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+ - Extreme secrecy eroding support for Obama's trade pact->

Submitted by schwit1
schwit1 writes: Classified briefings and bill-readings in basement rooms are making members queasy.

f you want to hear the details of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal the Obama administration is hoping to pass, you've got to be a member of Congress, and you've got to go to classified briefings and leave your staff and cellphone at the door.

If you're a member who wants to read the text, you've got to go to a room in the basement of the Capitol Visitor Center and be handed it one section at a time, watched over as you read, and forced to hand over any notes you make before leaving.

And no matter what, you can't discuss the details of what you've read.

"It's like being in kindergarten," said Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), who's become the leader of the opposition to President Barack Obama's trade agenda. "You give back the toys at the end."

For those out to sink Obama's free trade push, highlighting the lack of public information is becoming central to their opposition strategy: The White House isn't even telling Congress what it's asking for, they say, or what it's already promised foreign governments.

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+ - The Programming Talent Myth

Submitted by HughPickens.com
HughPickens.com writes: Jake Edge writes at LWN.net that there is a myth that programming skill is somehow distributed on a U-shaped curve and that people either "suck at programming" or that they "rock at programming", without leaving any room for those in between. Everyone is either an amazing programmer or "a worthless use of a seat" which doesn't make much sense. If you could measure programming ability somehow, its curve would look like the normal distribution. According to Edge this belief that programming ability fits into a bi-modal distribution is both "dangerous and a myth". "This myth sets up a world where you can only program if you are a rock star or a ninja. It is actively harmful in that is keeping people from learning programming, driving people out of programming, and it is preventing most of the growth and the improvement we'd like to see." If the only options are to be amazing or terrible, it leads people to believe they must be passionate about their career, that they must think about programming every waking moment of their life. If they take their eye off the ball even for a minute, they will slide right from amazing to terrible again leading people to be working crazy hours at work, to be constantly studying programming topics on their own time, and so on.

The truth is that programming isn't a passion or a talent, says Edge, it is just a bunch of skills that can be learned. Programming isn't even one thing, though people talk about it as if it were; it requires all sorts of skills and coding is just a small part of that. Things like design, communication, writing, and debugging are needed. If we embrace this idea that "it's cool to be okay at these skills"—that being average is fine—it will make programming less intimidating for newcomers. If the bar for success is set "at okay, rather than exceptional", the bar seems a lot easier to clear for those new to the community. According to Edge the tech industry is rife with sexism, racism, homophobia, and discrimination and although it is a multi-faceted problem, the talent myth is part of the problem. "In our industry, we recast the talent myth as "the myth of the brilliant asshole", says Jacob Kaplan-Moss. "This is the "10x programmer" who is so good at his job that people have to work with him even though his behavior is toxic. In reality, given the normal distribution, it's likely that these people aren't actually exceptional, but even if you grant that they are, how many developers does a 10x programmer have to drive away before it is a wash?"

+ - Fetch Robotics Unveils Warehouse Robots->

Submitted by gthuang88
gthuang88 writes: Warehouse automation has become a big business, with Amazon’s Kiva robots leading the way. Now a startup called Fetch Robotics is rolling out a pair of new robots that can pick boxes off of shelves, pass them to each other, and carry the goods to a shipping station. Fetch, led by Willow Garage veteran Melonee Wise, is competing with companies like Amazon’s Kiva Systems, Rethink Robotics, and Harvest Automation to develop dexterous, mobile robots for retail, distribution, and manufacturing.
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+ - Could Nepal earth quake be twice as big?->

Submitted by Taco Cowboy
Taco Cowboy writes: On April 25, Nepal was hit with the biggest earthquake in 80 years—but just how big was it?

Amidst the destruction, there was a spat on the issue between the US and China. The US Geological Survey (USGS), which monitors earthquakes worldwide, reported that the Nepal earthquake measured at a magnitude of 7.8. However, the China Earthquakes Network Center (CENC), which hopes to provide a similar service, measured the same earthquake at a magnitude of 8.1

While a difference of 0.3 in the magnitude of the seismic activity may not seem like much, the apparently small differences in magnitudes of earthquakes reported by different agencies around the world are, in real-life, huge. Because if we are to believe the Chinese data, the Nepal earthquake may have been twice in size than if we believe the US data

So who is correct?

There isn’t an independent body that can verify which of the two data points we should believe. Also, the discrepancy may be due to using different parameters in measurement: USGS uses moment magnitude and CENC uses surface-wave magnitude


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+ - Imagination to Release Open MIPS Design to Academia->

Submitted by DeviceGuru
DeviceGuru writes: Imagination Technologies has developed a Linux-ready academic version of its 32-bit MIPS architecture MicroAptiv processor design, and is giving it away free to universities for use in computer research and education. As the MIPSfpga name suggests, the production-quality RTL (register transfer level) design abstraction is intended to run on industry standard FPGAs. Although MIPSfpga is available as a fully visible RTL design, MIPSfpga is not fully open source, according to the announcement from Robert Owen, Manager of Imagination’s University Programme. Academic users can use and modify MIPSfpga as they wish, but cannot build it into silicon. 'If you modify it, you must talk to us first if you wish to patent the changes,' writes Owen.
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Comment: Re:well then it's a bad contract (Score 1) 329

by hackwrench (#49563481) Attached to: ESPN Sues Verizon To Stop New Sports-Free TV Bundles
Suffer, you keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
URL:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suffering> The opposite of suffering is pleasure. So if he would experience pleasure if he could have those experiences on his terms, then perhaps since he can't, he is suffering?

