the unofficial Slashdot digest

Taxpayer Subsidies To ULA To End

Posted by timothyView
schwit1 writes Because it has concluded that they make it impossible to have a fair competition for contracts, the Air Force has decided to phase out taxpayer subsidies to the United Launch Alliance (ULA). The specific amounts of these subsidies have been effectively buried by the Air Force in many different contracts, so we the taxpayers really don't know how much the are. Nonetheless, this decision, combined with the military report released yesterday that criticized the Air Force's over-bearing and restrictive certification process with SpaceX indicates that the political pressure is now pushing them hard to open up bidding to multiple companies, which in turn will help lower cost and save the taxpayer money.

I'd put a 'may' there

By Trepidity • Score: 3 • Thread

political pressure is now pushing them hard to open up bidding to multiple companies, which in turn will help lower cost and save the taxpayer money

That's certainly a possible outcome, and hopefully the one we will see, but I think it's a bit optimistic to say that it will do this. It may do that, but a new contract process may also be a total clusterfuck, depending on how it's structured and overseen. The Air Force might get twice as good things for half the price, or it might get something that doesn't work for half the price, or four things that sort of work for twice the price.

UK Licensing Site Requires MSIE Emulation, But Won't Work With MSIE

Posted by timothyView
Anne Thwacks writes The British Government web site for applying for for a licence to be a security guard requires a plugin providing Internet Explorer emulation on Firefox to login and apply for a licence. It won't work with Firefox without the add-on, but it also wont work with Internet Explorer! (I tried Win XP and Win7 Professional). The error message says "You have more than one browser window open on the same internet connection," (I didn't) and "to avoid this problem, close your browser and reopen it." I did. No change.

I tried three different computers, with three different OSes. Still no change. I contacted their tech support and they said "Yes ... a lot of users complain about this. We have known about it since September, and are working on a fix! Meanwhile, we have instructions on how to use the "Fire IE" plugin to get round the problem." Eventually, I got this to work on Win7pro. (The plugin will not work on Linux). The instructions require a very old version of the plugin, and a bit of trial and error is needed to get it to work with the current one. How can a government department concerned with security not get this sort of thing right?"

Its like normal web development, but worse

By MichaelSmith • Score: 3 • Thread

Welcome to government procurement.

It's quite simple really...

By Malfuros the Wizard • Score: 3, Insightful • Thread
The people who developed the site are idiots... I was working with a client recently and discovered they had a problem with a web site they had to use. They were on IE11 and the web site only works with IE9 and I really do mean IE9 and nothing else. The service provider tech support said the solution was they would have to uninstall IE11 and then install IE9 Idiots, there is no other way of describing it, utter idiots. There is no good excuse for a website not to work in all major browsers, it really is that simple but then I'm just a guy who has to make sure the websites he develops work properly in order to get paid, these companies that provide websites for government departments at costs of millions or billions can get away with stupid shit like this because of the contracts they create.

Pure Genius!

By Required Snark • Score: 3 • Thread
First, they are applying security through obscurity. Since it's pre-broken, only those who can think out of the box will be able to apply.

Second, it's a great way to screen applicants. Only those who are truly adept and motivated will get through this barrier to entry.

I think this is the wave of the future. Employers can put up broken application sites and only look at the candidates that can figure it out. They don't even have to spend much to make it bad in the first place. Just outsource it to the lowest bidder, preferably in a country with a different language. Heck, have them do it in their native language and then apply some cheap ass internationalization package.

All this needs is a catchy name that sounds cool like "scrum" or "cloud scale" and it will become the next big thing. There will be certificate programs in whatever it's called and "Whatever it's called for Dummies". Wired and the Wall Street Journal will write articles. Hop on that bandwagon now and make those big bucks!

New Screenshots Detail Spartan Web Browser For Windows 10 Smartphones

Posted by timothyView
MojoKid writes One of the most anticipated new features in Windows 10 is the Spartan web browser, which will replace the long-serving Internet Explorer. We've seen Spartan in action on the desktop/notebook front, but we're now getting a closer look at Spartan in action on the mobile side thanks to some newly leaked screenshots. Perhaps the biggest change with Spartan is the repositioning of the address bar from the bottom of the screen to the top (which is also in line with other mobile browsers like Safari and Chrome). The refresh button has also been moved from its right-hand position within the address bar to a new location to the left of the address bar. Reading Lists also make an appearance in this latest build of Spartan along with Microsoft's implementation of "Hubs" on Windows 10 for mobile devices.

Staying with the Halo theme eh?

By Karmashock • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

I'm just amused that they're calling their voice recognition system Cortana and they're apparently calling their browser the Spartan.

These are both references to the game Halo. The AI assistant to the Master Chief was known as Cortana and the Master Chief was some kind of cyborg military super soldier that was referred to as a "spartian".

I can't wait for them to name something "the flood" ... I have to keep my eyes open for any further references. The whole thing is pretty funny.


By rossdee • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

So they expect to sell 300 of them then

Iowa's Governor Terry Branstad Thinks He Doesn't Use E-mail

Posted by timothyView
Earthquake Retrofit writes The Washington Post reports the governor of Iowa denying he uses e-mail, but court documents expose his confusion. From the article: "Branstad's apparent confusion over smartphones, apps and e-mail is ironic because he has tried to portray himself as technologically savvy. His Instagram account has pictures of him taking selfies and using Skype... 2010 campaign ads show him tapping away on an iPad. 'Want a brighter future? We've got an app for that.' Earlier this month, the governor's office announced that it had even opened an account on Meerkat, the live video streaming app." Perhaps he's distancing himself from e-mail because it's a Hillary thing.


