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+ - Canadian government trucking generations of scientific data to the dump->

Submitted by sandbagger
sandbagger (654585) writes "Canada's scientific libraries are literally being taken to the dump. The norther nation's scientific community has been up in arms over the holidays as local scientific libraries and records offices were closed and their shelves — some of which contained century old data — emptied into dumpsters. Stephen Harper's Tory government is claiming that the documents have been digitized. Where the Hell do we protest?"
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Government

Lead Contractor On Health-Care Web Site Led By Execs From Troubled IT Company 227

Posted by timothy
from the friends-in-high-places dept.
thomst writes "The Washington Post's Jerry Markon and Alice Crites report that 'The lead contractor on the dysfunctional Web site for the Affordable Care Act is filled with executives from a company that mishandled at least 20 other government IT projects, including a flawed effort to automate retirement benefits for millions of federal workers, documents and interviews show. CGI Federal, the main Web site developer, entered the U.S. government market a decade ago when its parent company purchased American Management Systems, a Fairfax County contractor that was coming off a series of troubled projects. CGI moved into AMS's custom-made building off Interstate 66, changed the sign outside and kept the core of employees, who now populate the upper ranks of CGI Federal.'"

Comment: Too much referencing (Score 1) 316

by KXeron (#45161967) Attached to: How Science Goes Wrong

I think from a practical standpoint, the science community has fallen into the hole the educational industry has: Relying soley on references on papers. If you have sufficient number of references, your paper gets a pass regardless on your data. This means you can easily piece together a paper that contradicts itself but still get published if you pet enough egos in the process.

I've found from my observations toward universities, even right down to high school level that it is taught that unless you reference a "known name" your work is crap. Many students (and even professional scientists) are not allowed to question any works produced by these "known names" unless they are a direct peer. This means even if one can with substancial data prove both Albert Einstinen and Stephen Hawking totally wrong in every respect with emprical evidence, that they would not be allowed (and in fact be shunned/banned from scientific groups) because it goes against "the norm". Take note of many revolutionary inventors in how hard it was to get even their practical empirical experiments acknowledged because major science panels did not want them disrupting what was the common belief to be true established by various notible names.

At this point and how referencing is regarded now, referencing is the scientific and acedemic community's way of enforcing a status quo. It is no longer about proving yourself or your data, it is about providing another column to another work to ensure that that other work is made "more unquestionable". Only if you're high enough on the food chain do you get columns supporting your work.

Referencing needs to get back to being a secondary measure of solidity where one's own data along with the mode of how an experiment was performed is the first, where if one wants to challenge, one can say "The mode of experimentation is faulty because..." and to intrinsicaly challenge the work on its own merits, THEN to use the references to back that up. Not references first then experimentation second.

Comment: Stable Employment No Longer Exists (Score 1) 403

by KXeron (#44910301) Attached to: Homeless, Unemployed, and Surviving On Bitcoins

Today's job market is way too unpredictable. These unpredictable elements include things like employers hiring people only temporarily, laying them off at the end of their trial periods, hiring only part time while assigning practically full time hours (e.g. full time may qualify at 38 hours, but the employer may only want the worker to work 36-37) to dodge paying full time wages or benefits, extremely small contracts or nitpicking about job performance so they don't have to keep workers on.

This is worsened by the fact the job market is divided between a "public" and "hidden" job market. All of the jobs on the "public" side are very unstable for the above reasons. The "hidden" market is only accessible if you know people pretty high up AND are pretty much already within the industry — which I guarantee most "ground floor" do not and are not.

One significant aspect about the "public" job market is that it is one of service and manual jobs that are really only designed to be temporary, but many "uncertified" people are duped by the job market into ending up working these permanently.

Now, I know many who have stable office/skilled jobs with job security may be of the belief that all one needs is hard work and determination to get a good job — this may have been true 20+ years ago, but not today. One needs contacts (if you're in a skilled industry, you likely already have 30+ contacts at a minimum outside of your company) in today's day and age, those already "in the system" to "bring you in" essentially.

Now to talk on the whole element of education for a moment (which always tends to come up as an alleged silver bullet to solve any employment problem), given the state of the job market in how it has become a circle-jerk of self-gratification by those already in various industries, education is not a guarantee, in fact it is a truly unstable investment as there's far too many variables. Thinking of education in terms of a business deal, would you invest in something that 1) plunges you into debt; 2) you cannot guarantee that the product will be relevant any more by the time it is complete and 3) you cannot withdraw your funding and support from the project once it is committed and in progress to invest elsewhere... it is something that is a disaster waiting to happen from a business perspective. This doesn't even start to include the job market nonsense.

