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Books

Submission + - The Downfall of Book Burning (bbc.co.uk)

ZahrGnosis writes: "In 1953, Ray Bradbury's book "Fahrenheit 451" described "a dystopian future in which the US has outlawed reading and firemen burn books". Book burning has long been a symbol of censorship or protest, and Bradbury's book was a great Science Fiction introduction to the topic for many readers alive today.

How should we feel, then that Fahrenheit 451 is becoming an e-book despite its author's feelings? Am I the only one that finds it ironic that a seminal book about book burning soon can't be burnt? In many ways, electronic media has put a serious dent in censorship so perhaps this is a fitting conclusion — even the author may not have the ability to ebb the flow of information in the digital age: the opposite problem of censorship. As a book lover and a technophile (who has yet to make the e-book transition), I find this story oddly interesting and wondered what the Slashdot crowd would think."

Comment All those in favor of the "weird" GIMP UI... (Score 1) 403

I like the UI the way it has been. For one thing it works better with multiple monitors IMO -- I can pull my toolbars off of the main editing window and take up the full screen with the image unabated. Further, I like being able to move things wherever I want and still be able to see whatever I put behind it; the workspace can be spread out without all the grey area taken up by the useless space between MDI child windows and toolbars and such. I get that people like uniform UIs, but I never really understood why people hated the GIMP's so much except that it wasn't familiar.

Does anyone remember Fractal Painter's old UI? Noone liked that either. *sigh* Of course, I think they had things like icons which would slowly fade and disappear if you never used them... or was that some other piece of software? Brilliant idea in any case -- we should get the GIMP to do that.

Comment Re:This isn't an obviously easy question (Score 2) 785

Agreed. Training on new technology is both the employer and employee's responsibility, and neither is fulfilling their social contract if they don't keep up.

The last point, though, is way more important. Good developers are way more than just a coder that knows a particular technology or tool.

Paying a premium might make sense for someone that has experience with the new hotness, but only if the rest of their experience is commensurate. Knowing how to communicate well, cooperate on requirements, think efficiently, provide useful documentation, manage bugs, manage your time, maintain client relationships, and just work well as part of a team are all at least as important as any specific tool. A college grad may or may not have those skills, even good interviews can't tell you everything about how a new hire will interact with a team or a client. If you've got a developer you know and trust and that done good work for a long time then it's unlikely the new-hot-skill is worth a premium above years of experience. A new grad isn't likely to have any depth of experience, even in a new technology, so it seems like simple math to justify training up an existing skilled competent asset rather than spending a premium on an unknown quantity.

If we're comparing against a developer that hasn't kept up, and isn't doing those things well, then that's another story.

Still, each case is unique, and the ability to negotiate a salary is almost an unrelated skill to your actual competence as a developer.

Comment Safeguards (Score 1) 433

I think giving multiple people root access is the opposite direction the original question intended. I think the idea is that you don't want ANY one person to have the ability to bring down, corrupt, or steal from a single system. Considering the recent madness around congressional data, passwords, credit card databases, and thousands of other examples this sort of security seems more and more reasonable.

I work on some unclassified Department of Defense machines, and even to get root access to those machines our admins have to get Top Secret clearances. Of course, this does nothing to ward off incompetence and is only useful for providing increased trust in your single point of failure, (but that trust is important). I assume you're looking for assurances beyond this sort of social-engineering aspect.

The two-key (nuclear) option mentioned is probably workable for a reasonably administered production system. There are several ways to implement a two-person system that could work.

First, routine tasks, or tasks which can be pre-planned (i.e. non-emergency situations) could be scripted on backup environments without the sensitivity or criticality of the production system. This should be standard practice anyway. Once a working tested script is prepared (and that can be a script in the programming sense a la .ksh/.perl or a script in the user-documentation meaning). The production system can require dual authentication for logon before the script could be executed. In a fully automated setting this is a completely technological solution (although I admit that I don't know of a working implementation that is publicly available), but even if there are some manual steps required, holding both key holders responsible and requiring at least over-the-shoulder confirmation is a useful policy.

For more complex tasks, such as recovering physically corrupted data, which really can't be simulated and scripted, dividing responsibilities and ensuring multiple people are in attendance at all times can significantly reduce risk exposure with minimal impact (it doubles your staffing requirement, but only for the hopefully brief periods when this is required). Again, this is not a technical solution, other than having lock boxes or rooms with multiple keys.