By The Evil Atheist • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
Wrong way around. People don't want smart people in the job.

People want easy slogans and pipe dreams. They don't like people better than them in positions better than them. That's why "elitist" is an insult in politics today.

People should stop over estimating their intelligence and their need to have their stupid opinions dignified.


By rahvin112 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Portray as a nut? He IS a nut.

He had the gall to question Obama's citizenship (born in Hawaii to an American woman and Kenyan father), when Cruz was born in Canada (to an American woman) and has a Cuban father.

But now it's crazy to question his ability to run for the presidency because his mother was American, ya know just like Obama which he claimed meant Obama didn't meet the requirements because the birth certificate is a forgery and he was actually born in Indonesia, a foreign country, just like Canada. But most of the birthers will leave him alone because he's not Black. Though I can't wait to see how he defends all the crazy shit his Dad has said over the years. His Dad would fit in with the west-borough baptist church with some of the shit he's spewed.

All government orders should be recorded

By Karmashock • Score: 3 • Thread

Not literally every government official, but all high government officials should have all their orders tracked. The literal execution of their power should require putting it in writing. At the very fucking least they should have a wax seal and put their chop on whatever document they want obeyed.

This notion that "we don't get recorded if we don't use email" is offensive. No subordinate government official should accept an order that is not duly recorded. State or federal.

Anything out of a mayor's office should get recorded. Governors, cabinet ministers, heads of departments, heads of bureaus, etc. That ay if there is wrong doing, a court can peel the records open and audit when the orders were given.


By wickedsteve • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
George Carlin had some insight: "Well, where do people think these politicians come from? They don't fall out of the sky. They don't pass through a membrane from another reality. They come from American parents and American families, American homes, American schools, American churches, American businesses and American universities, and they are elected by American citizens. This is the best we can do folks. This is what we have to offer. It's what our system produces: Garbage in, garbage out."


By StevenMaurer • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Huh? You can just forward classified material to non-secure servers outside of a classified network? I think not!

As Secretary of State she would have access to incredibly sensitive material.

A couple of things, that might set your mind at ease. According to reports:

  1. Ms. Clinton did not "forward" material to her private server. People were just emailing to her at her personal email address at "".
  2. Those emails she received considered to be official business, her staff forwarded to the State Department for their IT operators to save.
  3. She also produced a huge amount of documents to various Congressional Committees.
  4. None of these emails were classified. They appear to have been sent to her unencrypted
  5. Sensitive material never went through this email system.
  6. Apparently the State Department isn't very good at IT. They only recently were able to figure out how to even just save Secretary Kerry's email; his top staff using the address still do not have their email records saved. So by using, HRC likely was preserving more email than if she'd saved used an address.
  7. Personal emails (and presumably spam) was not sent on. But no law covers that anyway.

This is much akin to the media breathlessly discovering that Hillary Clinton also has a private phone number, which maybe official calls were received. Except that because this is "email", it's totally different somehow. (By which I mean, as she's the presumptive Democratic nominee, the nutcases and conspiracy loons are going to do their nutcase conspiracy theorizing, which Blogs and FOX will pick up - because it sells eyeballs.)

Notel Media Player Helps North Koreans Skirt Censorship

Posted by timothyView
An anonymous reader writes A small portable media device, costing roughly $50, is allowing North Koreans to access and view foreign media despite tight government censorship, according to a Reuters report. The 'Notel', a mashup of notebook and television, is being described as a symbol of change in the repressed society. Used to watch DVDs and shared content from USB sticks and SD cards, the media player can be easily concealed and transported among families and friends. According to correspondents in the region, as many as half of all urban North Korean households have a notel and are swapping a broad range of banned media such as soaps and TV dramas from South Korea and China, Hollywood blockbusters, and news clips — all of which is strictly forbidden by Pyongyang law.

Just wait

By kelemvor4 • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
Just wait until the MPAA and RIAA get ahold of them for piracy. They'll wish they were in north Korean prison.

This too shall pass

By Onuma • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
North Korean dominance over its people can't last forever. Sooner or later, they'll wake up to the fact that they're being subjugated, manipulated, and forced to live in poverty.

I hope more Notels get circulated. The more, the better.

Good old sneakernet

By MichaelSmith • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Saves the day again.

Re:This too shall pass

By TheDarkener • Score: 4 • Thread

Sooner or later, they'll wake up to the fact that they're being subjugated, manipulated, and forced to live in poverty. "

Funny how substituting North Korea for other large nations of the world can still make the above sentence seem very relevant.

NK is definitely bad, but it's not the only one. Maybe just the most obvious.

I read that as "Nortel"

By SeaFox • Score: 3, Funny • Thread

And was like "Man, everyone is getting into the media streaming game, even defunct Canadian companies."

