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Government

FCC Website Hobbled By Comment Trolls Incited By Comedian John Oliver 144

Posted by Soulskill
from the sweep-the-leg-johnny dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In a recent segment of his new HBO show, Last Week Tonight, comedian John Oliver delivered a commentary (video) on the current net neutrality debate. He ended the segment by calling on all internet comment trolls to take advantage of the FCC's open comments section on the topic. 'We need you to get out there and for once in your lives focus your indiscriminate rage in a useful direction,' he said. 'Seize your moment, my lovely trolls, turn on caps lock, and fly my pretties! Fly! Fly! Fly!' While the true impact of John Oliver's editorial cannot be confirmed, the FCC nevertheless tweeted shortly after it aired that its website was experiencing technical difficulties due to heavy traffic. They accept comments via email as well at openinternet@fcc.gov."
Democrats

Daniel Ellsberg: Snowden Would Not Get a Fair Trial – and Kerry Is Wrong 519

Posted by timothy
from the where-liddy-was-wrong dept.
Daniel Ellsberg, no slouch himself in bringing to public awareness documents that reveal uncomfortable facts about government operations, says that "Edward Snowden is the greatest patriot whistleblower of our time." Ellsberg says, in an editorial at The Guardian pointed out by reader ABEND (15913), that Snowden cannot receive a fair trial without reform of the Espionage Act. According to Ellsberg, "Snowden would come back home to a jail cell – and not just an ordinary cell-block but isolation in solitary confinement, not just for months like Chelsea Manning but for the rest of his sentence, and probably the rest of his life. His legal adviser, Ben Wizner, told me that he estimates Snowden's chance of being allowed out on bail as zero. (I was out on bond, speaking against the Vietnam war, the whole 23 months I was under indictment). More importantly, the current state of whistleblowing prosecutions under the Espionage Act makes a truly fair trial wholly unavailable to an American who has exposed classified wrongdoing. Legal scholars have strongly argued that the US supreme court – which has never yet addressed the constitutionality of applying the Espionage Act to leaks to the American public – should find the use of it overbroad and unconstitutional in the absence of a public interest defense. The Espionage Act, as applied to whistleblowers, violates the First Amendment, is what they're saying. As I know from my own case, even Snowden's own testimony on the stand would be gagged by government objections and the (arguably unconstitutional) nature of his charges. That was my own experience in court, as the first American to be prosecuted under the Espionage Act – or any other statute – for giving information to the American people." Ellsberg rejects the distinction made by John Kerry in praising Ellsberg's own whistleblowing as patriotic, but Snowden's as cowardly and traitorous.
Patents

Study: Royalty Charges Almost On Par With Component Costs For Smartphones 131

Posted by samzenpus
from the cost-of-things dept.
Bismillah (993337) writes "An interesting study by WilmerHale lawyers and Intel's assistant general counsel Ann Armstrong looked into how much royalty payments and demands actually amount to per device, and found the cost so high it threatens industry profitability and competitiveness. 'As the bank robber Willie Sutton is reported to have said, he robbed banks 'because that's where the money is' - so too of smartphones for patent holders,' the authors wrote."
Medicine

Mutant Registration vs. Vaccine Registration 493

Posted by timothy
from the ok-you-need-not-register-your-zombies dept.
Responding to an editorial endorsing a national vaccine registry in Canada (though the same kind of registry could be and has been proposed in the U.S. with the same logic), an anonymous reader writes "Vaccine Registration makes me think of Mutant and Superhero registration. The reasons are similar. It's based on fear and misinformation. People fear that unvaccinated people will doom us all. Sound familiar? The difference is this is real. (Oh, and they probably won't use sentinels to track down the dangerous unvaccinated folks.) Thoughts?" From the linked editorial: "A national vaccination registry would identify which Canadians have been fully vaccinated, those who have received less than a full dose of shots, and those who have not been vaccinated at all. Having a vaccine registry in place in the event of an outbreak of measles, whooping cough, and diseases like these would enable public health officials to identify the children and adults who need vaccinations. Getting them the shots they need would reduce the risk of anyone on the list getting sick, and would also reduce the threat of an outbreak in the community in which they live or travel to [and] from." In the U.S., immunization records — at least, ones which have been put in electronic form at all — are maintained in a mix of databases, including at the state level, or maintained by cities, or by insurance companies and medical providers. Here, some people (like the reader who submitted this story) also see a potential for unwarranted privacy invasion in a national vaccination registry; however, their case isn't helped by often being tied to opposition to vaccination more generally.
Editorial

