the unofficial Slashdot digest archive

Is Go Google's Programming Language, Not Ours?

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Chris Siebenmann is a Unix sys-admin for the CS department at the University of Toronto. He recently saw a tweet asking about the possibility of community-implemented generics for the Go programming language, and posted a widely-read response on his blog.

"There are many answers for why this won't happen, but one that does not usually get said out loud is that Go is Google's language, not the community's." Yes, there's a community that contributes things to Go, some of them important and valued things; you only have to look at the diversity of people in CONTRIBUTORS or see the variety of people appearing in the commits. But Google is the gatekeeper for these community contributions; it alone decides what is and isn't accepted into Go. To the extent that there even is a community process for deciding what is accepted, there is an 800-pound gorilla in the room. Nothing is going to go into Go that Google objects to, and if Google decides that something needs to be in Go, it will happen.

(The most clear and obvious illustration of this is what happened with Go modules, where one member of Google's Go core team discarded the entire system the outside Go community had been working on in favour of a relatively radically different model. See eg for one version of this history.)

Or in short, Go has community contributions but it is not a community project. It is Google's project. This is an unarguable thing, whether you consider it to be good or bad, and it has effects that we need to accept. For example, if you want some significant thing to be accepted into Go, working to build consensus in the community is far less important than persuading the Go core team. (As a corollary, sinking a lot of time and effort into a community effort that doesn't have enthusiastic buy-in from the Go core team is probably a waste of time....) On the good and bad scale, there is a common feeling that Go has done well by having a small core team with good taste and a consistent vision for the language, a team that is not swayed by outside voices and is slow moving and biased to not making changes.

The essay also concedes that "I like Go and have for a fair while now, and I'm basically okay with how the language has been evolving and how the Go core team has managed it. I certainly think it's a good idea to take things like generics slowly.

"But at the same time, how things developed around Go modules has left a bad taste in my mouth and I now can't imagine becoming a Go contributor myself, even for small trivial changes."

Strict 'Do Not Track' Law Proposed By US Senator

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
This week a Republican senator "unveiled a 'Do Not Track' bill with tough penalties for companies who break its protections," reports The Hill.

Trailrunner7 shares more information from the security news site Decipher: Senator Hawley's bill makes the Federal Trade Commission the enforcement authority for the system and any person who violates the measure would be liable for penalties of $50 per user affected by a violation for every day that the violation is ongoing. "Big tech companies collect incredible amounts of deeply personal, private data from people without giving them the option to meaningfully consent. They have gotten incredibly rich by employing creepy surveillance tactics on their users, but too often the extent of this data extraction is only known after a tech company irresponsibly handles the data and leaks it all over the internet," Hawley said.

"The American people didn't sign up for this, so I'm introducing this legislation to finally give them control over their personal information online.... [The bill] just says that a consumer can make a one time choice to not be tracked. I think we should make it compulsory and give it the force of law and give consumers real choice and force the companies to comply."

DuckDuckGo's founder had proposed similar legislation, and the Hill reports that he's since been approached by "a few other" U.S. lawmakers. They also remind readers that a 2010 push for Do Not Track legislation "never panned out amid enormous pressure from industry representatives, who could not come to an agreement over what 'tracking' means in the first place...

"Consumer advocates and tech industry critics say Hawley's bill could find better traction amid a larger backlash against tech behemoths including Google, Facebook and Amazon."

I'm curious how this will be enforced

By mark-t • Score: 3 • Thread
I have no doubt that they'll still track you... they'll just not offer the service to you in the first place unless you explicitly agree to be tracked.

Consumer Reports: Tesla's New Automatic Lane-Changing Is Much Worse Than a Human Driver

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"Tesla's updated Navigate on Autopilot software now lets some drivers choose whether the car can automatically change lanes without his or her input," writes Consumer Reports -- before complaining that the feature "doesn't work very well and could create safety risks for drivers."

An anonymous reader quotes their report: In practice, we found that the new Navigate on Autopilot lane-changing feature lagged far behind a human driver's skills. The feature cut off cars without leaving enough space, and even passed other cars in ways that violate state laws, according to several law enforcement representatives CR interviewed for this report. As a result, the driver often had to prevent the system from making poor decisions. "The system's role should be to help the driver, but the way this technology is deployed, it's the other way around," says Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports' senior director of auto testing. "It's incredibly nearsighted. It doesn't appear to react to brake lights or turn signals, it can't anticipate what other drivers will do, and as a result, you constantly have to be one step ahead of it...."

Multiple testers reported that the Tesla often changed lanes in ways that a safe human driver wouldn't -- cutting too closely in front of other cars, and passing on the right. An area of particular concern is Tesla's claim that the vehicle's three rearward-facing cameras can detect fast-approaching objects from the rear better than the average driver can. Our testers found the opposite to be true in practice. "The system has trouble responding to vehicles that approach quickly from behind," Fisher says. "Because of this, the system will often cut off a vehicle that is going at a much faster speed, since it doesn't seem to sense the oncoming car until it's relatively close."

Fisher says merging into traffic is another problem. "It is reluctant to merge in heavy traffic, but when it does, it often immediately applies the brakes to create space behind the follow car," he says, "and this can be a rude surprise to the vehicle you cut off... This isn't a convenience at all. Monitoring the system is much harder than just changing lanes yourself."

In the article David Friedman, vice president of advocacy at Consumer Reports, complains that Tesla "is showing what not to do on the path toward self-driving cars: release increasingly automated driving systems that aren't vetted properly."

Don't worry

By AmiMoJo • Score: 3 • Thread

Next year Tesla will be launching it's robotaxi service, I'm sure all the bugs will be fixed by then!

Or were they planning on having it drive like a typical taxi driver?

"lagged far behind human skills"

By JoeyRox • Score: 3, Insightful • Thread
The feature cut off cars without leaving enough space, and even passed other cars in ways that violate state laws, according to several law enforcement representatives CR interviewed for this report.

That sounds on par with human skills to me.

