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Google 'Makes People Think They Are Smarter Than They Are' 227 writes Karen Knapton reports at The Telegraph that according to a study at Yale University, because they have the world's knowledge at their fingertips, search engines like Google or Yahoo make people think they are smarter than they actually are giving people a 'widely inaccurate' view of their own intelligence that can lead to over-confidence when making decisions. In a series of experiments, participants who had searched for information on the internet believed they were far more knowledgeable about a subject that those who had learned by normal routes, such as reading a book or talking to a tutor. Internet users also believed their brains were sharper. "The Internet is such a powerful environment, where you can enter any question, and you basically have access to the world's knowledge at your fingertips," says lead researcher Matthew Fisher. "It becomes easier to confuse your own knowledge with this external source. When people are truly on their own, they may be wildly inaccurate about how much they know and how dependent they are on the Internet." In the tests searching for answers online leads to an illusion such that externally accessible information is conflated with knowledge "in the head" (PDF). This holds true even when controlling for time, content, and search autonomy during the task. "The Internet is an enormous benefit in countless ways, but there may be some trade-offs that aren't immediately obvious and this may be one of them," concludes Fisher. "Accurate personal knowledge is difficult to achieve, and the Internet may be making that task even harder."
The Internet

The Dark Web Still Thrives After Silk Road 79 writes: Russell Berman writes at The Atlantic that the government may have won its case against Silk Road's Ross Ulbricht, but the high-profile trial gave a lot of publicity to the dark web. Both the number of sites and the volume of people using them have increased since Silk Road was shuttered. "Just as on the rest of the internet, users on the dark net are very quick to move on to new things and move away from those products and websites that seem stale and old," says Adam Benson. The cat-and-mouse game between users of the dark web and law enforcement appears to be shifting as well. Newer dark sites (two major ones are Agora and Evolution) are likely to protect their servers by basing them in countries "hostile to U.S. law enforcement," says Nicholas Weaver. "The markets will keep moving overseas, but law enforcement will keep going after the dealers," Weaver says, referring to the people who actually ship and deliver the drugs sold online.

Evolution Marketplace is a much different animal than Silk Road, according to Dan Palumbo. Evolution sells "weapons, stolen credit cards, and more nefarious items that were forbidden on both versions of Silk Road. Silk Road sold a lot of dangerous things, but operators drew the line at their version of 'victimless crimes,' i.e. no child pornography, weapons, or identity theft. Now, four of the top five DarkNet Marketplaces sell weapons while three of the top five sell stolen financial data." This is a darker DarkNet and it speaks to the challenge facing law enforcement as they knock one set of bad actors offline, another comes along with bigger and bolder intentions.

The Open Office Is Destroying the Workplace 420 writes: Lindsey Kaufman reports in the WaPo that despite its obvious problems, the open-office model has continued to encroach on workers across the country, with about 70 percent of U.S. offices having no or low partitions. Silicon Valley has led the way — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg enlisted famed architect Frank Gehry to design the largest open floor plan in the world, housing nearly 3,000 engineers within a single room that stretches 10 acres. Michael Bloomberg was another early adopter of the open-space trend, saying it promoted transparency and fairness. Bosses love the ability to keep a closer eye on their employees, ensuring clandestine porn-watching, constant social media-browsing and unlimited personal cellphone use isn't occupying billing hours.

But according to Kaufman, employers are getting a false sense of improved productivity. A 2013 study showed many workers in open offices are frustrated by distractions that lead to poorer work performance. Nearly half of the surveyed workers in open offices said the lack of sound privacy was a significant problem, and more than 30 percent complained about the lack of visual privacy. The New Yorker, in a review of research on this nouveau workplace design, determined that the benefits in building camaraderie simply mask the negative effects on work performance.

While employees feel like they're part of a laid-back, innovative enterprise, the environment ultimately damages workers' attention spans, productivity, creative thinking, and satisfaction says Kaufman. "Though multitasking millennials seem to be more open to distraction as a workplace norm, the wholehearted embrace of open offices may be ingraining a cycle of underperformance in their generation," writes Maria Konnikova. "They enjoy, build, and proselytize for open offices, but may also suffer the most from them in the long run."

