KDan writes to share an article he has written about what some of the key factors in recognizing a good programmer. "It's not as easy as it sounds. CV experience is only of limited use here, because great programmers don't always have the 'official' experience to demonstrate that they're great. In fact, a lot of that CV experience can be misleading. Yet there are a number of subtle cues that you can get, even from the CV, to figure out whether someone's a great programmer."
CNet is reporting that the door has closed on the H1-B visa application process for this year, one day after it began. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services said that it had received 150,000 applications as of yesterday afternoon. 65,000 H1-B visas can be issued for foreigners with bachelor's degrees. The USCIS will choose randomly from the applications to determine the winners.
AaxelB writes "A study described in the New York Times rethinks mammalian evolution. Specifically, that the mass extinction of the dinosaurs had relatively little impact on mammals and that the steps in mammals' evolution happened well before and long after the dinosaurs' death."
BayaWeaver writes "Michael Crichton, author of The Andromeda Strain and Jurassic Park has made a strong case against gene patents in an op-ed for the New York Times. Striking an emotional chord, he begins with 'You, or someone you love, may die because of a gene patent that should never have been granted in the first place. Sound far-fetched? Unfortunately, it's only too real.' From there, he moves on to use logic, statistics, and his way with words to make his point. Arguing against the high costs of gene therapies thanks to related patents, he eventually offers hope that one day legislation will de-incentivize the hoarding of scientific knowledge. As he points out: 'When SARS was spreading across the globe, medical researchers hesitated to study it — because of patent concerns. There is no clearer indication that gene patents block innovation, inhibit research and put us all at risk.'"
Carlos asks: "I recently returned to the U.S. after working overseas for the past 16 years. As I visit job sites and corporate sites, I'm finding two issues with applying online I hope Slashdot readers could comment on. I understand security and background checks are important to most employers. However, it seems to me that far too many online applications are asking for sensitive data, such as my social security number and driver's license number. How long is my data stored in their database? Who has access to such data? It seems that every month we hear about a company that has customer/client data stolen or mishandled. I feel that such data shouldn't be required during 'step one' (ie filling out the initial online account in the career section). I'll provide such data when I've been contacted by a staff for an interview. Do Slashdot readers simply bypass such employers, or do they just hand over their identity?"
bvc writes "Marucs Ranum notes that 'It's really hard to tell the difference between a program that works and one that just appears to work.' He explains that he just recently found a buffer overflow in Firewall Toolkit (FWTK), code that he wrote back in 1994. How do you go about making sure your code is secure? Especially if you have to write in a language like C or C++?"
scdeimos writes "The prototype of a new solar patrol telescope in New Mexico recorded a tsunami-like shock wave rolling across the visible face of the Sun following a major flare event on Wednesday, Dec. 6. The shock wave, known as a Moreton wave, also destroyed or compressed two filaments of cool gas at opposite sides of the solar hemisphere." From the article: "'These large scale 'blast' waves occur infrequently, however, are very powerful. They quickly propagate in a matter of minutes covering the whole Sun, sweeping away filamentary material,' said Dr. K. S. Balasubramaniam. 'It is unusual to see such powerful waves encompassing the whole sun from ground based observatories. Its significance comes from the fact that these waves are occurring near solar minimum, when intense activity is yet to pick up.'"
wikinerd writes "How can we get rid of the widely hated cubicle and its ugly cousin, the stressing open-plan office? Some business owners and managers cannot understand the advantages of teleworking, different office layouts, or the morale benefits of private offices with Aeron chairs. There are still people in high positions who seem to think that stuffing a bunch of engineers into a noisy landscaped office is the best way to organize a company. It is not, and we all know it, but can we prove it? How can we communicate to them the fact that living in a groundhog warren is bad not only for the engineers, but also for the organization?"
wingspan asks: "My 80-year old mother is insisting on using this new fangled thing called the Internet for banking and brokerage. I researched ways for her to perform those activities safely. The typical suggestions, from organizations such as BITS [pdf], include installing anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti-spam, anti-adware, browser toolbar, and a personal firewall. The suggestions also include not clicking on links, verifying security certificates (If it has a cert, it must be a good site!), making sure the address begins with 'https://' regularly updating the security software and patching all other software, and regularly changing passwords. Personally, I think the technical suggestions are too Windows-centric, too costly, and leave too much of an attack surface. The non-technical suggestions are simply too much to ask of the elderly. What do you think? Is it possible for an elderly person to safely perform Internet banking and brokerage? If so, what system should they have, how should it be configured and maintained, and how much of the security should depend with the elderly user?"
nuxx asks: "I have a copy of Windows Server 2003 R2 Enterprise x64 Edition here, with 25 Client Access Licenses which I don't need. I don't want to throw it away, but because it's a Not For Resale copy, I can't list it on eBay. So, I'd like to give it to a charity. It's a completely new, unused, legal copy which was handed to me by a Microsoft rep a few weeks ago, so this should be legal to do. The problem is, I'm not really sure how to donate software to a charity. Does anyone have any experience with this? Do you know of any resources available regarding how to send such donations and which organizations find them useful?"
Aglassis writes to tell us that recent proposed EU legislation could require anyone running a website featuring video content to acquire a broadcast license. From the article: "Personal websites would have to be licensed as a "television-like service". Once again the reasoning behind such legislation is said to be in order to set minimum standards on areas such as hate speech and the protection of children. In reality this directive would do nothing to protect children or prevent hate speech - unless you judge protecting children to be denying them access to anything that is not government regulated or you assume hate speech to be the criticism of government actions and policy."
An anonymous reader writes "A teen in Massachusetts has created a device that he hopes will help prevent traffic fatalities among teenagers. The unit plugs into a car and uses GPS to track and report on speeding — but only while the car exceeds a limit set by parents, so as to minimize invasion of the teen's privacy."
BrewerDude writes "Reuters is reporting that AOL Chief Technical Officer Maureen Govern has resigned from the company. Is this an appropriate penalty for releasing 20 million keyword search results, or is it too harsh, or not harsh enough? What do the slashdot readers think is the appropriate outcome of this fiasco?"
knuckles79 wonders: "The suggestion to drop Oracle support has divided the OpenACS community. OpenACS is a toolkit for building community websites. It was derived from Ars Digita's ACS code base which originally supported Oracle. When Ars Digita went bust after the tech crash, the ACS code was released as open source, and a community of developers continued to maintain and extend the code base. Up until now, OpenACS has supported both PostgreSQL and Oracle. However, the only active development within the project supports PostgreSQL. Now, those with an interest in Oracle support are threatening to divide the community, as they want the community to continue to support Oracle, even though they themselves aren't actively contributing financial or development support for their favoured database. They have essentially been given a 'free ride' all this time. Should OpenACS continue to support Oracle, or drop it in favour of a full open source stack?"
SubliminalVortex wonders: "Many times in the past, I have been asked on 'how long' it would take to implement a certain features/fixes in a product. What's interesting is that many times, certain 'fixes' is adjusting the wording/placement of the items in question; in other cases, users want the product to do everything they ever imagined, since it already started by following their line of thought. From there, the problem continues. From the user interface, people 'imagine' and think that 'oh, it would be easy if...' and scenarios occur, not only internally from the company using the product, but the clients themselves. Usually, several good ideas are there, but estimating times is a pain in the arse if you have a platform you're writing code for which has no documentation. How do coders estimate times to their bosses? If I know the answer outright, I'll give it, but in some cases, I don't how much time I'll take from other developers *because of the lack of documentation*. I'm going to have to bring in my D&D dice next week just to start."