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Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Why Can't Slashdot Classic and Slashdot Beta Continue to Co-Exist? 9

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: Slashdot has been a big part of my life since I had my my first stories accepted over ten years ago. Some people my age do crossword puzzles to keep their mental agility, some do sudoko, or play bridge. I enjoy searching for and putting together a story a day for slashdot because it helps keep me on my toes to have readers find errors and logical fallacies in my submissions and I enjoy learning from the different points of view expressed on a story I have submitted. That's why I have been so discouraged in the past several years to see readership in slashdot drop off. As a close observer of this web site, I know that ten years ago it was unheard of for any accepted story to get less than 100 comments and there was at least a story a day that got over 1,000 comments. Those days are long gone. Not it's not uncommon to see some stories garner only a few dozen comments. That's how web sites die. If you slip below a critical level of readership, readers will abandon the site completely. I know from my own experience running a web site devoted to the Peace Corps that I used to have hundreds of comments to some of my stories but once comments slipped below a certain threshold, then they disappeared altogether. I think that slashdot is nearing that threshold and I fear that imposing Slashdot Beta on the site's readership will push it over the edge and I don't want to see that happen. I'd like to propose that slashdot continue running slashdot classic and slashdot beta in parallel. I'll stick with classic most of the time. One of the best features of slashdot classic is that comments can be displayed in four formats (threaded, nested, no comment, and flat) and in two directions (oldest first and newest first) providing a lot of flexibility in watching conversations develop. I switch between the formats several times a day depending on what I want to see. But slashdot beta also has its advantages in certain situations. Slashdot needs a blockbuster story or two every day where people can pile on and slashdot beta facilitates this by putting the most commented story at the top of the page and I think that is a good thing. Still I'll use slashdot beta occasionally when I'm on a mobile device but slashdot classic will be the format I use on my desktop. So don't deprecate slashdot classic. That would be like Microsoft disabling Windows 7 and forcing everyone to use Windows 8. And not even Microsoft is that stupid.

Submission + - Fracking is Draining Water from Areas in US Suffering Major Shortages 1

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: RT reports that some of the most drought-ravaged areas of the US are also heavily targeted for oil and gas development using hydraulic fracturing — a practice that exacerbates water shortages with half of the oil and gas wells fracked across America since 2011 located in places suffering through drought. Taken together, all the wells surveyed from January 2011 to May 2013 consumed 97 billion gallons of water, pumped under high pressure to crack rocks containing oil or natural gas. Up to 10 million gallons can go into a single well. "Hydraulic fracturing is increasing competitive pressures for water in some of the country's most water-stressed and drought-ridden regions," says Mindy Lubber. "Barring stiffer water-use regulations and improved on-the-ground practices, the industry's water needs in many regions are on a collision course with other water users, especially agriculture and municipal water use." Nearly half (47%) of oil and gas wells recently hydraulically fractured in the U.S. and Canada are in regions with high or extremely high water stress. Amanda Brock, head of a water-treatment firm in Houston, says oil companies in California are already exploring ways to frack using the briny, undrinkable water found in the state's oil fields. While fracking consumes far less water than agriculture or residential uses, the impact can be huge on particular communities and is "exacerbating already existing water problems," says Monika Freyman. Hydraulic fracking is the "latest party to come to the table," says Freyman. The demands for the water are "taking regions by surprise," she says. More work needs to be done to better manage water use, given competing demand.

Submission + - How not to send anonymous bomb threats (

An anonymous reader writes: On Monday, Harvard sophomore Eldo Kim emailed bomb threats in a ploy to avoid a final exam. He was arrested within hours, and is now facing federal charges. Here we have an interesting case study of how anonymizing services work, and what their limits are; Kim was using Tor and and a throwaway email account, but the authorities were able to track him down without too much trouble.

Submission + - Politician claims that cycling causes pollution (

An anonymous reader writes: Washington state representative Ed Orcutt, in an email to a constituent, claimed that bicyclists contribute to CO2 emissions due to their increased respiration. He was using this bit of science to justify a proposed tax on the sale of bicycles. He later tried to walk back the comment. Hey, at least the Republicans are acknowledging that global warming is real.