Passing on the right ...

By fahrbot-bot • Score: 3 • Thread

Multiple testers reported that the Tesla often changed lanes in ways that a safe human driver wouldn't -- ... and passing on the right.

From Passing on the Right

In most states, it is legal to pass on the right under certain conditions.
In Virginia, a driver is allowed to pass another vehicle on the right:

1: When the other vehicle is making or is about to make a left turn, and its driver has given the required signal;
2: On a roadway that is wide enough for two or more lines of moving vehicles in each direction, as long as the roadway is free from obstructions (such as parked vehicles);
3: On a one-way street that is wide enough for two or more lines of moving vehicles, as long as the roadway is free from obstructions.

Drivers are not allowed to pass on the right unless they can do so safely. Also, drivers are not allowed to pass on the shoulder of the highway or off the pavement (i.e., off the main traveled portion of the roadway) unless there is a lawfully placed sign that specifically permits passing in these areas.

As far as "cutting too closely in front of other cars", I once squeezed my way into a line of traffic right in front of a Police car. He pulled me over and yammered about cutting in too closely. I replied, "perhaps you were following too closely" (which he definitely was). He let me go, but wasn't super happy about it.

/. drinking game

By seoras • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Take a shot every time there is a Slashdot story bashing, or encouraging rants about, Tesla or Apple.
A decade ago it was Microsoft who got the shit kicked out of them on a daily basis here. (Remember the Bill Gates "Borg" icon?)
How times have changed.

Why the US Air Force Is Investigating a Cyber Attack From the US Navy

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"The Air Force is investigating the Navy for a cyber intrusion into its network, according to a memo obtained by Military Times."

Zorro (Slashdot reader #15,797) shares their report: The bizarre turn of events stems from a decision by a Navy prosecutor to embed hidden tracking software into emails sent to defense attorneys, including one Air Force lawyer, involved in a high-profile war-crimes case of a Navy SEAL in San Diego. The tracking device was an attempt to find out who was leaking information to the editor of Navy Times, a sister publication. A similar tracking device was also sent to Carl Prine, the Navy Times editor, who has written numerous stories about the case.

Navy Capt. David Wilson, chief of staff for the Navy's Defense Service Offices, wrote in the May 19 memo that an Air Force attorney was among the defense lawyers who had received emails with the hidden tracking software, which he described as "malware"...

"In fact, I've learned that the Air Force is treating this malware as a cyber-intrusion on their network and have seized the Air Force Individual Military Counsel's computer and phone for review," he wrote.

Re: Now the spooks are spying on each other...

By mschuyler • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Get serious yourself and RTFA. An Air Force attorney is working on the defense of a Navy SEAL accused (by his own men) of war crimes. The Navy prosecutor team sent infected emails to the defense team and to the privately-owned publication "Navy Times" in an effort to track leaks. Since it was one of the Air Force computers that was infected, they are conducting an inquiry into to what exactly happened. This incident has resulted on serious claims of prosecutorial misconduct that could get the case thrown out.

And for the record, bases ARE shared. JBLM, for example, is "Joint Base (Fort) Lewis (and Air Force Base) McChord." The administration of both facilities is shared. Not that it matters since we're talking cyberspace anyway. One would think someone on Slashdot would readily understand that.

Choice between two evils

By raymorris • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Judge Learned Hand wrote about this. There is a choice between two bad alternatives, he wrote. If prosecutors keep their traditional immunity for their actions as prosecutors, bad prosecutors can only be punished criminally or via removal and disbarment, not via civil suits.

  If prosecutors are open to civil suits for every decision they make about what charges to bring and what evidence to put on, it would roughly double the number of court cases. Almost every defendant would want to either sue the prosecutor or threaten to, making that part of a plea bargain.

Even worse, since every not-guilty verdict would be ripe for a improper prosecution suit, prosecutors would know it's either get a conviction or pay up personally - a strong incentive to get a conviction by whatever means necessary.

You mentioned "the 1970s", which suggests you were thinking of Imbler v Pachtman. The prosecutor, Pachtman,
continued to investigate and discovered new evidence after Imbler had been convicted, and brought that to light I case it might set Imbler free. Would Pachtman have kept investgating and brought forth evidence of Imbler's innocence in this case if Imbler being found not guilty would subject Pachtman to liability? Probably not.

Imbler's lawyer said Pachtman's conduct was in "the highest tradition of law enforcement and justice," as a premier example of "devotion to duty." Do we want to discourage that?

There seems to be no good answer.

Neal Stephenson Says Social Media Is Close To A 'Doomsday Machine'

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
PC Magazine interviewed Neal Stephenson about his new upcoming book Fall; Or, Dodge in Hell, as well as "the digital afterlife, and why social media is a doomsday machine." [Possible spoilers ahead]: The hybrid sci-fi/fantasy novel begins in the present day with Richard "Dodge" Forthrast, an eccentric multibillionaire who made his fortune in the video game industry. When a freak accident during a routine medical procedure leaves him brain-dead, his family is left to contend with his request to have his brain preserved until the technology exists to bring him back to life. The near-future world of Fall is full of familiar buzzwords and concepts. Augmented reality headsets, next-gen wireless networks, self-driving vehicles, facial recognition, quantum computing, blockchain and distributed cryptography all feature prominently. Stephenson also spends a lot of time examining how the internet and social media, which Dodge and other characters often refer to in Fall as the Miasma, is irrevocably changing society and altering the fabric of reality...

Q: How would you describe the current state of the internet? Just in a general sense of its role in our daily lives, and where that concept of the Miasma came from for you.

Neal Stephenson: I ended up having a pretty dark view of it, as you can kind of tell from the book. I saw someone recently describe social media in its current state as a doomsday machine, and I think that's not far off. We've turned over our perception of what's real to algorithmically driven systems that are designed not to have humans in the loop, because if humans are in the loop they're not scalable and if they're not scalable they can't make tons and tons of money.

