Nemo the Magnificent writes "Ever been asked a question in a job interview that's just so abysmally stupid, you're tempted to give in to the snark and blow the whole thing up? Here are suggested interview-ending answers to 16 of the stupidest questions candidates actually got asked in interviews at tech companies in 2013, according to employment site Glassdoor. Oil to pour on the burning bridges."
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An anonymous reader writes "The East Buchanan Telephone Cooperative started charging cellular prices for home DSL internet service starting on January 1st, 2014. A 5GB plan costs $24.95 a month while a 25 GB plan will run $99.95 per month. 100 GB is the most data you can get in a package for $299.95 per month. Each additional GB is $5. They argue that the price increase is justified because their costs have increased by 900% since 2009. About half of their customers use less than 5 GB a month while their largest users use around 100 GB a month. They argue that the switch to measured internet will appropriately place the cost on their heaviest users. With the landmark Net Neutrality ruling this week will larger providers try to move to similar price models?"
First time accepted submitter xyourfacekillerx writes "After a long hiatus of developing (ASP.NET), I decided to pick it up again. I need to learn .NET and SQL for my new job (GIS tech using ESRI software). Down the road they need a PHP website, tons of automation tasks, some serious data consolidation, they want mobile apps in theory. This is not my job description, but I'm sure I can do it. Long story short, I need to setup a development environment on my home desktop, so I can do all this in my spare time. Trouble is, I share the machine (Win 8.1, 2.7 dual core pentium something or other, with virtualization support.) I want to avoid affecting the other users profiles. I currently use my profile for music production (Reason) and photography (Photoshop, et al) so it's already resource intensive with RAM, CPU and VMM. I'll be needing to install all of your basic Microsoft developer suites, IIS, SQl Server, ANdroid SDK, Java SDK, device emulators, etc. etc. Plus AMP and finally GIS software. There will obviously be a lot of services running, long build times, and so on. To wit, I wouldn't be able to use my desktop for my other purposes like the music editing. So I need some advice. Would it help to set up all these tools under a different account on the same Win 8.1 install? Or should I virtualize my development environment (and how?), and run the virtual machine side by side? Or should I add a HDD or secondary partition and boot to that when I intend to develop? I am poor ATM, but is there a cheap very mini PC I can place next to my desktop and run all my development software off that, remote desktop into it? I've done a lot of googling the last week and haven't turned up anything, so I turn to Slashdot. Please help me get organized so I can start coding again."
An anonymous reader writes "MailChimp Chief Data Scientist [John Foreman] is at Disney World this weekend wearing his RFID-equipped MagicBand. Here's how he thinks the practice of digitally tracking consumers in the physical world will reach everywhere from theme parks to our homes." Foreman's conclusion (and headline) — shades of Scott McNeally's famous "Get over it" — is "You don't want your privacy." That seems to miss the mark, at least for me: I don't mind parceling out certain kinds of information (like whether I like to buy decaf at Starbucks, or how long the wait is to ride Space Mountain), in contexts of my own choosing, but that's much different from being snooped on by the NSA or other state actors in other contexts.
First time accepted submitter etash writes "A bit more than a year ago a man was arrested in Greece for satirizing a dead monk, after the far-right party golden dawn, petitioned for his arrest. A couple of days ago he was given a ten-month sentence. What actually enraged the religious Greek blogosphere was not the satire. He wrote a fictitious story about a miracle done in the past by this specific monk. The story was then sent to [a religious blog] and then in a matter of days it was copy pasted and presented as true by most of the religious and far-right blogs and news sites. The final act of the dramedy took place when he came out and revealed that the story was not real; he intended to show the absurdity and the lack of reliability of these sites."
