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Technology

Submission + - The Poor Waste Their Time on Digital Entertainment (nytimes.com) 1

polyphydont writes: Children of parents with low social status are less able to resist the temptations of technological entertainment, a fact that impedes their education and adds to the obstacles such children face in obtaining financial comfort later in life. As explained in the article, poor parents and their children often waste both their time and money on heavily marketed entertainment systems. Such families often accumulate PC's, gaming consoles and smart phones, but use them only for nonconstructive activities.
GNU is Not Unix

Submission + - Progress Report From A Developer Trying to Go Open Source, Funded By Donations (lunduke.com)

TroysBucket writes: The developer of the game "Linux Tycoon" is attempting to release all of his software under the GPL and fund further development with donations. He gives a status update on how this is going. Spoiler: Not bad, but could be better. An interesting case study for anyone who's been thinking about doing something similar.
Databases

Submission + - Google's F1 - Scalable Alternative to MySQL (i-programmer.info)

mikejuk writes: Google has moved its advertising services from MySQL to a new database, created in-house, called F1. The new system combines the best of NoSQL and SQL approaches.
The store is dynamically sharded, supports replication across data centers while keeping transactions consistent, and can deal with data center outages without losing data. The downside of keeping the transactions consistent means F1 has higher write latencies compared to MySQL, so the team restructured the database schemas and redeveloped the applications so the effect of the increased latency is mainly hidden from external users. Because F1 is distributed, Google says it scales easily and can support much higher throughput for batch workloads than a traditional database.

Space

Submission + - Soviet moon lander discovered water on moon in 1976 (tech-stew.com)

techfun89 writes: "Luna-24 was the last Soviet mission to the moon. It returned to Earth with water-rich rock samples from beneath the lunar surface only to be ignored by the West. New research uncovers this story from obscurity.

Arlin Crotts, a professor in the Department of Astronomy of Columbia University in New York City found that the Soviets found evidence of water in the 1970s, in particular the Luna-24 sample-return mission. During this mission the Soviets drilled 2 meters into the lunar surface and extracted 300 grams of rock then returned to Earth. This was an impressive feat for its time. Analysis showed the rock was made up of 0.1 percent water. This result was published in 1978 to the Russian journal Geokhimiia. There was an English version but wasn't widely read in the West."

Google

Submission + - Larry Page: Have a Healthy Disregard for the Impossible (singularityhub.com) 1

kkleiner writes: "In a talk titled “Beyond Today”, Google’s CEO Larry Page infused Zeitgeist 2012 attendees with a healthy dose of optimism and a call to make ambitious bets, be better organized and work harder to accelerate technology and improve people’s lives. Donning a Google Glass prototype, Page highlighted Google’s current efforts and cast a vision for where Google is headed next, guided by a slogan he borrowed from a University of Michigan summer leadership course: with a healthy disregard for the impossible, people can do almost anything."
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Submission + - 'Apple's devices are like beautiful crystal prisons'

zacharye writes: Apple makes use of a number of open source technologies in its software products, but operating systems like iOS and OS X are hardly considered “open.” Apple has tight control over nearly every aspect of its mobile and desktop operating systems, ensuring that its products come as close as possible to resembling Apple’s vision from the moment they reach consumers’ hands until they are eventually replaced. While no one can deny the fact that Apple’s strategy has been a recipe for success thus far, a number of pundits believe Apple needs to loosen its grip on iOS and OS X if it hopes to maintain this success moving forward. Now, digital freedom fighters at the Electronic Frontier Foundation have weighed in on the issue...

Comment Bull (Score 4, Informative) 288

... , because the one thing you really want when buying a shelf of useless books is even more useless books to litter your coffee table.

I really cannot think of any occasion where the two-paragraph overview from a printed encyclopedia ever helped me accomplish anything. If I needed to study something specific, I went to the library and borrowed a few books on the topic. Encyclopedias are what you read when you don't really care all that much about the subject.

I pity anyone whose knowledge of the pre-web role of encyclopedias is limited to the poster's comment.

In 1968, my parents acquired a set of Enclopaedia Britannica ( == Yes that is the correct spelling). This was just prior to my experiencing a soccer injury that would confine me to bed for most of the next two years. I spent most of that time reading EB. (Yes, I also went to the library every week.) My time with EB did more to prepare me for college than any other single aspect of my high school education.

(And I came from a household that housed more than a thousand books and multiple sets of competing encyclopedias as well.)

Your "two paragraph" assertion is misleading. I still remember reading a biography of Rene Descarte that went on for pages. The article on World War II was even longer. Also, encyclopedias were never meant to be one's only source of information. Just a "jumping off" point in case the reader needed a starting point. This is the same way Wikipedia is used today. Need basic information? Use Wiki. Need more? That is what the iPad, Kindle, Nook, and the library are for.

