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+ - Ask Slashdot: Living Without Social Media in 2015?

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "On Slashdot, we frequently write derogatory comments regarding social networking sites. We bash Facebook and the privacy implications associated with having a great deal of your life put out there for corporations to monetize. Others advocate for deleting your Facebook profile. Six months ago, I did exactly that. However, as time went on, I have fully realized social media's tacit importance to function in today's world, especially if you are busy advancing your career and making the proper connections to do so. Employers expect a LinkedIn profile that they can check and people you are meeting expect a Facebook account. I have heard that not having an account on the almighty Facebook could label you as a suspicious person. I have had employers express hesitation in hiring me (they used the term "uncomfortable") and graduate school interviewers have asked prying questions regarding some things that would normally be on a person's social media page. Others have literally recoiled in horror at the idea of someone not being on Facebook. I have found it quite difficult to even maintain a proper social life without a social media account to keep up to date with any sort of social activities (even though most of them are admittedly quite mundane). Is living without social media possible in 2015? Does social media have so much momentum that the only course of action is simply to sign up for such services to maintain normality despite the vast privacy issues associated with such sites? Have we forgotten how to function without Facebook?"

+ - We're Living In The Golden Age Of Star Trek Webseries Right Now

Submitted by DakotaSmith
DakotaSmith (937647) writes ""We're Living In The Golden Age Of Star Trek Webseries Right Now"

If you're a true geek, you already know about Star Trek Continues and Star Trek: Phase II .

(If you're a true geek and you don't know, run — do not walk run — to watch "Lolani". Your brain and — and more importantly, your heart — will love you for the rest of your life.)

But there's more to it than that. A lot more.

How about the years'-long wait for Act IV of Starship Exeter : "The Tressaurian Intersection"?

Or Yorktown: "A Time to Heal" — an attempt to resurrect an aborted fan film from 1978 starring George Takei?

For fans of old-school Star Trek (the ones who pre-date "Trekker" and wear "Trekkie" as a badge of honor) only since 1969 has there been a better time to watch Star Trek: The Original Series.

(Oh, and there's plenty content out there for you "Trekkers" and NextGen-era fans. It all varies in quality, but it doesn't take much effort to find them. This is truly a Golden Age. It'll have a place in the history books, alongside the Golden Age of Hollywood and the Golden Age of Television. Recognize it and enjoy it while it lasts.)"

+ - Start-ups increasingly target of hacking

Submitted by ubrgeek
ubrgeek (679399) writes "Friday's hack of Slack follows last week's compromise of Twitch.tv and is indicative of a growing problem facing start-up tech companies. As the New York Times reports, 'Breaches are becoming a kind of rite of passage for fledgling tech companies. If they gain enough momentum with users, chances are they will also become a target for hackers looking to steal, and monetize, the vast personal information they store on users, like email addresses and passwords.'"

+ - Iowa's Governor Terry Brandstad thinks he doesn't use e-mail->

Submitted by Earthquake Retrofit
Earthquake Retrofit (1372207) writes "The Washington Post reports the governor denying he uses e-mail but court documents expose his confusion.

From the article:
Branstad’s apparent confusion over smartphones, apps and e-mail is ironic because he has tried to portray himself as technologically savvy. His Instagram account has pictures of him taking selfies and using Skype... 2010 campaign ads show him tapping away on an iPad. “Want a brighter future? We’ve got an app for that.” Earlier this month, the governor’s office announced that it had even opened an account on Meerkat, the live video streaming app.

Perhaps he's distancing himself from e-mail because it's a Hillary thing."

Link to Original Source

+ - Could you feel sorry for a simulated robot? ->

Submitted by Hallie Siegel
Hallie Siegel (2948665) writes "Robots are expensive, and they are also hard to program. As a result, researchers often use software simulations instead of real robots to study human-robot interaction. But do people interact with simulated robots in the same way they would with real robots? A new study by researchers at the University of Manitoba shows that people are more likely to empathize with real robots than with simulations."
Link to Original Source

+ - Newspapers Use Special HTML Tags to Suppress Ads During Tragedies

Submitted by HughPickens.com
HughPickens.com (3830033) writes "Lily Hay Newman reports that when big news stories evolve into tragedies and people are flocking to read the latest bulletins online, many major newspapers have measures in place so there isn't a dancing Geico newt competing with dire news. The NYT confirmed that the site has a manual switch that can put individual articles in "sensitivity" mode. The settings seem to be either standard, "noads," or finally "tragedy," depending on the content of the story. In the case of Germanwings Flight 4U 9525, the Times eventually upgraded to tragedy. "It’s interesting in part because it’s almost an acknowledgement that ads are invasive and uncomfortable," says Parker Higgins referring to the meta tag: meta property="ad_sensitivity" content="noads". "There are no Google results for the tag, so it looks like it hasn’t been documented," says Parker, "but it seems like a pretty low-tech way to keep possibly insensitive ads off a very sensitive story—an admirable effort." After all, the Internet is filled with lists of unfortunate ad placements, and the worst ones are probably upbeat ads intruding on solemn moments. "In these types of tragedy cases, it’s an editorial decision that we make," says a spokeswoman for CNN Digital."

