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+ - Is Pascal an Underrated Programming Language? 6

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "In the recent Slashdot discussion on the D programming language, I was surprised to see criticisms of Pascal that were based on old information and outdated implementations. While I’m sure that, for example, Brian Kernighan’s criticisms of Pascal were valid in 1981, things have moved on since then. Current Object Pascal largely addresses Kernighan’s critique and also includes language features such as anonymous methods, reflection and attributes, class helpers, generics and more (see also Marco Cantu’s recent Object Pascal presentation). Cross-platform development is fairly straightforward with Pascal. Delphi targets Windows, OS X, iOS and Android. Free Pascal targets many operating systems and architectures and Lazarus provides a Delphi-like IDE for Free Pascal. So what do you think? Is Pascal underrated?"

+ - U.S. Gas Stations Vulnerable To Internet Attacks->

Submitted by itwbennett
itwbennett (1594911) writes "Automated tank gauges (ATGs), which are used by gas stations in the U.S. to monitor their fuel tank levels can be manipulated over the Internet by malicious attackers, according to security firm Rapid7. 'An attacker with access to the serial port interface of an ATG may be able to shut down the station by spoofing the reported fuel level, generating false alarms, and locking the monitoring service out of the system,' said HD Moore, the chief research officer at Rapid7."
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+ - 'I paid $25 for an Invisible Boyfriend and I Think I Might Be in Love'

Submitted by (3830033) writes "Caitlin Dewey writes in the Washington Post that she's been using a new service called "Invisible Boyfriend" and that she's fallen in love with it. When you sign up for the service, you design a boyfriend (or girlfriend) to your specifications. "You pick his name, his age, his interests and personality traits. You tell the app if you prefer blonds or brunettes, tall guys or short, guys who like theater or guys who watch sports. Then you swipe your credit card — $25 per month, cha-ching! — and the imaginary man of your dreams starts texting you." Invisible boyfriend is actually boyfriends, plural: The service’s texting operation is powered by CrowdSource, a St. Louis-based tech company that manages 200,000 remote, microtask-focused workers. "When I send a text to the Ryan number saved in my phone, the message routes through Invisible Boyfriend, where it’s anonymized and assigned to some Amazon Turk or Fivrr freelancer. He (or she) gets a couple of cents to respond. He never sees my name or number, and he can’t really have anything like an actual conversation with me." Dewey says that the point of Invisible Boyfriend is to deceive the user’s meddling friends and relatives. "I was newly divorced and got tired of everyone asking if I was dating or seeing someone," says co-founder Matthew Homann. "There seems to be this romance culture in our country where people are looked down upon if they aren't in a relationship."

Evidence suggests that people can be conned into loving just about anything. There is no shortage of stories about couples carrying on “relationships” exclusively via Second Life , the game critic Kate Gray recently published an ode to “Dorian,” a character she fell in love with in a video game, and one anthropologist argues that our relationships are increasingly so mediated by tech that they’ve become indistinguishable from Tamagotchis. “The Internet is a disinhibiting medium, where people’s emotional guard is down,” says Mark Griffiths. “It’s the same phenomenon as the stranger on the train, where you find yourself telling your life story to someone you don’t know.” It’s not exactly the stuff of fairytales, concludes Dewey. "But given enough time and texts — a full 100 are included in my monthly package — I’m pretty sure I could fall for him. I mean, er them.""

+ - Should Disney Require its Employees to Be Vaccinated? 1

Submitted by (3830033) writes "According to Joanna Rothkopf Disneyland is already a huge petri dish of disease with tired children wiping their snot faces on Goofy and then riding log flumes through mechanized rivers filled with the backwash of thousands of other sweaty, unwashed, weeping toddlers. Now John Tozzi reports at Businessweek that five workers at Disneyland have been diagnosed with measles in an outbreak that California officials trace to visitors at the theme park in mid-December. The measles outbreak is a publicity nightmare for Disney and the company is urging its 27,000 workers at the park to verify that they're inoculated against the virus, and the company is offering tests and shots on site for workers who are unvaccinated. One thing Disney won't do, however, is require workers to get routine vaccinations as a condition of employment. Almost no companies outside the health-care industry do. "To make things mandatory just raises a lot of legal concerns and legal issues," says Rob Niccolini. Disney has been working with public health officials, and Disney has already put some employees on paid leave until medically cleared. "They recognized that they were just a meeting place for measles," says Gilberto Chávez. "And they are quite concerned about doing what they can to help control the outbreak.""

Comment: Re:It's about time. (Score 1) 134

by dpilot (#48876055) Attached to: Simon Pegg On Board To Co-Write Next Star Trek Film

Hmmmm.... I wonder how far The Culture is from Roddenberry's ideals? In some ways, The Culture seems to me to be a far more realistic post-Singularity type of civilization than the Federation. The trappings are far more fantastic, (GSVs, anyone?) but TOS tended to underestimate many things. As one example, the communicators were basically phones, and other than communicating with an orbiting starship instead of a local tower, they only do a fraction of what today's smartphones do.

Plus even The Culture gets to have explosions. I'm currently re-reading "Surface States". The first time I read it, I particularly liked one Ship giving a fairly complex blow-by-blow account of a space battle that was only something like 15 microseconds long.

Comment: Re:Ten years behind but catching up! (Score 1) 348

by dpilot (#48856699) Attached to: Regular Exercise Not Enough To Make Up For Sitting All Day

However in Europe you've been warned. In the US we walked (or sat?) way too far down this path before discovering how bad it is. Now that we all know better, you can change your path before getting where we are.

