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Space

Past a Certain Critical Temperature, the Universe Will Be Destroyed 143 143

StartsWithABang writes: If you take all the kinetic motion out of a system, and have all the particles that make it up perfectly at rest, somehow even overcoming intrinsic quantum effects, you'd reach absolute zero, the theoretically lowest temperature of all. But what about the other direction? Is there a limit to how hot something can theoretically get? You might think not, that while things like molecules, atoms, protons and even matter will break down at high enough temperatures, you can always push your system hotter and hotter. But it turns out that the Universe limits what's actually possible, as any physical system will self-destruct beyond a certain point.
Python

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?
Advertising

Microsoft Research Paper Considers Serving Web-ads From Localhost 231 231

An anonymous reader writes: A paper from Microsoft researchers (PDF) posits the possibility of 'pushing' web ads to a user's own computer and serving them into pre-arranged containers on web pages, with the EFF or ACLU serving as privacy mediators between the user and the advertisers who want to engage them. However the framework — dubbed 'Privad' — would need to get installed on the user's system by the same familiar means which the likes of Superfish use. The report admits that Privad would probably need to be disseminated "through adware-style software bundling, shopping discounts, toolbars or other incentives."
Hardware

Ask Slashdot: What Hardware Is In Your Primary Computer? 558 558

An anonymous reader writes: Here's something we haven't done in a while: list the specs of your main system (best one) so we can see what kinds of computers Slashdot geeks use. Context would be interesting, too — if you're up for it, explain how and why you set it up as you did, as well as the computer's primary purpose(s). Things you can list include (but are not limited to): CPU, motherboard, video card, memory, storage (SSD/HDD), exotic Controllers (RAID or caching), optical drives, displays, peripherals, etc. We can compare and contrast, see what specs are suitable for what purposes, and perhaps learn a trick or two.
Open Source

Reactions To Apple's Plans To Open Source Swift 246 246

itwbennett writes: At Apple's WWDC 2015 event yesterday, Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering, announced that the company planned to open source the Swift language. Reaction to this announcement so far has sounded more or less like this: Deafening applause with undertones of "we'll see." As a commenter on this Ars Technica story points out, "Their [Apple's] previous open-source efforts (Darwin, WebKit, etc) have generally tended to be far more towards the Google style of closed development followed by a public source dump." Simon Phipps, the former director of OSI, also expressed some reservations, saying, "While every additional piece of open source software extends the opportunities for software freedom, the critical question for a programming language is less whether it is itself open source and more whether it's feasible to make open source software with it. Programming languages are glue for SDKs, APIs and libraries. The real value of Swift will be whether it can realistically be used anywhere but Apple's walled garden."

Comment: Re:The fence's warehouse (Score 1) 205 205

Much as a Fencing operation or a chop shop might occupy similar premises to legitimate businesses?

Bad analogy. A fencing operation or chop shop is taking possession of stolen property and re-selling it. It was more like Megaupload was a strip mall and they leased out space to legitimate businesses and a few chop shops.

eBay essentially gets away with the same thing (and takes 10% on each sale). You don't honestly think all these iPhones are from people who just forgot their iCloud password, do you?

Comment: Re:Hmmm (Score 5, Interesting) 205 205

Were you born a criminal sociopath and con-artist, or did you evolve into one?

You may personally dislike the guy, but running a public cloud storage service isn't supposed to be illegal. The service had substantial, non-infringing uses, which was previously the litmus test for whether a product exists solely to enable copyright infringement. Otherwise, we wouldn't have things like photocopiers, tape recorders, MP3 players, VCRs, DVRs, cameras, and pretty much every form of blank media.

Megaupload was used quite extensively for storing open source projects and homebrew Android ROMs. That alone should've demonstrated the service had substantial, non-infringing uses.

I understand that Megaupload was allegedly not acting on DMCA takedown requests as promptly as they should've. Still, that seems like something that should be handled with fines, not going all Gestapo by seizing the domain and servers. You wouldn't torch a restaurant to the ground for failing a health inspection, would you?

Education

Writer: "Why I Defaulted On My Student Loans" 1032 1032

schwit1 writes: There are some valid points raised in Lee Siegel's 1,100 word rant against college loans (if not so much against college education). There are also some bad ones. But two things are clear: the words "personal" and/or "responsibility" were used precisely zero times. Siegel, who described himself as "the author of five books who is writing a memoir about money," is hardly a glowing advertisement for the return on nearly a decade in university just to achieve a Master of Philosophy degree.

Siegel says, "As difficult as it has been, I’ve never looked back. The millions of young people today, who collectively owe over $1 trillion in loans, may want to consider my example. It struck me as absurd that one could amass crippling debt as a result, not of drug addiction or reckless borrowing and spending, but of going to college. ... The rapacity of American colleges and universities is turning social mobility, the keystone of American freedom, into a commodified farce. If people groaning under the weight of student loans simply said, 'Enough,' then all the pieties about debt that have become absorbed into all the pieties about higher education might be brought into alignment with reality. Instead of guaranteeing loans, the government would have to guarantee a college education."