Ellen Pao Loses Silicon Valley Gender Bias Case Against Kleiner Perkins

Posted by timothyView
vivaoporto writes As reported by the New York Times, USA Today and other publications, a jury of six men and six women rejected current Reddit Inc CEO Ellen Pao's claims against her former employer, the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Ms. Pao's suit, that allegged employment discrimination based on gender, workplace retaliation and failure to take reasonable steps to prevent gender discrimination, asked $16 million in compensatory damages plus punitive damages. The jury decided, after more than two days of deliberation and more than four weeks of testimony, that her formed employer neither discriminated against the former junior partner for her gender, nor fired the complainant because of a high-profile gender discrimination lawsuit against the firm in 2012. She alleged that Kleiner Perkins had promoted male partners over equally qualified women at the firm, including herself, and then retaliated against her for raising concerns about the firm's gender dynamics by failing to promote her and finally firing her after seven years at the firm after she filed her 2012 lawsuit.

Re:One more view.

By ganjadude • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
Actually ars seemed to be one of the few places ive seen reporting the trial at hand throughout, and not making it all biased towards her. Ars was pretty nutral but the reporting made it seem as if she was a spoiled entitled brat.

It will be interesting...

By denzacar • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread will this reflect on her husband's Ponzi scheme lawsuits.

Those $16 million would have probably come in handy.

Re:slashdot - daily news about whiny bitches and S

By ganjadude • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Did you ever notice that only assholes and douchebags ARE SJWs?


Yes, it is important

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Ellen K. Pao, with her husband Alphonse "Buddy" Fletcher , are both Harvard Educated scam artists

Read the following link to see how Ms. Pao's hubby has stolen more than $150million from many victims, including Massachusetts and Louisiana cops and firefighters

Is this suprising?

By SeaFox • Score: 3 • Thread

...and then retaliated against her for raising concerns about the firm's gender dynamics by failing to promote her and finally firing her after seven years at the firm after she filed her 2012 lawsuit.

Why would someone expect their employer to keep them around after they file a lawsuit against them?

Dark Matter Is Even More of a Mystery Than Expected

Posted by SoulskillView
schwit1 writes: Using the Hubble and Chandra space telescopes astronomers have discovered that dark matter is not only invisible to direct observation, it is invisible to itself! Quoting: "As two galactic clusters collide, the stars, gas and dark matter interact in different ways. The clouds of gas suffer drag, slow down and often stop, whereas the stars zip past one another, unless they collide — which is rare. On studying what happens to dark matter during these collisions, the researchers realized that, like stars, the colliding clouds of dark matter have little effect on one another. Thought to be spread evenly throughout each cluster, it seems logical to assume that the clouds of dark matter would have a strong interaction — much like the colliding clouds of gas as the colliding dark matter particles should come into very close proximity. But rather than creating drag, the dark matter clouds slide through one another seamlessly." The data here is on the very edge of reality, built on too many assumptions. We know that something undetected as yet is influencing the motions of galaxies, but what exactly it is remains completely unknown. These results only make the mystery more mysterious.


By Rei • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

That the thing about dark matter... it has a perfectly reasonable explanation (WIMPs). It's not that weird of a "thing".

Dark energy on the other hand, that's just WEIRD ;) It doesn't act like any "energy" as we know it, even though everything is clearly moving into a higher energy state. A question I've had for a while... if space itself is being inflated (or any sort of mathematically equivalent scenario) - everything inflating in all directions at all scales - wouldn't there be some sort of weak radiation signal from electrons expanding into a higher energy state due to dark energy and then collapsing back down? But I have trouble picturing how to reconcile an absolute, varying distance at the atomic scale with quantization of energy states, positions, etc...

More than that: it is a requirement!

By Roger W Moore • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Thought to be spread evenly throughout each cluster, it seems logical to assume that the clouds of dark matter would have a strong interaction

It would actually be completely illogical to assume that precisely BECAUSE Dark Matter is spread evenly through each cluster. If it had a strong self interaction then, just like matter, it would bump into itself and coalesce into clumps just like that other strongly, self interacting stuff we call matter. The fact that Dark Matter has a completely different mass distribution than ordinary matter is clear evidence that it does not have a large self interaction cross-section...and we have had direct evidence of this since the Bullet Cluster was discovered.

It's always nice to have more confirmation but since another recent story on the same site was talking about the "new" possibility of invisible Higgs decays to Dark Matter particles (something we looked for 15+ years ago at the Tevatron as well as the previous Run 1 of the LHC) I have to wonder if the writers of the site have suffered extreme time dilation for the past decade or two.

News At 11

By fyngyrz • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Dateline: Millions of light years (even faster parsecs than the Kessel run)

Lede: Scientists in the Dark; Does it Matter?

Today scientists announced that they can't see anything happening with stuff they can't see, but think is there, because otherwise the math is no good. After receiving directions to his laboratory on the phone, I went to see an authority on dark matter. During the interview, Dr. Seemore Lichspittle told this Any Paper, Any Time reporter that the thing about dark matter that one has to understand is that "it goes to eleven." When confronted with the observation that the sensing instruments only had scales from 0-10, he responded "Yes, yes, that's exactly it. The numbers... the numbers only work out in the dark. When the instruments are off. Matter of fact, it's all dark, really." At that point the interview was cut short as two lab assistants in white coats hustled Dr. Lichspittle into his own custom white lab jacket. Late for an important meeting, no doubt. As he left, nodding, he called back "it's really quite dark." Food for thought! Leaving Arkham, I was struck by the picturesque beauty of the stonework, and very appreciative of the tight security. We can rest easy, knowing that national treasures like Dr. Lichspittle work in such a safe enviroment.


