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IT Workers Facing Layoffs Jolted By CEO's Message ( 414

HCSC recently announced layoffs for more than 500 IT workers, and expects them to train their replacements from an India-based contractor. But a few days earlier, CEO Paula Steiner said, "As full-time retiring baby boomers move on to their next chapter, the makeup of our organization will consist more of young and non-traditional workers, such as part-time workers or contractors." dcblogs quotes ComputerWorld: What Steiner didn't say in the employee broadcast is that some of the baby boomers moving "on to the next chapter" are being pushed out the door. "Obviously not all of us are 'retiring' -- a bunch of us are being thrown under the bus," said one older employee.
The insurance provider argues that its members want easier technology solutions that "help keep rising costs in check. Our IT teams are being transformed...focusing on those and other member needs." But Slashdot reader ErichTheRed writes: Having a CEO actually say in public that their company wants to engage in age discrimination and eliminate full-time employment, rather than just carry out the work in secret, is new to me... for those mid- to late-career technical folks, how have you managed to adjust to new realities like this?

Submission + - Was the Internet Originally Created for Covert Domestic Surveillance?

Jeremiah Cornelius writes: From its creation by DoD contracts and grants to research institutions, there have been aspersions cast by those easily dismissed as "fringe" commentators, on the nefarious, or at least covert, motivation to create the Internet. Conspiracy theory may have been met by reality in recent months with now commonplace reporting, first by Wikileaks and later, in the more extensive Edward Snowden revelations. It is still almost canon, that NSA mass-surveillance and warrantless information analysis occurred through coopting the burgeoning Internet, and diverting traffic in a way that is counter to the ideals of its creators and promoters. But what if the social, commercial Internet were always intended as a sort of giant honeypot? The idea would still seem farfetched, if it weren't recently disclosed by William Binney that the NSA is recording 80% of all US phone conversations — not simply metadata. Closer examination of the record shows that ARPAnet was being used to clandestinely gather information on the legitimate activities of US citizens — and transmit the information to the US Army Intelligence Command NSA — as far back as 1968! According to articles published in 1975 by MIT in "The Tech":

"via the ARPANET, a computer network connecting more than 50 government agencies and universities throughout the country. The network is funded by the Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA)... The information, according to intelligence sources, was transferred and stored at the headquarters of the National Security Agency (NSA), at Fort Meade, Maryland. The Army files were transmitted on the ARPANET in about January 1972, sources say, more than two years after the material — and the data banks maintained at the [Army's] Fort Holabird facility — were ordered destroyed."

MIT officials were worried 40 years ago, about this abuse of interconnected TCP communications and the complicity of their own research scientists. These concerns arose at the height of the Watergate fallout and downfall of President Nixon for illegal wiretapping and information theft allegations. The danger of Government "record keeping" was outlined by Senator Sam Ervin, in an address to MIT that was also profiled in the same publication. Clearly, this did not begin in the last decade, and clearly pre-dates the 2001 "Global War on Terror" pretext. It is important to remember, the NSA was an almost unknown agency at this time, and was chartered to strictly forbid intel on US citizens and those dwelling within US borders.

Comment Only English-speaking countries can join the club (Score 1) 242

After checking all the comments, I didn't see anyone pointing out what seemed very obvious to me when I read the summary: all the countries, USA, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, are offshoots of the old British empire, and all speak English only (well, Canada does have some francophones). It's like a club of like-minded countries, with the same base culture and language.

There's an interesting article on the New York Times, which contends that moral judgements depend on what language we're speaking. Within this 5-country native English language club, the emotional strength of their own shared language totally overrides any moral qualms they might have for spying on those foreigners speaking strange languages in primitive countries.

