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Classic Games (Games)

Unearthed E.T. Atari Game Cartridges Score $108K At Auction 62

MojoKid writes: Hundreds of Atari 2600 cartridges of E.T. The Extra Terrestrial that were excavated last year from a landfill in Alamogordo, New Mexico collectively raked in nearly $108,000 through eBay auctions. Some $65,000 of that will go to the city of Alamogordo, while the Tularosa Basin Historical Society will receive over $16,000. Over $26,600 went to shipping fees and other expenses. A team of excavators led by operational consultant Joe Lewandowski unearthed the E.T. cartridges in front of a film crew. The high profile (among gaming historians) dig was the basis a documentary called Atari: Game Over, which is available for free through the Microsoft Store.
Input Devices

Ask Slashdot: Why Is the Caps Lock Key Still So Prominent On Keyboards? 698

Esther Schindler writes: The developers at .io are into tracking things, I guess. In any case, a few weeks back they decided to track team performance in terms of keyboard and mouse activity during the working day. They installed a simple Chrome plugin on every Macbook and collected some statistics. For instance, developers have fewer keypresses than editors and managers—around 4k every day. Managers type more than 23k characters per day. And so on. Some pretty neat statistics.

But the piece that jumped out at me was this: "What's curious—the least popular keys are Capslock and Right Mouse Button. Somewhere around 0.1% of all keypresses together. It's time to make some changes to keyboards." I've been whining about this for years. Why is it that the least-used key on my keyboard is not just in a prominent position, but also bigger than most other keys? I can I invest in a real alternate keyboard with a different layout (my husband's a big fan of the Kinesis keyboards, initially to cope with carpal tunnel). But surely it's time to re-visit the standard key layout? What keys would you eliminate or re-arrange?

Interviews: Ask Dr. Temple Grandin About Animals and Autism 131

Being listed in the "Time 100" of the most influential people in the world in the "Heroes" category, is just one of the many awards received by Temple Grandin. Diagnosed with autism at the age of two, Temple overcame many obstacles and earned a doctoral degree in animal science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is a professor at Colorado State University. Dr, Grandin is recognized as an expert in animal behavior and one of the leading advocates for the rights of autistic persons. She lectures, and has written numerous books on animals and autism, and was the subject of the award-winning, biographical film, Temple Grandin . Dr. Grandin has agreed to take some time out of her schedule to answer any questions you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post.

A Bechdel Test For Programmers? 522

Nerval's Lobster writes In order for a movie or television show to pass the Bechdel Test (named after cartoonist and MacArthur genius Alison Bechdel), it must feature two female characters, have those two characters talk to one another, and have those characters talk to one another about something other than a man. A lot of movies and shows don't pass. How would programming culture fare if subjected to a similar test? One tech firm, 18F, decided to find out after seeing a tweet from Laurie Voss, CTO of npm, which explained the parameters of a modified Bechdel Test. According to Voss, a project that passes the test must feature at least one function written by a woman developer, that calls a function written by another woman developer. 'The conversation started with us quickly listing the projects that passed the Bechdel coding test, but then shifted after one of our devs then raised a good point,' read 18F's blog posting on the experiment. 'She said some of our projects had lots of female devs, but did not pass the test as defined.' For example, some custom languages don't have functions, which means a project built using those languages would fail even if written by women. Nonetheless, both startups and larger companies could find the modified Bechdel Test a useful tool for opening up a discussion about gender balance within engineering and development teams.

Living On a Carbon Budget: The End of Recreation As We Know It? 652

Lasrick writes Dawn Stover looks at unrealistic expectations and the distribution of limited energy resources: 'This is a question that should move from the fringes of the energy debate to its very heart. Economists and energy experts shy away from issues of equity and morality, but climate change and environmental justice are inseparable: It's impossible to talk intelligently about climate without discussing how to distribute limited energy resources. It's highly unlikely that the world can safely produce almost five times as much electricity by 2035 as it does now—which is what it would take to provide everyone with a circa-2010 American standard of living, according to a calculation by University of Colorado environmental studies professor Roger Pielke Jr. The sooner policy makers accept this reality, the sooner they can get to work on a global solution that meets everyone's needs. First, though, they need to understand the difference between needs and wants.' Not something most people even think about.

Study Claims Human Intelligence Peaked Two To Six Millennia Ago 637

eldavojohn writes "Professor Gerald "Jerry" Crabtree of Stanford's Crabtree Laboratory published a paper (PDF) that has appeared in two parts in Trends in Genetics. The paper opens with a very controversial suggestion: 'I would be willing to wager that if an average citizen from Athens of 1000 BC were to appear suddenly among us, he or she would be among the brightest and most intellectually alive of our colleagues and companions.' From there, Crabtree speculates we're on the decline of human intelligence and we have been for at least a couple millennia. His argument suggests agriculture and, following from that, cities, have allowed us to break free of some environmental forces on competitive genetic mutations — a la Mike Judge's theory. However, the conclusion of the paper urges humans to keep calm and carry on, as any attempt to fix this genetic trend would almost certainly be futile and disturbing."
The Military

Nukes Are "The Only Peacekeeping Weapons the World Has Ever Known," Says Waltz 707

An anonymous reader writes "Famed academic Kenneth Waltz for years has argued that more nukes around the world create peace. Why? Because the more nukes are around, the more people are afraid to start a war with a nuclear-armed state. Peace seems assured with a gun to the world's head. In a recent interview, he argues that Iran gaining nuclear weapons would be a good thing. He points out that 'President Obama and a number of others have advocated the abolition of nuclear weapons and many have accepted this as both a desirable and a realistic goal. Even entertaining the goal and contemplating the end seems rather strange. On one hand the world has known war since time immemorial, right through August 1945. Since then, there have been no wars among the major states of the world. War has been relegated to peripheral states (and, of course, wars within them). Nuclear weapons are the only peacekeeping weapons that the world has ever known. It would be strange for me to advocate for their abolition, as they have made wars all but impossible.'"

