Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


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Submission Summary: 0 pending, 28 declined, 12 accepted (40 total, 30.00% accepted)

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Submission + - Tech Worker Shortage Doesn't Really Exist 1

Spy Handler writes: According to an article in Businessweek, the often-repeated mantra (by tech companies) that there is a tech worker shortage doesn't actually exist. The paper compared the case of petroleum engineers to that of tech workers, and found that there was an actual shortage of petroleum engineers, with the predictable result of wages for petroleum engineers rising, leading to more people becoming petroleum engineers until the demand was met and shortage solved. In contrast, the real wages for IT workers have stayed flat since 1999.

"There's no evidence of any way, shape, or form that there's a shortage in the conventional sense," says Hal Salzman, a professor of planning and public policy at Rutgers University. "They may not be able to find them at the price they want. But I'm not sure that qualifies as a shortage, any more than my not being able to find a half-priced TV.

Submission + - Google's Lease of NASA Airfield Criticized by Consumer Group

Spy Handler writes: Yesterday's announcement that Google will lease Moffett Field from NASA for 60 years drew criticism from a group called Consumer Watchdog, which stated "This is like giving the keys to your car to the guy who has been siphoning gas from your tank. It is unfairly rewarding unethical and wrongful behavior."

Which makes one wonder: what's the market rate for a lease on 1000 acres of Silicon Valley real estate? And also, would the public reaction to this deal have been as muted if it had been, say, Monsanto getting caught underpaying the gov't for diesel fuel, only to be rewarded later with a large sweetheart deal for federal land?

Submission + - Steve Ballmer To Ban L.A. Clippers From Using Apple Products

Spy Handler writes: Steve Ballmer, former CEO of Microsoft who recently purchased the basketball team Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion, will ban the use of Apple products by his team. Ballmer is no longer working for Microsoft but is still the largest individual shareholder, with about 4 percent of the company worth $15.7 billion.

Submission + - How Russia Should Respond to U.S. Olympic Snub with Snowden

Spy Handler writes: In a move that can only be interpreted as a snub against Russia's recent anti-gay laws, U.S. will be sending openly gay athletes as part of its delegation to the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia, without President Obama or any other high ranking government official in attendance. Score one point for USA, most of us can agree that such anti-gay laws are unjust with no place in a modern civilized society. However, Russia can score its own point in rebuttal and highlight the log in America's own eye — NSA's global internet surveillance — by inviting Edward Snowden to the opening ceremony. Bonus point for having him light the Olympic torch.

Submission + - Verizon Programmer Caught Outsourcing Own Job To China ( 1

Spy Handler writes: "In 2012 when Verizon discovered that its corporate systems were being accessed by someone in China, it launched an investigation. Initially thought to be a case of industrial espionage or a malicious hacker, it turns out that one of their own employees had contracted his programming job out to a team in China. The programmer, man in his mid 40's identified only as "Bob", would show up for work, watch cat videos and surf Reddit (among other things), while the contractors in China did the work he was supposedly doing. He paid them one-fifth of the 6-figure salary he was getting from Verizon.

And over the past several years, Bob received excellent performance reviews of his "clean, well written" coding. He had even been noted as "the best developer in the building." However, Bob has been fired after his scheme was discovered."


Submission + - NASA To Test Bigelow Inflatable Module Aboard ISS (

Spy Handler writes: "NASA has announced that it has awarded a $17.8 million contract to Bigelow Aerospace to build an inflatable module for the International Space Station. Details of the project will be announced Wednesday at Bigelow’s headquarters in Las Vegas.

Seems like all the pieces for a privately-built space renaissance are starting to fall into place. When the Falcon Heavy goes operational to provide cheap launches, we could finally have the spaceflight boom that space enthusiasts have been dreaming of."


Submission + - HP Software Update Cancels Food Stamps ( 1

Spy Handler writes: A software update of the California welfare computer system (CalWIN) caused 37,000 Food Stamp recipients to lose their EBT (a credit card paid for by the government) benefits last weekend. According to the article, Hewlett Packard was responsible for the failed update of CalWIN, but at 8:00 a.m. today Xerox (who administers another state welfare system called CalFresh) issued a patch that reactivated the EBT cards.

