By EditorDavid from Slashdot's theodp department
Long-time Slashdot reader theodp writes: In August, Melinda Gates penned Computers Are For Girls, Too, in which she lamented that her daughters "are half as likely to major in computer science as I was 30 years ago." So, what's changed in the last 30 years? Well, at last week's DreamForce Conference, Gates credited access to Apple computers at school and home for sparking her own interest in computer science [YouTube], leading to a career at Microsoft.
So, as she seeks ways to encourage more women to get into tech, Melinda may want to consider the effects of denying her own children access to Apple products [2010 interview] and of Microsoft [in 1984] stopping computers from shipping with a beginner's programming language (a 14-year-old Melinda reportedly cut her coding teeth on BASIC).
Melinda can raise her kids however she wants -- maybe her kids will just start programming with the Ubuntu that's shipping with Windows 10. But is it a problem that there's no beginner's programming language currently shipping with Macs? Over the years Macs have shipped with Perl, Python, Ruby, tcl, and a Unix shell. Do you think Apple could encourage young programmers more by also shipping their Macs with BASIC?Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's not-cool,-samsung department
If you had started to feel sympathetic for Samsung, or safer with the Note 7, its latest flagship smartphone, don't be. Another replacement Samsung Galaxy Note 7 has caught fire, making it three of such incident this week alone. Read how poorly Samsung has dealt with the situation, via The Verge: This one was owned by Michael Klering of Nicholasville, Kentucky. He told WKYT that he woke up at 4AM to find his bedroom filled with smoke and his phone on fire. Later in the day, he went to the hospital with acute bronchitis caused by smoke inhalation. "The phone is supposed to be the replacement, so you would have thought it would be safe," Klering told WKYT, saying that he had owned the replacement phone for a little more than a week. "It wasn't plugged in. It wasn't anything, it was just sitting there."The most unsettling part is that Samsung knew of Klering's phone, and didn't say anything.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's And-I-Want-To-Scream department
Slashdot reader bowman9991 quotes an essay from GalacticBrain:
Science fiction authors have long been outcasts from the literary world, critics using the worst examples of the genre as ammunition against it. Unfortunately though, at times even science fiction authors themselves can turn on their own kind: "Science fiction is rockets, chemicals and talking squids in outer space," mocked Margaret Atwood, one of her many attempts to convince people that she is not a science fiction author, even though one of her most famous novels, A Handmaid's Tale, is exactly that...
Considered by the literary establishment, and frequently by non-SF award-giving institutions, to be trashy, pulpish, commercially driven lightweight gutter fiction, it's no surprise that very few works of science fiction have won major literary awards... Kim Stanley Robinson, author of the award-winning (not "literary" awards obviously) Mars novels, [in 2009] hit out at the literary establishment, accusing the Man Booker judges of "ignorance" in neglecting science fiction, which he declared was "the best British literature of our time".
The article ends with a simple question. "Will science fiction authors ever escape the publication ghetto?"Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's absentee-ballot-boxes department
The Open Source Election Technology Foundation is trying to move U.S. voting machines from "proprietary, vendor-owned systems to ones that are owned 'by the people of the United States.'" But in the meantime, Slashdot reader dcblogs brings this report from ComputerWorld:
One major election technology company, Dominion Voting Systems, develops its systems in the U.S. and Canada but also has an office in Belgrade, Serbia. It was recently advertising openings for four senior software developers in Belgrade... Dominion said it takes measures "to ensure the accuracy, integrity and security of the software we create for our products...."
