How college professors at Capella University demonstrate they do not want attention deficit students; part 1

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Hi, I am Everett Vinzant, and I am Attention Deficit.  I know it sounds like I am going to an AA meeting, or that I am making light of AA meetings with that as my opening statement.  I am not.  I am stating this up front so that I can keep you focused on the fact, that I can not, by definition keep focus.  Writing is the most enjoyable torture I find.  It requires from me the single discipline that I may never have.  It causes me to organize, something I often fail at.  All joking aside, YOU do NOT understand ADD (or ADHD) if YOU do not live with it.  Just consider that.

I am taking college courses on-line.  I am having to study something that I have no interest in.  This potentially means I will fail.  I will explain why.  I have to organize myself to take the course on-line.  Since I am taking two courses on-line now, this becomes exponentially (not linearly) more difficult.  In fact, it is so difficult that I had to get outside help to organize myself.  It was not possible for me to organize the work that needed to be done AND do the work.

With that hurdle overcome I had to deal with the problem of interest.  I am entering a 2000 level course (IT2230 Intro to databases).  I teach the CISSP, CASP, and CISM.  These are security certifications that require basic knowledge of the material in this course.  I am required to teach the basics of databases.  I already have some knowledge and experience in this subject.  I know that if I do not find a way to relate what I am learning to what I already know, I will have a difficult time paying attention.  If I do not find a way to keep interest in this class, I will get distracted, do other things, and fail the class.

The first week of the class was painful.  We covered material I am already familiar with (did I mention I teach it).  The second week we are studied a subject I do not know as much about.  We are moving from basic structures in databases (in the first week) to basic functionality in queries and reports (in the second week).  I had a question about queries and basic table design.  This is what I asked:

I have three tables.  A primary key in table A is referenced in table B.  A primary key in Table B is referenced in table C.  A primary key in table C is referenced in table A.  Does the fact that I just created a loop in the database bode ill for me?  I would worry about this in routing or switching in a network, so I was wondering if it mattered in a database design?  I ask because I could see causing a query to infinitely loop through a poorly designed set of tables like this.

I have tied this material directly to something I understand.  In order to see if I understand the course material I need a response to the question.  I expect an answer to be something like, “yes, you could potentially have a problem due to poor design of the tables in the database.”  This would indicate I understand something.  I could also see, “not really, because…”  I would have even accepted, “great question, read this (or go here), to do some research on the subject.”  The student advisor for the class left a response.  I leave it here as evidence.  The response demonstrates that the student advisor does not understand how a primary key works in a relational database:

The key (primary key) are the only way to link and pull data from all the tables.  When building databases you have one single source of reference that will remain a constant in every table.  This will help when pulling inquiries.

This is exactly incorrect.  A primary key is used to give each record a unique identifier.  Each table in a database can have a different primary key for the records in the table.  However all records in a table use the same primary key (at least at a basic level in a relational database).  Knowing this I responded asking for clarification.  I provide my response below.  If you wish to skip it, it can be summarized as an explanation of how I know the answer I was given is incorrect, along with a quote from the inventor of the relational database explaining why the response is wrong:

Maybe you could clear up some confusion on my part.  It was my understanding that the primary key was a function of the table, not of the entire database.  That is to say that a primary key uniquely specifies a tuple within a table.  A foreign key is a field in a relational table that matches the primary key column of another table.  So according to the definition of a foreign key I should be able to construct a primary key in each table, and have a foreign key in each table point to the primary key of any other table.  Many relational databases support the many to many relationship I am talking about.  SQL is one of them.

From Microsofts website discussing implementation of primary keys in Access, “each table should include a field or set of fields that uniquely identifies each record stored in the table. This information is called the primary key of the table.”  It does not say that the primary key is the same in every table in a database.  So I am guessing that there is a primary key of the database as well?

Some research found this interesting history lesson:
In a relational database there is no real fundamental requirement to designate one and only one key per table as “primary”. E.F.Codd (inventor of the relational database model) originally used the term “primary key” to refer to any and all keys of a table and not just one.

