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Submission + - UK police will have backdoor access to health records

kc123 writes: David Davis MP, a former shadow home secretary has has told the Guardian that police would be able to access the new central NHS database without a warrant as critics warn of catastrophic breach of trust. The database that will store all of England's health records has a series of "backdoors" that will allow police and government bodies to access people's medical data. In the past police would need to track down the GP who held a suspect's records and go to court for a disclosure order. Now, they would be able to simply approach the new arms-length NHS information centre, which will hold the records. The idea that police will be able to request information from a central database without a warrant totally undermines a long-held belief in the confidentiality of the doctor-patient relationship.

Submission + - An open letter to the management of Slashdot. 14

onyxruby writes: I have been watch for some time now as Slashdot has started beta testing a new version of the website. As you are well aware the new site would constitute a complete change to the look, interface and functionality of

Change happens, and for those of us who work with technology for a living it is the only constant. Change is a process and in and of itself is not a bad thing when it offers improvement. Unfortunately the change that has been offered negatively impacts the look, interface and most importantly the functionality of Slashdot.
Many people have had trouble reverting back to the classic interface. The new interface simply does not offer the functionality of the old. Things like statistics, comments and layout are very difficult to find. You have a community that lives and breathes data and want to know their data. How is my comment ranked, how many people responded – it’s really all about the dialogue. Can I get the information that I want in a readily digestible format?

As you’re well aware the new site does not offer the very thing that people come here for. This in and of itself is not why your community has organized a boycott of Beta. The boycott was originated because the new version will be implemented whether the community wants it or not.

I want to explain why this change has gone down people’s throats about as well as Windows 8’s Metro interface. The reason has absolutely nothing to do with the interface and everything to do with the perception that the editors and management of Slashdot appear to have.

The message that has been consistently handed down is that we are “your audience”. We are not your “your audience” we are your product. People do not come to Slashdot for the news stories, there are untold other sites that provide those as well as professional and original writing about them. People come here for the community of insiders from across the industry.

Please respect the community and stop what you’re doing. You have commented that you don’t want to maintain two code bases. Your community works in the industry and understands this, which leads many to suggest you abandon the new code base entirely so that you are only maintaining once code base. Tell us what your trying to accomplish and I would imagine that a wide range of experts would be more than willing to help you meet your goals.

Submission + - Slashdot Beta Woes 16

s.petry writes: What is a Slashdot and why the Beta might destroy it?

Slashdot has been around, well, a very long time. Longer than any of it's competators, but not as long as IIRC. Slashdot was a very much one of the first true social media web sites.

On Slashdot, you could create a handle or ID. Something personal, but not too personal, unless you wanted it to be. But it was not required either. We know each other by our handles, we have watched each other grow as people. We may have even taken pot shots at each other in threads. Unless of course you are anonymous, but often we can guess who that really is.

One of Slashdot's first motto's was "News for Nerds" that Matters. I have no idea when that was removed. I have not always scoured the boards here daily, life can get too busy for that. That excuses my ignorance in a way. I guess someone thought it politically incorrect, but most of us "Nerds" enjoyed it. We are proud of who we are, and what we know. Often we use that pride and knowledge to make someone else look bad. That is how we get our digs in, and we enjoy that part of us too. We don't punch people, we belittle them. It's who we are!

What made Slashdot unique were a few things. What you will note here is "who" has been responsible for the success of Slashdot. Hint, it has never been a just the company taking care of the servers and software.

— First, the user base submitted stories that "they" thought mattered. It was not a corporate feed. Sure, stories were submitted about companies. The latest break through from AMD and Intel, various stories regarding the graphic card wars, my compiler is better than your compiler, and yes your scripting language stinks! Microsoft IIS has brought us all a few laughs and lots of flame wars to boot. Still, we not only read about the products but get to my second point.

— User comments. This is the primary why we have been coming here for as long as we have, many of us for decades. We provide alternative opinions or back what was given in the article. This aspect not only makes the "News" interesting, but often leads to other news and information sharing. It's not always positive, but this is the nature of allowing commentary. It also brings out the third point.