The result is the situation we see today where no one agrees on what factual reality is and everyone is driven in the direction of content that is "more engaging," which almost always means that it's more emotional, it's less factually based, it's less rational, and kind of destructive from a basic civics standpoint... I sort of was patting myself on the back for really being on top of things and predicting the future. And then I discovered that the future was way ahead of me. I've heard remarks in a similar vein from other science-fiction novelists: do we even have a role anymore?

Stephenson answered questions from Slashdot's reader in 2004, and since then has "spent years as an advisor for Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' private space company Blue Origin," the article points out. He's also currently the "chief futurist" for Magic Leap -- though he tells his interviewer that some ideas go back much further.

Part of his new book builds on "a really old idea" from security researcher Matt Blaze, who in the mid-1990s talked about "Encyclopedia Disinformatica", which Stephenson describes as "a sort of fake Wikipedia containing plausible-sounding but deliberately false information as a way of sending the message to people that they shouldn't just believe everything that they see on the internet."


By AndyKron • Score: 4, Funny • Thread
"Encyclopedia Disinformatica"? Oh. You mean "Conservapedia". The Wiki of Bullshit

Re:People were already catasophically stupid

By ZorinLynx • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

I kind of miss the days when pretty much everyone you'd find on the Internet was reasonably intelligent. Sure, there were assholes and unpleasant people, but even most of them showed some level of intelligence and rational thought.

Now that the Internet is mainstream, the stupid has gone off the charts.

Systemd Now Has More Than 1.2 Million Lines of Code

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
This week Phoronix marked a very special anniversary: Five years ago today was the story on Phoronix how the systemd source tree was approaching 550k lines so curiosity got the best of me to see how large is the systemd Git repository today. Well, now it's over 1.2 million lines.

After surpassing one million lines in 2017, when running GitStats on the systemd Git repository today it's coming in at 1,207,302 lines. Those 1.2 million lines are spread across 3,260 files and made over 40,057 commits from nearly 1,400 different authors... So far this year there have been 2,145 commits while last year saw 6,245 commits while 2016 and 2017 each saw less than four thousand commits total. Lennart Poettering continues being the most prolific contributor to systemd with more than 32% of the commits so far this year.


By msauve • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
systemd is like the Borg. Eventually, it will assimilate the kernel, all gnu utils, and X.


By squiggleslash • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

The original complaints were a combination of legitimate complaints ("storing logs as binary files makes them hard to parse", "There's a buffer overflow in systemd-bananadctl!") and utterly incomprehensibly stupid complaints ("Pottering sucks! The Unix way has always been tiny tools that don't do anything! Nobody ever complained about sysvinit, it was perfect and nobody in the history of GNU ever had a computer not boot up because of dependency problems!")

From what I see, the legitimate complaints have been addressed as they come up. But it's probably hard for the SystemD developers to get a handle on what's a real complaint and what isn't given the campaign against it by embittered 14 year olds who think they know "Lunix" because they're a whiz with PHP scripting.

SystemD isn't perfect, but it's a good attempt to replace something that's been obsolete - in the sense of not suited for the job - since the mid-nineties, when we started to see ubiquitous networking.

Re: So?

By bavarian • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

If any of that was true, companies like SUSE that have been shipping systemd as the default on our enterprise offerings for years would be flooded with service requests from angry users. We simply arenâ(TM)t. Systemd as we are using it today is rock solid and enables many use cases like our transactional MicroOS with read-only filesystem that would be very hard or impossible to implement without it.


By fahrbot-bot • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

systemd is like the Borg. Eventually, it will assimilate the kernel, all gnu utils, and X.

Eventually Systemd and Emacs will have to fight it out. I'm betting on Emacs for the win.

Re:It makes business sense

By Shane_Optima • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Um, Red Hat is the primary driving source behind systemd. Lennart Poettering is a Red Hat employee. I'm sure there are volunteers as well but systemd should always be thought of as a product of Red Hat.

Why Are Some Wealthy Kids Getting Extra Time To Finish Their SAT Tests?

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Students from wealthy high schools are more than twice as likely to qualify for extra time to finish their SAT or ACT college entrance tests than students from poor schools -- and in some cases, they're getting 50% more time.

An anonymous reader quotes CBS News: About 4.2 percent of students at wealthy high schools qualified for a 504 designation, a plan that enables the students to qualify for accommodations such as extra test-taking time, according to an analysis of federal data for 9,000 by public schools by The Wall Street Journal. By comparison, only 1.6 percent of students in poor high schools qualified for the same designation.... These plans, named after a federal statute prohibiting discrimination against students with disabilities, can cover a wide range of issues, ranging from anxiety to deafness and other impairments. But critics of 504 plans say some families may be abusing the system in order to secure much-needed extra time for their children on the high-stakes exams...

About one-sixth of ACT test-takers don't complete the exam within its normal time limit, the Journal noted. And a redesign of the SAT in 2014 signaled how many students struggle with finishing on time, as fewer than half of students completed the math section in a prototype of the new test. Naturally, gaining an extra 50 percent of the allotted time can alleviate some of the stress of time management. And the SATs and ACTs don't alert colleges about whether a student received extra time to complete the tests, eliminating a disincentive for students to request the accommodation.

It's apparently been going on for years, according to CBS. In 2000 a California state report found that students getting extra time for their tests " were predominately white, wealthy, and from private schools."

And now in Boston's "well-heeled" Newton suburb, about one-third of students qualified for extra time.

Could it be...

By imperious_rex • Score: 3, Insightful • Thread
These rich kids are more slower (as in Forrest Gump slow) than their non-rich peers? Maybe having all that wealth has lead to rich kids being slow learners and simpler thinkers? Growing up pampered and can probably lead to stunted neurological development, so these kids need an assist..

Can't Get a 504 Without Parent Involvement

By Chibi Merrow • Score: 3, Insightful • Thread

Parents have to actually go through a process to get 504 designation for their kids. Wealthy parents are generally more involved in their kids education than poor parents. This probably accounts for the vast majority of the disparity, and anyone gaming the system--if they exist--is a infinitesimally small minority.