Submission + - Google Threatened Acer with Banishment from Android ( 1

Spy Handler writes: "In a Microsoft-esque move, Google threatened Acer with banishment from Android if it went ahead with its new cellphone project with Alibaba (China's version of Amazon), using an OS called Aliyun. Acer has remained silent on the issue, but Alibaba reports that they received notification from Google, stating "if the new product launch with Aliyun went ahead, Google would terminate Android product cooperation and related technical authorization with Acer." Possible reason for Google's upset is that the Aliyun OS, which is not Android, can run Android apps as well as its own."

Submission + - SpaceX Dragon Launch To ISS Set For April 30th (

Spy Handler writes: NASA announced today a tentative April 30th date for SpaceX launch to the International Space Station on an unmanned cargo mission.

"Everything looks good as we head toward the April 30 launch date," said Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations.

If successful, SpaceX will become the first private company to launch a space vehicle and dock with the ISS.

Submission + - Apple and Samsung Rake In 95% of Mobile Phone Profits ( 1

Spy Handler writes: The race for mobile domination appears to be a two-horse race. According to a new CNET report, Apple took in a whopping 80 percent of all profits in the mobile phone business last quarter — that's counting all cell phones, not just smartphones. Samsung came in second, reaping 15 percent of the profits. Everyone else was left scrambling for crumbs.

Perhaps the release of Windows 8 phones can turn the tide and prevent a Apple-Samsung duopoly from taking place.

The Internet

Submission + - Free Hotel Wi-Fi Overwhelmed by iPads (

Spy Handler writes: According to iBAHN, a firm that provides Wi-Fi and computer services to hotels, free Wi-Fi networks are struggling to cope with the huge increase in traffic since the iPad was released.

"The iPad is the fastest-selling device in consumer electronics history, and because of it the demand placed on any public place Wi-Fi system has gone up exponentially in the last year and a half," said David W. Garrison, chief executive of iBAHN.

Hotels are now facing a tough choice; keep Wi-Fi free and risk angering customers with slow internet, upgrade their internet pipe and charge customers for Wi-Fi (which also might anger customers), or upgrade their internet and eat the costs.


Submission + - Tearing Down iPhone 4S reveals 512MB RAM ( 2

Spy Handler writes: "ComputerWorld is reporting that tearing down the just-released iPhone 4S reveals an A5 processor and 512MB of RAM.

"How do we know it's 512MB? Check out the marking, specifically 'E4E4,' denoting two 2Gb LPDDR2 die — for a total of 4Gb — or 512MB."

What's baffling to me — since I have yet to drink the Kool-aid and am unfamiliar with Apple hardware — is why did it take disassembling the phone and examining chip markings to deduce the amount of RAM in the system? In Linux and Windows, you type in one command and it tells you. Or simply looking at the box usually shows the processor, RAM and HDD size"

Submission + - Would You Vote For a Programmer President?

Spy Handler writes: Herman Cain, one of the current front-runners in the race for the Presidency of the U.S., has a master's degree in Computer Science (and a bachelor's degree in Mathmatics). As a Slashdotter, would this fact affect your vote favorably toward him?

Contrast this with your typical politician, most of whom have a law degree and majored in something in liberal arts as an undergraduate. (Mr. Obama was a Political Science major and has a law degree)

Submission + - NASA's Space Launch System: a Critical Analysis (

Spy Handler writes: Jerry Pournelle has posted a quick analysis of NASA's new Space Launch System (SLS) on his website. His two main criticisms involve:

1. Usage of the Shuttle main engines. "Those were developed to be reusable, and they are expensive because of that. They are in fact magnificent engines and thoroughly reusable if operated at 90-95% of rated capacity; it’s not their fault that they had to be run at 103% and above to fly Shuttle. But they were developed to be reusable, and that adds greatly to their cost."

2. Usage of SRBs. "You don’t want recoverable solid rockets in the first place. The operations are a nightmare, and the design has to be compromised so that the impact on the water does not destroy the thing, and it has to float. All that changes the design and affects performance. There is no good reason ever to recover a solid booster, which is, after all, a big sewer pipe stuffed with guncotton and leached with nitroglycerine....

The only reason we ever came up with any notion as mad as a segmented solid booster was that the SRB had to be made in Utah because of political constraints. If you make a booster that size in Utah it has to be segmented because you can’t ship it by rail or on the highway – the curves are too sharp and the tunnels are not big enough. You would have to make it in Michoud Louisiana and ship it by barge to Canaveral. That is possible but Louisiana isn’t Utah. Apparently the new NASA design is worried about the Utah Senatorial votes to this day."

His widely read 2000 paper titled How To Get To Space provides excellent insights into the X-programs and is well worth reading.

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