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Paul Graham: Let the Other 95% of Great Programmers In
Posted by News Fetcher on December 26 '14 at 12:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's giveme-your-tired,-your-poor,-your-huddled-hackers department:
An anonymous reader writes: Y Combinator's Paul Graham has posted an essay arguing in favor of relaxed immigration rules. His argument is straight-forward: with only 5% of the world's population, the U.S. can only expect about 5% of great programmers to be born here. He says, "What the anti-immigration people don't understand is that there is a huge variation in ability between competent programmers and exceptional ones, and while you can train people to be competent, you can't train them to be exceptional. Exceptional programmers have an aptitude for and interest in programming that is not merely the product of training."

Graham says even a dramatic boost to the training of programmers within the U.S. can't hope to match the resources available elsewhere. "We have the potential to ensure that the U.S. remains a technology superpower just by letting in a few thousand great programmers a year. What a colossal mistake it would be to let that opportunity slip. It could easily be the defining mistake this generation of American politicians later become famous for."


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Net Neutrality Comments Overtaxed FCC's System
Posted by News Fetcher on December 26 '14 at 11:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's maybe-it's-time-for-an-upgrade department:
Presto Vivace writes with news that the FCC has had trouble dealing with the sheer volume of comments submitted about net neutrality. There were millions of them, and they caused problems with the agency's 18-year-old Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS). When the FCC attempted to dump the comments into XML format to make download and analysis easier, problems with Apache Solr meant roughly 680,000 didn't make the transfer. The agency promised to release a new set of fixed XML files in January that include all of the dropped comments. Despite many reports that the comments were "lost," they're all available using the ECFS.

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High Speed DIY M&M Sorting Machine Uses iPhone Brain
Posted by News Fetcher on December 26 '14 at 10:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's solving-tasty-problems department:
HughPickens.com writes: Canoe Tech reports that M&M sorting machines are a popular project for people who like combining electronics, programming and machine building. Most of them send a single M&M down a chute to a simple color sensor where the color sensor will then take a second or two to figure out the color. A servo motor will then rotate a chute that will direct the M&M into the correct pot. But a new project created by the nameless blogger behind the reviewmylife blog that uses an iPhone 5s as its brain is capable of sensing different colors and so can "sort" the M&Ms as they fall past. The iPhone communicates the information via Bluetooth to an Arduino board, which in turn fires off the correct electro magnet controlled gate. One practical application of the sorter could be creating a bowl of M&Ms — with all the brown ones removed.

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Crowds (and Pirates) Flock To 'The Interview'
Posted by News Fetcher on December 26 '14 at 09:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's will-win-oscar-for-best-viral-marketing-campaign department:
Rambo Tribble writes: Many of the 300+ theaters showing The Interview on Christmas were rewarded with sell-out crowds. While reviews of the comedy have been mixed, many movie-goers expressed solidarity with the sentiment of professor Carlos Royal: "I wanted to support the U.S."
Despite sellout crowds, the movie's limited release meant it only brought in about $1 million on opening day (compared to $10M+ for the highest-grossing films). Curiosity about the film seems high, since hundreds of thousands rushed to torrent the film, and others figured out an extremely easy way to bypass Sony's DRM.

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Donald Knuth Worried About the "Dumbing Down" of Computer Science History
Posted by News Fetcher on December 26 '14 at 08:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's from-the-guy-who-made-it department:
An anonymous reader writes: Thomas Haigh, writing for Communications of the ACM, has an in-depth column about Donald Knuth and the history of computer science. It's centered on a video of Knuth giving a lecture at Stanford earlier this year, in which he sadly recounts how we're doing a poor job of capturing the development of computer science, which obscures vital experience in discovering new concepts and overcoming new obstacles. Haigh disagrees with Knuth, and explains why: "Distinguished computer scientists are prone to blur their own discipline, and in particular few dozen elite programs, with the much broader field of computing. The tools and ideas produced by computer scientists underpin all areas of IT and make possible the work carried out by network technicians, business analysts, help desk workers, and Excel programmers. That does not make those workers computer scientists. ... Computing is much bigger than computer science, and so the history of computing is much bigger than the history of computer science. Yet Knuth treated Campbell-Kelly's book on the business history of the software industry (accurately subtitled 'a history of the software industry') and all the rest of the history of computing as part of 'the history of computer science.'"

