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Submission + - Firefox 49 Postponed One Week Due to Unexpected Bugs (softpedia.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Mozilla has announced this week that it is delaying the release of Firefox 49 for one week to address two unexpected bugs. Firefox 49, which was set for release on Tuesday, September 13, will now launch the following Tuesday, on September 20.

Work on fixing the two issues is ongoing. The first is a problem with a slow browser script, which is also the most time-consuming issue since the Mozilla team needs around a week of telemetry data to evaluate the fix. This is also the primary reason they've delayed Firefox 49 in the first place. The second problem relates to loading Giphy GIF images on Twitter, which open in a new blank page instead of the Giphy URL. This issue was first detected in Firefox 49 Beta releases.

Firefox 49 is an important release in Mozilla's grand scheme of things when it comes to Firefox. This is the version when Mozilla will finish multi-process support rollout (a.k.a. e10s, or Electrolysis), and the version when Firefox launches the new WebExtensions API that replaces the old Add-ons API, making Firefox compatible with Chromium extensions.

Submission + - A flawed missile defense system generates $2 billion in bonuses for Boeing (latimes.com)

schwit1 writes: From 2002 through early last year, the Pentagon conducted 11 flight tests of the nation's homeland missile defense system. The interceptors failed to destroy their targets in six of the 11 tests — a record that has prompted independent experts to conclude the system cannot be relied on to foil a nuclear strike by North Korea or Iran. Yet, as The LA Times reports, over that same time span, Boeing, the Pentagon's prime contractor, collected nearly $2 billion in performance bonuses for a job well done...

Furthermore, The Pentagon paid Boeing more than $21 billion total for managing the system during that period.

An LA Times investigation by David Willman also found that the criteria for the yearly bonuses were changed at some point to de-emphasize the importance of test results that demonstrate the system’s ability to intercept and destroy incoming warheads.

Early on, Boeing’s contract specified that bonuses would be based primarily on “hit to kill success” in flight tests. In later years, the words “hit to kill” were removed in favor of more generally phrased benchmarks, contract documents show.

L. David Montague, co-chair of a National Academy of Sciences panel that documented shortcomings with GMD, called the $2 billion in bonuses “mind-boggling,” given the system’s performance.

Montague, a former president of missile systems for Lockheed Corp., said the bonuses suggest that the Missile Defense Agency, the arm of the Pentagon that oversees GMD, is a “rogue organization” in need of strict supervision.

The cumulative total of bonuses paid to Boeing has not been made public before. The Times obtained details about the payments through a lawsuit it filed against the Defense Department under the Freedom of Information Act.

The Times asked the Missile Defense Agency in March 2014 for information on bonuses paid to GMD contractors.

Boeing objected to release of the data, and the agency denied the newspaper’s request, saying disclosure might reveal “trade secrets and commercial or financial data.”

The Times then sued in federal court last year, asserting that the public had a right to know about the payments. The government’s lawyers later agreed to release the information if Boeing would not intervene in the litigation “or otherwise take steps to prevent disclosure.”

Boeing eventually acquiesced, and the Defense Department settled the suit with a single-page letter listing the sum total of bonuses paid to Boeing from Dec. 31, 2001, to March 1, 2015.

The figure: $1,959,072,946.

The precise criteria for bonuses could not be obtained for each of the relevant years. However, documents on file with the Defense and Treasury departments show that the missile agency at some point altered a central criterion.

“In recent contract terms, the words ‘hit-to-kill’ have been changed to support the more detailed documented objectives of each respective flight test. For intercept flight tests conducted under the current design and sustainment contract, a successful intercept remains a key performance objective.”

Whatever their rationale, by characterizing the test as a success, the agency and the contractors may have bolstered the prospects for performance bonuses, according to missile defense specialists.

Boeing, in its most recent annual report, underscored the significance of GMD to its finances. The company could face “reduced fees, lower profit rates or program cancellation if cost, schedule or technical performance issues arise,” the report said.

Timothy Sullivan, a former federal contracting officer who examined GMD financial documents at the request of The Times, said the bonus provisions were extraordinarily complex.

