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Security

RSA Conference Bans "Booth Babes" 322

Posted by timothy
from the can-I-ask-you-some-technical-questions dept.
netbuzz writes In what may be a first for the technology industry, RSA Conference 2015 next month apparently will be bereft of a long-controversial trade-show attraction: "booth babes." New language in its exhibitor contract, while not using the term 'booth babe," leaves no doubt as to what type of salesmanship RSA wants left out of its event. Says a conference spokeswoman: "We thought this was an important step towards making all security professionals feel comfortable and equally respected during the show." Easier at a venue like RSA; the annual Consumer Electronics Show, not so much.
The Military

How Nuclear Weapon Modernization Undercuts Disarmament 228

Posted by Soulskill
from the perfecting-the-planetcracker dept.
Lasrick writes: John Mecklin details exactly how nuclear weapons modernization is kick-starting a new arms race, and how modernizing these weapons to make them more accurate and stealthy puts the world at even greater risk of nuclear war: "[T]his is precisely why the U.S. Congress rejected the Air Force’s requests for low-yield, precision-guided nuclear weapons in the 1990s: Their very accuracy increases the temptation to use them." The issue is not getting very much attention, but the patience of the non-nuclear states is wearing thin, and a breakthrough in public awareness may be on the horizon: "The disarmament debate is likely to make this spring's NPT conference a contentious one and just might be loud enough to make the public aware that a new type of nuclear arms race is unfolding around the world."
Programming

No, It's Not Always Quicker To Do Things In Memory 481

Posted by Soulskill
from the performance-that-fails-to-perform dept.
itwbennett writes: It's a commonly held belief among software developers that avoiding disk access in favor of doing as much work as possible in-memory will results in shorter runtimes. To test this assumption, researchers from the University of Calgary and the University of British Columbia compared the efficiency of alternative ways to create a 1MB string and write it to disk. The results consistently found that doing most of the work in-memory to minimize disk access was significantly slower than just writing out to disk repeatedly (PDF).
Programming

A Bechdel Test For Programmers? 515

Posted by timothy
from the this-code-feels-different dept.
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.
Medicine

Hacking Weight Loss: What I Learned Losing 30 Pounds 490

Posted by timothy
from the can't-be-more-than-a-hundred-and-ninety-seven dept.
reifman writes The CDC reports that 69% of adult Americans are overweight or obese. Techies like us are at increased risk because of our sedentary lifestyles. Perhaps you even scoffed at Neilsen's recent finding that some Americans spend only 11 hours daily of screen time. Over the last nine months, I've lost 30 pounds and learned a lot about hacking weight loss and I did it without fad diets, step trackers, running or going paleo. No such discussion is complete without a link to the Hacker Diet.
Security

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Introduces the Doomsday Dashboard 92

Posted by samzenpus
from the for-your-viewing-pleasure dept.
Lasrick writes You probably know the hand on the Doomsday Clock now rests at 3 minutes to midnight. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has launched a pretty cool little interactive Dashboard that lets you see data that the Bulletin's Science and Security Board considers when making the decision on the Clock's time each year. There are interactive graphs that show global nuclear arsenals, nuclear material security breaches, and how much weapons-grade plutonium and uranium is stored (and where). The climate change section features graphs of global sea level rise over time, Arctic sea ice minimums. atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, and differences in global temperature. There's also a section for research on biosecurity and emerging technologies.
Medicine

Child Psychotherapist: Easy and Constant Access To the Internet Is Harming Kids 334

Posted by samzenpus
from the there's-something-wrong-with-my-brain dept.
First time accepted submitter sharkbiter sends note that one of the UK's foremost psychotherapists has concerns that smartphones may be harmful to the mental health of children. "Julie Lynn Evans has been a child psychotherapist for 25 years, working in hospitals, schools and with families, and she says she has never been so busy. 'In the 1990s, I would have had one or two attempted suicides a year – mainly teenaged girls taking overdoses, the things that don't get reported. Now, I could have as many as four a month.'.... Issues such as cyber-bullying are, of course, nothing new, and schools now all strive to develop robust policies to tackle them, but Lynn Evans’ target is both more precise and more general. She is pointing a finger of accusation at the smartphones - “pocket rockets” as she calls them – which are now routinely in the hands of over 80 per cent of secondary school age children. Their arrival has been, she notes, a key change since 2010. 'It’s a simplistic view, but I think it is the ubiquity of broadband and smartphones that has changed the pace and the power and the drama of mental illness in young people.'”
Programming

