the unofficial Slashdot digest for 2015-Oct-12 today archive

NASA Chief Says Ban On Chinese Partnerships Is Temporary

Posted by samzenpusView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader writes: Current head of NASA Charles Bolden has spoken out against the 4-year-old ban on collaborating with China. According to Bolden working with the Chinese is vital to the future of space exploration. Reuters reports: "The United States should include China in its human space projects or face being left out of new ventures to send people beyond the International Space Station, NASA chief Charles Bolden said on Monday. Since 2011, the U.S. space agency has been banned by Congress from collaborating with China, due to human rights issues and national security concerns. China is not a member of the 15-nation partnership that owns and operates the station, a permanently staffed research laboratory that flies about 250 miles (400 km) above Earth, but Bolden says working China will be necessary in the future."

NASA needs another vendor

By mschaffer • Score: 3 • Thread

NASA needs another vendor (now that Russia and the US aren't on the best terms) for heavy lifting.
So, why not work with another country with questionable politics?

Re:abysmal human rights records

By drinkypoo • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Yeah, they should torture its citizens the way we do it (solitary confinement) and manipulate politics the way we do it (through the media, and institutionalized vote fraud) and oppress only the minorities we oppress, etc. etc.

I mean, I'm with you on China, but we should clean our own house first

Re:abysmal human rights records

By AmiMoJo • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Maybe the US should stop torturing people, oppressing certain minority groups, fix the corruption in its politics etc. All countries have problems, and one of the best ways to address them is to work with them on neutral projects like space exploration so that there can be a cultural exchange. All the time the two cultures are seen as incompatible and unable to work together, it is easy to reject ideas about human rights as something western and non-universal.

Re:abysmal human rights records

By allcoolnameswheretak • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Unfortunately this is not butthurt, apologetic behaviour. There is some truth to that.
In other developed countries, e.g. Western Europe, we didn't torture people (waterboarding, electrocution, solitary confinement). We don't have an extrajudicial concentration camp for "terrorists" where innocent people are being held for years without hope of justice (Guantanamo). We don't have police killing minorities on a regular basis. We don't bomb and declare war on other nations, spreading chaos and desaster across whole regions, at the whim of a leader (GW Bush's illegal war in Iraq). We are not involved in a huge, paranoid mass surveillance scheme against everyone and everything, including our own citizens...

China has the goods on Mr Bolden

By mnemotronic • Score: 3 • Thread
Your friendly neighborhood Chinese govt has the background info on many US govt employees. Just for a sec, suppose there is something in there that, if leaked to the public at large, could cause embarrasment for Mr. Bolden and subsequently for NASA. Suppose the friendly Chinese govt contacted Mr. Bolden and "requested" his assistance in promoting cooperation between the US and the friendly Chinese govt. Just a crazy theory. Obviously cant be true. The friendly Chinese govt are everyones bestest friend in the whole world.

British Police Stop 24/7 Monitoring of Julian Assange At Ecuadorian Embassy

Posted by samzenpusView on SlashDotShareable Link
Ewan Palmer writes with news that police are no longer guarding the Ecuadorian Embassy where Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been taking refuge for the past three years. According to IBTImes: "London police has announced it will remove the dedicated officers who have guarded the Ecuadorian Embassy 24 hours a day, seven days a week while WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange seeks asylum inside. The 44-year-old has been holed up inside the building since 2012 in a bid to avoid being extradited to Sweden to face sexual assault charges. He believes that once he is in Sweden, he will be extradited again to the US where he could face espionage charges following the leaking of thousands of classified documents on his WikiLeaks website. Police has now decided to withdraw the physical presence of officers from outside the embassy as it is 'no longer proportionate to commit officers to a permanent presence'. It is estimated the cost of deploying the officers outside the Embassy in London all day for the past three years has cost the British taxpayer more than $18m."

Re:18 million for someone that was NEVER Charged?!

By dunkelfalke • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

For skipping bail actually.

Re:Yeah, makes perfect sense...

By allcoolnameswheretak • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Why does every piece of crap the government does always cost millions? What's the salary of a police officer? Lets be generous and for easy calculation say 100k in London. Say you have three police officers involved (2 in a car, monitoring, one in the office) working 8 hour shifts, so you need three shifts, meaning 9 police officers, lets make that 10.

10 police officers for 100k a year is a million bucks. How does it cost EIGHTEEN times as much? Give another million for the cars and surveillance equipment, office work, whatever. How are the other 16 million justified?

Re:It's a TRAP!

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Personally, I don't think the Swedish police would just hand him over to the Americans - the Scandinavian countries have demonstrated several times in the past that they don't simply roll over when the States tell them to.

Scandinavian here (Denmark)... I think you put way too much trust in our governments. Maybe Norway is still willing to stand up for themselves (they can afford it), but Denmark and Sweden tends to roll over when the US says so. Examples: Both Denmark and Sweden are EU members, and thus fall under the EU privacy directive. Yet, both countries are actively supplying information to the US. Or take the pirate bay. The founders got convicted, even though until the case, none of the lawyers sending DMCA notices to the pirate bay could come up with a Swedish law they were breaking. Not even the one Swedish university complaining about pirated books could find such a law. Yet, they all got convicted, including they guy whose only job function was speech (as in "freedom of") - the spokesperson for TPB.

Re: Gift Horse

By Dereck1701 • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Yeah, the US government has never done anything crazy like abducting someone off the the streets, flying them to a foreign country black site for a little torture, and them realizing "oops, we grabbed the wrong guy" so lets dump him in the countryside another foreign country, oh wait.................

Re:It's a TRAP!

By flink • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Perhaps. But it's also true that a country might refuse to guarantee it won't do something it has no intention of doing because it considers the demand an affront to its sovereignty.

Or it might be that the ambassador has no legal authority to make such a guarantee. For example, if a country has a with no death penalty has a law not to extradite criminals to countries where they may be executed, it might refuse to extradite a person wanted for a capitol crime to the US. If it's not a federal charge, and assuming the state in question has a death penalty, our ambassador wouldn't be able to promise much: he has no constitutional authority to tell the state DA what to do.

Ion-Based Data Allows Atom-Sized Storage Cells Similar To Brain Structure

Posted by samzenpusView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader writes: Researchers in Germany have developed a method of writing data with ions and retrieving it with electrons that opens the path for atom-sized storage devices which are similar to structures found in the human brain. The Nanoelectronic group at Kiel University joined the Ruhr Universitat Bochum to seek alternatives to conventional memory technologies, which involve the displacement of electrons by applying voltage, but which promise little more advance in terms of capacity or form-factor. The new technique is based on electrical resistance using a solid ion conductor.

Basically, a refinement of the memristor

By slew • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

In conclusion, a double barrier memristive device was realized with a highly uniform current distribution for the high and low resistance states, which indicates a non-filamentary based resistive switching mechanism. We have shown evidence that the use of an ultra-thin NbxOy solid state electrolyte layer of 2.5nm sandwiched between an Au (Schottky) contact and an Al2O3 tunneling barrier restricts the resistive switching mechanism to interfacial effects where both barriers are involved. This may lead to the observed drastically improved retention characteristic compared to the single barrier Schottky contact devices and may be based on confined oxygen ion diffusion within the sandwiched NbxOy layer.

nothing to do with brain structure

By iggymanz • Score: 3 • Thread

Final paragraph makes nebulous claim about highly parallel low power devices being able to do tasks the human brain can.......this has zero to do with any process or structure found in the human or any other animal brain.

Re:Memory like brain structure?

By Bozzio • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

What you're describing is the behaviour of our memory at a high level of abstraction. The comparison made by the article refers to how our memory works at the "bare metal" level. At this lowest level of data retention there is no processing. It's simply storage and retrieval. Redundancy is probably the next level up and then probably several layers of processing.

Google Releases Improved Cardboard SDK and Adds Street View

Posted by samzenpusView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader writes: Google announced that its Cardboard VR app is now available in 39 languages and 100 countries for both iOS and Android. "With more than 15 million installs of Cardboard apps from Google Play, we're excited to bring VR to even more people around the world," Google Software Engineer Brandon Wuest wrote in a blog post. You can also now explore Google Street View in Cardboard with the Street View app.

Re:It seems like paper products...

By slazzy • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
I think they want to encourage growth, and ideas within the VR area, and to do that quickly you need to make it cheap, accessible and easy to ship.

Re:How does this cheap VR compare?

By rwa2 • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Had a demo from one of the Oculus devs this weekend.

It's a tough call. They're both very immersive, and I'd even go so far as to say that if I didn't know what to look for, I wouldn't be able to pick out the differences qualitatively. I wouldn't go so far as to say the "cheap" VR is giving VR a bad rep, though, you can get your rocks off either way. It will be more of a challenge with the smartphone-based VR, but it's "good enough".

All of my panoramic and photosphere shots are available on my Nexus 5, and it's pretty amazing to revisit those places in Google Cardboard, even though it's not even stereoscopic 3D. The best 3D app I've seen so far is the Titans of Space , but a couple of the other demos are cute enough to be interesting. It's definitely quite usable and much more compelling than experiencing this content without Cardboard. Everyone I've shown it to is pretty amazed.

