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Submission + - 7 Timeless Lessons Of Programming 'Graybeards'

snydeq writes: The software industry venerates the young — sometimes to its own detriment. There are just some things you can experiences come only after many lost weeks of frustration borne of weird and inexplicable bugs. InfoWorld's Peter Wayner offers up several hard-earned lessons of seasoned programmers that are often overlooked when chasing after the latest, trendiest architectures, frameworks, and stacks. 'In the spirit of sharing or to simply wag a wise finger at the young folks once again, here are several lessons that can't be learned by jumping on the latest hype train for a few weeks. They are known only to geezers who need two hexadecimal digits to write their age.' What are yours?

Submission + - ask slashdot: How can we improve the judicial system with technology? 1

An anonymous reader writes: Technology has improved so many things in our lives. I have found myself wondering if it is not time for us to consider improvements to our judicial system. One of the cornerstones of any democracy is its judicial system. Fortunatelly, most of us never have to deal with it. On the other hand, the fact that we so seldom interact with it also means that most of us are not constantly thinking about it. It is possible our judicial system would be much better if most of us had to spend more time thinking about it.

I myself had not put much thought into it until I watched a documentary about Aaron Swartz. It is frightening to think that someone could have been left in a position like that. I also hear about so many cases were people end up pleaing guilty because they do not have enough money to fight a case in court. Is this really the best we can do? The Marshal Project is also an interesting source of information regarding the shortfalls of our current system.

What does the slashot crowd think about it? How can we improve our judicial system? Is there any interesting way that techonology could be used to improve the system?

Submission + - What Africa really needs to fight Ebola (

Lasrick writes: Laura Kahn, a physician on the research staff of Princeton University's Program on Science and Global Security, writes that the high tech solutions being promoted to help fight Ebola in Africa will make no difference. What Africa really needs is anti-corruption efforts, now. 'A case in point is Liberia, which has received billions of dollars in international aid for over a decade, with little to show for it. The country ranks near the bottom of the United Nation’s Human Development Index and near the bottom of Transparency International’s Global Corruption Barometer. And while international aid groups and non-governmental organizations such as Doctors Without Borders and the International Medical Corps provide important humanitarian assistance and medical care, they also inadvertently absolve African political leaders from developing medical and public health infrastructures.'

Submission + - The Anthropocene Epoch began with 1945 atomic bomb test, scientists say (

hypnosec writes: Human behaviour has had a great impact on the Earth and owing to the advancements and human activities since mid-19th century, Scientists have proposed July 16, 1945 as the beginning of the Anthropocene Epoch. According to scientists, ‘the Great Acceleration’ – the period when human activities started having a significant and enormous impact on Earth – can be dubbed as the beginning of the new epoch. Since the ‘Great Acceleration’ there has been a significant increase in population, environmental upheaval on land and oceans and global connectivity. Dr Jan Zalasiewicz and Professor Mark Williams of the Department of Geology, University of Leicester say that human activities are changing the geology “creating new and distinctive strata that will persist far into the future.” The Anthropocene was first proposed by the Nobel Prize-winning atmospheric chemist Paul Crutzen just 15 years ago and it means the epoch dominated by influence of humans and their activities or the human epoch in short.

Submission + - Laws for thee but not for me.... ( 1

An anonymous reader writes: In a ruling handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court, the nation’s top court found that a police officer who mistakenly interprets a law and pulls someone over hasn’t violated their Fourth Amendment rights.

If a police officer reasonably believes something is against the law, they are justified in initiating a traffic stop, says the U.S. Supreme Court. The problem? According to North Carolina traffic law, only one tail light needs to be functional. That means the initial stop, justified on these grounds, would have been illegal — and so would the seizure of the cocaine found in Heien’s car

“The result is a system in which “ignorance of the law is no excuse” for citizens facing conviction, but police can use their own ignorance about the law to their advantage,” notes the legal brief on the case by a coalition of civil rights organizations, including American Civil Liberties Union and Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank.

Although this was a traffic stop, imagine this applied to computer search & seizure. Suddenly, you could be facing "reasonable belief" that you committed a crime.

I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that this will enable a Police State.

Submission + - Researchers Find The Tech Worker Shortage Doesn't Really Exist (

Beeftopia writes: From the article: "For a real-life example of an actual worker shortage, Salzman points to the case of petroleum engineers, where the supply of workers has failed to keep up with the growth in oil exploration. The result, says Salzman, was just what economists would have predicted: Employers started offering more money, more people started becoming petroleum engineers, and the shortage was solved. In contrast, Salzman concluded in a paper released last year by the liberal Economic Policy Institute, real IT wages are about the same as they were in 1999. Further, he and his co-authors found, only half of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) college graduates each year get hired into STEM jobs. “We don’t dispute the fact at all that Facebook (FB) and Microsoft (MSFT) would like to have more, cheaper workers,” says Salzman’s co-author Daniel Kuehn, now a research associate at the Urban Institute. “But that doesn’t constitute a shortage.”