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NSA Reveals More Than a Decade of Improper Surveillance
Posted by News Fetcher on December 26 '14 at 07:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's at-least-they're-consistent department:
An anonymous reader writes: On Christmas Eve, the NSA quietly dropped 12 years worth of internal reports on surveillance that may have broken laws, including reports that were illegally withheld and the subject of a FOIA lawsuit in 2009. "The heavily-redacted reports include examples of data on Americans being e-mailed to unauthorized recipients, stored in unsecured computers and retained after it was supposed to be destroyed, according to the documents. ... In a 2012 case, for example, an NSA analyst 'searched her spouse’s personal telephone directory without his knowledge to obtain names and telephone numbers for targeting,' according to one report (PDF). The analyst 'has been advised to cease her activities,' it said. Other unauthorized cases were a matter of human error, not intentional misconduct. Last year, an analyst 'mistakenly requested' surveillance 'of his own personal identifier instead of the selector associated with a foreign intelligence target,' according to another report." Here's there list of reports going back to 2001.

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MIT Unifies Web Development In Single, Speedy New Language
Posted by News Fetcher on December 26 '14 at 06:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's write-once-run-somewhere department:
itwbennett writes: A new programming language out of MIT, called Ur/Web, provides a way for developers to write pages as self-contained programs. It incorporates many of the most widely-used web technologies, freeing developers from working with each language individually. Ur/Web's author, Adam Chlipala, an MIT computer science assistant professor, will present his work next month at the Association for Computing Machinery's Symposium on Principles of Programming Languages. He says, "In Ur/Web, everything is based on transactions, where a single client request is handled by what looks like an uninterrupted execution of a single function. The language implementation has optimizations in it to support running many requests in parallel, on real servers. But the programmer can pretend everything is a transaction and think in a simpler concurrency model."

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Why Lizard Squad Took Down PSN and Xbox Live On Christmas Day
Posted by News Fetcher on December 26 '14 at 05:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's ruining-it-for-everybody department:
DroidJason1 writes Early Christmas morning, hacker group Lizard Squad took credit for taking down PlayStation Network and Xbox Live for hours. This affected those who had received new Xbox One or PS4 consoles, preventing them from playing online. So why did they do it? According to an exclusive interview with Lizard Squad, it had to do with convincing companies to improve their security — the hard way. "Taking down Microsoft and Sony networks shows the companies' inability to protect their consumers and instead shows their true vulnerability. Lizard Squad claims that their actions are simple, take down gaming networks for a short while, and forcing companies to upgrade their security as a result."

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Bill Gates Sponsoring Palladium-Based LENR Technology
Posted by News Fetcher on December 26 '14 at 02:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's betting-on-it department:
Baldrson writes Kitco.com reports that: "Low energy nuclear reactor (LENR) technology, and by extension palladium, is attracting the attention of one of the richest men in the world and a pioneer inventor of new technology... In a recent visit to Italy, billionaire business man, investor and inventor Bill Gates said that for several years he has been a believer in the idea of LENR, and is a sponsor of companies developing the technology... During his trip to Italy he visited the national agency for new technologies energy and sustainable economic development (ENEA) where scientists have made significant progress towards a working design for low energy nuclear fusion. The centerpiece of their design is the same as in Mitsubishi's, palladium. Creating palladium foil with just the right parameters, and managing stress levels in the material was a key issue, one that the researchers at EMEA were able to resolve several years ago."

