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Journal Journal: In principio erat Verbum.


In the beginning was the word. Biblical, John 1:1. The full verse is
"In principio erat Verbum et Verbum erat apud Deum et Deus erat Verbum. "
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

Submission + - DARPA helps train cadets, midshipmen as cyber warriors (

An anonymous reader writes: DARPA officials say the Defense Department must train 4,000 cybersecurity experts by 2017. Meeting that goal requires building a pipeline for training and education, especially for future officers who'll oversee protection of the cyber domain. During a winter weekend in Pittsburgh, more than 50 cadets and midshipmen from three service academies sat elbow to elbow at nine round tables in a packed room. They’d been training since November to compete in a pilot program of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency called the Service Academy Cyber Stakes.

Submission + - Why Improbable Things Really Aren't (

sixoh1 writes: Scientific American has an excellent summary of a new book "The Improbabilty Principle: Why Coincidences, Miracles, and Rare Events Happen Every Day" by David J. Hand. The summary offers a quick way to relate statistical math (something that's really hard to intuit) to our daily experiences with unlikely events. The simple equations here make it easier to understand that improbable things really are not so improbable, which Hand call the "Improbability Principle":

How can a huge number of opportunities occur without people realizing they are there? The law of combinations, a related strand of the Improbability Principle, points the way. It says: the number of combinations of interacting elements increases exponentially with the number of elements. The “birthday problem” is a well-known example.

Now if only we could harness this to make an infinite improbability drive!

Submission + - UK Surgeon Implants a 3-D Printed Pelvis

An anonymous reader writes: Neat story out of Britain, with a strange delay in its circulation, but good news about long-term success for the patient involved, and for others who might benefit from similar procedures: three years ago, surgeon Craig Gerrand (he's got a cool handle on Twitter, too) successfully printed and implanted an artificial pelvis (actually, about half of one) into a patient suffering from a rare form of cancer. Other techniques were ruled out, because the patient would be losing so much bone. So, after careful scanning, additive printing with titanium was used to create the replacement: 'In order to create the 3-D printed pelvis, the surgeons took scans of the man’s pelvis to take exact measurements of how much 3-D printed bone needed to be produced and passed it along to Stanmore Implants. The company used the scans to create a titanium 3-D replacement, by fusing layers of titanium together and then coating it with a mineral that would allow the remaining bone cells to attach.'

(Tags: medicine, surgery, UK, cancer, threed, materials ... )

Submission + - The Individual Midnight Thread 40

unitron writes: Trying to figure out time zones is starting to make my brain hurt, but apparently in a bit over 6 hours somewhere on the other side of globe from Greenwich the Week of Slashcott will begin, as Midnight arrives for anyone in that zone, and then it travels west, where I will encounter it in about 23 hours.

So if we can get this thread out of the Firehose, I was thinking that, as the 10th arrives for us in our respective locations, we could leave here what may be our final farewells to Slashdot.

Until Midnight, this is our meeting place, our City Hall, our town square.

(and yes, our playground)

After that I'm not sure where we can congregate to discuss how the Slashcott's going and whether it's time to move on.

I'm going to jump the gun and lay claim to "So long and thanks for all the Karma", and perhaps someone could do a Bob Hope and re-write the lyrics to "Thanks for the Memories".

In the meantime, a bit of housekeeping.

An AC beat me to the week-long boycott idea by a couple of hours, and suggested the date range of the 10th through the 17th.

As part of a group of people familiar with the concept of beginning a count with 0 instead of 1, I really should have spotted the mistake of putting 8 days into that particular week.

So, should Slashcott Week end as the 17th begins, or do we give Dice a bonus day?

Comment Re:You know... (Score 1) 30

Oh, sorry... I was basically agreeing with you, and commenting on the inanity of "form over function" at the same time.

I will say this... the WaPo site, as much as I dislike it, and as similar as it is to Beta, is still better than Beta. Not much, but at least the information density is higher. (Still sucks compared to classic, though.)

Comment Re:Beta comment from an old-timer (Score 1) 77

Interesting. I cruised around the site a little and found this bit about the "psychology" of social engagement. Maybe somebody at Slashdot is using this to try to understand us... so they can design Beta to be more "engaging". If so, I think they've got us figured all wrong.

Here's the little comment I left there. (It's still pending... it'll be interesting to see if they actually post it.)

It's interesting that this includes Slashdot... mostly because any conclusions you might draw from it will be horribly wrong if you're trying to understand the Slashdot community. I think I see now where some of the design imperatives driving the Beta site are coming from, and unfortunately, they might end up driving away all the people that actually create the content.

Comment Re:I don't get the big deal (Score 1) 2219

You're obviously not paying attention then. Plenty of people have posted *exactly* what's wrong with the comment system in beta. Maybe you haven't seen them because you're actually using beta?

Look, you have to understand something: Slashdot discussions generate interesting content by allowing tons of garbage to be posted, mixed around, and evolved. Part of the evolution comes from the interactive nature of community discussion, and part of it comes from the moderation process. For this evolution process to work properly, you have to be able to see a lot of posts at once, all in one shot. You need to be able to see some contextual information about the people posting comments. When you post your own comments, you need to be able to quote or link to other posts easily. When you want to moderate, you need to be able to do it in place, at the comment you intend to moderate.

Beta breaks all of these vital features; without them, the nature of Slashdot discussion changes completely. People will read fewer comments because the new layout hinders rapid seeking, scanning, and comprehension of potentially valuable posts... all while making it much more difficult to skim past the stuff that doesn't interest you. When people read fewer comments, they post fewer comments. When the total number of comments starts to drop, the exploration of the discussion space becomes much less thorough. Potentially valuable or interesting discussion paths will be missed. Those rare, but highly sought after gems of insight and wisdom borne from the cesspool of chaos will become much more scarce.

You want to know why people hate the beta so much? It's because it kills the evolutionary discussion dynamic that makes this community what it is. There's nothing else like it, and many of us do not want to lose it.

Submission + - CmdrTaco: Anti-Beta Movement a "Vocal Minority" ( 30

Antipater writes: The furor over Slashdot Beta is loud enough that even outside media has begun to notice. The Washington Post's tech blog The Switch has written a piece on the issue, and the anti-Beta protesters aren't going to be happy about it. The Post questioned Slashdot founder Rob Malda, who believes the protests are the work of only a vocal minority or readers: "It's easy to forget that the vocal population of a community driven site like Slashdot might be the most important group, but they are typically also the smallest class of users." The current caretakers of Slashdot need to balance the needs of all users with their limited engineering resources, Malda argues — noting wryly, "It ain't easy."

Comment Re:The Real Travesty (Score 1) 2219

More than once have I seen a parent thread modded -2 (offtopic or trolling), with valuable and interesting child threads below it modded +5

Yes, this is exactly what I was getting at. Think of the comment/moderation system as a kind of genetic algorithm... a somewhat random, nonsensical exploration of the conversation space that eventually evolves better and/or more interesting ideas. Some of the best posts I've ever seen wouldn't have happened without the seeding and fertilization provided by trolls and off-topic commenters.

Comment Re:Meh. (Score 1) 2219

Holy crap! You're right, that's what they're planning to do. They know that the REAL re-design (probably already finished) was going to cause a minor shit-storm, so they made a FAKE beta design that they could back away from in order to institute "Slashdot Classic"! (Somehow not as good as the original, but also not a complete crapfest like beta.)

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