I do not blame people for seeking methods to create their own systems to sustain themselves, as frankly until these barriers are lowered (and they won't as long as that self-gratification is going on by industries and businessmen alike internally), nothing will ever change. The HR expectation of "experience" is code for "we only want someone already deep in the industry". Though of course eventually industry will see these new systems as threats to the status-quo and demand them shut down or made prohibitive (look at the financial industry's aversion to bitcoins).

Finally, look at how employment has shifted away from having managers having control over employment over to an HR model where HR has control over job postings, where hiring managers can only "suggest" people be hired. Often times HR doesn't even understand the jobs they are hiring for and as such just gets a list of keywords and if those keywords aren't in someone's resume, it is overlooked even if that person is the best in the industry. As such even application for most jobs is onerous and prohibitive.

To summarize, the job market and current system is way too unstable for people to have faith in it anymore, thus people have stopped trying to have faith in it. I speak to homeless and unemployed on a regular basis and most of them want jobs, but many have lost faith in employers to give them one that won't be taken away in less than a year due to "economics" and the aforementioned instabilities.

Encryption

Quantum Cryptography Is Safe Again 34

Posted by Soulskill
from the umpires-in-agreement-after-further-review dept.
sciencehabit writes "In theory, so-called quantum cryptography provides a totally secure way of sending information. In practice, maybe not. But now physicists have demonstrated how to close a technological loophole that could have left secrets open to eavesdroppers. '[I]n 2010, an international team of researchers showed that [an attacker] could hack the system by exploiting a weakness in the so-called avalanche photodiodes (APDs) used to detect the individual photons. The problem is that APDs react differently to intense pulses of light than they do to single photons, so that the energy of the pulse must exceed a threshold to register a hit. As a result, all [the attacker] has to do is intercept the single photons, make her best-guess measurements of their polarizations, and send her answers off to Bob as new, brighter pulses. ... Last year, physicist Hoi-Kwong Lo at the University of Toronto and colleagues claimed to find a way around the problem. In the new protocol, Alice and Bob would begin the creation of a quantum key by sending randomly polarized signals to Charlie, a third party. Charlie would measure the signals to determine not their actual polarization, but only whether the polarizations were at right angles. ... Now, in papers in press at Physical Review Letters, two independent groups of physicists have shown that the new protocol works.'"

+ - Microsoft's "New Coke" Moment

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "Remember New Coke? Twenty-eight years ago, Coca-Cola replaced the secret formula of its flagship brand, only to announce the return of the "classic" formula just 79 days later. Had it launched in 2013, Coke's Jay Moye suspects a social media backlash would have prompted it to reverse itself even sooner. In a timely follow-up, ZDNet's Steven Vaughan-Nichols points out that Microsoft is facing its own New Coke moment with Windows 8. 'Does Ballmer have the guts to admit he made a mistake and give users what they clearly want?' Vaughan-Nichols asks. 'While it's too late for Windows 8, Blue might give us back our Start button and an Aero-like interface. We don't know.'"

Comment: Re:JavaScript (Score 1) 386

by KXeron (#40424009) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: No-Install Programming At Work?

Ultimately it isn't possible to speak of the language without speaking of the execution evironment without becoming purely academic (little practical discussion and a lot of discussion about the form/syntax of the code). One cannot have a programming language without implementation.

Javascript is broken because it really has a lack of standardization. As it stands now it is just a loose agreement among browser vendors to design javascript engines to run like other vendors' browsers. There's often "special case" code you have to use if you want your code to run on a specific browser for instance.

Furthermore, Javascript security is a joke. Either you have to let it all in or reject it all, the finest grade control one has over javascript is being able to block it/allow it from specific domains. Since Javascript runs in the context of the browser, it's also impossible to utilize firewalls to block any javascript-initiated traffic without also taking the browser down. And given that a good chunk of the HTTP internet now relies on javascript, it's really no longer feasable to say "just use noscript or turn it off".

I could go into a full rant, but suffice to say, javascript was a noble idea when it was started, but now it has become a pool of bad ideas, a way too powerful language for what it is and poor implementation. The need to sandbox it is a sign of that.

Comment: Re:Not Surprised (Score 1) 370

by KXeron (#39506151) Attached to: Munich Has Saved €4M So Far After Switch To Linux

While it is an ideal setup to lock everything down and while software used in business environments is content running in a restricted setup, there is a lot of home software still (games especially) that make it prohibitive to use restricted accounts. A few examples include:

- Game updates - often games will demand the ability to write to C:\Program Files and not actually store the game packages in the user's profile directory. On a truly locked down system, game updates would fall over due to permissions.