“How you administrate something like this is mind-boggling to me. It is an administrative nightmare,’’ said Sullivan, an attorney who represents defense companies and other government contractors in Washington for the law firm Thompson Coburn LLP.

Montague, the former Lockheed Corp. executive, said the intricate bonus system reflected the missile agency’s lack of rigor in engineering and contracting. If the goals for managing GMD had been adequately defined at the beginning and spelled out in contracts, there would be little need for lucrative incentives, he said.

By relying on bonuses, Montague said, the missile agency has effectively told Boeing: “We don’t know what we’re doing, but we’ll decide it together and then you’ve got to work toward maximizing your fee by concentrating on those areas.”

Is it any wonder that The Pentagon has 'lost' a few trillion dollars?

Submission + - Fancy Burning Man Camp Ransacked by Vandals (gizmodo.com)

turkeydance writes: c'mon, it's the weekend......

The White Ocean camp at Burning Man says that it’s made up of “dreamers that blur the lines between reality and the impossible.” Unfortunately for White Ocean, however, “reality” recently meant getting its shit fucked up by a bunch of vandals.

According to a lengthy Facebook post published by the camp on Thursday, the magical wonderland full of “creativity and exploration” was hit by a rash of vandalism on Wednesday night.

Submission + - Apple double standard: 'Hide It Hillary' banned, 'Punch Trump' approved (washingtontimes.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Apple’s App Store appears to be protecting Hillary Clinton from political satire games while allowing titles like “Punch Trump” onto the retail platform.

A new game called “Hide it Hillary” was denied access to Apple’s App Store because company gatekeepers said it “includes content that could be considered defamatory or mean-spirited.” The same vetting process allowed titles like “Punch Trump,” “Slap Donald Trump,” and “Smack a Trump” into the marketplace.

The conservative website Heat Street reported Friday that “Hide it Hillary,” which is now available on Google Play for Android devices, does not condone violence or even feature the former secretary of state’s image. Instead, users are tasked with putting documents into a “laptop, server, shredder, or closet.”

“I absolutely believe there’s a double standard with Apple in the sense that they have defamatory and mean-spirited Trump games available for download but none for Hillary,” developers Ansem Omega Solutions told the website. “I can’t imagine we are the first developers to experience this type of bias. In fact, one of the main reasons we chose to develop a Hillary app is because there were no Hillary apps whatsoever in the store 6 months ago when we began developing.”

The independent developers said getting approved with Google took less than one hour, while Apple’s denial came after an eight-hour wait.

Submission + - Brexit Could Spell Trouble for CETA, TTIP, and TPP (freezenet.ca)

Dangerous_Minds writes: After the Brexit vote, many are fearing the unknown in the face of uncertainty. While a lot of the coverage surrounding the aftermath of Brexit has been generally negative, there could be a silver lining. Freezenet is pointing out that there are those that believe that CETA, TPP, and TTIP could be in jeopardy. These trade agreements contain provisions surrounding a three strikes law, government mandated surveillance at the ISP level, criminal liabilities for circumvention of a DRM, the unmasking of DNS owners, the seizure of cellphones at the border for the purposes of enforcing copyright laws, and, of course, the infamous ISDS provisions that would allow corporations to sue governments for passing laws that gets in the way of profit or future potential profit. A compelling case that Brexit may not be all bad news.

Submission + - Europe wants to protect 'human rights defender' Edward Snowden from the US (betanews.com)

Mark Wilson writes: Edward Snowden could have a new friend, and place of exile, in Europe. Currently in Russia, Snowden today found himself the subject of an EU vote seeking to drop any criminal charges against the former NSA contractor.

The vote passed 285 to 281 and is likely to upset the US. This is because member states are also looking to extend protection to Snowden and prevent extradition by third parties, calling him an "international human rights defender".

Submission + - A Math Textbook Should Not Cost $180 (slate.com)

schwit1 writes: But when a professor went a cheaper way, his university reprimanded him.

The choice of a single textbook for one section of a course at one university might seem like a decidedly local issue. But a dispute over whether an academic department may impose such a selection on all faculty members in a multisection course has set off a large debate over how textbook choices should be evaluated, who should select textbooks, whether price should be a factor, and academic freedom.