Re:Sigh, more "rich people bad" narrative

By alvinrod • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

If the take up of extra time is skewed towards the wealthy then either the wealthy are simply less fortunate and suffer from more adverse conditions, or more likely the rules are not being applied properly and fairly to all.

You miss the explanation that because their parents are wealthy they have the resources to identify those conditions in their children and have them appropriately certified so that their children can take advantage of these policies. There are probably children less well off who should have additional time, but their parents never thought to have their child examined or were completely unaware that these policies exist at all.

The general rule is that in any system, the people with the most resources are best able to take advantage of it. For example, subsidy programs designed to help independent farmers have a majority of the funding devoted to a small minority of farmers who are already doing well economically. They found similar results when examining a program designed to help African American business owners and in one case found that one of the people who received a grant was just a figurehead for a company that was really being run by her white husband who was already wealthy from other business ventures.

Take-up rates should not be related to how much time and money the parents have to spend on applying for them, they should be related to the adverse conditions in each child's life.

Sure in an ideal world yes. Unfortunately we don't have the time or money to assess this or even a good way of doing the assessment. Maybe 30 years from now when we've automated more of our economy we'll be able to devote the necessary labor towards individual and personalize education, but it isn't going to happen now.

Why time it?

By djinn6 • Score: 3 • Thread

The number of times I had to finish a math problem in limited time*, outside of a school setting, is exactly zero. So how is a timed math test useful? If anything, it's weeding out people who would be good mathematicians, because that requires thinking for a very long time about a very deep problem rather than reflective applications of well-studied rules. In fact, people I know who majored in math in college weren't very quick doing algebra and arithmetic.

*Yes, there's taxes and such, but the time limit is on the order of months rather than minutes.

This is not news to university faculty

By timholman • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Any college professor will tell you that the system is abused often and systematically. Every semester, I have students with no previously declared disabilities who suddenly discover that they have a learning disability after taking my first exam. All they need is a doctor's evaluation (which is easily obtained), and they receive accommodations. It's the perfect system, since the "disability" does not show up on the student's transcript, and essentially disappears from their record the moment they graduate.

What is interesting is that rarely does the extra test time result in any improvement in the student's test performance. If I had my choice, I'd give all of my students two or three hours to work a one-hour exam. Doing so would force many students to confront the truth that lack of time isn't their problem; it's lack of understanding of the material. Unfortunately, the system doesn't work that way. You have to work within the time constraints of the one-hour lecture format.

But the SATs don't need to work that way. This issue can be solved by making the SAT an 8-hour exam for everyone. Give all the students enough time to double-check every answer. Most students will leave after 5 or 6 hours. As for the rest, I expect (from years of teaching experience) that the point of diminishing returns will kick in long before 8 hours is up.

Do that, and the problem of bogus disabilities will largely disappear once the extra time confers no real advantage.

'How I Cheated On My Microsoft Job Interview'

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Robert Sweeney spent 10 years working as a software engineer at Microsoft and Netflix, before becoming founder and CEO of the software development agency Facet. This week he blogged about how he cheated on his 2004 interview for a job at Microsoft.

It was his first job interview ever, when he was still a college senior majoring in computer science, and a Microsoft recruiter had invited him to an interview at an on-campus career fair: I immediately called my good friend Eli who had just started a new job at Microsoft. I asked him what the on campus interviews were like and how I should prepare for them. He explained that they would ask a random programming question that I would need to solve on a sheet of paper. If you did well, then they would fly you out for a full day of interviews at the Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Washington. He had been asked to write a function that, when given an array of length n + 1 containing integers 1 through n, find the duplicate integer in an array. I wasn't sure how to prepare for answering a "random programming question", so I decided to just use the question Eli had been asked as practice and hope for the best...

Most of the interview is a blur, but I remember the interviewer being nice and I remember the programming question he asked me... I couldn't believe it. He asked me the exact same question as Eli. Should I tell him? I hesitated for a moment, pretending to be thinking about how to solve the problem. In reality I was having an intense internal debate on the ethics of interviewing. He didn't ask me if I had heard the question before, he just asked me to solve it. So I decided to just answer the question... I slowly wrote out the solution I had come up with over days of thinking about the problem, being sure to pause periodically as if I was figuring it out for the first time... A few days later I received an invite to fly out to the Microsoft main offices. I interviewed with two teams over a period of 6+ hours. I didn't get asked any questions I had heard before this time, but I did my best... Sure enough, that next week I had a job offer from Microsoft from both teams... Within a couple of years of graduating from college, I had shipped software that was being used by nearly a billion people...

I've struggled with this a lot over the years, but I finally decided to share my story. I don't think I would have made it past the first round of interviews at Microsoft if I hadn't gotten so lucky. So pretty much, my entire career is built on one amazing stroke of luck. I also think my experience is a great example of one of the many reasons why the coding problems we use in developer interviews are so problematic: on the spot coding is just not a good way to judge technical ability.

Stack Overflow's CEO founder Joel Spolsky actually wrote some of Microsoft's internal programmer-testing guidelines when he worked there in the mid-1990s, and he later publicized them in a 2006 blog post which he says was later adopted by other tech companies, including Google.

He has since said that recruiting for IT is broken, adding " I think that I'm responsible."

Microsoft has since changed its interviewing practices.

Re:Random programming problems are stupid anyway

By ShanghaiBill • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

These kind of tests have nothing to do with the types of problems you regularly face with a given programming job.

I'll let you in on a secret: Interviewing isn't about "solving the problem". It is about "interviewing".

The interviewer doesn't much care if you get the right answer. They want to see how you think, and how you approach problem solving. You don't need a "real world" problem for that.

An astounding number of people that apply for programming jobs have no ability to write code. This includes people that have degrees in CS. These people can talk the talk, they know all the buzz words, they can analyze an algorithm for complexity. But when you actually ask them to write code from scratch, they fail. The only way to filter these people out is by including some coding problems in the interview process.

