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Submission + - Structural Engineer Destroys the Fallacies of Bridge Destruction (

szczys writes: Suspension bridges like the Golden Gate Bridge and the Brooklyn Bridge are favorite victims for movie makers but are almost always shown to perform in violation of the laws of physics. Structural Engineer Alex Weinberg couldn't stay silent any longer. He covers how bridge collapses in several major films should have looked. The biggest offender? Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises.

Submission + - Virginia ditches "America's worst voting machines" (

Geoffrey.landis writes: Computerized voting machines are bad news in general, but the WINVote machines used in Virginia might just have earned their reputation as the most insecure voting machine in America, featuring wifi that can't be turned off (protected, however, with a WEP password of "abcde"), an unencrypted database, and administrative access with a hardcoded password of "admin." According to security research Jeremy Epstein, if the machines weren't hacked in past elections, "it was because nobody tried." But with no paper trail-- we'll never know. Well, after ignoring the well-documented problems for over a decade, Virginia finally decided to decommission the machines... after the governor had problems with the machines last election and demanded an investigation.

"In total, the vulnerabilities investigators found were so severe and so trivial to exploit, Epstein noted that “anyone with even a modicum of training could have succeeded” in hacking them. An attacker wouldn’t have needed to be inside a polling place either to subvert an election... someone 'within a half mile with a rudimentary antenna built using a Pringles can could also have attacked them."

Submission + - Why the "Right To Be Forgotten" is the Worst Kind of Censorship (

Lauren Weinstein writes: Which brings us to the second proviso from the truth about censorship.

In true Orwellian fashion, even better than blocking people from information is preventing them from ever realizing that the forbidden information exists in the first place.

And this is where the so-called "Right To Be Forgotten" (RTBF) comes into play.

The key premise of RTBF is that if you can prevent your population from realizing that particular data exists on the Web — even if they could easily access it given such knowledge — you've achieved censorship Valhalla.

This is why RTBF focuses its death ray on search engines. Governments realize the typical impracticality of excising all copies of information from all possible Internet sources. So they instead order the burning of the search results "index cards" in a deeply disingenuous attempt to fool their populations into not realizing the associated materials exist at all.

Submission + - $340 Audiophile Ethernet Cable Tested (

An anonymous reader writes: Ars Technica has done a series of articles that attempt to verify whether there's any difference between a $340 "audiophile" Ethernet cable and a $2.50 generic one. In addition to doing a quick teardown, they took the cables to Las Vegas and asked a bunch of test subjects to evaluate the cables in a blind test. Surprise, surprise: they couldn't. They weren't even asked to say which one was better, just whether they could tell a difference. But for the sake of completeness, they also passed the cables through a battery of electrical tests. The expensive cable met specs — barely, in some cases — while the cheap one didn't. It passed data, but with a ton of noise. "And listeners still failed to hear any difference."

Submission + - Today's quote is incorrect (

tubegeek writes: "There is such a fine line between genius and stupidity." — David St. Hubbins, "Spinal Tap" as quoted on /.

Here is where David St.H says, "It's such a fine line between stupid and clever" with the assistance of Nigel Tufnel.

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: State Breaking its Own Law Against Employee Misclassification 2

An anonymous reader writes: I've had the privilege of developing software as an independent contractor for various agencies of a particular state for many years. These past few, however, have seen changes: now I, and almost every other contractor I know, are being managed very differently.

This state is now making a widespread practice of using the businesses it awards contracts to as staffing agencies, knowing full well that the people coming in are 1099s and receive none of the benefits or protections of regular employees. These contractors are expected to be on site full-time, are not allowed to use their own hardware or software, and are managed alongside, and perform substantially the same work as other, regular employees. This is apparently done to cut costs.

The State has no legal risk here — that rests solely on the businesses it awards contracts to. But given that this particular state takes a hard line against misclassifying employees, this strikes me as profoundly hypocritical.

I am not here to ask for legal advice. Indeed, I have already retained counsel in this matter. Considering additional detail that I won't get into here, Federal law is likely being broken. Since this is also one of the states that have the strict "three prong" test for classifying employees, the State's own law is definitely being broken.

I thought, maybe somebody should say something. But my lawyer's reaction surprised me. He said — this isn't a big deal, you could just go find another client. And you know what? He's right. I could totally do that. Maybe since we in the IT industry tend to be well paid, nobody should care, and there's no reason complain.

I'm not asking for legal advice or a recommendation as to what I should do personally; I'm still forming an opinion on the larger issue here, and I'd like you to share yours.

Submission + - Most Advanced Climate Data Shows 10-Year Cooling Trend ( 1

nefus writes: Data from America’s most advanced climate monitoring system shows the U.S. has undergone a cooling trend over the last decade, despite recent claims by government scientists that warming has accelerated worldwide during that time.