That said, the Oculus Rift experience is very cool, and you can really appreciate the extra fidelity. I did the Gears of War slow-mo teaser and The Hobbit dragon liar, and the increased resolution and head tracking does make it much more immersive. You can crouch down behind things, and bob and weave your head and try to "eat" bits of debris floating around in space. People are definitely going to get hurt, since they really get to use their head as a controller. This feature is amazing, and the "hard core" crowd will definitely build Oculus setups for themselves, but I don't think it will go mainstream for some time. There were a few times I wandered out of range of the hi-fidelity IR head tracking camera, and I barely noticed other than the quick jolt I get when going in and out of its view. I think the accelerometer sensors on board the Oculus and the Smartphone-based VR are decent enough. I didn't spend a whole lot of time in it, but I didn't experience any vertigo... I don't experience any vertigo with Cardboard either. I think people are either able to adjust or they aren't... sure maybe the Oculus induces less headaches after prolonged use because of the better head tracking and latency, but I don't think it'll be that huge of a difference for people who are predispositioned to get nauseated or no. There also seems to be focus issues that will confound people who don't bother to position the Oculus on their heads just right... there was a lot of fussing around for everyone to adjust all the straps just right, whereas Cardboard is much easier to just hold up to your face and go and share (maybe with those removable forehead strips to absorb facial oils)

The dev also had a nice Samsung VR headset. It was a bit nicer than Cardboard and had the little trackpad on the side, but it didn't add considerably to the enjoyment. The $15 Cardboard is good enough on the low end to experience most of what's out there. I see people using lots of Cardboard for shared VR experiences for the whole family... I don't know many people who have multiple beefy gaming PCs, but just about everyone and their dog has a half-decent smartphone.

That said, I'm certainly going to get an Oculus setup when they come out, because I'm that kind of guy (but not enough of that kind of guy to get the DK2). I'll probably also have to upgrade my elderly Geforce 560Ti before then, though, so it's going to set me back plenty. In the meantime, by all means get a $15 Cardboard to go with your current smartphone. Plenty of decent content is already there, and more is always on the way. It's a great time for VR no matter what your equipment.

Hi-Tech Body Implants and the Biohacker Movement

Posted by samzenpusView on SlashDotShareable Link
szczys writes: Body modification has been growing in popularity. It's pretty common to see people with multiple piercings or stretched earlobes (called gauging). With this wider acceptance has risen a specific subset of Biohacking that seeks to add technology to your body through implants and other augmentation. The commonly available tech right now includes the addition of a magnet in your fingertip, or an RFID chip in your hand to unlock doors and start your car. Cameron Coward looked into this movement — called Grinding — to ask what it's like to live with tech implants, and where the future will take us.

Re:Not so high tech

By ShanghaiBill • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Or making some drug or device that actually enhances the human condition.

My father-in-law has an implant that improves his hearing. My wife has a eye lens enhancer that greatly improves her vision. I also had a vision enhancement device, but then I had LASIK, so I no longer need it.

Just No.

By Frosty Piss • Score: 3 • Thread

I'm sure the tattoo / piercing shops are all over this, we have seen people that have had "horns" implanted in their scalp.

But I'm sorry, when I need a joint implant or some other othapeadic thing in my body to function, I'm not interested in some home-brew design executed on some 3D printer "god knows where".

RFID implants aside, just about all the other ideas scare the hell out of me. There *will* be a down side, and when your implant goes south, do you plan on taking some random tattoo joint to court to pay for the loss of whatever it is you lose?

These people do not carry malpractice insurence, and it's unlikly they could get it.

Re:Not so high tech

By PopeRatzo • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

And no, splitting a tongue in half so you can move both muscles at the same time is not an 'enhancement'.

My wife disagrees.

Re:This is how the Borg get their start

By PopeRatzo • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

How much longer before you get your iPhone embedded in your head?

Funny that you mention that. Last night at the theater, there was a guy who kept getting texts on his iPhone during the movie. I was thinking of how much longer before I embedded his iPhone in his head. His girlfriend finally took his phone away and turned it off. I thanked her on the way out.

Re:Not so high tech

By Fear the Clam • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

I have an artificial device implanted in my abdomen that performs the function of my failed kidneys. It's powered by my own metabolic processes and has the potential to work maintenance free for decades. It's also totally open source.

Why NASA Rejected Lockheed Martin's Jupiter For Commercial Resupply Services 2

Posted by samzenpusView on SlashDotShareable Link
MarkWhittington writes: Recently, NASA rejected Lockheed Martin's bid for a contract for the Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS-2) program as being too expensive. CRS-2 is the follow-on to the current CRS program that has SpaceX and Orbital Systems sending supplies to the International Space Station. Motley Fool explained why the aerospace giant was left behind and denied a share of what might be $14 billion between 2018 and 2024. In essence, Lockheed Martin tried to get the space agency to pay for a spacecraft that would do far more than just take cargo to and from the International Space Station.

Reminds Me of This "Parable"

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 4, Funny • Thread


Once upon a time, in a kingdom not far from here, a king summoned two of his advisors for a test. He showed them both a shiny metal box with two slots in the top, a control knob and a lever.
"What do you think this is?"

One advisor, an engineer, answered first. "It is a toaster," he said.

The king asked, "How would you design an embedded computer for it?"

The engineer replied, "Using a four-bit microcontroller, I would write a simple program that reads the darkness knob and quantizes its position to one of 16 shades of darkness, from snow white to coal black. The program would use that darkness level as the index to a 16-element table of initial timer values. Then it would turn on the heating elements and start the timer with the initial value selected from the table. At the end of the time delay, it would turn off the heat and pop up the toast. Come back next week, and I'll show you a working prototype."

The second advisor, a computer scientist, immediately recognized the danger of such short-sighted thinking. He said, "Toasters don't just turn bread into toast, they are also used to warm frozen waffles. What you see before you is really a breakfast food cooker. As the subjects of your kingdom become more sophisticated, they will demand more capabilities. They will need a breakfast food cooker that can also cook sausage, fry bacon, and make scrambled eggs. A toaster that only makes toast will soon be obsolete. If we don't look to the future, we will have to completely redesign the toaster in just a few years.

With this in mind, we can formulate a more intelligent solution to the problem. First, create a class of breakfast foods. Specialize this class into subclasses: grains, pork and poultry. The specialization process should be repeated with grains divided into toast, muffins, pancakes and waffles; pork divided into sausage, links and bacon; and poultry divided into scrambled eggs, hard-boiled eggs, poached eggs, fried eggs, and various omelet classes.

The ham and cheese omelet class is worth special attention because it must inherit characteristics from the pork, dairy and poultry classes. Thus, we see that the problem cannot be properly solved without multiple inheritance. At run time, the program must create the proper object and send a message to the object that says, 'Cook yourself'. The semantics of this message depend, of course, on the kind of object, so they have a different meaning to a piece of toast than to scrambled eggs.

Reviewing the process so far, we see that the analysis phase has revealed that the primary requirement is to cook any kind of breakfast food. In the design phase, we have discovered some derived requirements. Specifically, we need an object-oriented language with multiple inheritance. Of course, users don't want the eggs to get cold while the bacon is frying, so concurrent processing is required, too.

We must not forget the user interface. The lever that lowers the food lacks versatility and the darkness knob is confusing. Users won't buy the product unless it has a user-friendly, graphical interface.

When the breakfast cooker is plugged in, users should see a cowboy boot on the screen. Users click on it and the message 'Booting UNIX v. 8.3' appears on the screen. (UNIX 8.3 should be out by the time the product gets to the market.) Users can pull down a menu and click on the foods they want to cook.

Having made the wise decision of specifying the software first in the design phase, all that remains is to pick an adequate hardware platform for the implementation phase. An Intel 80386 with 8MB of memory, a 30MB hard disk and a VGA monitor should be sufficient. If you select a multitasking, object oriented language that supports multiple inheritance and has a built-in GUI, writing the program will be a snap. (Imagine the difficulty we would have had if we had foolishly allowed a hardware-first design strategy to lock us into a four-bit microcontroller!)."

The king had the computer scientist thrown in the moat, and they all lived happily ever after.

Horrible Article

By gman003 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

So half of it sounds like Lockheed Martin whining that they lost the contract, even though as the biggest aerospace company they should have won. The writer either changed his mind halfway through and decided they deserved the loss, or just copied the first half verbatim from Lockheed Martin's press release.

The other half is based on ignoring the word "development". Sure, the marginal cost to send a pound of stuff to space is about $10K. The cost to design a system to do so is considerably greater, particularly when you're developing not one, but three systems, for redundancy.

And then he caps it off with "maybe we should just build a space elevator?", like the only reason we haven't done so is because it would cost too much, and certainly not because of the immense engineering challenges.

This article is just a poor, unsubtle advert

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 3, Insightful • Thread

It's a crappy article. It says that Lockheed Martin should have "by all rights" won the contract, even though it then admits that their bid was the highest and was just a way to get NASA to fund their own private goal to build a space tug, which NASA doesn't want and can't afford. And then to bring up a space elevator as though it's a reasonable, inexpensive alternative? What in the hell?

Of course, it caps off with this, and it's then obvious that they just spent a couple minutes summarizing articles from other sites so they could add in their own advertising to it:

The next billion-dollar iSecret
The world's biggest tech company forgot to show you something at its recent event, but a few Wall Street analysts and the Fool didn't miss a beat: There's a small company that's powering their brand-new gadgets and the coming revolution in technology. And we think its stock price has nearly unlimited room to run for early-in-the-know investors! To be one of them, just click here.

Wow, it's just like a good 30% of the spam I regularly get.

Mission Creep

By EnsilZah • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

I like the idea of a space tug that can refuel and move satellites in orbit, but this role seems to be at odds with bringing cargo to the ISS which is the goal of the CRS(2) contracts.

