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Submission + - Job insecurity is the new normal (

Mr.Intel writes: Last year, Hewlett-Packard eliminated 34,000 jobs, and JC Penney and Sprint announced cuts, while JP Morgan Chase has cut 20,000 from its workforce since 2011. In double-earner families, at least one parent reports feeling "insecure" about their job, and in almost half of those both think their job is insecure.

This dynamic creates a constant tension for workers, who are beset by uncertainty. It has bred what Pugh calls the "one-way honor system," in which workers are beholden to employers, but employers are not, says Pugh, author of "The Tumbleweed Society: Working and Caring in an Age of Insecurity," out earlier this year.

Submission + - The First Airplane on Mars

braindrainbahrain writes: Undergoing research by NASA, the Preliminary Research Aerodynamic Design to Land on Mars, or Prandtl-M (not-so-coincidentally named after German aeronautical engineer Ludwig Prandtl) program is developing an airfoil with the ultimate goal of flying in the Martian atmosphere. The program has flown 12-ft. span models, the Prandtl-D1 and -D2, in Earth's atmosphere to prove that the flying wing design could overcome adverse yaw effects without including a tail. A larger 25 ft. model will be tested shortly and further tests call for prototypes to be balloon dropped at 85,000 feet and later at 115,000 feet to simulate Martian atmospheric density. If all goes well, it could be deployed from a cubesat container after hitching a ride to Mars with a rover in 2022.

Alternate, non-pay walled source:

Submission + - Jeb Bush Skeptical Of Reports That The H-1B Program Affects US Workers 1

theodp writes: ComputerWorld's Patrick Thibodeau reports that Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush does not exactly come across as supportive or sympathetic to displaced U.S. IT workers. Asked to respond to recent stories about companies using H-1B visas to displace American workers with foreign tech labor, Bush said, "I’ve actually seen it on Fox, three or four times, this subject. I’ve been curious to know what the full story is. ... Sometimes you see things in the news reports, you don’t get the full picture. Maybe that’s the case here." Perhaps Jeb has gotten too close to the reality distortion field of Mark Zuckerberg's PAC, whose backers include Zuck Pal Joe Green (who nixed the idea of giving jobs to "just sort of okay" U.S. workers), Lars Dalgaard (whose message to laid-off IT workers was "you don't deserve the job"), and CEO Hadi Partovi (who informed journalists that "H-1Bs in CS rarely displace [American tech workers]").

Submission + - Automakers to gearheads: Stop repairing cars (

Mr_Blank writes: Automakers are supporting provisions in copyright law that could prohibit home mechanics and car enthusiasts from repairing and modifying their own vehicles. In comments filed with a federal agency that will determine whether tinkering with a car constitutes a copyright violation, OEMs and their main lobbying organization say cars have become too complex and dangerous for consumers and third parties to handle. The dispute arises from a section of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that no one thought could apply to vehicles when it was signed into law in 1998. But now, in an era where cars are rolling computing platforms, the U.S. Copyright Office is examining whether provisions of the law that protect intellectual property should prohibit people from modifying and tuning their cars.

Submission + - LaTeX is Dead

Jace Harker writes: For decades, LaTeX was the tool of choice for writing scientific articles. But LaTeX's strength and weakness is its focus on the "page" as a unit of content. In today's web-centric world, is LaTeX still useful? Or will it be replaced by other, better writing systems?

Speaking a Second Language May Change How You See the World 274

sciencehabit writes: Where did the thief go? You might get a more accurate answer if you ask the question in German. How did she get away? Now you might want to switch to English. Speakers of the two languages put different emphasis on actions and their consequences, influencing the way they think about the world, according to a new study (abstract). The work also finds that bilinguals may get the best of both worldviews, as their thinking can be more flexible.

Submission + - The Church of TED writes: Megan Hustad writes in the NYT that while it’s not exactly fair to say that the TED conference series and web video function like an organized church, understanding the parallel structures is useful for conversations about faith, how susceptible we humans remain to the cadences of missionary zeal, and how the TED style with its promise of progress, is as manipulative as the orthodoxies it is intended to upset. According to Hustad, a great TED talk is reminiscent of a tent revival sermon, a gathering of the curious and the hungry. "A persistent human problem is introduced, one that, as the speaker gently explains, has deeper roots and wider implications than most listeners are prepared to admit," says Hustad. "Once everyone has been confronted with this evidence of entropy, contemplated life’s fragility and the elusiveness of inner peace, a decision is called for: Will you remain complacent, or change?" TED talks routinely present problems of huge scale and scope — we imprison too many people; the rain forest is dying; look at all this garbage; we’re unhappy; we have Big Data and aren’t sure what to do with it — then wrap up tidily and tinily. Do this. Stop doing that. Buy an app that will help you do this other thing. "I never imagined that the Baptists I knew in my youth would come to seem mellow, almost slackers by comparison," concludes Hustad. "Of course they promoted Jesus as a once-and-done, plug-and-play solver of problems — another questionable approach."

Submission + - What Do Old Techies Do After They Retire? writes: Peter T. Kilborn writes in the NYT about the generation of the baby boomer programmers, engineers, and technical people who are now leaving the bosses, bureaucracies, commutes and time clocks of their workaday careers to tackle something consuming and new, whether for material reward or none at all. “Retirement gives them the opportunity to flex their experience,” says Dr. William Winn speaking of a postchildhood, postfamily-rearing, “third age” of “productive aging” and “positive aging.” Nancy K. Schlossberg calls men and women who exploit the skills of their old jobs “continuers" and those who take up something new “adventurers.” Continuers and adventurers make up the vigorous end of Dr. Schlossberg’s retirement spectrum, opposite those she calls “retreaters” who disengage from life and “spectators” who just watch.

