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Submission Summary: 0 pending, 28 declined, 2 accepted (30 total, 6.67% accepted)

+ - What use is a Math Major? What do they do? 3

Submitted by argStyopa
argStyopa (232550) writes "I have a college sophomore who has declared himself a Math major; what does that really mean for his future? I'm hoping Slashdotters can explain what they do in Real Life. With the rise of 'big data', and the growing importance of encryption, it appears to be a good, long-term career path. Is Math (alone) that valuable, or is it actually Math in conjunction with other fields? Math + CompSci, Math + Physics, or Math + Statistics, etc.? What sort of an internship would a not-yet-completed Math major even seek?"

+ - So what do I really own? 5

Submitted by argStyopa
argStyopa (232550) writes "I had an ample collection of DVDs, CDs, etc that all were destroyed in an apartment fire. Now, as I understand, according to the MPAA/RIAA I didn't actually own that media (and was not entitled to make digital copies) but merely a permission 'license' to view/listen to it.
Now that the physical media is destroyed, does that mean I am legally within my rights to download a copy from some online source? It would seem a double-standard to assert that the 'physical media is meaningless'...unless its destroyed, at which point it means you lose your rights to what you purchased.
IANAL (and I know most of you aren't either) but I'm curious if anyone knows about established precedent in this circumstance?"

+ - Target also lost personal data, emails, names, addresses

Submitted by argStyopa
argStyopa (232550) writes "Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel just sent out a letter advising Target customers:

Late last week, as part of our ongoing investigation, we learned that additional information, including name, mailing address, phone number or email address, was also taken. I am writing to make you aware that your name, mailing address, phone number or email address may have been taken during the intrusion.

So not only are CC# and PINs 'in the wild' but personal data as well. As the letter goes on to note: "...Here are some tips that will help protect you: Never share information with anyone over the phone, email or text, even if they claim to be someone you know or do business with. Instead, ask for a call-back number...." "Anyone" apparently including Target. I wonder if this will encourage Mr. Steinhafel to have his cashiers stop asking for email addresses etc. at the point of sale as well?"

Privacy

+ - MN town bans domestic drones for 2 years->

Submitted by
argStyopa
argStyopa writes "Even small towns are beginning to resist government's creeping encroachment on its citizens: St. Bonifacius, a tiny 1-square-mile town of 2200 has taken the lead in MN, banning the use of drones for domestic information-gathering for 2 years, citing concerns to privacy and constitutional rights of US citizens. “We don’t want to exclude a lawful purpose (for use of drone technology), but we want to be aware when it happens.” Flying of a drone without a warrant will be considered a misdemeanor carrying a penalty of up to one year in jail and a fine not to exceed $5,000. (Charlotteville, Va., became the first city in the United States to pass anti-drone legislation on Jan. 28)"
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+ - Harry Harrison dies at 87-> 1

Submitted by argStyopa
argStyopa (232550) writes "Harry Harrison, famed Science Fiction author of such seminal genre series as the Deathworld Trilogy and the Stainless Steel Rat has passed away at the age of 87. He was also famed within the writing world for his friendliness and approachability, and was named a Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Harrison's entertaining, engaging, and action-packed writing introduced many of us to a lifetime of science fiction reading. He will be missed."
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Microsoft

+ - Valve's Gabe Newell slams Win8, "catastrophe"->

Submitted by argStyopa
argStyopa (232550) writes "Newell claims Win8 will force developers to migrate to Linux and argues that MS is intending to close the OS to outside vendors, much like the Xbox.. "I think that Windows 8 is kind of a catastrophe for everybody in the PC space." Of course, Newell's Steam profits primarily from selling games to PC owners, so the idea of MS turning Win 8 into a walled-garden directly threatens his revenue stream."
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Mars

+ - Dutch firm plans Mars Colony by 2023-> 2

Submitted by
argStyopa
argStyopa writes "Dutch firm Mars One plans for ongoing habitation on the Martian Surface by 2023, including additional crews arriving every 2 years thereafter. Intro video at http://www.youtube.com/embed/6QoEEGySGm4 is flashy, almost suggesting a pending TV show. The fact that one of their stated suppliers is SpaceX — who recently announced their Red Dragon module as a Mars-destined vehicle — might suggest that they're totally serious."
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Businesses

+ - Where to start with a game idea if you don't want to program it yourself?