Misogyny, Entitlement, and Nerds 1198

Posted by Soulskill
from the coming-to-terms-with-reality dept.
PvtVoid writes: "Jeopardy champion Arthur Chu pens a heartfelt takedown of misogyny in nerd culture: 'I’ve heard and seen the stories that those of you who followed the #YesAllWomen hashtag on Twitter have seen—women getting groped at cons, women getting vicious insults flung at them online, women getting stalked by creeps in college and told they should be "flattered." I’ve heard Elliot Rodger’s voice before. I was expecting his manifesto to be incomprehensible madness—hoping for it to be—but it wasn’t. It’s a standard frustrated angry geeky guy manifesto, except for the part about mass murder. I've heard it from acquaintances, I've heard it from friends. I've heard it come out of my own mouth, in moments of anger and weakness.

What the f*$# is wrong with us? How much longer are we going to be in denial that there's a thing called "rape culture" and we ought to do something about it? ... To paraphrase the great John Oliver, listen up, fellow self-pitying nerd boys — we are not the victims here. We are not the underdogs. We are not the ones who have our ownership over our bodies and our emotions stepped on constantly by other people's entitlement. We're not the ones where one out of six of us will have someone violently attempt to take control of our bodies in our lifetimes.'"
Businesses

The Exploitative Economics of Academic Publishing 72

Posted by Soulskill
from the all-about-the-benjamins dept.
v3rgEz sends this piece from the Boston Globe: "Taxpayers in the United States spend $139 billion a year on scientific research, yet much of this research is inaccessible not only to the public, but also to other scientists. This is the consequence of an exploitative scientific journal system that rewards academic publishers while punishing taxpayers, scientists, and universities. Fortunately, cheap open-access alternatives are not only possible, but already beginning to take root, as this article explores in-depth: 'Why is it so expensive to publish in these open-access journals? According to the journals, these fees defray their publication and operating costs. However, this argument is undermined by the existence of open-access journals that charge authors nothing and have negligible operating costs. One prominent example is the Journal of Machine Learning Research (JMLR), one of the top publications in the field of machine learning. JMLR has a similar editorial process to many other journals, with a volunteer editorial board and an automated system for managing the peer-review process. Unlike many closed-access publishers, it does not take any advertising. MIT provides the web server for hosting JMLR, which would otherwise cost around $15 per year. The biggest expense is paying for a tax accountant to deal with paperwork so JMLR can maintain its tax-exempt status. Altogether, the total cost of running JMLR since it was founded in 2000 is estimated to be less than $7,000, or $6.50 per article published. This proves that cheap open-access publishing is possible.'"
Power

The Koch Brothers Attack On Solar Energy 769

Posted by samzenpus
from the there-goes-the-sun dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "The NYT writes in an editorial that for the last few months, the Koch brothers and their conservative allies in state government have been spending heavily to fight incentives for renewable energy, by pushing legislatures to impose a surtax on this increasingly popular practice, hoping to make installing solar panels on houses less attractive. 'The coal producers' motivation is clear: They see solar and wind energy as a long-term threat to their businesses. That might seem distant at the moment, when nearly 40 percent of the nation's electricity is still generated by coal, and when less than 1 percent of power customers have solar arrays. But given new regulations on power-plant emissions of mercury and other pollutants, and the urgent need to reduce global warming emissions, the future clearly lies with renewable energy.' For example, the Arizona Public Service Company, the state's largest utility, funneled large sums through a Koch operative to a nonprofit group that ran an ad claiming net metering would hurt older people on fixed incomes (video) by raising electric rates. The ad tried to link the requirement to President Obama. Another Koch ad likens the renewable-energy requirement to health care reform, the ultimate insult in that world. 'Like Obamacare, it's another government mandate we can't afford,' the narrator says. 'That line might appeal to Tea Partiers, but it's deliberately misleading,' concludes the editorial. 'This campaign is really about the profits of Koch Carbon and the utilities, which to its organizers is much more important than clean air and the consequences of climate change.'"
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Why No Executive Order To Stop NSA Metadata Collection? 312