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Kodak-Branded Smartphones On the Way
Posted by News Fetcher on December 25 '14 at 11:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's shake-to-call department:
An anonymous reader sends news about Kodak's latest attempt to come back from the grave. "For a while there it looked like Kodak's moment had come and gone, but the past few months have seen the imaging icon fight back from the brink of irrelevance. Now the company's planning to push a Kodak-branded smartphone, and thankfully it's not going to sue everyone in the business along the way this time. To be clear, Kodak won't actually make its own devices — instead, it's going to farm out most of the development work to an English company called Bullitt."

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PlayStation Game-Streaming Service Comes To Samsung Smart TVs In 2015
Posted by News Fetcher on December 25 '14 at 08:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's all-in-one department:
An anonymous reader writes Sony and Samsung are jointly launching the PlayStation Now game streaming service on select Samsung Smart TVs next year. The service will allow users to play PlayStation games without the need of a gaming console. From the article: "...Sony says some 200 PlayStation 3 games will be available to stream, and that the service runs at full functionality, specifically mentioning things like trophies, online multiplayer and cloud-saves for game-progress. Sound familiar? It should because that's how the service works on Bravia TVs and PlayStation game consoles. What's more, all you'll need is one of Sony's DualShock 4 gamepads to control the action."

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NASA Makes 3-D Printed Wrench Model Available
Posted by News Fetcher on December 25 '14 at 05:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's print-your-own department:
First time accepted submitter smsiebe writes You can now download a piece of history by getting the designs for the wrench that NASA recently emailed to astronauts on the ISS. The wrench took four hours to complete and was the first "uplink tool" printed in space. You can check out a number of models and images on NASA's 3D Resources site.

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Rackspace Restored After DDOS Takes Out DNS
Posted by News Fetcher on December 25 '14 at 04:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's back-again department:
An anonymous reader sends word that Rackspace has recovered from a severe distributed denial of service attack. "Over on the company's Google+ page Rackspace warned of 'intermittent periods of latency, packet loss, or connectivity failures when attempting to reach rackspace.com or subdomains within rackspace.com.' The company's status report later confirmed it had '... identified a UDP DDoS attack targeting the DNS servers in our IAD, ORD, and LON data centers [North Virigina, Chicago and London]. As a result of this issue, authoritative DNS resolution for any new request to the DNS servers began to fail in the affected data centers. In order to stabilize the issue, our teams placed the impacted DNS infrastructure behind mitigation services. This service is designed to protect our infrastructure, however, due to the nature of the event, a portion of legitimate traffic to our DNS infrastructure may be inadvertently blocked. Our teams are actively working to mitigate the attack and provide service stability.'"

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South Korea Says Nuclear Reactors Safe After Cyberattacks
Posted by News Fetcher on December 25 '14 at 03:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's all-clear department:
wiredmikey writes South Korea on Thursday ruled out the possibility that recent cyber-attacks on nuclear power operator Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co (KHNP) could cause a malfunction at any of the country's 23 atomic reactors. Earlier this week, South Korea heightened security in the wake of the leaks, with the defense ministry's cyber warfare unit increasing its watch-level against attacks from North Korean and other hackers. On Monday, KHNP launched a two-day drill, testing its ability to thwart a cyber attack.

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The World of YouTube Bubble Sort Algorithm Dancing
Posted by News Fetcher on December 25 '14 at 02:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's right-under-our-very-noses department:
theodp writes In addition to The Ghost of Steve Jobs, The Codecracker, a remix of 'The Nutcracker' performed by Silicon Valley's all-girl Castilleja School during Computer Science Education Week earlier this month featured a Bubble Sort Dance. Bubble Sort dancing, it turns out, is more popular than one might imagine. Search YouTube, for example, and you'll find students from the University of Rochester to Osmania University dancing to sort algorithms. Are you a fan of Hungarian folk-dancing? Well there's a very professionally-done Bubble Sort Dance for you! Indeed, well-meaning CS teachers are pushing kids to Bubble Sort Dance to hits like Beauty and a Beat, Roar, Gentleman, Heartbeat, Under the Sea, as well as other music.