By lgw • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Dark energy is just the latest name for the Cosmological Constant - I guess it's a better name if it's not actually constant, but the cosmologists I've seen talking about it don't like the new name either (not that anyone has a better suggestion, really). The key thing about it is that the energy density of it is insanely low - I suspect that on the quantum scale it actually "rounds to 0" the way things can in QM, where no measurement is possible at that scale. I think even at the scale of our galaxy it's a very tiny effect. It's a testament to how sparse matter really is in the universe that dark matter is the dominant effect overall.

Re:Certainty in Science

By khchung • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

The quote that bothers me somewhat is this one:

          The data here is on the very edge of reality, built on too many assumptions.

Data is data. Assumptions are the stuff of models and theories. Don't mix the two.

Data is nothing if you do not have any way to interpret it. Models and theories provide the context for interpreting the data.

It is like saying "bits are bits, assumptions are the stuff of encoding and decoding". Problem is, without any assumption to decode your bits, it would be as useful as any random noise. The fact that we can have a conversation here is because I (or rather, my browser) made the assumption that the bits are encoded with a certain pattern, and so did you.

Without any assumptions, models, or theories, the signals we received from Hubble would be no different from random noise.

Without the assumption that the photons came from a distant galaxy, we cannot form the image we can see.
Without the assumption of what they saw were the result of the collision of two galaxies, it would just be a bunch of stars in a strange shape.
Without the assumption of the current model of our universe, we cannot guess what would be the most probably original form of the two galaxies.
Without the assumption of the Theory of Gravity, no one can make sense of what could have happened when two galaxies collide, and thus compare with this observation.
Without the assumption of the model of gases and stars, we cannot reach the conclusion that gases should interact and slow down, while stars would not.

The problem is, with our currently best assumptions, models and theories, those that are able to explain most of our observable universe, we found that it would require the present of some undetectable matter in all the galaxies to make everything consistent -- hence "dark matter".

Yeah, you can claim that is too many levels of assumptions. Feel free to build up your own that could consistently match all the known data even better than the one commonly used.

Toshiba Announces 3D Flash With 48 Layers

Posted by SoulskillView
Lucas123 writes: Admitting it has bumped up against a 15 nanometer process wall, Toshiba announced it's focusing its efforts on three dimensional NAND using its Bit Cost Scalable technology (PDF) in order to increase capacity. It has dedicated a Japanese fab plant to it and developed 48-level 3D NAND, which bumps density up 33% over previous 3D NAND flash. The new 3D NAND will be able to store 128Gb of data per chip (16GB). Samsung has been mass producing 32-layer, triple-level cell (TLC) 3D NAND since last October and has incorporated it into some of its least expensive SSDs. Yesterday, Micron and Intel announced their own 32-layer 3D TLC NAND, which they claimed will lead to 10TB SSDs. While Toshiba's 3D NAND is multi-level cell (meaning it stores two bits per transistor versus three), the company does plan on developing a TLC version. Toshiba said it's not abandoning 15nm floating gate flash, but it will focus those efforts on lower capacity applications.

3D flash ...

By Obfuscant • Score: 5, Funny • Thread
But you have to wear goofy looking glasses to use it.

Limited 3D, limited scaling

By erice • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

It is excellent tech but they can't stack the cells indefinitely. The approach uses pillars of cells with no cross wiring. All the control circuitry is in one plane at the bottom. This makes it cheap because they only have to mask and etch once: all the way down to the planer circuitry on the bottom. The downside is you can only go so high before the control circuitry can no longer detect the signal from the top layers They could add another layer of control circuitry but the principle cost of making a chip is the masking and etching so it may be just as cheap (and definitely easier) to just make two chips.

Hoax-Detecting Software Spots Fake Papers

Posted by SoulskillView
sciencehabit writes: In 2005, three computer science Ph.D. students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology created a program to generate nonsensical computer science research papers. The goal was "to expose the lack of peer review at low-quality conferences that essentially scam researchers with publication and conference fees." The program — dubbed SCIgen — soon found users across the globe, and before long its automatically generated creations were being accepted by scientific conferences and published in purportedly peer-reviewed journals. But SCIgen may have finally met its match. Academic publisher Springer this week is releasing SciDetect, an open-source program to automatically detect automatically generated papers. SCIgen uses a "context-free grammar" to create word salad that looks like reasonable text from a distance but is easily spotted as nonsense by a human reader.


By I'm not god any more • Score: 5, Funny • Thread
1. The first thing SCIgen should do is to incorporate SciDetect, to make sure that their random papers pass the SciDetect test.
2. SCIDetect should then improve their algorithms, and SCIgen should again take a snapshot of SciDetect source code and incorporate it.
3. Run this loop a few times and what we'll have is some serious papers
4. Profit!!!

It is too much trouble to fix the problem

By Attila Dimedici • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
Springer reveals that they are not interested in fixing the problem revealed by SCIgen, they just want to prevent that software from demonstrating that they have not fixed it. They aren't going to change the review process to ensure that they no longer publish papers which are nonsense. No, they developed software to eliminate those papers which were generated by other software.

Interesting Response

By Roger W Moore • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
arXiv is not peer reviewed. What I found interesting though was the response of the publisher: write a program to detect fake papers. Even the most simplistic peer review - i.e. reading the paper - would immediately catch these papers. If they need to write a program to catch fake papers then their peer review model is essentially worthless and frankly a journal that poor is no better, and liekly worse, than arXiv: at least arXiv doesn't pretend to have peer review.


