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We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).

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Blackberry

Iowa's Governor Terry Branstad Thinks He Doesn't Use E-mail 186

Posted by timothy
from the bizarro-er-and-bizarro-er dept.
Earthquake Retrofit writes The Washington Post reports the governor of Iowa denying he uses e-mail, but court documents expose his confusion. From the article: "Branstad's apparent confusion over smartphones, apps and e-mail is ironic because he has tried to portray himself as technologically savvy. His Instagram account has pictures of him taking selfies and using Skype... 2010 campaign ads show him tapping away on an iPad. 'Want a brighter future? We've got an app for that.' Earlier this month, the governor's office announced that it had even opened an account on Meerkat, the live video streaming app." Perhaps he's distancing himself from e-mail because it's a Hillary thing.
Businesses

Amazon Requires Non-Compete Agreements.. For Warehouse Workers 306

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-may-not-lift-and-carry-objects-for-anyone-else dept.
Rick Zeman writes: Amazon, perhaps historically only second to Newegg in the IT nerdling's online shopping heart, has not only subjected their warehouse employees to appalling working conditions, but they're also making them sign a non-compete agreement for the privilege. Here's an excerpt from the agreement: "During employment and for 18 months after the Separation Date, Employee will not, directly or indirectly, whether on Employee's own behalf or on behalf of any other entity (for example, as an employee, agent, partner, or consultant), engage in or support the development, manufacture, marketing, or sale of any product or service that competes or is intended to compete with any product or service sold, offered, or otherwise provided by Amazon (or intended to be sold, offered, or otherwise provided by Amazon in the future)."
The Military

US Air Force Overstepped In SpaceX Certification 66

Posted by Soulskill
from the don't-ruin-this-for-us,-government dept.
Rambo Tribble writes: An internal review commissioned by Air Force Secretary Deborah James has concluded that Air Force personnel tasked with evaluating SpaceX's certification treated it as a design review, going so far as to dictate organizational changes in the company. This was judged contrary to the intention of promoting a competitive environment. The report, prepared by former Air Force Chief of Staff General Larry Welch, concluded, "The result to date has been ... the worst of all worlds, pressing the Falcon 9 commercially oriented approach into a comfortable government mold that eliminates or significantly reduces the expected benefits to the government of the commercial approach. Both teams need to adjust."
Earth

How 'Virtual Water' Can Help Ease California's Drought 415

Posted by timothy
from the it's-as-if-prices-conveyed-information dept.
HughPickens.com writes Bill Davidow And Michael S. Malone write in the WSJ that recent rains have barely made a dent in California's enduring drought, now in its fourth year. Thus, it's time to solve the state's water problem with radical solutions, and they can begin with "virtual water." This concept describes water that is used to produce food or other commodities, such as cotton. According to Davidow and Malone, when those commodities are shipped out of state, virtual water is exported. Today California exports about six trillion gallons of virtual water, or about 500 gallons per resident a day. How can this happen amid drought? The problem is mispricing. If water were priced properly, it is a safe bet that farmers would waste far less of it, and the effects of California's drought—its worst in recorded history—would not be so severe. "A free market would raise the price of water, reflecting its scarcity, and lead to a reduction in the export of virtual water," say Davidow and Malone. "A long history of local politics, complicated regulation and seemingly arbitrary controls on distribution have led to gross inefficiency."

