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The Big Technical Mistakes of History 244

An anonymous reader tips a PC Authority review of some of the biggest technical goofs of all time. "As any computer programmer will tell you, some of the most confusing and complex issues can stem from the simplest of errors. This article looking back at history's big technical mistakes includes some interesting trivia, such as NASA's failure to convert measurements to metric, resulting in the Mars Climate Orbiter being torn apart by the Martian atmosphere. Then there is the infamous Intel Pentium floating point fiasco, which cost the company $450m in direct costs, a battering on the world's stock exchanges, and a huge black mark on its reputation. Also on the list is Iridium, the global satellite phone network that promised to make phones work anywhere on the planet, but required 77 satellites to be launched into space."
United States

Submission + - British Newspaper Releases Classified U.S. Video

Thwomp writes: The Sun newspaper has released leaked confidential video footage of the moment that two U.S. aircraft opened fire on a British convoy in Iraq. It resulted in the death of Lance Corporal of Horse Matty Hull. The U.S. was unwilling to release the video for the British inquest into the incident, but since entering the public domain it is now admissible as evidence. While the pilots do seem remorseful it does highlight again problems with the U.S. armed forces' ability in identifying friendly units in a combat situation. Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see how this affects Anglo-North American relations.

Submission + - Ogg Vorbis gaining industry support

An anonymous reader writes: While Ogg Vorbis format has not seen much popularity in music sales and portable players, it is not an unsupported format in the industry. Toy manufacturers (e.g. speaking dolls), voice warning systems and reactive audio devices exploit Ogg Vorbis for its good quality at small bitrates. As a sign of this, VLSI Solution Oy has just announced VS1000, the first 16 bits DSP device for playing Ogg Vorbis on low power and high volume products. Earlier Ogg Vorbis chips use 32 bits for decoding which consumes more energy than a 16 bit device does. This enables high volume manufacturing of small Ogg Vorbis devices. A list of Ogg Vorbis chips can be found from the Xiph wiki page.

Submission + - Firefox popup blocker can allow access to local FS

cj writes: Whitedust has an interesting article where it appears that Michal Zalewski has unearthed a potentially dangerous vulnerability in the stock behaviour of Firefox's popup blocking element — when used in conjunction with another 'little trick' the vulnerability can apparently allow a malicious user to read files from an effected system and potentially gain access to sensitive information there on.

Submission + - Job satisfaction of coders - how to improve?

tsrkoodari writes: "We've just started a new research project that aims at finding out how to improve the job satisfaction of coders. Our project is done in collaboration with Nokia. Our research questions include:
  1. which work methods improve job satisfaction of coders?
  2. which factors contribute to the flow experience of a coder?
  3. how multinationality affects job satisfaction?
Our research group would like to ask all developers (whose job mainly consists of coding) reading Slashdot for opinions on these matters. Which work methods improve your job satisfaction as a coder? Have you experienced flow (defined as the feeling of complete and energized focus in an activity, with a high level of enjoyment and fulfillment) in your work? How do you feel about agile methods vs. traditional methods? Do they aim solely at productivity? And finally, how does multinationality/globalization in development teams affect your job satisfaction?"

Submission + - Revamped UK Times newspaper disaster

Ethelred writes: "The UK Times (http://www.timesonline.co.uk) newspaper today unveiled a new website that has proved an unworkable disaster. Regardless of subjective views as to the sites new layout, the new website has proved utterly unusable with either no responses to page requests or responses taking minutes. Response times take one back to the days of 1200/75 modems. Interestingly, the development was outsourced to India and one can only assume that the previews were being viewed in the UK employing T1 connections."

Submission + - Sequential Computing Considered Harmful

antarctica21 writes: Bill McColl, former head of the Faculty of Computer Science at Oxford, writes about the end of the road for sequential computing, and about new models for parallel computing, in Sequential Computing Considered Harmful. Quotes: After more than thirty years of Moore's Law exponential growth, sequential computing is now finally hitting a brick wall. The ONLY hope for a way forward is parallelism, and not just 2-, 4- or 8-way parallelism, but massive-scale parallelism. Failure to make the transition to massively parallel computing will bring the computing industry to a shuddering halt, with catastrophic consequences for many major companies in the industry.

DNA to Test Theory of Roman Village in China 203

Reverse Gear writes "Many of the inhabitants of a lonely village in north western China seems to have distinctive western features. An old theory from the 50s suggests that a Roman legion lost in what is now Iran in the year 53BC lost their commanding officer. They traveled east, so the legend goes, working as mercenaries until they were caught by the Chinese 17 years later. The Chinese described them as using a 'fish-scale formation', which could be a reference to the well-known Roman phalanx technique called the 'tortoise'. The remainder of the legion, it is suggested, may have intermarried with the villagers in Liqian. Scientists are now trying to verify the fascinating theory by testing the DNA of the inhabitants of the Chinese village."
United States

Submission + - Scientology critic arrested

An anonymous reader writes: Last Friday, Arizona police arrested Keith Henson, an engineer, writer and long time critic of the Church of Scientology. Back in 2001, after picketing outside Scientology's main headquarters in Hemet, California, he was convicted of "interfering with a religion", a misdemeanor under California law. Due to a number of death threats to him and his family, he escaped to Canada where he unsuccessfully tried to get political asylum. Until last Friday, it wasn't known that he was living in Prescott, Arizona, where he was arrested, after Scientology tipsters allegedly set the authorities off to his location. In response, a "Free Keith Henson" blog and a legal defense fund have been created. Depending on the result of his hearing today, he may be extradited to California.
Hardware Hacking

Submission + - DocuColor Tracking Dot Decoding Guide

An anonymous reader writes: The EFF has posted a nice little guide decoding the grid that is printed by the Xerox DocuColor series printer. The FBI and NSA use this to keep track of certain groups, like Greenpeace, here in the US. The article itself only covers the DocuColor series printers, but the EFF warns that this maybe used by other printers as well. Very interesting read, and also very scary knowing that whatever we print can possibly be tracked with exact date and times and the serial number of the printer used. Enjoy!

Submission + - Customizing the Nokia N800 and 770 under the hood

Anonymous Semi Coward writes: Ever wondered how much you can actually customize the Nokia N800 (and the 770 for that matter)? Here is a pretty in-depth guide to going under the hood of your Nokia Linux Handheld. It's quite detailed but does include a pdf version as well for off-line viewing. This is quite a collection of informarmation that is hard to find on the web really. Apparently you can change quite a few things and make a "one-click" install package quite easy. There are even the user envirnments needed for each device.

Submission + - BBC considers catering for Microsoft users only

pthompson writes: In a public consultation at [1] the BBC is asking for views on whether its on-demand services should be made available only to those who use Microsoft software (Question 5). I'm sure the Slashdot community won't be shy in giving their opinion of that idea...

[1] http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/consult/open-consult ations/ondemand_services.html

Submission + - Basics Of HDTV: Quick Tech Tutorial

An anonymous reader writes: A bit rusty on the basics of high-res television? Or just wondering how to better hook up your new wide-screen? Texas Instruments engineer Jon Bearfield has written a non-trivial but uncomplicated article, The Basics Of HDTV: Technical Look At High-Res Television. It takes you through formats, video, audio, interfaces, and has several block diagrams. Now can you figure out where that red cable goes?

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