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Ask Slashdot: Old Dogs vs. New Technology?
Posted by News Fetcher on July 06 '12 at 01:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's tips-from-an-all-star department:
xTrashcat writes "I am 22 years of age and have been working in the IT field for over a year. I try to learn as much about technology as my cranium can handle; I even earned the nickname 'Google' because of the amount of time I spend attempting to pack my brain with new information. Being 22, it is, I speculate, needless to say that I am the youngest of my coworkers. If there is a piece of software, hardware, a technique, etc., I want to know everything about it. On the contrary, nearly all of my coworkers resent it and refuse to even acknowledge it, let alone learn about it. For example, we just started buying boxes from a different vendor that are licensed for Win7. A few months later, we decide that a computer lab was going to get an XP image instead of Win7. After several days worth of attempts, none of our XP images, even our base, would work, and it left everyone scratching their heads. We were on the verge of returning thousands of dollars worth of machines because they were 'defective.' I was not satisfied. I wanted to know why they weren't working instead of just simply returning them, so I jumped into the project. After almost 30 seconds of fishing around in BIOS, I noticed that UEFI was enabled. Switched it to legacy, and boom; problem solved. My coworkers grunted and moaned because they didn't have to do that before, and still to this day, they hate our new boxes. So in closing, I have three questions: What is the average age of your workplace? How easily do your coworkers accept and absorb new technology? Are most IT environments like this, where people refuse to learn anything about new technology they don't like, or did I just get stuck with a batch of stubborn case-screws?"

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Best Buy Cuts 650 Geek Squad Techies
Posted by News Fetcher on July 06 '12 at 01:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's but-who-will-install-my-monster-cable department:
tripleevenfall writes "Best Buy has cut approximately 650 jobs from its Geek Squad division, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. The cut represents about 4% of Geek Squad's total workforce. The consumer electronics giant said the workers primarily service televisions and appliances in consumers' homes. Best Buy's performance has struggled to keep up with changes in consumer electronics , as the weight of its big-box format inhibits it from fending off competitive pressure of online retailers."

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Software-Defined Radio: the Apple I of Broadcast?
Posted by News Fetcher on July 06 '12 at 01:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's will-it-sell-for-hundreds-of-thousands-in-35-years department:
benfrog writes "A company called Per Vices has introduced software-defined radio gear that Ars Technica is comparing to the Apple I. Why? Because software radio can broadcast and receive nearly any radio signal on nearly any frequency at the same time, and thus could "revolutionize wireless." The Per Vices Phi is one of the first devices aimed at the mass hobbyist market to take advantage of this technology."

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Early Look at Steampunk Action-Adventure Game Dishonored
Posted by News Fetcher on July 06 '12 at 12:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's neo-victorian-deus-ex department:
Dishonored is an upcoming first-person action-adventure game in a steampunk setting. It's being developed by Arkane Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks. As the game nears its October 9th release, Jim Rossignol of Rock, Paper, Shotgun got some hands-on time with the game, and was impressed by how it is shaping up:
"The level I played saw me overpowering a government official from his laboratory high on a building above the lavish pseudo-London cityscape, and lugging him out to a riverside rendezvous. Initially I went in through the front door, bluntly killing the guards with a knife and sneaking inside. But I could have used all manner of other entrances, and other powers. I could have slipped in undetected by distracting the guards. I could have possessed a rat – zooming into the hapless thing in a manner of bodily possession/transformation reminiscent of forgotten FPS Requiem: Avenging Angel – and then rematerialized once I’d run in through grates and rat holes. I could have possessed an NPC and used the meatsuit to pass through the energy-field barricades. Or I could even have employed a short-ranged teleportation power, blink, and leapt and mantled my way up across the rooftops."

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Book Review: Head First Python
Posted by News Fetcher on July 06 '12 at 12:01 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's read-all-about-it department:
Michael J. Ross writes "Veteran computer programmers — adept with languages such as PHP, Perl, and JavaScript — typically have no trouble learning an additional language, often just by reading online tutorials and stepping through sample code. But for those new to programming, that approach can prove difficult and frustrating. Yet nowadays there appears to be growing interest among such people for learning how to write programs in Python, especially as it is seeing increasing use by Google and other organizations, and is often chosen as the primary teaching language in schools. For such budding programmers, one possible starting point is the book Head First Python." Read on for the rest of Michael's review. Head First Python
author Paul Barry
pages 494 pages
publisher O'Reilly Media
rating 6/10
reviewer Michael J. Ross
ISBN 978-1449382674
summary A gentle introduction to the Python programming language.