Submitted by (arg!)Styopa
(arg!)Styopa (232550) writes "I have a mobile/flash game idea, but my own programming skills are of little relevance anymore. It seems like there are already tons of extremely talented indy game studios out there that might be interested in a well-developed game idea that's not just a re-hash of Farmville. Even if I was going to freshen my code-fu and do this myself, the publishing part is ground that seems to already have been well-trod; I'd rather devote my efforts to building the game than the distribution/marketing, etc.
I'm unsure how to proceed, or even where to start? How does one pitch an idea to a developer in a serious, thorough, and convincing way yet protect ideas and IP from being Zynga'd?"
Education

+ - Best Guides for a basic understanding of Practical Electricity?-> 2

Submitted by (arg!)Styopa
(arg!)Styopa (232550) writes "Watching the interesting video (at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2oSFpKh_Uw&feature=player_embedded#!) about using old ATX powersupplies for a lab-bench powersupply, I realized that for years I've had an interest in DIY electrical experiments, but never tried them mainly out of sheer ignorance of all things electrical. Sure, I know what amps and volts, but what's the difference between +5V and -5V? 2-phase vs 3? What's a resistor, and how does it put a 'load' on a current? Why is this important?
With all the DIY tinkerers on /., can anyone suggest good books or sites for a good "grounding" (sorry) in the sorts of electrical basics that might help prevent me getting killed experimenting?"

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+ - What rights do I have to media I "buy"? 2

Submitted by (arg!)Styopa
(arg!)Styopa (232550) writes "I bought a video decades ago, and subsequently that video was corrupted/wrecked (but the original tape/box is available to provide proof of ownership, if needed). I recently got the DVD of this movie from Netflix and found that it's a direct-from-video transfer, no improvement in quality nor any 'special features' compared to the VHS tape. IANAML(bihwb) (I am not a media lawyer because I have warm blood), so could I legally burn a copy of that DVD? As I see it, if I actually owned the thing I bought, I'd be out of luck — as if I owned a book and it was destroyed. But I believe that the MPAA/RIAA asserts that buying media only allows the purchaser a right to view it, and grants no actual ownership. In this case (burning the DVD) I'm merely getting 'back' what I'd purchased...or no?"

+ - The world ends tomorrow?->

Submitted by (arg!)Styopa
(arg!)Styopa (232550) writes "Patch 4.0.3a — the one that will radically and irreversibly change the face of Azeroth — is now expected to drop during the usual patch downtime 11/23. Massive changes to the game are already present in code since patch 4.0.1, this patch will simply activate many of them. What's in and what isn't: http://www.mmo-champion.com/content/2086-Patch-4.0.3a-on-live-realms-this-week
Note — many of the most-awaited features (new races, archaeology, guild levels, flying in the old world, and new zones) remain locked until the release of the Cataclysm expansion slated for 12/7/2010, but this will be the patch that is expected to actually implement the world-shattering Cataclysm."

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Privacy

+ - Passport RFID security

Submitted by Styopa
Styopa (232550) writes "So I've gotten the shiny new RFID passport issued by the US gov't. The government insists it's secure. Hypothesizing that perhaps the government might not be right in this case, is there any homebuilt method of shielding it? Would carrying it wrapped in a layer of alu-foil do anything except make me look like a paranoid at the airport (not that I mind, but I don't want to do that if it's not really going to improve security significantly)? Would the gauge of foil matter? My understanding is that the passport books already include this in their covers/spine, and examining the edge, it DOES seem that there are front/back cover plates laminated in there, but I don't see anything at the spine. I'd rather not have to go buy a Faraday-case of dubious efficacy from a commercial source. Thanks for any advice /. can offer."
Enlightenment

+ - Is more knowledge really a good thing?

Submitted by (arg!)Styopa
(arg!)Styopa (232550) writes "Seeing the recent Slashvertisment for twitter (How to supplement election coverage http://news.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/11/01/2141228), that got me thinking — are we past the point of value in terms of information flow?

Understand, this would be a serious paradigm shift. Personally, I've lived my whole life with the concept that 'more information is better' — with admittedly a patronizing opinion of people who didn't have the same view. "You mean you DON'T know about (insert world event)?!?" "What do you mean, you don't care about (desperate current issue)?!?" The idea that we may have reached a point where more information is a negative thing, that's simply anathema to one of my core beliefs.

I'm even having trouble writing this, conceptualizing a world where there is some sort of limit on the knowledge I want to have. Does anyone else feel this way?

Reading a newspaper every day — what does that get me? Checking web news reports multiple times a day, 24-hour news feeds from TV, all of that devoted to burying the public under more and more news coverage...for what purpose? Aside from a general understanding of the world around us which one could get from a weekly newspaper, or even a monthly magazine, is there really a benefit? I'm not saying that I prefer my news edited, digested, and mashed into consumer-ready pap — not at all. But I can get by sufficiently for my daily life without the bombardment — an occasional, general summary is probably enough.