From what I understand the plan goes like this: On the first flight Jupiter (the tug) and Exoliner (the cargo vessel) go up together, once they are in orbit Jupiter adjusts the orbit to reach the ISS, after the cargo is offloaded and garbage is loaded Jupiter puts Exoliner on a path to burn up in the atmosphere while it itself stays in orbit to pick up the next Exoliner that's launched alone, as well as other tug duties.

So the problem as I see it is this:
For a tug you'd probably want a much more efficient ion drive to avoid refueling often, fuel boiling off and the like, you probably want the robotic arm that grabs on to wayward satellites.

For supply deliveries you probably want liquid engines because some of the supplies and experiments are perishable and can't afford to wait the weeks or months it would take an ion engine to boost them to ISS orbit.
And the grabby arm is redundant mass because the ISS has its own arm that's quite proficient at berthing other vehicles like the Dragon or Cygnus.

So it looks like a compromise of design that's intended to get NASA to pay with the cargo delivery contract for unrelated functionality.

Re:Horrible Article

By Virtucon • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

It's funny how government contract awards go. Losers whine and if the RFP hasn't been properly documented, vetted and scored then bidders can and have overturned decisions. It can even wind up in court based on federal procurement laws. In some cases fraud or collusion is involved while in others despite having an open process, a selected bidder can have an easier path through the process. The latter being the collusion part. For example a department writes an RFP and it goes out to bid for a new computer system that must be natively compatible with IBM's iSeries. Let's count how many bidders there may be.

This is how you get overly priced items built for the government. It drowns in paper and bureaucracy including the annual "spend the budget" fun of summer where government agencies spend unused money on anything and everything because they don't want to risk the upcoming fiscal year budget. Rather than waving or giving the budget back to the treasury they'll spend it on anything they can.

In reading the TFA it sounds like Lockheed did indeed come up with an overpriced system that had features that NASA didn't want. In reasonable cases that'd be it but all of the government contractors, not just aerospace, know how to game the system to the determent of all US taxpayers. It'll be fun to see if this gets dragged out. Fortunately there's two years until the next contract period and if Lockheed ultimately wins, the current contract holders will probably get paid at an escalated rate to deliver resupply missions because it'll be in their contracts as well since it's outside the agreed upon contract duration.

Can a New Type of School Churn Out Developers Faster?

Posted by samzenpusView on SlashDotShareable Link
Nerval's Lobster writes: Demand for software engineering talent has become so acute, some denizens of Silicon Valley have contributed to a venture fund that promises to turn out qualified software engineers in two years rather than the typical four-year university program. Based in San Francisco, Holberton School was founded by tech-industry veterans from Apple, Docker and LinkedIn, making use of $2 million in seed funding provided by Trinity Ventures to create a hands-on alternative to training software engineers that relies on a project-oriented and peer-learning model originally developed in Europe. But for every person who argues that developers don't need a formal degree from an established institution in order to embark on a successful career, just as many people seem to insist that a lack of a degree is an impediment not only to learning the fundamentals, but locking down enough decent jobs over time to form a career. (People in the latter category like to point out that many companies insist on a four-year degree.) Still others argue that lack of a degree is less of an issue when the economy is good, but that those without one find themselves at a disadvantage when the aforementioned economy is in a downturn. Is any one group right, or, like so many things in life, is the answer somewhere in-between?

Re:Stupid people getting a stupid certification

By shaitand • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Correction. Anything you can learn about software engineering you can learn without going to school in the first place and the theory is best learned and reviewed and re-learned organically alongside practical experience.

Take two software engineers and set them side-by-side. One with a four year degree and one with four years of self-study/work experience. Ask them to devise, implement, deploy, and test a solution to a real problem you are having and don't yet know the answer to. That four year student will be lost. They've never learned that in the real world nobody else knows how to do their job, nobody provides you all the information or the tools necessary to solve the problem like in a lab or even knows what that would be. In the classroom your problems are presented in a progression that implies what you've studied recently is what will be required to answer them. In fact, in the classroom solving a problem without using what was just taught (and thereby demonstrating you've learned it) will often penalized. There are no such hints or clues in the real world. The self-study engineer will immediately set out figuring out what he's going to need and how to go about finding and getting it just like he has done with every challenge for the last four years.

That said I think going to a university AFTER 4-8 years of self-study and experience would be a very valuable experience. By that point you have a context and mental framework to put all that organized and spoon fed material into and you'd get a lot more out of it.

Re:Code monkey

By plopez • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

"If you choose quantity over quality you get neither"


Re:Stupid people getting a stupid certification

By uncqual • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Although it's likely that if you ask both of these developers to develop an efficient algorithm/data structure to do something novel, the one with the traditional four year degree is more likely to come up with a better solution -- and that will likely remain true for the remainder of their careers. The four year degree developer will likely be "caught up" with the self-taught one (given the same base intellectual capabilities of course) within two years and then always be ahead.

There are, of course, exceptions.

Re: Stupid people getting a stupid certification

By Pseudonym Authority • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
That's a good thing. We don't need more useless code monkeys who think making shiny webapps in CSS+JS+HTML is computer science. You don't need calculus to be a programmer, but you'll probably be a shitty programmer if it was too hard for you. Is being a well rounded human being really too much to ask? If you want to learn a trade, be a plumber. Anything having to do with science or math is not served by people who think learning anything is a waste of time.

Side note: this article presupposes that pumping out more developers is a good thing. I'm not convinced it is. Quality over quantity.

Re:Stupid people getting a stupid certification

By Bengie • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
I'd be more interested to see a comparison of a 4 years CS grad with another 4 years of work experience up against someone with 8 years of work experience.

Star Trek: New Voyages, The Fan-Based Star Trek Series

Posted by samzenpusView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader writes: The New York Times has published an article on Star Trek: New Voyages, a fan production that's based on TOS. “People come from all over the world to take part in this — Germany, the United Kingdom, Australia and every state in the union,” said James Cawley, the show’s executive producer. “That’s the magic of Star Trek. It’s spawned this whole generation of fans who went on to professional careers — doctors, lawyers, engineers — who are now participating in that shared love here.” With TOS fans generally being less than enamored with the movie reboots, are fan produced web series the wave of the future?

Site Streams Slow to begin with...

By The Infamous TommyD • Score: 3 • Thread

and now Slashdot.

Seriously, love this reboot series. Worth the buffering every time!

5 Eps on the website

By BrookHarty • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

I just watched the 5 eps on the website over the last week, very enjoyable, even if fan made. They even had them in HD.

I really wish we had a star trek series on tv, over the last year I re-watched DS9, last year I re-watched Voyager. I finished the Stargate Series last month.

The state of sci-fi on tv really sucks right now.

The relevant commentary

By fyngyrz • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

McCoy: It's dead, Jim.
Spock: Fascinating.
Scott: I cannae get ye any mor power!
Rand: [flashes legs, wiggles]
Uhura: Transmission lost, sir.
Chekov: It's a Russian invention.
Sulu: Captain, stay away from the controls! If you touch them, we'll be destroyed!
Kirk: There’s another way to survive (proceeds to write TekWar)


By ArchieBunker • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Try watching Andromeda. I always wrote it off without watching but ended up really enjoying it. Tyr was everything the Klingons should have been. True enlightened warriors instead of playing politics.

Bernie Sanders Comes Out Against CISA

Posted by samzenpusView on SlashDotShareable Link
erier2003 writes: Sen. Bernie Sanders' opposition to the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act in its current form aligns him with privacy advocates and makes him the only presidential candidate to stake out that position, just as cybersecurity issues loom large over the 2016 election, from email server security to the foreign-policy implications of data breaches. The Senate is preparing to vote on CISA, a bill to address gaps in America's cyberdefenses by letting corporations share threat data with the government. But privacy advocates and security experts oppose the bill because customers' personal information could make it into the shared data.


By ravenscar • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

I'd agree with JFK being debatable. I'd say Jimmy Carter wasn't a sellout. Few would call his presidency successful, but few would call him a sellout.

Re:Just what we need..

By PRMan • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
The bailouts should have COME WITH Antitrust legislation and a breakup. Especially since the reason we bailed them out is that they are "Too big to fail".

Re:impressed again.

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Weird times we live in when the only real American running for President is a socialist.


By bobbied • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

I can detect almost zero correlation between presidential candidates' campaign promises, and how they'll act once in office.

That's actually VERY true. Candidates from BOTH parties will SAY anything to be elected and what they say has largely been "focus grouped" to death. They study the exact phrases being used on the stump, weasel word their way though the mine field of diverse opinions, letting you believe what you *want* to hear without actually having said it.

HOWEVER.... There are two fairly reliable indicators of what candidates will do when they take office. First is their associations. Who where they associated with during their lives, what kind of people do they hang out with and feel most comfortable with, who are their long standing friends? Second, what have they done in the past? What did they vote for, what did they not, what types of things have they done with their lives in the past?

But your primary way to tell your candidate isn't really "on board" with what's being said is when they use weasel wording on an issue. The candidate will use similar words and phrases ALL THE TIME when they are trying to thread the needle on some hot topic. If you hear this, if you hear these pat sayings and phrases which are highly parsed and usually meaningless when you pay attention to what's actually said, be warned, they are trying to snow you...

Re:impressed again.

By NoKaOi • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Weird times we live in when the only real American running for President is a socialist.

You probably think that's weird because you don't know what a Democratic Socialist is. When Republicans or Hillary supporters talks about socialism, they're really talking about a different form of socialism - where everything is under control of the government - but then confuse you into thinking that's the type of socialist Bernie is. Democratic socialism is about making things fair (people making millions per year don't pay lower tax rate than their janitor) and economically secure (making sure you have access to medical care, enough to eat, housing, access to education etc without having to work 80 hours per week and not being able to save any money for retirement).