Star Wars Prequels

BioWare Launches "Gay Planet" For the Old Republic 333

DavidGilbert99 writes "Labelled as an 'oddly regressive move,' developers of Star Wars: the Old Republic have decided that all gay characters will be stuck on a single planet called Makeb. The move comes with the release of the Rise of the Hutt Cartel pack and the Makeb planet will be the only place in the game where players can select 'flirtatious' dialogue options with characters of the same gender. From the article: 'BioWare executive producer Jeff Hickman apologised for same sex relationships taking so long to be added to the game, referring to the company's most famous title Mass Effect, where homosexual relationships are available by default: "First of all, I want to apologize that this is taking so long to get in the game," wrote Hickman in a blog post. "I realise that we promised SGR (same gender relationships) to you guys and that many of you believed that this would be with a companion character. Unfortunately, this will take a lot more work than we realised at the time and it (like some other pieces of content we talked about earlier in the year) has been delayed as we focused on the changes required to take the game Free-to-Play. '"

Comment Re:I would object to the income tax (Score 1) 38

Well, what about a tax (around 0.5%) on every transaction through the banking system? Technically, it would be no different than the usual calculations of changes and fees that banks apply to all their transactions, and would use existing infrastructure. This would eliminate the need for personal income tax. Humans would no longer be taxed on their income.

In my opinion, governments could raise additional tax revenue from excise taxes and duties, corporate taxes, etc. while using the choice and levels of taxation to implement socially desirable behaviour.

I came across this site which has an American-centric analysis of the idea.

I'd go a step farther, from my viewpoint in Brussels, and point out that this could be implemented across the countries of the Euro zone. All internal Euro transactions as well as all transactions with the outside would be subject to the APT tax. This would finally make it possible for society - human beings - to drink from the firehouse of human economic activity, by providing a way of skimming a small percentage of the total volume of transactions of the entire economy. It's the ultimate progressive tax: the more money you channel through the system, the greater your contribution to the revenue pool.

But the big behavioural win would be the elimination of having to choose between working "in black" or in the official economy. The current system, with personal income taxes, is the ultimate disincentive - if you're hard-working, the more you work, the more taxes you pay. Or you cheat. Look at the worst-off European economies, like Greece, where corruption is endemic. Once personal income taxes are eliminated, you can do whatever level of work you want to pay for your chosen lifestyle. Rich people certainly don't lose out either - but they can't bribe their way out of paying their share by the simple volume of their transactions.

What do you think?


Stanford 'Intro To AI' Course Offered Free Online 148

An anonymous reader writes "IEEE Spectrum reports that Stanford's CS221 course 'Introduction to Artificial Intelligence' will be offered online for free. Anyone can sign up and take the course, along with several hundred Stanford undergrads. The instructors are Sebastian Thrun, known for his self-driving cars, and Peter Norvig, director of research at Google. Online students will actually have to do all the same work as the Stanford students. There will be at least 10 hours per week of studying, along with weekly graded homework assignments and midterm and final exams. The instructors, who will be available to answer questions, will issue a certificate for those who complete the course, along with a final grade that can be compared to the grades of the Stanford students. The course, which will last 10 weeks, starts on October 2nd, and online enrollment is now open." When asked how they would deal with ten thousand students, Professor Thrun replied: "We will use something akin to Google Moderator to make sure Peter and I answer the most pressing questions. Our hypothesis is that even in a class of 10,000, there will only be a fixed number of really interesting questions (like 15 per week). There exist tools to find them."

Submission + - Where Do I Go Now that Oracle Owns ( 2

eldavojohn writes: So I noted that there was better support for my processor in the latest BIOS for my mainboard. After downloading the update, there was a .doc file containing flashing instructions. No matter, I have installed on this machine and just opened it up. And, as should be no surprise, there was an Oracle logo splash screen while 3.2 started up. At my job, I've had a less than favorable history with Oracle that I'm not going to get into — rather let's just say I never want anything to do with them again. Including installing any of their software on my machine. So I'm facing a dilemma. I've looked into the forked LIbreOffice but that's still in beta and I'm a little wary of depending on that. Has anyone used LibreOffice (it's installing as I type this) extensively? Does it handle complex Powerpoint files okay? Is there some alternative out there that I'm completely overlooking for open source? Can anyone convince me that there's no reason to fear the Oracle Will it remain the de facto standard? Will it eventually lock me into a commitment with Oracle? If you get by without one of these heavyweight monster editors, what do you use and how do you handle doc, ppt, etc extensions?

