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Science

How Concrete Contributed To the Downfall of the Roman Empire 384

Posted by samzenpus
from the huff-and-puff-and-blow-your-civilization-down dept.
concertina226 (2447056) writes "The real reason behind the downfall of the Roman Empire might not have been lead contaminating in the water, which is the most popular theory, but the use of concrete as a building material. Dr Penelope Davies, a historian with the University of Texas believes that the rise of concrete as a building material may have weakened ancient Rome's entire political system as Pompey and Julius Caesar began 'thinking like kings'. Concrete was used to build many of Rome's finest monuments, such as the Pantheon, the Colosseum and the Tabularium, which have lasted the test of time and are still standing today."

+ - Slashdot Beta Woes 16

Submitted by s.petry
s.petry (762400) writes "What is a Slashdot and why the Beta might destroy it?

Slashdot has been around, well, a very long time. Longer than any of it's competators, but not as long as IIRC. Slashdot was a very much one of the first true social media web sites.

On Slashdot, you could create a handle or ID. Something personal, but not too personal, unless you wanted it to be. But it was not required either. We know each other by our handles, we have watched each other grow as people. We may have even taken pot shots at each other in threads. Unless of course you are anonymous, but often we can guess who that really is.

One of Slashdot's first motto's was "News for Nerds" that Matters. I have no idea when that was removed. I have not always scoured the boards here daily, life can get too busy for that. That excuses my ignorance in a way. I guess someone thought it politically incorrect, but most of us "Nerds" enjoyed it. We are proud of who we are, and what we know. Often we use that pride and knowledge to make someone else look bad. That is how we get our digs in, and we enjoy that part of us too. We don't punch people, we belittle them. It's who we are!

What made Slashdot unique were a few things. What you will note here is "who" has been responsible for the success of Slashdot. Hint, it has never been a just the company taking care of the servers and software.

— First, the user base submitted stories that "they" thought mattered. It was not a corporate feed. Sure, stories were submitted about companies. The latest break through from AMD and Intel, various stories regarding the graphic card wars, my compiler is better than your compiler, and yes your scripting language stinks! Microsoft IIS has brought us all a few laughs and lots of flame wars to boot. Still, we not only read about the products but get to my second point.

— User comments. This is the primary why we have been coming here for as long as we have, many of us for decades. We provide alternative opinions or back what was given in the article. This aspect not only makes the "News" interesting, but often leads to other news and information sharing. It's not always positive, but this is the nature of allowing commentary. It also brings out the third point.

— Moderation. Moderation has been done by the community for a very long time. It took lots of trial and error to get a working system. As with any public system it's imperfect, but it's been successful. People can choose to view poorly modded comments, but don't have to. As with posting anonymous versus with our own handle it's an option that allows us to personalize the way we see and read what's on the site. And as a reward for submitting something worth reading, you might get a mod point of your own to use as a reward for someone else.

Why we dislike Beta and what is being pushed, and why this will result in the end of an era if it becomes forced on the community.

1. Bulky graphics. We get that Dice and Slashdot need revenue. I have Karma good enough to disable advertisements, but have never kept this setting on. I realize that Slashdot/Dice make money with this. That said, the ads sit away from my news and out of the way. I can get there if I want it (but nobody has ever gotten a penny from me clicking an ad... nobody!), but it's not forced into my face or news feed.

2. Low text area. I like having enough on my screen to keep me busy without constant scrolling. Slashdot currently has the correct ratio of text to screen. This ratio has never been complained about, yet Beta reduces the usable text area by at least 1/2 and no option for changing the behavior. I hate reading Slashdot on mobile devices because I can't stand scrolling constantly.

3. JavaScript. We all know the risks of JS, and many of us disable it. We also have an option of reading in Lync or non-standard browsers that many of us toy with for both personal and professional reasons. This flexibility is gone in Beta, and we are forced to allow JS to run. If you don't know the risks of allowing JS to run, you probably don't read much on Slashdot. Those that allow JS do so accepting the risk (which is admittedly low on a well known site).

4. Ordering/Sorting/Referencing. Each entry currently gets tagged with a unique thread ID. This allows linking to the exact post in a thread, not just the top of the thread. In Beta this is gone. It could be that the site decided to simply hide the post ID or it was removed. Either way, going to specific posts is something that is used very commonly by the community.