These issues came to a head Friday when Alain Bourget, an associate professor of mathematics at California State University–Fullerton, appeared before a faculty grievance committee to challenge a reprimand he received for refusing to use a $180 textbook his department had determined was the only appropriate text for an introductory linear algebra and differential equations course. Instead, he used two textbooks, one of which cost about $75 and other of which consists of free online materials.

Bourget maintains that his choices are just as effective educationally and much less expensive, so he should have the right to use them. But the university says that it makes sense for courses that have multiple sections to all use the same textbooks. Both Bourget and the university say their positions are based on principles of academic freedom.

Submission + - Cops are asking Ancestry.com and 23andMe for their customers' DNA (fusion.net)

schwit1 writes: When companies like Ancestry.com and 23andMe first invited people to send in their DNA for genealogy tracing and medical diagnostic tests, privacy advocates warned about the creation of giant genetic databases that might one day be used against participants by law enforcement. DNA, after all, can be a key to solving crimes. It âoehas serious information about you and your family,â genetic privacy advocate Jeremy Gruber told me back in 2010 when such services were just getting popular.

Now, five years later, when 23andMe and Ancestry both have over a million customers, those warnings are looking prescient. "Your relative's DNA could turn you into a suspect," warns Wired , writing about a case from earlier this year, in which New Orleans filmmaker Michael Usry became a suspect in an unsolved murder case after cops did a familial genetic search using semen collected in 1996. The cops searched an Ancestry.com database and got a familial match to a saliva sample Usry's father had given years earlier. Usry was ultimately determined to be innocent and the Electronic Frontier Foundation called it a "wild goose chase" that demonstrated "the very real threats to privacy and civil liberties posed by law enforcement access to private genetic databases."

Submission + - Electoral system that Lessig hopes to reform is keeping him out of the debate (usatoday.com)

schwit1 writes: Lessig has raised a million dollars, which is nothing to sneeze at, but he's being given the cold shoulder by the Democrats when it comes to participating in the debates. I think he's got a good argument for being included — he's certainly as serious a candidate as those sad sacks Martin O'Malley and Lincoln Chafee, and I'm hearing a lot more about his campaign than about the curiously somnolent campaign of Jim Webb.

Why are they keeping Lessig out? According to Lessig, it's for the same reason he wants in: "My view is that if we can get this message [of reform] into the debate it would change the dynamics of this Democratic primary entirely. This issue framed in this way totally blows up the Democratic primary."

Hillary and Bernie, he says, are promising the moon to voters, but can't deliver. Lessig told me, "If I can get on that stage and say the rocket can't get off the ground, and we have to change this dynamic first," the narrative shifts in a way that the leading candidates can't address.

Submission + - Economics is not a Science (theguardian.com) 2

The Real Dr John writes: A Nobel prize in economics implies that the human world operates much like the physical world: that it can be described and understood in neutral terms, and that it lends itself to modeling, like chemical reactions or the movement of the stars. It creates the impression that economists are not in the business of constructing inherently imperfect theories, but of discovering timeless truths. In 1994 economists Myron Scholes and Robert Merton, with their work on derivatives, seemed to have hit on a formula that yielded a safe but lucrative trading strategy. In 1997 they were awarded the Nobel prize in economics. A year later, Long-Term Capital Management lost $4.6bn (£3bn) in less than four months; a bailout was required to avert the threat to the global financial system.

Submission + - Why It Was Easier to Be Skinny in the 1980s 2

schwit1 writes: A new study finds that people today who eat and exercise the same amount as people 20 years ago are still fatter.

A study published recently in the journal Obesity Research & Clinical Practice found that it's harder for adults today to maintain the same weight as those 20 to 30 years ago did, even at the same levels of food intake and exercise. The authors examined the dietary data of 36,400 Americans between 1971 and 2008 and the physical activity data of 14,419 people between 1988 and 2006. They grouped the data sets together by the amount of food and activity, age, and BMI.