Nowadays the term Candidate Key is used for what used to be known as a Primary Key. By convention one candidate key per table is designated as the primary one (the preferred or most important one) but the key thus designated is not essentially different to any other key of the table. The choice of a primary key is therefore arbitrary and is only as important as you want to make it.

Again, the reference here is per table, not per database.

Finally we hear from the instructor.  I provide his response so that you know it was what was really offered.  You can skip the technical explanation in the middle.  The first sentence and the last sentence are what I am focusing on here:

You are getting a bit too “into the weeds” on this subject at this stage in the course. Here’s what you “need to know” at this point (you’ll go a bit deeper in this subject later in your studies and degree program): You need a single primary key for every table in your database. The primary key provides a unique identifier for every record (i.e., row) in that table. The primary key is an integral part of setting up relationships between tables, reporting, queries, etc.

Let us know if you have additional questions (you’ll want to keep it “high level” – i.e., “introductory” – at this point).

In essence it says, “you are right about what you said regarding primary keys, please do not ask questions that might require some insight at this point, you are not allowed those answers yet.”  It is NOT a response to the question I asked, not in any way.

For the thousands of dollars I am paying Capella University for this class, you better believe I am going to get a better answer than, “go away kid, you’re bothering me.”  This instructor has thrown cold water on my interest in databases because my question was an inconvenience.  I have never in my years of taking college courses seen a more pathetic example of a response to a question in my entire life.  The wrong answer from the student assistant at least showed an attempt to answer the question.  This demonstration is directly attributable to why people that are attention deficit have problems in school.  WE are the inconvenience.  Damned those weirdos with diagnosed disabilities.

Tomorrow I demonstrate that I am penalized for writing a class discussion that no student in the class is willing to put in the work to respond to.

Today, Apple empties my pockets

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It has been a big day for Apple products. The iPhone 6, 6+ and AppleWatch all popped in to existence… sort of. These products in and of themselves are little more than tech kitsch. However, they have a game changer.

ApplePay.

Apple designed ApplePay to replace credit cards. I will not need to bring cards with me for payment anymore. I do not carry cash and will not carry cards. The only thing I will need to have with me is ID. Imagine how much less I will have to carry around with me in my daily life.

With the AppleWatch I can open locked doors, like the front door of my house. I can start my car. I can unlock…

In fact, there is my kick starter idea. I will build a lock that is unlocked by the AppleWatch. It will replace combination and key locks. It will have a rotary dial (like a combination lock) connected to a generator that will provide enough power for the lock to receive and process data from the watch.

In this way someone at the gym will not have to even keep a key with them while running, playing racquetball, or swimming.

Will I pay $350 for a watch? I do not know. I do not wear one now. I can say that Apple has provided me with motivation though. No keys, no cards, and empty pockets ;)

Andrew Brown – The argument for Muslim babies?

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Some Muslims will never speak of “converts” but only “reverts” because they believe that everyone is born a Muslim, even if some babies have this truth hidden from them by their parents who tell them they’re Christians or atheists.

The problem with this argument stems from an unsubstantiated claim regarding Allah. In order for this statement to be true, Allah must exist. The author assumes this is the case and offers no substantiation. When the first sentence in an article requires a logical fallacy it is unlikely that anything logical or truthful will be derived from it.

And there’s a style of atheist rhetoric that makes exactly the same point. To take two random examples from my recent Twitter stream: Joan Smith wrote: “I’m not convinced there are Muslim or Christian children. They have religious parents, but should be able to decide when they grow up.” And Richard Dawkins wrote: “When you say X is the fastest growing religion, all you mean is that X people have babies at the fastest rate. But babies have no religion.”

But there are no atheist babies, and certainly no agnostic ones.

How come my son was not born believing in Zeus or Thor? How come my daughter does not know about Vishnu or Budha?

This is for two reasons. The first is that if we’re going to be consistent, and to demand that babies only be ascribed identities that they themselves embrace, there are no German, British or Chinese children either.

