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Comment: Re:here's some statistics (Score 1) 764

by Khopesh (#49324061) Attached to: A Software Project Full of "Male Anatomy" Jokes Causes Controversy

This is the fallacy of small numbers, a.k.a. hasty generalization. There weren't many CS majors (of either gender) in the 80s, so the gender ratio will be less representative of a real trend (consider flipping ten coins. Your probability of getting 50% heads isn't as good as it would be if you flipped a thousand coins). Most of my software engineer peers who got degrees in that era actually studied other fields, such as math or electrical engineering.

That said, the drop from 10-15 years ago is completely valid and this is indeed a problem.

(disclaimer: I did not listen to that story and I don't have stats at the ready to prove my observations)

Comment: Project onto a TABLE for restaurants and games (Score 2) 57

by Khopesh (#49286641) Attached to: Project an Interactive Game on Your Floor or Wall (Video)

They had one of these (not necessarily this vendor) on the floor of one of the wings of the Burlington Mall in Massachusetts 5+ years ago (it may still be there). It's a fun toy, but it has little practical applications beyond games and promotions. There's no reason this couldn't be on a wall or table though.

Restaurants: I see this technology as the future of table service at restaurants; consider your white tablecloth as your touchscreen, capable of breaking down into one screen per patron (the camera notes where people are seated) or one big screen for everybody to watch a video presentation. This becomes your menu. The camera can also note when you are running out of drink, when it's appropriate to bring out your next course, and when to clear your plates, which allows the wait staff to better optimize their time. Perhaps the bussers are even drones.

Gaming: A ceiling-mounted camera and projector are far cheaper than a coffee-table sized tablet, and you don't have to worry about spilling drinks on your tabletop destroying your system. This can replace board game equipment and other tabletop games and activities. Giant jigsaw puzzles and multi-day wargames can be saved and cleared to make room for something else, then resumed on demand.

Comment: What if he gives 100% of his profits to the FAA? (Score 2) 239

by Khopesh (#49253997) Attached to: FAA Says Ad-Bearing YouTube Drone Videos Constitute "Commercial Use"

It does not appear that this drone operator was making money himself. The FAA doesn't want a cut of the profit (even 100% of $0 is zero), so this is perhaps more complicated than it may seem.

That said, even if they were to demand a cut of Google's profits from the YouTube ads, the collection process would cost the FAA more than the take-home.

Comment: It's because YouTube has ads (Score 0) 239

by Khopesh (#49253947) Attached to: FAA Says Ad-Bearing YouTube Drone Videos Constitute "Commercial Use"

The FCC says this is "commercial" because the drone's videos were posted to YouTube and because YouTube has advertisements, even though the drone operator gets zero profit from those ads.

... what if the drone were flying a banner (and not recording a video)? Is that an advertisement? What if the banner said "Vote for Joe Candidate" and nothing else?

Comment: Re:DICE OWNS SLASHDOT, disclaimer needed! (Score 1) 292

by Khopesh (#49220473) Attached to: Do Tech Companies Ask For Way Too Much From Job Candidates?

Yeh, seriously, Nevral's Lobster shows an exceptional lack of journalistic integrity by being an employee of and posting nothing but stories--WITHOUT A DISCLAIMER.

Hm, I hadn't realized that Nevral's Lobster was exclusively a sock puppet. That's fine for the submissions, but not so fine for the accepted stories, which an editor (ideally) more affiliated with Slashdot than other Dice holdings should have curated and appended the standard disclaimer after Nevral's Lobster's quote.

Comment: DICE OWNS SLASHDOT, disclaimer needed! (Score 5, Informative) 292

by Khopesh (#49216551) Attached to: Do Tech Companies Ask For Way Too Much From Job Candidates?

Dear Slashdot editors,

Don't forget your journalistic rigor. I know it's so very often forgotten these days, but I've chosen Slashdot as one of my last "traditional" news outlets (in the sense that it the editors, including Nevral's Lobster, are paid to curate the content) because it used to be better about this. It is irresponsible of Slashdot to omit the fact that Dice owns Slashdot in the article summary.

Comment: No, it is NOT free (as in freedom) software (Score 2) 143

by Khopesh (#49167155) Attached to: Unreal Engine 4 Is Now Free

I can't find references to the actual license text, but the expectation of paying royalties back to Epic certainly makes it non-free with respect to software freedom. This makes it incompatible in the same sense that the Creative Commons License's "noncommercial" clause is incompatible; most copyleft licenses insist on unrestricted redistribution (which would be broken by a requirement of paying royalties).

The video notes that this is "unprecedented," yet Epic's competitor Id Software used to release all of its engines as GPLv2 once they were ~two generations obsolete (e.g. Doom 3). No royalties expectations necessary.