Coming out against CISA shows this. CISA is about more government control. If Bernie was the type of socialist that Republicans and Hillary want you to think he is, he would be strongly in favor of CISA. Hillary and Republicans, conversely, are in favor of CISA. Isn't that pretty much the epitome of irony?

The Pepsi P1 Smartphone Takes Consumer Lock-In Beyond the App

Posted by samzenpusView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader writes: On the 20th of October Pepsi will launch its own smartphone in China. The P1 is not just a cowling brand, but a custom-made device running Android 5.1 and costing approximately $205. At that price it's almost a burner, but even so it represents new possibilities for a brand to truly control the digital space for its eager consumers in a period where mobile content-blocking is becoming a marketing obstruction, and where there is increasing resistance on Google's part to allow publishers to push web-users from the internet to 'the app'.

Re:"At that price it's almost a burner"

By Fwipp • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

I bought my phone new for $80 a year ago, and I didn't even have to look hard for it. 2013 Moto G. This year's model (just came out) is $180; the Moto E is even cheaper, $120. You can save more money by buying it from a carrier (still unlocked, no obligation to use with that carrier). They aren't the only company making cheap Android phones, either.

There's also a whole bunch of cheap Windows phones out there.

When did they rebrand months?

By wonkey_monkey • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

On the 20th of October Pepsi

How much did that pay to rename that?

That reminds me, though, not long until Thanksgiving in November-Facebook. Then I'll have to start thinking about buying Christmas gifts before the 25th of December-Coca-Cola...

Re:"At that price it's almost a burner"

By mopower70 • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

"In the 1%" means you make $32,400 a year.


I personally sit in the top 0.38%.

Now you're just being pedantic. "The 1%" was a phrase popularized by the Occupy Wall Street movement, and refers almost exclusively to wealth inequity in America. The median income for the cohort to which the phrase "The 1%" refers is $400,000. Global wealth has no seriously meaningful value when considered on the scale of the individual. By your metric, the average homeless person in the US will be in the top 15 - 20%.

Re:Count your teeth. 30 calories vs 150

By ColdWetDog • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Pasteurizing milk literally kills it. Whole, raw milk is shelf-stable, and perfectly safe to consume. Left too long it simply turns into cheese. Once processed however, after a mere few days it grows highly toxic mold and fungus at a rate in direct proportion to the amount of processing (whole vs 2% vs skim). Interesting, no?

Pasteurizing milk wasn't done to piss goofball foodies off. It was done as a public health measure. Look up Listeria and see if it's 'perfectly safe'.

TL;DR - read the quote from the Wikipedia article:

The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says improperly handled raw milk is responsible for nearly three times more hospitalizations than any other food-borne disease outbreak, making it one of the world's most dangerous food products.[15][16] Diseases prevented by pasteurization can include tuberculosis, brucellosis, diphtheria, scarlet fever, and Q-fever; it also kills the harmful bacteria Salmonella, Listeria, Yersinia, Campylobacter, Staphylococcus aureus, and Escherichia coli O157:H7,[17][18] among others.

It runs on Pepsi

By Gliscameria • Score: 3 • Thread
Notice, no battery specs! Why? Because it runs on Pepsi! Requires 10oz for a recharge that lasts about 4 hours.

Author Joris Luyendijk: Economics Is Not a Science

Posted by samzenpusView on SlashDotShareable Link
The Real Dr John writes: A Nobel prize in economics, awarded this year to Angus Deaton, implies that the human world operates much like the physical world: that it can be described and understood in neutral terms, and that it lends itself to modeling, like chemical reactions or the movement of the stars. It creates the impression that economists are not in the business of constructing inherently imperfect theories, but of discovering timeless truths. In 1994 economists Myron Scholes and Robert Merton, with their work on derivatives, seemed to have hit on a formula that yielded a safe but lucrative trading strategy. In 1997 they were awarded the Nobel prize in economics. A year later, Long-Term Capital Management lost $4.6bn (£3bn) in less than four months; a bailout was required to avert the threat to the global financial system.

Re: Weep for humanity.

By Archangel Michael • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Great Depression wasn't traditional deflation, but rather deflationary correction to over leveraging inflation during the 20's.

Deflation causes savings to skyrocket, where Inflation has the exact opposite, holding onto money is a net loss. Imagine people saving money while working hard when they can (20s-50) and never needing a pension if they did save money. It wouldn't matter if they earned interest or not, their wealth is growing just holding onto money.

There is a downside to deflation, and that is to the producers of the world, where costs are lost as you hold onto inventory (for long periods of time). However, we already see deflationary style micro economies such as Consumer Electronics, where old inventory is sold off at a loss.

However, a slightly deflationary currency is very good for workers, and not so good for Governments who lose control over the populace through inflationary monetary policies.

Science can't be wrong?

By JoeyRox • Score: 3 • Thread
If that's the measure by what represents science then we're in trouble.


By BenBoy • Score: 3, Insightful • Thread
Economics/Econometrics is a science, it's swindling that's an art.

Re: Weep for humanity.

By JesseMcDonald • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

In fact, the last time the US saw deflation was a period we now refer to as The Great Depression.

But not because of the deflation. The cause of the Depression was a widespread credit contraction, following an illusory boom—actually malinvestment, encouraged and masked by inflation—which resulted in a "house of cards": lots of investment profit on paper with nothing real to back it up. When the bills came due and people tried to pull "their" money out, they suddenly discovered that they didn't have nearly as much money as they thought; their savings accounts consisted mostly of IOUs from bankrupt banks. That was the cause, both of the deflation and the Depression. Deflation was merely a side-effect.

In other cases where deflation has been observed internationally, it has not been correlated with anything like the American Great Depression.

Re: Weep for humanity.

By jcr • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

If everybody knows there will be deflation then they know that if they hold on to their money it will be worth more in future.

That's what Krugman claims, but it's bullshit now, and it was bullshit when Keynes first decided to try to convince people that they were better off being robbed by central bankers diluting their money.

Here's the example that disproves the claim: Everyone knows that when it comes to electronics, next year's model is going to be better/faster/more bang for the buck than this years' model, but the electronics industry isn't starving to death because of everyone sitting on the sidelines and refusing to buy devices because they'll get more for their money in the future.

Inflation benefits governments and other profligate borrowers. Deflation benefits savers (and everyone else, to a lesser extent.)


Fenno-German 'Sea Lion' Telecom Cable Laying Begins

Posted by SoulskillView on SlashDotShareable Link
jones_supa writes: A couple of years ago, details began to unfold of a government-backed high capacity data cable between Germany and Finland, which would be routed through the Baltic Sea. The cable has now been nicknamed "Sea Lion," and the work started Monday in Santahamina coastal area, outside Helsinki. The cable was built by Alcatel Lucent and is operated by the Finnish firm Cinia Group. The Finnish government, along with the banking and insurance sector, have together invested €100M into the project. That investment is expected to pay for itself many times over once the business sector gets a boost from the new telecom jump. The new cable also makes Finland independent of the Øresund Bridge, through which all of the country's Internet traffic is currently routed, via Denmark and Sweden. Eventually the new link can reach Asia as well, via the Northeast Passage shipping route.

Nice name...

By Dutch Gun • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Someone either has a black sense of humor or doesn't remember another channel crossing operation dubbed Sea Lion.

Re:Russian mischief

By Hognoxious • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

According the the title, this isn't about Finland, it's about Fenland.

I thought that was around Peterborough?

Not mentioned, they got generous "help"

By willworkforbeer • Score: 3 • Thread
According to unnamed sources, the project got significant help from the charity, "NSAssists" who provided many critical hardware components, free of charge.
The project leader stated that, "We are so fortunate that a little-known US-based charitable foundation offered to help without even being asked."

Re:The bigger news here

By hackertourist • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Um, no. The cable being laid at the moment goes from Finland to Germany. A Northeast Passage cable would go from the other end of Finland, along the Russian coast to Japan.

When plans for the undersea link to Germany were unveiled last year, he [the minister] mused that it could one day be hooked up via Finland to another that could run under the Northeast Passage - providing a superfast data route to Asia.

Conceded, more than a data center owner, but "mused" and "one day" doesn't exactly sound like they've finalized their plans.

And another company working on undersea cables in the Arctic (working on a route from Europe via Canada to Asia) has its doubts:

The route above Russia is too long a route with little or no commercial demand. No financing would be available and there are too many ice scour issues in East Siberian Sea to make this route preferable over the Northwest Passage route.

Why Many CSS Colors Have Goofy Names

Posted by SoulskillView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader writes: Take a look at the list of named colors within the CSS Color Module Level 4. The usual suspects are there, like 'red,' 'cyan,' and 'gold,' as well as some slightly more descriptive ones: 'lightgrey,' 'yellowgreen,' and 'darkslateblue.' But there are also some really odd names: 'burlywood,' 'dodgerblue,' 'blanchedalmond,' and more. An article at Ars walks through why these strange names became part of a CSS standard. Colors have been added to the standard piece by piece over the past 30 years — here's one anecdote: "The most substantial release, created by Paul Raveling, came in 1989 with X11R4. This update heralded a slew of light neutral tones, and it was a response to complaints from Raveling's coworkers about color fidelity. ... Raveling drew these names from an unsurprising source: the (now-defunct) paint company Sinclair Paints. It was an arbitrary move; after failing to receive sanctions from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), which issued standards for Web color properties, Raveling decided to take matters into his own hands. He calibrated the colors for his own HP monitor. 'Nuts to ANSI & "ANSI standards,"' he complained."

