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Programming

Wolfram Language Demo Impresses 216

theodp writes "The devil will be in the details, but if you were stoked about last November's announcement of the Wolfram programming language, you'll be pleased to know that a just-released dry-but-insanely-great demo delivered by Stephen Wolfram does not disappoint. Even if you're not in love with the syntax or are a FOSS devotee, you'll find it hard not to be impressed by Wolfram's 4-line solution to a traveling salesman tour of the capitals of Western Europe, 6-line camera-capture-to-image-manipulation demo, or 2-line web crawling and data visualization example. And that's just for starters. So, start your Raspberry Pi engines, kids!"

Comment Re:Precisely (Score 4, Insightful) 1098

The thing is that you are worried about computing in the current world.
RMS is worried about the future of computing, and has helped shape it, winning several battles, even though he is losing the war.

Of course there are IP laws/contracts/whatever that don't let you link to GPLed code. That's why it's GPLed, so the work of free software developer does not help those who want to shrink our freedom.

You can use our work, if you share, if you don't share, go build it yourself. It _is_ us versus them, and RMS sees it very clearly.

Fifteen years ago, RMS rants about a dystopian future looked exaggerated. Right now, they look like old news.

You are right that the GPL is a PITA when you want to work with proprietary software, that's not a bug, it's a feature, which BSD software lacks. That's because the GPL is supposed to have a long term effect.

Space

Water Plume Detected At Dwarf Planet Ceres 66

astroengine writes "Astronomers analyzing data from the now defunct Herschel infrared space observatory have made a huge discovery deep inside the asteroid belt. Dwarf planet Ceres, the largest body in the region, is generating plumes of water vapor. 'This is the first time water vapor has been unequivocally detected on Ceres or any other object in the asteroid belt and provides proof that Ceres has an icy surface and an atmosphere,' said Michael Küppers of the European Space Agency in Spain and lead author of a paper published today (Jan. 22) in the journal Nature."
Education

Ask Slashdot: It's 2014 -- Which New Technologies Should I Learn? 387

An anonymous reader writes "I've been a software engineer for about 15 years, most of which I spent working on embedded systems (small custom systems running Linux), developing in C. However, web and mobile technologies seem to be taking over the world, and while I acknowledge that C isn't going away anytime soon, many job offers (at least those that seem interesting and in small companies) are asking for knowledge on these new technologies (web/mobile). Plus, I'm interested in them anyway. Unfortunately, there are so many of those new technologies that it's difficult to figure out what would be the best use of my time. Which ones would you recommend? What would be the smallest set of 'new technologies' one should know to be employable in web/mobile these days?"

Comment Re:Unprofessional all around (Score 1) 692

I agree.
At my second interview for a job, I was told that, if hired, I would be on trial for 3 months. I replied that I welcomed the opportunity of getting to know the company before making a long term decision, they replied that _I_ was expected to commit long term from day one.
We ended up working together for three years, but I had to help them fix their hiring process and expectations a little bit.

Data Storage

Ask Slashdot: Practical Bitrot Detection For Backups? 321

An anonymous reader writes "There is a lot of advice about backing up data, but it seems to boil down to distributing it to several places (other local or network drives, off-site drives, in the cloud, etc.). We have hundreds of thousands of family pictures and videos we're trying to save using this advice. But in some sparse searching of our archives, we're seeing bitrot destroying our memories. With the quantity of data (~2 TB at present), it's not really practical for us to examine every one of these periodically so we can manually restore them from a different copy. We'd love it if the filesystem could detect this and try correcting first, and if it couldn't correct the problem, it could trigger the restoration. But that only seems to be an option for RAID type systems, where the drives are colocated. Is there a combination of tools that can automatically detect these failures and restore the data from other remote copies without us having to manually examine each image/video and restore them by hand? (It might also be reasonable to ask for the ability to detect a backup drive with enough errors that it needs replacing altogether.)"
Displays

GPUs Keep Getting Faster, But Your Eyes Can't Tell 291

itwbennett writes "This brings to mind an earlier Slashdot discussion about whether we've hit the limit on screen resolution improvements on handheld devices. But this time, the question revolves around ever-faster graphics processing units (GPUs) and the resolution limits of desktop monitors. ITworld's Andy Patrizio frames the problem like this: 'Desktop monitors (I'm not talking laptops except for the high-end laptops) tend to vary in size from 20 to 24 inches for mainstream/standard monitors, and 27 to 30 inches for the high end. One thing they all have in common is the resolution. They have pretty much standardized on 1920x1080. That's because 1920x1080 is the resolution for HDTV, and it fits 20 to 24-inch monitors well. Here's the thing: at that resolution, these new GPUs are so powerful you get no major, appreciable gain over the older generation.' Or as Chris Angelini, editorial director for Tom's Hardware Guide, put it, 'The current high-end of GPUs gives you as much as you'd need for an enjoyable experience. Beyond that and it's not like you will get nothing, it's just that you will notice less benefit.'"
Firefox