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UN Declares Internet Freedom a Basic Right
Posted by News Fetcher on July 06 '12 at 11:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's it's-true-i-read-it-on-the-internet department:
The United Nations Human Rights Council has passed a landmark resolution (PDF) declaring that internet freedom is a basic human right. They wrote: "...the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, in particular freedom of expression, which is applicable regardless of frontiers and through any media of one’s choice, in accordance with articles 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights." The council also called upon all countries to "promote and facilitate access to the Internet." The article points out that this comes alongside a report from the Pew Internet Center, which asked a group of internet stakeholders how they think firms in the private sector will handle the ethical issues that arise with countries wanting to censor or restrict internet access. The responses were varied, but skepticism was a recurring theme: "Corporations will work around regional differences by spinning off subsidiaries, doing what’s needed to optimize on future profits."

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Is Python a Legitimate Data Analysis Tool?
Posted by News Fetcher on July 06 '12 at 11:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's one-end-it-is department:
Back in May we discussed using Python, R, and Octave as data analysis tools, and compared the relative strength of each. One point of contention was whether Python could be considered a legitimate tool for such work. Now, Bei Lu writes while Python on its own may be lacking, Python with packages is very much up to the task: "My passion with Python started with its natural language processing capability when paired with the Natural Language Toolkit (NLTK). Considering the growing need for text mining to extract content themes and reader sentiments (just to name a few functions), I believe Python+packages will serve as more mainstream analytical tools beyond the academic arena." She also discusses an emerging set of solutions for R which let it better handle big data.

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University Sues Student For Graduating Early
Posted by News Fetcher on July 06 '12 at 10:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's slow-down department:
"A student who attended a private German economics and business university is being sued by the school because he finished his degree too quickly. Marcel Pohl finished 60 exams in 20 months, completing 11 semesters worth of work in only 3. The school says it is due an extra €3,000 for lost income because, "its fees are the total price for the studies, independent of how long the studies last." "When I got the lawsuit, I thought it couldn't be true. Performance is supposed to be worth something," Pohl said.

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Nukes Are "The Only Peacekeeping Weapons the World Has Even Known," Says Waltz
Posted by News Fetcher on July 06 '12 at 10:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's especially-when-we-drop-them-on-people department:
An anonymous reader writes "Famed academic Kenneth Waltz for years has argued that more nukes around the world create peace. Why? Because the more nukes are around, the more people are afraid to start a war with a nuclear-armed state. Peace seems assured with a gun to the world's head. In a recent interview, he argues that Iran gaining nuclear weapons would be a good thing. He points out that 'President Obama and a number of others have advocated the abolition of nuclear weapons and many have accepted this as both a desirable and a realistic goal. Even entertaining the goal and contemplating the end seems rather strange. On one hand the world has known war since time immemorial, right through August 1945. Since then, there have been no wars among the major states of the world. War has been relegated to peripheral states (and, of course, wars within them). Nuclear weapons are the only peacekeeping weapons that the world has ever known. It would be strange for me to advocate for their abolition, as they have made wars all but impossible.'"

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US Election Year, Still No Voting Reform
Posted by News Fetcher on July 06 '12 at 09:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's we'll-procrastinate-in-a-little-while department:
An anonymous reader writes "A year ago, we discussed this on Slashdot: E-Voting Reform In an Out Year?. The point was that due to the hoard of problems with electronic (and mechanical) voting, it is best to approach reform in an out year, when it is not on everyone's mind yet too late to do anything about it. Well, we failed, didn't we? Another election year is upon us, and our vote is less secure, less reliable, and less meaningful than ever. To reference the last article, we still have no open source voting, no end-to-end auditable voting systems and no open source governance. So don't complain if this election is stolen. You forgot to fix the system."

