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BuzzFeed and Washington Post To Use Robots For RNC Coverage ( 80

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Engadget: The Washington Post and Buzzfeed have sent robots to cover the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. The Washington Post is using a telepresence robot from Double Robotics that consists of an iPad mounted on a Segway-like base. It's objective: to roam around the convention, streaming live on Periscope. Those viewing the stream will be able to ask questions of delegates, politicians and other figures who stumble upon the robot. BuzzFeed is using a robot called 'BuzzBot.' It's a Facebook chat bot that collects and caters news from the convention to users' messaging feeds. All you have to do is add the channel to your Messenger app and it will deliver news updates from BuzzFeed reporters. Specifically, it will collect reports from delegates, protesters and others in Cleveland. You have the option to send pictures and other info to BuzzBot, but it may ask you questions about your experience. The questions it asks will be different depending on your location. For example, if you live in Cleveland it will want to know what kind of impact the RNC is having on your daily life. Meanwhile, with roughly 50,000 attendees and likely millions of viewers watching across the country and abroad, the RNC is preparing for cyberattacks that aim to disrupt the network.

Comment Re:I believe this violates the Outer Space Treaty (Score 5, Insightful) 256

I am not a legal expert but I believe their plan to produce a nuclear-armed spacecraft violates the Outer Space Treaty (to which Russia is a signatory) and specifically Article IV which says "States Parties to the Treaty undertake not to place in orbit around the earth any objects carrying nuclear weapons or any other kinds of weapons of mass destruction, install such weapons on celestial bodies, or station such weapons in outer space in any other manner." (which sounds like exactly what Russia wants to do)

Then again, with the way the Russian economy is these days, I dont think they have the funds to actually build or launch this thing so it wont matter...

Sounds like it's planned to only ascend when needed, so nothing stationed in space. (And in any event, not in orbit until the point where treaties are moot.)

Comment Re:It's Heartbreaking you're not in Jail (Score 1) 482

How about if instead of setting it at $100k, we instead link it to the 95th percentile of wages, currently, this works out to $95k, but it will fluctuate with inflation, whereas $100k will not.

Absolutely! I was thinking 90th percentile ($82k). But the important thing is that it's a high wage. Tying it to a percentile makes the law withstand the test of time. I would also make the law state that it must be 95th percentile of wages for the region (I haven't figured out how to specify region in detail yet). That way the Silicon Valley area would require even higher wages than the rest of the country.

I would also remove all quotas and limits based on education or area of focus. If you can find a job making more than 90% of US residents (not just citizens, the law should be recursive), come on over!

Comment Re: yay more emojis (Score 3, Interesting) 198

I honestly have yet to figure out what the fuck the point in most of these emojis is. In the past everybody just used a combination of existing ascii symbols to show the mood of your message, and I am still trying to figure out what the new emojis solve that that system didn't solve.

You need to understand a bit about where and why emoji's started showing up in the first place. And to do that, we go back to pre-millennium Japan.

Japanese is, to put it bluntly, an insanely crazy written language. Modern Japanese uses no less than four different scripts/alphabets, and in any given sentence different types of words may need to be in different alphabets!. They are:

  • - Kanji: logographic elements taken from Chinese. These are symbols that stand for a word, phrase, or idea on their own. There are several thousand in modern use in Japan
  • - Hiragana: a set of 46 symbols indicating syllables. These are typically used for native Japanese words that don't have a Kanji equivalent.
  • - Katakana: a set of 48 symbols also indicating syllables. Indeed, many of these syllables are identical to those available in Hiragana, but with completely different symbols. These are used for loan-words, scientific terms, names of plants and animals, and for emphasis.
  • - Romaji: as if all that isn't bad enough, some words (loanwords and trademarks) are written in the standard Latin script we use in English ([A-Za-z]).

And if all that wasn't bad enough, there is also hentaigana, which are obsolete kana sometimes used to give things like restaurants and such an old-timey feel (something akin to 'Ye Olde...' in English). And because the different scripts in Japanese are used for different types of words, you frequently have to switch between one and the others in a single sentence. In short, written Japanese is f'd up.

This is where Emoji came from. Imagine a late 1990's cell phone with the 12 standard buttons, and having to send text messages to someone in Japanese. How do you use those 12 buttons to select from thousands of Kanji symbols? How do you switch between Katakana and Hiragana and Romanji? I'll admit I'm not a Japanese speaker (I've studied the symbology, but not the language itself), but I'd think even typing "Hey, let's meet up with Akira at the McDonalds" would take a week on a standard flip-phone keypad. Thus emoji was invented to provide visual shortcuts for writing things that would otherwise be a major PITA to type in Japanese.

So basically, because written Japanese is so incredibly f'd up with four simultaneous scripts in modern usage...the Japanese decided to get around it by adding another script system.

Early iOS releases implemented Emoji to satisfy the Japanese market, but in can you don't recall that far back, it was originally only available if you set your system language to Japanese. In those early days, someone figured out how to write an app to enable the emoji keyboard in other languages, and eventually due to demand (which I'm assuming was mostly 12 to 14 year-olds) Apple eventually opened it up to everyone. At which point, hundreds of millions of people with sane written languages that use compact alphabets decided they were cute, and that they had to use them as much as possible.

Like yourself, I'm a bit of a curmudgeon about the whole Emoji thing. I can understand why the Japanese needed to invent it, as their writing system is horrendous. I don't tend to directly use it myself, preferring to use old-style emoticons in personal correspondence; however, at this point most e-mail and chat systems will "upgrade" typed emoticons to emoji.

So there you go. A brief history of emoji.


Comment Re:It's Heartbreaking you're not in Jail (Score 1) 482

The fix is rather simple really. Minimum salary for H1-B visas is $100k/yr.