+ - Modern PHP: New Features and Good Practices

Submitted by Michael Ross
Michael Ross (599789) writes "Robert, here is the book review meta-data: author: Josh Lockhart pages: 268 publisher: O'Reilly Media rating: 8/10 reviewer: Michael Ross ISBN: 978-1491905012 summary: Solid advice on some state-of-the-art PHP tools and techniques.

In recent years, JavaScript has enjoyed a dramatic renaissance as it has been transformed from a browser scripting tool primarily used for special effects and form validation on web pages, to a substantial client-side programming language. Similarly, on the server side, after years as the target of criticism, the PHP computer programming language is seeing a revival, partly due to the addition of new capabilities, such as namespaces, traits, generators, closures, and components, among other improvements. PHP enthusiasts and detractors alike can learn more about these changes from the book Modern PHP: New Features and Good Practices, authored by Josh Lockhart.

Programmers familiar with the language and its community may recognize the author's name, because he is the creator of PHP The Right Way, a website which he describes as "an easy-to-read, quick reference for PHP popular coding standards, links to authoritative tutorials around the Web and what the contributors consider to be best practices at the present time," in 21 different languages.

Yet rest assured that the book under review is not merely a dead-tree version of the website. Instead, the book covers the more recent advancements within the language, while the website covers best practices and standards. This should be borne in mind, otherwise the reader may be baffled by the absence from the book of certain topics on the website essential to the language, such as SPL, PEAR, and PHPDoc. Moreover, of the topics shared between the book and the website, the information is generally organized quite differently, with more example code in the book.

This title was published on 1 March 2015, under the ISBN 978-1491905012, by O'Reilly Media, who kindly provided me with a review copy. Its material is presented in 268 pages, organized into 13 chapters (The New PHP; Features; Standards; Components; Good Practices; Posting; Provisioning; Tuning; Deployment; Testing; Profiling; HHVM and Hack; Community), which are grouped into three parts (Language Features; Good Practices; Deployment, Testing, and Tuning) — as well as two appendices (Installing PHP; Local Development Environments) and an index. The publisher's page does not offer much of interest. However, all of the example code is available from the book's GitHub repository. There are differences between the GitHub code and what is printed in the book, e.g., a baffling require 'vendor/autoload.php'; in the first example code file. The author claims that the reader does not need to know PHP, but at least "a basic understanding of [] fundamental programming concepts" (page xiv). However, anyone without at least intermediate skills and experience with PHP could conceivably struggle with these more advanced subjects.

The first chapter is only a brief overview of the history of PHP, its current state, and some possible future changes to the language's engine. The real content starts in the second chapter, in which the author gives the reader a fast-paced introduction to his seven favorite major new features in PHP: namespaces, class interfaces, traits, generators, closures, Zend OPcache, and the built-in HTTP server. In some regards, the coverage is a bit too fast-paced, as some topics and questions likely in the reader's mind are not addressed — for instance, namespace case-sensitivity and techniques for ensuring that a chosen namespace is globally unique (page 9). For each topic, its purpose and advantages are explained, and sometimes illustrated with code examples, although none are extensive.

The second part of the book opens with a chapter on some of the new standards in the PHP ecosystem that are intended to move the common development process from a reliance upon one isolated framework, with an idiosyncratic coding style, to distributed components that can interoperate through the use of interfaces, industry-wide coding standards, and the use of autoloaders for finding and loading classes, interfaces, and traits at runtime. Components are covered in more detail in the subsequent chapter, as is Composer, for installing components and managing dependencies. The fifth chapter is a lengthy but information-packed exposition of numerous best practices regarding input data sanitization, password handling, dates and times, and safe database queries, among other topics. Some of the advice can be found in other PHP books and online, but all of this is neatly explained, updated with the newer PHP versions, and worthwhile as a refresher.

Deployment, testing, and tuning are the broad subject areas of the third and final part of the book. The author discusses the options for hosting your PHP applications, as well as provisioning any self-managed web server and tuning a server for optimal performance. All of the instructions assume you are using Linux and nginx, and thus would be of less value to those using Windows or Apache, for instance. The material on application deployment is relatively brief, and focuses on use of the Capistrano tool. Testing is often neglected in real-world projects, but certainly not in this book, as the author explains unit and functional testing, illustrated through the use of PHPUnit. This is followed by information on how to use a development or production profiler to analyze the performance of your application, with detailed coverage of Xdebug and XHProf, among other tools. The next two chapters dive into topics related to the (possible) future of PHP — specifically, Facebook's HHVM PHP interpreter and their Hack derivative language. The final chapter briefly discusses the PHP community. The two appendices explain how to install PHP on Linux or OS X for commandline use, and how to set up a local development environment. The author mentions a free edition of Zend Server, but the vendor page mentions no such pricing.

