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Submission + - Ask Slashdot: How Do You Explain "Don't Improve My Software Syndrome" or DIMSS? 7

dryriver writes: I am someone who likes to post improvement suggestions for different software tools I use on the internet. If I see a function in a software that doesn't work well for me or could work better for everyone else, I immediately post suggestions as to how that function could be improved and made to work better for everybody. A striking phenomenon I have come across in posting such suggestions is the sheer number of "why would you want that at all" or "nobody needs that" or "the software is fine as it is" type responses from software users. What is particularly puzzling is that its not the developers of the software rejecting the suggestions — its users of the software that often react sourly to improvement suggestions that could, if implemented well, benefit a lot of people using the software in question. I have observed this happening online for years even for really good software feature/function improvement ideas that actually wound up being implemented. My question is — what causes this behavior of software users on the internet? Why would a software user see a suggestion that would very likely benefit many other users of the software and object loudly to that suggestion, or even pretend that "the suggestion is a bad one"?

Submission + - Light Sail propulsion could reach Sirius sooner than Alpha Centauri (arxiv.org)

RockDoctor writes: A recent proposition to launch probes to other star systems driven by lasers which remain in the Solar system has garnered considerable attention. But recently published work suggests that there are unexpected complexities to the system.

One would think that the closest star systems would be the easiest to reach. But unless you are content with a fly-by examination of the star system, with much reduced science returns, you will need to decelerate the probe at the far end, without any infrastructure to assist with the braking.

By combining both light-pressure braking and gravitational slingshots, a team of German, French and Chilean astronomers discover that the brightness of the destination star can significantly increase deceleration, and thus travel time (because higher flight velocities can be used. Sling-shotting around a companion star to lengthen deceleration times can help shed flight velocity to allow capture into a stable orbit.

The 4.37 light year distant binary stars Alpha Centauri A and B could be reached in 75 years from Earth. Covering the 0.24 light year distance to Proxima Centauri depends on arriving at the correct relative orientations of Alpha Centauri A and B in their mutual 80 year orbit for the sling shot to work. Without a companion star, Proxima Centauri can only absorb a final leg velocity of about 1280km/s, so that leg of the trip would take an additional 46 years.

Using the same performance characteristics for the light sail the corresponding duration for an approach to the Sirius system, almost twice as far away (8.58ly), is a mere 68.9 years, making it (and it's white dwarf companion) possibly a more attractive target.

Of course, none of this addresses the question of how to get any data from there to here. Or, indeed, how to manage a project that will last longer than a working lifetime. There are also issues of aiming — the motion of the Alpha Centauri system isn't well-enough known at the moment to achieve the precise manoeuvring needed without course corrections (and so, data transmission from there to here) en route.

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: What Are Good Books On Inventing, Innovating And Doing R&D?

dryriver writes: I've signed up to a project that involves inventing new ways to do things and also performing the technology R&D required to make these new ways a reality. So, dear Slashdotters — are there any good books on inventing, innovating or doing R&D? Books that describe different ways to approach inventing/R&D? Books on managing a team effort to invent, innovate and research? Or even good books about the history of past inventions — how they were created, why they were created, how and why the succeeded or failed in the real world? Thanks!

Submission + - What a Trip: First Evidence for Higher State of Consciousness Found (neurosciencenews.com)

baalcat writes: Researchers observe a sustained increase in neural signal diversity in people under the influence of psychedelics.

Scientific evidence of a ‘higher’ state of consciousness has been found in a study led by the University of Sussex.

Neuroscientists observed a sustained increase in neural signal diversity – a measure of the complexity of brain activity – of people under the influence of psychedelic drugs, compared with when they were in a normal waking state.

The diversity of brain signals provides a mathematical index of the level of consciousness. For example, people who are awake have been shown to have more diverse neural activity using this scale than those who are asleep.

This, however, is the first study to show brain-signal diversity that is higher than baseline, that is higher than in someone who is simply ‘awake and aware’. Previous studies have tended to focus on lowered states of consciousness, such as sleep, anaesthesia, or the so-called ‘vegetative’ state.

Submission + - Is Scala worthwhile?

Qbertino writes: Scala is one of the JVM languages that manages to maintain a hip and professional vibe at the same time. One reason for this probably being that Scala was built by people who knew what they were doing. It has been around for a few years now in a mature form and I got curious about it a few years back.
My question to the slashdot community:
Is getting into Scala worthwhile from a practical/industry standpoint or is it better to just stick with Java?
Have you done larger, continuous multi-year, multi-man and mission-critical applications in Scala and what are your experiences?
Is Scala there to stay wherever it is deployed and used in real-world scenarios or are there pitfalls and cracks showing up that would deter you from using Scala once again?
And, perhaps equally important, do you have to be a CS/math genius to make sense of Scala and use it correctly?
Your educated opinion is required. Thanks.

