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Teaching Fractions: The Tootsie Roll Is the New Pie
Posted by News Fetcher on October 02 '13 at 06:00 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's all-you-need-is-lambda department:
theodp writes "Following up on a WSJ story, data visualization author Stephen Few illustrates why using lines or bars may be sweeter than pie when it comes to teaching kids fractions. 'Although the metaphor is easy to grasp (the slices add up to an entire pie),' explains Few, 'we know that visual perception does a poor job of comparing the sizes of slices, which is essential for learning to compare fractions. Learning that one-fifth is larger than one-sixth, which is counter-intuitive in the beginning, becomes further complicated when the individual slices of two pies — one divided into five slices and other into six — look roughly the same. Might it make more sense to use two lines divided into sections instead, which are quite easy to compare when placed near one another?' So, is the Tootsie Roll the new pie?"

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Ubuntu 13.10 Will Not Ship Mir By Default
Posted by News Fetcher on October 02 '13 at 05:00 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's remember-when-ubuntu-switched-to-wayland department:
An anonymous reader writes "Ubuntu 13.10 is due for release later this month, and the Ubuntu developers were planning to replace the native X Server with Mir/XMir as Canonical's next-generation Ubuntu display server. However, they have now decided Mir will not be the Ubuntu 13.10 default on the desktop over the XMir X11 compatibility layer suffering multi-monitor issues and other problems. Canonical still says they will use Mir for Ubuntu Touch 13.10 images and remain committed to the Mir project."

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The Changing Face of Software Development
Posted by News Fetcher on October 02 '13 at 04:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's strength-through-diversity department:
CowboyRobot sends this excerpt from Dr. Dobb's:
"Ten years of surveys show an influx of younger developers, more women, and personality profiles at odds with traditional stereotypes. Software development is an art and a science that is not attainable for just anyone. It takes a special type of person to write code. Developers are detail-oriented, very literal, and intelligent. Logic is paramount, and they share a passion for their craft that rises above the desire to make more money. They are also typically married, middle-aged, have children, and most likely a mortgage. In one of a series of surveys that we've performed every six months since 2001 (interviewing each time more than 1400 developers worldwide), we find the typical developer is a married, middle-aged male, who has two to three children. Males have dominated the profession for as long we've been tracking this; and during that time, they have accounted for anywhere from 84% to 94% of the workforce. The number of male developers is currently close to the low, at 86%, which might indicate more females are taking up programming."

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Health Exchange Sites Crushed By Demand; Shutdown Blanks Other Gov't Sites
Posted by News Fetcher on October 02 '13 at 01:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's not-a-good-day-for-uptime department:
An anonymous reader writes "The launch of a national health exchange site was marred by overloaded servers in several states around the country. In a White House press conference, President Obama said that by 7 a.m., there were over a million users, and he likened the capacity problems to the glitches that Apple experienced after discovering bugs in their rlease of iOS 7. 'I don't remember anybody suggesting Apple should stop selling iPhones or iPads, or threatening to shut down company if they didn't,' the president argued."
Meanwhile, a number government websites went blank as a result of the shutdown, instead of simply lying dormant until personnel could return. The National Science Foundation, NASA, the FCC, and the Library of Congress are a few examples.

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Another 100 Gigabit DDoS Attack Strikes — This Time Unreflected
Posted by News Fetcher on October 01 '13 at 10:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's go-big-or-go-home department:
darthcamaro writes "In March of this year, we saw the first ever 100 Gigabit DDoS attack, which was possible due to a DNS Reflection Amplification attack. Now word is out that a new 100 Gigabit attack has struck using raw bandwidth, without any DNS Reflection. 'The most outstanding thing about this attack is that it did not use any amplification, which means that they had 100 Gigabits of available bandwidth on their own,' Incapsula co-founder Marc Gaffan said. 'The attack lasted nine hours, and that type of bandwidth is not cheap or readily available.'"