Alan Paller, president and director of research at the Sans Technology Institute...said that "one shouldn't feel complacent about maintaining software development and manufacturing all within the United States because foreign agencies have successfully placed technically competent spies on the payroll of American technology companies." But Suzanne Mello-Stark, a forensic computer scientist at Worcester Polytechnic Institute with a focus on voting machines, wants software and hardware transparency in voting systems. "The systems are proprietary and we don't know what the code looks like," said Mello-Stark.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's teen-company,-old-people department
More trouble for tech giants and how they are dealing with people. Google suffered a setback in an age discrimination suit this week. A judge ruled that other software engineers over age 40 who interviewed with the company but didn't get hired can step forward and join the lawsuit. From a Business Insider report: The suit was brought by two job applicants, both over the age of 40, who interviewed but weren't offered jobs. Specifically, the judge has approved turning the suit into a "collective action" meaning that people who "interviewed in person with Google for a software engineer, site reliability engineer, or systems engineer position when they were 40 years old or older, and received notice on or after August 28, 2014, that they were refused employment, will have an opportunity to join in the collective action against Google," the ruling says. While this isn't good news for Google, the ruling was strictly focused on whether the suit could be broadened to include more people. It doesn't mean that Google will ultimately lose the case. Google says it's fighting the suit.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's jumpstarting-Jolix department
386BSD was last released back in 1994 with a series of articles in Dr. Dobb's Journal -- but then developers for this BSD-based operating system started migrating to both FreeBSD and NetBSD. An anonymous Slashdot reader writes:
The last known public release was version 0.1. Until Wednesday, when Lynne Jolitz, one of the co-authors of 386BSD, released the source code to version 1.0 as well as 2.0 on Github.
386BSD takes us back to the days when you could count every file in your Unix distribution and more importantly, read and understand all of your OS source code.
386BSD is also the missing link between BSD and Linux. One can find fragments of Linus Torvalds's math emulation code in the source code of 386BSD. To quote Linus: "If 386BSD had been available when I started on Linux, Linux would probably never had happened."
Though it was designed for Intel 80386 microprocessors, there's already instructions for launching it on the hosted hardware virtualization service Qemu.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's bastard-offspring department
Long-time Slashdot reader Qbertino brings news of a new text editor offering what he calls "a modern, hipster-compliant makeover" of both Emacs and Vim:
As a classic, perhaps the classic GNU project, Emacs has been marred by abysmal branding and marketing...that has improved slightly but might still leave some people unsatisfied [and] has also been engulfed in an eternal war with Vim, the editor of the beast. Mope no further, salvation is nigh! Spacemacs is a new Emacs distribution that aims to combine all the goodies of Emacs and Vim and then some...
Version .2 of Spacemacs was released this week "with more than 1700 commits since the last major version released in January 2016." With nearly 500 contributors on GItHub, Spacemacs plans to be "crowd-configured" with "curated packages tuned by power users," and is offering features like a real-time display of available key bindings, a simple query system for layers and packages, and of course, a clearly defined set of conventions.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's political-hacks department
An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes the Independent:
Wikileaks has dumped thousands of emails from Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, which includes apparent excerpts from Ms Clinton's paid, closed-door speeches to Wall Street executives after leaving her position as Secretary of State. In the excerpts, flagged in a 25 January email, Ms Clinton apparently suggested that Wall Street insiders were best qualified to regulate the banking industry and also included her apparent admission of the need for money from banking executives for political fundraising...
"Earlier today, the US government removed any reasonable doubt that the Kremlin has weaponized WikiLeaks to meddle in our election and benefit Donald Trump's candidacy," said Clinton campaign spokesperson Glen Caplin. "We are not going to confirm the authenticity of stolen documents released by Julian Assange who has made no secret of his desire to damage Hillary Clinton."