An anonymous reader writes "The WSJ is reporting that Amazon has obtained a patent for 'anticipatory shipping,'' and claims it knows its customers so well it can start shipping even before orders are placed. The technique could cut delivery time and discourage consumers from visiting physical stores. In the patent document, Amazon says delays between ordering and receiving purchases 'may dissuade customers from buying items from online merchants.' Of course, Amazon's algorithms might sometimes err, prompting costly returns. To minimize those costs, Amazon said it might consider giving customers discounts, or convert the unwanted delivery into a gift. 'Delivering the package to the given customer as a promotional gift may be used to build goodwill,' the patent said. Considering the problems that can arise when shipping something a customer did not order anticipatory shipping has the potential to backfire faster than an Amazon drone can deliver."
wiredmikey writes "While the recent data breach that hit Target has dominated headlines lately, another massive data breach was disclosed this week that affected at least 20 million people in South Korea. According to regulators, the personal data including names, social security numbers, phone numbers, credit card numbers and expiration dates of at least 20 million bank and credit card users was taken by a temporary consultant working at the Korea Credit Bureau (KCB). The consultant later sold the data to phone marketing companies, but has since been arrested along with mangers at the companies he sold the stolen data to. A similar insider-attack occurred at Vodafone late last year when a contractor made off with the personal data of two million customers from a server located in Germany. According to a study from PwC, organizations have made little progress developing defenses against both internal and external attackers, and insiders pose just as great a security risk to organizations as outside attackers."
sandbagger writes "The cynics at the Register have picked apart Barack Obama's NSA reform promises. As to be expected, there's some good, some deliberate vagueness, talk of 'ticking bomb scenarios' and the politician's favourite 'promises to commit to future reforms'. Basically, it's a fig-leaf to kick the can down the road so the next president has to deal with it. He's promising bulk data will go to a third party so the NSA can't see it. Okay, who is this magical third party?" They don't seem to me nearly cynical enough.
Former Googler and Foursquare employee Sean Haufler is now a student at Yale studying CS and Economics, but he hasn't put away his real-world software skills for academia. When two other Yale students named Harry Yu and Peter Xu were threatened with the school's punishment committee for designing a site that extends and improves the presentation of data from the school-controlled course selection guide (the Yale Bluebook [available only at Yale]), Haufler decided to create a similar site which he hopes will force the school's hand to either allow or deny this kind of data-mashing presentation. He acknowledges that there are legitimate questions about copyright, but Haufler's site treads lightly in a way that Yu and Xus did not: "Banned Bluebook never stores data on any servers. It never talks to any non-Yale servers. Moreover, since my software is smarter at caching data locally than the official Yale course website, I expect that students using this extension will consume less bandwidth over time than students without it. Don’t believe me? You can read the source code. No data ever leaves Yale’s control. Trademarks, copyright infringement, and data security are non-issues. It's 100% kosher." And if the school disagrees? "If Yale denies this right, I'll see you at the punishment committee." Of note: the Yale Bluebook site itself grew out of an independent student project, but was later acquired by the school. Update: 01/20 00:26 GMT by T : Correction: Unlike Yu and Xu, Haufler's approach is not a full-fledged separate site, but rather a Chrome extension that presents the data from Yale's own site differently, rather than at any point re-hosting it. Mea culpa.
Paul Fernhout writes "U.S. teenagers just aren't as into driving as they used to be, U.S. government forecasters acknowledged in dramatically altered projections for transportation energy use over the next 25 years." Online presence is one of the reasons mentioned, which makes a lot of sense to me as a factor, no matter the age of the drivers involved. Whatever your age, do you drive less than you did 10 years ago?
retroworks writes "Dr. Gary Becker (University of Chicago) and Julio Elias (Universidad CEMA, Argentina) wrote a thought-provoking editorial in last week's WSJ, arguing that the prohibition on voluntary sale and trade of human organs is probably killing people. In 2012, 95,000 American men, women and children were on the waiting list for new kidneys. Yet only about 16,500 kidney transplant operations were performed that year. 'The altruistic giving of organs might decline with an open market, since the incentive to give organs to a relative, friend or anyone else would be weaker when organs are readily available to buy. On the other hand, the altruistic giving of money to those in need of organs could increase to help them pay for the cost of organ transplants.' Paying for organs would lead to more transplants, the article maintains. 'Initially, a market in the purchase and sale of organs would seem strange, and many might continue to consider that market "repugnant." Over time, however, the sale of organs would grow to be accepted, just as the voluntary military now has widespread support.'"
