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Crime

Incapacitating Chemical Agents: Coming Soon To Local Law Enforcement? 138

Posted by samzenpus
from the and-stay-down dept.
Lasrick writes To this day, Russian authorities refuse to disclose the incapacitating chemical agent (ICA) they employed in their attempt, 12 years ago, to save 900 hostages held in a theater by Chechen fighters. Malcom Dando elaborates on a new report (PDF) that Russia, China, Israel, and a slew of other countries are continuing research into ICAs, and the apparent indifference of the international community into such research. Proponents of ICAs have long promoted their use in a variety of scenarios, including that of law enforcement, because in theory these chemicals incapacitate without permanent disability. Critics, however, point out that these weapons rely on exact dosage to prevent fatality, and that the ability to 'deliver the right agent to the right people in the right dose without exposing the wrong people, or delivering the wrong dose' is a near-impossible expectation. ICAs represent the further misuse and militarization of the life sciences and a weakening of the taboo against the weaponization of toxic substances, and the idea that they could be used in law enforcement situations is a disturbing one."
Sony

How Sony, Intel, and Unix Made Apple's Mac a PC Competitor 276

Posted by samzenpus
from the back-in-the-day dept.
smaxp writes In 2007, Sony's supply chain lessons, the network effect from the shift to Intel architecture, and a better OS X for developers combined to renew the Mac's growth. The network effects of the Microsoft Wintel ecosystem that Rappaport explained 20 years ago in the Harvard Business Review are no longer a big advantage. By turning itself into a premium PC company with a proprietary OS, Apple has taken the best of PC ecosystem, but avoided taking on the disadvantages.
Privacy

Assange: Google Is Not What It Seems 257

Posted by timothy
from the mixed-motivations dept.
oxide7 (1013325) writes "In June 2011, Julian Assange received an unusual visitor: the chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt. They outlined radically opposing perspectives: for Assange, the liberating power of the Internet is based on its freedom and statelessness. For Schmidt, emancipation is at one with U.S. foreign policy objectives and is driven by connecting non-Western countries to Western companies and markets. These differences embodied a tug-of-war over the Internet's future that has only gathered force subsequently. Assange describes his encounter with Schmidt and how he came to conclude that it was far from an innocent exchange of views."
Data Storage

BitTorrent Performance Test: Sync Is Faster Than Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox 122

Posted by timothy
from the pardon-us-fellas dept.
An anonymous reader writes Now that its file synchronization tool has received a few updates, BitTorrent is going on the offensive against cloud-based storage services by showing off just how fast BitTorrent Sync can be. More specifically, the company conducted a test that shows Sync destroys Google Drive, Microsoft's OneDrive, and Dropbox. The company transferred a 1.36 GB MP4 video clip between two Apple MacBook Pros using two Apple Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet Adapters, the Time.gov site as a real-time clock, and the Internet connection at its headquarters (1 Gbps up/down). The timer started when the file transfer was initiated and then stopped once the file was fully synced and downloaded onto the receiving machine. Sync performed 8x faster than Google Drive, 11x faster than OneDrive, and 16x faster than Dropbox.
Advertising

NPR: '80s Ads Are Responsible For the Lack of Women Coders 764

Posted by Soulskill
from the advertisers-driving-culture dept.
gollum123 writes: Back in the day, computer science was as legitimate a career path for women as medicine, law, or science. But in 1984, the number of women majoring in computing-related subjects began to fall, and the percentage of women is now significantly lower in CS than in those other fields. NPR's Planet Money sought to answer a simple question: Why? According to the show's experts, computers were advertised as a "boy's toy." This, combined with early '80s geek culture staples like the book Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution, as well as movies like War Games and Weird Science, conspired to instill the perception that computers were primarily for men.
Businesses

How Lobby Groups Rejected the Canadian Government's Plan To Combat Patent Trolls 57

Posted by timothy
from the they-just-didn't-like-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes Michael Geist reports that according to documents recently obtained under the Access to Information Act, the Canadian government quietly proposed a series of reforms to combat patent trolls including new prohibitions on demand letters, powers to the courts to stop patent forum shopping, and giving competition authorities the ability to deal with patent troll anti-competitive activity. The problem? Business lobby groups warned against the "unintended consequences" of patent reforms.
Power