Investigation: Apple Failing To Protect Chinese Factory Workers 201

mrspoonsi writes with the findings of an investigation into working conditions at a factory that makes Apple products. Poor treatment of workers in Chinese factories which make Apple products has been discovered by an undercover BBC Panorama investigation. Filming on an iPhone 6 production line showed Apple's promises to protect workers were routinely broken. It found standards on workers' hours, ID cards, dormitories, work meetings and juvenile workers were being breached at the Pegatron factories. Apple said it strongly disagreed with the programme's conclusions. Exhausted workers were filmed falling asleep on their 12-hour shifts at the Pegatron factories on the outskirts of Shanghai. One undercover reporter, working in a factory making parts for Apple computers, had to work 18 days in a row despite repeated requests for a day off. Another reporter, whose longest shift was 16 hours, said: "Every time I got back to the dormitories, I wouldn't want to move. Even if I was hungry I wouldn't want to get up to eat. I just wanted to lie down and rest. I was unable to sleep at night because of the stress."

Senior Managers Are the Worst Information Security Offenders 181

An anonymous reader writes "As companies look for solutions to protect the integrity of their networks, data centers, and computer systems, an unexpected threat is lurking under the surface — senior management. According to a new survey, 87% of senior managers frequently or occasionally send work materials to a personal email or cloud account to work remotely, putting that information at a much higher risk of being breached. 58% of senior management reported having accidentally sent the wrong person sensitive information (PDF), compared to just 25% of workers overall."
Input Devices

'Gorilla Arm' Will Keep Touch Screens From Taking Over 610

Hugh Pickens writes "With Windows 8, Microsoft has made a billion-dollar gamble that personal computing is taking a new direction and that new direction is touch, says David Pogue. It's efficient on a touchscreen tablet. But Microsoft expects us to run Windows 8 on our tens of millions of everyday PCs. Although touch has been incredibly successful on our phones, tablets, airport kiosks and cash machines, Pogue says touch will never take over on PCs. The reason? Gorilla Arms. There are three big differences between tablet screens and a PC's screen: angle, distance and time interval. The problem is 'the tingling ache that [comes] from extending my right arm to manipulate that screen for hours, an affliction that has earned the nickname of gorilla arm.' Some experts say gorilla arm is what killed touch computing during its first wave in the early 1980s but Microsoft is betting that Windows 8 will be so attractive that we won't mind touching our PC screens, at least until the PC concept fades away entirely. 'My belief is that touch screens make sense on mobile computers but not on stationary ones,' concludes Pogue. 'Microsoft is making a gigantic bet that I'm wrong.'"

Study Finds Unvaccinated Students Putting Other Students At Risk 1025

New submitter haroldmandel writes in with a story about the increase of certain diseases in school-age children due to parents not having their kids vaccinated. "Parents nervous about the safety of vaccinations for their children may be causing a new problem: the comeback of their grandparents' childhood diseases, reports a new study from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. Despite the successes of childhood immunizations, wrote Penn Nursing researcher Alison M. Buttenheim, PhD, MBA, in the American Journal of Public Health, controversy over their safety has resulted in an increasing number of parents refusing to have their children vaccinated and obtaining legally binding personal belief exemptions against vaccinations for their children."

Analytic Thinking Can Decrease Religious Belief 1258

Freshly Exhumed writes "A new University of British Columbia study finds that analytic thinking can decrease religious belief, even in devout believers. The study, which will appear in tomorrow's issue of Science (abstract), finds that thinking analytically increases disbelief among believers and skeptics alike, shedding important new light on the psychology of religious belief."

Shady Methods From Online Reputation Managers 128

Velcroman1 writes "Worried about your online reputation? Let the Online Reputation Management buyer beware: The company that helps protect your reputation may have its own issues. Consider the case of Darren Meade, who in 2010 was working as interim CEO at a California company. In an effort to address a number of negative comments about both himself and his company online, his company hired Rexxfield, an ORM, also based in California. But Meade said he became concerned about the relationship with Rexxfield when he discovered the company wanted to sell illegal hacker code to scrub negative comments from the web — and planned a marketing campaign of fear based on the threat that it can wipe anyone offline. 'They called it Googlecide,' Meade said."

Birds Give a Lesson to Plane Designers 250

Roland Piquepaille points out a news release from the University of Michigan where researchers are looking to birds and bats for insights into aerospace engineering. Wei Shyy and his colleagues are learning from solutions developed by nature and applying them to the technology of flight. A presentation on this topic was also given at the 2005 TED conference. From the news release: "The roll rate of the aerobatic A-4 Skyhawk plane is about 720 degrees per second. The roll rate of a barn swallow exceeds 5,000 degrees per second. Select military aircraft can withstand gravitational forces of 8-10 G. Many birds routinely experience positive G-forces greater than 10 G and up to 14 G. Flapping flight is inherently unsteady, but that's why it works so well. Birds, bats and insects fly in a messy environment full of gusts traveling at speeds similar to their own. Yet they can react almost instantaneously and adapt with their flexible wings."

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