Many years later, EB became one of my clients. It was during that experience that I learned that almost every article was written by a college professor likely to be an authority on the subject and proofread by another prior to publication. That many articles were also written by experts in their field (i.e. Albert Einstein authored an article on Physics in one edition) is also overlooked by the poster.

When my own daughters needed a resource in the early eighties, I did buy the Encarta, Grolier, and much later, the Britannica discs. In the internet age, my sons have no need for any of these.

But just to rant because one did not sit still, read, and appreciate this wonderful resource for what it was, is more a reflection on the poster and less a reflection on the value of such tools prior to the internet.

'nuff said.

Comment Oh but it might be an iPad app..... (Score 1) 260

we know the tablets are NOT iPads.

So most likely, it's Android.

In November of 2011, I visited a large physicians' practice located on the first floor of a major hospital in Center City, Philadelphia. They had chairs with bendable arms on one wall. On each arm, an iPad was securely mounted and permanently plugged into power. I think the power cables were securely wired to the chairs, arms, and iPads. Each iPad was securely affixed to the bendable arm. With regard to the cabling, I'm pretty sure the setup was compliant with OSHA rules. The iPads were used (among other things) for patients to fill out "New Patient Forms" and "Medical History." There may have been some other disclosures for some patients to read.

Most of the users were elderly. Many of the people using the devices had never touched an iPad (and for some, I'm sure they had never touched a computer before). As this office seemed to be pretty much focused on people requiring drugs and/or surgery for severe spinal and joint conditions, more than a few of these users were in pain and/or medications and reduction of user confusion may a priority.

With more than 50 people in the rest of the waiting room and about a dozen of the iPad chairs, there always seemed to be a physician's assistant close by to insure the iPad was only being used as intended. I can understand their desire to prevent unauthorized uses of the iPad as very personal information is being entered through these devices and potential for installation of monitoring software would make some people uncomfortable.

Even without the paranoia factor, I can understand the desire keep these iPads locked down to a few icons just to reduce end-user support and related confusion.

Comment BBx, the name that refuses to die (Score 1) 95

While marketed as a "platform," BBx combines an old version of Basic (Business Basic from the 1980's) that runs on a pseudo PICK O/S environment which in turn runs under Solaris, Linux, and Windows.

Basis International developed BBj as the "next generation" of BBx that would move from Basic to Java back in the days when everyone thought Java would take over the world.

To the dismay of Basis, thousands of older customers have been perfectly happy not to migrate their commercial legacy apps off of BBx.

In other words, they WISH they had put BBx to "sleep" years ago, but have been unsuccessful. (Sounds like a lot of COBOL shops.)

What RIM has done is to use a trademark that among BBx customers means old, creaky language who vendor doesn't even like it much any more.

Comment Credits vs Education (Score 1) 608

On the undergraduate level, college is around 40 opportunities to increase skills at every level. This includes reading, critical thinking, social interactive skills including active listening, and exposure to individuals with different backgrounds, cultures, and differing points-of-view.

If you are looking for narrowly defined technical training or need to satisfy your employer's requirement for credits or a diploma, then online options abound.

Every other option robs you of one or more learning aspects noted above. You may still have good reasons to pursue online schooling. Your budget may be limited; your work schedule hellish; you may be disabled and without transportation or heck, maybe you hate sitting in a room with other people. But don't be fooled.

I've pursued both routes and learned a lot in both online and classroom environments. (I have multiple of the above excuses.). But don't be fooled into thinking that your learning experience without a classroom is as good (at least on the undergraduate level) as the traditional method.

And don't be fooled into thinking that I won't k ow that when I interview you for your first job out of college.

Comment This is a potential method to defear noscript (Score 2) 249

Users of noscript have long benefitted from fast loading of web pages as distracting ads pulled from other domains were suppressed.

If entire web pages are "constructed in the cloud" and then presented to users, the additional overhead of ads,
including annoying animation, would once again turn perfectly readable pages into aggravating distractions that
eventually drive readers away. Anyone remember answer.com? AskJeeves? Or cnn.com before noscript?

Bah humbug to this "improvement" in technology.

Comment PASTE WITHOUT FORMATTING (Score 2) 567

Dude, paste-without-formatting is essential for anyone who spends a lot of time cutting and pasting between applications into compound documents.

There are so many whiney paste-related comments in this chain that it is time for one of my rarer than Haley's Comet posts to /.

Immediately (if not sooner), get thy focus to CNET.com, click on the downloads tab, and search on Pure Text.

Both Pure Text and Pure Text Plus are free and legal programs that turn your Windows-Key-V combination into a paste-without-format key.

(Be sure to decline the offer to install the Bing toolbar upon installation.)

I use Pure Text so much, it is one of the few programs I run in my start-up group.

My work here is done.

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