— Moderation. Moderation has been done by the community for a very long time. It took lots of trial and error to get a working system. As with any public system it's imperfect, but it's been successful. People can choose to view poorly modded comments, but don't have to. As with posting anonymous versus with our own handle it's an option that allows us to personalize the way we see and read what's on the site. And as a reward for submitting something worth reading, you might get a mod point of your own to use as a reward for someone else.

Why we dislike Beta and what is being pushed, and why this will result in the end of an era if it becomes forced on the community.

1. Bulky graphics. We get that Dice and Slashdot need revenue. I have Karma good enough to disable advertisements, but have never kept this setting on. I realize that Slashdot/Dice make money with this. That said, the ads sit away from my news and out of the way. I can get there if I want it (but nobody has ever gotten a penny from me clicking an ad... nobody!), but it's not forced into my face or news feed.

2. Low text area. I like having enough on my screen to keep me busy without constant scrolling. Slashdot currently has the correct ratio of text to screen. This ratio has never been complained about, yet Beta reduces the usable text area by at least 1/2 and no option for changing the behavior. I hate reading Slashdot on mobile devices because I can't stand scrolling constantly.

3. JavaScript. We all know the risks of JS, and many of us disable it. We also have an option of reading in Lync or non-standard browsers that many of us toy with for both personal and professional reasons. This flexibility is gone in Beta, and we are forced to allow JS to run. If you don't know the risks of allowing JS to run, you probably don't read much on Slashdot. Those that allow JS do so accepting the risk (which is admittedly low on a well known site).

4. Ordering/Sorting/Referencing. Each entry currently gets tagged with a unique thread ID. This allows linking to the exact post in a thread, not just the top of the thread. In Beta this is gone. It could be that the site decided to simply hide the post ID or it was removed. Either way, going to specific posts is something that is used very commonly by the community.

5. Eye candy. Most of us are not here for "eye candy" and many have allergic reactions to eye candy. Slashdot has a good mix currently. It's not as simple as the site starting with a r-e-d-i-t, which is good. That site has a reputation that keeps many of us away, and their format matches my attitude of them (s-i-m-p-l-e-t-o-n). At the same time, it's not like watching some other "news" sites with so much scrolling crap I can't read an article without getting a headache. The wasted space in beta for big bulky borders, sure smells like eye candy. Nothing buzzes or scrolls yet, but we can sense what's coming in a patch later.

The thing is, the community cares about Slashdot. We come here because we care. We submit stories because of that, we vote because of that, we moderate because of that, and we comment because of that. At the same time we realize that without the community Slashdot loses most of its value. We respect that we don't host the servers, backup the databases, or patch the servers. Slashdot/Dice provide the services needed for Slashdot.

It's a give give relationship, and we each get something in return. Slashdot gets tons of Search hits and lots of web traffic. We get a place to learn, teach, and occasionally vent.

Look, if you want to change default color scheme or make pre-made palettes for us to choose from, we would probably be okay with that. If you want to take away our ability to block ads by Karma, or move the ads to the left side of my browser window, I would be okay with those things too.

If you want to make drastic changes to how the site works, this is a different story all together. The reason so many are against Beta is that it breaks some of the fundamental parts of what makes Slashdot work.

User input until recently has not been acknowledged. The acknowledgment we have received is not from the people that are making the decision to push Beta live. We told people Beta was broken, what it lacked, and we were rather surprised to get a warning that Beta would be live despite what we told people. People are already making plans to leave, which means that Slashdot could fade away very soon.

Whether this was the goal for Dice or not remains to be seen. If it is, it's been nice knowing you but I won't be back. A partnership only works when there is mutual respect between the parties. A word of caution, us Nerds have good memories and lots of knowledge. The loss of Slashdot impacts all of Dice holdings, not just Slashdot. I boycott everything a company holds, not just the product group that did me wrong.

If that was not the goal of Dice, you should quickly begin communicating with the user base. What are the plans are to fix what Beta has broken? Why is Beta being pushed live with things broken? A "Sorry we have not been communicating!", and perhaps even a "Thank you" to the user base for helping make Slashdot a success for so many years.

