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Do We Really Have a Shortage of STEM Workers?
Posted by News Fetcher on February 26 '14 at 06:30 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's only-if-you're-cheap department:
New pweidema writes "Michael Teitelbaum, a senior research associate in the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School who has been writing a book on the subject of the current state of employment in science and technology fields, recently spoke at an Education Writers Association Conference about the 'STEM Worker Shortage: Does It Exist and Is Education to Blame?' The National Science Board's biennial book, Science and Engineering Indicators , consistently finds that the U.S. produces many more STEM graduates than the workforce can absorb. Meanwhile, employers say managers are struggling to find qualified workers in STEM fields. What explains these apparently contradictory trends? And as the shortage debate rages, what do we know about the pipeline of STEM-talented students from kindergarten to college, and what happens to them in the job market? An article LA Times summarizes his findings of his findings on the STEM hype: '...some of it comes from the country’s longtime cycle of waxing and waning interest in science; attention seems to focus on science every 10 to 15 years before slacking off. The only forces pushing the idea of STEM doom, he said, are those that have something to gain from it. Mostly those are STEM employers ... that want to pack the labor force with people to suppress wages ... Joining the chorus are universities that want more funding for science programs...'"

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Terrafugia Wants Their Flying Car To Be Autonomous
Posted by News Fetcher on February 26 '14 at 05:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's car-industry-meets-drone-industry department:
Lucas123 writes "Terrafugia, a company that has been working on flying car prototypes for years, said it is now leaning toward an autonomous vehicle for safety reasons. Carl Dietrich, co-founder, CEO and CTO at Terrafugia, said at MIT last weekend that the company wants to build something that is statistically safer than driving a car. 'It needs to be faster than driving a car. It needs to be simpler to operate than a plane. It needs to be more convenient than driving a car today. It needs to be sustainable in the long run,' he said. The company's flyable car is designed with foldable wings and falls into the light sport aircraft category. It's expected to take off and land at small, local airports and to drive on virtually any road. Dietrich said the next-generation flying car is a four-seat, plug-in hybrid that doesn't require the operator to be a full-fledged pilot. A spokeswoman said today that the company is probably two years away from production."

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Thief Debuts To Mediocre Reviews
Posted by News Fetcher on February 26 '14 at 04:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's sneaky-sneaky department:
The latest title in the stealth game series Thief launched in North America yesterday for the PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and Windows. Reviews of the game are mixed. Rock, Paper, Shotgun's John Walker says that the story is poor, but "it matters very little, since it's only there as an excuse to link epic, intricate and hugely enjoyable levels together." He also laments the loss of a dedicated "Jump" button, noting that veterans of the series will miss it. "There are far too often obstacles that a toddler could easily scale, but Garrett won't even try, and his refusing to jump certain gaps in order to force a challenge is maddening." Polygon's review says navigating the game's open environments was fun, but "In the latter half of the game, when a glimpse of that openness was dangled in front of me once again, Thief snatched it away with murderous AI and controls that didn't feel up to the challenge." They add, "a new obsession with scripted story sequences and stealth action often leaves Thief feeling like the worst of both worlds." Giant Bomb's review is brutal, saying Thief is "a game that spends an inordinate amount of time making the player do uninteresting things while shoving the more fun stuff so far in the corner you'd be forgiven for missing most of it."

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Ask Slashdot: What Essays and Short Stories Should Be In a Course On Futurism?
Posted by News Fetcher on February 26 '14 at 02:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i-have-no-mouth-and-i-must-scream department:
Ellen Spertus writes "I'll be teaching an interdisciplinary college course on how technology is changing the world and how students can influence that change. In addition to teaching the students how to create apps, I'd like for us to read and discuss short stories and essays about how the future (next 40 years) might play out. For example, we'll read excerpts from David Brin's Transparent Society and Ray Kurzweil's The Singularity is Near. I'm also considering excerpts of Cory Doctorow's Homeland and Neal Stephenson's Diamond Age. What other suggestions do Slashdotters have?"