No one uses color names

By xxxJonBoyxxx • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

No one uses color names
It's all RGB these days
No one gives a shit
Burma Shave

Some not so odd

By Nidi62 • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
"dodgerblue" of course refers to the LA Dodgers. Interestingly enough, according to Wikipedia, the color itself is not used on the uniforms of the Dodgers but is used throughout the stadium. Personally I pictured more of a darker blue than an azure because I assumed it was the color found on the uniforms, but I immediately made the connection between the color name and the baseball team.


By Darinbob • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

These colors existed before the web, no? Weren't they the same as in X Windows?


By drinkypoo • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

These colors existed before the web, no? Weren't they the same as in X Windows?

Yeah, that's what the summary almost says. You can google for rgb.txt to see more.

Re:The TL;DR

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Semi-short article summary:

X11 programmers decide that people want "easy" names because hex codes are hard. These were specifically calibrated for the DEC VT24's screen.

Later, an X11 programmer's colleagues start complaining about lacking color options in X11 (it turns out, someone does think hex codes are hard), so he adds a bunch of colors based off paint swatch names. Later that year, another programmer adds a bunch more colors with silly subjective names taken from Crayola crayons, after figuring that the use of "standard" names like "pink" or "orange" is a bad idea since monitors are calibrated wildly differently, while no one's really going to complain if "orchid" doesn't look like "orchid" on their monitor.

Much time passes. Some web browsers start using the color names for some reason that the article glosses over, but almost no websites do and it's not part of the standards. For CSS 3, W3C decides to respect that practice by codifying the colors despite much protest and little support. More time passes, someone adds a color as a memorial to the daughter of a CSS-related programmer (not sure what that means...) who had died of brain cancer.

And today? No one's actually using the damn things, everyone uses hex codes, but they're still there.

That's it. Lots of hand-waving, kind of scant details, and nothing much in the way of committees until w3c got involved.

Electoral System That Lessig Hopes To Reform Is Keeping Him Out of the Debate

Posted by SoulskillView on SlashDotShareable Link
schwit1 writes: Lessig has raised a million dollars, which is nothing to sneeze at, but he's being given the cold shoulder by the Democrats when it comes to participating in the debates. I think he's got a good argument for being included — he's certainly as serious a candidate as some of the others, and I'm hearing a lot about his campaign.

Why are they keeping Lessig out? According to Lessig, it's for the same reason he wants in: "My view is that if we can get this message [of reform] into the debate it would change the dynamics of this Democratic primary entirely. This issue framed in this way totally blows up the Democratic primary."

Hillary and Bernie, he says, are promising the moon to voters, but can't deliver. Lessig told me, "If I can get on that stage and say the rocket can't get off the ground, and we have to change this dynamic first," the narrative shifts in a way that the leading candidates can't address.


By jratcliffe • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

It is ironic that a candidate whose campaign is based on denying others the ability to speak is complaining that he is being denied the ability to speak.

Re:Coronation my ass - Hillary!'s public execution

By ColdWetDog • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

If any serving member of the armed forces had done what she did they would be living in the Fort Leavenworth bed and breakfast for years.

A certain General Patreaus might disagree with you. Now, if you were talking about just peons, then you have a point. But the double standard is enchantingly broad.


By Darinbob • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

There's no legal framework for a debate. It's all up to entertainment value and if the networks want to have a debate. Anyone can form their own debate at any time, and hope others show up.

$1 million dollars

By argStyopa • Score: 3 • Thread

You sound like Dr Evil, thinking $1 million is real money.

Overall spending, 2012 Presidential Election:
Dems: $964 million
Repubs $1.12 billion

Yes, when the amount you've raised is 1/1000 what EITHER candidate in 2012 spent, that is precisely a "sneezing at" amount. It's nothing.


By Obfuscant • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Parties are only allowed one nomination for Primary, and primaries are completely (non-partisan) open.

The PURPOSE and REASON for a primary is for the parties to select the candidate they put forward for the general election. Limit the primaries to one candidate for each party, and allow everyone to vote for anyone, and you need to explain how this differs from the general election. If you want to eliminate primaries altogether, just say so.

And that doesn't answer the question "why should Democrats be allowed to select the Republican candidate and vice versa?" Why should people who deliberately choose no party affiliation have ANY say in what candidates the parties put forward?

This means that the party must present its best candidate (and only one) at the primary.

And that candidate is selected specifically how? By the party leadership? Is that better than allowing the party members to select from the several options? I suggest that it is not, simply because it will result in people voting for the lesser of two evils where they consider even the lesser evil to be needlessly moreso than the candidate that would have won the primary -- had there been one.

Why should the American voter be forced to pay for a partisan election?

I agree. Reinstate the poll tax, and only those people who want to vote will be required to pay for it. In this case it isn't a way of keeping people from voting, it's how the election itself is funded. And then people who live in more affluent areas can choose to pay a higher poll tax to pay for more efficient voting systems while those in poorer areas get the voting system they choose to pay for. Really?

Ask Slashdot: What Non-lethal Technology Has the Best Chance of Replacing the Gun?

Posted by SoulskillView on SlashDotShareable Link
Wycliffe writes: Most cops are not out to kill someone, but when someone reaches for a cellphone or their glovebox, the cop may assumes the worst and try to protect themselves from dying. Guns are used to immobilize the target, and aren't even that good at it when a person is charging. What other potential devices could be used to protect a cop so that guns are unnecessary? Foam? Lightweight body armor? Nets? Robots? 'M.A.N.T.I.S.' paralyzing gas? Force field? What non-lethal technology out there has the best potential to be more effective at immobilizing a target and/or protecting a cop than a gun?


By flopsquad • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
There are a lot of ingredients that have gone into making the toxic brew that is modern American law enforcement. There's no way to do a sweeping reform of the system that will fix this, but some items that might help, individually or in combination:

- Laws or state/federal constitutional amendments that prohibit using criminal statutes for revenue generation (or redirect funds out of the hands of the entities that pass and enforce those statutes)

- Ending the drug war/decriminalizing possession

- Expanded training in de-escalation, legal use of force, and constitutional rights

- Demilitarization of a large proportion of each local and state law enforcement agency, excepting justifiable units (e.g., small, dedicated SWAT teams)

- Expanded protections against, and personal liability for, prosecutorial misconduct (because not all abuses have their genesis at the street level)

- Expanded mandates for body and vehicle cameras (both at the departmental and evidentiary levels); simultaneously, thoughtful limitations to unfettered sunshine law access to every minute of footage

- Community (e.g. citizen board) review of brutality complaints

- Abolishing vague "disorderly conduct"-type statutes that allow for meritless arrest-and-drop-charges-later encounters

- Financial penalty for instances of "resisting arrest," "failure to obey," or "disorderly conduct" for which no conviction/guilty plea is eventually secured

Not all of these would be appropriate for every situation. But some subset might go a long way in a lot of places.

Re:Highest Profit

By qbast • Score: 4, Funny • Thread
1) Keep your head down
2) Avert your eyes - initiating eye contact is sign of defiance and will be punished
3) If police officer deigns to address you, immediately drop on the ground face down. Delay over 50ms will be punished
4) If you think law matters and you deluded enough to assume that you have some civil rights, you are an idiot. The only source of law is a guy with a gun
5) Remember that police officer can kill you if he feels like it, and it is very unlikely he will be even indicted
6) Everything can be 'resisting arrest' - including trying to breathe when police is choking you to death or bruising officer's knuckles with your face
7) Tasering is like saying 'hello'

Here is a rough sketch of the lesson.

Re:Highest Profit

By WrongMonkey • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
The place to fight for your rights is not at the scene of the arrest. Comply with police, fight in the courts. That's the way a civil society is conducted.


By rahvin112 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Tasers are the defacto standard for inflicting pain as a punishment by the officer. It's followed in a close second place by pepper spray, though pepper spray would probably be used more if the officer wasn't also exposed to it. The beauty of it is Taser use isn't even questioned, and in most departments it's not even tracked. An officer can use a taser without any expectation of punishment for using it, even under the flimsiest of circumstances. On the other hand using their gun will net the officer desk duty and a full review. Taser use won't even get them a note in their personnel file even if they use it against an innocent person for the fun of it (though they'd probably get reprimanded if it was just for fun).

What's interesting about the #blacklivesmatter movement is that police reaction that this movement constitutes police harassment. It's apparent from this that the movement is having at least some cursory impact on policing in the form of reviews of use of force.

The hope is that one day police will be held at a minimum to the same standard you or I would be held to if we did exactly the same thing. Because there should not be a waiver for police to use force in a circumstance where the public at large couldn't use the same force. And the quickest cleanest solution to this is body cameras where the public has access to the footage such that police abuse can be used to revoke the officers certification to be a police officer with such lists shared nationally along with immediate and harsh punishment for violating the standards. If a cop shoots someone and it would be murder if you or I did it they should also be charged with murder.

Strong smelling ones

By mysidia • Score: 3 • Thread

Officers don airtight headgear, and spray a 2-liter canister of thioacetone on the suspect. That should prove most effective.

Facebook UK Paid £35m In Staff Bonuses, But Only £4,327 In Corporation Tax

Posted by SoulskillView on SlashDotShareable Link
New submitter Phil Ronan writes: After getting away with paying £0 corporate tax in 2013, Facebook UK has announced that its corporate tax payment for 2014 (total revenue: £105 million) is going to be £4,327. This is a tiny fraction of the £35 million pounds given away by the company in staff bonuses over the same period. "The share scheme was worth an average of more than £96,000 for each member of staff. Once salaries were taken into account, a British employee of Facebook received more than £210,000 on average. ... A spokesperson for Facebook said: 'We are compliant with UK tax law, and in fact in all countries where we have operations and offices. We continue to grow our business activities in the UK.' She added that all the firm’s employees paid UK income tax on their payouts."