For example, producing almonds is highly profitable when water is cheap but almond trees are thirsty, and almond production uses about 10% of California's total water supply. The thing is, nuts use a whole lot of water: it takes about a gallon of water to grow one almond, and nearly five gallons to produce a walnut. "Suppose an almond farmer could sell real water to any buyer, regardless of county boundaries, at market prices—many hundreds of dollars per acre-foot—if he agreed to cut his usage in half, say, by drawing only two acre-feet, instead of four, from his wells," say the authors. "He might have to curtail all or part of his almond orchard and grow more water-efficient crops. But he also might make enough money selling his water to make that decision worthwhile." Using a similar strategy across its agricultural industry, California might be able to reverse the economic logic that has driven farmers to plant more water-intensive crops. "This would take creative thinking, something California is known for, and trust in the power of free markets," conclude the authors adding that "almost anything would be better, and fairer, than the current contradictory and self-defeating regulations."
Security

MRIs Show Our Brains Shutting Down When We See Security Prompts 79

Posted by timothy
from the all-persons-in-this-area-subject-to-palpatio-per-anum dept.
antdude writes with this excerpt from Ars Technica: Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRIs) show our brains shutting down when we see security prompts. The MRI images show a "precipitous drop" in visual processing after even one repeated exposure to a standard security warning and a "large overall drop" after 13 of them. Previously, such warning fatigue has been observed only indirectly, such as one study finding that only 14 percent of participants recognized content changes to confirmation dialog boxes or another that recorded users clicking through one-half of all SSL warnings in less than two seconds.
Education

Zuckerberg and Gates-Backed Startup Seeks To Shake Up African Education 119

Posted by samzenpus
from the dropping-knowledge dept.
theodp writes The WSJ reports an army of teachers wielding Nook tablets and backed by investors including Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg is on a mission to bring cheap [$6.50/month], internet-based, private education to millions of the world's poorest children in Africa and Asia. In Kenya, 126,000 students are enrolled at 400+ Bridge International Academies that have sprung up across the country since the company was founded in 2009. Bridge's founders are challenging the long-held assumption that governments rather than companies should lead mass education programs. The Nook tablets are used to deliver lesson plans used by teachers (aka "scripted instruction"), as well as to collect test results from students to monitor their progress."
Communications

Why There Is No Such Thing as 'Proper English' 667

Posted by Soulskill
from the but-feel-free-to-continue-screaming-at-random-internet-commenters dept.
Pikoro writes: A recent article in the Wall Street Journal explains why the concept of a "proper" English isn't realistic. Quoting: "It's a perpetual lament: The purity of the English language is under assault. These days we are told that our ever-texting teenagers can't express themselves in grammatical sentences. The media delight in publicizing ostensibly incorrect usage. ... As children, we all have the instinct to acquire a set of rules and to apply them. ... We know that a certain practice is a rule of grammar because it’s how we see and hear people use the language. ... That’s how scholarly linguists work. Instead of having some rule book of what is “correct” usage, they examine the evidence of how native and fluent nonnative speakers do in fact use the language. Whatever is in general use in a language (not any use, but general use) is for that reason grammatically correct. The grammatical rules invoked by pedants aren’t real rules of grammar at all. They are, at best, just stylistic conventions.
United States

FAA Says Ad-Bearing YouTube Drone Videos Constitute "Commercial Use" 239

Posted by timothy
from the biggest-portion-is-the-lion's-share dept.
schwit1 writes If you fly a drone and post footage on YouTube, you could end up with a letter from the Federal Aviation Administration. Earlier this week, the agency sent a legal notice to Jayson Hanes, a Tampa-based drone hobbyist who has been posting drone-shot videos online for roughly the last year. The FAA said that, because there are ads on YouTube, Hanes's flights constituted a commercial use of the technology subject to stricter regulations and enforcement action from the agency. It said that if he did not stop flying 'commercially,' he could be subject to fines or sanctions.
United Kingdom

Swedish Authorities Offer To Question Assange In London 169

Posted by Soulskill
from the my-place-or-yours dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Since 2012, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been holed up inside Ecuador's embassy in London trying to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faces a sexual assault investigation. Now, after the case has been stalled for years, Swedish prosecutors are arranging to come to London and question Assange within the embassy. According to his lawyer, Assange welcomes this, but Sweden still needs to be granted permission from both the UK and Ecuador. "Assange's lawyers, who are appealing against his arrest warrant in Sweden's highest court, have complained bitterly about the prosecutor's refusal to travel to London to speak to him – an essential step under Swedish jurisprudence to establish whether Assange can be formally charged. [Lead investigator Marianne] Ny's refusal, they say, has condemned Assange to severe limitations on his freedom that are disproportionate to the accusations against him." Ny has also requested a DNA sample from Assange.
Businesses