Submission + - Apple, Google, others agreed to not recruit from e (

chewbaccamask writes: Apparently Eric Schmidt and Steve Jobs, along with Intel and Adobe's CEO's, made a "gentlemens agreement" to not pursue top talent from each others comanies, with the goal of making sure the star developers never knew what they were worth and couldn't demand higher pay. Well, the best programmers in the business are taking them to court over it. None of the corporations are challenging the allegations at all, their attorneys saying "the facts even as presented by the plaintiffs show no evidence of a conspiracy". However, the courts seem disagree, because as Palm's then-CEO Ed Colligan said in 2007: "Your proposal... is not only wrong, it is likely illegal".
The Military

Submission + - The Mind of a Sniper

Hugh Pickens writes writes: "BBC reports that Chris Kyle, who with 255 claimed known kills, is the most deadly sniper in American history, has published a book that provides an unusual insight into the psychology of a soldier who waits, watches and kills. In his first kill in 2003 he saw a woman, with a child close by, approaching his troops with a grenade ready to detonate in her hand. "This was the first time I was going to have to kill someone. I didn't know whether I was going to be able to do it, man, woman or whatever," says Kyle. "The woman was already dead. I was just making sure she didn't take any Marines with her." Married with two children and now retired from the military, Kyle claims to have no regrets. "Every person I killed I strongly believe they were bad." A study into snipers in Israel has shown that snipers are much less likely than other soldiers to dehumanize their enemy because snipers can see their targets with great clarity and sometimes must observe them for hours or even days. "It's killing that is very distant but also very personal," says anthropologist Neta Bar. "I would even say intimate." Bar studied attitudes to killing among 30 Israeli snipers who served in the Palestinian territories from 2000 to 2003, to examine whether killing is unnatural or traumatic for human beings and found that the snipers she studied were rational and intelligent young men (PDF). "When many people think of a sniper, they think of a person who randomly shoots people," says Gunnery Sgt. Richard Tisdale, staff noncommissioned officer in charge of the Scout Sniper School, one of the hardest training courses in the military, with a failure rate of more than 60% and a long list of prerequisites for recruits, including a high degree of maturity, equanimity and common sense. "A sniper selects his target and fires upon it. Marksmanship makes up only 10 percent of being a sniper.""

Submission + - Poll: Americans Weigh Censorship vs Piracy (

bs0d3 writes: In the wake of the online protests against the pending PIPA, SOPA, and ACTA anti-piracy bills, Rasmussen asked US voters what their opinion is on the issue of censorship vs illegal downloading. Through a telephone survey, voters were asked: "Which is a bigger problem, that some people download movies online without paying for them or that the government will censor Internet content?" While 67% agreed that piracy is theft, 71% said that they were more worried about censorship than they were illegal downloading.

Submission + - EFI-x cloned and for free (thanks to Chameleon)

An anonymous reader writes: I just wanted to notify some community effort related to the famous EFI-X dongle (the one that allows to install OS X on a standard PC).

One hacker recently disassembled an EFI-X module and after some analysis found out that it is nothing more than an encrypted USB stick: see the following link for pictures and details:

An EFI-X customers disappointed by the way EFI-X development (bug fixing) is performed and how customer complains are handled (heavy censorship on official efi-x forum, huge ego problem in lead developer known as White Dragon, etc) created an unofficial forum where people help each other for free.

Finally another community member created a guide on how to make a free EFI-X clone by using Chameleon 2.0RC2 and a standard usb stick. See the following link for details:

Maybe the latest news might interest some of your readers that in past were interested in EFI-X.
Thanks to the Chamaleon bootloader and that guide it is now possible to create a mac using a retail copy of Leopard (and in few days snow leopard) and update it regularly using software update (in other words in the same way than EFI-X worked but at a fraction of the price).

Submission + - Java's new Floating-point math

An anonymous reader writes: Version 5 of the Java Language Specification added 10 new methods to java.lang.Math and java.lang.StrictMath, and Java 6 added another 10. Join Elliotte Rusty Harold for a look into "new" features in the classic java.lang.Math class in this article, which explores the functions designed for operating on floating-point numbers.

Submission + - Patrick McGoohan dead at 80 (

KiltedKnight writes: From the article:

Patrick McGoohan, the Emmy-winning actor who created and starred in the cult classic television show "The Prisoner," has died. He was 80.

McGoohan died Tuesday in Los Angeles after a short illness, his son-in-law, film producer Cleve Landsberg, said.


Submission + - Google will appeal German copyright decisions (

An anonymous reader writes: Google will appeal two German court decisions that found it violated copyright law by showing thumbnails of works by two artists in search results. The case, which involved Google's Image Search feature in its search engine, concerned a photograph and artwork from two artists. Google will file a single appeal to Germany's Supreme Court.

Feed Engadget: Lite-On's Moldable Mouse takes whatever shape you want (

Filed under: Peripherals

Finally, a mouse just for you. Thanks to the folks at Lite-On, you'll never have to suffer the debilitating discomfort of an unshapely mouse ever again. The Moldable Mouse will make all your bad memories of ill-fitting input devices float away, using a lightweight modeling clay combined with a nylon and polyurethane fabric to make up its surface. Once you're palming your new best friend, you can shape its contours to whatever form you desire, though we're pretty sure making a perfect cube will present a challenge. The "stick-on" buttons and scroll-wheel can be added to any location you like, and communicate via RFID. The thing won a Red Dot design award and everything... but coming soon? Probably not.

[Via Wired]

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