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Role Playing (Games)

+ - Live action spy RPG->

Submitted by tallpaul
tallpaul (1010) writes "Espionage is 5-wits third generation live action role playing game for geeks and non-geeks alike. Players are immersed in cracking safes, defusing bombs and dodging laser security. Each game has many possible outcomes and scalable difficulty levels. 5-wits is responsible for creating the "Operation Spy" game for the Washignton DC Spy museum and has honed their live action special effects to a fine art. An second game at the same location based on 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea will be opening very soon."
Link to Original Source
Databases

+ - 2011 Cascadia IT Conference->

Submitted by tallpaul
tallpaul (1010) writes "The League of Professional Systems Administrators (LOPSA) and Seattle Area System Administrators guild is putting on its first annual IT conference Friday March 11 and Saturday. Local system, network, database and web administrators will be attending and presenting. The keynote will be by Philip Kizer, LOPSA President."
Link to Original Source
Earth

MIT Unveils Portable, Solar-Powered Water Desalination System 117

Posted by Soulskill
from the water-the-chances dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Field and Space Robotic Laboratory has designed a new solar-powered water desalination system to provide drinking water to disaster zones and disadvantaged parts of the planet. Desalination systems often require a lot of energy and a large infrastructure to support them, but MIT's compact system is able to cope due to its ingenious design. The system's photovoltaic panel is able to generate power for the pump, which in turn pushes undrinkable seawater through a permeable membrane. MIT's prototype can reportedly produce 80 gallons of drinking water per day, depending on weather conditions."
Science

Colliding Particles Can Make Black Holes After All 269

Posted by Soulskill
from the act-now-while-supplies-last dept.
cremeglace writes with this excerpt from ScienceNOW: "You've heard the controversy. Particle physicists predict the world's new highest-energy atom smasher, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) near Geneva, Switzerland, might create tiny black holes, which they say would be a fantastic discovery. Some doomsayers fear those black holes might gobble up the Earth — physicists say that's impossible — and have petitioned the United Nations to stop the $5.5 billion LHC. Curiously, though, nobody had ever shown that the prevailing theory of gravity, Einstein's theory of general relativity, actually predicts that a black hole can be made this way. Now a computer model shows conclusively for the first time that a particle collision really can make a black hole." That said, they estimate the required energy for creating a black hole this way to be roughly "a quintillion times higher than the LHC's maximum"; though if one of the theories requiring compact extra dimensions is true, the energy could be lower.
Networking

Nmap 5.20 Released 36

Posted by Soulskill
from the more-and-better dept.
ruphus13 writes "Nmap has a new release out, and it's a major one. It includes a GUI front-end called Zenmap, and, according to the post, 'Network admins will no doubt be excited to learn that Nmap is now ready to identify Snow Leopard systems, Android Linux smartphones, and Chumbies, among other OSes that Nmap can now identify. This release also brings an additional 31 Nmap Scripting Engine scripts, bringing the total collection up to 80 pre-written scripts for Nmap. The scripts include X11 access checks to see if X.org on a system allows remote access, a script to retrieve and print an SSL certificate, and a script designed to see whether a host is serving malware. Nmap also comes with netcat and Ndiff. Source code and binaries are available from the Nmap site, including RPMs for x86 and x86_64 systems, and binaries for Windows and Mac OS X. '"
Image

Own Your Own Fighter Jet 222 Screenshot-sm

Posted by samzenpus
from the only-one-on-the-block dept.
gimmebeer writes "The Russian Sukhoi SU-27 has a top speed of Mach 1.8 (more than 1,300 mph) and has a thrust to weight ratio greater than 1 to 1. That means it can accelerate while climbing straight up. It was designed to fight against the best the US had to offer, and now it can be yours for the price of a mediocre used business jet."
Image

Artist Wins £20,000 Grant To Study Women's Butts 202 Screenshot-sm

Posted by samzenpus
from the been-doing-a-lot-of-extra-credit-lately dept.
Sue Williams has been awarded a £20,000 grant by the Arts Council of Wales, to "explore cultural attitudes towards female buttocks." Sue plans to examine racial attitudes towards bottoms in Europe and Africa and create plaster casts of women's behinds to try to understand their place in contemporary culture. And here I've been studying the issue all these years for free like a sucker!
Privacy

Out of Business, Clear May Sell Customer Data 77

Posted by kdawson
from the but-don't-worry-it's-perfectly-safe dept.
narramissic writes "Earlier this week, the Clear airport security screening service ceased operations, leaving many to wonder what would become of the personal information, including credit card numbers, fingerprints, and iris scans, of Clear's customers. And now we know. The information could be sold to the provider of a similar service. Until then, Clear has erased PC hard drives at its airport screening kiosks and is wiping employee computers, but the information is retained on its central databases (managed by Lockheed Martin). Clear customer David Maynor, who is CTO with Errata Security in Atlanta, wants Clear to delete his information but that isn't happening, the company said in a note posted to its Web site Thursday. 'They had your social security information, credit information, where you lived, employment history, fingerprint information,' said Maynor. 'They should be the only ones who have access to that information.'"