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Blizzard To Sell Level 90 WoW Characters For $60
Posted by News Fetcher on February 26 '14 at 01:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's kung-fu-panda-pledge-week department:
An anonymous reader writes "After their online store accidentally spilled the beans last week, Blizzard has now confirmed plans to let players pay $60 to boost one of their World of Warcraft characters to level 90, the current cap. At Blizzcon a few months ago, the company unveiled the game's next expansion, Warlords of Draenor, currently in development. When it comes out, they're giving every player a free boost to 90 in order to get to the new content immediately. They say this was the impetus for making it a purchasable option. 'It's tremendously awkward to tell someone that you should buy two copies of the expansion just to get a second 90. That's odd. So we knew at that point we were going to have to offer it as a separate service.' Why $60? They don't want to 'devalue the accomplishment of leveling.' Lead encounter designer Ion Hazzikostas said, '[L]eveling is something that takes dozens if not over 100 hours in many cases and people have put serious time and effort into that, and we don't want to diminish that.'"
On one hand, I can appreciate that people who just want to get to endgame content may find it more efficient to spend a few bucks than to put a hundred hours into leveling a new character. On the other hand, I can't help but laugh at the idea that Blizzard will probably get a ton of people paying them to not play their game.

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Crowded US Airwaves Desperately In Search of Spectrum Breathing Room
Posted by News Fetcher on February 25 '14 at 11:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's running-out-of-ether department:
alphadogg writes "Ahead of a major new spectrum auction scheduled for next year, America's four major wireless carriers are jockeying for position in the frequencies available to them, buying, selling and trading licenses to important parts of the nation's airwaves. Surging demand for mobile bandwidth, fueled by an increasingly saturated smartphone market and data-hungry apps, has showed no signs of slowing down. This, understandably, has the wireless industry scrambling to improve its infrastructure in a number of areas, including the amounts of raw spectrum available to the carriers. These shifts, however, are essentially just lateral moves – nothing to directly solve the problems posed by a crowded spectrum. What's really going to save the wireless world, some experts think, is a more comprehensive re-imagining of the way spectrum is used."

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Report: Space Elevators Are Feasible
Posted by News Fetcher on February 25 '14 at 09:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i'll-order-a-dozen department:
Daniel_Stuckey writes "It's the scourge of futurists everywhere: The space elevator can't seem to shake its image as something that's just ridiculous, laughed off as the stuff of sci-fi novels and overactive imaginations. But there are plenty of scientists who take the idea quite seriously, and they're trying to buck that perception. To that end, a diverse group of experts at the behest of the International Academy of Astronautics completed an impressively thorough study this month on whether building a space elevator is doable. Their resulting report, 'Space Elevators: An Assessment of the Technological Feasibility and the Way Forward,' found that, in a nutshell, such a contraption is both totally feasible and a really smart idea. And they laid out a 300-page roadmap detailing how to make it happen."

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Scientists Demonstrate Virus That Spreads Across Wi-Fi Access Points
Posted by News Fetcher on February 25 '14 at 07:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's proof-of-concept department:
An anonymous reader writes "Researchers at the University of Liverpool have shown for the first time that WiFi networks can be infected with a virus that can move through densely populated areas as efficiently as the common cold spreads between humans. The team designed and simulated an attack by a virus, called 'Chameleon,' that not only could spread quickly between homes and businesses, but avoided detection and identified the points at which WiFi access is least protected by encryption and passwords. The research appears in EURASIP Journal on Information Security."
The technical details are explained in the journal article.

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DARPA Funds Research Into a Network-Based Interpretation of Dreams
Posted by News Fetcher on February 25 '14 at 05:16 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i-was-funneled-into-a-distortive-hub-by-percolative-clowns department:
KentuckyFC writes "Despite the universal experience of dreaming, psychologists and neuroscientists have little understanding of its purpose and mechanisms, or how it varies from one culture to another. So new approaches to oneirology, or dream research, are always welcome. Now a DARPA-funded research team is using network science to analyse dreams for the first time. Dreams have become amenable to network studies because dream reports and their interpretations are now widely available on the web in repositories such as UC Santa Cruz's Dreambank. The DARPA team crawled these databases in English, Chinese and Arabic for symbols that appear in dreams and their descriptions. They then created a network for each language by treating symbols as nodes and linking them to other nodes with similar descriptions. They then searched the networks for regions of more densely connected nodes that form communities. For example, in English, symbols such as 'ladder,' 'hill' and 'goal" form just such a community, representing 'achievement after a struggle.' Finally, they compared the communities from different languages to look for similarities. The results show that dream symbols seem to be connected in similar ways regardless of the cultural background of the dreamers. That provides a new window into the cultural links between dreams experienced by people in different parts of the world."

