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Bitcoin Was 2016's Best-Performing Currency ( 104

The co-founder of Blockchain published an opinion piece in Newsweek today mocking predictions about the death of bitcoin, saying "each is more wrong than the last... Bitcoin was again declared the world's best performing currency in 2016 by Bloomberg. In fact, it's held that title every year since 2010, with the notable exception of 2014, when it was the worst." An anonymous reader writes: Bitcoin president Nicolas Cary writes that bitcoin has become more stable than many of the world's top currencies, while the British pound "has dropped by more than 17% in a colossal collapse of confidence... In Africa, the Egyptian pound dropped 59% and the Nigerian naira fell 37%. In South America, the Argentine peso plummeted over 17% and the Venezuelan bolivar tumbled so far off a cliff it's difficult to measure -- even bricks of cash are worthless for everyday purchases there. Perhaps most dramatically of all, India, the world's second most populated country, introduced a stunning policy of demonetization declaring banknotes illegal overnight...

"During this time period, and partially in response to it, the price of bitcoin surged... Bitcoin also trounced the stock market from a performance perspective. Brand names like McDonald's, Home Depot and Disney grew at a paltry 1.6% or less; bitcoin outpaced them by over 70 times."

In 2009 one man in Norway bought $27 worth of bitcoin while writing a thesis on encryption, then forgot about them. Six years later, he discovered they were worth nearly $500,000.

Submission + - FCC Chairman Wants To Free the Cable Box (

itwbennett writes: Renting a set-top cable box from your ISP doesn't cost you much compared to your overall cable bill, but it adds up to billions for the ISPs. A 2015 survey commissioned by two U.S. senators found that 99 percent of pay TV subscribers rent set-top boxes. 'The set-top box rental market may be worth more than $19.5 billion per year, with the average American household spending more than $231 per year on set-top box rental fees,' wrote Sens. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthals (D-Conn.) Enter a proposal by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler 'to end the set-top box monopoly and let subscribers use whatever devices they wish to access paid programming,' writes Bill Snyder. A preliminary vote is set for next week.

Submission + - How Lead Ended Up In Flint's Tap Water (

MTorrice writes: Lead contamination is the most troubling in a series of water problems that have plagued Flint, Michigan since the summer of 2014. All of them were caused by corrosion in the lead and iron pipes that distribute water to city residents. When the city began using the Flint River as its water source in April 2014, it didn’t adequately control the water’s ability to corrode those pipes. This led to high lead levels, rust-colored tap water, and possibly the growth of pathogenic microbes.

Environmental engineers talk about the chemistry behind the Flint water crisis and explain the one thing the city could have done to prevent the whole catastrophe.

Submission + - The Second Coming of Neuromorphic Computing (

An anonymous reader writes: There have been a couple of noteworthy investments that have fed existing research for neuromorphic architectures. The DARPA Synapse program was one such effort, which beginning in 2008, eventually yielded IBM’s “True North” chip—a 4096-core device comprised of 256 programmable “neurons” that act much like synapses in the brain, resulting in a highly energy efficient architecture that while fascinating—means an entire rethink of programming approaches. Since that time, other funding from scientific sources, including the Human Brain Project, have pushed the area further, leading to the creation of the SpiNNaker neuromorphic device, although there is still a lack of a single architecture that appears best for neuromorphic computing in general. The problem is really that there is no “general” purpose for such devices as of yet and no widely accepted device or programmatic approach...but all of that initial interest and funding is about to rewarded and things are set to change...

Submission + - Retired IT specialist shares inside story of botched National Park project (

alphadogg writes: A retired IT specialist with the National Park Service delivered a fiery talk (“The Moose Project: What Went Wrong? An ICT Case Study from the National Park Service”) at the recent BICSI Winter cabling/wiring conference, describing a systemic problem with architectural, engineering and construction projects within the park service that overlook involving information and communications technology experts. The result is extra work, potential communications outages and big costs to taxpayers.
Role Playing (Games)

World of Warcraft's Next Expansion: Legion 129

Today at Gamescom in Germany, Blizzard unveiled the next expansion for World of Warcraft, called Legion. The expansion will raise the level cap to 110 and bring adventurers to a new continent: the Broken Isles. This will include several new zones and be the source of a new demonic invasion. The story will delve deeply into the game world's history and let players use customizable 'artifact' weapons. To fight the invasion, Blizzard is introducing a new class, Demon Hunter, who will start out at a high level and can perform tank- and damage-centric roles.

