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Books

Game of Thrones Author George R R Martin Writes with WordStar on DOS 522

Posted by Soulskill
from the change-is-scary dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: "Ryan Reed reports that when most Game of Thrones fans imagine George R.R. Martin writing his epic fantasy novels, they probably picture the author working on a futuristic desktop (or possibly carving his words onto massive stones like the Ten Commandments). But the truth is that Martin works on an outdated DOS machine using '80s word processor WordStar 4.0, as he revealed during an interview on Conan. 'I actually like it,' says Martin. 'It does everything I want a word processing program to do, and it doesn't do anything else. I don't want any help. I hate some of these modern systems where you type a lower case letter and it becomes a capital letter. I don't want a capital. If I wanted a capital, I would have typed a capital. I know how to work the shift key.' 'I actually have two computers,' Martin continued. 'I have a computer I browse the Internet with and I get my email on, and I do my taxes on. And then I have my writing computer, which is a DOS machine, not connected to the Internet.'"
Privacy

VHS-Era Privacy Law Still Causing Headaches For Streaming Video 62

Posted by timothy
from the again-with-the-like-button dept.
jfruh (300774) writes "The Video Privacy Protection Act, a 1988 law that made it illegal for a video store to share your rental history, has thrown up roadblocks for modern-day streaming video sites. Last year Congress amended the law to make it possible for you to share your Netflix viewing history with your social media friends, as long as you opt in. But what does "opting in" entail? Hulu is now on the receiving end of a lawsuit over the fact that clicking the Facebook "like" button on a viewing page shares that viewing activity on Facebook."
The Almighty Buck

Lessig Launches a Super PAC To End All Super PACs 465

Posted by samzenpus
from the biggest-fish dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Lawrence Lessig has announced plans to kickstart a SuperPAC big enough to make it possible to win a Congress committed to fundamental reform by 2016. From the article: 'If you can’t beat them, join them. Then take them down from the inside. That’s the basic idea behind a super PAC launching Thursday that wants to destroy super PACs for good. The Mayday PAC, as it’s called, seeks to raise enough money to sway five House elections in 2014 and elect representatives who have committed to pressing for serious reform of the campaign finance system. If that endeavor—a sort of test case—is successful, the PAC will then try to raise an enormous amount of money for the 2016 cycle—enough, PAC organizers hope, to buy Congress."
Government

Senate Report Says CIA Misled Government About Interrogation Methods 207

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-can-trust-us dept.
mrspoonsi sends this news from the Washington Post: "A report by the Senate Intelligence Committee concludes that the CIA misled the government and the public about aspects of its brutal interrogation program for years — concealing details about the severity of its methods, overstating the significance of plots and prisoners, and taking credit for critical pieces of intelligence that detainees had in fact surrendered before they were subjected to harsh techniques. The report, built around detailed chronologies of dozens of CIA detainees, documents a long-standing pattern of unsubstantiated claims as agency officials sought permission to use — and later tried to defend — excruciating interrogation methods that yielded little, if any, significant intelligence, according to U.S. officials who have reviewed the document. ... At the secret prison, Baluchi endured a regime that included being dunked in a tub filled with ice water. CIA interrogators forcibly kept his head under the water while he struggled to breathe and beat him repeatedly, hitting him with a truncheon-like object and smashing his head against a wall, officials said. As with Abu Zubaida and even Nashiri, officials said, CIA interrogators continued the harsh treatment even after it appeared that Baluchi was cooperating."
PHP

Facebook Introduces Hack: Statically Typed PHP 230

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the sml-and-php-fall-in-love dept.
alokmenghrajani (2602135) writes with news of Facebook's new Open Source language, Hack. Quoting: "Today we're releasing Hack, a programming language we developed for HHVM that interoperates seamlessly with PHP. Hack reconciles the fast development cycle of PHP with the discipline provided by static typing, while adding many features commonly found in other modern programming languages. ... Traditionally, dynamically typed languages allow for rapid development but sacrifice the ability to catch errors early and introspect code quickly, particularly on larger codebases. Conversely, statically typed languages provide more of a safety net, but often at the cost of quick iteration. We believed there had to be a sweet spot. ... Hack has deep roots in PHP. In fact, most PHP files are already valid Hack files. ... Our principal addition is static typing. We have developed a system to annotate function signatures and class members with type information; our type checking algorithm infers the rest. Type checking is incremental, such that even within a single file some code can be converted to Hack while the rest remains dynamically typed. ... If a function parameter or class member does not have an explicit type annotation, the type checker considers its type to be dynamic, and it does not check the type of that value." In addition to static typing, they've introduced proper closures that capture the lexical environment, generics, collections, and array shapes. The Hack website has more details. There's a fairly complete language manual, tools to infer types in PHP source and annotate the code, and source available under the PHP license.
United States

Embarrassing Stories Shed Light On US Officials' Technological Ignorance 299

Posted by samzenpus
from the Is-this-thing-on? dept.
colinneagle writes "Speaking at the SXSW Conference recently, Dr. Peter W. Singer, director of the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence, recalled one U.S. official who was 'about to negotiate cybersecurity with China' asking him to explain what the term 'ISP' (Internet Service Provider) means. This wasn't the only example of this lack of awareness. 'That's like going to negotiate with the Soviets and not knowing what "ICBM" means,' Dr. Singer said. 'And I've had similar experiences with officials from the UK, China and Abu Dhabi.' Similarly, Dr. Singer recalled one account in which Janet Napolitano, the Secretary of the U.S. Homeland Security Department from 2009 to 2013, admitted that she didn't use email 'because she just didn't think it was useful.' 'A Supreme Court justice also told me "I haven't got round to email yet" — and this is someone who will get to vote on everything from net neutrality to the NSA negotiations,' Dr. Singer said."
Math