Solving Climate Change By Bioengineering Humans? 363

derekmead writes "Forget CFLs, hybrid cars, and organic jeans. Buying our way out of climate change — even if it's green consumption — won't get us far. A new paper (PDF), published in Ethics, Policy, and the Environment by NYU bioethics professor S. Matthew Liao, poses an answer: engineer humans to use less. The general plan laid out by Liao is straightforward, ranging from using pharmacological behavior modification to create an aversion to meat in people, to using gene therapy to create smaller, less resource-intensive children. The philosophical and ethical questions, on the other hand, are absurdly complicated. The Atlantic also has a great interview with Liao, in which he talks about gene therapy and making humans hate the taste of meat."

'Of Course We Are In a Post-PC World,' Says Ray Ozzie 399

An anonymous reader writes "Speaking at a tech conference in Seattle this week, former Microsoft Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie had some interesting things to say about the state of the computing industry. 'People argue about "are we in a post-PC world?" Why are we arguing? Of course we are in a post-PC world. That doesn't mean the PC dies, that just means that the scenarios that we use them in, we stop referring to them as PCs, we refer to them as other things.' Ozzie also thinks Microsoft's future as a company is strongly tied to Windows 8's reception. 'If Windows 8 shifts in a form that people really want to buy the product, the company will have a great future. ... It's a world of phones and pads and devices of all kinds, and our interests in general purpose computing — or desktop computing — starts to wane and people start doing the same things and more in other scenarios.'"

3D Hurts Your Eyes 244

sajjadG writes "After experimenting on 24 adults, a research team at the University of California, Berkeley has determined that viewing content on a stereo 3D display hurts your eyes and your brain. This can supposedly cause visual discomfort, fatigue, and headaches According to the article, 3D content viewed over a short distance (like with desktops and smartphones) is more visually uncomfortable when the stereo content is placed in front of the screen. In a movie theater, it's the opposite: Stereo content that is placed behind the screen causes more discomfort than scenes that jump out at you. With the explosion of 3D-capable gadgetry such as televisions and mobile phones, understanding just what this kind of technology is doing to our bodies may help us better use it in the future. The only problem is that technology tends to far outpace research, and until we get a better handle on its effects, we're more or less walking blindly into a 3D world."

Chain World — Innovative Game Design Sparks Debate 178

A story at Wired charts the course of Chain World, a video game designed by Jason Rohrer to be different from any game that came before it. Quoting: "It would exist on [a USB flash drive] and nowhere else. According to a set of rules defined by Rohrer, only one person on earth could play the game at a time. The player would modify the game’s environment as they moved through it. Then, after the player died in the game, they would pass the memory stick to the next person, who would play in the digital terrain altered by their predecessor—and on and on for years, decades, generations, epochs. In Rohrer’s mind, his game would share many qualities with religion—a holy ark, a set of commandments, a sense of secrecy and mortality and mystical anticipation. This was the idea, anyway, before things started to get weird."

How Apple's iOS Went From Insecure To Most Secure 312

GMGruman writes "There's no such thing as a perfectly secure operating system, but security experts agree — somewhat grudgingly in some cases — that iOS, Apple's mobile operating system, is the most secure commercial OS today, mobile or desktop. It didn't start that way of course, and Robert Lemos explains what Apple did to go from insecure to most secure."

New Book Reports Soviets Behind Roswell UFO Scare 135

jalefkowit writes "A new book by Los Angeles Times Magazine investigative reporter Annie Jacobsen, titled Area 51, reports that that the famous 1947 UFO sightings in Roswell, New Mexico, were actually an attempt by the Soviet Union to demonstrate that they could panic the American population if they wished. According to the book, the UFOs were actually aircraft derived from flying-wing technology, piloted by 'child-size aviators' surgically altered by captured Nazi doctors to appear more frightening. Skeptics note that this account is based on testimony provided to Jacobsen by a single unnamed source, who she describes as one of only five engineers given full access to the crash debris at the top-secret facility in Nevada known as Area 51."

Apple Proposes Smaller SIM Card Design 198

An anonymous reader writes with word that Apple, as reported by Reuters, has proposed a smaller SIM card standard. Says the Orange executive quoted, "We were quite happy to see last week that Apple has submitted a new requirement to (European telecoms standards body) ETSI for a smaller SIM form factor -- smaller than the one that goes in iPhone 4 and iPad." Hard to believe that any phone designed for the human hand could be much limited by the size of the current micro-SIMs, but this is one race to the bottom I'm pleased with.

The gent who wakes up and finds himself a success hasn't been asleep.