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Submission + - Recursion - Love it or Hate It?

theodp writes: "Yet another example of how AP exams are loaded with poor coding practices," quipped Alfred Thompson, referring to a recursive code example that prints the numbers 0 to 6, which was posted to the (closed) AP Computer Science Facebook group. "We are often forced to use code examples that are not ideal coding practice," Thompson notes. "We do that to make things clear and to demonstrate specific concepts in a sort of isolation that we might not normally use. We seem to do that a lot with recursion because the examples that require recursion tend to be fairly complex." So, while asking students to use recursion instead of a loop to print '0123456' serves the purpose of teaching recursion, Thompson opines that it's also a poor example of code practice. "Someone raised on functional programming where recursion is a pretty standard way of doing looping might disagree of course," he adds. "There is a saying that when all you have is a hammer all your problems look like nails. This seems, in a way, to be the case with recursion and loops. If your first tool of choice (or what you have learned first) for iteration is loops you tend not to think of recursion as a solution. Similarly if you start with recursion (as is common with functional programming) you are a lot more likely to look at recursion as a tool for iteration." So, do you tend to embrace or eschew recursion in your programming?

Submission + - Gas Prices Are Too Damn Low 2 writes: Pat Garofalo writes in an op-ed in US News & World Report that with the recent drop in oil prices, there's something policymakers can do that will offset at least some of the negative effects of the currently low prices, while also removing a constant thorn in the side of American transportation and infrastructure policy: Raise the gas tax. The current 18.4 cent per gallon gas tax has not been raised since 1993, making it about 11 cents per gallon today, in constant dollars. Plus, as fuel efficiency has gotten better and Americans have started driving less, the tax has naturally raised less revenue anyway. And that's a problem because the tax fills the Highway Trust Fund, which is, not to put too fine a point on it, broke so that in recent years Congress has had to patch it time and time again to fill the gap. According to the Tax Policy Center's Howard Gleckman, if Congress doesn't make a move, "it will fumble one of those rare opportunities when the economic and policy stars align almost perfectly." The increase can be phased in slowly, a few cents per month, perhaps, so that the price of gas doesn't jump overnight. When prices eventually do creep back up thanks to economic factors, hopefully the tax will hardly be noticed.

Consumers are already starting to buy the sort of gas-guzzling vehicles, including Hummers, that had been going out of style as gas prices rose; that's bad for both the environment and consumers, because gas prices are inevitably going to increase again. According to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, taxes last year, even before the current drop in prices, made up 12 percent of the cost of a gallon of gasoline, down from 28 percent in 2000. And compared to other developed countries, US gas taxes are pretty much a joke. While we're at it, an even better idea, as a recent report from the Urban Institute makes clear, would be indexing the gas tax to inflation, so this problem doesn't consistently arise. "The status quo simply isn't sustainable, from an infrastructure or environmental perspective," concludes Garofalo. "So raise the gas tax now; someday down the line, it will look like a brilliant move."

Submission + - Critical Infrastructure Initiative panic reaction to Heartbleed: ESR (

Bismillah writes: "They have backers with money, but no plan and no staff. We need to work out a way to either merge or not to step on each other," ESR believes.

ICEI being the Internet Civil Engineering Institute [site locked currently] that Eric S Raymond and others were about to launch soon, but then Heartbleed came along.

Submission + - Goodbye Carwash! Nissan Develops a Self-Cleaning Car 1

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: Nicole Arce reports at Tech Times that engineers at Nissan are using a "super-hydrophobic" and "oleophobic" paint finish called Ultra-Ever Dry on the new Nissan Note supermini that can repel water and oils, as well as dirt, dust, mud and grit. The paint uses nanotechnology to create a thin air shield above the surface of the car that makes rain, road spray, frost, sleet and standing water roll off the car without tainting its surface at all. "By creating a protective layer of air between the paint and environment, it effectively stops standing water and road spray from creating dirty marks on the car's surface," says Nissan's press release. Nissan says it has no plans of making the special paint job a standard on factory models but it will consider offering the self-cleaning paint as an aftermarket option. Nissan is now attempting to determine if the material is durable for long-term use on vehicles — and if it will hold up in different weather conditions around the globe. The Japanese automaker plans to test its custom technology this summer in Europe, with researchers based in its England technical facility using a Versa Note for testing.

Submission + - KDE Tops Desktop Poll - all others are "also runs" (

An anonymous reader writes: FOSS Force Desktop Poll: the results weren’t even close. 70% of prefer KDE, with no other desktop cracking the 10% mark. The results of this poll illustrates how far GNOME has fallen. GNOME 3 came in with only 8% of the vote, followed by Cinnamon, which started life as a fork of the GNOME shell, with a 6% showing. Taken as a whole, “Other” beat them both, with 16% of the vote.

