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Submission + - The Two Minutes It Takes To Read This Will Improve Your Writing Forever (

ansiecat writes: I thought to share this excellent piece by an author by the name of Josh Spector, and originally published in

You’re busy, so I’ll keep this quick.
Following are the simplest tips I can give you to easily—and forever—improve the quality of your writing.

Delete the word “that.”
At least 90% of the times you use the word “that” can be removed from your writing and it will instantly make your sentence stronger.

Example: “You believe that I’m lying, but I’m not.” becomes “You believe I’m lying, but I’m not.”
Delete the words “I think.”

It adds nothing. Remove it to strengthen your point.
Example: “I think this is a good sentence.” becomes “This is a good sentence.”

Avoid words that end in “-ing.”
In most cases, the “-ing” softens your word and adds no value. Your writing will read better if you avoid it.
Example: “The experiences we’re seeking end up being underwhelming and even disappointing.” becomes “The experiences we seek often underwhelm and disappoint.”

continue reading

Submission + - How transparent should companies be when operational technology failures happen? 1

supernova87a writes: Last week, Southwest Airlines had an epic crash of IT systems across their entire business, when "a router failure caused the airlines' systems to crash... and all backups failed, causing flight delays and cancellations nationwide and costing the company probably $10 million in lost bookings alone." Huge numbers of passengers, crew, airplanes were stranded as not only reservations systems, but scheduling, dispatch, and other critical operational systems had to be rebooted over 12 hours. Passenger delays directly attributable to this incident continued to trickle down all the way from Wednesday to Sunday as the airline recovered.

Aside from the technical issues of what happened, what should a public facing company's obligation be to discuss what happened in full detail? Would publicly talking about the sequence of events before and after failure help restore faith in their operations? Perhaps not aiming for Google-levels of admirable disclosure (as in this 18-minute cloud computing outage where a full post-mortem was given) — but should companies aim to discuss more openly what happened? And how they recover from systems failures?

Submission + - SPAM: Class of Large but Very Dim Galaxies Discovered

schwit1 writes: Astronomers have now detected and measured a new class of large but very dim galaxy that previously was not expected to exist.

‘Ultradiffuse’ galaxies came to attention only last year, after Pieter van Dokkum of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, and Roberto Abraham of the University of Toronto in Canada built an array of sensitive telephoto lenses named Dragonfly. The astronomers and their colleagues observed the Coma galaxy cluster 101 megaparsecs (330 million light years) away and detected 47 faint smudges.

“They can’t be real,” van Dokkum recalls thinking when he first saw the galaxies on his laptop computer. But their distribution in space matched that of the cluster’s other galaxies, indicating that they were true members. Since then, hundreds more of these galaxies have turned up in the Coma cluster and elsewhere.

Ultradiffuse galaxies are large like the Milky Way — which is much bigger than most — but they glow as dimly as mere dwarf galaxies. It’s as though a city as big as London emitted as little light as Kalamazoo, Michigan.

More significantly, they have now found that these dim galaxies can be as big and as massive as the biggest bright galaxies, suggesting that there are a lot more stars and mass hidden out there and unseen than anyone had previously predicted.

Submission + - Cisco: Potent ransomware is targeting the enterprise at a scary rate (

coondoggie writes: Enterprise-targeting cyber enemies are deploying vast amounts of potent ransomware to generate revenue and huge profits – nearly $34 million annually according to Cisco’s Mid-Year Cybersecurity Report out this week.
Ransomware, Cisco wrote, has become a particularly effective moneymaker, and enterprise users appear to be the preferred target.

Submission + - SPAM: ULA interns launch record-breaking model rocket

schwit1 writes: A team of ULA interns, working in their spare time, have successfully launched the largest model rocket every built.

On Sunday (July 24), ULA launched the 50-foot-tall (15.24 meters) Future Heavy rocket out of Fort Carson Army Post, breaking the record for “the largest sport rocket launched anywhere in the world,” according to a statement from ULA. The Future Heavy is also notable because it was built entirely by company interns and their mentors. “We like [our interns] to have a very realistic experience,” ULA President and CEO Tory Bruno told at the Space Symposium meeting in Colorado Springs, Colorado, last April.