5. Eye candy. Most of us are not here for "eye candy" and many have allergic reactions to eye candy. Slashdot has a good mix currently. It's not as simple as the site starting with a r-e-d-i-t, which is good. That site has a reputation that keeps many of us away, and their format matches my attitude of them (s-i-m-p-l-e-t-o-n). At the same time, it's not like watching some other "news" sites with so much scrolling crap I can't read an article without getting a headache. The wasted space in beta for big bulky borders, sure smells like eye candy. Nothing buzzes or scrolls yet, but we can sense what's coming in a patch later.

The thing is, the community cares about Slashdot. We come here because we care. We submit stories because of that, we vote because of that, we moderate because of that, and we comment because of that. At the same time we realize that without the community Slashdot loses most of its value. We respect that we don't host the servers, backup the databases, or patch the servers. Slashdot/Dice provide the services needed for Slashdot.

It's a give give relationship, and we each get something in return. Slashdot gets tons of Search hits and lots of web traffic. We get a place to learn, teach, and occasionally vent.

Look, if you want to change default color scheme or make pre-made palettes for us to choose from, we would probably be okay with that. If you want to take away our ability to block ads by Karma, or move the ads to the left side of my browser window, I would be okay with those things too.

If you want to make drastic changes to how the site works, this is a different story all together. The reason so many are against Beta is that it breaks some of the fundamental parts of what makes Slashdot work.

User input until recently has not been acknowledged. The acknowledgment we have received is not from the people that are making the decision to push Beta live. We told people Beta was broken, what it lacked, and we were rather surprised to get a warning that Beta would be live despite what we told people. People are already making plans to leave, which means that Slashdot could fade away very soon.

Whether this was the goal for Dice or not remains to be seen. If it is, it's been nice knowing you but I won't be back. A partnership only works when there is mutual respect between the parties. A word of caution, us Nerds have good memories and lots of knowledge. The loss of Slashdot impacts all of Dice holdings, not just Slashdot. I boycott everything a company holds, not just the product group that did me wrong.

If that was not the goal of Dice, you should quickly begin communicating with the user base. What are the plans are to fix what Beta has broken? Why is Beta being pushed live with things broken? A "Sorry we have not been communicating!", and perhaps even a "Thank you" to the user base for helping make Slashdot a success for so many years."
Space

It's Official: Voyager 1 Is an Interstellar Probe 218

Posted by timothy
from the take-that-former-soviet-union dept.
astroengine writes "After a 35-year, 11-billion mile journey, NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft left the solar system to become the first human-made object to reach interstellar space, new evidence from a team of scientists shows. 'It's kind of like landing on the moon. It's a milestone in history. Like all science, it's exploration. It's new knowledge,' long-time Voyager scientist Donald Gurnett, with the University of Iowa, told Discovery News. The first signs that the spacecraft had left the solar system's heliopause was a sudden drop in solar particles and a corresponding increase in cosmic rays in 2012, but this evidence alone wasn't conclusive. Through indirect means, scientist analyzing oscillations along the probe's 10-meter (33-foot) antennas were able to deduce that Voyager was traveling through a less dense medium — i.e. interstellar space." You can watch NASA's briefing on the probe's progress here.
Earth

The Golden Gate Barrage: New Ideas To Counter Sea Level Rise 341

Posted by Soulskill
from the a-rising-tide-lifts-all-boats-and-all-houses-and-oh-god-run dept.
waderoush writes "What do Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Oracle, LinkedIn, and Intuit have in common? They're just a few of the tech companies whose campuses alongside San Francisco Bay could be underwater by mid-century as sea levels rise. It's time for these organizations and other innovators to put some of their fabled brainpower into coming up with new ideas to counter the threat, Xconomy argues today. One idea: the Golden Gate Barrage, a massive system of dams, locks, and pumps located in the shadow of the iconic bridge. Taller than the Three Gorges Dam in China, it would be one of the largest and costliest projects in the history of civil engineering. But at least one Bay Area government official says might turn out to be the simplest way to save hundreds of square miles of land around the bay from inundation."
Earth

Geologists In Norway Are Using Drones With Cameras To Hunt For Oil 44

Posted by Soulskill
from the just-like-the-us-army-in-iraq dept.
garymortimer writes "Geologists have long used seismology on the bottom of the ocean or have been throwing dynamite from snowmobiles when they look for oil. But now researchers at Centre for Integrated Petroleum Research, a joint venture between the University of Bergen and Uni Research, have found a new preferred method – using drones to map new oil reserves from the air. ... The group’s main task is to create digital maps in 3D of potential oil fields. Using laser scanners, infrared sensors and digital cameras, the researchers create realistic, virtual models. ... Pictures shot with the help of a drone complement the images from low-level terrain that the researchers already have in hand. The end result is more precise and complete 3D models."