Who Cares?

By bobbied • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

If Facebook (or any other company) paid their LEGAL tax oblation, what's the beef? If they are not cheating and breaking the rules, WHO CARES?

If a resident of the UK somehow get's the idea that Facebook *should* be paying more, then it's up to you to CHANGE THE LAW to make it fair. You guys have elections, you elect the people who write the laws, go make your case with them and insist they change the law..

I get so tired of this, "all big corporations are evil" narrative, especially for companies which are FOLLOWING THE LAW. IMHO MOST companies follow the law, both because it's good for business and because folks don't like going to jail. So can we please stop with this narrative? It's not valid.

Re:So the taxes were collected from salaries inste

By whoever57 • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Which means that anybody who complains about this as if it were depriving the UK government of money is a blithering idiot.

No, you are ignorant.

This isn't a matter of paying bonuses vs. paying corporation tax. This is a matter of accurately reporting revenue in the country where it was really earned. What is happening is that Facebook is reporting that sales made by UK-based sales people to UK-based customers (to send advertisements to UK-based computers) is earned in Ireland.

If the revenue were properly reported and the taxes paid, the bonuses would still be paid, so the income tax to the UK government would be the same.

Re: Facebook says it was just an honest mistake

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Hah that isn't hex it is scientific notation, but you knew that already didn't you?

Actually it is hex. 10e7 in hex is the same as 4327 in decimal. Even though I usually pick up on stuff like that, I have to admit that I would completely have missed this one, partly because I wasn't even trying think it might make sense in hex.

Re:So the taxes were collected from salaries inste

By aaron4801 • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
Sort of, yes.
The thing is, Facebook and other massive transnationals (Google, Apple, etc) stow their IP in a country with very low corporate tax rates (Ireland and Cayman Isl. are common), then that parent company charges huge "management fees" or other fees to use the IP in the target country (UK in this scenario). So if they projected to make an annual profit of £100m in the UK, the Irish entity would charge £100m in fees. Facebook UK now makes no profit, but Facebook Ireland makes an additional £100m. Any additional profits can be handed out as bonuses (if they're going to lose a significant portion of the money anyway, they'd rather give it to employees than the government).
This is all completely legal, and has been the bane of politicians around the world for decades. If there were an easy fix, it would have been done by now.
Of course, that's just the ELI5 version, it all gets much more complicated when used in the real world. See here for more.

Re:So the taxes were collected from salaries inste

By beelsebob • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

That would be a fair comment if they'd paid much tax over the past 4 years (the typical life span of share vesting schemes in the tech industry), but Facebook paid £0 corporation tax in the UK in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

The Payments World Really Wants To Know Who You Are

Posted by SoulskillView on SlashDotShareable Link
jhigh writes: The generation that brought us the obsession with snapping photos of their faces, uploading to social media channels, and terming it "selfies" has unknowingly encouraged the launch a new cybersecurity platform for the world. You can sum it up thus: "pay with your face." Quoting: "Socure’s Social Biometrics Platform, which is already in use by financial institutions in more than 175 countries, provides analytics, assessing information about you from other public online sources, producing a social biometric profile, matching to your photo, and generating a score to determine the authenticity of your identity. ... Whether you have an established credit history or not, the one thing most of us have, especially millennials, is an online social platform presence. Biometrics data mining for payments security also reaches the unbanked crowd, those who have healthy online histories but might not necessarily use financial institutions or carry proper government-issued credentials." This is a fitting legacy for millennials, who impart knowledge one click at a time.


By Sique • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
Ah, the Facebook fallacy: "Because some people share some private information about themselves, it's totally o.k. that some powerful organisation is entitled to all private information of all of us."

No, just because my neighbor shared some vacation pictures of him and is family, no one is entitled to my vacation pictures. And just because I posted my curriculum vitae somewhere online, no one is entitled to all the dates and facts about my neighbor's life.

I can pay with your face?

By Opportunist • Score: 3 • Thread


*grabs face, slams it against counter, drops body*

Hey, it works!


By XXongo • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

There is no such thing as "anonymous"; there is merely a spectrum from known identiy to arbitrarily strong pseudonymity, and it is possible under Bitcoin to achieve arbitrarily strong pseudonymity.

Somebody mark that insightful! This is something bitcoin enthusiasts somehow don't want to notice. Bitcoin is not an inherently anonymous currency! Every bitcoin transaction goes through the internets. Every single one. The "pseudonymous" assertion is "well, nobody would ever want to do all the datamining needed to backtrack the information and back out who bought what...."

Re:Biometrics is just silly

By XXongo • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Why do people, or should I say companies and governments, keep trying to use it ?

Because this is the way actual human beings identify each other-- by looking at each other.


By JustAnotherOldGuy • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

"Whether you have an established credit history or not, the one thing most of us have, especially millennials, is an online social platform presence."

But some old duffers like me have virtually no "online social platform presence". No Facebook, no Linkedin, no Myspace, no Pinterest, no Instagram, no Twitter....I don't have any of that stuff. I'm happy that other people like those things, more power to them. It's just not my thing.

I realize that all that stuff is super popular and widely used, but I'm just not involved in any of it, the same way I'm not involved in model railroading or bowling or football. It's just not my thing.

If this becomes the way of the future then I suppose my near-perfect credit score and ability to buy stuff will soon wither away and I'll be left homeless, cold, and hungry, living in a cardboard box by the freeway.

As I cook my freshly-caught squirrel over a piece of burning tire, I'll berate myself, crying out, "If only I had made a Facebook account when I had the chance!!!"

Charge Rage: Electric Cars Are Making People Meaner In California

Posted by samzenpusView on SlashDotShareable Link writes: Matt Richtel reports that the push to make the state greener with electric cars is having an unintended side effect: It is making some people meaner. The bad moods stem from the challenges drivers face finding recharging spots for their battery-powered cars. Unlike gas stations, charging stations are not yet in great supply, and that has led to sharp-elbowed competition. According to Richtel, electric-vehicle owners are unplugging one another's cars, trading insults, and creating black markets and side deals to trade spots in corporate parking lots. The too-few-outlets problem is a familiar one in crowded cafes and airports, where people want to charge their phones or laptops. But the need can be more acute with cars — will their owners have enough juice to make it home? — and manners often go out the window. "Cars are getting unplugged while they are actively charging, and that's a problem," says Peter Graf. "Employees are calling and messaging each other, saying, 'I see you're fully charged, can you please move your car?'"

The problem is that installation of electric vehicle charging ports at some companies has not kept pace with soaring demand, creating thorny etiquette issues in the workplace. German software company SAP installed 16 electric vehicle charging ports in 2010 at its Palo Alto campus for the handful of employees who owned electric vehicles. Now there are far more electric cars than chargers. Sixty-one of the roughly 1,800 employees on the campus now drive a plug-in vehicle, overwhelming the 16 available chargers. And as demand for chargers exceeds supply, there have been notorious incidents of "charge rage." Companies are finding that they need one charging port for every two of their employees' electric vehicles. "If you don't maintain a 2-to-1 ratio, you are dead," said ChargePoint CEO Pat Romano. "Having two chargers and 20 electric cars is worse than having no chargers and 20 electric cars. If you are going to do this, you have to be willing to continue to scale it."

Re:Hipsters fight over limited supplies of juice

By Mr D from 63 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
You can just charge for time at the charger. Time metering is cheap and easy.

Re:Hipsters fight over limited supplies of juice

By aaarrrgggh • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

It is actually done that way due to the LEED certification process for green buildings; parking spots for carpools, low emitting vehicles, and EVs need to be prime spots. Electrically they are a pain because they are 40A at 208V, which makes provisions for more than three a bit of a challenge; 480V units would be much easier to accommodate.

The shortage is just a timing issue; chargers will catch up. The problem really is that many employers provide them for free.

Re:Hipsters fight over limited supplies of juice

By operagost • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

You can't park within 1000 feet of the supermarket doors in their own parking lot now.
- 20 Handicapped spaces
- 6 "expectant mother" spaces
- 4 spaces to pickup internet orders
- 4 EV charging spaces

Re:Hipsters fight over "free stuff"

By toadlife • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Throw in traffic jams and start and stop driving while running AC and stereo, etc., and that 300 mile range drops fast.

You've got it backwards.

Stop and go driving and traffic jams are where electric cars shine the most. AC takes, at the very most 3kW; much less once the cabin is cooled down. Even at full blast, 3kW saps about 12 miles of range per hour.

EPA range numbers for electric cars are based on highway speeds. Electric cars easily get 150% of the EPA range at traffic jam speeds of 30-50 MPH.

Re:Hipsters fight over limited supplies of juice

By BronsCon • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
They run relatively thin wires all over the parking lot, 12ga to run at most 5A at 480v, assuming the longest run is 500ft. When you're pushing 208v to a device pulling 40A, at that distance you need much thicker wire, 1ga. You can walk into Lowe's and buy stranded 10ga for $0.29/ft, while stranded 1ga sells for $2.19/ft, more than 7.5x as expensive. Of course, you wouldn't buy your wire by the foot from a home improvement store for this type of project, but the price variance will be similar buying from a bulk distributor.