Reminds me of my lucky interview

By raymorris • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Him getting the one exact question he had prepared for reminds me of a lucky thing that happened to me in an interview.

Interviewer: Which Linux distros are you most familiar with?

Me: I use Redhat / Centos for almost everything.

Interviewer (frowning): We use Debian. Do you have experience with Debian?

Me: Are you on the Debian security mailing list?

Interviewer: Yes ... ?

Me: Can you pull up the Debian announcement from this morning real quick?

Debian security alert email: Ray Morris discovered (a big security issue in Debian)

He had no more questions about my Debian experience after that. :)

It doesn't really matter if you got it right

By jeff4747 • Score: 3 • Thread

From the interviewing side, it doesn't really matter if you got the answer right, or could even complete it. Especially as an entry-level hire. Sure, it's a plus, but it's not a giant one.

What I'm looking for when I ask these kinds of questions is how do you approach the problem, what is your thought process while solving it, how do you respond to any wrenches I throw into it, and do you understand a more elegant solution when I lead you to it or provide it. (It's also a spot-check on do you understand the basics of the language, but that's a secondary use of these questions)

The fact that you could or could not solve it isn't all that important - we can all find google and it's extremely unlikely that you will actually face these kinds of trick problems in the real world.

In the real world, you'd do something inefficient but simple-to-read and only switch to an elegant and fast solution if the profiler show it to be a bottleneck. Saving 100ms is huge, but if you only do it once in the lifetime of a long-running process, it isn't worth your time or the time of everyone after you who has to take 5 minutes to understand the elegant solution.

So the questions are about you and the way you think, not whether or not you get the right answer.

TL:DR - TFAuthor wasn't being asked what they thought they were, so they did not cheat.


By dcollins • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

On the other hand, I was once asked a question in an interview (convert a C-string of digits to the equivalent integer), I gave the textbook answer from my college's computer architecture course, and the producer interviewing me refused to believe it worked. Even after I stepped him through a concrete example. I did not get that job.

Full story.


By caywen • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

I would setup a new table in Oracle with a unique constraint on the column. Then I would use a SQL builder and insert items until I get an error. I would parse the XML error response, and infer from it whether it was the unique constraint that was violated.

Efficiency is my middle name!

Replacing JavaScript: How eBay Made a Web App 50x Faster With WebAssembly

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"Online marketplace eBay has revealed how it boosted performance of a demanding web app by 50x using WebAssembly," reports TechRepublic: The "astonishing" speed-up after switching from a JavaScript-based to a largely WebAssembly-based web app was detailed by the eBay engineering team, who say the performance boost helped make it possible to build a highly-accurate barcode scanner as a web app... a feature it offers in its Android and iOS apps to allow sellers to scan items they are auctioning. "WebAssembly was different. It has tremendous potential, we just did not have the right use case. Well, that changed recently," write the eBay software engineering team.

One of the advantages of WebAssembly (Wasm) is that it offers code portability for a variety of languages, allowing developers to take code they've written for other platforms and compile to WebAssembly so it can run in major web browsers. Consequently eBay was able to take the existing version of its barcode scanner written in C++ and compile that to Wasm using Emscripten, adopting the Docker and Node.js-based approach outlined here. After a few minor teething problems, the eBay team were able to run the barcode scanner in the browser, using a Worker thread and JavaScript glue code.

The Wasm-based scanner was able to process images of the barcode at 50 Frames per Second (FPS), compared to about 1FPS in an earlier JavaScript-based scanner eBay had tested, a speed-up the team described as "astonishing".

Unfortunately, the Wasm code only successfully completed scans 60% of the time, because it wasn't using the inbuilt APIs available for the C++ code to either autofocus or provide user tap focus for the center of the scanned object. eBay's team ultimately ended up implementing three separate worker threads running the Wasm code, the open-source barcode reader ZBar, and their original JavaScript-based scanner code.

"The winning response (i.e. the first one to send a valid barcode) is sent to the main thread, and all workers are terminated... With three threads racing against each other, the success rate was indeed close to 100%."

The real problem was actually...

By QuietLagoon • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
... the misuse of the browser as the foundation for a slightly complex application, and not javascript.

Re:The real problem was actually...

By epyT-R • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

The real intention of the programmable browser wasn't to build useful, efficient applications and make them available to people, it was to ensure control over distribution of said applications (and user data).

Absolutely nothing "astonishing" here

By gweihir • Score: 3 • Thread

Going from a so-so scripting language to C/C++ often gives a speed-up like that. The only people surprised by this are members of the current crop of incompetent coders that never used C, C++ or assembler.

Fast isn't everything

By RhettLivingston • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Presumably, this is written for a portable device with battery power. In this environment, speed isn't everything. Power usage is important too.

Starting three separate threads to perform the same task and taking the output of the one that wins the race does is not a power-efficient solution. 2/3rds of the power is being wasted.

This sounds like a unprofessional hack in every way.

NASA Announces First Commercial Partner For A Space Station Orbiting The Moon

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"NASA has chosen its first commercial partner for a proposed space station, known as the Lunar Gateway, to be built near the Moon," reports Ars Technica: On Thursday, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said Maxar Technologies would build the first component of the Gateway -- the power and propulsion element. Like the name suggests, it will provide electricity to the Gateway and help move it around. "This time when we go to the Moon, we're actually going to stay," Bridenstine said in making the announcement... Under NASA's current plans to land humans on the Moon by 2024, this is where astronauts will launch to from Earth before climbing aboard pre-positioned landers to take them down to the lunar surface....

The contract announced Thursday is worth a maximum of $375 million. Intriguingly, Maxar said Blue Origin and Draper will join the team in designing, building, and operating the spacecraft. Such a partnership raises the possibility that the power and propulsion element, which will weigh about 5 tons fully fueled, could be launched on Blue Origin's New Glenn rocket. During a teleconference with media, Maxar's Mike Gold said the company would choose a commercial rocket for the power and propulsion element launch in the next 12 to 18 months...