The comparison is not the worst attempt at a false analogy I have ever seen. First, religion or belief has nothing whatever to do with genetics. You are comparing belief to genetics. I can look at someones DNA and tell where their ancestors came from. I can not look at someones DNA and tell if they are Hindu, Christian, or Muslim. Next, you do not embrace a lack of belief any more than you embrace a lack of a hobby.

There are simply the children of German and English and Chinese parents, who will in due course learn the habits and the rules of the cultures around them and grow into their parents’ language, nationality, food habits – and religious opinions.

Oh, so you are not talking about genetics, you are talking about culture. And based on what you just said (religious opinion) you concede that your entire argument is false.

The way in which they express these will become more subtle and more interesting as they grow up – or at least we can hope it will – but the fact remains that babies are entirely anchored in the world by their parents.

As you are pointing out babies learn about culture (including religion) from their parents. Before they learn religion, they have no religion. Therefore, as your own argument points out, Dawkins is correct.

But you don’t get Dawkins and Smith complaining because people talk about “Chinese babies”.

What?

They think religion is different. Well, it is.

No kidding, as you have pointed out it is taught, and it is trained.

For one thing, and despite the existence of loathsome and barbaric laws against apostasy, in most of the world it’s much easier to change your religion than your language or nationality.

“Apostasy” would only be loathsome or barbaric if you had started by proving Allah existed. Neither you, nor anyone, has done so. So those laws protect people from charlatans that lay claims that are unfounded and unproven.

It is generally accepted that changing your religion is a human right, but changing your nationality is not.

Okay, so you have demonstrated another way that you used a false analogy.

The big difference is that religions usually make it hard to leave and nationalities usually make it hard to enter.

No, that is NOT the big difference. That is one of many differences. You are a very confused individual.

But in neither case does an individual get to choose as if no one else were involved.

Actually, someone can decide to leave a religion without consideration of anyone else. It happens all the time. You even mentioned it earlier talking about “Apostasy.”

To imply that babies have a default theological position of atheism is as silly as assuming that they have a default language or nationality.

No, this would be like saying they have no default language (which they do not). Your comparison to nationality is unwarranted and has already been identified as a false analogy.

Of course, in an environment where religion is regarded as weird and old-fashioned, children grow up atheist because that’s what their parents are. They don’t think about it. They may have profoundly superstitious and unscientific beliefs, but they will think of these as rational and atheist because that’s what – they know – all decent people are.

Since you do not seem to understand what an Atheist is, I will help you out. An Atheist is literally man without god. When we use the term Atheist we are talking about someone that has not been provided with adequate evidence that there is a god or god that exists. This has nothing to do with superstition, or holding unscientific beliefs. An Atheist would simply state that you have not done an adequate job of proving a god or gods exists.

This is a perfectly sensible piece of conformist time-saving – life’s too short to live without prejudice – but it isn’t a reasoned rejection of belief after serious consideration of its possible truth.

Your posit is wrong therefore your conclusion is wrong.

There is another reason why babies can’t be atheists or agnostics.

In neither of the quotes you provided did anyone say anything about agnostics. I will assume for the rest of your argument you mean atheists only, since that is all that was implied.

Everything we know from science shows that supernaturalism comes naturally to children.

So does imaginary play. Like religion.

It is not just that they believe much of what their parents and the surrounding societies tell them: they show a preference for remembering and transmitting stories that defy scientific rationality. So do we all, unless we train ourselves out of it.

So the basis of your argument is that because some people of a certain age have a preference for fiction that does not correspond to reality, we are supposed to agree that it is the “normal.” Great, why do Muslims get preferential treatment in this instead of the Greek pantheons, Hindus, Christians…

To reach the state where you can really reflect critically on your own beliefs – rather than simply understanding that your parents are deluded old fools – takes a long time if it ever happens at all. As Bertrand Russell observed, many people would rather die than think and most of them do. And that is why no one can really be called an atheist or an agnostic until they have grown up.

Your conclusion has no support. You have failed. An Atheist is someone that does not believe in god, a baby can not understand the concept of god. You posit that though a baby can not understand the concept of god, they believe in (your specific god), anyway, and you state this with no proof.

Andrew Brown – Thank you for the opportunity to practice dismantling arguments.