Submission + - SourceForge assumes ownership of GIMP For Win, wraps installer in adware (

An anonymous reader writes: It appears that SourceForge is assuming control of all projects that appear "abandoned." In a blog update on their site, they responded saying in part "There has recently been some report that the GIMP-Win project on SourceForge has been hijacked; this project was actually abandoned over 18 months ago, and SourceForge has stepped-in to keep this project current. "

SourceForge is now offering "to establish a program to enable users and developers to help us remove misleading and confusing ads."

Submission + - Sourceforge staff takes over a user's account and wraps their software installer ( 11

An anonymous reader writes: Sourceforge staff took over the account of the GIMP-for-Windows maintainer claiming it was abandoned and used this opportunity to wrap the installer in crapware. Quoting Ars:

SourceForge, the code repository site owned by Slashdot Media, has apparently seized control of the account hosting GIMP for Windows on the service, according to e-mails and discussions amongst members of the GIMP community—locking out GIMP's lead Windows developer. And now anyone downloading the Windows version of the open source image editing tool from SourceForge gets the software wrapped in an installer replete with advertisements.

Submission + - LG Split Screen Software Compromises System Security (

jones_supa writes: The Korean electronics company LG ships a split screen tool with their ultra wide displays. It allows to slice the Windows desktop into multiple segments, which is actually a nice feature. However, installing the software seriously compromises security of the particular workstation. The developers required administrator access for the software, but apparently they hacked their way out. The installer silently disables User Account Control, and enables a policy to start all applications as Administrator. In the article there is also a video presentation of the setup procedure. It is safe to say that no one should be running this software in its current form.

Submission + - Was California Law Broken in the Mozilla CEO Firestorm?

theodp writes: While the rise and fall of Brendan Eich at Mozilla sparked a debate over how to properly strike a balance between an employee's political free speech and his employer's desire to communicate a particular corporate 'culture,' notes Brian Van Vleck at the California Workforce Resource Blog, the California Labor Code has already resolved this debate. "Under California law," Van Vleck explains, "it is blatantly illegal to fire an employee because he has donated money to a political campaign. This rule is clearly set forth in Labor Code sections 1101-1102". Section 1102 begins, "No employer shall coerce or influence or attempt to coerce or influence his employees through or by means of threat of discharge or loss of employment to adopt or follow or refrain from adopting or following any particular course or line of political action or political activity." Corporate Counsel's Marlisse Silver Sweeney adds, "Mozilla is adamant that the board did not force Eich to resign, and asked him to stay on in another role. It also says that although some employees tweeted for his resignation, support for his leadership was expressed by a larger group of employees. And this is all a good thing for the company from a legal standpoint." As Eich stepped down, Re/code reported that Mozilla Executive Chairwoman Mitchell Baker said Eich's ability to lead the company had been badly damaged by the continued scrutiny over the hot-button issue. "It's clear that Brendan cannot lead Mozilla in this setting," Baker was quoted as saying. "I think there has been pressure from all sides, of course, but this is Brendan's decision. Given the circumstances, this is not surprising." Van Vleck offers these closing words of advice, "To the extent employers want to follow in Mozilla's footsteps by policing their employees' politics in the interests of 'culture,' 'inclusiveness,' or corporate branding, they should be aware that their efforts will violate California law."

Submission + - Eureka! An Unexpected Ray Of Hope For Americans And Scientific Literacy! ( 1

An anonymous reader writes: Politico reports, "A finding in a study on the relationship between science literacy and political ideology surprised the Yale professor behind it: Tea party members know more science than non-tea partiers. Yale law professor Dan Kahan posted on his blog this week that he analyzed the responses of more than 2,000 American adults recruited for another study and found that, on average, people who leaned liberal were more science literate than those who leaned conservative. However, those who identified as part of the tea party movement were actually better versed in science than those who didn’t, Kahan found. The findings met the conventional threshold of statistical significance, the professor said. Kahan wrote that not only did the findings surprise him, they embarrassed him. “I’ve got to confess, though, I found this result surprising. As I pushed the button to run the analysis on my computer, I fully expected I’d be shown a modest negative correlation between identifying with the Tea Party and science comprehension,” Kahan wrote. “But then again, I don’t know a single person who identifies with the tea party,” he continued." — More at the Independent Journal Review.

Submission + - Dice Ruins Slashdot ( 12

An anonymous reader writes: In an attempt to modernize Slashdot, Dice has removed everything that made Slashdot unique and worthwhile and has turned it into a generic blog site. User feedback has been unanimously negative, but this is to no avail, and users will have to head elsewhere for insightful and entertaining commentary on tech news.

Submission + - Missile test creates huge expanding halo of light over Hawaii

The Bad Astronomer writes: A Minuteman III missile launch from California early Wednesday morning created a weird, expanding halo of light seen from the CFHT observatory on Hawaii's Mauna Kea. The third stage of the missile has ports that open and dump fuel into the near-vacuum. This cloud expands rapidly as a spherical shell, shock-exciting the air molecules and causing them to glow, creating the bizarre effect.

Those who claim the dead never return to life haven't ever been around here at quitting time.