Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?

Submission Summary: 0 pending, 45 declined, 16 accepted (61 total, 26.23% accepted)

Slashdot Deals: Deal of the Day - Pay What You Want for the Learn to Code Bundle, includes AngularJS, Python, HTML5, Ruby, and more. ×

Submission + - How Apple Is Giving Design A Bad Name (theverge.com)

ColdWetDog writes: Codesign has an article by two early Apple designers on how the company has lost its way, and quite frankly, lost its marbles when it comes to user interface design. In the search for minimalist, clean design it has forgotten time honored UI principles and made it harder for people to use their products. As someone who has followed computer UI since the command line and who has used various Apple products for a number of years, their concerns really hit home.

Of course, Apple isn't the only company out there who makes UI mistakes. And it is notable that TFA has totally annoying, unstoppable GIFs that do nothing to improve understanding. User Interfaces are hard, but it would be nice to have every body take a few steps back from the precipice.

Submission + - Massachussets extends religious exception to Pastafarian. Colanders for the win (northwestgeorgianews.com)

ColdWetDog writes: A Massachusetts agency is letting a woman who belongs to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster wear a colander on her head in her driver's license photo after she cited her religious beliefs.

A spokesman for the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles says policy does not permit head coverings or hats on license photos, but exceptions are made for religious reasons.

From Kim Davis to colanders. You gotta love this country.

Submission + - Drug abuse is a big drain on the US economy. (cdc.gov)

ColdWetDog writes: The Centers For Disease Control has released a report that details the cost of alcohol abuse in this country.

Excessive drinking cost the U.S. $249 billion in 2010, or $2.05 per drink, a significant increase from $223.5 billion, or $1.90 per drink, in 2006. Most of these costs were due to reduced workplace productivity, crime, and the cost of treating people for health problems caused by excessive drinking.

An interesting counterpoint to the 'costs' of illegal drugs. What this really says is that from the standpoint of public health (and your particular mileage may vary), humans are drug addled bags of protoplasm. If it's not one drug, it's likely to be another. I suppose this is basically the cost of doing business with humans. If only reptiles had managed opposable thumbs.

Submission + - You need a flamethrower (cnet.com)

ColdWetDog writes: You've always wanted one, of course. Zombies, the occasional alien infestation. The neighbor's smelly roses. You just need to be prepared for things. You can get freeze dried food, AR15's, enough ammo to start a small police action (at least here in the USA, YMMV), but it has been difficult to get a modern, portable flamethrower until now.

CNET has an brief explanation on what is now available for your inner demon.

Submission + - Space X - Going where no one has gone before (planetary.org)

ColdWetDog writes: This Friday, SpaceX will attempt what no agency or company has done before: land a used rocket stage on a floating ocean platform. The effort will be made during the private spaceflight company's fifth paid cargo run to the International Space Station. Liftoff of the Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 40 is scheduled for 1:22 p.m. EST (18:22 UTC).

Submission + - Mars Rover finds evidence of Taco Bell? (bbc.com)

ColdWetDog writes: Most methane on earth has a biological origin — microbes, cows, burritos. It has been long observed that there is a very low level of methane production on Mars. It's specific origin is unclear. Certainly one answer would be some sort of biologic process. The Mars Rover, Curiosity has been sampling methane levels on a regular basis and has noted several small spikes.

A BBC article discusses the data further and offers some clues and further areas of research. Unfortunately it is a bit premature to postulate that the Martian Counsel can order takeout.

Submission + - Code Humor (theblaze.com)

ColdWetDog writes: A coder with the nic Zen Albatross has found a bit of humor in the sad state of affairs of Google's ongoing attempts to keep the NSA out of everyone's electronic panties. Reported in the Blaze, the bit of humor embedded in the comment goes back to a rather un funny slide of how the three letter agency compromised transit between Google servers.

That's one point for open code.

Submission + - Photo Geek 2013 Contest Results (lensrentals.com)

ColdWetDog writes: If you are at all interested in the mechanics and physics of photography, you can do much worse than spend a few minutes perusing the weird and often amazing pictures of the Photo Geek 2013 contest. If you're still not sated, you can read some more of Roger Cicala's LensRentals blog and learn more than you ever thought possible or necessary about testing and evaluating modern cameras and lenses.

Submission + - How to warm up your Christmas - "Cold Fusion" for sale (extremetech.com) 2

ColdWetDog writes: Be the first on your block (or country for that matter). Amaze your friends and confound the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The first cold fusion power plant is now available to pre-order. The E-Cat 1MW Plant, which comes in a standard shipping container, can produce one megawatt of thermal energy, using low-energy nuclear reactions (LENR) — a process, often known as cold fusion, that fuses nickel and hydrogen into copper, producing energy 100,000 times more efficiently than combustion. It sounds like E-Cat is now taking orders for delivery in early 2014, priced fairly reasonably at $1.5 million. Has cold fusion — the answer to all our energy needs — finally made its way to market?