+ - "Synergetic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine" gets Air Force nod->

Submitted by LeadSongDog
LeadSongDog writes: The US Air Force Research Lab has been looking at the SABRE concept from the UK maker Reaction Engines, which has already been endorsed by the European Space Agency. The hybrid runs as a jet from stationary to Mach 5.5, then it becomes a rocket for all the way up to Mach 25. The magic is all in keeping the heat exchanger from icing up. This now clears the way for funding the next step: build and test demonstrator engines.
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+ - Privileged malware coming to a CPU near you?->

Submitted by ArmoredDragon
ArmoredDragon writes: For the past few years, Intel has been developing a new technology called Software Guard Extensions. The gist of it is that software can be protected from snooping or manipulation from untrusted higher privileged processes, or even from processes running outside of a VM. This sounds good in principle because it could protect your trusted software from malware, especially for cloud environments where IT security is paramount. The problem however is that it is very much a double edged sword. Malware, such as that found in a botnet, could easily hide itself from any kind of scanning software, or even a white-hat hacker trying to debug it. Or even worse, entities like the NSA could potentially issue an NSL to give themselves authority to create trusted applications that are allowed to spy on protected processes, while everybody who isn't whitelisted by Intel would be placed at a major disadvantage if they ever wanted to audit such software.
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+ - GNU Hurd 0.6 Released->

Submitted by jrepin
jrepin writes: It has been roughly a year and a half since the last release of the GNU Hurd operating system, so it may be of interest to some readers that GNU Hurd 0.6 has been released along with GNU Mach 1.5 (the microkernel that Hurd runs on) and GNU MIG 1.5 (the Mach Interface Generator, which generates code to handle remote procedure calls). New features include procfs and random translators; cleanups and stylistic fixes, some of which came from static analysis; message dispatching improvements; integer hashing performance improvements; a split of the init server into a startup server and an init program based on System V init; and more.
Link to Original Source

+ - An engineering analysis of the Falcon 9 first stage landing failure

Submitted by schwit1
schwit1 writes: Link here.

SpaceX founder and chief technology officer Elon Musk tweeted that "excess lateral velocity caused it [the booster] to tip over post landing." In a later tweet that was subsequently withdrawn, Musk then indicated that "the issue was stiction in the biprop throttle valve, resulting in control system phase lag." In this statement, Musk was referring to "stiction" — or static friction — in the valve controlling the throttling of the engine. The friction appears to have momentarily slowed the response of the engine, causing the control system to command more of an extreme reaction from the propulsion system than was required. As a result, the control system entered a form of hysteresis, a condition in which the control response lags behind changes in the effect causing it.

Despite the failure of the latest attempt, SpaceX will be encouraged by the landing accuracy of the Falcon 9 and the bigger-picture success of its guidance, navigation and control (GNC) system in bringing the booster back to the drone ship. The GNC also worked as designed during the prior landing attempt in January, which ended in the destruction of the vehicle following a hard touchdown on the edge of the platform.

+ - How Mission Creep Killed a Gaming Studio->

Submitted by Nerval's Lobster
Nerval's Lobster writes: Over at Kotaku, there’s an interesting story about the reported demise of Darkside Game Studios, a game-development firm that thought it finally had a shot at the big time only to collapse once its project requirements spun out of control. Darkside got a chance to show off its own stuff with a proposed remake of Phantom Dust, an action-strategy game that became something of a cult favorite. Microsoft, which offered Darkside the budget to make the game, had a very specific list of requirements for the actual gameplay. The problem, as Kotaku describes, is those requirements shifted after the project was well underway. Darkside needed more developers, artists, and other skilled tech pros to finish the game with its expanded requirements, but (anonymous sources claimed) Microsoft refused to offer up more money to actually hire the necessary people. As a result, the game’s development imploded, reportedly followed by the studio. What’s the lesson in all this? It’s one of the oldest in the book: Escalating and unanticipated requirements, especially without added budget to meet those requirements, can have devastating effects on both a project and the larger software company.
Link to Original Source

+ - Congress Introduces the Fair Play Fair Pay Act of 2015->

Submitted by Major Blud
Major Blud writes: Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) introduced the Fair Play Fair Pay Act today that would end regulations that don't require terrestrial radio stations to pay royalties to artists and labels. Currently, AM/FM radio stations aren't required to pay royalties to publishers and songwriters. The proposed measure requires stations that earn less than $1 million a year in revenue to pay $500 annually. For nonprofit public, college and other non-commercial broadcasters, the fee would be $100 per year — religious and talk stations being exempt from any payments. Larger radio companies like iHeartMedia (858 stations in the US) would have to pay more.

"The current system is antiquated and broken. It pits technologies against each other, and allows certain services to get away with paying little or nothing to artists. For decades, AM/FM radio has used whatever music it wants without paying a cent to the musicians, vocalists, and labels that created it. Satellite radio has paid below market royalties for the music it uses, growing into a multibillion dollar business on the back of an illogical ‘grandfathered’ royalty standard that is now almost two decades old,” said Congressman Nadler.

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