Calling it a “model rocket” really isn’t fair. The thing is big, and really ranks up there with many of the suborbital rockets NASA used to routinely fly out of Wallops Island. That ULA has provided support for this effort again suggests that the leadership of Bruno is reshaping the company into a much more innovative and competitive company.

Submission + - Why Belgium leads in IPv6 adoption (

netbuzz writes: Every time you read a story devoted to worldwide IPv6 adoption rates, sitting atop the list of highest achievers is Belgium, otherwise better known for chocolate, waffles, beer and diamonds. Google, for example, has worldwide IPv6 adoption at about 12%, Belgium leading at 45%. Why Belgium? Eric Vyncke, co-chair of Belgium’s IPv6 Council, explains a unique set of circumstances involving technology, geography, politics and culture.

Submission + - Kodi developer apologizes, indicates future of Kodi project is uncertain (

An anonymous reader writes: Over on Reddit a former "member of Team Kodi, the group behind Kodi/XBMC" has issued an apology, saying, "To all the Kodi users and members of the community out there: I'm sorry if I was (or ever will be) ever a dick to you." However the ensuing discussion makes it clear that he is not the only Kodi developer that should probably be apologizing, and that the atmosphere among the Kodi development team can be pretty toxic at times. It appears that some of the developers hate other developers, and hate users even more. Further down in the discussion, the OP says,

"Internally, it has gotten so toxic on Team Kodi that I would be surprised if the project lasts another year. Not without something changing. The abuse is to the point that it's not fun for anyone to work on things anymore, let alone attract new developers and team members."

The entire discussion reminds us of how some of the most talented software designers can have serious problems with social skills, to the point that they probably don't even realize how what they say and how they act affects others. But beyond that, it may be the first indication that a much-used piece of software is on its way downhill. Before anyone says it, I will also mention is that Kodi is NOT piracy software as some erroneously believe; there have been a number of unofficial addons written for Kodi that may facilitate piracy in some way but they are neither endorsed by the Kodi developers nor allowed in the official Kodi addon repository. To blame Kodi for these addons would be like blaming Firefox or Chrome for an unofficial addon or extension that may facilitate piracy in some manner.

Submission + - Majority of Americans OK With Warrantless Internet Surveillance (

An anonymous reader writes: A new poll conducted by the Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research gathered opinions on the U.S. government's surveillance of internet communications. The poll found that a majority of Americans, 56%, were in favor of warrantless surveillance. 28% explicitly opposed it. 67% of Republicans and 55% of Democrats supported the warrantless surveillance, while only 40% of Independents supported it. Americans under 30 supported warrantless surveillance much less than older Americans. Further, "The poll finds that for most Americans, safety concerns trump civil liberties at least some of the time. More than half — 54 percent — say it's sometimes necessary for the government to sacrifice freedoms to fight terrorism, while 45 percent think that's not necessary. On a more general level, 42 percent say it's more important for the government to ensure Americans' safety than to protect citizens' rights, while 27 percent think rights are more important and 31 percent rate both equally."

Submission + - Khan Academy Seeks Patent on Education A/B Testing

theodp writes: The Education Revolution will be patented. USPTO records show that Khan Academy is seeking a patent for Systems and Methods for Split Testing Educational Videos. From the patent application: "Systems and methods are provided for comparing different videos pertaining to a topic. Two different versions of an educational video may be compared using split comparison testing. A set of questions may be provided along with each video about the topic taught in the video. Users may view one of the videos and answer the questions. Data about the user responses may be aggregated and used to determine which video more effectively conveys information to the viewer based on the question responses." Now it's up to the USPTO to decide if something like the test and control studies conducted 40+ years ago (pdf) by the PLATO system to measure the effectiveness of different teaching methods would count as prior art. In response to an earlier post on Khan Academy's pending patents on learning computer programming and 'social programming,' Slashdot user Khan Academy said that the nonprofit is using patents for good, so not to worry.

Submission + - Tesla catches fire during quickcharging (

Flu writes: The owner had parked the car at a quickcharging station in Brokelandsheia, Norway. Shortly after leaving, the car caught fire, and became totally destroyed. Luckily, noone got hurt. The cause of the fire is under investigation by the local police and the charging station is temporarily closed.