A Software Project Full of "Male Anatomy" Jokes Causes Controversy 762

Posted by samzenpus
from the can't-we-all-just-get-along? dept.
An anonymous reader writes with the story of a Github user's joke repository that is causing some controversy. "There's no question that the tech world is an overwhelmingly male place. There's legit concern that tech is run-amok with 'brogrammers' that make women programmers feel unwelcome. On the other hand, people just want to laugh. It's at that intersection that programmer Randy Hunt, aka 'letsgetrandy' posted a 'project' earlier this week to software hosting site GitHub called 'DICSS.' The project, which is actual free and open source software, is surrounded by geeky jokes about the male anatomy. And it's gone nuts, so to speak, becoming the most trending project on Github, and the subject of a lot of chatter on Twitter. And, Hunt tells us, the folks at Github are scratching their heads wondering what they should do about it. Some people love DICSS ... and some people are, understandably, offended. The offended people point out that this is exactly the sort of thing that makes tech unwelcoming to women, and not just because of the original project, but because of some of the comments (posted as "commits") that might take the joke too far."
Government

WHO Report Links Weed Killer Ingredient To Cancer Risk 179

Posted by samzenpus
from the what's-to-blame dept.
An anonymous reader sends word that a common weed killer may cause cancer according to the World Health Organization. "The world's most widely used weed killer can 'probably' cause cancer, the World Health Organization said on Friday. The WHO's cancer arm, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, said glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup and other herbicides, was 'classified as probably carcinogenic to humans.' It also said there was 'limited evidence' that glyphosate was carcinogenic in humans for non-Hodgkin lymphoma." Unsurprisingly, Monsanto, Roundup's manufacturer disagrees saying there is no evidence to support the findings and calls on WHO to hold a meeting to explain their conclusions.
IBM

A Sucker Is Optimized Every Minute 109

Posted by timothy
from the straight-to-godwin dept.
theodp writes Now that we have hard data on everything, observes the NY Times' Virginia Heffernan in A Sucker Is Optimized Every Minute, we no longer make decisions from our hearts, guts or principles. "The gut is dead," writes Heffernan. "Long live the data, turned out day and night by our myriad computers and smart devices. Not that we trust the data, as we once trusted our guts. Instead, we 'optimize' it. We optimize for it. We optimize with it." To win Presidential elections. To turn web pages into Googlebait. To sucker people into registering for websites. Of the soon-to-arrive Apple Watch, Heffernan notes: "After time keeping, the watch's chief feature is 'fitness tracking': It clocks and stores physiological data with the aim of getting you to observe and change your habits of sloth and gluttony. Evidently I wasn't the only one whose thoughts turned to 20th-century despotism: The entrepreneur Anil Dash quipped on Twitter, albeit stretching the truth, 'Not since I.B.M. sold mainframes to the Nazis has a high-tech company embraced medical data at this scale.'"
Crime

Obama: Maybe It's Time For Mandatory Voting In US 1089

Posted by timothy
from the if-there-weren't-all-those-pesky-rights dept.
HughPickens.com writes CNN reports that when asked how to offset the influence of big money in politics, President Barack Obama suggested it's time to make voting a requirement. "Other countries have mandatory voting," said Obama "It would be transformative if everybody voted — that would counteract money more than anything," he said, adding it was the first time he had shared the idea publicly. "The people who tend not to vote are young, they're lower income, they're skewed more heavily towards immigrant groups and minority groups. There's a reason why some folks try to keep them away from the polls." At least 26 countries have compulsory voting, according to the Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance. Failure to vote is punishable by a fine in countries such as Australia and Belgium; if you fail to pay your fine in Belgium, you could go to prison. Less than 37% of eligible voters actually voted in the 2014 midterm elections, according to The Pew Charitable Trusts. That means about 144 million Americans — more than the population of Russia — skipped out. Critics of mandatory voting have questioned the practicality of passing and enforcing such a requirement; others say that freedom also means the freedom not to do something.
Android