For example, 75-year-old Seth R. Goldstein, with four degrees in mechanical and electrical engineering from MIT and retired for thirteen years, still calls himself an engineer. But where he was previously a biomedical engineer with the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda with 12 patents, he now makes kinetic sculptures in his basement workshop that lack any commercial or functional utility. But his work, some of which is on display at the Visionary Arts Museum in Baltimore, has purpose. Goldstein is pushing the envelope of engineering and hoping to stir the imaginations of young engineers to push their own envelopes. For example "Why Knot?” a sculpture Goldstein constructed, uses 10 electric motors to drive 10 mechanisms to construct a four-in-hand knot on a necktie that it wraps around its own neck. Grasping, pulling, aligning and winding the lengths of the tie, Mr. Knot can detect the occasional misstep or tear, untie the knot and get it right. Unlike Rube Goldberg’s whimsical contraptions, Mr. Goldstein’s is no mere cartoon. It works, if only for Mr. Knot.

According to Kilborn, people like Goldstein don't fit the traditional definition of retirement, which according to Webster's Dictionary means the "withdrawal from one's position or occupation or from active working life. Retirement implies that you're just leaving something; it doesn't reflect that you're going to something," says Schlossberg. "But it is really a career change. You are leaving something that has been your primary involvement, and you are moving to something else."

Submission + - Should Billionaire-Backed Pay Its Interns?

theodp writes:'s Corporate and Founding Donors page reads like a Who's Who of the world's wealthiest corporations and individuals. But a job posting entitled Marketing / Communications Intern (Seattle only, part-time, unpaid, Sept-Dec) (screenshot) makes it clear that no portion of the tax-deductible donations will trickle down to the successful candidate, who will be required to put in an unpaid 10-20 hours/week "under pressure" in a "fast-paced environment" for four months "assisting marketing efforts for December’s global Hour of Code campaign, coordinating prize packages, managing partner commitments and events in databases and researching media prospects." So, does this count as one of the "high-paying jobs" provided by the computing revolution that supporters told California Governor Jerry Brown about last May in a letter touting the Hour of Code? Perhaps is just trying to be frugal — after all, it's requiring K-12 teachers from school districts in Chicago, New York City, Boston, and Seattle to report to the presumably rent-free offices of Corporate Donors Google, Microsoft, and Amazon to be re-educated on how Computer Science should be taught.

Submission + - U.S. can still beat China back to moon (

MarkWhittington writes: The Chang'e-3 mission that landed a rover called Yutu on the Bay of Rainbows on the lunar surface proves China's space exploration program has one thing that America's does not — a clear direction. Its piloted space program has featured missions of increasing complexity, with the latest being two visits to the Tiangong-1 space module, a predecessor of a planned Chinese space station.

In the meantime America's space exploration is fraught with confusion, controversy and a conspicuous lack of funding and direction. Ever since President Obama cancelled President George W. Bush's Constellation program that would have returned Americans to the moon, NASA has been headed for an asteroid in the near term. Which asteroid and how Americans will get there are still open questions.

After China's successful series of robotic landings on the moon, many space experts agree the Chinese will probably execute a moon walk sometime in the 2020s. If and when that happens and if Americans are not on the moon to greet them, China becomes the world's space exploration leader and all that implies.

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Submission + - 'Apple's devices are like beautiful crystal prisons'

zacharye writes: Apple makes use of a number of open source technologies in its software products, but operating systems like iOS and OS X are hardly considered “open.” Apple has tight control over nearly every aspect of its mobile and desktop operating systems, ensuring that its products come as close as possible to resembling Apple’s vision from the moment they reach consumers’ hands until they are eventually replaced. While no one can deny the fact that Apple’s strategy has been a recipe for success thus far, a number of pundits believe Apple needs to loosen its grip on iOS and OS X if it hopes to maintain this success moving forward. Now, digital freedom fighters at the Electronic Frontier Foundation have weighed in on the issue...

Submission + - Netflix CEO accuses Comcast of not practicing Net Neutrality (

braindrainbahrain writes: Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, has a facebook page in which he posts a short gripe about Comcast. Seems watching video through Xfinity is subsidized by Comcast by not counting towards your cap on your data plan. All other services, Netflix included, do.
T quote him:

"When I watch video on my Xbox from three of these four apps, it counts against my Comcast internet cap. When I watch through Comcast’s Xfinity app, however, it does not count against my Comcast internet cap


Submission + - Internet Provider Releases "Deleted" Files to Authorities (

KingofSpades writes: French daily "Le Parisien" reports that a French Internet Provider has provided copies of personal files to the police after they had been "deleted" by their author — who happens to be missing and is suspected of having murdered his wife and four children. It appears that his online diary was stored on the provider's ("Free") cloud... and recovered from backups. This brings interesting implications about the privacy of cloud data and of the meaning of the word "delete". It relates to the discussion on Slashdot after the recent article about what Facebook sends to the police after a subpoena.

Federal grants are offered for... research into the recreation potential of interplanetary space travel for the culturally disadvantaged.