Submission + - "Advanced Life Support" Ambulances May Lead To More Deaths writes: Jason Kane reports at PBS that emergency treatments delivered in ambulances that offer “Advanced Life Support” for cardiac arrest may be linked to more death, comas and brain damage than those providing “Basic Life Support.” "They’re taking a lot of time in the field to perform interventions that don’t seem to be as effective in that environment,” says Prachi Sanghavi. “Of course, these are treatments we know are good in the emergency room, but they’ve been pushed into the field without really being tested and the field is a much different environment.” The study suggests that high-tech equipment and sophisticated treatment techniques may distract from what’s most important during cardiac arrest — transporting a critically ill patient to the hospital quickly.

Basic Life Support (BLS) ambulances stick to simpler techniques, like chest compressions, basic defibrillation and hand-pumped ventilation bags to assist with breathing with more emphasis placed on getting the patient to the hospital as soon as possible. Survival rates for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest patients are extremely low regardless of the ambulance type with roughly 90 percent of the 380,000 patients who experience cardiac arrest outside of a hospital each year not surviving to hospital discharge. But researchers found that 90 days after hospitalization, patients treated in BLS ambulances were 50 percent more likely to survive than their counterparts treated with ALS. Not everyone is convinced of the conclusions. “They’ve done as much as they possibly can with the existing data but I’m not sure that I’m convinced they have solved all of the selection biases,” says Judith R. Lave. “I would say that it should be taken as more of an indication that there may be some very significant problems here.”

Submission + - Finding an ISIS Training Camp Using Google Earth (

An anonymous reader writes: Terrorist organization ISIS has been in the news a lot lately for their hostile activities in Iraq and Syria. They've also been very active online posting propaganda on various social networking sites to try to recruit more members. Frequently, they'll have pictures of themselves in nondescript locations — but even carefully selected images give clues to their real location. Citizen journalists at Bellingcat analyzed a group of these photos, comparing buildings and bridges in the background to images from Google Earth. With very little to go on, they were able to pinpoint the location of a terrorist training camp.

Submission + - Slashdot Beta Woes 16

s.petry 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.

Submission + - Once Slashdot beta has been foisted upon me, what site should I use instead? 2

somenickname writes: As a long time Slashdot reader, I'm wondering what website to transition to once the beta goes live. The new beta interface seems very well suited to tablets/phones but, it ignores the fact that the user base is, as one would expect, nerds sitting in front of very large LCD monitors and wasting their employers time. It's entirely possible that the browser ID information gathered by the site has indicated that they get far more hits on mobile devices where the new interface is reasonable but, I feel that no one has analyzed the browser ID (and screen resolution) against comments modded +5. I think you will find that most +5 comments are coming from devices (real fucking computers) that the new interface does not support well. Without an interface that invites the kind of users that post +5 comments, Slashdot is just a ho-hum news aggregation site that allows comments. So, my question is, once the beta is the default, where should Slashdot users go to?

Submission + - Gone are the days when somebody could learn to be a sys admin at home! 3

An anonymous reader writes: After looking at many job boards it seems that most of the jobs require knowledge of "professional" VMs and cloud based services. The man/woman sitting at home does not usually "play" with VMs like how a real company would use VMs. The man/woman sitting at home usually does not have access to cloud services and would usually have to pay a considerable sum to "get cloud services" to learn about them. No more sys admin at home! In the "old" days you could learn about SCSI and IDE and networking and learn to program in say Perl or PHP — these would get you in the door at many companies. Not anymore!

Is this just my opinion? What does /. think?

Submission + - ask - what do you think caused the NSA to start collecting so much data? ( 13

raymorris writes: Many people believe that the NSA collects far too much data, violating the privacy rights of the very citizens the NSA is supposed to protect. How did we get here? What specific structural or cultural changes can be identified that led some to believe it is okay to engage in this sort of broad dragnet surveillance as opposed to getting specific court orders for specific suspects?

Many people simply assign the blame to the opposite political party, which doesn't get very far in solving the problem and ensuring it doesn't happen again. Can we look at specific, identifiable factors and show exactly how they directly caused the intelligence community to get off track? For example, precisely which sections of which laws are being used to justify these programs, and what caused those laws to be passed? Is the surveillance directly authorized by law, or do the justifications require "creative" interpretation of the law?

In order to avoid getting into yet another fruitless political flame war and keep the discussion factually focused, please provide citations where possible.