Posted by timothy
from the if-the-president-does-it-it's-legal dept.
An anonymous reader links to this editorial at Ars Technica which argues that "As chief executive, Obama has the power to reform the NSA on his own with the stroke of a pen. By not putting this initiative into an executive order, he punted to Congress on an issue that affects the civil liberties of most anybody who picks up a phone. Every day Congress waits on the issue is another day Americans' calling records are being collected by the government without suspicion that any crime was committed. 'He does not need congressional approval for this,' said Mark Jaycoxx, an Electronic Frontier Foundation staff attorney."
Editorial

Algorithm Challenge: Burning Man Vehicle Exodus 273

Posted by Soulskill
from the in-the-name-of-efficiency dept.
Slashdot contributor Bennett Haselton writes: "A year ago, getting ready for Burning Man, I read that the cars in the exit line sometimes have to wait in the sun for hours to get out. I came up with an algorithm that I thought would alleviate the problem. Do you think it would work? If not, why not? Or can you think of a better one?" Read on for the rest of Bennett's thoughts.
Businesses

The Myth of the Science and Engineering Shortage 392

Posted by samzenpus
from the not-so-fast dept.
walterbyrd (182728) writes in with this story that calls into question the conventional wisdom that there is a shortage of science and engineering workforce in the U.S. "Such claims are now well established as conventional wisdom. There is almost no debate in the mainstream. They echo from corporate CEO to corporate CEO, from lobbyist to lobbyist, from editorial writer to editorial writer. But what if what everyone knows is wrong? What if this conventional wisdom is just the same claims ricocheting in an echo chamber? The truth is that there is little credible evidence of the claimed widespread shortages in the U.S. science and engineering workforce."
Bitcoin

Dorian Nakamoto Officially Denies That He Created Bitcoin 102

Posted by samzenpus
from the wasn't-me dept.
sumoinsanity writes "A succinct and comprehensive rebuttal has been distributed from this Mr Nakamoto about being the founder of Bitcoin. His statement reads in part: 'The first time I heard the term "bitcoin" was from my son in mid-February 2014. After being contacted by a reporter, my son called me and used the word, which I had never before heard. Shortly thereafter, the reporter confronted me at my home. I called the police. I never consented to speak with the reporter. In an ensuing discussion with the reporter from the Associated Press, I called the technology "bitcom." I was still unfamiliar with the term.' Newsweek copped a lot of criticism regarding their original expose on the purported uncovering of a BitCoin founder following their two month investigation. They defended with, 'Ms. Goodman's research was conducted under the same high editorial and ethical standards that have guided Newsweek for more than 80 years. Newsweek stands strongly behind Ms. Goodman and her article.'"
Games

Why Games Should Be In the Public Domain 360

Posted by timothy
from the beats-the-alternative dept.
Robotron23 writes "Rock, Paper, Shotgun writer John Walker shook a hornet's nest by suggesting old videogames should enter the public domain during GOG's Time Machine sale. George Broussard of Duke Nukem fame took to Twitter, saying the author should be fired. In response to these comments RPS commissioned an editorial arguing why games and other media should enter the public domain much more rapidly than at present. 'I would no more steal a car than I would tolerate a company telling me that they had the exclusive rights to the idea of cars themselves.' says Walker, paraphrasing a notorious anti-piracy ad (video). 'However, there are things I'm very happy to "steal," like knowledge, inspiration, or good ideas...It was until incredibly recently that amongst such things as knowledge, inspiration and good ideas were the likes of literature and music.'"
Hardware

