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Programming

How Experienced And Novice Programmers See Code 238

Esther Schindler writes "We always talk about how programmers improve their skill by reading others' code. But the newbies aren't going to be as good at even doing that, when they start. There's some cool research underway, using eye tracking to compare how an experienced programmer looks at code compared to a novice. Seems to be early days, but worth a nod and a smile." Reader Necroman points out that if the above link is unreachable, try this one. The videos are also available on YouTube: Expert, Novice.
Security

The Man Who Hacked the Bank of France 184

First time accepted submitter David Off writes "In 2008 a Skype user looking for cheap rate gateway numbers found himself connected to the Bank of France where he was asked for a password. He typed 1 2 3 4 5 6 and found himself connected to their computer system. The intrusion was rapidly detected but led to the system being frozen for 48 hours as a security measure. Two years of extensive international police inquiries eventually traced the 37-year-old unemployed Breton despite the fact he'd used his real address when he registered with Skype. The man was found not guilty in court today (Original, in French) of maliciously breaking into the bank."
Space

Search For Earth-Like Worlds Focuses On Sun's Siblings 64

astroengine writes "The search for 'Earth-like' worlds just became even more Earth-like. Researchers from the University of Turku, Finland, have begun the search for the Sun's siblings in the hope that they may play host to exoplanets. Since these stars 'grew up' in close proximity to our Sun inside a stellar nursery some 4.5 billion years ago, they may have shared more than just star-building materials. Through the biology-spreading hypothesis 'panspermia,' they may have also shared the basic building blocks for life. Two sibling candidates have now been found and the researchers hope to survey the two stars — which contain similar metals and are of a similar age to our Sun — for bona fide Earth-like worlds. Could these worlds have life? If they do, extraterrestrial life may have more in common with us than we ever imagined."

Comment Cost of electronic communication then and now (Score 2) 387

Today, you probably pay a flat fee for your Internet service and, for the most part, you don't pay anything for the various Web sites you visit or services you use. In the pre-CIX Internet days, it was an entirely different story.

Unless you were lucky enough to live close to an online service point of presence you had to use a dial-up modem to call up an X.25 packet switched wide area network (WAN). This connection service alone could cost anywhere from an affordable $1 an hour to a wallet busting $30 an hour, which you could then use to connect with an online service. The online service would also typically charge you a monthly fee plus an additional fee of $1 to $6 an hour. And you thought your ISP was expensive!

That's between $2 and $36 per hour. At the speeds mentioned, you could transfer 135,000 bytes per hour. That's $0.00237 to
$0.0427 per 160 bytes, which is much less than the $0.20 that we are charged today for text messaging without a plan. Incredible.

Comment Re:The number is a Palindromic Prime in base 2. (Score 1) 486

It's very possible that this is just a coincidence and that this has nothing to do with the meaning of the bits. Sure, it seems like there's no way it could be by accident that a number around 6.8 billion is prime, but there is:
The chances of a random number x being prime are about ln x. ln 6830770643 ~= 22.6, but it's possible that the first number had to be 1, which would mean (since it's palindromic) the last number has to be 1 (making the number odd), excluding 2 as a possible factor. This puts the chance at more like 11.3. It's quite possible that we're reading too much into this. This might've just been randomly picked by an artist, (and then made symmetrical by making it a palindrome) instead of designed by a geek (and intentionally including a hidden meaning or just making it a prime or something).
In searching for additional evidence that primes were an intentionally selected theme, I looked at:
11001011100100101
10100100111010011
0100100111010011
1100101110010010
(each half of the palindrome, with and without the 1 in the center)
One of these is prime: 0100100111010011_2=18899_10, 18899 is prime. I'm not sure what it means, but I doubt those substrings were chosen for their primality.

The Media

Wikipedia Reveals Secret of 'The Mousetrap' 244

Hugh Pickens writes "CIOL reports that Wikipedia has revealed the secret of Agatha Christie's famous murder mystery 'The Mousetrap' by identifying the killer in the world's longest running play, now at over 24,000 performances ever since its maiden performance in 1952, despite protests from the author's family and petitions from fans who think the revelation is a spoiler. Angry at the revelation, Matthew Prichard, Christie's grandson, who describes the decision of Wikipedia as 'unfortunate,' says he will raise the matter with the play's producer, Sir Stephen Waley-Cohen. 'My grandmother always got upset if the plots of her books or plays were revealed in reviews — and I don't think this is any different. It's a pity if a publication, if I can call it that, potentially spoils enjoyment for people who go to see the play.' Unrepentant, Wikipedia justifies the decision to reveal the ending of the play. 'Our purpose is to collect and report notable knowledge. It's exceedingly easy to avoid knowing the identity of the murderer: just don't read it.'"

Comment Re:Confusing symbols (Score 1) 1268

I'm from the UK, is 4+3+2=( )+2 a commonly used / commonly understood way of presenting the problem in the US?

No, that's not standard usage in the US or anywhere else that I'm aware of.
It's always possible the report was not properly representing what he was trying to convey, but the report definitely shows usage that isn't clear for anyone, unless it was explained on the test. No wonder people are confused.

Canada

Online Forum Speeding Boast Leads To Conviction 457

Meshach writes "In Canada, a nineteen-year-old man has lost his driving license for six months and is facing one year of probation after the police arrested him for dangerous driving as a result of a post on an online message board. The tip apparently came from an uninvolved American who called the Canadian authorities after he saw the post bragging about how fast the man went."
Movies

Trailer For Blender Open Movie Sintel Ready 182

l_i_g_h_s_p_e_e_d writes "The trailer for Sintel is ready. (We discussed the beginnings of this project in 2007.) Sintel is a Blender Open Movie project created using only FLOSS software. 'For the entire creation pipeline in the studio, we will only use free/open source software. We have less than two months now to finish this completely. ... Imagine the tension that's building up here to get everything perfect. For today, we'll celebrate a big step forward.' Download here."
Real Time Strategy (Games)

StarCraft II To Be Released On July 27 220

Blizzard announced today that StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, the first game in a series of three, will be released on July 27. The game will contain the Terran campaign (29 missions), the full multiplayer experience, and "several challenge-mode mini-games," with "focused goals designed to ease players into the basics of multiplayer strategies." It will launch alongside the revamped Battle.net, which we've previously discussed. Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime said, "We've been looking forward to revisiting the StarCraft universe for many years, and we're excited that the time for that is almost here. Thanks to our beta testers, we're making great progress on the final stages of development, and we'll be ready to welcome players all over the world to StarCraft II and the new Battle.net in just a few months."
GNU is Not Unix

Denmark Chooses OpenDocument Format 198

Seahawk was one of several readers to write in with news of Denmark's decision to embrace ODF. "On Friday morning Denmark decided to choose ODF over Microsoft's OOXML. For now the decision is only effective for governmental institutions, but regions and municipalities will most likely follow some time in the future. The decision has unfolded over a period of four years, and many open source advocates were fearing the worst, but it looks like the minister finally caved in and listened to what a lot of people were saying." While in transition away from Microsoft Office formats, the Danes may find use for this new OpenOffice integration guide (sent in by reader AdeleWard).

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