- Game DRM/"Anti-Cheat" - some DRM and "Anti-Cheat" engines require the ability to be able to administratively oversee the entire system process table as to prevent debuggers and memory dumpers from functioning. Many games with these systems will complain and refuse to run if they don't have enough privledges to get what they want.

- Many programs - a significant amount of programs used in home environments do not store things in the user's profile directory and instead insist on storing stuff in the program's install directory.

The problem is we're not living in an ideal world where you can simply lock accounts down and expect everything to play nice without your intervention and much of this falls on the shoulders of software vendors (their developers for largely being incompetent and the management for demanding DRM/Anti-Cheat engines).

In an office environment, it can be extremely easy to lock things down where software has been developed with restrictions in mind, not so much in a home environment unless you plan to reject a lot of software that your children may want.

Science

+ - Scientists Use a Cockroach to Make Electricity->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Researchers at Case Western Reserve University have successfully managed to turn a cockroach into a battery. The research relies on a Cockroach’s diet. As a cockroach eats, it produces trehalose, a complex sugar. An anode is introduced into the cockroach’s gut, coated in an enzyme that breaks the trehalose down into two simpler sugars. These are then broken down again by another enzyme so that the electrons bound up in the sugars are set free, which then rush toward the cathode, completing the circuit.

The amount of energy being generated by the process is still exceedingly small; only 100 microwatts of energy at .3 volts were produced..."

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Facebook

+ - Facebook all.js breaks the internet->

Submitted by
shri
shri writes "Hundreds of thousands of sites rely on Facebook for signups, likes, comments and other widgets. How does this affect your site when a critical component of this infrastructure breaks (Bugs — all.js fails to load with locale error) in specactular fashion on a Friday evening? Should Facebook have a more visible notification system that alerts site owners / developers so that they don't have to scramble around looking at why their sites are not functioning properly?"
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+ - Court OKs Barring High IQs for Cops-> 3

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes ""A man whose bid to become a police officer was rejected after he scored too high on an intelligence test has lost an appeal in his federal lawsuit against the city.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York upheld a lower court’s decision that the city did not discriminate against Robert Jordan because the same standards were applied to everyone who took the test.

“This kind of puts an official face on discrimination in America against people of a certain class,” Jordan said today from his Waterford home. “I maintain you have no more control over your basic intelligence than your eye color or your gender or anything else.” ""

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+ - Honeybees beheaded by parasitic fly larvae->

Submitted by turtledawn
turtledawn (149719) writes "Slashdot has been reporting on honeybee colony collapse disorder for a while now, and a potential new culprit has been discovered by John Hafernik, a biology professor at San Francisco State University. Larvae of a parasitic fly of the genus Apocephalus — the beheader — has been documented emerging from the bodies of expelled worker bees."
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Google

+ - Nginx overtakes Microsoft as No. 2 Web server->

Submitted by
tsamsoniw
tsamsoniw writes "With financial backing from the likes of Michael Dell and other venture capitalists, open source upstart Nginx has edged out Microsoft IIS (Internet Information Server) to hold the title of second-most widely used Web server among all active websites. What's more, according to Netcraft's January 2012 Web Server Survey, Nginx over the past month has gained market share among all websites, whereas competitors Apache, Microsoft, and Google each lost share."
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Privacy

+ - Avoiding Facial Recognition of the Future->

Submitted by hypnosec
hypnosec (2231454) writes "A New York-based designer has created a camouflage technique that makes it much harder for computer based facial recognition. Along with the growth of closed circuit television (CCTV) , this has become quite a concern for many around the world, especially in the UK where being on camera is simply a part of city life. Being recognized automatically by computer is something that hearkens back to 1984 or A Scanner Darkly. As we move further into the 21st century, this futuristic techno-horror fiction is seeming more and more accurate. Never fear though people, CV Dazzle has some styling and makeup ideas that will make you invisible to facial recognition cameras. Why the 'fabulous' name? It comes from World War I warship paint that used stark geometric patterning to help break up the obvious outline of the vessel. Apparently it all began as a thesis at the Interactive Telecommunications Program at New York University. It addressed the problems with traditional techniques of hiding the face, like masks and sunglasses and looked into more socially and legally acceptable ways of styling that could prevent a computer from recognizing your face. Fans of Assassin's Creed might feel a bit at home with this, as it's all about hiding in plain sight."
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