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Submission + - The Individual Midnight Thread 40

unitron writes: Trying to figure out time zones is starting to make my brain hurt, but apparently in a bit over 6 hours somewhere on the other side of globe from Greenwich the Week of Slashcott will begin, as Midnight arrives for anyone in that zone, and then it travels west, where I will encounter it in about 23 hours.

So if we can get this thread out of the Firehose, I was thinking that, as the 10th arrives for us in our respective locations, we could leave here what may be our final farewells to Slashdot.

Until Midnight, this is our meeting place, our City Hall, our town square.

(and yes, our playground)

After that I'm not sure where we can congregate to discuss how the Slashcott's going and whether it's time to move on.

I'm going to jump the gun and lay claim to "So long and thanks for all the Karma", and perhaps someone could do a Bob Hope and re-write the lyrics to "Thanks for the Memories".

In the meantime, a bit of housekeeping.

An AC beat me to the week-long boycott idea by a couple of hours, and suggested the date range of the 10th through the 17th.

As part of a group of people familiar with the concept of beginning a count with 0 instead of 1, I really should have spotted the mistake of putting 8 days into that particular week.

So, should Slashcott Week end as the 17th begins, or do we give Dice a bonus day?

Comment Money (Score 1) 876

The answer to your question is: money

Code exists as a way for humans to talk with the computer in a way in which the computer understands what actions to take in what circumstances. Each generation away makes code easier for humans to read and use and (generally) more expensive and specific to implement. Adding a visual layer on top of this is another expense.

It has been done. It will be done again. Most likely very specifically and probably quite badly. A lot of programs can be introduced when putting another layer between the programmer and the machine. webMethods is a good example of what not to do. CA Workflow is another.

Coding with a 2GL or 3GL or 4GL directly in text is currently the most efficient method for achieving the desired results. Existing systems do the job well enough. New systems are expensive.

In many cases it is a 'build it and they will come'. Quite a few attempts have been made to make GUI programming language interfaces; in particular for workflow applications. It gets messy quite quickly. Take a program which has 900 lines of actual code (disregard comments, headings, etc, just the raw code). Translate that into a diagram and then try to debug it. Print out out? On what? an A0 printer?

Visualise a program with 100 calls in the main. How would this be represented on the screen? Would each call open up in its own screen? Would you spend your time scrolling around looking for bits and pieces?

Have a read of

If you want a practical idea of why it is not feasible then have a look at some of the existing examples of visual front end for code generation.

I have used a CASE tool to create a system for a project. The first month was not too bad. After a while traversing through the screens can really get to you. I found that many people had printed copies of what the program had so they did not lose track of where they were. Humans can only hold so much in their mind at any one time. At the end of the project the system would not 'balance' and finding the 'bugs' was an absolute nightmare, one which involved using the existing solution as a basis and redoing the whole thing from scratch from the bottom up. If this happened in the corporate world the tool would be out the window very shortly.

As another example, I have used a Workflow tool which had a graphical interface to define the rules for the workflow engine. Great. Except when it didn't work. Or did something in the output which did not match the graphical interface. Or where it just plain did not match up. In the end I ran SQL queries on the database to the rules table to write the rules I needed.

Another example of using a graphical method for programming instead of text is Atlassian who removed wiki markup from their flagship product Confluence. This resulted in a huge backlash in the corporate wiki arena with many still bitter over the loss of the ability to write code in text. Atlassian have since somewhat recanted and users can now enter code as xml markup. It is a good case showing that the flexibility of code can not be easily replaced by a gui.

Comment Re:Current PCs are good enough. (Score 1) 564

yet think twice before spending $1.99 or some app.

What is stopping me is that I will not hand over my credit card information beyond the basic details needed for the purchase, my home address or other personal information to buy a $1.99 app.

It is a serious roadblock for the app market that paying for apps is a hurdle many users just do not want to jump.

In relation, I do not want to give Google my credit card details, personal details, home address, etc. Perhaps if everyone switched to paypal or bitcoin...