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Telefonica Shows Prototype Firefox OS Phone
Posted by News Fetcher on July 06 '12 at 08:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's how-much-memory-does-it-have department:
judgecorp writes "Telefonica has added some detail to the Firefox OS picture, following the announcement of phones by two manufacturers earlier this week. The Qualcomm-built handset shown by Telefonica in London ran the HTML5 OS and showed multitasking as well as a range of HTML5 applications. Firefox-maker Mozilla receives a lot of funding from Google, but Telefonica sees Firefox OS as a way to achieve independence from Google. It will be more open than Android, and will run on lower-specification hardware, according to the company's director of products."
A common reaction to Firefox OS over the past few days has been to say that it's doomed from the start. But Mozilla's stated goals are to 'promote openness, innovation, and opportunity on the Web for users and developers,' rather than to compete with Android and iOS. What do you think they need to do in order to achieve that in a meaningful way?

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Ubuntu Can't Trust FSF's Secure Boot Solution
Posted by News Fetcher on July 06 '12 at 07:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's dem's-fightin'-woids department:
sfcrazy writes "The Free Software Foundation recently published a whitepaper criticizing Ubuntu's move to drop Grub 2 in order to support Microsoft's UEFI Secure Boot. The FSF also recommended that Ubuntu should reconsider their decision. Ubuntu's charismatic chief, Mark Shuttleworth, has responded to the situation during an interview, and explained the reason they won't change their stand on dropping Grub 2 from Ubuntu. Shuttleworth said, 'The SFLC advice to us was that the FSF could require key disclosure if some OEM screwed up. As nice as it is that someone at the FSF says they would not, we have to plan for a world where leaders change and institutional priorities change. The FSF wrote a licence that would give them the rights to take specific actions, and it's hard for them to argue they never would!'"

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Ask Dr. Ramsey Faragher About Navigation/Positioning Technology
Posted by News Fetcher on July 06 '12 at 07:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's where-in-the-world department:
Dr. Ramsey Faragher graduated from the University of Cambridge in 2004 with a first-class degree in Experimental and Theoretical Physics. He then completed a PhD in 2007 at Cambridge in Opportunistic Radio Positioning under the direction of Dr. Peter Duffett-Smith, a world expert in this field. He is now a Principal Scientist at the BAE Systems Advanced Technology Centre specializing in positioning, navigation, sensor fusion and remote sensing technologies in the land, air, sea and space domains. We recently covered his NAVSOP project, an advanced positioning system that exploits existing transmissions such as Wi-Fi, TV, radio and mobile phone signals, to calculate the user’s location to within a few meters. Dr. Faragher has graciously agreed to answer any questions you may have about NAVSOP, the future of GPS, or what a theoretical physicist puts on his business card. Ask as many questions as you like, but please confine your questions to one per post.

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Dreaming of Digital Glory At Hacker Hostels
Posted by News Fetcher on July 06 '12 at 06:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's tell-me-about-your-new-social-network department:
An anonymous reader writes "The NY Times has a story about a small chain of managed residences that has sprung up in the Bay Area to provide a cheap place where programmers, designers, and scientists can live and work. These 'hacker hostels' are a place for aspiring entrepreneurs to gather, share, and refine ideas. 'Hackers ... have long crammed into odd or tiny spaces and worked together to solve problems. In the 1960s, researchers at the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory slept in the attic and, while waiting for their turn on the shared mainframe computer, sweated in the basement sauna. When told about the hacker hostels, Ethan Mollick, an assistant professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania who studies entrepreneurship, said they reminded him of his days in the last decade studying at M.I.T., where graduate students would have bunk beds inside their small offices.'"

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Apple-Motorola Judge Questions Need For Software Patents
Posted by News Fetcher on July 06 '12 at 05:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's you-boys-go-on-home-now department:
imamac sends this quote from a Reuters report:
"The U.S. judge who tossed out one of the biggest court cases in Apple's smartphone technology battle is questioning whether patents should cover software or most other industries at all. ... Posner said some industries, like pharmaceuticals, had a better claim to intellectual property protection because of the enormous investment it takes to create a successful drug. Advances in software and other industries cost much less, he said, and the companies benefit tremendously from being first in the market with gadgets — a benefit they would still get if there were no software patents. 'It's not clear that we really need patents in most industries,' he said. Also, devices like smartphones have thousands of component features, and they all receive legal protection. 'You just have this proliferation of patents,' Posner said. 'It's a problem.' ... The Apple/Motorola case did not land in front of Posner by accident. He volunteered to oversee it."