+ - Cyanogen Mod forces tracking of user devices->

Submitted by CRC'99
CRC'99 (96526) writes "In what was hoped to be an April Fools Day prank, Cyanogenmod just committed a change to the 10.1 git that removes the option of counting all devices installed with Cyanogen mod. Details reported by the stats service include the devices unique ID, the device name, the active carrier, and the country the device is located. While this is being touted as "anonymised data" by Steve Kondik, it is common knowledge that the unique device ID is unique for a reason. What effects does this have on privacy for CM users?"
Link to Original Source
Music

Scientists Study Getting an Unwanted Tune Out of Your Head 219

Posted by samzenpus
from the co-stan-za dept.
Hugh Pickens writes writes "Richard Gray reports that scientists have found a way to help anyone plagued by those annoying tunes that lodge themselves inside our heads and repeat on an endless loop — when snippets of a catchy song inexplicably play like a broken record in your brain. The solution can be to solve some tricky anagrams to force the intrusive music out of your working memory allowing the music to be replaced with other more amenable thoughts. 'The key is to find something that will give the right level of challenge,' says Dr Ira Hyman, a music psychologist at Western Washington University who conducted the research. 'If you are cognitively engaged, it limits the ability of intrusive songs to enter your head.' Hyman says that the problem, called involuntary memory retrieval, is that something we can do automatically like driving or walking means you are not using all of your cognitive resource, so there is plenty of space left for that internal jukebox to start playing. Dr Vicky Williamson, a music psychologist at Goldsmiths, University of London, says that the most likely songs to get stuck are those that are easy to hum along to or sing and found that that Lady Gaga was the most common artist to get stuck in people's heads, with four of her catchy pop songs being the most likely to become earworms – Alejandro, Bad Romance, Just Dance and Paparazzi. Other surveys have reported Abba songs such as Waterloo, Changes by David Bowie or the Beatles' Hey Jude."
Science

Ask Slashdot: Geekiest Way To Cook a Turkey? 447

Posted by samzenpus
from the robot-chef dept.
First time accepted submitter almostadnsguy writes "There seem to be a lot of ways to cook a turkey the geekiest ones are probably out of the realm of possibility for normal geeks. However, Within the limits of normal society (or outside if you wish) what is the geekiest way to do it? Do you use a special brine, cook it in an inventive way, or raise genetically modified turkeys with extra legs?"
Star Wars Prequels

Disney to Acquire Lucasfilm, Star Wars Episode 7 Due In 2015 816

Posted by Soulskill
from the wait-what dept.
Jason Levine writes "Disney will acquire Lucasfilm, including the Star Wars trilogy. Additionally, Star Wars: Episode 7 is due to be released in 2015, with more feature films on the way. George Lucas said, 'For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next. It's now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers. I've always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime. I'm confident that with Lucasfilm under the leadership of Kathleen Kennedy, and having a new home within the Disney organization, Star Wars will certainly live on and flourish for many generations to come.'"
Bitcoin

Vast Bulk of BitCoins Are Hoarded, Not Used 438

Posted by timothy
from the just-sift-them-through-your-fingers-wait dept.
another random user writes with this news from Ars Technica:"More than three-quarters of the digital coins in the Bitcoin digital currency scheme aren't circulating because they remain dormant in user accounts that have never participated in outgoing transactions, a recently published study has found. The figure translates to more than 7.019 million BTCs, the term used to denote a single coin under the digital currency, which uses strong cryptography and peer-to-peer networking to enable anonymous payments among parties who don't necessarily know or trust each other. Based on exchange rates listed on Mt.Gox — the most widely used Bitcoin exchange — the coins have a value of more than $82.87 million. On May 13, the date the researchers analyzed their data, there were slightly more than 9 million BTCs in existence."
Advertising

In UK, Apple Must Run Ad Apologizing to Samsung 190

Posted by timothy
from the grovel-different dept.
sfcrazy writes "Apple has lost is appeal in a UK court against Samsung's Galaxy Tab. The court of appeals has upheld its previous judgment that Samsung did not infringe on any Apple design. According to the order Apple will have to run an ads in leading UK newspapers as well its own website stating that Samsung did not infringes its products. To ensure that the ad is visible the court also ordered that the text of the ad must not be in a font size smaller than Ariel 14. Apple will have to run the ad on its site for a period of one month."

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