Comment: Results from Ask Slashdot...inconclusive.. (Score 1) 834

by tallpaul (#27961761) Attached to: Go For a Masters, Or Not?

The responses I'm reading rather evenly fall on both sides for the same reasons!

* Get your Masters you will:
    * be hired more readily - companies look for people with degrees.
    * be paid more when you are hired for a net $ win

* Don't get your Masters, get a job you will:
    * be hired more readily - companies assume people with Masters want to be paid more and screen them out.
    * make 2 years of income which will more than offset the cost of grad school plus any increase in pay you might get

This isn't terribly surprising - any one person on /. has only worked for or been exposed to the hiring practices of a relatively small number of companies, even if they've been changing jobs for at the average tech rate (?) of 3 years or something.

The conclusion you should draw from this is:
  * when you go to work, either way apply to lots of companies! Some might screen you out because you have a Masters or because you don't!
  * salary probably has a lot more to do with your negotation skills, location, job market etc.

I have some other things for you to consider, given how open you left the question: "which is better?"

Obviously your professors think you should stay in school. After all - they all did, didn't they? It worked out for them. And they might have some non-obvious stake in you sticking around too.

Well, what do you mean by better? This is a pretty personal decision. Perhaps "make more money (immediately or in total)" isn't your deciding factor.

How much do you like your field? Many responses seemed to assume that you wanted to get a career as a sysadmin/network admin, which wouldn't match your degree (not that it matches any degrees really). Do you want to get a fair bit more depth in a more narrow subject area in your field of study? If you are unsure about your field, you should probably get out and work!

Consider that once you are working full time, it will be a LOT harder to go back to school even part time, even if you work for a company that pays for all of it. This will get even harder if you get married or have kids.

Maybe you are already in a serious relationship or have kids? That should drive you pretty solidly towards "get a job."

How much do you care about -where- you work? Do you want to work for a specific company or range of companies? Maybe do a straw poll of the company or companies you are interested in, and see if THEY prefer an advanced degree. In computer engineering you might want to go work for HP, Intel, AMD or IBM - in which case a PhD might not be out of the question. And you might even get paid accordingly.

How much did you pay for your undergrad? If you got a fancy degree from Caltech or MIT at $50k/yr you are going to have a hard time "upping" that with a Masters. On the other hand if you went to a "low end" school (this is by your field mind you! An affordable state school could have an excellent rep for your field) AND you have excellent grades it might be wise to try for an MIT Masters to top it off.

What is your funding situation? Would you be paying your way (or would someone else pay it for you?) or would you need to be a TA/RA? Obviously if you've got someone lined up to pay it for you that weighs pretty heavily in the "yes do it" side!

Interested in starting your own business? How does the degree factor into that? Timing - would a 2 year delay help or hurt? Funding - would the money you spend on your degree impact your ability to start the business? Or are you one of "those" people who find grad school the perfect environment in which to start a startup?

Some mentioned teaching - but I didn't see much mention of mention teaching college. I'm guessing since you didn't mention it that teaching high school is not under consideration or you'd be looking at the well-covered Education degree. Teaching college doesn't necessarily mean full time. Increasingly colleges are hiring adjunct faculty and it can be one way to supplement income. Generally a Masters is required (but a Doctorate may not be). I tried this out and can't personally recommend it, but I suspect it depends a great deal on the situation.

Does money really matter to you? Get more accurate data than a straw poll of /. As a sysadmin I go to the USENIX/SAGE annual salary survey which is pretty comprehensive. I imagine IEEE does something like it perhaps for computer engineers? Remember to do your math carefully and correctly - raises are typically applied as a percentage of salary! There are also some pretty tough variables in the "total $" equation - do you happen to have enough for a down payment on a house (in a location where you want to live?). Now might be a good time to buy a house and get in on that game. Or not. And even 2 years can make a difference there beyond paying off 2 years of your mortgage ie: the market may shift (for better or worse)

Is there a specific Masters program you are interested in? Faculty you want to work with or be your advisor? Some specific locality perhaps (2 years in Hawaii doesn't sound all bad when you've spent the last 4 in Michigan)?

In summary - do a fair bit more research outside of this /. question (which wasn't a bad idea!) - after all if you get your Masters you'll be doing a great deal more research. And try to ask yourself a lot more specific and personal questions than these responses even generated as they were generally focused on "better" and "people with work experience."

Speaking as someone who has plenty of work experience, in a field (sysadmin) where a Masters (CS) would be useless, I still wouldn't mind getting my Masters part time if I worked for a company that paid for it. And I wouldn't have regretted it if I'd chosen to stay in school and still ended up a sysadmin where it made no difference. I like my field a lot and I'm always interested in it - I just happen to like -working- in a different one. In which I'm also interested and if somewhere offered a "Masters in Sysadmin" I'd consider it.

But that is obviously highly personal to me and with no consideration for the $ value.