The station will use solar electric propulsion to maintain its orbit and have the ability to maneuver into other orbits around the Moon. Before humans visit the Gateway in 2024, the space agency plans to add a small "habitat" module.

An RV Camp Sprang Up Outside Google's HQ. Now Mountain View Wants To Ban It

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
schwit1 shares an excerpt from a report via Bloomberg: In a quiet neighborhood near Google's headquarters last month, rusty, oleaginous sewage was seeping from a parked RV onto the otherwise pristine street. Sergeant Wahed Magee, of the Mountain View Police Department, was furious. Mountain View is a wealthy town that's home to Alphabet, the world's fourth-most valuable public corporation and Google's owner. Magee spends a lot of his time knocking on the doors of RVs parked on the city's streets, logging license plates and marking rigs that haven't moved for several days. This is the epicenter of a Silicon Valley tech boom that is minting millionaires but also fueling a homelessness crisis that the United Nations recently deemed a human rights violation. Thousands of people live in RVs across San Francisco and the broader Bay Area because they can't afford to rent or buy homes. In December, Mountain View police logged almost 300 RVs that appeared to be used as primary residences. Palo Alto, Berkeley and other Bay Area towns have similar numbers.

Some Silicon Valley towns have cracked down in recent months, creating an even more uncertain future for RV residents. At a March city council meeting, Mountain View voted to ban RVs from parking overnight on public streets. The ban hasn't taken effect yet, but soon, the town's van dwellers will need to go elsewhere. The city council also declared a shelter crisis and passed a new ordinance to ticket vehicles that "discharge domestic sewage on the public right of way." At the meeting, some people opposing the ban blamed Google for the housing crisis. When asked whether the RV situation will ultimately be resolved, Magee looked tired as he thought about the answer. After a 12-hour day, he had a long drive ahead to get home -- he can't afford to live in Mountain View. "The way things are going, I don't see how it's all gonna disappear," he said. "Where are we gonna put everyone?"
The Bay Area wants to enjoy wealth concentration like Manhattan, but also the population spread of the suburbs. Something's gotta give.

Conservatives like some portions of modernity

By drnb • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Conservative is a relative term to the status quo. What you are describing no longer applies to the word "conservative" because the status quo has changed. What you are describing is classically liberal, and - in modern times - libertarian.

The status quo conservatives want to return to does not include racism, nor does if lack vaccinations, nor does it lack space travel, etc. There are bits of modernity that conservatives approve of. You are confusing the manufactured impressions of political operatives of the left with reality.

Replacing their class system with my class system

By drnb • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
By class system progressives mean only a wealth based class system. A knowledge based class system is perfectly fine with them, tech workers being the new upper class and decision makers. Or so they think. They of course get sucked by the same politicians the last class was suckered by.

Re: It's the American way

By reanjr • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

The reality of generational earnings potential would rather suggest that you were lucky. But if you'd rather attribute your relative success to the failings of others to feel good, then that's ok, too.

Re:Agreed - SF isn't a progressive city

By RedK • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Ah, the classic "It wasn't true communism", except for Progressives.

Hint : Progressivism as a movement is what this is. On the surface, virtue signaling. Dig a bit : it's all about narcissist trying to hold themselves above every one else.

What I don't get ...

By Qbertino • Score: 3 • Thread

... is why don't these obscenely rich companies just drop a hundred million or so and pull up a few microhome areas somewhere near by? It can't be *that* difficult. Yeah, SF has a housing crisis. Well, then, build some houses. Aren't lifestyle designs changing to make this possible without everyone needing to waste half an acre of land for their mansion? How hard can it be? ... I don't get it.

Huawei Has Now Been Cut Off By the SD Association, Wi-Fi Alliance

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Both the SD Association and Wi-Fi Alliance have cut ties with Huawei following President Trump's executive order barring companies from doing business with the Chinese company. PhoneDog reports: First up, Huawei has been removed the from the SD Association, a non-profit group that sets the standards for SD and microSD cards. Huawei's name has been removed from the organization's website, and the SD Association confirmed to Android Authority that it's complying with the recent executive order that placed Huawei on the Entity List. This news won't affect existing Huawei phones' ability to accept microSD cards, but the company declined to comment on the effect that it'll have on future models. It likely means that future Huawei devices won't be able to use microSD cards. Huawei does have its own Nano Memory Card format that it can use in its smartphones, though.

Meanwhile, the Wi-Fi Alliance has confirmed to Nikkei that it's "temporarily restricted" Huawei's participation in its activities. "Huawei values its relationships with all partners and associations around the world and understands the difficult situation they are in," Huawei said in response to this news. "We are hopeful this situation will be resolved and are working to find the best solution."
Google and ARM also recently stopped working with Huawei. Earlier this week, ARM told staff it must suspend business with the company. Google also suspended business with Huawei that requires the transfer of hardware and software products, except those covered by open source licenses.

Re:I hope

By gtall • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

No, I think this will have lasting power. It isn't that that asshole has made the U.S. unreliable for a bit, it is that a sizable portion of the American electorate think this is a good idea. The feeling that the U.S. is not going to be reliable will last for a long time.

Re:Very worrying

By AmiMoJo • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Time to move all standards bodies out of the US. We already had to move a bunch of conferences because of travel visa problems.


By Kjella • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

China can retaliate to this, no problem. I wonder what a month of no Chinese goods arriving at US borders would do to the CHINESE economy.

Fixed that for you. Think about which is more valuable, the cheap crap from China, or the cash the US pays for it. They would be hurting themselves as much, or more than they'd be hurting the US.

Don't underestimate China's willingness to put you in the ice box until you come back on their terms, even if it hurts them in the short term. They know Trump needs to win the 2020 election and they know how much his voter demographic depends on cheap crap from China at Wal-Mart, if Trump wants a trade war with China they'll make sure it hurts. The US owes China 1.2 trillion dollars, one month's lost exports would cost about 45 billion so in the short term it'd be much easier for China to burn money than for the US to find 45 billion worth of goods elsewhere. If you consider that the US has a 107% debt-to-GDP ration and China is at 48% on a 12.2 trillion dollar economy they could easily lend $5+ trillion dollar more if they had to.