By phantomfive • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
Of all the problems you might find at arXiv, I don't think "auto-generated papers going undetected" is one of their problems.

ArXiv's problem is recognizing when human-written, realistic sounding papers are actually BS.

Authentic Frontier Gibberish

By Registered Coward v2 • Score: 3 • Thread

So a program designed to write fake papers to unmask sham journals and conferences gets used to write fake papers to prop up sham degrees? Some what ironic; although in fairness to the authors of the paper writing program they never intended it to be used in such a manner. It would seem, as Springer acknowledged, that they should do a good peer review; which would eliminate the need to run paper through a hoax detector unless they started getting so many fake papers that their peer review process was overwhelmed. In that case, a first run through a program would be justified. A more subtle point in the article is that claimed publications from some countries, such as China, should be viewed with suspicion.

As a side note, the sham conference industry is interesting. I periodically get, via LinkedIn, invite stop attend an "important conference" and speak and get a "prestigious award" based on my "outstanding accomplishments and renowned expertise" in my field. Funny how, when I send them my speaking fee requirements they never get back to me nor mail me the award as I request if I am unable to make the conference.

Google Loses Ruling In Safari Tracking Case

Posted by SoulskillView
mpicpp sends this report from CNET: The floodgates are now open for UK users to sue Google over privacy violations tied to tracking cookies. In a landmark ruling, the UK's Court of Appeal has dismissed Google's request to prevent British Web users from suing the company over tracking cookies and privacy violations. The decision was announced Friday, according to the BBC. In spite of default privacy settings and user preferences — including an opt-out of consent to be tracked by cookies — Google's tracking cookies gathered information on Safari browser users for nine months in 2011 and 2012.

And who *ever* bought "Don't be evil"?

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Google started in the gutter as a fucking AD AGENCY, and they went downhill to selling every detail of your private life they can get their grubby hands on.

Their fundamental business is to wring every last bit of privacy from you and SELL IT.

Don't tell me you EVER thought "Don't be evil" was anything other than a marketing slogan concocted by - get this - an ad agency.

Wrong target

By Martin S. • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

This problem was caused by a bug in Safari that ignored the no tracking setting and accepted and returned the cookies. This court case is just absurd. The target should be Apple not Google.

Re:Wrong target

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Except Google went out of their way to exploit this bug to so they could use their cookie to further their business goals. This was no ‘accidental’ situation where they happened to get cookies, they adjusted their code to trigger the bug.

Re:Wrong target

By BadgerRush • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

You are terribly misinformed about what the "no tracking" flag means. It is not a setting meant to change how the browser stores information or behaves, and it is definitely not some equivalent of a "disable cookies" setting. Instead the no tracking flag is meant to be sent on a HTTP header as a way to inform the server that the user doesn't wan't to be tracked, it is a way for users inform the server that they are actively opting-out of any and all tracking.

So there was no bug in Safari, browsers with no tracking enabled are still supposed to keep accepting and returning cookies (unless that was specifically disabled elsewhere), after all there are more uses for cookies than only tracking. The real "bug" (more like crime) was Google ignoring the user's explicit wishes and keeping tracking users even after said users explicitly opted-out, informing Google trough the proper channel (the no tracking flag).

Re:And who *ever* bought "Don't be evil"?

By JustSomeProgrammer • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
All of them. Just because I don't pay with money doesn't mean I don't pay something.

Amazon Requires Non-Compete Agreements.. For Warehouse Workers

Posted by SoulskillView
Rick Zeman writes: Amazon, perhaps historically only second to Newegg in the IT nerdling's online shopping heart, has not only subjected their warehouse employees to appalling working conditions, but they're also making them sign a non-compete agreement for the privilege. Here's an excerpt from the agreement: "During employment and for 18 months after the Separation Date, Employee will not, directly or indirectly, whether on Employee's own behalf or on behalf of any other entity (for example, as an employee, agent, partner, or consultant), engage in or support the development, manufacture, marketing, or sale of any product or service that competes or is intended to compete with any product or service sold, offered, or otherwise provided by Amazon (or intended to be sold, offered, or otherwise provided by Amazon in the future)."

Remind me again

By TechNeilogy • Score: 3 • Thread
what the "free" in free enterprise is supposed to mean?

Re:Good Luck

By sumdumass • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

While I'm sure this is something to be considered, I'm not sure it is entirely possible. Some states will have restrictions on what can actually be covered by a non compete agreement. In Washington state for instance, a non compete is limited to customer information and contacts and something called good will (however that is defined) and limited to what is reasonably necessary.

This is kind of confusing as each state seems to be different to some respect. Some states also have a red line policy where if something is overly broad or not within the law, the entire agreement is tossed out while others will use a blue line approach and only strike out what is in conflict to make the NCA enforceable. Yet there is another process called reformation in which the courts would actually rework the Non-compete in order to make it enforceable
(eg, striking out the entire state as overly broad and inserting a metropolitan area or radius of distance from the locations of the employer they determine to be reasonably enforceable)

Here is a little more about how it varies in different states

And of course, here is the PDF which charts it

I suspect they have no intention of ever enforcing this non compete. I think it is to scare the workers into not leaving for greener pastures, or better pay/benefits/work conditions.