On the other hand, if you shorten the distance to 250ft by moving the charging spots closer to the building, you can get by on 4ga, at only a hair under 3.5x the cost of 10ga, or put the spaces right by the building and get by on 6ga, coming in at (interestingly) about the same cost per foot. But also many fewer feet.

To give some perspective, let's look at a parking lot that runs 350ft out from the building, assuming the building is 100x100ft with power distributed from the middle of the back of the building. That gives you approximately 500ft to the farthest point in the lot where you might need a light. If lights are placed evenly in 4 rows, edge to edge, they will be placed 25ft apart across the lot; we'll assume similar spacing going down the lot, giving us 4 rows of (350/25) 14 lights. Since we're "green" enough to offer charging stations, we're also green enough to use LED lights weighing in at 150W that match 500W metal halide lamps in brightness, giving us a total of 2100W per row of lights. At 480v, that's 4.375A, requiring 12ga wire for a 500ft run. Pessimistically, we need 4000ft (the two middle rows will actually be about 50ft shorter, requiring 100ft less wire each, but let's ignore that and give your position a chance to hold up), which would cost $1160 to pick up from Lowe's by the foot. That's enough wire to power all 56 lights in the parking lot.

Now, let's install one charging station in the far corner of the lot. Just one. 40A at 208V and a distance of 500ft, we need to run 500ft of 1ga wire, for a total bill of $2190 if purchased per-foot at Lowe's. And you can't daisy-chain them like the lights in each row of lot lighting; you have to run an entire cable pair for each charging station.

If you're going to put, for example, 10 stations in each row of parking, you need conduit that can hold 20 runs of 1ga wire; since that conduit will also likely be shared by the lighting wiring, it needs to be oversized so, according to NEC, 3-1/2" conduit is required in order to safely run all of this wire. I wont' bother factoring in the cost of the conduit, as I'm sure I've already made my point. If we have 4 rows of parking, and 10 charging stations per row, we're talking about 40 charging stations. If we want to put them at the far end of the lot, we're talking about nearly 40k feet of 1ga wire at a cost of nearly $88k (again, at retail, by the foot, not how you'd actually buy it; we can ignore the dollar values, but the cost multiples will be similar), or over 75x the cost of wiring all of the lighting in the parking lot.

Now, let's install our 40 charging stations in the 40 spots closest to the store. If we assume 6ft wide spots, we can put 10 right on the building, 5 on each side of the entryway, and still have 40ft for the entry. Worst case for those 10 is a 150ft run. If the spots are 10ft deep and we have a 20ft traffic lane, the next farthest charger will be at 180ft; with 4 chargers per row and keeping the 6ft spot width, we'll need 7 full rows of chargers and 1 row with chargers in the 2 middle spots. Since the edge spots on the 7th row will be farther from the power distribution point than the middle spots in the 8th row, those are our farthest distance, worst case scenario, at a distance of 216ft. At that distance, we can use 4ga wire.

In fairness, since the 500ft example treated all installed charging stations as the worst case (2x500ft of 1ga), I'll do the same here. That's 2x216ft of 4ga by 40 chargers, or 17,280ft of 4ga at $

Dell To Buy EMC For $67 Billion

Posted by SoulskillView on SlashDotShareable Link
im_thatoneguy writes: After days of rumors, the NY Times is reporting that Dell will in fact be acquiring storage company (and VMWare parent) EMC in a record $67B deal being financed by a consortium of banks. Dell has confirmed the deal on their website.

Under the deal, Dell will pay $33.15 a share, which represents a premium even on top of EMC's current value, which had already jumped on initials rumors of a $50B acquisition last week. However, insiders say the deal won't be a straight forward cash buy-out of stock holders. Instead, EMC investors will receive about 70% in cash and the remainder in what's called a Tracking Stock, which will track the performance of just the VMWare Division within the new organization.

Re:Your mortgage got you stressed?

By Drewdad • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Uh.... They H1B visa program would seem to refute this assertion.

Re:I'm glad, now, ...

By swb • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

I think the core virtualization services are tough to beat. Where I work we do both VMware and Hyper-V, and while Hyper-V is pretty close in features most of us that work with both prefer VMware -- there are just too many weird cases where Hyper-V just doesn't work right, but it is popular among cost-cutters.

Not that VMWare is bad, it is a good product, it is just really expensive, to the point where you can consider getting additional low end servers vs virtualizing them.

The problem with this is that with virtualization you get VM backup and a lot of storage efficiencies you'd never get with single servers, not to mention high availability or hardware replacement. I'm pretty sure low end licenses like Essentials Plus are still cheaper even at 3-4 VMs than additional physical hardware, especially if you have to do better than "low end servers". I'm sure there's some extreme cheapskate math that works in the more hardware method, but you sacrifice a lot of flexibility and you have to also deal with great switching port counts.

IMHO, the problem VMware has is largely that the problem of virtualization is mostly solved and it's hard to grow the business without coming up with lots of add-ons.

Will they corrupt VMware?

By swb • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

My worry about this is that Dell will corrupt VMware with hardware-specific "features".

One thing that's been kid of nice about VMware up to this point is that they have been fairly hardware agnostic, which I think improves the innovation of pure virtualization. My worry is that with Dell ownership, they will put pressure on VMware to develop features which give an advantage to Dell hardware solutions.

Maybe it'd be ultimately beneficial to further SDN or SDS, which seem hobbled by a lack of standards at the hardware interface level but I doubt such integration would be oriented at vendor-neutral public standards and more oriented towards monopoly standards.

Very interesting

By ErichTheRed • Score: 3 • Thread

So it looks like Dell is doing what HP did on the storage front -- buy up a few competitors, merge the technology with the core line, and (possibly) have a big mess while everything consolidates. HP still sells production, ready-to-buy SANs from 3 different "vendors" (HP, 3Par, LeftHand) all while folding the features into something more unified. These consolidations are messy until they're finished, and I expect EMC with all its legacy stuff will be especially hard to merge with Compellent and Equalogic.

What's more interesting is the fact that they now control VMWare. VMWare's the de facto standard for consolidation/vritualization, kind of like Java being the standard for enterprisey applications. Let's just say it would be very difficult for most large companies with on-premises hardware to move away from it. Hyper-V keeps getting more capable, but each of these big platforms has its issues. It sounds like Dell has 2 nice big cash cows -- VMWare licensing, where the vendor lock-in resembles IBM's mainframes or Microsoft Windows., plus EMC, whose reassuringly expensive storage boxes are actually unlimited ATMs connected to the customers' bank accounts. Like I posted previously, that trip through privatization must have washed away a whole lot of sins. That, or they're going into this using insane levels of debt, in which case stupid short term MBA moves might kill the company in an attempt to make the spreadsheets balance.

Some pro/cons

By grilled-cheese • Score: 3 • Thread
Dell has a history of doing a weird/terrible job at merging in company acquisitions. I'm looking at you Compellant/Equalogic, Wyse, Force10. I suspect EMC is going to be another one of those standalone assets for some time just because at the scale EMC operates, the contractual obligations to their large customers is going to make change slow.

Looking at the storage assets alone, it's a bit strange to merge 3 competing companies together when they really havn't merged the first 2 after several years. The general vibe I've gotten from other peers is to stay away from Dell Storage with a 10ft pole, but EMC hardware was pretty good for traditional storage. When looking at the EMC storage products it's relevant to note the significant differences under the hood when it comes to VNX/VMAX/Isilon coming from the old Data General acquisition in 1999 and the new XtremIO arrays which was a totally different company until 2012.

I do look forward to them eventually gutting whatever hair-brained system manages their support system. After years of working with EMC, I'm fleeing not because they make a poor product or a person does a poor job. Rather, it's because their SR management system is horrible. I shouldn't have to keep my support district manager's cell phone handy when they decide to route my SR into oblivion. I've worked with Dell for a long time as well and at least I can generally talk to a knowledgable human being without have to go through a checklist first.

From a customer account perspective I'm also hopeful. I've had my account rep change 3 times in 2 years; none of which have actually made the trip across the US to see us face-to-face. On the other hand, recently Dell has made several relationship improvements. I actually see my dell rep and his engineer 2-3 times a year. This makes a huge difference in my opinion on the sales/account team.

As a VMware customer as well, I don't see a significant difference in what will happen. EMC has generally been hands off when it comes to steering VMware. The only real advantage I've seen them take with their ownership is getting to be the first out of the gate with new VMware features, but it's not locking others out. If EMC was to take a strong hand in steering the VMware ship VSAN would never have seen the light of day and vVols would be an EMC exclusive. Likewise form VMware's perspective EVO:RAIL wouldn't have allowed any other partners to produce solutions if they weren't trying to be neutral.

I'm hoping that Dell doesn't cannibalize or kill of the EMC Twinstrata acquisition. It will also be interesting to see what Dell does with some of the other EMC assets like RSA, Pivotal, Avamar, Data Domain, the plethora of hosting solutions, Greenplum, Mozy, Watch4Net, & Iomega.

Can Star Trek's World With No Money Work In Real life?

Posted by samzenpusView on SlashDotShareable Link
The economics of the Star Trek universe were discussed at New York Comic Con on Sunday. Paul Krugman was among the panelists who debated whether a world without money could actually work. CNN reports: " Star Trek has dared to 'boldly go where no man has gone before' — including a world without money. 'One of the things that's interesting about Star Trek is that it does try to imagine a post-scarcity economy where there's no money. People don't work for it. People don't work because they have to but because they want to,' said Annalee Newitz, the editor of Gawker's io9 blog. Newitz -- along with Nobel Prize winner and economist Paul Krugman, 'Treknomics' author Manu Saadia, economics professor Brad DeLong, Fusion's Felix Salmon and Star Trek writer Chris Black -- discussed economics through the lens of the Star Trek world at a New York Comic Con panel Sunday."