Fusion and Fission/LFTR: Let's Do Both, Smartly 218

Posted by Soulskill
from the until-we-find-some-dilithium dept.
TheRealHocusLocus writes: Disaster preppers have a saying, "two is one and one is none," which might also apply to 24x7 base load energy sources that could sustain us beyond the age of fossil fuel. I too was happy to see Skunkworks' Feb 2013 announcement and the recent "we're still making progress" reminder. I was moved by the reaction on Slashdot: a groundswell of "Finally!" and "We're saved!" However, fusion doesn't need to be the only solution, and it's not entirely without drawbacks.

All nuclear reactors will generate waste via activation as the materials of which they are constructed erode and become unstable under high neutron flux. I'm not pointing this out because I think it's a big deal — a few fusion advocates disingenuously tend to sell the process as if it were "100% clean." A low volume of non-recyclable waste from fusion reactors that is walk-away safe in ~100 years is doable. Let's do it. And likewise, the best comparable waste profile for fission is a two-fluid LFTR, a low volume of waste that is walk-away safe in ~300 years. Let's do it.

Why pursue both, with at least the same level of urgency? Because both could carry us indefinitely. LFTR is less complicated in theory and practice. It is closer to market. There is plenty of cross-over: LFTR's materials challenges and heat engine interface — and the necessity for waste management — are the same as they will be for commercial-scale fusion reactors. To get up to speed please see the 2006 fusion lecture by Dr. Robert Bussard on the Wiffle ball 6 plasma containment, likely the precursor to the Skunkworks approach. And see Thorium Remix 2011 which presents the case for LFTR.
Patents

Trans-Pacific Partnership May Endanger World Health, Newly Leaked Chapter Shows 132

Posted by samzenpus
from the keeper-of-the-pills dept.
blottsie writes WikiLeaks has released an updated version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) chapter on intellectual property. The new version of the texts, dated May 2014, show that little improvement has been made to sections critics say would hurt free speech online. Further, some of the TPP's stipulations could have dire consequences for healthcare in developing nations. The Daily Dot reports: "Nearly all of the changes proposed by the U.S. advantage corporate entities by expanding monopolies on knowledge goods, such as drug patents, and impose restrictive copyright policies worldwide. If it came into force, TPP would even allow pharmaceutical companies to sue the U.S. whenever changes to regulatory standards or judicial decisions affected their profits. Professor Brook K. Baker of Northeastern U. School of Law [said] that the latest version of the TPP will do nothing less than lengthen, broaden, and strengthen patent monopolies on vital medications."
United States

Pentagon Reportedly Hushed Up Chemical Weapons Finds In Iraq 376

Posted by samzenpus
from the these-are-not-the-chemicals-you-are-looking-for dept.
mr_mischief writes "Multiple sources report that the US found remnants of WMD programs, namely chemical weapons, in Iraq after all. Many US soldiers were injured by them, in fact. The Times reports: "From 2004 to 2011, American and American-trained Iraqi troops repeatedly encountered, and on at least six occasions were wounded by, chemical weapons remaining from years earlier in Saddam Hussein's rule. In all, American troops secretly reported finding roughly 5,000 chemical warheads, shells or aviation bombs, according to interviews with dozens of participants, Iraqi and American officials, and heavily redacted intelligence documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act."
Programming

Fighting the Culture of 'Worse Is Better' 240

Posted by Soulskill
from the fighting-for-reasoned-debate dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Developer Paul Chiusano thinks much of programming culture has been infected by a "worse is better" mindset, where trade-offs to preserve compatibility and interoperability cripple the functionality of vital languages and architectures. He says, "[W]e do not merely calculate in earnest to what extent tradeoffs are necessary or desirable, keeping in mind our goals and values -- there is a culture around making such compromises that actively discourages people from even considering more radical, principled approaches." Chiusano takes C++ as an example, explaining how Stroustrup's insistence that it retain full compatibility with C has led to decades of problems and hacks.