Re:Good Luck

By bbn • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Here we have a very effective law that put a complete stop to the non-compete bullshit: any company that wants a non-compete contract will have to pay half salary for the entire period where said non-compete contract is valid.

So if you stop working somewhere, they have to keep paying you half salary, if they really think that non-compete contract is necessary. They almost never do.

Come See The Mighty Amazon In Full Retreat!

By westlake • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
Well, that didn't take long:

Amazon is to remove a ''non-compete'' clause from its employment contracts for US workers paid by the hour after criticism that it is unreasonable to prevent such employees from finding other work.
A company spokeswoman confirmed to the Guardian that the clause would be cut.
''That clause hasn't been applied to hourly associates, and we're removing it,' 'she said.
The company would not disclose the breakdown of its staff by geography or hourly pay and salary. No UK employment contracts for hourly workers contained such non-compete clauses.

Amazon further required laid-off employees to reaffirm their non-compete contracts in order to receive severance, reported the Verge.

Amazon to remove non-compete clause from contracts for hourly workers

I love the EU for making non-competes illegal

By popoutman • Score: 3 • Thread

Here in the EU, if there are terms in an employment contract that effectively mean a non-compete for X length of time after leaving that employment, they are completely unenforceable once the employment contract is terminated. The key terms are "contract" and "terminated". The contract no longer exists legally once the employment is terminated.

If a company wants non-compete methods, then they have to request that the newly-ex-employee sign a new contract to not compete with the previous employer's competitors, and in every case that I have heard of, the monetary terms for that non-compete had to be very very generous in order for the newly available employee to not work for the next 6 to 18 months in the business. Some in this situation went on training courses to stay current, others branched out into differing areas of work, all while getting handsomely paid not to work for the competitor.

Amazon have their head up their ass regarding the treatment of their employees for a long time in the US, and it'll come back to bite them. At least in the EU the employee protection legislation prevent such entities from taking that level of advantage of their employees. I'll be glad if/when karma comes back to burn Bezos and gang over their unethical actions and general mistreatment of their staff.

Behind the Scenes At a Quantum Dot Factory

Posted by SoulskillView
Tekla Perry writes: In a nondescript office complex in Milpitas, Calif., Nanosys is making enough quantum dots to populate 6 million 60-inch television screens annually. "The process goes on in what looks like a microbrewery. In about half a dozen large metal tanks ... Nanosys combines cadmium and selenium and adjusts the temperature, concentration, and catalysts added to force these precursors to combine into stable crystals of cadmium selenide. Then, by readjusting the conditions, the system stops the formation of crystals and triggers the beginning of crystal growth. A computer controls the process according to a programmed “recipe;” staff members monitor the growth of the crystals by shining light on them and measuring the wavelength of the fluorescence; the smallest crystals don’t fluoresce at all, then, as the crystals get larger, the wavelength changes. Nanosys stops the process when the fluoresced light hits the target wavelength, which varies depending on what particular display industry standard that the batch of film is designed to meet."

Quantum Dot?

By chinton • Score: 3 • Thread
Isn't that what got you into the secret room in Adventure?

Re:Quantum Dot?

By Thud457 • Score: 5, Funny • Thread
They're like Quantum Crows, but are fruit-flavored instead of licorice.

Thank you, Tekla Perry!

By Y.A.A.P. • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

I have been reading /. for far longer than my ID # indicates. IIRC, it was 1999 when I happened upon the site, I just didn't bother to join, because I never had anything useful to say. Back then it was "News for Nerds, Stuff that Matters." Unfortunately, that guiding mantra no longer adorns the /. bannerhead and we are poorer for it.

This submission is a perfect example of "News for Nerds, Stuff that Matters." The summary doesn't tell you everything, you have to click through and read the article to get the true value of it. I read the article and it was very informative. I learned interesting information from it. It wasn't just interesting, I might actually use that information in the future.

Thank you for perking up my day with interesting information and giving me hope that /. will continue to be a site to return to for quality information and news.

Re:Disposal problem?

By rogoshen1 • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

that's racist. please use "native americium" going forward.

Re:How big is it?

By inqrorken • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
A few tens of nanometers in diameter. Dots emit light at (more or less) a single frequency (it's actually Gaussian around the chosen frequency.) To emit that photon, the dot has to absorb a photon of higher energy. Since right now dots are absorbing visible, it's energetically possible to emit in microwave or radio frequencies. While I believe it's possible to do so, existing methods may be more efficient (energy-wise or cost-wise), or we may not have discovered dot materials that allow for those emission frequencies.

Ask Slashdot: What Makes Some Code Particularly Good?

Posted by SoulskillView
itwbennett writes: When developers talk about what makes some source code particularly 'good,' a handful of qualities tend to get mentioned frequently (functional, readable, testable). What would you add to this list?


By Elixon • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

I would definitely add "simple". Everybody can write complex code but it takes experience and great knowledge to be able to choose the best fit for the implementation. More experience and knowledge you have more options to choose from. Beginner will usually go with the first hunch that will get complex sooner or later as he will meet challenges he didn't expect...

So yeah, simple, readable, documented, functional, consistent...

It's not that hard.

By paavo512 • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
Good code has documentation for knowing what it should do, and has unit tests to verify that it actually does that. If there are any problems good code can be modified to meet the (possibly changed) requirements better, while unit tests ensure the modifications do not make the code worse. Code which cannot be modified is not good code. It's that simple.