Submission + - 300,000 West Virginians Told Not To Drink Or Bathe After Chemical Leak 4

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: Reuters reports that up to 300,000 West Virginia residents have been told not to drink tap water after a chemical spill called its safety into question, and health officials said water in the affected area should only be used for flushing toilets and fighting fires. "We don't know that the water's not safe, but I can't say it is safe," says Jeff McIntyre, president of West Virginia American Water Co, The spill of 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol, or Crude MCHM, a chemical used in the coal industry, occurred on Thursday on the Elk River in Charleston, West Virginia's capital upriver from the plant run by West Virginia American Water. The chemical, which smells like licorice, can cause headaches, eye and skin irritation, and difficulty breathing from prolonged exposures at high concentrations, according to the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists. Officials in West Virginia said they did not know how much of the chemical had leaked into the river or what its potential health impact might be. While there haven't been widespread sicknesses, the ordeal is already having a profound impact. Businesses — such as 15 McDonald's in the area, have shut down. Hospitals have had to take emergency measures to conserve water. And residents have been left scrambling, as evidenced by empty shelves and growing worries. The rush now is on to fully assess and address the problem, including the chemical leak that Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin characterized as "unacceptable." It is unclear how long that might take. “We cannot provide a timeline at this point,” says McIntyre.

Submission + - Windows 8 Apps Will Run and Sync on Xbox One

SmartAboutThings writes: If you’ve been following the news closely, then you probably know that Microsoft hinted towards the fact that Windows 8 apps will run on the upcoming Xbox One gaming console. We didn’t see any official information yet, probably because the Redmond company is keeping this for the official launch of the Xbox One that is scheduled for November. But it seems that DELL made a small (or big?) mistake by accidentally confirming this on its promotional page for Xbox One accessories, saying the following — "With all your favorite Windows 8 apps able to be run on and synced to your Xbox One". What do you think — could this really happen and will this be useful?

Submission + - Do Slashdotters use Markdown and Pandoc?

BartlebyScrivener writes: I am a author, screenwriter, law prof, and a hobbyist programmer. I love MacVim and write almost everything in it: Exams, novels, even screenplays now that Fountain is available. I use LaTeX and WordPress and so on, but several years ago I discovered Markdown and the wonderful Pandoc. I searched Slashdot expecting to find lively discussions of both Markdown and Pandoc, but found nothing. Do Slashdotters look down their noses at these tools and do their work in HTML and LaTeX? I can't imagine computer geeks using Word instead of their favorite text editors. If not Markdown and Pandoc, what tools do Slashdotters use when they create documents that probably need to be distributed in more than one format: HTML, PDF, EPUB or perhaps even docx?

Submission + - Open Office/Libreoffice lose over 50% of their marketshare in organizations (

An anonymous reader writes: LibreOffice and OpenOffice remain very popular for users of Linux with many using it on Macs and Windows based PCs as well at home. Organizations are still as addicted as as ever with MS office formats. In 2011 13% of organizations had OpenOffice variants installed on some computers. Today that number has dipped to 5% according to Forrester Research. It is unknown if organizations are leaving due to angry users who do not like change or because of office compatibility issues or MS offering better pricing? The poll included is over 100% as many organizations have multiple versions of offices installed. Also surprising Office 2003 is alive kicking and screaming as almost 1/3 of companies and governments still use it even though EOL for Office 2003 ends with XP on the same date! The good news is online cloud based platforms are gaining traction with Google Docs and Office 365 which are not so tied to Windows on the client. Are we too focused on old school PC install based office suites or should more effort be taken to online and cloud based replacements?

Submission + - Teachers Get 1 Week to Test Tech Giants' Hour of Code

theodp writes: In a move straight out of's playbook, teachers won't get to preview the final lessons they're being asked to roll out to 10 million U.S. students until a week before the Dec. 9th launch of the Hour of Code nation-wide learn-to-code initiative, according to a video explaining the project, which is backed by the nation's tech giants, including Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Google, and Amazon. The Hour of Code tutorial page showcased to the press sports Lorem Ipsum pseudo-Latin text instead of real content, promised tutorial software is still being developed by Microsoft and Google, and celebrity tutorials by Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are still a work-in-progress. With their vast resources and deep pockets, the companies involved can still probably pull something off, but why risk disaster for such a high-stakes effort with a last-minute rush? One possible explanation is that CS Education Week, a heretofore little-recognized event, is coming up soon. Then again, tech immigration reform is back on the front burner, an initiative that's also near-and-dear to many of same players behind Hour of Code, including Microsoft Chief Counsel Brad Smith who, during the Hour of Code kickoff press conference, boasted that Microsoft's more-high-tech-visas-for-US-kids-computer-science-education deal (video) found its way into the Senate Immigration Bill, but minutes later joined his fellow panelists to dismiss a questioner's suggestion that Hour of Code might somehow be part of a larger self-serving tech industry interest.

Submission + - 'Focus Aware Marketing' Startup Helped Identify The Boston Bombers (

chicksdaddy writes: There was lots of buzz this week about how Redditors and 4Chan were crowdsourcing the identity of the Boston Marathon bombers. In the end though, those efforts didn't amount to much. Sure, the collective eyeballing and Google dorking of the Internet masses yielded some clues — once images of the bombers had been released. Folks identified the brand of clothing worn by the suspects, as well as new and unseen photos of the two at the scene of the bombing.