What Does It Mean To Be a Data Scientist? 94

Posted by samzenpus
from the a-day-in-the-life dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes What is a data scientist? "To be honest, I often don't tell people I am a data scientist," writes Simon Hughes, chief data scientist of the Dice Data Science Team. "It's not that I don't enjoy my job (I do!) nor that I'm not proud of what we've achieved (I am); it's just that most people don't really understand what you mean when you say you're a data scientist, or they assume it's some fancy jargon for something else." So how do Simon and his team define "data scientist"? In this blog posting, he breaks it down along several lines: solid programming skills, a scientific mindset, and the ability to use tools are just for starters. A data scientist also needs to be a polymath with strong math skills. "All good scientists are skeptics at heart; they require strong empirical evidence to be convinced about a theory," he writes. "Likewise, as a data scientist, I've learned to be suspicious of models that are too accurate, or individual variables that are too predictive." His points are good to keep in mind right now, with everybody throwing around buzzwords like "Big Data" without fully realizing what they mean.

Comment: More intervention, earlier (Score 1) 289

All studies I've seen have suggested that more intervention, as early as possible, is ideal. The idea of play groups and other less formal types of socialization seems pretty good to me, perhaps it would serve as a better control for future studies (I'm not that well read, perhaps some research paper has already done this?).

The main point to all of this is that your son needs as much social opportunity as possible, and it needs to be NOW. That said, you can't really afford not to use as much of each option as you can. There is no opportunity to "fix" this later.

Comment: Firefox Hello, Pidgin (Score 1) 296

by Khopesh (#49001627) Attached to: Firefox Succeeded In Its Goal -- But What's Next?

Firefox Hello bundles this kind of thing right into the web browser. I kind of like this idea for allowing basic functionality (think of the browser-based IM in Google and Facebook) and even extending that to voice and video (the way Google Hangouts does), but I'd ideally like to see a more powerful stand-alone client for people that want more than just a few casual conversations here and there. (This is an even better idea for Thunderbird, since your contact list lives there.)

Fortunately, we have pidgin, a stand-alone IM client with a great feature set and wonderful cross-platform support (Adium is merely an OS X implementation of Pidgin). Pidgin desperately needs help, as it hasn't successfully had an easy-to-use voice (let alone video) capability. I'm hoping that WebRTC (which powers Firefox Hello and, I think, Google Hangouts) can provide this, at least for using Firefox Hello and/or bridging between two Pidgin/Adium/Libpurple users.


Firefox Succeeded In Its Goal -- But What's Next? 296

Posted by Soulskill
from the building-actual-foxes-made-of-fire dept.
trawg writes: It's been more than 10 years since Mozilla released version 1.0 of Firefox, one of their first steps in their mission to 'preserve choice and innovation on the Internet'. Firefox was instrumental in shattering the web monoculture, but the last few years of development have left users uninspired. "Their goal was never to create the most popular browser in the world, or the one with the best UX, or the one with the most features, or the one with the best developer mode. ... It would be foolish to say a monoculture will never arise again (Google are making some scary moves with Chrome-only web applications). But at this point in time while Chrome is the ascendant browser (largely at the expense of Firefox), Mozilla’s ability to impact the web in general is greatly reduced." Perhaps it is time to move on to the next challenge — ensuring there is a strong Thunderbird to help preserve a free and open email ecosystem.
The Media

Does Showing a Horrific Video Serve a Legitimate Journalistic Purpose? 645

Posted by Soulskill
from the sensitive-topics dept. writes: Erik Wemple writes at the Washington Post that Fox News recently took the controversial step of posting a horrific 22-minute video online that shows Jordanian pilot Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh being burned to death. Fox warned internet users that the presentation features "extremely graphic video." "After careful consideration, we decided that giving readers of the option to see for themselves the barbarity of ISIS outweighed legitimate concerns about the graphic nature of the video," said Fox executive John Moody. "Online users can choose to view or not view this disturbing content."

But Fox's decision drew condemnation from some terrorism experts. "[Fox News] are literally — literally — working for al-Qaida and ISIS's media arm," said Malcolm Nance. "They might as well start sending them royalty checks." YouTube removed a link to the video a few hours after it was posted, and a spokesperson for Facebook told the Guardian that if anyone posted the video to the social networking site it would be taken down. CNN explained that it wouldn't surface any of the disturbing images because they were gruesome and constituted propaganda that the network didn't want to distribute. "Does posting this video advance the aims of this terror group or hinder its progress by laying bare its depravity?" writes Wemple. "Islamic State leaders may indeed delight in the distribution of the video — which could be helpful in converting extremists to its cause — but they may be mis-calibrating its impact. If the terrorists expected to intimidate the world with their display of barbarity, they may be disappointed with the reaction of Jordan, which is vowing 'strong, earth-shaking and decisive' retaliation."

GnuPG Gets Back On Track With Funding 51

Posted by Soulskill
from the pulling-together dept.
jones_supa writes: Soon after the poor state of the GnuPG was unveiled, the online community has rallied to help Werner Koch. He wanted to hire a full-time programmer to work on the project alongside him and to ensure that he's not living on the brink of bankruptcy all the time. Immediately after the article was published, it was revealed that he got a one-time grant of $60,000 from the Linux Foundation's Core Infrastructure Initiative. Also, the community donated over $150,000, and Facebook and Stripe have each pledged to provide $50,000 per year. All in all, it looks like Werner Koch won't be worried about funding for quite some time. The problem remains: it's very likely that other projects just as important as this one are probably facing the same kind of issues, but it would be nice to hear about them before they get in trouble, and not after.