That's really the problem in everything dealing with China, as much as we'd like to punish them for pollution and human rights violations and stealing IP and aggression in the South China sea and whatnot their economy runs well and is too big to be effectively punished because they'll just punish us back. Even when you know it's happening big companies would rather get a piece of that pie even though it's got poison in it. And from afar it has a certain ruthless efficiency to it, as long as you don't look too closely at the individuals they steamroll. They draw high speed rail lines the way European imperialists drew borders in Africa, all it takes is a map and a ruler. Just don't ask the Africans what they feel about it.

Re: Commercia dealings with America are just too

By Type44Q • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

That's how American governments portray every government it wants to get rid of...

True and utterly irrelevant as the Chinese gov't makes no attempt to hide the fact.


By JBMcB • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

I'd say, publicly at least, this is about the *potential* for spying.

Privately, this is more about Huawei's systemically awful business practices. When they were first getting into the backbone business, they'd have people working at Ericson and Nokia feeding them RFQs from prospective customers, then they'd send salesmen to those customers with quotes half as much. It didn't matter what the equipment or service actually cost, the Chinese government was funding everything and selling at a loss just to get in the door. They've been busted multiple times for this, but nobody at corporate gets into trouble (or if they do they are rotated into different positions.)

'Phenomenal' 2,300-Year-Old Bark Shield Found In Leicestershire

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
pgmrdlm shares a report from The Guardian: An "astonishing and unparalleled" 2,300-year-old shield made of tree bark has been discovered in Leicestershire, the only example of its kind ever found in Europe. The shield was discovered in 2015 by archaeologists from the University of Leicester Archaeological Service in a site close to the River Soar. Organic objects from the period very rarely survive, but the shield was preserved in waterlogged soil and may have been deposited in a water-filled pit, according to Matt Beamish, the lead archaeologist for the service.

Bark shields of the period were entirely unknown in the northern hemisphere, he told the Guardian, and the assumption was that the material may have been too flimsy for use in war. However experiments to remake the weapon in alder and willow showed the 3mm-thick shield would have been tough enough for battle but incredibly light. It was likely that, contrary to assumptions, similar weapons were widespread, Beamish said. The shield is made from green bark that has been stiffened with internal wooden laths, described by Beamish as "like a whalebone corset of split hardwood," and surrounded by a rim of hazel, with a twisted willow boss. The malleable green wood would then tighten as it dried, giving the shield its strength and forming the rounded rectangles into a slightly "waisted" shape, like a subtle figure of eight.
The University of York and University of Leicester have both released statements on the discovery.

Re:This is really an amazing discovery...

By Aighearach • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Xenophon describes whole armies equipped with them in Western Armenia. Others had grass shields with a similar reinforcement and slight figure 8 shape.

Re:This is really an amazing discovery...

By Freischutz • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Xenophon describes whole armies equipped with them in Western Armenia. Others had grass shields with a similar reinforcement and slight figure 8 shape.

Most European shields were thought to have been made of either plywood or planks glued together at the edges and faced back and front with 3mm rawhide. This is well documented, largely due to the Scandinavian's obsession with sacrificing large quantities of captured weapons by throwing them into bogs. The plywood construction was thought to have been lost after the fall of the Roman empire until a couple of these shields were found in Norway and another in Germany which additionally was edged with a screen of braided grass. Which was a complete surprise since nothing of the sort is depicted in contemporary art or mentioned in contemporary texts other than a single sentence in a 12th century Norwegian law mandating plywood shields. This picture contains the grand total of the three original shields found by archeologists that date from the year 1000 to about 1250 or so that still survive in museums:

This is the same as archaeologists 3000 years from now trying to reconstruct the equipment of 21st century armies while having only to having two AK-47s and a Steyer AUG rifle to go on, in that case they'd be unaware of the M4 which is one of the most heavily used combat rifles of our time. The fact that this shield is made of bark makes this shield quite unique and interesting. An even more interesting question is how long were shields like this made and used? Into the dark ages? The Middle ages? The Renaissance? It just brings into focus how big the gaps in the find material for any kind of organic objects are (due to decomposition) and even non-organic metal objects (due to metal recycling).

Parents Are Spending Thousands On YouTube Camps That Teach Kids How To Be Famous

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from the Daily Dot: Various YouTube summer camps have begun launching across the nation, designed to turn regular elementary and middle-school-aged children into bonfire internet sensations. Per a recent report from the Wall Street Journal, parents are spending nearly $1,000 dollars a week for their children to learn how to create branded social media-related content. Though YouTube is not affiliated with or in any communication with any summer program, such camps are on the rise, and parents with means have made them a thing.

One summer camp gaining traction is YouTube STAR Creator Studio. Located in Culver City, California, its website states that it "branches out from traditional storytelling to how to create the fun and hilarious content that kids love to watch." The camp is designed for those in first through sixth grade, according to the website, and charges $375 dollars a week. Another prominent company is Level Up, which, according to the organization, became the first company in North America to offer YouTube classes and camps when it opened five years ago. Level Up takes an educational approach toward the platform to attract kids who "want to learn how to create an awesome YouTube channel," and promises that the class will give students the "skills to create engaging videos." The topics covered in Level Up's the summer camp range from learning how to interview people, draft storyboard ideas, and source and sync audio files.
"[At our program] younger students are only able to use their parents' accounts," Level Up Founder and CEO Jeff Hughes said. "We work hard to protect the child's and parent's privacy. All of the channels and videos are set as private. All comments are disabled for safety. In addition, we have some parents who want their children to learn the skills but don't want their videos posted yet. In that case, we go through the entire creation process with the exception of uploading. We store them on a thumb drive or Google drive for the parents to bring home."

Summer Camps

By jargonburn • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
The parents should be forced to attend a Parenting summer camp. The first week of lessons can all be about how they should be parenting their child, not trying to leech off them.