Submission + - Why Uber Won't Fire Its CEO (backchannel.com)

mirandakatz writes: As negative press about Uber has piled up, multiple people have called for the ridesharing giant to fire its CEO, Travis Kalanick. But that's so much more easily said than done: The only person who can decide Uber needs a new CEO is Travis himself. At Backchannel, Jessi Hempel unpacks the dual-class share structure that has become so popular among savvy tech founders in recent years, as it allows them to maintain control over decisions the company makes, even if their ownership in the company is significantly reduced. As Hempel writes, "The argument for allowing a small set of founders complete control over their boards is the same one to be made for enabling benevolent dictatorships. Benevolence, however, does not come with a permanent guarantee."

Submission + - Belgian scientists inhibit protein responsible for allergic reactions

lhunath writes: Scientists at the University of Gent exposed the TSLP protein's function in triggering allergic reactions such as asthma and eczema.

The team then developed a protein-based inhibitor used to capture TSLP and prevent its bioactivity as it associates with its natural receptors. Using this method, allergic reactions can be inhibited before they are triggered.

Submission + - Google X works an older guy until he's hospitalized and then they lay him off (businessinsider.com)

Julie188 writes: When Google shows up to buy your startup and trade out your relatively worthless startup stock for Google stock, and offers you a high paying job, too, it seems like a dream come true. But for a group of ex-military guys at a startup called Project Titan, it was more like a nightmare, according to this detailed article from Business Insider. After Google buys their company, it shuts it down, gets them to move across the country to California and then sets them up working long hours outdoors in 100-degree heat. One older guy, in his mid-50s, was even hospitalized, and when he returned to work, he was essentially pushed out. Some people claimed it was bias against older workers and veterans.

Submission + - Prominent Drupal and PHP dev kicked from the Drupal project over Gor beliefs (techcrunch.com) 1

An anonymous reader writes: Last week the Drupal community erupted in anger after its leader, Dries Buytaert, asked Larry Garfield, a prominent Drupal contributor and long-time member of the Drupal and PHP communities, “to leave the Drupal project.” Buytaert claims he did this "because it came to my attention that he holds views that are in opposition with the values of the Drupal project.". A huge furor has erupted in response — not least because the reason clearly has much to do with Garfield’s unconventional sex life. Buytaert made his post in response after Larry went public, outing himself to public opinion.

Submission + - SPAM: Quicken Bill Pay is No Longer Safe to Use 1

Bruce Perens writes: I don't usually make security calls, but when a company makes egregious and really clueless security mistakes, it's often the case that the only way to attract their attention and get the issue fixed is to publicize it. This one is with Quicken Bill Pay, a product of Metavante (not Intuit). It's from personal observation rather than an expert witness case, and the company has been unresponsive through their customer support channel.
Link to Original Source

Submission + - Firefox for Linux is now Netflix compatible (betanews.com)

BrianFagioli writes: For a while, Netflix was not available for traditional Linux-based operating systems, meaning users were unable to enjoy the popular streaming service without booting into Windows. This was due to the company's reliance on Microsoft Silverlight. Since then, Netflix adopted HTML5, and it made Google Chrome and Chromium for Linux capable of playing the videos. Unfortunately, Firefox — the open source browser choice for many Linux users — was not compatible. Today this changes, however, as Mozilla's offering is now compatible with Netflix!

"About four years ago, we shared our plans for playing premium video in HTML5, replacing Silverlight and eliminating the extra step of installing and updating browser plug-ins. Since then, we have launched HTML5 video on Chrome OS, Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari, Opera, Firefox, and Edge on all supported operating systems. And though we do not officially support Linux, Chrome playback has worked on that platform since late 2014. Starting today, users of Firefox can also enjoy Netflix on Linux. This marks a huge milestone for us and our partners, including Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Mozilla that helped make it possible," says Netflix.

Submission + - GNOME 3.24 Officially Released

prisoninmate writes: GNOME 3.24 just finished its six-month development cycle, and it's now the most advanced stable version of the modern and popular desktop environment used by default in numerous GNU/Linux distributions. It was developed since October 2016 under the GNOME 3.23.x umbrella, during which it received numerous improvements. Prominent new features of the GNOME 3.24 desktop environment include a Night Light functionality that promises to automatically shift the colors of your display to the warmer end of the spectrum after sunset, and a brand-new GNOME Control Center with redesigned Users, Keyboard & Mouse, Online Accounts, Bluetooth, and Printer panels. As for the GNOME apps, we can mention that the Nautilus file manager now lets users browse files as root (system administrator), GNOME Photos imitates Darktable's exposure and blacks adjustment tool, GNOME Music comes with ownCloud integration and lets you edit tags, and GNOME Calendar finally brings the Week view. New apps like GNOME Recipes are also part of this release.

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