He says this isn't necessarily the wrong approach, but the culture of software development prevents us from having a reasoned discussion about it. "Developing software is a form of investment management. When a company or an individual develops a new feature, inserts a hack, hires too quickly without sufficient onboarding or training, or works on better infrastructure for software development (including new languages, tools, and the like), these are investments or the taking on of debt. ... The outcome of everyone solving their own narrow short-term problems and never really revisiting the solutions is the sea of accidental complexity we now operate in, and which we all recognize is a problem."
Google

Ask Slashdot: Why Can't Google Block Spam In Gmail? 261

Posted by timothy
from the spy-vs-jerkface dept.
An anonymous reader writes Every day my gmail account receives 30-50 spam emails. Some of it is UCE, partially due to a couple dingbats with similar names who apparently think my gmail account belongs to them. The remainder looks to be spambot or Nigerian 419 email. I also run my own MX for my own domain, where I also receive a lot of spam. But with a combination of a couple DNSBL in my sendmail config, SpamAssassin, and procmail, almost none of it gets through to my inbox. In both cases there are rare false positives where a legit email ends up in my spam folder, or in the case of my MX, a spam email gets through to my Inbox, but these are rare occurrences. I'd think with all the Oompa Loompas at the Chocolate Factory that they could do a better job rejecting the obvious spam emails. If they did it would make checking for the occasional false positives in my spam folder a teeny bit easier. For anyone who's responsible for shunting Web-scale spam toward the fate it deserves, what factors go into the decision tree that might lead to so much spam getting through?
Privacy

The Correct Response To Photo Hack Victim-Blamers 622

Posted by samzenpus
from the who's-to-blame dept.
Bennett Haselton writes As commenters continue to blame Jennifer Lawrence and other celebrities for allowing their nude photos to be stolen, there is only one rebuttal to the victim-blaming which actually makes sense: that for the celebrities taking their nude selfies, the probable benefits of their actions outweighed the probable negatives. Most of the other rebuttals being offered, are logically incoherent, and, as such, are not likely to change the minds of the victim-blamers. Read below to see what Bennett has to say.
Google

PETA Is Not Happy That Google Used a Camel To Get a Desert "StreetView" 367

Posted by samzenpus
from the the-camera-that-broke-the-camels-back dept.
First time accepted submitter flopwich writes Google used a camel-mounted camera to get a 'street view' of a stretch of desert in the United Arab Emirates. PETA's director Ingrid E. Newkirk is upset about it, saying they should have used jeeps. "These days, jeeps are in common use in the desert, as are light planes and even dune buggies, and satellite images could also easily have been taken instead," she said. "(Google) should leave camels out of its activites altogether."
Earth

Antiperspirants Could Contribute to Particulate Pollution 70

Posted by Soulskill
from the don't-sweat-it dept.
MTorrice writes: Environmental scientists monitor particulate matter pollution because it poses risks to human health and can affect the climate. Ultrafine particles, up to 100 nm in diameter, are produced by vehicle exhaust and other combustion processes. They also form when volatile chemicals from other sources condense in the atmosphere, often through reactions triggered by sunlight.

Now atmospheric scientists propose that personal care products, such as antiperspirants, could be a potential source of ultrafine particulate matter. On the basis of data from the U.S. and Finland, they find that airborne nanoparticles in highly populated areas often contain silicon. They hypothesize that organic silicon compounds found in cosmetics waft into the air, get oxidized, and contribute to the growth of nanoparticles.
Businesses

Lego Ends Shell Partnership Under Greenpeace Pressure 252

Posted by samzenpus
from the lets-see-other-people dept.
jones_supa writes Since 1960s, we have been seeing the oil company Shell logo being featured in some Lego sets, and Legos being distributed at petrol stations in 26 countries. This marketing partnership is coming to an end, after coming under sustained pressure from Greenpeace. The environmental campaign, protesting about the oil giant's plans to drill in the Arctic, came with a YouTube video that depicted pristine Arctic, built from 120 kg of Lego, being covered in oil. CEO of Lego, Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, wants to leave the dispute between Greenpeace and Shell, and the toy company is getting out of the way.

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