Comment Re:Pointless, sue individually instead. (Score 1) 546

A few logic fails in your post. Sony did force the change by making me choose PSN, future Blu-ray and game support or Linux. I paid for all of those, they have no right to make me choose. Secondly, even people that didnt have linux installed on capable hardware are absolutely affected. They have lost all future use of a feature they paid for. Thats like saying its ok for the car dealership to remove your spare tire because you've never had to use it, even though you paid for and own it.

Comment Re:Testing the EULA? (Score 1) 546

That's not the point - they can just as easily use their refund money to get a PC (to run Linux), or get a XBox or Wii, or just spend it on hookers and blow.

It's no different than if my dishwasher doesn't perform as advertised - I get my money back, and if I want to buy a lesser dishwasher, that's my own business.

Comment Advantages of unified memory+storage (Score 1) 57

This kind of advance paves the way for solid state unified RAM & storage where applications can execute in-place. This allows for near-instant sleeping of a OS and even snoozing of individual applications. Even more interesting is re-writable binary at runtime. Things like process migration for cloud/clustering would then become ultra-easy, as a application image could be moved in realtime to a different device and execution resume straight away. It boggles the mind what's possible.

More importantly that technical reasons, you would no longer have to explain the difference between RAM and Hard Disk storage to Mom and Pop users, and why clearing gigs of "gobbledegook" out of C:\ because there was a "Out of Memory" error was not going to help.

Comment Hypocrisy Anyone? (Score 2, Insightful) 522

...any claim about protecting privacy from the one company that has been the direct or indirect cause of so much private data being lost or compromised is really rich. I'd have to think that it's a red herring, really, to divert attention away from the privacy/security problems IE 6/7/8, Windows XP/Vista/7 have already....

Comment Speedbumps blow...and can be illegal. (Score 2, Insightful) 801

Around here, we have a law that says the state (as in US state) sets the speed limits on all roads unless a waiver is given to a locality (city or county) to override the speed limit that would ordinarily apply to a given road.

I'm sure the purpose is both uniformity (so everyone "knows" how fast to drive on unfamiliar or unposted roads) and to prevent municipalities from changing speed limits arbitrarily (speed traps, etc).

The side effect to this in the larger urban areas is that in response to heavy traffic, people seek out residential through streets as means around the major arterial streets, which are clogged. The people living on those streets hate the traffic and the speeding that goes with it, so the residents are able to petition the council to get speedbumps installed on their streets.

IMHO these suck. One, they don't really slow or divert that much traffic. Usually you see people driving the speed limit and then braking hard at the speed bumps and then accelerating hard to get back to their speed limits. While I sympathize with the people living on those streets, they ARE through streets that belong to everyone who pays taxes, not private roads for the benefit of the residents -- you only ever see speedbumps in upscale residential areas.

I also think they are illegal usurpation of the state speed limits -- you can't drive the legal speed limit on the street without damage to your vehicle and/or creating a dangerous situation flying off the bumps.

Comment Re:A load of BS (Score 1) 778

Don't have an iPhone, do you? I have a lot of friends addicted to iPhone games, and there are even a few I have played more than I would like to admit.

He may or may not, but I have an iPod Touch, which is effectively the same. Gaming on it is awful for anything more complex than Bejeweled or solitaire. The phone will not replace portable gaming consoles any time soon, and my money is on never, simply because the interface necessary for a good gaming device is not conducive to a good phone.

Yeah, so will codpieces, it doesn't mean they are still useful.

Yeah, but watches are still useful, and always will be. My watch is on my wrist. I can look at it, with barely any effort, in a half-second. My phone is in my pocket, and takes more effort to look at (considerably more, if I'm sitting in a position which makes it awkward to get my phone out from my pocket). It's also impossible to discreetly look at your phone for the time. With a watch, it's tricky, but possible. The phone will never replace the watch.

Comment Re:Fedora vs. Ubuntu (Score 1) 236

What is weird is that Fedora and Ubuntu have two totally different goals: Fedora is the testbed for RHEL so it's expected to run on the bleeding edge and having issue whereas Ubuntu is supposed to be the Linux's desktop for every users, but given all the issue I hear about Ubuntu and PulseAudio and other, they're not very good at providing a stable desktop.. Sad..

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