Comment: Who is your ISP? (Score 1) 160 160

Chances are, your cable company and your ISP are one and the same. I have Earthlink through Brighthouse and they just raised the bill by $2 last month. It's now up to $45.95/mo, for 15Mbps down/1Mbps up. It seems the more people cut cords, the more the cable companies will push back by raising prices on "Internet only" service. I'd be thrilled to tell them where to stick it and switch to a less expensive competitor, except there isn't one. AT&T is the only other local broadband provider (very slow DSL) and their limited-time promotional rate only applies if you're signing up for bundled services.

It's foolish to think cable companies are just going to roll over and get used to lower profits. I'll bet a couple years from now, we'll all be paying about $90-$120 just for broadband and then paying Netflix/Amazon/Apple for TV service. We'll reminiscence about the good ol' days when that amount of money used to buy broadband access and cable TV service!

Science

There Is a Finite Limit On How Long Intelligence Can Exist In Our Universe 205 205

StartsWithABang writes: The heat death of the Universe is the idea that increasing entropy will eventually cause the Universe to arrive at a uniformly, maximally disordered state. Every piece of evidence we have points towards our unfortunate, inevitable trending towards that end, with every burning star, every gravitational merger, and even every breath we, ourselves, take. Yet even while we head towards this fate, it may be possible for intelligence in an artificial form to continue in the Universe for an extraordinarily long time: possibly for as long as a googol years, but not quite indefinitely. Eventually, it all must end.

Comment: Re:What? (Score 5, Insightful) 133 133

He bought something he doesn't know what ELSE to do with. But fine, be a jackass.

I've seen some idiotic "Ask Slashdot" stories, but this one probably takes the cake. To use the ever-popular car analogy, it's like asking "I just realized my car has a 12 volt electrical receptacle in the dashboard, what sort of things can I plug in?"

Yet another "Ask Slashdot" that can easily be solved by Google.

Comment: Re:Doesn't get it (Score 1) 306 306

Why does this come up in every discussion?

Programming is not special. It does not require a "special mind" or other magical in-born trait.

Perhaps not, but it does require a certain mental disposition to enjoy (or at least tolerate) as a career. Most people simply don't want to spend 40+ hours per week, sitting at a desk, staring at code on a computer screen.

Mars

How To Die On Mars 278 278

An anonymous reader writes: Many space-related projects are currently focusing on Mars. SpaceX wants to build a colony there, NASA is looking into base design, and Mars One is supposedly picking astronauts for a mission. Because of this, we've been reading a lot about how we could live on Mars. An article at Popular Science reminds us of all the easy ways to die there. "Barring any complications with the spacecraft's hardware or any unintended run-ins with space debris, there's still a big killer lurking out in space that can't be easily avoided: radiation. ... [And] with so little atmosphere surrounding Mars, gently landing a large amount of weight on the planet will be tough. Heavy objects will pick up too much speed during the descent, making for one deep impact. ... Mars One's plan is to grow crops indoors under artificial lighting. According to the project's website, 80 square meters of space will be dedicated to plant growth within the habitat; the vegetation will be sustained using suspected water in Mars' soil, as well as carbon dioxide produced by the initial four-member crew. However, analysis conducted by MIT researchers last year (PDF) shows that those numbers just don't add up."

Comment: Re:I call shenanigans... (Score 2) 446 446

Why would *anyone* encourage their child, regardless of gender, to spend a decade or more training for what is quickly becoming a minimum-wage job at best.

This.

Coding jobs can be easily outsourced to wherever the going rate for labor is cheapest. Google's "coder shortage" seems completely imaginary. They're an advertising company whose greatest trick was convincing the world they are a software company.

Comment: Why bother? (Score 1) 313 313

Really, the only advantage to a dumphone is the inexpensive cost to replace it, should it become lost or broken. Most non-contract wireless providers with a "bring your own phone" option are perfectly happy letting you use a cheap plan on a modern flagship smartphone, so being a Luddite won't save you much on your monthly wireless bill.

Regarding battery life, the main reason smartphones don't have the endurance of dumbphones comes down to how people use them. If you turn off mobile data, WiFi, Bluetooth and background app refresh, even an iPhone 5 can go a week on standby. You could also just buy an extended battery, portable USB pack, car charger, solar charger, etc.

I suspect this is more about longing for the "good old days" when people didn't expect you to be reachable through e-mail and at least 3 different social networks. Sorry, but using a dumbphone won't bring those days back.

I've never been canoeing before, but I imagine there must be just a few simple heuristics you have to remember... Yes, don't fall out, and don't hit rocks.

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