They found a very surprising correlation: A given person, in 2006, eating the same amount of calories, taking in the same quantities of macronutrients like protein and fat, and exercising the same amount as a person of the same age did in 1988 would have a BMI that was about 2.3 points higher. In other words, people today are about 10 percent heavier than people were in the 1980s, even if they follow the exact same diet and exercise plans.

Submission + - USA Elitists Favor Efficiency Over Equality (sciencemag.org)

LuxuryYacht writes: A team of four researchers from four different universities in the U.S. has conducted a study intended to discover why policymakers in the USA continue to make decisions that favor the elite, despite an electorate that would seemingly prefer the opposite. In their paper published in the journal Science, the team describes their study and results and suggests that what they found may help explain the growing gap between the haves and have-nots.

In studying the results, the researchers found the Yale students made decisions based on efficiency on average of 80 percent of the time, compared to 50 percent for the general population. They were also found to be much more likely to make purely selfish decisions. This, the authors claim, helps explain why policymakers in the USA make decisions that benefit them and their peers more so than the general population.

Read more at: http://www.sciencemag.org/cont...

Submission + - Campaign to ban development of sexbots (bbc.com)

Earthquake Retrofit writes: Dr Kathleen Richardson, a robot ethicist at De Montfort University in Leicester, wants to raise awareness of the issue and persuade those developing sex robots to rethink how their technology is used. She believes that they reinforce traditional stereotypes of women and the view that a relationship need be nothing more than physical.

Submission + - Chinese Tech Companies Hire 'Cheerleaders' To Motivate Programmers

HughPickens.com writes: Lauren O'Neil writes at CBC News that internet companies "across China" are hiring "pretty, talented girls that help create a fun work environment." Dubbed "programming cheerleaders," these young women serve to chit-chat, play Ping-Pong with employees as part of their role, and sometimes smile and clap for male employees who play guitar in the office, as indicated by photos posted to the news service's verified "Trending in China" Facebook page. "According to the HR manager of an Internet company that hired three such cheerleaders, its programmers are mostly male and terrible at socializing," reads China.org.cn's Facebook post. "The presence of these girls have greatly improved their job efficiency and motivation."

However people from all over the world have weighed in to decry the reported role. "This is degrading — both to the 'cheerleaders' and the programmers," wrote one commenter on the original post. "Look at the face of the poor woman programmer in the second picture. Stereotypical 'bro' culture only now with Chinese subtitles." Others suggest that the company pictured should simply hire more female programmers. “What a ridiculous job, why reduce women to only be valued by their looks and to assist males. Let them have a job at the desk using their minds!” wrote one woman.

Submission + - Why There is Too Much New Programming on TV

HughPickens.com writes: John Koblin writes in the NYT that there’s a crisis in television programming that’s felt among executives, viewers and critics, and it’s the result of one thing: There is simply too much on television. John Landgraf, chief executive of FX Networks, reported at the Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour that the total number of original scripted series on TV in 2014 was 371 and will surpass 400 in 2015. The glut, according to Landgraf, has presented “a huge challenge in finding compelling original stories and the level of talent needed to sustain those stories.” Michael Lombardo, president of programming at HBO.says it is harder than ever to build an audience for a show when viewers are confronted with so many choices and might click away at any moment. “I hear it all the time,” says Lombardo. “People going, ‘I can’t commit to another show, and I don’t have the time to emotionally commit to another show.’ I hear that, and I’m aware of it, and I get it.” Another complication is that shows not only compete against one another, but also against old series that live on in the archives of Amazon, Hulu or Netflix. So a new season of “Scandal,” for example, is also competing against old series like “The Wire.” "The amount of competition is just literally insane," says Landgraf.

Others point out that the explosion in programming has created more opportunity for shows with diverse casts and topics, such as “Jane the Virgin,” “Transparent” and “Orange Is the New Black.” Marti Noxon, the showrunner for Lifetime’s “UnREAL” and Bravo’s “Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce,” says there has been a “sea change” in the last five years. “I couldn’t have gotten those two shows on TV five years ago,” says Noxon. “There was not enough opportunity for voices that speak to a smaller audience. Now many of these places are looking to reach some people — not all the people. That’s opened up a tremendous opportunity for women and other people that have been left out of the conversation.”

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