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U.S. Spy Panel Is Loaded With Insiders
Posted by News Fetcher on October 01 '13 at 08:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's show-of-hands-who-is-surprised? department:
schwit1 writes "After a public backlash to government spying, President Barack Obama called for an independent group to review the vast surveillance programs that allow the collections of phone and email records.

The members of the review group are:

Richard Clarke, the chief counterterrorism adviser on the National Security Council for Clinton who later worked for Republican President George W. Bush

Michael Morell, Obama's former deputy CIA director

Geoffrey Stone, law professor who has raised money for Obama and spearheads a committee hoping to build Obama's presidential library in Chicago

Cass Sunstein, law professor and administrator of information and regulatory affairs for Obama

Peter Swire, a former Office of Management and Budget privacy director for Clinton

'At the end of the day, a task force led by Gen. Clapper full of insiders – and not directed to look at the extensive abuse – will never get at the bottom of the unconstitutional spying,' said Mark Jaycox, a policy analyst for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy advocacy group. The panel's meetings are closed after Clapper exempted it from the U.S. Federal Advisory Committee Act, which would have required it to keep the public informed and hold open meetings, for 'reasons of national security,' according to a statement from the group sent from Clapper's office. 'While we are exempt from the FACA, we are conducting this review as openly and transparently as possible.'"


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FreeBSD 9.2, FreeBSD 10.0 Alpha 4 Released
Posted by News Fetcher on October 01 '13 at 06:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's onward-and-upward department:
An anonymous reader writes "The FreeBSD Release Engineering Team has announced the release of FreeBSD 9.2. FreeBSD 9.2-RELEASE has ZFS TRIM SSD support, ZFS LZ4 compression support, DTrace hooks and VirtIO drivers as part of the default kernel configuration, unmapped I/O support, and numerous other minor features. FreeBSD also announced FreeBSD 10.0 Alpha 4 on the same day, which is the next major feature release of the open-source BSD operating system."

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CERN Launches Line Mode Browser Emulator
Posted by News Fetcher on October 01 '13 at 04:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's out-with-the-new-in-with-the-old department:
itwbennett writes "As part of the project to preserve the world's first website and all of the accompanying technology, CERN last week launched a line mode browser emulator. To make the browser experience authentic, the developers recreated how terminals would draw one character at a time by covering the page in black and then revealing each character by erasing a character-sized rectangle from that cover, one-by-one, line-by-line. They also recreated the sound of typing on older keyboards, specifically an IBM RS/6000 keyboard, by using HTML5 audio elements."

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Text Analyzer Reveals Emotional 'Temperature' of Novels and Fairy Tales
Posted by News Fetcher on October 01 '13 at 03:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's fahrenheit-451-surprisingly-chilly department:
KentuckyFC writes "Stories are a powerful channel for communicating emotions. But while they have been studied in detail by generations of critics, there is little in the way of objective tools for analyzing and comparing their emotional content. That looks set to change thanks to one data mining researcher who has applied the process of sentiment analysis to novels and fairy tales that have been digitized on Project Gutenburg and the Google Books Corpus. The results show the density of emotions in different parts of a story and how the emotional 'temperature' changes throughout the tale. For example, this guy has used the technique to compare the emotional content of the entire collection of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales to reveal that the darkest story is a tale called Gambling Hansel; clearly a lesson to us all."

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Half-Life 3 Trademark Filed In Europe
Posted by News Fetcher on October 01 '13 at 02:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's break-out-your-jump-to-conclusions-playmat department:
jones_supa writes "A trademark application for Half-Life 3, possibly the next entry in Valve's excruciatingly dormant Half-Life franchise, has been filed in Europe, according to the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market, the European Union's trademark and designs registry. The OHIM's database lists the Half-Life 3 trademark as owned by Valve Corporation, and filed on its behalf by Casalonga & Associés, a patent and trademark firm. The trademark covers 'computer game software,' 'downloadable computer game software via a global computer network and wireless devices' and other goods and services. The application was filed on Sept. 29. There is no equivalent trademark on record at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office."