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Apple Urges Arizona Governor To Veto Anti-Gay Legislation
Posted by News Fetcher on February 25 '14 at 04:31 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's getting-involved department:
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "According to NBC, Apple has confirmed that it urged Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to veto a bill that would allow business owners with strongly held religious beliefs to deny service to gays and lesbians. Last November Tim Cook announced that Apple was building a sapphire glass plant in Mesa, AZ, that would bring 2,000 new jobs to the state. 'Apple is indisputably one of the world's most innovative companies and I'm thrilled to welcome them to Arizona,' said Gov. Brewer at the time. 'Apple will have an incredibly positive economic impact for Arizona and its decision to locate here speaks volumes about the friendly, pro-business climate we have been creating these past four years.' According to Philip Elmer-DeWitt, it sounds like Tim Cook may be having second thoughts about how 'friendly' and 'pro-business' the climate in Arizona really is."

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New Review Slams Fusion Project's Management
Posted by News Fetcher on February 25 '14 at 03:46 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's doing-great-except-for-the-fusion-stuff department:
sciencehabit writes "ITER, the international fusion reactor project in France, is reeling from an assessment that found serious problems with the project's leadership, management, and governance. The report is so damning that after a 13 February special session that reviewed and accepted the report's conclusions and recommendations, the ITER Council — the project's governing body — restricted its readership to a small number of senior managers and council members. 'We feared that if [the assessment] leaked to people who don't know about the ITER agreement, the project could be interpreted as a major failure, which is not what the management assessor intended,' says nuclear engineer Bob Iotti of the consulting firm CH2M HILL, who chairs that council."

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Radar Expert Explains How To Cheaply Add Radar To Your Own Hardware Projects
Posted by News Fetcher on February 25 '14 at 03:31 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's for-tracking-your-personal-airfleet department:
szczys writes "Gregory Charvat has been playing with and teaching others about entry-level radar concepts for a long time. Now he's sat down and explained how you can do it yourself inexpensively. He says, 'One enabling technology for Radar was the cathode ray tube (CRT), which facilitated a method of measuring the time delay between transmitted and received waveforms. ... Today, rather than using a CRT we can use high-speed digitizers. This offers the obvious advantage of applying signal processing to acquired data so that only moving targets are detected, tracking can be achieved, imaging, and a multitude of other modes. But for hobbyist and consumer projects we do not need this much power, range, and can not afford the cost. We need the ability to sense like a long range radar (detecting only moving targets, imaging, Doppler, signatures, etc) but at short ranges and at low costs.' Charvat then proceeds to walk through several options for the amatuer hardware hacker."

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Consumer Reports Says Tesla Model S Is Best Overall Vehicle
Posted by News Fetcher on February 25 '14 at 02:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's opinionmaker-has-opinion department:
cartechboy writes "When one thinks of Consumer Reports, refrigerator ratings and car seat reviews usually come to mind, but the organization actually reviews cars too. In fact, it just released a new round of top vehicle picks and it said the Tesla Model S is is the Best Overall Car you can buy. It's unusual, to say the least, for an outlet that typically names a Toyota or Lexus to choose an electric car that costs nearly $100,000 in most popular configurations from a Silicon Valley upstart. Interestingly, the Toyota Prius was named the Best Green Car. Isn't the Model S green? But I digress. A company that many thought would be bankrupt and closed by now has produced a brand-new electric car from scratch that Consumer Reports feels is the best car it's actually tested since 2007."

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Major Scientific Journal Publisher Requires Public Access To Data
Posted by News Fetcher on February 25 '14 at 01:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's open-all-day-every-day department:
An anonymous reader writes "PLOS — the Public Library of Science — is one of the prolific publishers of research papers in the world. 'Open access' is one of their mantras, and they've been working to push the academic publishing system into a state where research isn't locked behind paywalls and subscription services. To that end, they've announced a new policy for all of their journals: 'authors must make all data publicly available, without restriction, immediately upon publication of the article.' The data must be available within the article itself, in the supplementary information, or within a stable, public repository. This is good news for replicating experiments, building on past results, and science in general."

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Electric Bikes Get More Elegant Every Year (Video)
Posted by News Fetcher on February 25 '14 at 01:01 PM
By Roblimo from Slashdot's he-huffed-and-he-puffed-his-way-up-the-hill-because-he-forgot-he-was-riding-an-electric-bike department:
Tim Lord first saw Faraday Bicycles at CES, where their bikes drew plenty of attention and a fair amount of media interest. The company ran a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2012, and 2014 is when they are starting to ship their pre-ordered bicycles and hope to get new orders for lots more. Tim's travels later took him to San Francisco, where he had a chance to visit the shop where Faraday bikes are made, and to talk with some of the people who are designing and making them. (If you don't see the video below, please use this link.)