waderoush writes "An Xconomy column [Friday] suggests that Google is getting too big. When the company was younger, most of its acquisitions related to its core businesses of search, advertising, network infrastructure, and communications. More recently, it's been colonizing areas with a less obvious connection to search, such as travel, social networking, productivity, logistics, energy, robotics, and — with the acquisition this week of Nest Labs — home sensor networks and automation. A Google acquisition can obviously mean a big payoff for startup founders and their investors, but as the company grows by accretion it may actually be slowing innovation in Silicon Valley (since teams inside the Googleplex, with its endless fountain of AdWords revenue, can stop worrying about making money or meeting market needs). And by infiltrating so many corners of consumers' lives — and collecting personal and behavioral data as it goes — it's becoming an all-encompassing presence, and making itself ever more attractive as a target for marketers, data thieves, and government snoops. 'Any sufficiently advanced search, communications, and sensing infrastructure is indistinguishable from Big Brother,' the column argues."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Jason Major reports that after nearly a decade of soaring through the inner solar system, flying past Mars and Earth several times and even briefly visiting a couple of asteroids for a gravity assist, the European Space Agency's comet-chasing spacecraft, Rosetta, is due to 'wake up' on January 20 after 957 days of hibernation. The probe is awakening to prepare for its upcoming and highly-anticipated rendezvous with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in August. The spacecraft was designed to be put in hibernation for the coldest part of the journey that took it close to the orbit of Jupiter, because even with massive solar panels the size of a basketball court, Rosetta would not have enough power to complete its mission without this energy-saving strategy. Once Rosetta enters orbit around the comet — the first time a spacecraft has ever done so — it will map its surface and, three months later in November, deploy the 220-lb (100-kg) Philae lander that will intimately investigate the surface of the nucleus using a suite of advanced science instruments. 'It's the first time we've made a rendezvous with a comet — that's never been done before — and it's going to be the first time we've escorted a comet past its closest approach to the Sun,' says ESA project scientist Matt Taylor."
New submitter hymie! writes "Nagios is a commonly used IT tool that monitors computers, networks, and websites. It supports the use of plug-ins, many of which were developed independently by the community. Holger Weiß, formerly of nagios-plugins.org, announced that 'Yesterday, the DNS records [of nagios-plugins.org] were modified to point to web space controlled by Nagios Enterprises instead. This change was done without prior notice. To make things worse, large parts of our web site were copied and are now served (with slight modifications) by Nagios. Again, this was done without contacting us, and without our permission. This means we cannot use the name 'Nagios Plugins' any longer.' Further discussion is available in a Bugzilla thread."
PapayaSF writes "TheHill.com reports that Accenture has two months to fix HealthCare.gov by building a 'financial management platform that tracks eligibility and enrollment transactions, accounts for subsidy payments to insurance plans, "provides stable and predictable financial accounting and outlook for the entire program," and that integrates with existing CMS and IRS systems.' The procurement document, posted on a federal website, states that if this is not completed in time, there will be 'financial harm to the government' and 'the entire healthcare reform program is jeopardized.' Risk mitigation (which pays insurers who enroll a higher-than-expected number of sick patients) must be accurately forecast, or it might put 'the entire health insurance industry at risk.' Accenture will also have to fix the enrollment transmissions, which have been sending inaccurate and garbled data to insurance companies. Because the back-end cannot currently handle the federal subsidies, insurers will be paid estimated amounts as a stopgap measure. The document also said that officials realized in December that there was no time for a 'full and open competition process' before awarding Accenture the $91 million contract. What are their odds of success?"