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New Threat To Seaside Nuclear Plants, Datacenters: Jellyfish
Posted by News Fetcher on October 01 '13 at 02:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's filming-is-underway-on-jellyfishnado department:
Nerval's Lobster writes "One of the largest nuclear-power plants in the world was forced to shut down temporarily Sept. 29, after pipes that bring Baltic Sea water in to cool the plant's turbines became clogged with tons of jellyfish. The sudden influx of common moon jellyfish overwhelmed the screens and filters that keep flotsam and most sea life out of the Oskarshamn nuclear plant in southeastern Sweden. The plant was forced to shut down its No. 3 reactor – the largest boiling-water reactor in the world, which generates 1,400 megawatts of electricity when it is jellyfish-free and running at full power. The reactor stayed down until early Oct. 1, after the jellyfish had been cleared out and engineers approved the cooling system as invertebrate-free. It's not easy to overwhelm the cooling system for a nuclear power plant, but Oskarshamn's is unusually resilient. There is a separate intake- and cooling system for each reactor, all of which were designed for the brackish, polluted water in that area of the Baltic Sea. Most datacenters are too far inland to worry about jellyfish in their cooling water, though green-IT-promoters Vertatique estimated that a 5,000-sq.-ft. datacenter would consume almost 9 million gallons of water for cooling. That means ocean-side datacenters that use sea water for cooling (such as Google's datacenter in Hamina, Finland — also on the Baltic Sea) are just as susceptible to jellyfish attacks as nuclear power plants."

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Snowden Shortlisted For Europe's Top Human Rights Award
Posted by News Fetcher on October 01 '13 at 01:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i'm-guessing-the-us-government-won't-give-him-an-award department:
another random user sends this news from the BBC:
"Edward Snowden, the fugitive American former intelligence worker, has made the shortlist of three for the Sakharov prize, Europe's top human rights award. Mr Snowden was nominated by Green politicians in the European Parliament for leaking details of U.S. surveillance. Nominees also include Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager shot in the head for demanding education for girls. Former recipients of the prize, awarded by the European Parliament, include Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi. Mr Snowden's nomination recognized that his disclosure of U.S. surveillance activities was an 'enormous service' to human rights and European citizens, the parliament's Green group said."

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Come Try Out Slashdot's New Design (In Beta)
Posted by News Fetcher on October 01 '13 at 12:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's we-show-you-tell department:
Slashdot's biggest redesign effort ever is now in beta
and you're invited to help guide it. This redesign has been shaped by feedback from community members over the past few
months (a big thanks to those of you who participated in our alpha testing phase!), and we'd like your thoughts on it, too. This new design is meant to be richer
but also simpler to use, while maintaining the spirit of what Slashdot is all about: News for Nerds. Stuff that matters.
Read on for the details of what's included, or read this
blog post.

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Scribd Launches a Global 'Spotify For eBooks'
Posted by News Fetcher on October 01 '13 at 12:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's because-customers-want-more-subscriptions department:
Nate the greatest writes "Scribd threw its hat in the ebook subscription ring today. The site is expanding on its existing ebookstore with a new $9-a-month all-you-can-read ebook subscription service which offers a selection of ebooks from a number of publishers, including HarperCollins, E-Reads, Kensington, Red Wheel/Weiser, Rosetta Books, Sourcebooks, and Workman. That's a better selection of commercial ebooks than the Kindle owner's lending library, but not quite as broad of a selection as the recently-launched Oyster. However, Scribd is charging less and they're offering better platform support. While Oyster is only available on the iPhone, Scribd has apps for both Android and iOS, and you can read the ebooks in your web browser."

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Adults Make Riskier, More Inconsistent Decisions As They Get Older, Study Finds
Posted by News Fetcher on October 01 '13 at 11:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's they-have-more-reason-to-worry-about-the-short-term department:
schliz writes "People aged over 65 make poorer financial decisions and more inconsistent choices than younger individuals with the same IQ, an international research group has found. The study (abstract) had 135 healthy participants aged 12-90 make a series of decisions: for example, choosing between gaining $5 and the chance to win $20 in a lottery. On average, over-65s earned 26-39% less than all other age groups, including adolescents — a finding that could partially explain their susceptibility to problem gambling and scams."