Comment Open router project (Score 2) 259

Time to support the open router project! If we want to change the world we will need to rebuilt the internet from the ground up.. starting with the devices in our homes.

A trustworthy, open-source software & hardware router

ORP1 is a high performance networking router that allows you to run a firewall, IPSec VPN (virtual private network), and a TOR server for your home network. Its easy-to-use web interface will make encrypted and anonymised communications for your entire network easier to set up and manage. Now you don’t need to be a geek to be able to ensure that every device you use at home uses the internet with privacy, whether it’s your home PC, smartphone or tablet.

Submission + - NSA intercepts shipments of new computers and installs software. ( 2

whoever57 writes: According to an orginal report in Der Spiegel, and
secondary reporting in the Washington Post, the NSA intercepts deliveries of PCs and installs logging software or hardware on them before the customer receives them. According to a document cited by Der Spegel, interception is one of the NSA's "most productive operations"

Der Spiegel also reported that the NSA intercepts and uses Windows crash reports in order to gather information that is used to develop new methods to crack Windows machines.

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: What's a good replacement for Google Revue? (

An anonymous reader writes: I've finally reached the point where I'm done with my Google Revue. It really only worked with Netflix after the major TV networks blocked all the content and I had to supplement any other online shows with my work laptop setup next to it. I'm not looking to do anything more than just stream content from various websites so I'd like to get a PC to replace the Revue and use a wireless keyboard and mouse. What are some good options for a dedicated PC that (in order of importance) is powerful enough to watch video on a 46" TV 1080p without any stuttering, somewhat small enough to fit into a traditional console area, reasonably priced and light on the power consumption (if that's even probable)?

Submission + - Disappeared Kdenlive Developer Has Been Found

jones_supa writes: A month ago there was worry about Kdenlive main developer being missing. Good news guys, Jean-Baptiste Mardelle has been finally reached and is doing fine. In a new mailing list post by Vincent Pinon, he says he managed to find Mardelle's phone number and contacted the longtime KDE developer. It was found out that Mardelle took a break over the summer but then lost motivation in Kdenlive under the burden of the ongoing refactoring of the code. Pinon agreed that there are 'so many things to redo almost from scratch just to get the 'old' functionalities'. The full story can be read from the kdenlive-devel mailing list. After talking with Jean-Baptiste, Vincent has called upon individual developers interested in Kdenlive to come forward. Among the actions called for is putting the Git master code-base back in order, ensuring the code is in good quality, provide new communication about the project, integrate new features like GPU-powered effects and a Qt5 port, and progressively integrate the new Kdenlive design.

Comment Keep timesheets (Score 1) 1

This is easy. He is asking for 'flextime'.

Best approach is not to make an issue of it. Create a timesheet or get a time tracking application and start logging start and stop times.

Break times are interesting.. do you clock out to get a coffee for 5 minutes or clock out for a 10 to 20 minute break?

Definitely log everything in your favour. Start times. Stop times. Time for work on the weekend.

Do up all of the paperwork for time worked over normal hours. Keep it with you. Have a lawyer review it if needed. Prepare everything to make a claim for everything.
This is not to actually make a claim. This is to get the PHB off your back and protect your job. Do not ever show this until you are backed into a corner or handed your papers.

Keep going with your current work. Get everything in writing. Make sure you record or get records of your yearly review. Get it all in writing.

What this employee is asking for and is doing is acceptable. The problem is that it can go downhill.

I did much the same years ago. I was formally reprimanded for turning up 30 minutes after everyone else, even though it was within the company policy. My previous manager stepped in and pointed out that I regularly worked until 6pm. End result was not pretty. Some manager are just assholes.

