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How Much Python Do You Need To Know To Be Useful? 263 263

Nerval's Lobster writes: Since Python is a general-purpose language, it finds its way into a whole lot of different uses and industries. That means the industry in which you work has a way of determining what you actually need to know in terms of the language, as developer Jeff Cogswell explains in a new Dice piece. For example, if you're hired to write apps that interact with operating systems and monitor devices, you might not need to know how to use the Python modules for scientific and numerical programming. In a similar fashion, if you're hired to write Python code that interacts with a MySQL database, then you won't need to master how it works with CouchDB. The question is, how much do you need to know about Python's basics? Cogswell suggests there are three basic levels to learning Python: Learn the core language itself, such as the syntax and basic types (and the difference between Python 2 and Python 3); learn the commonly used modules, and familiarize yourself with other modules; learn the bigger picture of software development with Python, such as including Python in a build process, using the pip package manager, and so on. But is that enough?
The Almighty Buck

Los Angeles Raises Minimum Wage To $15 an Hour 1094 1094 writes: Jennifer Medina reports at the NY Times that the council of the nation's second-largest city voted by a 14-1 margin to increase its minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020. Los Angeles and its almost 4 million residents represent one of the biggest victories yet for those pushing wage increases across the country. Proponents hope it will start to reverse the earning gap in the city, where the top 7% of households earn more than the bottom 67%.

Detractors point out the direct cost increase to businesses, which could total as much as a billion dollars per year. If a business can't handle the increased cost, the employees this measure was designed to help will lose their jobs when it folds. An editorial from the LA Times says it's vital for other cities nearby to increase their minimum wage, too, else businesses will gradually migrate to cheaper locations. They add, "While the minimum wage hike will certainly help the lowest-wage workers in the city, it should not be seen as the centerpiece of a meaningful jobs creation strategy. The fact is that far too many jobs in the city are low-wage jobs — some 37% of workers currently earn less than $13.25 an hour, according to the mayor's estimates — and even after the proposed increase, they would still be living on the edge of poverty."

James Watson's Nobel Prize Goes On Auction This Week 355 355 writes: Nicholas St. Fleur reports at The Atlantic that James Watson, the famed molecular biologist and co-discoverer of DNA, is putting his Nobel Prize up for auction on Thursday. He's the first Nobel laureate in history to do so. In 2007, Watson, best known for his work deciphering the DNA double helix alongside Francis Crick in 1953, made an incendiary remark regarding the intelligence of black people that lost him the admiration of the scientific community. It made him, in his own words, an "unperson." That year, The Sunday Times quoted Watson as saying that he felt "inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa" because "all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours—whereas all the testing says not really." Watson has a history of making racist and sexist declarations, according to Time. At a science conference in 2012, Watson said of women in science, "I think having all these women around makes it more fun for the men but they're probably less effective." To many scientists his gravest offense was not crediting Rosalind Franklin with helping him deduce the structure of DNA.

Watson is selling his prized medallion because he has no income outside of academia, even though for years he had served on many corporate boards. The gold medal is expected to bring in between $2.5 million and $3.5 million when it goes to auction. Watson says that he will use the money to purchase art and make donations to institutions that have supported him, such as the University of Chicago. He adds that the auction will also offer him the chance to "re-enter public life." "I've had a unique life that's allowed me to do things. I was set back. It was stupid on my part," says Watson. "All you can do is nothing, except hope that people actually know what you are."

Is the Outrage Over the FBI's Seattle Times Tactics a Knee-Jerk Reaction? 206 206

reifman writes The Internet's been abuzz the past 48 hours about reports the FBI distributed malware via a fake Seattle Times news website. What the agency actually did is more of an example of smart, precise law enforcement tactics. Is the outrage online an indictment of Twitter's tendency towards uninformed, knee-jerk reactions? In this age of unwarranted, unconstitutional blanket data collection by the NSA, the FBI's tactics from 2007 seem refreshing for their precision.

