For example, a computer scientist might be able to make expert level AI programs, but would be clueless on how to operate a simple DC motor.
hahahaha that sounds familiar... 25 years of writing code, but still working on motor control circuits (have a weak H-bridge, still working on stepper drivers).
My introduction into electronics? Day 1, smoking LEDs (or making friodes, if you prefer). Day 2, programming PIC micros (ah, programming, home sweet home).
Another source for NiHM batteries (and my personal favorite) is www.thomasdistributing.com
. Can't say they're cheap, I've not really done any comparing, but the best batteries I've found anywhere.