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Xbox Live and PlayStation Networks Downed By Apparent Attack
Posted by News Fetcher on December 25 '14 at 01:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's no-fun-for-you department:
mrspoonsi writes Both Xbox Live and PlayStation Network [were] down this morning, apparently due to a denial-of-service attack. The notorious hacking group Lizard Squad — which already carried out earlier attacks on Microsoft and Sony — has claimed responsibility on Twitter for these latest outages. While the group's role in all of this remains unconfirmed, it's worth noting that the group threatened last week to take down Xbox Live and PSN, according to Business Insider. And again, Lizard Squad has already proven it can successfully pull off such attacks, not to mention other malicious pranks.

Whatever the cause, the timing is obviously terrible: Plenty of people surely received one of the two consoles as Christmas presents today, while many more gamers would have happily spent the afternoon in front of the TV. In the meantime, both Sony and Microsoft have acknowledged the problem, with Sony issuing a tweet and Microsoft posting a message on its support website: "We're working to address this as quickly as we possibly can," reads its status website. "Thanks for your patience, Xbox members." In an email, a Microsoft spokesperson declined to comment further or say when the company expects to restore service. We've also asked Sony to comment and will update this post if and when it does.
The Xbox Live status page says service remains "limited," and the Playstation Network is listed as offline.

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US Navy Sells 'Top Gun' Aircraft Carrier For One Penny
Posted by News Fetcher on December 25 '14 at 12:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's nostalgia-for-war-porn department:
HughPickens.com writes Kitsap Sun reports at Military.com that the USS Ranger, a 1,050-foot-long, 56,000-ton Forrestal-class aircraft carrier, is being towed from the inactive ship maintenance facility at Puget Sound for a 3,400-mile, around-Cape Horn voyage to a Texas dismantler who acquired the Vietnam-era warship for a penny for scrap metal. "Under the contract, the company will be paid $0.01. The price reflects the net price proposed by International Shipbreaking, which considered the estimated proceeds from the sale of the scrap metal to be generated from dismantling," said officials for NAVSEA. "[One cent] is the lowest price the Navy could possibly have paid the contractor for towing and dismantling the ship."

< article continued at Slashdot >

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Nokia's Back In the Tablet Business, With the Android Lollipop-Based N1
Posted by News Fetcher on December 25 '14 at 11:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's serious-side-talkin' department:
Esra Erimez writes It's been a little over a year since the announcement of Microsoft Corp.'s acquisition of Finnish tech veteran Nokia Oyj.'s Devices unit. A year later Chinese leaks site SINA Tech says Nokia is back and ready to compete against its former unit, suggesting it will launch in China on Jan. 7.

As one commenter on the Daily Tech story points out (as does this ExtremeTech article from last month), the not-yet-launched N1, with its "one piece aluminum body, 7.9", 2048*1536, [and] 3:4 aspect ratio" looks an awful lot like the iPad mini, but costs quite a bit less.

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Linux 3.19 Kernel To Start 2015 With Many New Features
Posted by News Fetcher on December 25 '14 at 10:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's presents-from-linus-and-friends department:
An anonymous reader writes Linux 3.18 was recently released, thus making Linux 3.19 the version under development as the year comes to a close. Linux 3.19 as the first big kernel update of 2015 is bringing in the new year with many new features: among them are AMDKFD HSA kernel driver, Intel "Skylake" graphics support, Radeon and NVIDIA driver improvements, RAID5/6 improvements for Btrfs, LZ4 compression for SquashFS, better multi-touch support, new input drivers, x86 laptop improvements, etc.

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Federal Judge: Facebook Must Face Suit For Scanning Messages
Posted by News Fetcher on December 25 '14 at 10:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's we-were-only-doing-the-usual-peeking department:
Rambo Tribble (1273454) writes U.S. District Court Judge Phyllis Hamilton, on Tuesday, denied Facebook's bid to dismiss a class-action lawsuit against the social media giant, for violating users' privacy through the scanning of message content. In her rejection of Facebook's argument, the judge said the firm had, "...not offered a sufficient explanation of how the challenged practice falls within the ordinary course of its business."

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