OTOH, my wife are generally stupified looking at twenty-somethings smoking. Our parents didn't know better, and in fact during WWII the Army included cigarettes with meal rations. During our generation (I'm a later Boomer.) we sort-of knew better, but the cigarette companies didn't actually admit they were lying until well into my adulthood. For this generation there's no doubt about how bad cigarettes are, but if anything smoking seems to be on the rise.

I wonder if Hari Seldon would have said that masses of people are stupid, as well as predictable.

Comment: Re:GeekDesk! (Score 1) 348

by dpilot (#48856571) Attached to: Regular Exercise Not Enough To Make Up For Sitting All Day

I wonder how much a standing desk would really help. Absent the standing desk, I would suspect that normally standing implies some other measure of activity besides just not-sitting. I would suspect just-standing as you would at a standing desk is better than sitting, if only because of micro-movements involved in remaing standing. But I'm guessing that simply moving to standing desks won't fully erase the bad effects of too much sitting, it'll lessen them to the bad effects of too much just-standing.

Movement is a spectrum, the question here is where is just-standing on that spectrum between sitting and the known-good brisk walk. Also, how do you fit onto that spectrum the known-good and known-bad thresholds?

+ - Climate Change, the Fermi Paradox, and the Fate Of Our Planet

Submitted by (3830033) writes "Astrophysicist Adam Frank has an interesting article in the NYT postulating one answer to the Fermi paradox — that human evolution into a globe-spanning industrial culture is forcing us through the narrow bottleneck of a sustainability crisis and that climate change is fate and nothing we do today matters because civilization inevitably leads to catastrophic planetary changes. According to Frank, our current sustainability crisis may be neither politically contingent nor unique, but a natural consequence of laws governing how planets and life of any kind, anywhere, must interact. Some excerpts:

The defining feature of a technological civilization is the capacity to intensively “harvest” energy. But the basic physics of energy, heat and work known as thermodynamics tell us that waste, or what we physicists call entropy, must be generated and dumped back into the environment in the process. Human civilization currently harvests around 100 billion megawatt hours of energy each year and dumps 36 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the planetary system, which is why the atmosphere is holding more heat and the oceans are acidifying.

All forms of intensive energy-harvesting will have feedbacks, even if some are more powerful than others. A study by scientists at the Max Planck Institute in Jena, Germany, found that extracting energy from wind power on a huge scale can cause its own global climate consequences. When it comes to building world-girdling civilizations, there are no planetary free lunches.

By studying these nearby planets, we’ve discovered general rules for both climate and climate change (PDF). These rules, based in physics and chemistry, must apply to any species, anywhere, taking up energy-harvesting and civilization-building in a big way. For example, any species climbing up the technological ladder by harvesting energy through combustion must alter the chemical makeup of its atmosphere to some degree. Combustion always produces chemical byproducts, and those byproducts can’t just disappear.

As we describe in a recent paper, using what’s already known about planets and life, it is now possible to create a broad program for modeling co-evolving “trajectories” for technological species and their planets. Depending on initial conditions and choices made by the species (such as the mode of energy harvesting), some trajectories will lead to an unrecoverable sustainability crisis and eventual population collapse. Others, however, may lead to long-lived, sustainable civilizations.


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

Submitted by hypnosec
hypnosec (2231454) 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."
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Comment: Or Slackware, Gentoo, or Devuan (Score 5, Informative) 402

by dpilot (#48822385) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Migrating a Router From Linux To *BSD?

The three distros in the Subject line do not use systemd, though Gentoo does offer it. They may well be the dig-in-the-heels distros that will stay that way, driven by people like you. Moving to one of those distros is a smaller/easier move for you, and doesn't preclude moving to a BSD in the future.

Years back I thought about moving my server to OpenBSD, based on reputation. However after some thinking I realized that potentially the safest server is the one you know best how to administer. I was probably better off knowing how to administer Linux well across my home cluster than to divide my efforts. I know OpenBSD is supposed to be "secure by default", but don't know how I might accidentally mess that up by mis-applying Linux knowledge to it.

Comment: Re:Yeah, I remember when VMWare first came out... (Score 2) 180

by dpilot (#48811345) Attached to: The Legacy of CPU Features Since 1980s

I remember when the 8086 came out, Intel also brought out the 8087 FPU and the 8089 I/O Processor. The former got bundled into the CPU a few generations later. I don't rememeber details of the 8089, but it seems to have withered away. Nor does Wikipedia say much about it, once you differentiate it from the Hoth Wampa Cave Lego set.

+ - Michael Mann: Swifboating comes to science-> 1

Submitted by Lasrick
Lasrick (2629253) writes "Michael Mann writes about the ad hominem attacks on scientists, especially climate scientists, that have become much more frequent over the last few decades. Mann should know: his work as a postdoc on the famed "hockey stick" graph led him to be vilified by Fox News and in the Wall Street Journal. Wealthy interests such as the Scaife Foundation and Koch Industries pressured Penn State University to fire him (they didn't). Right-wing elected officials attempted to have Mann's personal records and emails (and those of other climate scientists) subpoenaed and tried to have the "hockey stick" discredited in the media, despite the fact that the National Academy of Sciences reaffirmed the work, and that subsequent reports of the IPCC and the most recent peerreviewed research corroborates it. Even worse, Mann and his family were targets of death threats. Despite (or perhaps because of) the well-funded and ubiquitous attacks, Mann believes that flat-out climate change denialism is losing favor with the public, and he lays out how and why scientists should engage and not retreat to their labs to conduct research far from the public eye. 'We scientists must hold ourselves to a higher standard than the deniers-for-hire. We must be honest as we convey the threat posed by climate change to the public. But we must also be effective. The stakes are simply too great for us to fail to communicate the risks of inaction. The good news is that scientists have truth on their side, and truth will ultimately win out.'"
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Mausoleum: The final and funniest folly of the rich. -- Ambrose Bierce