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How Mobile Apps Are Reinventing the Worst of the Software Industry
Posted by News Fetcher on February 25 '14 at 12:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i-don't-want-to-rate-your-app-and-i-don't-want-to-tweet-about-it department:
An anonymous reader writes "Jeff Atwood, co-founder of Stack Overflow, says the mobile app ecosystem is getting out of hand. 'Your platform now has a million apps? Amazing! Wonderful! What they don't tell you is that 99% of them are awful junk that nobody would ever want.' Atwood says most companies trying to figure out how to get users to install their app should instead be figuring out just why they need a mobile app in the first place. Fragmentation is another issue, as mobile devices continue to speciate and proliferate. 'Unless you're careful to build equivalent apps in all those places, it's like having multiple parallel Internets. "No, sorry, it's not available on that Internet, only the iOS phone Internet." Or even worse, only on the United States iOS phone Internet.' Monetization has turned into a race to the bottom, and it's led to worries about just what an app will do with the permissions it's asking for. Atwood concludes, 'The tablet and phone app ecosystem is slowly, painstakingly reinventing everything I hated about the computer software industry before the web blew it all up.'"

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Astronomers Catch Asteroid Striking Moon On Video
Posted by News Fetcher on February 25 '14 at 12:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's meteorite-indicted,-court-date-set department:
spineas writes "A 4.5-foot-wide asteroid struck the moon in September 2013, and astronomers were lucky enough to catch the impact flash on video, now confirmed as the brightest ever witnessed from Earth. The Orlando Sentinel reports that the asteroid likely weighed nearly 900 pounds, and exploded on impact with the moon with the force of 15 tons of TNT."

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Google Fighting Distracted Driver Laws
Posted by News Fetcher on February 25 '14 at 11:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's think-of-it-as-driving-on-hard-mode department:
Rambo Tribble writes "Reuters reports Google has initiated lobbying efforts to stymie attempts by some states to enact distracted driver laws aimed at wearable technologies, such as Google Glass. 'Google's main point to legislators is that regulation would be premature because Google Glass is not yet widely available, the state elected officials say. Illinois state Senator Ira Silverstein, a Chicago Democrat who introduced a Google Glass restriction bill in December, responded that it was clear the merchandise was heading for the broader public.' Given the toll on our highways shown to arise from distracted drivers, is this responsible corporate behavior to protect their product, or an unethical endangering of lives?"

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New iOS Keylogging Vulnerability Discovered
Posted by News Fetcher on February 25 '14 at 11:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's it's-called-eye-phone-duh department:
exomondo writes "Following hot on the heels of the iOS (and OS X) SSL security bug comes the latest vulnerability in Apple's mobile operating system. It is a security bug that can be used as a vector for malware to capture touch screen, volume rocker, home button and (on supported devices) TouchID sensor presses, information that could be sent to a remote server to re-create the user's actions. The vulnerability exists in even the most recent versions of iOS and the authors claim that they delivered a proof-of-concept monitoring app through the App Store."

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Ask Slashdot: When Is a Better Career Opportunity Worth a Pay Cut?
Posted by News Fetcher on February 25 '14 at 10:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's don't-burn-too-many-bridges department:
An anonymous reader writes "I am currently working for a software company that rakes in a lot of money and has an EBIT that puts other companies to shame. The company is great: good benefits, lots of vacation time, very good salary. However the problem is that their architecture is already established, change is often slow moving, and most of the decisions are made by architects as oppose to developers. I find my job somewhat mundane and I am losing interest. I recently was offered another job, with a small company that doesn't have the capital/revenue stream to provide all the perks that my current employer has. Needless to say, this small company wants someone to take their system into the modern age, which means re-design/new architecture, implementation, maintenance, team lead, etc.... thus, more experience to add to my resume. These are things that I won't be able to do easily in my current job. My concern is that it appears this company has really high expectations, and since I had to take a small pay cut to get this position it leaves a but of uneasiness in my stomach for future promotions/advancements. However I believe in their product, their vision/goals, the people and the future of the company. I feel excited but also scared as its a bit of a gamble. Has anyone else experienced the same thing?"

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