Lawsuit Hits Companies Using 'Zombie' Flash Cookies 140

A privacy activist has filed a lawsuit targeting eight corporate users of Quantcast's "zombie" Flash cookies, in addition to Quantcast itself. The suit alleges that MTV, ESPN, MySpace, Hulu, ABC, Scribd, and others used Quancast's Flash-based cookies to recreate browser tracking cookies that users had taken the trouble to delete. "At issue is technology from Quantcast, also targeted in the lawsuit. Quantcast created Flash cookies that track users across the web, and used them to re-create traditional browser cookies that users deleted from their computers. These 'zombie' cookies came to light last year, after researchers at UC Berkeley documented deleted browser cookies returning to life. Quantcast quickly fixed the issue, calling it an unintended consequence of trying to measure web traffic accurately. ... The lawsuit (PDF)... asks the court to find that the practice violated eavesdropping and hacking laws, and that the practice of secretly tracking users also violated state and federal fair trade laws. The lawsuit alleges a 'pattern of covert online surveillance' and seeks status as a class action lawsuit."

Submission + - Students show dramatic drop in empathy ( 1

MotorMachineMercenar writes: Several news sources report that today's college students show a precipitous drop in empathy. The study of 14,000 students shows that students since year 2000 had 40% less empathy than those before them, and the article has a laundry list of culprits, from child rearing practices and self-help movement to free market economy and income inequality. There's also a link so you can test your very own level of narcissism. Let's hope slashdot crowd doesn't break the lack of empathy -counter.

Comment Re:Works for me (Score 1) 4

And what is the problem to network Mac OSX? I haven't yet had the pleasure of yet trying Microsoft's latest and greatest, but I've been networking Macs with Linux servers since Mac OSX public beta, using NFS, SMB, and netatalk, and I haven't found it to be particularly hard. Even now, with Snow Leopard, and the previous netatalk version, I've had no problems at all.

However, I've never tried to integrate Macs into Active Directory, and that could well be a problem.

What kind of issues have you had with Mac OSX? Did they involve Active Directory? What have been your problems with Win7?

Comment Re:Did you type this on a manual typewriter? (Score 1) 776

(OT: How do they refer to what we in the US call 'mileage' in other countries? Kilometerage?)

In most European countries, they call it "fuel consumption" in their native language, and calculate it as the number of liters of fuel consumed per 100 km driven. Automobile advertising includes CO2 emissions in grams CO2/100km as well as fuel consumption in liters[petrol|diesel|ethanol|LPG]/100km.

I've just wasted my time trying to figure out how to convert between miles/gallons and litres/100km. This should be pretty straightforward, but my basic algebra is so rusty from disuse... Can the guy refreshing his math post how to do the conversion?


New Assassin's Creed Next Year, Will Have Multiplayer 56

Ubisoft has announced that the next stand-alone Assassin's Creed title will come out next year, and it will be the first in the series to come with an online multiplayer mode. The company also said it will be "shoring up its focus on competitive AAA core titles on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3" in the coming year, making mention of upcoming releases for the Tom Clancy game series and a new Prince of Persia title.

IDEs With VIM Text Editing Capability? 193

An anonymous reader writes "I am currently looking to move from text editing with vim to a full fledged IDE with gdb integration, integrated command line, etc. Extending VIM with these capabilities is a mortal sin, so I am looking for a linux based GUI IDE. I do not want to give up the efficient text editing capabilities of VIM though. How do I have my cake and eat it too?"

Cameron's Avatar a 3D Drug Trip? 215

bowman9991 writes "James Cameron's first movie since Titanic, his upcoming science fiction epic Avatar, has a budget pushing US$200 million and enough hype to power a mission to Mars. Now it appears the 3D technology he created to turn his vision into a reality, the key to Avatar's success or failure, may be habit forming. Dr. Mario Mendez, a behavioral neurologist at the University of California, said it is entirely possible Cameron's 3D technology could tap brain systems that are undisturbed by conventional 2D movies. Cameron himself believes 3D viewing 'is so close to a real experience that it actually triggers memory creation in a way that 2D viewing doesn't' and that stereoscopic (3D) viewing uses more neurons, which would further heighten its impact."

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