If you have a magic wand, what are you doing wasting your time posting on Slashdot? Why aren't you out there reshaping the world the way you'd like it to be?

I'm too smart for politics. :)

What you think would happen by passing a law like this is probably quite different than what would really happen. Think of the $15 minimum wage and things like fast food kiosks, mom & pop corner stores shutting down while Walmart grows bigger, etc.

The purpose of the H1-B program is to allow workers to immigrate if the demand is high for their skills, but the supply is low. Basic economics says those jobs should pay a high wage (supply and demand). Therefore, my proposal will do exactly as it is intended. Any other type of law will have unintended consequences. These jobs will not be automated, because by definition, they can't be.

I suspect the H1-B laws are written the way they are because it protects one type of high paid worker from being replaced by talent from overseas. That high paid worker is called the CEO.

Comment Re:It's Heartbreaking you're not in Jail (Score 3, Interesting) 482

It's heartbreaking that this is news. I also don't like it, and I also don't have a plan to fix it, but you don't see me quoted in the news.

The fix is rather simple really. Minimum salary for H1-B visas is $100k/yr. The way it is now, companies have to pay a "prevailing wage" that is very easy to manipulate. Just using a blanket, but high wage simplifies the process and makes it harder to cheat.

I admit, the $100k number I chose is rather arbitrary. I suppose a more precise statistical method could be used (e.g. poverty threshold x4, or greater than 90% of individual income). Additionally, there should be adjustment factors based on location (California and New York must pay more).

Comment Re:Environmental impacts? (Score 1) 321

Your conclusion is invalid - "radiation workers" don't receive a very low threshold dose, they receive a massive one in a very short time.

Sorry, but that's simply not true. Please read the article I linked.

Typically, passengers flying from London to Chicago could expect to be exposed to around 4.8mrem, and those travelling from Washington DC to Los Angeles would be exposed to close to 2mrem. This compares to an airport body scanner which delivers around 0.1mrem and a chest X-ray that can vary between 2mrem and 10mrem.

Keep in mind, X-ray technicians leave the room when a person gets an X-ray. I suspect a common "massive dose" would be a CT scan, which is many X-rays taken at once. According to the article I linked, that's good for ~800mrem.

Comment Re:Environmental impacts? (Score 1) 321

More blatant ignorance from the Beeb. The author cites melanoma, which is overwhelmingly caused by sun exposure and is not tied to ionizing radiation. Then there is the 'possible' increase in prostate cancer in pilots....didn't even consider the lifestyle of pilots. I sometimes wonder if these authors even stop to think about what they are spewing. There are studies that link prolonged sitting of truck drivers to prostate cancer, but instead lets assume a cancer that has historically no tie to ionizing radiation might be due to the small amount of exposure from air travel. SMFH.

The author notes that specifically in TFA.

However the charity Cancer Research UK says this may be related to other lifestyle factors such as the pilots spending more time sunbathing than the average person.

I would like to see a comparison between airline pilots and truck drivers though. Both have to meet similar physical health requirements (yes, truck drivers are required to get physicals.), have similar duties, but one is exposed to more radiation.

Comment Re:Environmental impacts? (Score 1) 321

In which case, "radiation workers" should have a lower incidence of cancer than the rest of the population.

It should, perhaps, be noted that "radiation workers" have legal limits to their exposure that are extremely low. Lower, in some cases, than what some "normal" workers are exposed to. For example, coal miners are exposed to more occupational radiation than a nuclear power plant worker would be legally allowed to get.

Please read the article I linked. It addresses that issue specifically.

Comment Depends. (Score 2) 331

I've been a developer on some pretty damn big projects. The kind of projects used by Fortune 500 companies -- everything from end-user facing applications all the down to low-level infrastructure projects.

If there's one thing I've noticed about all of these large projects over the years, it's that there is rarely ever only one programming language in use. Web apps will use Javascript on the front end and one or more language son the back-end. Large scale C/C++ apps will have a variety of scripts surrounding them. Every project needs an installer, some form of scripting for the build processes, deployment, automated QA, and (frequently) database management. There may even be a mobile app attached to the project. I've had to switch between C/C++, Bash scripting, Java (with JNI), SQL, and REXX, all in the same project.

The point being, if you work on a large enough project, and aren't a junior developer, you're probably switching between a bunch of different languages already. Those languages are probably fairly stable (i.e: you probably won't see too often where you change a massive project from Java to C#), although I've certainly introduced new languages and processes to big projects to make "dumb" processes smarter. The ability to do that, however, often comes when you get to a point in your career where you can specify and/or contribute to significant architectural changes.

I've also been fortunate enough to work at a few places where you can spend 10% of your time working on personal interest projects. If you're fortunate enough to be in such an organization, this is a great time to try out new languages that interest you. If not, find (or start) a project in the interesting language of your choice, and work on it in your own time. If you make it Open Source, and put it on GitHub or the like, you can include it as experience on a resume.



Telecoms Promise 5G Networks If EU Cripples Net Neutrality ( 194

An anonymous reader quotes The Verge: A group of 20 major telcos including Deutsche Telekom, Nokia, Vodafone, and BT promise to launch 5G networks in every country in the European Union by 2020 -- so long as governments decide to weaken net neutrality rules. The coalition's plans are outlined in its "5G Manifesto," a seven-page document that details how the companies will roll 5G out across the continent over the next few years. However, by warning against regulation that would ensure an open internet and encouraging nations to water rules down, the companies are effectively holding the new technology for ransom... "The EU must reconcile the need for open Internet with pragmatic rules that foster innovation," reads the manifesto. "The telecom industry warns that current net neutrality guidelines, as put forward by [the Body of European Regulators], create significant uncertainties around 5G return on investment..."
The EU is asking the public to share their feedback on the manifesto.

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