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Amazon Reportedly Plans Smartphone
Posted by News Fetcher on July 06 '12 at 05:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's remember-when-companies-just-did-one-thing department:
AlistairCharlton writes "Online retailer Amazon is developing its own smartphone to take on the Apple iPhone and handsets that run the Google Android operating system, according to media reports 'Foxconn International Holdings Ltd. (2038), the Chinese mobile- phone maker, is working with Amazon on the device, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans are private. Amazon is seeking to complement the smartphone strategy by acquiring patents that cover wireless technology and would help it defend against allegations of infringement, other people with knowledge of the matter said.'"

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Former Microsoft Exec: Microsoft Has "Become the Thing They Despised"
Posted by News Fetcher on July 06 '12 at 04:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's your-own-worst-enemy department:
zacharye writes "Microsoft has a long and storied history of leadership in the tech industry, and the company has driven innovation for decades. In recent years, however, Microsoft has fallen behind the times in several key industries; the company's mobile position has deteriorated and left it with a low single-digit market share, and Microsoft won't launch Windows RT, its response to Apple's three-year-old iPad, until later this year. In a recent piece titled 'Microsoft’s Lost Decade,' Vanity Fair contributor Kurt Eichenwald analyzes the company’s 'astonishingly foolish management decisions' and picks apart moves made during the Steve Ballmer era."

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BitTorrent Usage Increases In Europe, Following the Pirate Bay Blockade
Posted by News Fetcher on July 06 '12 at 01:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's I-didn't-want-to-until-you-told-me-I-couldn't department:
MrSeb writes "In a twist that will surprise no one except the RIAA, MPAA, BREIN, and other anti-piracy lobbies, the amount of BitTorrent traffic has stayed the same or increased in Europe following the blockade of The Pirate Bay in the UK, Netherlands, and other countries. This news comes from XS4All, one of the largest European ISPs, which has published a graph of the network traffic associated with the BitTorrent protocol — and sure enough, since the Dutch Pirate Bay blockade began in February 2012, traffic has stayed the same or increased slightly. There are probably a few reasons for this: a) The European blockades created a lot of publicity (and no publicity is bad publicity); b) TPB isn't the only torrent site out there, and many of its torrents are available elsewhere; and c) Internet denizens are a lot more savvy (proxies, VPNs, etc.) than the MPAA and co give them credit for."

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Crowd Sourced Malware Reverse Engineering Platform Launched
Posted by News Fetcher on July 06 '12 at 12:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's work-together department:
wiredmikey writes "Security startup CrowdStrike has launched CrowdRE, a free platform that allows security researchers and analysts to collaborate on malware reverse engineering. CrowdRE is adapting the collaborative model common in the developer world to make it possible to reverse engineer malicious code more quickly and efficiently. Collaborative reverse engineering can take two approaches, where all the analysts are working at the same time and sharing all the information instantly, or in a distributed manner, where different people work on different sections and share the results. This means multiple people can work on different parts simultaneously and the results can be combined to gain a full picture of the malware. Google is planning to add CrowdRE integration to BinNavi, a graph-based reverse engineering tool for malware analysis, and the plan is to integrate with other similar tools. Linux and Mac OS support is expected soon, as well."

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Ask Slashdot: How To Get Old Commercial Software To Be Open-Sourced?
Posted by News Fetcher on July 05 '12 at 11:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's set-it-free department:
First time accepted submitter Optic7 writes "Many gamers have probably dreamed about the idea of an old favorite game or other no longer supported or developed commercial software being converted to an open-source license so that it could be updated to add new features, support new hardware, other operating systems, etc. However, this type of change of license seems exceedingly rare, unless the copyright holder itself decides on its own that it would be beneficial. The only examples I could think of or was able to find in a brief internet search were Blender (3D animation software that had its source code bought from creditors after a crowd-funding campaign) and Warzone 2100 (Game that had its source code released after a successful petition). With those two examples of different strategies in mind, have any of you ever participated in any efforts of this kind, and what did you learn from it that may be useful to someone else attempting the same thing? Even if you have not participated, do you have any suggestions or ideas that may be useful to such an effort?"

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