I certainly believe that having the information AVAILABLE is a good thing. If I had family members in some crisis area of the world, or ran a company whose interests were directly affected by some obscure events, I'd like to be able to delve into the data in as much detail as possible. But the firehose for the general public? Not so much. In the same sense that we all get by with a general weather forecast for the day, we'd be uselessly overwhelmed if we got new full reports with temperature, wind, barometer, and weather every 10 seconds.

I grew up in a rural Minnesota farm town, where most of the people followed world events but didn't care too much about them. A war? Sure, some boys would go off and wouldn't come back, and that would be tragic. Without a war, probably a similar number of teens would die in equally-tragic drunk-driving accidents. A big crash on Wall Street? Meh, interest rates will tighten, crop prices will continue to go up or down. Politics? Ha, no matter who wins, taxes will go up.

I don't WANT my election coverage supplemented. Why would I? I'll vote how I vote, I don't particularly care how my neighbors vote, and the result is whatever it's going to be. Why watch with bated breath to see people make meaningless prognostications JUST so they can get my eyeballs to sell more advertising?

For that matter, it's not just an academic question. Would the housing crisis have been as bad if people only heard about it once per week instead of a constant tocsin of impending, inevitable doom?

As a kid, I used to look at the farmers and adult townspeople in my town as irredeemable hicks, that they didn't care about politics, world events, or much outside their locality. Now, especially when I see the vitriol and energy people are putting into a political contest which will really have only a trivial impact on how this country actually runs either way, I'm starting to wonder if perhaps those irredeemable hicks had a good idea: pay attention only to what you need to, and don't waste energy on stuff that you really can't change anyway."
Television

+ - DTV is coming...I'm not ready.

Submitted by (arg!)Styopa
(arg!)Styopa (232550) writes "As an 'early adopter', I have an HDTV-ready set WITHOUT an integrated tuner. Now the airwaves are full of voiced proclaiming the end of analog television next February. My suspicion is that the $40 set-top box at Walmart is the minimum functional to get by — ie. simply a digital-to-analog converter, and NOT an HDTV receiver.

Something like 2-3 years ago, I plunked down the money for a nice UHF superantenna (I'm about 40 mi from the towers, so not-quite-but-almost fringe reception) and searched for a HDTV converter to pull down HDTV OTA broadcasts. They were EXTREMELY hard to find — none at Radio Shack, Best Buy, Ciruit City, or Ultimate Electronics (all the local bigboxen).

I ended up buying a SIRT150 from ebay which never showed receiving a signal, despite confirmed reception (on the set's normal tuner) of both VHF and UHF channels.

So, now — any advice from the brilliant crowd at /. on what to look for in a set top box? Are they easier than they were to find, with the upcoming signal switch? Is it going to cost me an arm and a leg, or is it somewhere near the $40 Walmart special. Will Uncle Sam's $40 coupons count towards it?

I'd like very much to be able to find a physical store where I could go see the signal, before I decide if the HD signal is worth the upcharge, if any, over simple DTV.
Thanks!"
Real Time Strategy (Games)

+ - Paradox to offer Europa Engine....free ?->

Submitted by (arg!)Styopa
(arg!)Styopa (232550) writes "From their press release: "New York, USA (April 25, 2008) — Paradox Interactive today announced a unique agreement with leading PC download portal GamersGate to release its "Europa" engine to the gaming community worldwide. The "Europa" engine has been the basis of many award-winning games like the Hearts of Iron series and Europa Universalis II and has been the focus of significant financial investments over the years.

In an unprecedented deal, GamersGate will make room for these indie-developed products on the digital distribution platform and offer each team or individual the same financial deal given to established publishers on the platform.

"Through GamersGate, creative gamers worldwide will be given access to a development tool that will allow them to fulfill their game developer ambitions while getting access to a global distribution network without the costs and risks that are normally involved in game development and distribution, said CEO of Paradox Interactive Theodore Bergquist.

While Paradox Interactive plans to set a few minimum criteria, anyone interested will get a shot at using the technique to develop games and then sell them on GamersGate.

"This initiative is a way for us to give back to the gaming community by facilitating for game developers to turn their hobbies into lucrative projects, continued Mr Bergquist. "

The title of the press release is "Free engine for gamers released!" so presumably the code is available free, but commercial development of the products of the engine requires one to go through GG and probably some sort of license fee to Paradox if it sells."

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