Submission + - Copyright Expires on Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf

An anonymous reader writes: writes

Adolf Hitler's Nazi manifesto Mein Kampf was originally printed in 1925 — eight years before Hitler came to power. After Nazi Germany was defeated in 1945, the Allied forces handed the copyright to the book to the state of Bavaria who refused to allow the book to be reprinted to prevent incitement of hatred. Now BBC reports that under European copyright law, the rights of an author of a literary or artistic work runs for the life of the author and for 70 years after his death — in Hitler's case on 30 April 1945, when he shot himself in his bunker in Berlin, so for the first time in 70 years, Mein Kampf will be available to buy in Germany.

Authorizing the book’s release into the public domain has been a tortuous process. In 2012 it was agreed, after much consultation between Bavarian authorities and representatives of Jewish and Roma communities, that a scholarly edition should be planned in an attempt to demystify the book. Munich's Institute of Contemporary History willpublish the new edition with thousands of academic notes, will aim to show that Mein Kampf (My Struggle) is incoherent and badly written, rather than powerful or seductive. From the original book’s 1,000 pages, the publisher has produced a two-volume book that is twice as long as the original, with 3,700 annotations. Christian Hartmann, one of the team of five historians who spent several years working on the academic edition, described his relief at being able to analyse the text, even if he felt in need of regularly airing his tiny Munich office in order to cope with the task. “It is a real feeling of triumph, to be able to pick over this rubbish and then to debunk it bit by bit."

Submission + - State Dept releases 5500 Hillary Clinton emails, "classified" count up to 1,274 (

An anonymous reader writes: The State Department on Thursday released 5,500 more pages of Hillary Clinton's emails, but fell short of meeting a court-ordered target of making 82 percent of the former secretary of state's messages public by the end of 2015.

The email dump is the latest release from the private server Clinton used during her time as America's top diplomat. The State Department said it failed to meet the court's goal because of "the large number of documents involved and the holiday schedule."

Portions of 275 documents in the batch were upgraded to classified, though they were not classified at the time they were sent to Clinton's personal email, according to the State Department. In total, 1,274 of her emails were retroactively classified by the government before their release.

Submission + - A brief history of the ESA (

An anonymous reader writes: Ars Technica takes a look at the history and development of the European Space agency. Getting things done at the ESA has an extra layer of difficulty compared to most other space programs because they rely on cooperation between many governments with different goals and budgets. "The first talks regarding the ESA took place against the backdrop of the growing space rivalry between the United States and Soviet Union, which had burst onto the world's stage with the successful Sputnik mission in October 1957. ... By 1959, the effort took on a sense of urgency. Auger and Amaldi were concerned that the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) Science Committee was thinking of developing a satellite to put Europe in space. Krige's book states that both scientists '[balked] at the prospect of having European space research located in an [organization] essentially dedicated to military goals, an [organization] which would impose layers of bureaucracy and secrecy on any space science effort.'" This led to the formation of the European Space Research Organization and the European launcher Development Organization, which became precursors to the ESA. Today, the ESA's mission pipeline packed with interesting probes set to do fascinating science.

Submission + - Epoch Time Bug Causes Facebook To Congratulate Users on 46 Years of Friendship (

An anonymous reader writes: A bunch of Facebook users received mysterious messages yesterday congratulating them on 46 years of being friends on Facebook. An astute observer may note that Facebook hasn't been around for 46 years. An even more astute observer might note that 46 years ago yesterday would be 12/31/1969 — easily recognizable as value '0' in the Unix Epoch with a time zone adjustment. A Microsoft engineer posits that the message was sent because of how Facebook implemented its congratulatory messages. Many people were Facebook friends when the feature was rolled out, and instead of finding or estimating the date they became friends, Facebook simply set that database value to '0'. When the script fires to send those messages, it grabbed that value expecting a time, and interpreted the 0 accordingly. "The developer who wrote the “friends with since” memories algorithm should have added a case WHERE friendsWithSinceDate != ‘0' or something along those lines."

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