Ask Slashdot: How Do You Sort? 195

Posted by Soulskill
from the sort-of-slowly dept.
camperdave writes "I was recently going through a pile of receipts and other papers to put them into order by date. Lacking one of those fancy sorting sticks they have at the office, I wound up with all sorts of piles and I was getting confused as to which pile was for what. Finally, it struck me: Why don't I use one of the many sorting algorithms I learned back in my computer science classes? So I swept all the papers back into the box and did a radix sort on them. It worked like a charm. Since then, I've had occasion to try quicksorts and merge sorts. So, when you have to physically sort things, what algorithm (if any) do you use?"
Microsoft

"Microsoft Killed My Pappy" 742

Posted by timothy
from the and-in-my-day-we-just-modulated-the-electricity-with-our-tongues dept.
theodp writes "A conversation with an angry young developer prompts Microsoft Program Manager Scott Hanselman to blog about 'Microsoft Haters: The Next Generation.' 'The ones I find the most interesting,' says Hanselman, are the 'Microsoft killed my Pappy' people, angry with generational anger. My elders hated Microsoft so I hate them. Why? Because, you wronged me.' The U.S. and Japan managed to get over the whole World War II thing, Hanselman notes, so why can't people manage to get past the Microsoft antitrust thing, which was initiated in 1998 for actions in 1994? 'At some point you let go,' he suggests, 'and you start again with fresh eyes.' Despite the overall good-humored, why-can't-we-get-along tone of his post, Hanselman can't resist one dig that seems aimed at putting things into perspective for those who would still Slashdot like it's 1999: 'I wonder if I can swap out Chrome from Chrome OS or Mobile Safari in iOS.'"
Apple

Apple's Hiring Spree of Biosensor Experts Continues As iWatch Team Grows 62

Posted by samzenpus
from the one-watch-to-rule-them-all dept.
An anonymous reader writes "As the rumors surrounding Apple's mythical iWatch continue to swell, Apple has continued to hire folks with deep biomedical and sensor technology expertise. A previously unreported addition to Apple's growing cadre of medical device experts is Marcelo Malini Lamego, who began working at Apple this January. Before joining Apple this past January, Lamego spent 8 years as the CTO of Cercacor, a medical devices company with a focus on developing noninvasive monitoring technologies."
Government

Government Secrecy Spurs $4 Million Lawsuit Over Simple 'No Fly' List Error 239

Posted by Soulskill
from the government-efficiency-at-work dept.
An anonymous reader writes "After a seven-year lawsuit costing nearly $4 million, a judge has concluded that Rahinah Ibrahim's student visa was revoked because an FBI agent checked the wrong box on a form. That simple human error resulted in the detention of Rahinah Ibrahim, the revocation of her student visa years later and interruption of her PhD studies. The Bush and later Obama administrations obstructed the lawsuit repeatedly, invoking classified evidence, sensitive national security information and the state secrets privilege to prevent disclosure of how suspects are placed on the 'no-fly' list. The dispute eventually involved statements of support from James Clapper, Eric Holder and several other DOJ and TSA officials in favor of the government's case. The defendant was not allowed to enter the United States even to attend her own lawsuit trial and in a separate incident, her daughter, a U.S. citizen, was denied entry to witness the trial as well. The case exemplifies how government secrecy can unintentionally transform otherwise easily corrected errors into a multi-year legal and bureaucratic nightmare and waste millions of taxpayer dollars in doing so."
The Military

Do Hypersonic Missiles Make Defense Systems Obsolete? 365

Posted by Soulskill
from the harder-better-faster-stronger dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Diplomat's Zachary Keck wonders why the U.S. government is doubling down on missile defense systems even as hypersonic missiles threaten to render them obsolete. Keck notes that hypersonic missiles pose two distinct challenges to current missile defense systems. First, they travel far faster than the missiles the defense systems are designed to intercept. Second, they travel at lower altitudes and possess greater maneuverability than the missiles the current systems have been built to destroy. Nonetheless, the U.S. was planning on spending $2 billion a year on missile defense through 2017, and now the Pentagon is asking for an additional $4.5 billion over the next five years."
Cellphones

California Bill Proposes Mandatory Kill-Switch On Phones and Tablets 341

Posted by Soulskill
from the they-forgot-pagers dept.
alphadogg writes "Politicians and law enforcement officials in California will introduce a bill on Friday that requires all smartphones and tablet PCs sold in the state be equipped with a digital 'kill-switch' that would make the devices useless if stolen. The bill is a response to a rise in thefts of portable electronics devices, often at knife or gunpoint, being seen across the state. Already half of all robberies in San Francisco and 75 percent of those in Oakland involve a mobile device and the number is rising in Los Angeles, according to police figures. The trend is the same in major cities across the U.S. and the California bill, if it passes, could usher in kill-switch technology nationwide if phone makers choose not to produce custom devices for California. California Senate bill 962 says all smartphones and tablet PCs sold from Jan. 1, 2015, should have 'a technological solution that can render the essential features of the device inoperable when the device is not in possession of the rightful owner.'"
The Military

Military Electronics That Shatter Into Dust On Command 221

Posted by samzenpus
from the poof-it's-gone dept.
First time accepted submitter MAE Keller writes "Two U.S. companies are joining a military research program to develop sensitive electronic components able to self-destruct on command to keep them out of the hands of potential adversaries who would attempt to counterfeit them for their own use. From the article: 'Last Friday DARPA awarded a $2.1 million contract to PARC, and a $3.5 million contract to IBM for the VAPR program, which seeks to develop transient electronics that can physically disappear in a controlled, triggerable manner.'"

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