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The Memo That Spawned Microsoft Research
Posted by News Fetcher on October 01 '13 at 10:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's good-ideas department:
An anonymous reader writes "In 1991, Microsoft executive Nathan Myhrvold wrote a 21-page memo to Bill Gates, laying out a plan to create what would become Microsoft Research. Here is the previously unpublished memo and some analysis, along with the original slides that Myhrvold used to pitch the idea to Microsoft's top brass. With the future of Microsoft now in question, it's interesting to see how forward-thinking the company was 20 years ago. It even foresaw how pitfalls in tech transfer, organizational structure, and product R&D could make it fall behind future competitors---who would turn out to be Google, Apple, and Amazon in search, mobile devices, and cloud computing."

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Samsung Fudging Benchmarks Again On Galaxy Note 3
Posted by News Fetcher on October 01 '13 at 10:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's selective-activation-sounds-nicer department:
tlhIngan writes "A few months ago, Samsung was caught gaming benchmarks on the Galaxy S4 (International version). They would lock the GPU at a higher-than-normal frequency when certain applications were run, including many popular Android benchmarking programs. These had the expected result of boosting the performance numbers. This time, the Galaxy Note 3 was caught doing the same thing, boosting CPU scores by 20% over the otherwise identical LG G2 (which uses the same SoC at the same clock). Samsung defends these claims by saying the other apps make use of such functionality, but Ars reversed-engineered the relevant code and discovered it applied only to benchmark applications. Even more damning was that the Note 3 was still faster than the G2 when run using 'stealth' (basically renamed) versions of the benchmarking apps which did not get the boost."

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The Next Big Fiber Showdown: Austin
Posted by News Fetcher on October 01 '13 at 09:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's att-dsl-sure-leaves-me-unimpressed department:
Nerval's Lobster writes "Google might have big plans to wire America with high-speed broadband, but at least one carrier isn't willing to let Google Fiber have a free run: AT&T has announced that it will deploy a '100 percent fiber' network in Austin, Texas, capable of delivering speeds of up to 1GB per second. That location is auspicious, given how Google's already decided to make Austin the next city to receive Google Fiber. Whereas Google plans on connecting Austin households to its network in mid-2014, however, AT&T promises to start deploying its own high-speed solution in December. But there's a few significant catches. First, AT&T's service will initially roll out to 'tens of thousands of customer locations throughout Austin' (according to a press release), which is a mere fraction of the city's 842,592 residents; second, AT&T has offered no roadmap for expanding beyond that initial base; and third, despite promises that the service will roll out in December, the carrier has yet to choose the initial neighborhoods for its expansion. Could this be a case of a carrier freaking out about a new company's potential to disrupt its longtime business?"

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Microsoft Azure Platform Certified "Secure" By Department of Defense
Posted by News Fetcher on October 01 '13 at 08:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's until-proven-otherwise department:
cagraham writes "Microsoft's cloud storage platform Azure received their first government certification yesterday, less than 24 hours before the official shutdown. The certification, which grants Azure 'Provisional Authority to Operate,' should make it easier for Microsoft to compete with rivals like IBM and Amazon Web Services for government contracts. The certification signifies that the Department of Defense, Homeland Security, and US General Services Administration have all deemed Azure safe from external hackers. Government cloud contracts are a lucrative market, as seen by Amazon's recent tussle with IBM over a $600M contract for a private CIA cloud."

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Interview: Ask President Anant Agarwal About edX and the Future of Education
Posted by News Fetcher on October 01 '13 at 07:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's time-to-learn department:
Anant Agarwal is a professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT and the President of edX. A massive open online course platform founded by MIT and Harvard, edX offers numerous courses on a wide variety of subjects and is affiliated with 29 different institutes of higher education. Mr. Agarwal has agreed to take some time out of his schedule and answer your questions about edX and the future of learning. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.

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