By nitehawk214 • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

I hate it when I have to debug some other asshole's code.

I hate it more when the asshole is six-months-ago-me.

It's good if they don't code like 90s C++ devs

By gestalt_n_pepper • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Their whole mindset still makes me want to puke.

Obfuscated crap. Techno-machismo teens playing games trying to get their code into the least number of characters and the least amount of memory. I've had to fix or test so much of this junk and it's still just plain stupid.

The *human* part of the system is what *matters* and that includes the code interface. First, I want comments not about *what* is happening. I can read that. I need to know *why* it was done, so I don't undo it, or I can do something different safely. Comments should be one liners, limited to "why" and sometimes "how".

If adding a variable aids readability, add the fucking variable! Shove all the results into a meaningful, readable variable name and then shove *that* into your function argument, not some long series of nested function. It's not the 90s. You don't have to save memory! Memory is there to make your code readable. Use it!

Ok, rant over. I'm going back to work now.

Re:Well commented.

By Jamu • Score: 5, Funny • Thread
What if the comment is // this code sucks.?

Rebuilding the PDP-8 With a Raspberry Pi

Posted by SoulskillView
braindrainbahrain writes: Hacker Oscarv wanted a PDP-8 mini computer. But buying a real PDP-8 was horribly expensive and out of the question. So Oscarv did the next best thing: he used a Raspberry Pi as the computing engine and interfaced it to a replica PDP-8 front panel, complete with boatloads of fully functional switches and LEDs.


By gstoddart • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

I've long since stopped asking why, and just gotten on with "why not?"

Building a replica of a platform gives you the experience of doing it, the understanding of the process, familiarity with the tools you're using ... and possibly some bragging rights among your fellow nerds.

Why pimp out your CPU case with neon? Why put spinners on your rims? Hell, why have cars anything other than black, which should suffice for anybody? Why play video games? Why watch TV?

None of these accomplishes anything other than filling in time or soothing your own need for something you think is cool.

To you, it's opportunity cost. To someone else, it's "why the hell not?" It's something to do they find amusing.

Compared to half the crap you see on YouTube or anywhere else with humans ... I don't see this as being worse than anything else.

With all the dumb crap humans do every day, there's at least some coolness to this.

And I'm betting you can identify at least 10 things you do every week which you couldn't answer "why" if pressed on the issue.


By jones_supa • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

We really should be preserving old computers in HDL in a form as loyal as possible to the original. Then we could always reimplement them in FPGA and make "real" hardware cheaply enough until the sun burns out.

It's doable, although these are big efforts.

There is already this Japanese guy who has done it for the SNES.

Fond Memories

By Gim Tom • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
My first "personal computer" was a PDP-8i at Georgia Tech in the late 1960's. The ISy school had one in a small room in the basement with an ASR TTY (33 I think). There was another room with at least one more TTY with punch and you would code on that machine and after signing up for time on the PDP-8i you would take your paper tape in and after toggling in the boot sequence and loading the BIN tape then the Assembler you would run your tape to punch out your assembled program to run on the machine. I may be leaving out a number of steps since that was a while back.

in any case that was my first taste of writing any code in a machines assembly language and even then I dreamed of having my very own PDP-8.

This is a cool project and even for an Old Man I can fully relate to why it was done. I think this experience led to a life long career working with computers ranging from Big Iron mainframes to PC's networks and a variety of internal and Internet facing Servers. Yes, even though retired, I have a couple of Arduinos and Raspberry Pi's around to play with! Learning new things has kept me going all these years.

SBC6120 is real PDP-8 style hardware

By cruff • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
The SBC6120 uses a Harris 6120 CPU chip which is a PDP-8/e-like microprocessor. It has a companion FP6120 front panel with switches and lights, which is a scaled down version of an older modle rack mount PDP-8 front panel. You built them from kits, loads of fun for those who like that sort of thing. Mine has a CF card for the hard drives (a whole whopping 2 MB each under OS/8!). You may be able to find an unbuilt kit, as the maker of the kit, Spare TIme Gizmos, will not be making any new ones going forward.


By TWX • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
He's snarky, but there's a point when 'additions' start to harm the machine rather than to improve it. Neon tubes with their associated high voltage and extremely high cycling rate draw a lot of power for not real benefit and introduce electromagnetic noise into the computer. Spinners on car wheels mess with the rotational and steering dynamics of the vehicle and remove one cue to other drivers as to what the vehicle is doing as they can no longer look at the wheels to see if the car is starting to pull forward or not.

There are tradeoffs between aesthetics and functionality. Sometimes the majority of the population feels that those aesthetics are worthwhile and sometimes they don't. Personally I want the indicators on my computer to actually convey something, so having a huge light behind a large transparent open panel in the side that's on just because the computer is powered on doesn't help me while individual indicators for fans and disks could. On the other hand, if I spent considerable time and skill dremelling-out a logo through the side panel, then perhaps the powerful light might actually add something to the experience.

If someone wants to reimplement some antiquated hardware for their own kicks that's fine. I've got dumb RS-232 terminals on my desks at both work and home, so I am not immune to this either. I don't expect others to find it cool either though, as there aren't that many people that grew up pre-GUI or in the BBS days in this hobby anymore, so I do it for myself, not for anyone else's approval.