Submission + - Obamacare going to the dogs. (foxnews.com)

ColdWetDog writes: "Fort Collins, [Colorado], resident Shane Smith told a local Fox News Affiliate that he received a letter last week informing his dog,Baxter, that a health insurance account had been opened for the pup through Connect for Health Colorado. Smith told the station he had to sign up for coverage through the state exchange because his health insurance plan was cancelled under ObamaCare. He isn’t sure how Baxter wound up getting enrolled instead, but he said he did give Baxter’s name as a security question as part of the registration process." First the NSA backs all all your data. Now the Feds insure your security questions. What's not to like?

Submission + - Nothing new under the sun (theatlantic.com)

ColdWetDog writes: Recent revelations surrounding the documents leaked by Edward Snowden and Chelsea / Bradley Manning have painted the US intelligence services and the US military in a less than flattering light. A recent short article on the Atlantic website points out that secrecy, duplicity and a narrow, near paranoid view of the world existed in the minds of the US military and intelligence communities during the Kennedy administration.

From the start of his presidency, Kennedy feared that the Pentagon brass would overreact to Soviet provocations and drive the country into a disastrous nuclear conflict. The Soviets might have been pleased—or understandably frightened—to know that Kennedy distrusted America’s military establishment almost as much as they did.

TFA puts a bit of historical context into the recent discussions we have been having. "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it". (George Santayana).

Submission + - Is this YOUR policy? Would you like it back? (sans.org) 2

ColdWetDog writes: Recently IS at my small hospital created an "Acceptable Use Policy" for our institution. Being the sort of anal compulsive guy that I am, I actually read it. That prompted me to attempt to figure out where it came from which led me to the SANS site. This purports to be "the most trusted and by far the largest source for information security training and security certification in the world. It also develops, maintains, and makes available at no cost, the largest collection of research documents about various aspects of information security, and it operates the Internet's early warning system — the Internet Storm Center" Be that as it may, I thought at least the Computer Use Policy had some real dumb features. I'm most concerned about the section on information ownership:

Hospital’s network administration desires to provide a reasonable level of privacy, users should be aware that the data they create on the organization’s systems remains the property of... Hospital.

Not sure how that is going to work out overall, seems a bit over arching — like what, precisely, is 'data'? But the thing that really has me annoyed because it clobbers my work flow is the fun statement:

All PCs, laptops and workstations should be secured with a password-protected screensaver with the automatic activation feature set at 10 minutes or less, or by logging-off when the host will be unattended.

My point being that a generic, hardcoded time to lock the workstation is a dumb idea, especially when many of the computers are located within a controlled environment. Logging in a couple of dozen times per day is not how I would define a productive use of my time. Has anyone else found an 'authorative" pontification of these ideas, especially in regards to healthcare systems in the US? (Hopefully the rest of the world isn't as batshit insane as we are).

Submission + - Supremes nix gene patents

ColdWetDog writes: The ongoing story of Myriad Genetics versus the rest of the world has come to an end. In a 9-0 decision, the US Supreme Court has decided that human genes cannot be patented. From a brief Bloomberg article:

Writing for the court, Justice Clarence Thomas said isolated DNA is a “product of nature and not patent eligible merely because it has been isolated.” At the same time, Thomas said synthetic molecules known as complementary DNA, or cDNA, can be patented because they require a significant amount of human manipulation to create.

Seems perfectly sane. Raw genes, the ones you find in nature are, wait for it — natural. Other bits of manipulated DNA / RNA / protein which take skill and time to create are potentially patentable. Oddly, Myriad Genetics stock actually rose on that information.

Submission + - Lizard named for Jim Morrison; Hunter S. Thompson comes in second. (latimes.com)

ColdWetDog writes: The LA Times has a quick article on a newly named giant lizard:

"An ancient plant eating lizard that looked like an iguana but was closer in size to a German shepherd has been named after Jim Morrison, the late troubled and charismatic lead singer of the Doors.The lizard's name was chosen by Jason Head, a paleontologist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a hard-core Doors fan since college."

Hunter S. Thompson, who hallucinated presumably somewhat more carnivorous lounge lizards, was also considered for the honor. Perhaps next round.


Submission + - Another Weird Shiny Thing on Mars. (universetoday.com)

ColdWetDog writes: The Mars Science Laboratory (AKA Curiosity) seems adept at finding curious items on the Martian surface. Not withstanding the little incident with the Madi Gras beads, there are been a couple of other unidentified objects found in the rover's path. The latest object appears as a small, half centimeter metallic bit sitting up in a rock. Part of an ancient Martian civilization? Part of Curiosity? Part of the sound stage in Arizona?

At least this one doesn't appear to be hoax.

Do not underestimate the value of print statements for debugging.