Star Trek is a MILITARY service

By gavron • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Star Fleet is a conceptual futuristic military space navy. This means people are provided uniforms, living quarters, meal rations, and a function to perform. If that's the kind of thing you like it's available here on planet Earth today at your nearest military recruiting station (or the FFL if your country has none such.)

However, that's not how any of the rest of the Star Trek universe works. The Ferengi are notorious "horse" traders and they sell for gold-pressed latinum. That's a currency, and it's only one of the many currencies. Even in the original series there were traders (Harry Mudd) and crimes and criminals and evil doctors who experiment on people and fame and fortune and money.

Those who call Star Trek a utopia are conflating "not much need for cahs aboard a naval vessel" with the rest of the universe -- where it is very much in need!


Re:Unlimited Energy

By Dr_Barnowl • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

I think the resource profile associated with interstellar travel is the scarcity economy of Trek.

In TOS : dilithium was a scarcity commodity.

In TNG : probably anti-matter and Starfleet Academy graduates are the limiting factors. Honestly, how many of the comfy happy people on Earth are going to want to go to the dangerous outer space? (Creating anti-matter is incredibly expensive for us now ; even with significant improvements it's efficiency level will never be very good).

The energy requirements for a comfortable life on Earth are minuscule next to those required for interstellar travel. They don't worry about feeding the population ; they do worry about being able to build and crew enough ships to stand up against their enemies.

Once you have replicators and big fusion reactors, you can re-process all the nasty toxic waste on Earth, solve everyone's hunger problems, even have room for fancy premium goods and services like Château Picard and Sisko's Restaurant. Fusion reactors are portrayed as being insufficient to power faster than light travel though - the fuel for starships presumably represents a vast amount of energy generation capacity that is too bulky for the starship to carry.

The only goods worth trading (both locally and over interstellar distances) would be cultural curiosities like Yamok sauce and various forms of unobtanium (of which there are rather more in the Trek universe than in the real world, mostly for their use as MacGuffins and other plot devices).

Re:relative wealth

By Shadowmist • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

No, we really aren't. If anything, basic necessities in the western world are getting more expensive.

And you base this on what? Adjusted for inflation, food is cheaper than it's ever been. Luxury items (for example, smartphones, computers, big screen televisions) are affordable by basically everybody now. 100 years ago, poverty meant you were starving because you couldn't afford to eat.

Today poverty means you have a house, plenty of food, and can afford your own means of transportation (in less urbanized areas, that means owning your own car) and probably a few (though not necessarily many) luxury items. The biggest thing separating poor from rich these days is how expensive your house and/or your car is.

You base it on the fact that the costs of basic necessities is a greater percentage of a working income than it ever has been. 20 years ago, a working man could pay for his rent with one week's salary. Now on the average it costs 2 weeks or more... and that's before you've paid for other necessties such as food, utilities, and car payments and gasoline. The upscale are paying much less of a percentage... but that's only because their grab of the pie has gotten so much larger. Poverty in modern America means that you're skipping behind in health maintenance, and you're not saving for retirement because the alternative is that you and your kids don't eat. And you're more likely to either not have health insurance, or have a plan which fail you when you need it most. There is much less upward mobility than there used to be a generation ago. And while food is cheaper than it used to be... it's of a much more long-term toxic variety for the lower classes who can't afford to shop at boutique grocery stores.

The future isn't Star Trek.... it's Shadowrun.... without the magic

Re:relative wealth

By thinkwaitfast • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
All 7+ billion inhabitants of earth would easily fit into Texas, California and Montana with the population density of Seattle. Not running out of room. Also it has been estimated that there arable land in Africa alone could feed all 7+ billion people, so not running out of food either.

Re:relative wealth

By EllisDees • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Well, no. Not really.

"For the first time ever, the number of people living in extreme poverty is set to fall to below 10% of the global population in 2015, the World Bank said."

Things are better than they've ever been for the most people, ever.

Scientists Hope To Attract Millions To "DNA.LAND"

Posted by samzenpusView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader writes: Started by computational geneticist Yaniv Erlich, and geneticist Joseph Pickrell at the New York Genome Center and Columbia University in New York, DNA.Land is a project which hopes to create a crowdsourced DNA database for genetic studies. Nature reports: "The project, DNA.LAND, aims to entice people who have already had their genomes analyzed by consumer genetics companies to share that data, allowing DNA.LAND geneticists to study the information. Although some consumer genetic-testing companies share data with researchers, they provide only aggregate information about their customers, not individual genomes. Because the data are not always accompanied by detailed information on patients' health, they are of limited use for drawing links between genes and disease."

So disappointed

By persicom • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Where's The Double Helix roller coaster?

No way I'd agree to give away private data

By Rainbow Nerds • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

I read the Nature article and, frankly, it's very troubling.

Erlich has studied the potential for unmasking the identities of anonymous donors of genetic data, and the study's consent document warns participants that “we cannot guarantee that your identity and/or data will never become known, which could have significant implications in some scenarios. We estimate that the risk for such a confidentiality breach is low but not zero.” Erlich and Pickrell have adopted what they call a “skin in the game” philosophy by making their own genomes publicly available.

"Usually, genomics studies suggest discussing your decision to participate with close family members," Meyer says. "Here, genomic data is combined with parents' names and dates of birth, both identifiers, so it was surprising that there was no mention of risks to family members."

My DNA is unique to me, so there really is no anonymity to begin with. It's just not linked to my name, address, SSN, etc. This information would be a gold mine to insurance companies, doctors, pharmaceutical companies, and perhaps potential employers. There's so much potential for abuse and so little security involved. Furthermore, it doesn't seem like relatives have the option to opt out from being referenced here, which means my privacy might be at risk without my consent. Sure, it won't include my own DNA, but it's still a huge risk.

I understand the scientific value of such a data set, but there's just way too much risk involved.

They can have mine

By Behrooz Amoozad • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
They can get my DNA from my cold, dead hands.
Very seriously, They can take it when I'm dead. Privacy won't matter to me then and the data is still useful for them. probably even more useful because they now have a cause of death which means more data.
They should really consider this. Probably some sign-up process like they do for organ donors.

The History of City-Building Games

Posted by samzenpusView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader writes: If you ask most gamers, the first city-building game they played was SimCity, or some sequel thereof. Though SimCity ended up defining the genre for years, it was far from the first. This article goes through the history of city-building games. It began before man first landed on the moon: "While extremely limited in its simulation, Doug Dyment's The Sumer Game was the first computer game to concern itself with matters of city building and management. He coded The Sumer Game in 1968 on a Digital Equipment Corporation PDP-8 minicomputer, using the FOCAL programming language. David H. Ahl ported it to BASIC a few years later retitled as Hamurabi (with the second 'm' dropped in order to fit an eight-character naming limit). The Sumer Game, or Hamurabi, put you in charge of the ancient city-state of Sumer. You couldn't build anything, but you could buy and sell land, plant seeds, and feed (or starve) your people. The goal was to grow your economy so that your city could expand and support a larger population, but rats and the plague stood in your way. And if you were truly a terrible leader your people would rebel, casting you off from the throne."

Basic version == Spaghetti

By CaptainOfSpray • Score: 3 • Thread
Over the years, I have had several goes at rewriting Ham(m)urabi, in an attempt to make it comprehensible. I just wanted to be able to tweak it, and it has defeated me (got bored and gave up) every time.
The BASIC code is the most appalling spaghetti, and would make an excellent illustration for any CS student of How Not To Code.


By Osgeld • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

yea nitpicky things like "THE HISTORY OF CITY BUILDING GAMES" then states "You couldn't build anything, but you could ..."


Heres my history of FPS games, "Tennis for Two", while not first person ...

Re:Basic version == Spaghetti

By Megane • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

A few years back I re-coded the Star Trek game in C. Its lack of structure was not easy to convert, as it liked to do GOTO GAMEOVER type of stuff all over the place. It had to be changed to have a few global variables for the game state, and an outer loop to do one command/turn at a time. And then another outer loop to play the game multiple times.

BASIC's input and output was pretty free-form too, not just the control flow. I needed routines to input one or two integers or a float (sscanf just doesn't work as well as INPUT), and to print floats without those damn trailing zeros. And those line numbers everywhere, I had to create a version of the original code with all unused line numbers blanked out to see the control flow. And then there were those wonderfully descriptive two-character variable names, which I avoided changing when possible.

I should try doing more of those, and Hammurabi sounds like a nice challenge.

Summary fail

By drinkypoo • Score: 3, Informative • Thread

If you ask most gamers, the first city-building game they played was SimCity, or some sequel thereof. Though SimCity ended up defining the genre for years, it was far from the first.

Uh no. "An anonymous reader" just failed at reading comprehension. That didn't stop the submission from hitting the front page, though. Hopefully this shitty summary is the result of "editing" and not the AC's incompetence. As the article says, Simcity was the first real city-building game, because in the other games you did not build a city. You managed a city, or a civilization.

SimCity was the first city-building game. It was not the first city-managing game, but who cares about that? None of the games which preceded SimCity were anything like it.

This post brought to you by the Passionate Defenders of the Dictionary

Crush, Crumble, and Chomp

By T.E.D. • Score: 3 • Thread
Don't forget Epix's Crush, Crumble, and Chomp from 1981. It was essentially a city-building game in reverse.