The PVP system will be getting revamped, and they're introducing Class-specific halls and followers. The expansion will contain the requisite new raids and world bosses, of course. Small dungeons will be getting increased focus in Legion. As with the previous expansion, players will be given a free level boost for one character to the current level cap in order to get started on the new content right away. Blizzard has posted an cinematic teaser, and the full announcement trailer on YouTube. A beta test will start sometime later this year, but no release date has been announced. MMO-Champion has a post full of details known about the expansion.

Comment Re:"In-browser popups?" (Score 1) 273

I've actually seen this before with Cox. A few months back throughout the day as I was browsing different websites a popup would come up alerting me to an ongoing Cox email outage (which I don't actually use). They appeared to inject the popup directly into the HTML of different websites. It wasn't on every website, but I think it was time limited (popping up once every few hours).

And I just noticed this was reported on Slashdot:

Comment Re:You've got to admit (Score 2) 314

I've worked for the federal government for over seven years. For me it took two months between the job offer and my start date due to the HR office being slow sending me paperwork and then slowly processing the paperwork. I also had to wait on a security clearance.

Now that I've been around for a while I am more involved in the hiring process. Last year we tried to fill two positions. One of those the employee started within a month because she already had a clearance and was moving from a contract position within the same building. The other position has been in the works for OVER A YEAR NOW. Mind you we picked a candidate and completed salary negotiation and everything in the summer of 2010! I'm surprised that person is still going along with the process!

The latest issue is we are trying to hire a couple "Computer Scientist" (GS-1550) developmental positions (GS 7/9/11). We are trying to get the advertisements up as soon as possible so we can start processing their clearances so they can start as soon as they graduate in the spring. We had job descriptions written up and the HR people gave the go ahead, but just before they posted the advertisements on they came back and said we are not authorized to hire in the Computer Scientist job series, they must be the IT Specialist (GS-2210) job series. This goes into the differing requirements the Office of Personnel Management places on different job series, but to keep it simple the difference is a Computer Scientist has an education requirement (basically must have a BS in Computer Science) whereas anybody who knows what a computer looks like can be an IT Specialist (most of my coworkers are IT Specialists and at best they just make Powerpoint slides and non-technical whitepapers).

Frankly I'm tired of just picking up people with security clearances who aren't geeks (don't have a passion for this area) and only want the job because it pays well (and is stable because, yes, it is hard to fire people). I'd much rather hire a college student who at least has some *interest* in this area (proactively chose computer science to study). After HR applies their scoring criteria all the candidates that are left are former Intel Specialists that took an "Intro to HTML" at some point in their lives. Just the perfect type of people I need to help build applications, design database schemas, and manage servers!

It doesn't help that, at least in the DoD, there is this mindset that people are just "bodies" that can be trained. (Is it like that elsewhere? Seriously I've been cooped up in this Defense Wonderland for so long I don't know what the real world is like anymore.)

Actually to be more fair, I don't care if the individual has a degree or not. I just want someone who is passionate about computers/IT/programming/whatever. Someone who, if they don't know, has a desire to learn. In the 7+ years I've worked in the DoD I can count the number of people on one hand I've met like that.

Let me get off this soapbox before I start complaining about how all these people in the government are crying about cyber-threat-this and cyber-weapon-that, while at the same time don't understand anything about technology and have watched one too many cyber-movies.

Comment Can't go... (Score 1) 673

I work for the government and have been deemed to be in an "emergency essential" position, therefore I will not be raptured. I have to stay behind and continue to provide government services to our damned citizens. Funny thing is that's how we always refer to our customers...

Comment Why? (Score 3, Insightful) 196

The government doesn't need to be wasting money on stuff like this right now... Not only do the wifi base stations cost money, there are also the reoccurring Internet connection costs and general maintenance costs. Or is this supposed to be some sort of telecom bailout? Besides who wants to use an Internet connection directly controlled by the feds?

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