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Submission + - The 32-Bit Dog Ate 16 Million Kids' CS Homework

theodp writes: Tech backed-Code.org explains in a blog post that it encountered technical difficulties Friday that temporarily made the work of 16 million K-12 students who have used the nonprofit's Code Studio offering disappear. Code.org CTO Jeremy Stone gave the kids an impromptu lesson on the powers of two with his explanation of why The Cloud ate their homework: "This morning, at 9:19 am PST, coding progress by students stopped saving on Code Studio, and the issue briefly brought the Code Studio site down. We brought the site back up shortly thereafter but student progress was still not being saved, and instead students saw an outdated message about the Hour of Code from December. [...] The way we store student coding activity is in a table that until today had a 32-bit index. What this means is that the database table could only store 4 billion rows of coding activity information. We didn’t realize we were running up to the limit, and the table got full. We have now made a new student activity table that is storing progress by students. With the new table, we are switching to a 64-bit index which will hold up to 18 quintillion rows of information. On the plus side, this new table will be able to store student coding information for millions of years. On the down side, until we’ve moved everything over to the new table, some students’ code from before today may temporarily not appear, so please be patient with us as we fix it."

Submission + - It Takes a Village to Produce Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook Page

theodp writes: Q. How many Facebook employees does it take to produce Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook page? A. More than a dozen! CNET's Ian Sherr offers his take on the news that Facebook has a team that handles Mark Zuckerberg's page: "Ever notice the photos, videos and posts on the profile page for Facebook's CEO are a lot nicer looking or better written than yours? Don't feel bad. Mark Zuckerberg has a team of people who are increasingly managing his public persona, according to a Wednesday report from Bloomberg Businessweek. Not only do they help write speeches and posts, but they also take photographs of his family and his travels, interspersing them with infographics about the company's user growth and sales. There're even people who delete harassing comments and spam for him. A Facebook spokeswoman said the company's service is an easy way for executives to connect with people." Wonder how many people it took to help craft the latest post, in which Zuck fired back at "some misleading stories going around" about "some land" he purchased in Hawaii (which another Zuck post noted also serves as a petting zoo of sorts for his daughter).

Submission + - Law for Autonomous Vehicles: Supporting an Aftermarket for Driving Computers (perens.com)

Bruce Perens writes: How will we buy self-driving cars, and how will we keep them running as self-driving software and hardware becomes obsolete much more rapidly than the vehicle itself? Boalt Hall legal professor Lothar Determann and Open Source Evangelist Bruce Perens are publishing an article in the prestigious Berkeley Technology Law Journal on how the law and markets might support an aftermarket for self-driving computers, rather than having the manufacturer lock them down or sell driving as a service rather than selling cars. The preprint is available to read now, and discusses how an Open Car, based on Open Standards and an Open Market, but not necessarily Open Source, can drive prices down and quality up over non-competitive manufacturer lock-in.

Comment Re:IT is amazing (Score 5, Insightful) 99

Most folks drink stale coffee. Try roasting your own (I use Sweet Maria's for supplies) or going somewhere with a roaster on site who is honest enough to tell you the roast date. It should be from 2 to 10 days ago. Flavor development in coffee is a rancidification process. Like cheese, you want to catch it when it is a little, but not too, rancid.

Comment Re:...Or Just Take Aspirin. (Score 2) 99

Let's not forget the effect of helicobacter pylori bacteria on ulcers, they are in general held to be the main cause these days.

I have another theory about the beneficial effect of aspirin, caffine, etc. We evolved with them. Our diet was rich in salycilates and chemicals similar to theobromine or caffine. They came from the plants we ate, some of which were mildly toxic and which we evolved to process to the point that we became dependent on some of their effects. There are a lot of things in the primitive diet that modern people don't eat much at all, like acorns which had to be soaked to remove alkalai and tannin.

If this is the case, taking aspirin and drinking coffee or tea replace substances found in a more primitive diet.

Comment Re: Not really needed for drones (Score 1) 24

Modulation designators that state the payload type don't make much sense with digital data transports. You can do digital TV or anything else with 4 MHz bandwidth. Cellular doesn't make much sense unless they have a really long hover time and drone life, in which case it could be a pop-up base station.

Submission + - Facebook's 2016 EEO-1 Diversity Report Still MIA on MLK Day

theodp writes: EEO-1 reports for 2016 were due to be submitted to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by 9-30-2016. So, it's not too surprising that Microsoft, Apple, and Google have gotten around to posting theirs to company diversity sites, albeit with footnotes urging visitors not to pay much heed to the government-mandated raw numbers and to instead trust the tech company-provided as-seen-in-How-to-Lie-With-Statistics percentages. Move-fast-and-break-things Facebook, on the other hand, is still dragging its feet on disclosing its numbers. For all its talk of making the world more open and transparent, Facebook had to be dragged kicking-and-screaming to the EEO-1 disclosure table. Last year, Facebook didn't see fit to reveal its 2015 EEO-1 report until July 2016 (and oddly did so with a no-copy-and-paste-allowed .png), with a mea culpa for its lack of improved numbers and a $15 million pledge to Mark Zuckerberg-backed Code.org to make U.S. kids more CS-savvy. To be fair to (legally) H-1B visa-dependent Facebook, its Black employees may actually make up a higher percentage of U.S.-born (vs. U.S. payroll-based) Facebook employees than 1.72%, although one doesn't imagine Facebook — or Google or Microsoft or Apple for that matter — will be using that defense and voluntarily disclosing those numbers anytime soon.

Submission + - Google-Funded ALA Project Envisions Nation's Librarians Teaching Kids to Code

theodp writes: Citing the need to fill "500,000 current job openings in the field of computer science," the American Library Association (ALA) argues in a new whitepaper (pdf) that "all 115,000 of the nation’s school and public libraries are crucial community partners to guarantee youth have skills essential to future employment and civic participation." As such, the ALA's Google-funded Libraries Ready to Code (RtC) project has entered Phase II, which aims to "equip MLIS [Master's in Library Science] students to deliver coding programs through public and school libraries and foster computational thinking skills among the nation’s youth." The RtC Phase II timeline (pdf) calls for a review of “lessons learned for national strategy” in Q4 of this year. "Particular attention will be paid to addressing challenges and opportunities for underrepresented groups in CS and related fields (e.g., Hispanic, Native American, African American, and girls)," explained the ALA. “Libraries play a vital role in our communities, and Google is proud to build on our partnership with ALA," added Hai Hong, who leads US outreach on Google's K-12 Education team. “We're excited to double down on the findings of Ready to Code 1 by equipping librarians with the knowledge and skills to cultivate computational thinking and coding skills in our youth. Given the ubiquity of technology and the half-a-million unfilled tech jobs in the country, we need to ensure that all youth understand the world around them and have the opportunity to develop the essential skills that employers — and our nation's economy — require.”

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