Its a damn job

By Elfich47 • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
The parents are not realizing (or are in denial) that to be a paid streamer you have to: Have a subject that people are interested in, have a large potential audience, have a decent speaking voice, sound personable, be knowledgeable on the subject, have a computer (or multiple computers) that can keep up with the load of the task and the streaming, be reasonably photogenic, have someplace to set up and run your streams from, have a unique hook that reels people in and keeps them coming back, and be willing to stream 4-8 hours a day, not counting prep, editing, research or anything else that goes into producing a video show.

The streamers that actually make money work 8-10 hours a day, and don't have much of a life outside of streaming. If they aren't streaming, they are editing, prepping or doing all the other things needs to keep something like this running.

And the youtube market is saturated. Breaking out through the chaff is a long term endeavor of trial and error, refinement and improvement. Elementary school kids don't want to put in the hours for that kind of grind.

And at first through sixth grade, I can only assume the kids said "wow that's cool" and the parents signed them up (with some of the parents thinking they have the next super streamer in the family). The kids then find out it is a lot of work after a couple of months and decide to look at karate, bike riding, finger paint, playing tag. The super pushy parents are left with unused webcams and headsets saying "but you said you wanted to be a streamer" and the kid replied, "well that was last week".

Re:That is the price of most camps

By ShanghaiBill • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Training to be a youtube star? That's just stupid.

Not at all. Look at the world around you. Look at who's in the White House.

Being able to exploit and manipulate social media is probably the most important skill there is.

... signing my kid up now.

Re:That is the price of most camps

By geekmux • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

$375 for a week is cheap even if you look at it in terms of daycare. $1000 a week is less than many other summer camps.

-- It's not about the money, money, money. - Shmoop

Yeah. And $10,000 will seem cheap compared to the psychologists you're gonna have to hire by the time these kids hit puberty, after being professionally trained to be a social media narcissist and internet addict, only to find the world doesn't need more of you.

Part of the formula for winning the social media lottery (an accurate description of the chances of success) is uniqueness. Start running every wanna-be-narcissist through the same Look-At-Me Boot Camp, and the end results are likely as predictable and boring as watching the next generation of YouTubers look and act all the same.

Normally as a parent we cheer on success, but in this case, I hope dreams are crushed every day. A sense of worth should not be tied to clicks, likes, or online "friends", and yet that is exactly what we're fostering. And you wonder why kids would become damn near suicidal when those comments go viral negative, or their online popularity drops drastically.

Fuck Narcissist Boot Camp.

YouTube age limits?

By grep -v '.*' * • Score: 3 • Thread

The camp is designed for those in first through sixth grade

I thought YouTube had age limits for it's users. Hey, wait: affirm 18, or affirm over 13. Does that give YT any legal shielding for teenagers? AND, I didn't realize that children (not of-age, or below 13 in the "contract") could enter into legal contracts anyway. OTOH there's no signature, so NO PROBLEM I guess.

12. Ability to Accept Terms of Service
You affirm that you are either more than 18 years of age, Blah blah blah. In any case, you affirm that you are over the age of 13, as the Service is not intended for children under 13. If you are under 13 years of age, then please do not use the Service.

China Unveils 373 MPH Maglev Train Prototype

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
China has unveiled a new floating bullet train capable of hitting speeds of about 372 mph (600 km/h). CNN reports: On Thursday, the body prototype for the country's latest high-speed magnetic-levitation (maglev) train project rolled off the assembly line in the eastern Chinese city of Qingdao. Developed by the state-owned China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC) -- the world's largest supplier of rail transit equipment -- the sleek-looking train is scheduled to go into commercial production in 2021 following extensive tests. Maglev trains use magnetic repulsion both to levitate the train up from the ground, which reduces friction, and to propel it forward. The project was co-created by Shanghai Maglev Transportation Development Co. Ltd., a German Consortium consisting of Siemens AG, Thyssen Transrapid GMBH and Transrapid International GMBH. "Take Beijing to Shanghai as an example -- counting preparation time for the journey, it takes about 4.5 hours by plane, about 5.5 hours by high-speed rail, and [would only take] about 3.5 hours with [the new] high-speed maglev," said CRRC deputy chief engineer Ding Sansan, head of the train's research and development team, in a statement. For comparison, current trains on the Beijing-Shanghai line have a maximum operating speed of about 217 mph (350 km/h).

Almost makes me want to move to China

By Major_Disorder • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
I take the train to work 5 days a week, but it sure doesn't hit these speeds. I once saw just over 90KMH on my GPS while I was on my way home from work. This could cut my 1.5 hour commute down to 30 minutes.

In Capitalist USA

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 3, Insightful • Thread

Train rides you to work... Seriously, we will never have anything remotely this cool here, because Republicans can only cut taxes for the wealthy while making the middle class pay for everything else.

The big U.S. infrastructure project

By techdolphin • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Meanwhile, what is the big U.S. infrastructure project? An unnecessary freaking wall along our southern border.

Re:In Capitalist USA

By LynnwoodRooster • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
A big chunk of that speed is that China owns all the property. At best, you get a 75 year lease which can be terminated at-will by the Chinese Government. And most of these HSR lines in China are in the flats, along the Eastern seaboard. So it's essentially free land that is flat and easy to transit. Add in forced sales and price controls, and pretty lax environmental and worker regulations, and you can build things right-quick!

Re:In Capitalist USA

By Cyberax • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
Except it takes at least 30 minutes to go through security and boarding, then another 5-10 minutes of taxiing and then another 10-15 minutes to get to the cruising altitude. Then at the end of the flight it's another 10 minutes of flying around the airport and another 5-10 minutes of taxiing.

I regularly fly SEA-SFO and SFO-LAX and the effective speed from the moment the boarding process is started to the moment I go out of the plane is about 350 mph from SEA to SFO and just measly 200 mph for SFO-LAX. And never mind that the airports are usually another 20-30 mins driving from anything interesting.