Video A Low Cost, Open Source Geiger Counter (Video) 46 46

Sawaiz Syed's LinkedIn page says he's a "Hardware Developer at GSU [Georgia State University], Department of Physics." That's a great workplace for someone who designs low cost radiation detectors that can be air-dropped into an area where there has been a nuclear accident (or a nuclear attack; or a nuclear terrorist act) and read remotely by a flying drone or a robot ground vehicle. This isn't Sawaiz's only project; it's just the one Timothy asked him about most at the recent Maker Faire Atlanta. (Alternate Video Link)

Malcolm Gladwell On Culture and Airplane Crashes 423 423

theodp writes "While the Asiana Airlines Flight 214 pilots' lack of communication puzzles crash investigators, readers of author Malcolm Gladwell are likely having a deja vu moment. Back in 2008, Gladwell dedicated a whole chapter of his then-new book Outliers to Culture, Cockpit Communication and Plane Crashes (old YouTube interview). 'Korean Air had more plane crashes than almost any other airline in the world for a period at the end of the 1990s,' Gladwell explained in an interview. 'When we think of airline crashes, we think, Oh, they must have had old planes. They must have had badly trained pilots. No. What they were struggling with was a cultural legacy, that Korean culture is hierarchical. You are obliged to be deferential toward your elders and superiors in a way that would be unimaginable in the U.S.'"

Things You Drink Can Be Used To Track You 202 202

sciencehabit writes with an intriguing story about the potential of figuring out where people have been by examining their hair: "That's because water molecules differ slightly in their isotope ratios depending on the minerals at their source. Researchers found that water samples from 33 cities across the United State could be reliably traced back to their origin based on their isotope ratios. And because the human body breaks down water's constituent atoms of hydrogen and oxygen to construct the proteins that make hair cells, those cells can preserve the record of a person's travels. Such information could help prosecutors place a suspect at the scene of a crime, or prove the innocence of the accused." Or frame someone by slipping them water from every country on the terrorist watchlist.
User Journal

Journal Journal: Flash: the next <TABLE>

When Flash was introduced, it was for creating vector-based animation and basic interactive games. (Kind of like Shockwave but lighter.) It became very popular very quickly because it did lots of neat stuff with very small (vector-based) files and because the browser plugin itself was only a few hundred kilobytes at a time when most people were on dialup and most other plugins (like Shockwave and QuickTime) were several megabytes. Once you downloaded the plugin (just a few minutes) you could


Google Hacked, May Pull Out of China 687 687

D H NG writes "Following a sophisticated attack on Google infrastructure originating from China late last year, Google has decided to take 'a new approach' to China. In their investigation, Google found that more than 20 large companies had been infiltrated and dozens of Chinese human rights activists' Gmail accounts had been compromised. Google has decided to 'review the feasibility of [its] business operations in China,' no longer censoring results in, and if necessary, to 'shut down, and potentially [Google's] offices in China.'"

Super-Earths Discovered Orbiting Nearby, Sun-Like Star 242 242

likuidkewl writes "Two super-earths, 5 and 7.5 times the size of our home, were found to be orbiting 61 Virginis a mere 28 light years away. 'These detections indicate that low-mass planets are quite common around nearby stars. The discovery of potentially habitable nearby worlds may be just a few years away,' said Steven Vogt, a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UCSC. Among hundreds of our nearest stellar neighbors, 61 Vir stands out as being the most nearly similar to the Sun in terms of age, mass, and other essential properties."

Will Tabbed Windows Be the Next Big Thing? 528 528

kai_hiwatari writes "The recently released KDE SC 4.4 Beta 1 has introduced tabbed windows as a new feature. It is now possible to tab together windows from different applications. This looks like it will be a very good productivity tool. Like the tabbed browsers, this may well end up as a feature in all desktop environments in the years ahead."

Devices To Take Textbooks Beyond Text 115 115

An anonymous reader writes with a New York Times piece about the tumultuous transition to electronic devices, instead of printed materials, for text. "Newspapers and novels are moving briskly from paper to pixels, but textbooks have yet to find the perfect electronic home. They are readable on laptops and smartphones, but the displays can be eye-taxing. Even dedicated e-readers with their crisp printlike displays can’t handle textbook staples like color illustrations or the videos and Web-linked supplements publishers increasingly supply. Now there is a new approach that may adapt well to textbook pages: two-screen e-book readers with a traditional e-paper display on one screen and a liquid-crystal display on the other to render graphics like science animations in color."

Murphy's Law, that brash proletarian restatement of Godel's Theorem. -- Thomas Pynchon, "Gravity's Rainbow"