CES 2014: Formlabs 3-D Printing Redux, With New Software (Video) 14

Posted by Roblimo
from the now-they're-actually-selling-some-product dept.
Slashdot visited the Formlabs CES display in 2013. Tim looked at their Stereolithgraphy 3-D printer again this year. The company is now boasting about their PreForm 1.0 software, and not as much about their hardware, which was their main focus last year. Another important difference was that at CES 2013 they couldn't talk about sales because they hadn't sold any units yet, but now they claim they've sold over 1000. And the last major problem they faced was a patent infringement suit, which seems to be settled (or nearly so). According to this Oct. 2013 article, it's doubtful that Formlabs would have been able to raise $2.95 million through Kickstarter, followed by another $19 million from traditional venture capitalists, if the lawsuit wasn't close to settlement -- which may not matter much in the long run, since many key patents in the field have either expired or are due to expire between now and 2015.
Bitcoin

Marc Andreessen On Why Bitcoin Matters (And A Critique) 332

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the hop-on-the-bandwagon dept.
New submitter Ramtek writes "Marc Andreessen writes an interesting editorial on how he how he believes Bitcoin is the first practical solution to the Byzantine Generals Problem and why that is important. He also addresses many of arguments against its future by its critics such as its current limited use by ordinary consumers, its current volatility, its potential lack of acceptance by merchants, and many other issues. While politically agnostic the piece is squarely in support of Bitcoin but presents a more mature perspective than many current Bitcoin editorials." eggboard wrote in with a rebuttal: "Marc Andreessen wrote an essay in the New York Times in which he tried to make the case for Bitcoin going mainstream for payments, if not as a currency. After comparing Bitcoin to the rise of personal computers and the Internet, he tries to explain how it eliminates fraud and will solve global money transfers and the plight of the unbanked. I wrote a critique of these and other points in his essay."
Medicine

Nobel Prize Winning Economist: Legalize Sale of Human Organs 518

Posted by timothy
from the adults-making-choices dept.
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.'"
Government

Counterpoint: Why Edward Snowden May Not Deserve Clemency 573

Posted by Soulskill
from the issues-that-are-complicated dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Fred Kaplan, the Edward R. Murrow press fellow at the Council on Foreign Relation, writes at Slate that if Edward Snowden's stolen trove of beyond-top-secret documents had dealt only with the domestic surveillance by the NSA, then some form of leniency might be worth discussing. But Snowden did much more than that. 'Snowden's documents have, so far, furnished stories about the NSA's interception of email traffic, mobile phone calls, and radio transmissions of Taliban fighters in Pakistan's northwest territories; about an operation to gauge the loyalties of CIA recruits in Pakistan; about NSA email intercepts to assist intelligence assessments of what's going on inside Iran; about NSA surveillance of cellphone calls 'worldwide,' an effort that 'allows it to look for unknown associates of known intelligence targets by tracking people whose movements intersect.' Kaplan says the NYT editorial calling on President Obama to grant Snowden 'some form of clemency' paints an incomplete picture when it claims that Snowden 'stole a trove of highly classified documents after he became disillusioned with the agency's voraciousness.' In fact, as Snowden himself told the South China Morning Post, he took his job as an NSA contractor, with Booz Allen Hamilton, because he knew that his position would grant him 'to lists of machines all over the world [that] the NSA hacked.' Snowden got himself placed at the NSA's signals intelligence center in Hawaii says Kaplan for the sole purpose of pilfering extremely classified documents. 'It may be telling that Snowden did not release mdash; or at least the recipients of his cache haven't yet published — any documents detailing the cyber-operations of any other countries, especially Russia or China,' concludes Kaplan. 'If it turned out that Snowden did give information to the Russians or Chinese (or if intelligence assessments show that the leaks did substantial damage to national security, something that hasn't been proved in public), then I'd say all talk of a deal is off — and I assume the Times editorial page would agree.'"
United States