Submission + - Why Scott Adams Wished Death on His Dad

theodp writes: "I hope my father dies soon," Dilbert creator Scott Adams wrote Saturday in a frustrated, angry, and poignant blog post. "My father, age 86, is on the final approach to the long dirt nap (to use his own phrase). His mind is 98% gone, and all he has left is hours or possibly months of hideous unpleasantness in a hospital bed. I'll spare you the details, but it's as close to a living Hell as you can get. If my dad were a cat, we would have put him to sleep long ago. And not once would we have looked back and thought too soon. Because it's not too soon. It's far too late. His smallish estate pays about $8,000 per month to keep him in this state of perpetual suffering. Rarely has money been so poorly spent. I'd like to proactively end his suffering and let him go out with some dignity. But my government says I can't make that decision. Neither can his doctors. So, for all practical purposes, the government is torturing my father until he dies." Adams also had harsh words for those who would oppose assisted suicide, "I don't want anyone to misconstrue this post as satire or exaggeration. So I'll reiterate. If you have acted, or plan to act, in a way that keeps doctor-assisted suicide illegal, I see you as an accomplice in torturing my father, and perhaps me as well someday. I want you to die a painful death, and soon. And I'd be happy to tell you the same thing to your face." His father passed a few hours after Adams wrote his screed. Challenged later by the SF Chronicle's Debra J. Saunders, an opponent of assisted suicide, Adams stood firm on his earlier words. So, can Adams succeed in convincing the U.S. where Dr. Jack failed?

Submission + - Canadian cellphone provider Rodgers goes dark for hours

An anonymous reader writes: Rodgers wireless one of Canada's largest cellphone providers had a nationwide voice service outage lasting several hours today. The service has been restored but the cause is still being investigated. This story from, raises questions over whether a single company should control such a large share of the market, especially in the U.S. where this could cause unimaginable consequences.

Submission + - Do the NSA and others really NEED to do what they have been doing?

Cow007 writes: Here's the question nobody seems to be talking about in earnest: do they really NEED to do this. All of the powers been developed for gathering information are they able to accomplish their stated goal without it. isn't it really a matter of analyzing intelligence they have that is the issue? I tend to lean in some ways towards a yes answer for that question. However intelligence analysis is not something to be under estimated. When looking back over the events of 9/11 it became clear that the government had the information necessary to be able to prevent the attack or know about it in advance.

Does the cost-benefit ratio of this surveillance to infringement on freedom truly pan out when were talking about terrorism? The founding fathers would probably say no, however in situations where there's a possibility of terrorists acquiring acquiring CBRN weapons this is a difficult question.

In calculating this cost-benefit ratio one would have to take into account the possibility of this actually happening. However the most concerning situation would one where terrorists used biological weapons. Such attacks would be much more cost-effective than building a crude nuclear device or using chemical weapons since it's fissile materials are hard to come by and prohibitively expensive as are radiological materials suitable for building a dirty bomb. It is also notable that chemical weapons are difficult to disperse effectively and require a larger amount of material. By far the smallest amount material needed for an attack would be biological in nature.

If someone were to distribute a lethal, transmittable and weaponized virus we would be talking about fucking Moonraker level damage to human life.

I don't know if you remember but it was talked about in the media that the NSA was going to do "a mop up operation" after 9/11. The goal of this procedure was to go back through their databases and whatever stored information they had in the files to extract information such as phone calls regarding this event. They were in fact able to extract phone calls probably talking about the operation on 9/11. For example a phone call using code words such as the wedding is a go etc. I developed the opinion that it would have been possible for the intelligence community, properly coordinated could have analyzed the intelligence they already and been able to prevent the attacks or at least have some information about them being a possibility.

A big problem with having more intelligence means that you have more intelligence to sort through. This is reflected by the NSA's efforts to be able to analyze large amounts of information. Nevertheless this is a trade-off.

What do you think? Did the NSA and other government agencies really need all the tools that they been developing to be a will to adequately execute their mission?

In regards to encryption it is definitely a system of very low cost method to be a will to make it very difficult for others to be able to decipher information. Should the NSA undermine encryption standards be provided with keys for them or two at the old-fashioned way- hard way?

I have been thinking for a long time that for the NSA to properly do their job they would have to be able to decrypt communications. So much so in fact that the NSA would seem like a nearly irrelevant body without this capability. I think that they must be using quantum computers or heavily developing them to be able to do this. Evidence of seems to suggest that they have not fully achieved this capability as of yet as evidenced by the continued need to undermine encryption standards or circumvent them.

The problem with using quantum computers to pick up messages within data that is theoretically impossible to distinguish from random data and streams of random data due to encryption circuits that are continuously loaded.

I joke that if one is using quantum computers to find messages in data that may contain random data or actual encryption then decrypt they will always find exactly the messages they are looking for :P

Take your work seriously but never take yourself seriously; and do not take what happens either to yourself or your work seriously. -- Booth Tarkington