

bringing fire to the mortals or burning them?

My wife had some Japanese blues on the box. X singing, "Say Anything" and Chekkaazu (Checkers, not Chubby) singing "Furete Goran" ("Touch, and See What Happens") among other things. Old stuff, but good blues.

The melancholy matches my state of mind after reading on Groklaw about Prometheus and the Mayo Clinic duking it out before the Supremes on Friday.

PJ is right. This is depressing. This is not just me being a melancholy man.

I hope that the justices were just giving Prometheus rope to hang themselves with. Still, a win for the Mayo Clinic is not the best result here, either. Neither side is arguing for reality.

Anyway, Prometheus invested a lot of time and money in this thing. So, they argue, they should be rewarded with a monopoly, not just on the numbers they were able to extract from nature, but on all the numbers around them. At least, that's what the lawyer for the Mayo Clinic says Prometheus' lawyers have been telling them.

False claims? Confidence games? Fraud? Racketeering? Telling the potential patentee one thing and telling the court another? Or are the lawyers for the Mayo Clinic just confused?

Yes, that's pretty much what the lawyers for Prometheus seem to be arguing -- "No, you're confused, we don't want patents on all the numbers from 400 to infinity, just on 400 to infinity when used diagnosing this particular condition."


Let's back up.

So Prometheus spent a lot of time and money on this.

Bad investment happens. Since when is it the duty of the people of the United States of (North) America to bail out every Morgan, Wells, Goldman, and Prometheus who has made a bad bet?

Years ago, I made a bad bet on the M6809 and OS-9/6809, and then on Forth. I wasted 6 good years of my life trying to squeeze Forth onto OS-9/6809 without using other tools to help bridge the gap between position independent coding techniques in programming languages and the assumption that the memory management hardware would handle relocation issues, an assumption that is still fundamental in all the current standard programming tools. Trying to be the code jock and do it all on that poor overworked 6809 on the very limited floppy disks that I had.

My mistake. I paid for it.

Where is the government office I can go crying to with cap-in-hand, saying, I spent the equivalent of (claim top programmer rates, here, for good effect, 24,000 man-hours, USD100/hour) 2 and a half million dollars on the project, I deserve some kind of reward?

Give me a patent on program interpretation via function addresses as intermediate codes, with two stacks, and then let me broaden that to the interleaved stack, and I was doing this in the mid-'80s, so I have the right to control every interpreted language from perl to Java to Ruby to Lua and Python.

Shoot, just a little more broadening and I can reach back to SmallTalk and Lisp, and branch sideways to C, since C imposes a virtual runtime. Who cares that Kernighan and Ritchie put C together about fourteen years before I had a running Forth, and started their work at least ten years before I had any idea what a programming language was.

I invested all that time, and time is money, and I deserve SOMETHING for my efforts.

That's essentially what is happening in the intellectual property market, when you read the court cases with an understanding of the tech and the history thereof.

Won't somebody think of the children, if they can't be bothered to think of the Constitution?

[PS: It may be useful in this context to point to my mistakes. There were two primary mistakes.

I underestimated the ability of the microprocessor to induce hallucinations in businessmen. (Talking at you, Bill Gates.)

But, more importantly, I failed to follow through. At one point, I was ready to build my own 6809 assembler, with the self-relative labels that were missing on the OS-9 assembler. Probably six months of work to my modified figForth on OS-9, but I ended up wasting the next six months trying to get a start on writing a real Forth in C, instead.

My lack of real income scared me into trying to take what looked like a shortcut but wasn't.

The way for Prometheus to monetize their work is there, if they will simply quit insisting on trying to do it the wrong way.]

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