The New York Times Pushes For Clemency For Snowden 354

Posted by timothy
from the he-should-get-a-reward-too dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "The Editorial Board of the New York Times has weighed in on the criminal charges facing Edward Snowden and writes that 'Snowden deserves better than a life of permanent exile, fear and flight..' 'He may have committed a crime to do so, but he has done his country a great service. It is time for the United States to offer Mr. Snowden a plea bargain or some form of clemency that would allow him to return home, face at least substantially reduced punishment in light of his role as a whistle-blower, and have the hope of a life advocating for greater privacy and far stronger oversight of the runaway intelligence community.' The president said in August that Snowden should come home to face charges in court and suggested that if Snowden had wanted to avoid criminal charges he could have simply told his superiors about the abuses, acting, in other words, as a whistle-blower. In fact, notes the editorial board, the executive order regarding whistleblowers did not apply to contractors, only to intelligence employees, rendering its protections useless to Snowden. More important, Snowden told The Washington Post that he did report his misgivings to two superiors at the agency, showing them the volume of data collected by the NSA, and that they took no action. 'Snowden was clearly justified in believing that the only way to blow the whistle on this kind of intelligence-gathering was to expose it to the public and let the resulting furor do the work his superiors would not. ... When someone reveals that government officials have routinely and deliberately broken the law, that person should not face life in prison at the hands of the same government,' concludes the editorial. 'President Obama should tell his aides to begin finding a way to end Mr. Snowden's vilification and give him an incentive to return home.'"
Earth

MIT Study: Only 3.1% of USA Used Electronics "e-Waste" Were Exported 58

Posted by samzenpus
from the just-toss-it dept.
retroworks writes "The MIT Materials Systems Laboratory, EU's StEP, and the U.S. National Center for Electronics Recycling (NCER) have released a study, Quantitative Characterization of Domestic and Transboundary Flows of Used Electronics, that analyses collection and export of obsolete electronics generated in the United States. It is the fifth study to debunk a widely reported statistic that '80 percent' of used electronics are dumped abroad. Last year, the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) released studies of 279 sea containers, seized as 'e-waste' in African ports of Lagos and Accra, and found 91% of the goods were reused. According to the UN, most of the junk at Chinese and African dumps was generated in African cities (Lagos had 6.9M households with TV in 2007, World Bank). The UNEP study also bolsters African traders claims that used product purchased from nations with strong warranty laws outperform 'affordable' new product imported from Asia. Where did the 'original' widely reported statistic of 80% dumping (see /. slashdot dumping story) originate? Last May, in response to an editorial by Junkyard Planet author Adam Minter in Bloomberg, the source of dumping accusations (Basel Action Network) claimed 'never, ever' to have cited the statistic. The new studies have not slowed USA legislation aimed at banning trade of used electronics for repair, reuse and recycling overseas. This month, the Coalition for American Electronics Recycling (CAER.org) announced 13 republicans and 5 democrats had signed on to support the bill 2791 to criminalize exports of non-shredded displays, cell phones, and computers. Interpol announced a new 'Project Eden' targeting African geek importers in November 2013." In related news, First time accepted submitter Accordion Noir writes: "Virginia tech researchers and a team from the US, Canada, and Russia have released a study indicating that the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 may have had positive environmental results in fish. Reduced mercury releases from mining in areas effected by the economic disarray in Russia led fish to have lower levels of methyl mercury than those in rivers on the Norwegian border or in Canada, where mining continued."
Medicine

Multivitamin Researchers Say 'Case Is Closed' As Studies Find No Health Benefits 554

Posted by Soulskill
from the flintstones-have-betrayed-me dept.
schwit1 sends this excerpt from CBS: "'Enough' with the multivitamins already. That's the message from doctors behind three new studies and an editorial that tackled an oft-debated question in medicine: Do daily multivitamins make you healthier? After reviewing the available evidence and conducting new trials, the authors have come to a conclusion of 'no.' 'We believe that the case is closed — supplementing the diet of well-nourished adults with (most) mineral or vitamin supplements has no clear benefit and might even be harmful,' concluded the authors of the editorial summarizing the new research papers, published Dec. 16 in the Annals of Internal Medicine. 'These vitamins should not be used for chronic disease prevention. Enough is enough.' They went on to urge consumers to not 'waste' their money on multivitamins."

Top Ten Things Overheard At The ANSI C Draft Committee Meetings: (4) How many times do we have to tell you, "No prior art!"

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