Find out what the expectations are in your workplace. Try to align with them.
You would be surprised how often arrival and end time equates to work done regardless of actual work done

Submission + - Why Competing for Tenure is Like Trying to Become a Drug Lord 1

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: Scott Jaschik writes in Inside Higher Education that the academic job market is structured in many respects like a drug gang, with an expanding mass of outsiders and a shrinking core of insiders and with income distribution within gangs extremely skewed in favor of those at the top, while the rank-and-file street sellers earned even less than employees in legitimate low-skilled activities. According to Alexandre Afonso, academic systems rely at least to some extent on the existence of a supply of “outsiders” ready to forgo wages and employment security in exchange for the prospect of prestige, freedom and reasonably high salaries that tenured positions entail. "What you have is an increasing number of brilliant PhD graduates arriving every year into the market hoping to secure a permanent position as a professor and enjoying freedom and high salaries, a bit like the rank-and-file drug dealer hoping to become a drug lord," says Afonso. "To achieve that, they are ready to forgo the income and security that they could have in other areas of employment by accepting insecure working conditions in the hope of securing jobs that are not expanding at the same rate." The Chronicle of Higher Education recently reported on adjunct lecturers who rely on food stamps to make ends meet. Afonso adds that he is not trying to discourage everyone from pursuing Ph.D.s but that prospective graduate students need to go in with a full awareness of the job market.

Submission + - Zuck Shows Kindergartners Ruby Instead of JavaScript

theodp writes: If one was introducing coding to 10 million K-12 kids over 5 days, one might settle on a programming language for examples more than a few weeks before D-Day. But the final tutorials for the Hour of Code aren't due now until the day they're to be taught, so was able to switch the example Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg uses to illustrate Repeat Loops from JavaScript to what looks like Ruby (earlier /. discussion of the JavaScript example), which will no doubt make things clearer for the kindergarten set working on the accompanying Angry Birds tutorial. Khan Academy, on the other hand, is sticking with JavaScript for its Hour of Code tutorial aimed at middle-schoolers, which culminates in a project showing the kids how they can draw a circular plate by invoking an ellipse function with equal major and minor axes. By the way, as Bret Victor might point out, the 2013 Khan Academy lesson looks a lot like circa-1973 PLATO!

Submission + - 270 million Android users in China ( 1

An anonymous reader writes: Until now, it was particularly difficult to obtain reliable figures on the results of the Android operating system in China. Indeed, there is no "centralized app store" and most smartphones sold in the country do not use Google services, including activation. In fact, it is very difficult to know the actual results. The search engine Baidu has corrected this by publishing a report on trends in the mobile internet for the 3rd quarter 2013. It appears that there would be now 270 million active users of the Google platform in the country (more than 20% of the total population). Growth would, however, decrease with a small 13% against 55% for the same period last year but up 10% compared to Q2 2013.

Submission + - Rivals can legally create copycat software says UK Court (

eionmac writes: Decision byy UK Appeal Court. Businesses can replicate the way a rivals' computer program operates by interpreting how it functions from reading user manuals or other accompanying documents their rivals produce without infringing copyright, the Court of Appeal has ruled

Submission + - $2 Smartphone App checks IDs better than TSA (

McGruber writes: According to KOMO News ( Barzapp, an $2 smartphone app being marketed to bartenders, bouncers and anyone who could lose their job if they don't spot a fake ID, could offer up a better ID check than the TSA now has in place.

Currently, a TSA agent must review a passenger's government issued ID and check the name on the boarding pass against it prior to entering electronic scanning area. This name check happens so fast that passengers sometimes wonder if they are really checking the ID at all. "I guess they are making sure you name matches your boarding pass and confirming, like, who you are, maybe?" said passenger Casey Stengal, who is not really sure why the check is necessary.

Since 2007, TSA has been working on developing a Credential Authentication Technology to use at airport checkpoints. But after spending tens of millions of dollars and four rounds of soliciting vendors and testing possible equipment, the TSA still doesn't have an electronic ID verification system in place.

"The TSA is still testing this type of technology," TSA Press Secretary Ron Feinstein said in an email. The TSA has not identified a technology it would like to use with no deadline for it to be in service.

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