Mostly, though, they sowed chaos and confusion, accelerating the spread of inaccurate information and fingering innocent spectators as possible bombers. None of the “suspects” singled out by crowdsourced analysis as “suspicious” are believed to have played a role in the attack.

So how did authorities pick out the two bombers to begin with? That was accomplished, in no small part, with technology by the startup firm CrowdOptic (, a purveyor of what it describes as “focus-based services.”

CrowdOptic's software correlates geospatial and compass data from smart devices and combine that with photos and other metadata ( EXIF information) associated with images. Built in analytics then use triangulation and other algorithms to identify “points of focus” in a crowd.
“Send me 100k images of the Super Bowl and in 1 second (of) server time I can send you the picture/s containing (for example) the halftime show wardrobe malfunction representing the most views,” CEO Jon Fisher told The Security Ledger back in October.

With the Boston bombings, CrowdOptic’s technology played a key role in helping authorities to sift through the photo evidence and metadata collected from the bombing scene. ( In that situation, the bombs’ locations acted as a magnet for all other photos containing bomb location in the photographs of the area before and after the explosions. CrowdOptic’s technology was used to piece together that visual information and give investigators a time lapse not just of the scene, but of people who could have captured an image of the points of interest – even from some distance. That’s information that wouldn’t show up just by collecting geospatial data of those around the bombing site at the time of the blast. That, in turn, quickly revealed the figures of the alleged bombers: Dzhokhor A. Tsarnaev, 19 and his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26.

Submission + - Studies, Experts Refute Environmentalist Watchdog Claims of 80%"E-waste Dumping" (

retroworks writes: "They came to our African city dumps and photographed children burning scrap — scrap that was thrown away after decades of use. Then they said our African businessmen and women had imported the junk recently, and dumped 80-90% of it. Our entrepreneurs have been arrested, and our internet cafes and hospitals denied IT equipment, and our citizens told to buy brand new devices which they cannot afford, or which — when made cheaply — fail at a higher rate than the quality used equipment. And the Environmentalist who use our children's images keep the money, and don't share a dime with Africa."

This damning quote from Jean Frederic Fahiri Somda of Burkina Faso , who opened the Vermont Fair Trade Recycling Summit, was not the first to defend Africans accused of creating "e-waste" dumps in European and USA media — an allegation that has recently resulted in the arrest of 40 African export businesses in Europe, and allegations by EPA that Egyptian businesses who purchased CRT monitors in the USA for $21 each intended to crudely recycle them.

At the FTR Summit, Field Studies and Surveys from US International Trade Commission, Basel Convention Secretariat, IDC, MIT, Memorial University, ASU, etc. presented at the Summit consistently predicted that 85-90% of used electronics purchased by Africans will be reused for years before reaching the dump. African representatives claimed that USA and European reused equipment is less prone to returns than affordable (Chinese) new equipment.


Submission + - Marissa Mayer Would Love to Work from Her Car

theodp writes: If it's any consolation to those work-from-home Yahoo employees who'll soon be forced to come into the office, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer feels their commuting pain. Not only that, she brainstormed with BMW in 2011 to sketch out an idea she had for easing office commutes — self-driving 'little bubbles'. Not sure that they'll be ready come June, but here's Mayer's elevator pitch from a BMW film short: "All I really need is a little bubble that drives itself and when it runs into something, it doesn't hurt that know, like it doesn't actually take up that much fuel because it's so lightweight and it's good for the environment for that reason." In another installment of the BMW film series, Marissa surprisingly embraces the idea of working from one's car: "I would love to be able to work, talk, do with friends or family...while I'm getting to somewhere." So, might letting Yahoos work from cars parked in their driveways be a good compromise?
Internet Explorer

Submission + - IE patch to fix 57 vulnerabilities ( 1

Billly Gates writes: Microsoft is advising users to stick with other browsers until Tuesday when 57 patches for Internet Explorer 6,7,8,9, and even 10.. There is no word if this patch is to protect IE from the +50 java exploits that were patched last week or the new Adobe flash vulnerabilities that were just posted earlier today. Microsoft has more information here. In semi related news IE 10 is almost done for Windows 7 and has a IE10blocker available for the corporations. No word on whether IE 10 will be included as part of the 57 updates.

Submission + - The U.S. Going Over Fiscal Cliff, Tax Deal Might Cushion Landing ( 1

Jetra writes: The House of Representatives has no plans to take any votes before midnight tonight, meaning the U.S. is technically going over the “fiscal cliff”, with more than $500 billion in tax hikes and $110 billion in automatic spending cuts kicking in for 2013. But the landing still might be cushioned by a deal between Senate Republicans and the White House that would protect couples earning up to $450,000 from most of the income tax increases that would otherwise take effect in 2013 as a raft of tax cuts, including the steep income tax reductions first passed under President George W. Bush, expire.

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