Firefox 25 Arrives With Web Audio API Support, Guest Browsing On Android 144

An anonymous reader writes "Mozilla today officially launched Firefox 25 for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. Additions include Web Audio API support, as well as guest browsing and mixed content blocking on Android. Firefox 25 can be downloaded from Firefox.com and all existing users should be able to upgrade to it automatically. As always, the Android version is trickling out slowly on Google Play. The release notes are here: desktop, mobile."
Businesses

Microsoft Makes Another "Nearly Sold Out" Claim For the Surface Line 262

Microsoft made some confident sounding claims about sales of its first-generation Surface tablets before it became clear that the tablets weren't actually selling very well. So make what you will of the company's claim that the second version is "close to selling out." As the linked article points out, the company has "fallen short of offering any real explanation as to just how “close” to selling out the Surface 2 and Pro 2 really are – nor have they indicated how many were on hand to order in the first place."

Comment Re:My favorite brand of snake oil is open source (Score 1) 291

Not only in that case.
Your ability or interest might change. Like what happened now with NSA backdoors getting more publicity, the Linux code is getting more reviewed for their backdoors, even after being in use for several years. If the source were not available, it would be a lot harder to check.

About "non-code submmitting users", I don't think they are the ones who should audit it. You can trust someone who does submit code, or you can suddenly gain interest in security and start checking it, or even pay soomeone to do it. The thing is that it's possible.

This is why it's a lot better to think in terms of Free Software and not open source. Technical advantages are hard to value if they are not used. Freedom is a lot easier to understand. You have the freedom to use the code as you like, share it and whatever. To illustrate the importance of freedom vs its exercise: lots of people don't want to, or don't have the money to travel outside their countries, but we don't like to have that possibility restricted.

Comment Re:My favorite brand of snake oil is open source (Score 1) 291

1 - Citation needed. In the sense of open source being easier to debug than proprietary code, it's undeniable.
2 - Citation needed. That strawman is getting old.
3 - True. It does mean anyone _can_, not that anyone _will_ . That's very valuable by itself. You can trust the vendor for example, but have the possibility to stop trusting them. Don't you prefer to be able to find backdoors vs not being able?
4 - Citation needed. Same as 2 -

Biotech

Personal Genomics Firm 23andMe Patents Designer Baby System 171

An anonymous reader writes "Consumer genomics company 23andMe has developed a system for helping prospective parents choose the traits of their offspring, from disease risk to hair color. The patent — number 8543339, "Gamete donor selection based on genetic calculations" — describes a technology that would take a customer's preferences for a child's traits, compute the likely genomic outcomes of combinations between a customer's sperm or egg and other people's sex cells, and describe which potential reproductive matches would most likely produce the desired baby."
Space

Monster Storm Reveals Water On Saturn 31

cold fjord sends this news from NASA: "A monster storm that erupted on Saturn in late 2010 – as large as any storm ever observed on the ringed planet -- has already impressed researchers with its intensity and long-lived turbulence. A new paper in the journal Icarus reveals another facet of the storm's explosive power: its ability to churn up water ice from great depths. This finding, derived from near-infrared measurements by NASA's Cassini spacecraft, is the first detection at Saturn of water ice. The water originates from deep in Saturn's atmosphere. 'The new finding from Cassini shows that Saturn can dredge up material from more than 100 miles [160 kilometers],' said Kevin Baines, a co-author of the paper who works at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. 'It demonstrates in a very real sense that typically demure-looking Saturn can be just as explosive or even more so than typically stormy Jupiter.'"
AI

Concern Mounts Over Self-Driving Cars Taking Away Freedom 662

Lucas123 writes "Opinions in the blogosphere are building and run the gamut on self-driving automobile technology, but a survey supports the trend that most don't want their driving independence usurped by cameras, sensors and an onboard computer. The survey of British drivers last year commissioned by Bosch, a Germany-based supplier of automotive components, found that most would not buy a self-driving car. Only 29% of respondents said thay would consider buying a driverless car and only 21% said they would feel safe as a passenger in a self-driving car. David Alexander, an analyst at Navigant Research, pointed out that while driving yourself is often preferable, there's a lot of "grunt" driving that would be better handled by a computer. Navigant recently released a report stating that by 2035, 95 million autonomous cars will be sold every year."

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