AMD

AMD's Showcases Quad-Core Barcelona CPU 190

Posted by Zonk
from the four-times-the-fun dept.
Gr8Apes writes "AMD has showcased their new 65nm Barcelona quad-core CPU. It is labeled a quad-core Opteron, but according to Infoworld's Tom Yeager, is really a redefinition of x86. Each core has a new vector math processing unit (SSE128), separate integer and floating point schedulers, and new nested paging tables (to vastly improve hardware virtualization). According to AMD, the new vector math units alone should improve floating point operation by 80%. Some analysts are skeptical, waiting for benchmarks. Will AMD dethrone Intel again? Only time will tell."
Networking

+ - MIT scientists reach fiber-optic breakthrough

Submitted by kcurtis
kcurtis (311610) writes "The AP (via boston.com) has a story about how MIT scientists have detailed a breakthrough in optics that could lead to cheaper, more efficient optic communications. From the story: "Like polarizing sunglasses that block light waves oriented in different directions, the MIT researchers created a clever device that splits the light beams as they pass through a circuit. The device then rotates one of the polarized beams, before both beams are rejoined on their way out of the circuit, retaining the signals' strength. But it's not just that device that the researchers are touting. They're also trumpeting the innovative method they devised to integrate the optical circuitry with electronic circuitry on the same silicon chip.""

Comment: Scratch your itch. Start your own. (Score 4, Insightful) 181

by tallpaul (#15546789) Attached to: Finding Programming Work on the Side?
If you use computers, I know that you have run into software that totally sucks. In fact, not only did it totally suck, but every piece of software that came close to doing that thing sucks. Or you have run into wanting to do something that simply no software out there does.

There are still LOADS of gaps like this anywhere from tiny utility software up to enterprise level stuff. Pick one. Whatever one bugs you the most. Write some really good software. Open source it and sell support. Or don't.. whatever. Just write good software.

So you need some deadlines to keep you going? Not uncommon. Have someone do it for you (isn't that what you would do by contracting?). Either get yourself a partner (preferably someone who is keen on handling all the _other_ parts of creating and running a company in exchange for the possible rewards) who is also a good deadline-setter and will not let you slack. Or hire yourself a business coach if you do want to try your hand at the other aspects of running a company and just want someone to egg you on.

Read Paul Graham's essays for encouragement and why starting your own software company is (still) a good idea. http://www.paulgraham.com/

Oh yeah - ALSO find yourself another engaging hobby or two. They must involve at least the following:

Social interaction. Yes you need this. You cannot work in front of a computer at work and do programming all day and then come home and do it all night. Your boss made that rule for a _reason_ . In order for your creative programming side to flow the rest of your mind must be fed. If you just program all day every day for primary job and then your side job your productivity will drop like a rock. This should ideally involve more than one person - a significant other will severely cut into the time you can spend on the stuff you need (socializing with more than 1 person and getting outdoors (see below)). It is a trade off.

Get out. Out of the house. Out of buildings. Gardening maybe. Or hiking. Bicycling. Whatever appeals really. This is important for all the same reasons that social interaction is. It will tend to give your mind a break from thinking too heavily and the opportunity for creative thoughts to bubble up. It will also keep your body healthier. Not Olympic gymnast healthier. Heck - gardening will leave you a fat slob (if you are, and want to remain so), but it will bring your health up a slight notch nevertheless. If you want to be time-efficient, find a hobby that combines social activity plus getting out - this would possibly allow the space to date. But I do feel that doing something relatively mindless (BUT NOT IN FRONT OF A SCREEN - no video games and no TV. They are not mindless enough) is also fairly important even if it is only for a short amount of time..but regularly. At least once per week. Heck - just sit outside in a lawn chair in the sun and make chain mail. No thought involved, but you get fresh air and sun.

Remember, the hobby must be engaging enough that you will continue to do it in spite of the pull to spend all of your time in front of the computer. Try out a few and see which one sticks with you for a while. Plop a reminder in your calendar a few months down the line to start the programming part (ie: don't get so sucked into the hobby that it cuts off your original plans). Plop a reminder in your calendar a few months down the line to re-examine your hobby(ies).

Yes, this will severely cut back on the total amount of time that you spend in front of the computer programming. In fact, you might get only a tiny bit of code done per week (best done in extended-concentration burst I know - maybe one weeknight and 6-8 straight hours on one weekend day). But it will be much higher quality and you will get a LOT more done during that time.

If you are concerned about the time issues and you happen to watch TV cut it out. Watching TV fulfills neither of the requirements for a healthy body and mind needed for programming. If you must watch TV, get yourself a TIVO and use it to ensure that you only watch the good stuff and you don't just plop down in front of the TV to "watch what's on." And also make some rules about the TIVO for yourself ie: once a recorded program reaches its time limit let it expire off. For every new program you add to your favorites, you will take one off. Etc.

If you like video games - figure out some way to cut back. Maybe an old-fashioned timer - set it in the next room for 30-60 minutes. When it goes off you quit your game and then go into the next room and shut it off. And then you do something that doesn't involve sitting down.

"Never ascribe to malice that which is caused by greed and ignorance." -- Cal Keegan

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