Slashdot reader schwit1 quotes the Daily Mail's article about what's coming up next:
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange promised to release information on subjects including the U.S. election and Google [and] warned that the so called 'October Surprise' will expose Google. Assange did not reveal what type of information would be leaked about the tech giant, but his 2014 book could provide a clue. In it, he wrote: "(Eric) Schmidt's tenure as CEO saw Google integrate with the shadiest of U.S. power structures..."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's changing-lives department
With the advent of artificial intelligence and machine learning, we are increasingly moving to a world where many decisions around us are shaped by calculations rather than traditional human judgement. The Guardian, citing many industry experts, reminds us that these technologies filter who and what counts, including "who is released from jail, and what kind of treatment you will get in hospital." A digital media professor said, these digital companies allow us to act, but in a very fine-grained, datafied, algorithm-ready way. "They put life to work, by rendering life in Taylorist data points that can be counted and measured" From the report (edited and condensed): Jose van Dijck, president of the Dutch Royal Academy and the conference's keynote speaker, expands further. Datification is the core logic of what she calls "the platform society," in which companies bypass traditional institutions, norms and codes by promising something better and more efficient -- appealing deceptively to public values, while obscuring private gain. Van Dijck and peers have nascent, urgent ideas. They commence with a pressing agenda for strong interdisciplinary research -- something Kate Crawford is spearheading at Microsoft Research, as are many other institutions, including the new Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence. There's the old theory to confront, that this is a conscious move on the part of consumers and, if so, there's always a theoretical opt-out. Yet even digital activists plot by Gmail, concedes Fieke Jansen of the Berlin-based advocacy organisation Tactical Tech. The Big Five tech companies, as well as the extremely concentrated sources of finance behind them, are at the vanguard of "a society of centralized power and wealth. "How did we let it get this far?" she asks. Crawford says there are very practical reasons why tech companies have become so powerful. "We're trying to put so much responsibility on to individuals to step away from the 'evil platforms,' whereas in reality, there are so many reasons why people can't. The opportunity costs to employment, to their friends, to their families, are so high" she says.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's hostile-climate department
An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: The recently-ratified Paris Climate Accord calls on countries to keep the rise in average global temperatures under 2 degrees Celsius (a threshold which would bring extreme weather, water shortages and reduced agricultural production). But a recent article on Vox warns that "the world has to zero out net carbon emissions...for a good chance of avoiding 2 degrees, by around 2065. After that, emissions have to go negative... We are betting our species' future on our ability to bury carbon."
That's why everyone's watching the W.A. Parish Generating Station in Texas, which came online this week -- on schedule, and under budget. "The plant will use a newly installed system to capture 90 percent of the carbon dioxide created during combustion."
Alas, Slashdot reader Dan Drollette brings bad news from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: To fight climate change with carbon capture and storage technology, we'd have to complete one new carbon capture facility every working day for the next 70 years. It's better to switch to a diet of energy conservation, efficiency, and renewables, rather than rely on this technology as a kind of emergency planetary liposuction.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's mighty-wind department
South Carolina was hit by Hurricane Matthew at 11 a.m. EST, after the hurricane killed at least 300 people in Haiti (with Reuters estimating Haiti's death toll over 800). But as the U.S. declares a state of emergency for Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, and with the power out for more than a million people, an anonymous Slashdot reader looks at the role tech companies are playing in responding to the storm system:
AirBNB "has been advertising free rooms in parts of Florida and South Carolina" reports Motherboard. AirBNB's Disaster Reponse Tool connects people needing shelter with volunteers who are offering their residences for free. Meanwhile, Uber promised to cap its "surge pricing" for the area, while Lyft promised its fares would rise no more than two times their normal rate.
But many escaped the path of the hurricane thanks to Shofur, a startup that books chartered buses and matches riders to low-cost tickets, according to the Daily Dot. "Through Thursday night and into the early morning hours of Friday, Shofur evacuated an estimated 10,000 Floridians and Georgians to areas such as Atlanta, Floridaâ(TM)s west coast, and the panhandle."
NASA is also flying a huge 15,000-pound drone over the area to collect real-time weather data, while Verizon is deploying a 17-foot drone to provide LTE mobile connectivity to first responders. A Verizon spokesperson says drone-enabled connectivity has "set the stage" for connecting drones to their IoT platform next year.Read Replies (0)