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We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).


+ - 12 year old develops a Braille Printer from Lego->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Developed by Shubham Banerjee, a 7th grade student from Santa Clara, California. BRAIGO is a Braille Printer using Lego Mindstorms EV3. This concept slashes the price of a printer from more than $2000 to $350. Thus giving a more cost effective printer for the disadvantaged. Additionally he plans to give the design and code for free download.
ref: http://sociotechnocrat.kinja.c..."

Link to Original Source

+ - An interesting insect, thought to be extinct, may make a comeback. ->

Submitted by Dalmarf
Dalmarf (1455985) writes "From the article...
"On Lord Howe, there used to be an insect, famous for being big. It's a stick insect, a critter that masquerades as a piece of wood, and the Lord Howe Island version was so large — as big as a human hand — that the Europeans labeled it a 'tree lobster'because of its size and hard, lobsterlike exoskeleton." After a small number of living specimens were discovered living on an unlikely spindle of rock sticking out of the Pacific. "A few dedicated scientists, passionate about biological diversity, risked their lives to keep the bugs going. ""

Link to Original Source

+ - Intuit blames the IRS for rejected e-Filed Taxes

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "People filing their 2011 taxes with TurboTax who have lost a Spouse in 2011 are getting rejection notices from the IRS. Intuit chat reps are blaming "overloaded IRS servers" for the problem, even though the error messages received point to a programming error in TurboTax. The error noted is "If 'PINTypeCode' in the Return Header has the value "Self-Select On-Line" and 'SpouseSignature' has a value, then 'SpouseDateofBirth' must have a value." Rejection of the Federal return causes automatic rejection of the e-file State return. After 2 tries to e-file, TurboTax adds insulter to injury by refusing to allow any further e-filing, and Intuit doesn't offer to even look into the problem. Adding more insult to the injury, New York State charges a penalty of $25 if you have to mail in your taxes, which is what Intuit suggests you do. I think they should fix their problem or issue refunds."

+ - Math Textbooks a Textbook Example of Bad Textbooks

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "Over at Salon, Annie Keeghan does an Upton Sinclair number on the math textbook industry. In recent years, Keeghan explains, math has become the subject du jour due to government initiatives and efforts to raise the rankings of lagging U.S. students. But with state and local budgets constrained, math textbook publishers competing for fewer available dollars are rushing their products to market before their competitors, resulting in product that in many instances is inherently, tragically flawed. Keeghan writes: 'There may be a reason you can’t figure out some of those math problems in your son or daughter’s math text and it might have nothing at all to do with you. That math homework you're trying to help your child muddle through might include problems with no possible solution. It could be that key information or steps are missing, that the problem involves a concept your child hasn’t yet been introduced to, or that the math problem is structurally unsound for a host of other reasons.' The comments on Keeghan's article are also an eye-opener — here's a sample: 'Sales and marketing budgets are astronomical because the expenses pay off more than investments in product. Sadly, most teachers are not curriculum experts and are swayed by the surface pitches. Teachers make the decisions, but are not the users (students) nor are they spending their own money. As a result, products that make their lives easier and that come with free meals and gifts are the most successful.' So, can open source or competitions build better math textbooks?"

+ - Anonymous, Decentralized and Uncensored File-Sharing is Booming->

Submitted by PatPending
PatPending (953482) writes "FTA: "The RetroShare network allows people to create a private and encrypted file-sharing network. Users add friends by exchanging PGP certificates with people they trust. All the communication is encrypted using OpenSSL and files that are downloaded from strangers always go through a trusted friend.

In other words, it’s a true Darknet and virtually impossible to monitor by outsiders.

RetroShare founder DrBob told us that while the software has been around since 2006, all of a sudden there’s been a surge in downloads. “The interest in RetroShare has massively shot up over the last two months,” he said.""

Link to Original Source

+ - Ask SlashDot: Life After Firefox 3.6.x? 2

Submitted by Mooga
Mooga (789849) writes "I am a hard-core user of Firefox 3.6.x who has chosen to stick with the older, yet supported version of Firefox for many years now. However, 3.6.x will soon hit end of life making my life, and others, much more complicated. 3.6.x has been known for generally being more stable and using less ram then the modern Firefox 10 and even Chrome. The older version of Firefox is already having issues rendering modern websites. What are others who have been holding onto 3.6.x plan on doing?"