Despite its technical subject matter, this book is not a difficult read. The author's writing style is usually light and friendly, especially in the preface. In a few places, the phrasing is a bit too terse, which might prove momentarily confusing to some readers, e.g., "Function and constant aliases work the same as [those of] classes" (page 11). The text has some errata (aside from the two, as of this writing, already reported): "curl" (pages 15, 220, and 222; should read "cURL"), "a an argument" (page 33), "Prepared statement [to] fetch" (pages 99 and 100), "with [the] php://filter strategy" (page 110), "2 Gb" (page 129; should read "2 GB"), "the the" (page 154), "path to a the code" (page 176), and "Wordpress" (page 190; should read "WordPress").

One weakness with the book is that for several of the topics — including some critical ones — there is not enough detailed information provided that would allow one to begin immediately applying that technique or resource to one's own coding, but instead just enough information to whet one's appetite to learn more (presumably from another book or a website). Secondly, some of the narrative — particularly near the end of the book, when discussing various tools — would be of less value to anyone not developing analytics environment. Beware that some of the tools require numerous dependencies. For instance, do you have Composer, Git, MongoDB, and its PHP extension installed? If not, then you won't be using XHGUI. Also, some of the installation and configuration steps are quite lengthy, with no details provided for troubleshooting issues that might arise. Lastly, despite the promise that any reader with only basic programming knowledge will be able to fully understand the book, such a reader would likely find much of its contents mystifying without further preparation from other sources.

Nonetheless, the book has much to offer, despite its slender size. Numerous resources are recommended — most if not all apparently vetted by the author, who clearly has considerable experience in this arena. Some valuable techniques are presented, such as those instances in the text where the author shows how to use iteration on large data sets to minimize memory usage. In addition, the example code demonstrates that the author has made the effort to produce quality code that can serve as a model to others. Modern PHP does a fine job overall of explaining and advocating the newer capabilities of PHP that would attract developers to choose the language for building state-of-the-art websites and web applications.

Michael Ross is a freelance web developer and writer."

+ - Gaming On Linux With Newest AMD Catalyst Driver Remains Slow->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "The AMD Catalyst binary graphics driver has made a lot of improvements over the years, but it seems that NVIDIA is still leading in the Linux game with their shared cross-platform driver. Tests done by Phoronix of the Catalyst 15.3 Linux Beta found on Ubuntu 15.04 shows that NVIDIA continues leading over AMD Catalyst with several different GPUs on BioShock Infinite, a game finally released for Linux last week. With BioShock Infinite on Linux, years old mid-range GeForce GPUs were clobbering the high-end Radeon R9 290 and other recent AMD GPUs tested. The poor showing wasn't limited to BS:I though as the Metro Redux games were re-tested too on the new drivers and found the NVIDIA graphics still ran significantly faster and certainly a different story than under Windows."
Link to Original Source

+ - New Estimate: Billions of Milky Way Planets are in the Habitable Zone->

Submitted by Press2ToContinue
Press2ToContinue (2424598) writes "Astronomers have discovered thousands of exoplanets using the Kepler satellite. By analyzing these planetary systems, researchers have calculated the probability for the number of stars that might have planets in the habitable zone. The calculations show that billions of stars in the Milky Way will have one to three planets in the habitable zone, where there is the potential for liquid water and where life could exist."
Link to Original Source

Comment: Proper usage (Score 1) 86

by Earthquake Retrofit (#49304761) Attached to: How 'The Cloud' Eats Away at Your Online Privacy (Video)
If private data is defined as what you don't want others to see and public data is defined as what you want others to see, which is appropriate for the cloud? Seems easy to me: if you need to keep secrets, keep it off the internet. And you might think about how easy security is if you only use your powers for good not evil.

+ - Report: NASA May Miss SLS Launch Deadline->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "A post at the Planetary Society's blog summarizes a report from NASA's Office of Inspector General which says the agency will struggle to get launch facilities up and running in time for the Space Launch System's November 2018 launch deadline. "Ground systems are a critical piece of the SLS-Orion infrastructure. All three elements are tightly integrated, with ground systems requiring significant input from the rocket and capsule designs." To be more specific, NASA has found 462 separate inter-dependencies, less than two-thirds of which have been resolved so far. "The Mobile Launcher must be moved into the Vehicle Assembly Building for testing prior to the delivery of SLS and Orion. When it comes time to stack the rocket and capsule for the first flight, there may be a 'learning curve,' said the OIG, where engineers work through unforeseen glitches." They're also worried about having to develop all the software to run these systems before the hardware is in place to test."
Link to Original Source

+ - Teenaged girl speaks out after nude leak go viral on Twitter, gains 33k follower->

Submitted by abhishekmdb
abhishekmdb (4015829) writes "Pulane Lenkoe speaks out after her explicit images were leaked by ex-boyfriend and went viral on Twitter

Pulane Lenkoe was trending on Twitter for no fault of her. She is the ex-girlfriend of Orlando Pirates midfielder Thandani Ntshumayelo who leaked her intimate images. The leaked images which are still trending on Twitter also sparked a serious and fierce Twitter debate on whether jilted lovers who expose their ex’s images should be criminally charged."

Link to Original Source

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