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“The Golden Book of Chemistry Experiments (1960).
Dangerous projects include: making chlorine, ammonia, hydrogen, and ethanol.
The book is long out of print, and used copies are very expensive (Amazon.com has used copies for over $100). Of course, in today’s litigious environment, no major publisher would dare republish a book that had actual chemistry experiments in it, for fear getting sued. The book is an example of everything great about vintage children’s science books. Once you lay your eyes on it, you will come to the sad realization that our society has slipped backwards in at least three important ways: 1. The writing quality in old kids’ science books was better; 2. The design and illustration was more thoughtful and skillful; 3. Children in the old days were allowed and encouraged to experiment with mildly risky but extremely rewarding activities. Today’s children, on the other hand, are mollycoddled to the point of turning them into unhappy ignoramuses.”
-Mark Frauenfelder


Filed under: Uncategorized — mgrusin at 12:04 pm on Thursday, January 25, 2007

Tanenbaum outlines his vision for a grandma-proof OS (Computerworld Australia)

From the title of this article I thought computer science legend Andrew Tanenbaum would be discussing one of my interests; user interfaces and software design for non-computer literates (see the remarkable design of the OLPC). However, he was actually speaking about another of my interests; the sorry state of what passes for consumer operating systems today.

Tanenbaum, who developed a small teaching OS called Minix which was a precursor to Linux, recently spoke at a Linux conference about a fundamental and escalating problem with modern operating systems: the fact that they’re big and getting bigger automatically means that they’ll be increasingly buggy. He supports a return to the fundamentals: small modules of code which can be kept reasonably bug-free, and isolating these modules from each other so a failure in one doesn’t cascade to others. Hopefully the Linux developers he spoke to take this advice to heart; Linux isn’t immune from this effect.