Comment: Yet developers often do the first design... (Score 1) 173

by Dalmarf (#37640586) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Good, Relevant Usability Book?

The real workplace situation is often (as in my case) that the team just doesn't have a design expert at their disposal for any projects whatsoever. In this situation programmers are often the de-facto "designers". Typically they stink at it at first. The best approach in that context is to do what you can so they will make the better choices, and recognize problems and opportunities to fix them.

You cannot ignore the fact that your developers don't know design, but you can get them informed about what to try to attain, and to think in terms of the user.

Comment: The Inmates are Running the Asylum (Score 1) 173

by Dalmarf (#37640324) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Good, Relevant Usability Book?
I'll second the mention of "The Inmates are Running The Asylum" by Alan Cooper

This is a pleasure to read, and gives succinct and memorable examples of real products with UI's that had obvious mistakes (or rather they should have been obvious). And yet these items, and ones like them get released in products every day. It also explains how the same devices and UI's should have been redesigned. One of his points is that programmers are not typically trained to be experts at user interfaces. As a programmer I can't take offense at that because it's true - I see examples of UI design errors in lot's of software ("Are You Sure "). Really, in school - the treatment of the design of UI was never done in enough depth.

The most important point is that it's full of good to-the-point examples that are memorable. With them, a team can share their views with some common context.. They make some of the design discussions and choices much clearer.

So I wouldn't say it should be your only choice, but it should be one of the first ones to be sure to read.

+ - Climate change sees adventurers rowing to magnetic->

Submitted by Dalmarf
Dalmarf (1455985) writes "Title should say it all. From the article "First, the good news: six British adventurers succeeded in rowing to the magnetic North Pole in an open boat, after a grueling, 28-day journey from northern Canada.
The bad news: their expedition was possible because of climate change and global warming that has resulted in the dramatic retreat of the Arctic ice sheet.""

Link to Original Source

Comment: Complexity and a Really Bad Idea (Score 1) 949

by Dalmarf (#36750160) Attached to: Slate: Amazon's Tax Stance Unfair and Unethical

Consider this - New Hampshire has no sales tax and Massachusetts has a 5% sales tax. Is it any wonder that residents of Mass living close to the border will happily travel a few minutes north to save some cash - especially on pricier appliances. But I never heard of Mass trying to go after the (lost) revenue from those consumer purchases (oh except for the auto purchases where the DMV will nail you for the $$).

Now is this really different just because a consumer makes the out-of-state purchase electronically? I don't think so - I think it differs only in that it can be tracked and managed. I certainly don't believe that the effort,costs and damage of trying to collect this money is worth the revenue. And finally, the important points are

  • State sales tax in particular is hurtful to the economy of the imposing state.
  • Lots of people in government want to build ever-more-complex ways of gouging money from people in the name of "fairness".

Comment: Re:What is Hudson (Score 1) 68

by Dalmarf (#36037424) Attached to: Oracle Plans To Hand Hudson To Eclipse
That's a bit of an over-simplification! If you do use Ant, Hudson/Jenkins will make use of your Ant build (you'll continue to have an Ant build).
But it's much more than that - It keeps track of the builds done for projects, tracks the resulting jars and wars are used in other projects. You can easily see things like "Who ran the build?", "When?", "What code was changed in such-and-such project?" long after builds were done.
We've been using Hudson (we'll probably soon switch to the Jenkins fork) for our JEE projects for a few years now. It's indispensable. We don't use much more than the essentials in most projects and there's no question that it saves us effort and simplifies managing builds and all the data that go with a build.
We generally have a project set up to retrieve a build from CVS or Subversion. For those of us that want to make passing JUnit tests a requirement for the build it will not only can do that but it can keep track of the success rates.
You should try it out, particularly if your current builds are done using Ant. It's easy to set up, works nicely with CVS or Subversion, and it has a lot of features that take advantage of your existing Ant build setup.

+ - Kinect Used to Help Visually Impaired->

Submitted by Zothecula
Zothecula (1870348) writes "The decidedly low tech white cane is still one of the most commonly used tools to help the visually impaired get around without bumping into things. Now, through their project called NAVI (Navigation Aids for the Visually Impaired), students at Germany's Universität Konstanz have leveraged the 3D imaging capabilities of Microsoft's Kinect camera to detect objects that lie outside a cane's small radius and alert the wearer to the location of obstacles through audio and vibro-tactile feedback."
Link to Original Source

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