Modern Cockpits: Harder To Invade But Easier To Lock Up

Posted by SoulskillView writes: Jad Mouawad And Christopher Drew write in the NY Times that although airplane cockpits are supposed to be the last line of defense from outside aggressors, airlines have fewer options if the threat comes from within. One of the major safety protocols that actually made planes safer in the past 15 years was that the cockpits were turned into fortresses. Unfortunately, that exact advantage was exploited by the co-pilot of the Germanwings plane on Tuesday to crash it intentionally. "It is shocking to me that there was not a second person present in the cockpit," says Mark Rosenker, a former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board. Access to the cockpit is strictly regulated in the United States. Passengers are not allowed to congregate near the cockpit door, and whenever the door is open, no one is allowed in the forward bathroom and flight attendants usually block aisle access, sometimes using a food cart. The Federal Aviation Administration mandates that a flight attendant must sit in the cockpit when either pilot steps into the passenger area; European regulations do not have a similar two-person rule, but they're now talking about creating one.

The Germanwings accident also points to potential shortcomings in how pilots are screened for mental problems, a recurring concern for an industry that demands focus and discipline in an increasingly technical job, often in stressful situations. In 2012, a well-regarded pilot with JetBlue, one of the airline's earliest employees, was physically restrained by passengers on a flight from New York to Las Vegas after displaying erratic behavior. In that case, the co-pilot locked the pilot out of the cabin and made an emergency landing in Amarillo, Tex. "Aircraft-assisted pilot suicides," as the Federal Aviation Administration calls them, are rare. They include the November 2013 crash of a Mozambique Airlines plane bound for Luanda, Angola, which bears an eerie resemblance to the Germanwings plane's demise. When the flight's co-pilot left to use the lavatory, the captain locked him out of the cockpit and manually steered the aircraft earthward. The crash of Egypt Airlines Flight 990 off Nantucket, Mass., in 1999, which killed all 217 people on board, was also caused by deliberate action, a National Transportation Safety Board investigation concluded. Experts on suicide say that the psychology of those who combine suicide with mass murder may differ in significant ways from those who limit themselves to taking their own lives.

Re:Ummmm ... duh?

By ultranova • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

It appears this German guy knew that, and was hiding his problems from his employer and the regulatory agencies that license his operation of giant passenger aircraft.

So what happens when you remove doctor patient confidentiality? The other depressed people will not see them and will still fly, only without having received psychiatric help or medication. That makes the risk larger, not smaller.

Re:Ummmm ... duh?

By AlejoHausner • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
I might agree with you, if mental-health diagnoses had any predictive power. But suicides are pretty much impossible to predict. Just because someone is diagnosed as clinically depressed does not tell you that they will commit suicide tomorrow. And there are perfectly well-adjusted people who kill themselves because, say, they have a terminal illness.

You also can't, in any reliable way, predict that someone will kill others.

Not to mention unconscious forces. The typical murderer doesn't know that he will kill tomorrow. But some violent rage may arise, triggered by some unforeseen incident. Sure, there are pre-meditated murders, but they are rare, and their very rarity makes the justice system punish them more severely.

Doctors can't predict that you will cause harm tomorrow. You yourself can't predict it, because you don't know what's really going on in your head. So let's not make everyone's life a pain by trying to prevent the unpredictable.

The next thing you know, they're going to make us take our shoes off at the airport because someone put a bomb in his shoe, or make us buy tiny bottles of shampoo because someone maybe planned to make explosives from liquid reagents in flight. Oh wait, such over-reactions have already taken place!

Re:Ummmm ... duh?

By mjr167 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

So what if you have one of these jobs and are going through a rough patch? Your wife just left you and took the kids, your mom died of cancer...

If admitting to having problems causes you to loose the one thing you love to do, what do you do? Mental health is not an easy problem to solve. We need to make it socially ok to admit that we need help and that everything isn't ok. When someone asks "how are you today?", we should be able to give something other than the canned "I'm good! How are you?"

The reality is that if you want to commit mass murder, it is not hard. Drive a SUV down a crowded street at a fair. Chain some doors shut and light a match.

Re:Ummmm ... duh?

By magarity • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

The government should fund a program to encourage more girls to choose airline pilot as a career.

I thought they were desperately needed as computer programmers.

Re:Ummmm ... duh?

By St.Creed • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

OR for fucks sake, while this is a tragic disaster, events like this are so incredibly rare, that we should be cautious to avoid 9/11 style psychosis.

We should have avoided that psychosis in the first place by not locking the cabin doors. If they had locked cabin doors on september 11, they would have opened them as per the then standing instructions on hijacks and even flight 93 would have ended inside a skyscraper or the Pentagon.

Even in 9/11 the cabin wasn't rushed with grenades and explosives, but with box knifes. Suppose it happens again? How long do the pilots hold out when the hijackers slaughter the passengers one by one outside their door, on their camera? And that assumes the passengers will happily play along - how many hijackings have occurred since 9/11 where the passengers sat idly by, waiting for their fate to be sealed? I bet it's a binary number.

And another thing: now the pilots are in control of all those people. Quite literally untouchable. If you have even the smallest inclination towards a Messiah complex, this will set it right off. Couple that with the enormous pressure on pilots who are in debt, with airlines in trouble and sacking pilots, and you have a recipe for disaster.

The cabin door lock was not meant to protect the passengers, it's meant to protect the skyscraper. I say we should get rid of it.