It's important to realize of course that you'd have to apply this solution not just to your sysadmin role, but to your physical infrastructure (no one person can access the power button, the fuse box, etc. by themselves), and to each application running on the system, at least for any role that has access to protected areas. This is nigh impossible in a usable system, so the problem gets pretty complicated, but if you really need the security then it may be worth the effort.

First Person Shooters (Games)

Combat Vets On CoD: Black Ops, Medal of Honor Taliban 93

An anonymous reader writes "Thom 'SSGTRAN' Tran, seen in the Call of Duty: Black Ops live action trailer and in the game as the NVA multiplayer character, gets interviewed and talks about Medal of Honor's Taliban drama. '... to me, it's a non-issue. This is Hollywood. This is entertainment. There has to be a bad guy if there's going to be a good guy. It's that simple. Regardless of whether you call them — "Taliban" or "Op For" — you're looking at the same thing. They're the bad guys.'" Gamasutra published a related story about military simulation games from the perspective of black ops veteran and awesome-name-contest winner Wolfgang Hammersmith. "In his view, all gunfights are a series of ordered and logical decisions; when he explains it to me, I can sense him performing mental math, brain exercise, the kind that appeals to gamers and game designers. Precise skill, calculated reaction. Combat operations and pistolcraft are the man's life's work."
Nintendo

Nintendo 3DS To Be Released In February/March 131

angry tapir writes "Nintendo's 3DS, the first portable game device with 3D graphic technology, will go on sale in Japan on Feb. 26 next year. The 3DS will cost ¥25,000 (US$298), Satoru Iwata, Nintendo's president, told a packed news conference in Chiba, Japan. It will launch in Europe, Australia and the US in March." Nintendo also detailed a number of games that will launch at or near the same time, and they said the online shop would get some improvements
Image

3 Drinks a Day Keeps the Doctor Away 470

Nzimmer911 writes "Heavy drinkers outlive non-drinkers according to a 20 years study following 1,824 people. From the article: 'But a new paper in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research suggests that - for reasons that aren't entirely clear - abstaining from alcohol does actually tend to increase one's risk of dying even when you exclude former drinkers. The most shocking part? Abstainers' mortality rates are higher than those of heavy drinkers.'"
Image

Shakespeare In Klingon? 80

stevegee58 writes "As if the Klingon opera described recently here at Slashdot weren't enough, here's an interesting offering for Shakespeare buffs. The Washington Shakespeare Company (based in Arlington VA) will soon be performing selections from Hamlet and Much Ado About Nothing in Klingon."
Image

Open Sarcasm Fighting Copyrighted Punctuation 155

pinkushun writes "SarcMark is a copyrighted punctuation mark, that claims 'It's time that sarcasm is treated equally!' Pretty damn cheeky while they're charging for their software, which only inserts their punctuation through a hotkey. Open Sarcasm is destroying SarcMark by advocating a new punctuation mark (not displaying here properly — alt+U0161) as the new open and free sarcasm symbol. Either way, this will be one interesting turnout. With bad unicode support across the web, displaying the characters properly might be an issue. PS Left out sarcastic end sentence as Slashdot doesn't display the U0161 character."
GNU is Not Unix

New LLVM Debugger Subproject Already Faster Than GDB 174

kthreadd writes "The LLVM project is now working on a debugger called LLDB that's already faster than GDB and could be a possible alternative in the future for C, C++, and Objective-C developers. With the ongoing success of Clang and other LLVM subprojects, are the days of GNU as the mainstream free and open development toolchain passé?" LLVM stands for Low Level Virtual Machine; Wikipedia as usual has a good explanation of the parent project.
Privacy

Lower Merion School's Report Says IT Dept. Did It, But Didn't Inhale 232

PSandusky writes "A report issued by the Lower Merion School District's chosen law firm blames the district's IT department for the laptop webcam spying scandal. In particular, the report mentions lax IT policies and record-keeping as major problems that enabled the spying. Despite thousands of e-mails and images to the contrary, the report also maintains that no proof exists that anyone in IT viewed images captured by the webcams."
Government

Secret Service Runs At "Six Sixes" Availability 248

PCM2 writes "ABC News is reporting that the US Secret Service is in dire need of server upgrades. 'Currently, 42 mission-oriented applications run on a 1980s IBM mainframe with a 68 percent performance reliability rating,' says one leaked memo. That finding was the result of an NSA study commissioned by the Secret Service to evaluate the severity of their computer problems. Curiously, upgrades to the Service's computers are being championed by Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, who says he's had 'concern for a while' about the issue."

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