Techdirt: The World's Email Encryption Software Relies On One Guy, Who Is Going Broke->

From feed by feedfeeder

The man who built the free email encryption software used by whistleblower Edward Snowden, as well as hundreds of thousands of journalists, dissidents and security-minded people around the world, is running out of money to keep his project alive.

Werner Koch wrote the software, known as Gnu Privacy Guard, in 1997, and since then has been almost single-handedly keeping it alive with patches and updates from his home in Erkrath, Germany. Now 53, he is running out of money and patience with being underfunded.

"I'm too idealistic," he told me in an interview at a hacker convention in Germany in December. "In early 2013 I was really about to give it all up and take a straight job." But then the Snowden news broke, and "I realized this was not the time to cancel."

Like many people who build security software, Koch believes that offering the underlying software code for free is the best way to demonstrate that there are no hidden backdoors in it giving access to spy agencies or others. However, this means that many important computer security tools are built and maintained by volunteers.

Now, more than a year after Snowden's revelations, Koch is still struggling to raise enough money to pay himself and to fulfill his dream of hiring a full-time programmer. He says he's made about $25,000 per year since 2001 — a fraction of what he could earn in private industry. In December, he launched a fundraising campaign that has garnered about $43,000 to date — far short of his goal of $137,000 — which would allow him to pay himself a decent salary and hire a full-time developer.

The fact that so much of the Internet's security software is underfunded is becoming increasingly problematic. Last year, in the wake of the Heartbleed bug, I wrote that while the U.S. spends more than $50 billion per year on spying and intelligence, pennies go to Internet security. The bug revealed that an encryption program used by everybody from Amazon to Twitter was maintained by just four programmers, only one of whom called it his full-time job. A group of tech companies stepped in to fund it.

Koch's code powers most of the popular email encryption programs GPGTools, Enigmail, and GPG4Win. "If there is one nightmare that we fear, then it's the fact that Werner Koch is no longer available," said Enigmail developer Nicolai Josuttis. "It's a shame that he is alone and that he has such a bad financial situation."

The programs are also underfunded. Enigmail is maintained by two developers in their spare time. Both have other full-time jobs. Enigmail's lead developer, Patrick Brunschwig, told me that Enigmail receives about $1,000 a year in donations — just enough to keep the website online.

GPGTools, which allows users to encrypt email from Apple Mail, announced in October that it would start charging users a small fee. The other popular program, GPG4Win, is run by Koch himself.

Email encryption first became available to the public in 1991, when Phil Zimmermann released a free program called Pretty Good Privacy, or PGP, on the Internet. Prior to that, powerful computer-enabled encryption was only available to the government and large companies that could pay licensing fees. The U.S. government subsequently investigated Zimmermann for violating arms trafficking laws because high-powered encryption was subject to export restrictions.

In 1997, Koch attended a talk by free software evangelist Richard Stallman, who was visiting Germany. Stallman urged the crowd to write their own version of PGP. "We can't export it, but if you write it, we can import it," he said.

Inspired, Koch decided to try. "I figured I can do it," he recalled. He had some time between consulting projects. Within a few months, he released an initial version of the software he called Gnu Privacy Guard, a play on PGP and an homage to Stallman's free Gnu operating system.

Koch's software was a hit even though it only ran on the Unix operating system. It was free, the underlying software code was open for developers to inspect and improve, and it wasn't subject to U.S. export restrictions.

Koch continued to work on GPG in between consulting projects until 1999, when the German government gave him a grant to make GPG compatible with the Microsoft Windows operating system. The money allowed him to hire a programmer to maintain the software while also building the Windows version, which became GPG4Win. This remains the primary free encryption program for Windows machines.

In 2005, Koch won another contract from the German government to support the development of another email encryption method. But in 2010, the funding ran out.

For almost two years, Koch continued to pay his programmer in the hope that he could find more funding. "But nothing came," Koch recalled. So, in August 2012, he had to let the programmer go. By summer 2013, Koch was himself ready to quit.

But after the Snowden news broke, Koch decided to launch a fundraising campaign. He set up an appeal at a crowdsourcing website, made t-shirts and stickers to give to donors, and advertised it on his website. In the end, he earned just $21,000.

The campaign gave Koch, who has an 8-year-old daughter and a wife who isn't working, some breathing room. But when I asked him what he will do when the current batch of money runs out, he shrugged and said he prefers not to think about it. "I'm very glad that there is money for the next three months," Koch said. "Really I am better at programming than this business stuff."

Related stories: For more coverage, read our previous reporting on the Heartbleed bug, how to encrypt what you can and a ranking of the best encryption tools.

Republished from ProPublica. ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for their newsletter .

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