Yesterdays work for tomorrow…

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And now I submit the top half of Printrbot simple.

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This is a project that I will finish on Friday. I receive the volume upgrade then. I will be printing on a metal heated bed, using a simpler design than most 3D printers, for lower cost, and similar quality.

To make this clear I feel that the 3D printing revolution is in desperate need of a Steve Jobs. Someone to make a printer for, “the rest of us.” One that, “just works.” Until then I will enjoy figuring out everything that this little joy can do. And yes, there will be pictures.

LOOK! I live in the future (well almost)….

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You have likely read of the exploits of my 3 year-old daughter. We went to the Denver Mini Maker Faire on the weekend of May 3rd and 4th. This is a follow-up to tell you what I have been doing since then. 3-D printing is now what the home computer industry was at the end of the 70’s. While I was at the Faire I saw and smelled many 3-D printers. Despite the smell I decided to see if I could find one to fit in the budget.

Make did a special on 3-D printing. I purchased it, read through it, scanned it, flipped through it, looked for other articles on-line to compare to, and purchased the digital version on my iPad Mini. All my reading kept coming back to one printer. I slowly, deliberately, and unremorsefully fell head over heals for the printrbot simple Maker edition. I found one for $250 and snatched it up.

This was the work I did on Friday, May 16th:

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Here you see the circuit board with some cables plugged in. In front of the bottom of the circuit board there is a metal rod popping up. That is the Z axis (up and down) motor. On the left are some steel cylinders. These are the bearings for the X axis (left and right). I will be sliding 10″ steel rods in them. The printer table will sit on these steel rods.

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On the left is the logo for printrbot. The back of the pc board is logo’d. The total height is about 6 inches (at this point). This is not a large printer folks. The surface construction is laser cut plywood. This is convenient because it glues together with bolts holding stress points.

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The little sanding drum that is sticking out is the X axis motor. Between the bearings there is an end stop switch . This way the bot knows when it can not pull any more.

This was an hours work, at a leisurely pace, late one Friday night. I ran into a problem with a power connector that I solved to my satisfaction.

This reminds me of seeing the Apple 1 in a wooden case.

Denver Mini Maker Faire Day 2

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Let me open by saying,”May the fourth be with you.” Abigail wanted to start with another picture of R2-D2. I think she has a crush on him ;)

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Next she wanted to go look at the SteamPunk shop again. She found some jewelry she really liked, and Sam was kind enough to let her try it on for a picture.

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After we got the pretties out of the way, Abigail wanted to play fetch with some of the robots.


She would have done this for hours. It is really neat to see her interacting with technology this way. I look forward to the day that a company comes along and does for robots what Apple did for computers in the late 70’s.
CubeCraft was a must stop as well. Abigail loves to build with blocks, and these innovative toys kept her focused. That is an impressive thing for a toy to do to a 3-year-old. I look forward to hearing from Jeremy that these toys have gone in to production.

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Abigail enjoyed creating a glove monster. The lady that helped her do this was an angel. Sadly, I did not get her name which is more a reflection on my skill than hers.

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We got to visit one of my favorite booths at the Maker Faire. SparkFun is one of the best bunch of individuals I have seen in the business. They truly understand that they are interacting with people who want to build it better. SparkFun went out of their way to do this, not just by teaching soldering. They offered a kit (free of charge) that you could solder, and have a game (Simon), watch (LED screen), or a little “bug.” We picked Simon.

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Passing one of the booths we saw airplane kits. These interested her. Abigail asked the lady that ran the booth if Abigail could build one. She got to work showing my little girl how to put together an airplane. Abigail could hardly wait for it to dry to go outside and try it out. The plane will survive long enough for Abigail to get some use out of it.

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At the end of the day, why does all this matter? My three-year old said it best, “Daddy, can we turn off Dora and build a project?” One girl who want’s to do more than she sits and watches. I would have bought three tickets for the Faire had I known that it would spark in her little heart the desire to talk to people, ask what they are doing, and then…

Do it herself.

Denver Mini Maker Faire: Day 1