Apple May Start Accepting Android Phones As Trade-Ins 147

Posted by timothy
from the whatever-you've-got dept.
HughPickens.com writes Bloomberg reports that according to a person with knowledge of the matter, Apple plans to start accepting non-Apple devices as trade-ins as the company seeks to extend market-share gains against Android smartphones. Apple is seeking to fuel even more iPhone 6 and 6 Plus sales after selling 74.5 million units in the last three months of 2014. Thanks to record sales, shipments of iPhones surpassed Android in the US with 47.7 percent of the market compared with Android's 47.6 percent. According to Apple CEO Tim Cook Apple "experienced the highest Android switcher rate in any of the last three launches in the three previous years." While Android phones don't hold their value as well as iPhones, it still makes sense for Apple Stores to accept them, says Israel Ganot, former CEO of Gazelle Inc., an online mobile device trade-in company. "Apple can afford to pay more than the market value to get you to switch over," says Ganot, "on the idea that you're going to fall in love with the iOS ecosystem and stay for a long time."
NASA

Politics Is Poisoning NASA's Ability To Do Science 416

Posted by Soulskill
from the pretend-to-be-surprised dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Phil Plait just published an article about how politics is interfering with NASA's ability to perform vital scientific experiments. As expected when we heard that Ted Cruz would be made head of the committee in charge of NASA's funding, the Texas senator is pushing hard for NASA to stop studying Earth itself. Plait writes, "Over the years, NASA has had to beg and scrape to get the relatively small amount of money it gets—less than half a percent of the national budget—and still manages to do great things with it. Cruz is worried NASA's focus needs to be more on space exploration. Fine. Then give them enough money to do everything in their charter: Explore space, send humans there, and study our planet. Whether you think climate change is real or not—and it is— telling NASA they should turn a blind eye to the environment of our own planet is insanity." He concludes, "[T]he politics of funding a government agency is tying NASA in knots and critically endangering its ability to explore."
Communications

Why There Is No Such Thing as 'Proper English' 667

Posted by Soulskill
from the but-feel-free-to-continue-screaming-at-random-internet-commenters dept.
Pikoro writes: A recent article in the Wall Street Journal explains why the concept of a "proper" English isn't realistic. Quoting: "It's a perpetual lament: The purity of the English language is under assault. These days we are told that our ever-texting teenagers can't express themselves in grammatical sentences. The media delight in publicizing ostensibly incorrect usage. ... As children, we all have the instinct to acquire a set of rules and to apply them. ... We know that a certain practice is a rule of grammar because it’s how we see and hear people use the language. ... That’s how scholarly linguists work. Instead of having some rule book of what is “correct” usage, they examine the evidence of how native and fluent nonnative speakers do in fact use the language. Whatever is in general use in a language (not any use, but general use) is for that reason grammatically correct. The grammatical rules invoked by pedants aren’t real rules of grammar at all. They are, at best, just stylistic conventions.
Earth

UN Backs Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign 190

Posted by Soulskill
from the this-SUV-won't-run-on-unleaded-moral-authority dept.
mdsolar sends this report from The Guardian: The UN organization in charge of global climate change negotiations is backing the fast-growing campaign persuading investors to sell off their fossil fuel assets. It said it was lending its "moral authority" to the divestment campaign because it shared the ambition to get a strong deal to tackle global warming at a crunch UN summit in Paris in December.

The move is likely to be controversial as the economies of many nations at the negotiating table heavily rely on coal, oil and gas. In 2013, coal-reliant Poland hosted the UNFCCC summit and was castigated for arranging a global coal industry summit alongside. Now, the World Coal Association has criticized the UNFCCC's decision to back divestment, saying it threatened investment in cleaner coal technologies.

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