Under US Pressure, PayPal Stops Working With Mega 136

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-wouldn't-download-a-car dept.
New submitter seoras sends news that PayPal is now refusing to handle payments for Mega, Kim Dotcom's cloud storage service. A report (PDF) issued in September of last year claimed Mega and other "cyberlocker" sites made a great deal of illicit money off piracy. Mega disputes this, of course, and says the report caused U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy to pressure credit card companies to stop working with Mega. Those companies then pressured PayPal to stop as well. The hosting company claims, "MEGA provided extensive statistics and other evidence showing that MEGA’s business is legitimate and legally compliant. After discussions that appeared to satisfy PayPal’s queries, MEGA authorised PayPal to share that material with Visa and MasterCard. Eventually PayPal made a non-negotiable decision to immediately terminate services to MEGA."
Security

Blu-Ray Players Hackable Via Malicious Discs 107

Posted by Soulskill
from the physical-media-increasingly-sketchy dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Some Blu-Ray disc interactive features use a Java variant for UIs and applications. Stephen Tomkinson just posted a blog discussing how specially created Blu-Ray discs can be used to hack various players using exploits related to their Java usage. He hacked one Linux-based, network-connected player to get root access through vulnerabilities introduced by the vendor. He did the same thing against Windows Blu-Ray player software. Tomkinson was then able to combine both, along with detection techniques, into a single disc.
Businesses

LG Exec Indicted Over Broken Samsung Washing Machine 132

Posted by samzenpus
from the breaking-the-law-and-machines dept.
itwbennett writes Jo Seong-jin, the head of LG's home appliance division, was indicted Sunday by prosecutors in Seoul for allegedly damaging Samsung Electronics' washing machines before the IFA electronics show in Berlin last September. The company says it was his regular practice to test the rival company's machines, something he has done while working for LG for the past 38 years, and has released closed-circuit television footage in his defense showing him testing Samsung products including washing machines, dish washers and refrigerators. Jo and two other employees are charged with vandalism, defamation and obstruction of business.
Government

FAA Proposes Rules To Limit Commercial Drone Use 119

Posted by Soulskill
from the skynet-delayed dept.
An anonymous reader sends this report from the NY Times: In an attempt to bring order to increasingly chaotic skies, the Federal Aviation Administration on Sunday proposed long-awaited rules on the commercial use of small drones, requiring operators to be certified, fly only during daylight and keep their aircraft in sight. The rules, though less restrictive than the current ones, appear to prohibit for now the kind of drone delivery services being explored by Amazon, Google and other companies, since the operator or assigned observers must be able to see the drone at all times without binoculars. But company officials believe the line-of-sight requirement could be relaxed in the future to accommodate delivery services.
Power

Nuclear Plant Taken Down In Anticipation of Snowstorm 311

Posted by samzenpus
from the too-much-to-shovel dept.
mdsolar writes Pilgrim Power Plant in Plymouth was taken offline in anticipation of the weekend snowstorm. According to a statement from Entergy, the owner of Pilgrim, the plant was taken off line in preparation of "a potential loss of offsite power or the grid's inability to accept the power Pilgrim generates." This is the second time this season the plant has been shut down due to storm conditions. On January 27 the facility was taken offline after the two main power transmission lines were knocked out by blizzard conditions. Although the transmission lines were restored within a few days, the plant remained offline until February 7 at which time it was reconnected to the grid.

The beer-cooled computer does not harm the ozone layer. -- John M. Ford, a.k.a. Dr. Mike

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