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Patents

Uber Pushing For Patent On Surge Pricing 67

Posted by Soulskill
from the efficiently-separating-you-from-your-money dept.
mpicpp sends news that Uber is renewing its push for a patent on "surge pricing," the practice of increasing rider fees when many people are trying to find transportation. The system measures supply (Uber drivers) and demand (passengers hailing rides with smartphones), and prices fares accordingly. It’s one of at least 13 U.S. patent applications filed by Uber or its founders to give it an edge over potential rivals ahead of a potential initial public offering. So far, Uber hasn’t had any luck. Ten applications were initially rejected by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for “obviousness” or for covering something not eligible for protection.
Open Source

Using Your Open-Source Contributions To Land a Full-Time Job 28

Posted by samzenpus
from the getting-hired dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes So you've worked on an open-source project, and you want to leverage that experience to move your career forward. In theory, there's no reason an employer should shun your experience, just because you did the project from home on your own time. But how can you actually leverage that project contribution into a full-time gig (assuming you want one, of course)? Developer Jeff Cogswell offers some tips: First, make sure that any project you present on your resume is a good one; pointy-haired bosses have a nasty habit of attribute the less-than-stellar elements of a project to you, even if you weren't responsible for them. Second, be prepped to talk about deadlines, bug reports and fixes just as if the project were something you'd done for a job instead of just the pleasure of contributing to something cool. Those are just a few of the ways to use open source to your advantage, but others abound.
United States

North Korean Internet Is Down 267

Posted by samzenpus
from the right-back-at-you dept.
First time accepted submitter opentunings writes "Engadget and many others are reporting that North Korea's external Internet access is down. No information yet regrading whether anyone's taking responsibility. From the NYT: "Doug Madory, the director of Internet analysis at Dyn Research, an Internet performance management company, said that North Korean Internet access first became unstable late Friday. The situation worsened over the weekend, and by Monday, North Korea’s Internet was completely offline. 'Their networks are under duress,' Mr. Madory said. 'This is consistent with a DDoS attack on their routers,' he said, referring to a distributed denial of service attack, in which attackers flood a network with traffic until it collapses under the load."
Earth

Hot Springs At Yellowstone Changed Their Color Due To Tourist Activity 39

Posted by samzenpus
from the new-colors dept.
An anonymous reader writes Researchers say that the different colors of the hot springs in Yellowstone National Park are caused by human contamination. From the article: "Researchers at Montana State University and Brandenburg University of Applied Sciences in Germany have created a simple mathematical model based on optical measurements that explains the stunning colors of Yellowstone National Park's hot springs and can visually recreate how they appeared years ago, before decades of tourists contaminated the pools with make-a-wish coins and other detritus. If Yellowstone National Park is a geothermal wonderland, Grand Prismatic Spring and its neighbors are the ebullient envoys, steaming in front of the camera and gracing the Internet with their ethereal beauty. While the basic physical phenomena that render these colorful delights have long been scientifically understood—they arise because of a complicated interplay of underwater vents and lawns of bacteria—no mathematical model existed that showed empirically how the physical and chemical variables of a pool relate to their optical factors and coalesce in the unique, stunning fashion that they do."
Education

Putting Time Out In Time Out: The Science of Discipline 272

Posted by samzenpus
from the how-can-you-have-any-pudding-if-you-don't-eat-your-meat? dept.
An anonymous reader points out this story at The Atlantic about new research and approaches in the science of discipline. "At the end of a gravel road in the Chippewa National Forest of northern Minnesota, a group of camp counselors have gathered to hear psychotherapist Tina Bryson speak about neuroscience, mentorship, and camping. She is in Minnesota by invitation of the camp. Chippewa is at the front of a movement to bring brain science to bear on the camping industry; she keynoted this past year's American Camping Association annual conference. As Bryson speaks to the counselors gathered for training, she emphasizes one core message: At the heart of effective discipline is curiosity—curiosity on the part of the counselors to genuinely understand and respect what the campers are experiencing while away from home....She is part of a progressive new group of scientists, doctors, and psychologists whose goal is ambitious, if not outright audacious: They want to redefine "discipline" in order to change our culture. They want to rewrite—or perhaps more precisely said, rewire—how we interact with kids, and they want us to understand that our decisions about parenting affect not only our children's minds, but ours as well. So, we're going to need to toss out our old discipline mainstays. Say goodbye to timeouts. So long spanking and other ritualized whacks. And cry-it-out sleep routines? Mercifully, they too can be a thing of the past. And yet, we can still help our children mature and grow. In fact, people like Bryson think we'll do it better. If we are going to take seriously what science tells us about how we form relationships and how our mind develops, we will need to construct new strategies for parenting, and when we do, says this new group of researchers, we just may change the world."
Books

Amazon "Suppresses" Book With Too Many Hyphens 252

Posted by samzenpus
from the what-until-they-get-a-load-of-this dept.
An anonymous reader writes Author Graeme Reynolds found his novel withdrawn from Amazon because of excessive use of hyphens. He received an email from Amazon about his werewolf novel, High Moor 2: Moonstruck, because a reader had complained that there were too many hyphens. "When they ran an automated spell check against the manuscript they found that over 100 words in the 90,000-word novel contained that dreaded little line," he says. "This, apparently 'significantly impacts the readability of your book' and, as a result, 'We have suppressed the book because of the combined impact to customers.'"
Crime

GCHQ Warns It Is Losing Track of Serious Criminals 211

Posted by samzenpus
from the where-are-they-now dept.
An anonymous reader writes The Telegraph reports, "GCHQ has lost track of some of the most dangerous crime lords and has had to abort surveillance on others after Edward Snowden revealed their tactics ... The spy agency has suffered "significant" damage in its ability to monitor and capture serious organized criminals following the exposes by the former CIA contractor. Intelligence officers are now blind to more than a quarter of the activities of the UK's most harmful crime gangs after they changed their communications methods in the wake of the Snowden leaks. One major drug smuggling gang has been able to continue flooding the UK with Class A narcotics unimpeded for the last year after changing their operations. More intense tracking of others has either been abandoned or not started because of fears the tactics are now too easy to spot and will force the criminals to "go dark" and be lost sight of completely."
Earth

How a Massachusetts Man Invented the Global Ice Market 78

Posted by samzenpus
from the keeping-it-cool dept.
An anonymous reader writes with the story of Frederic Tudor, the man responsible for the modern food industry. "A guy from Boston walks into a bar and offers to sell the owner a chunk of ice. To modern ears, that sounds like the opening line of a joke. But 200 years ago, it would have sounded like science fiction—especially if it was summer, when no one in the bar had seen frozen water in months. In fact, it's history. The ice guy was sent by a 20-something by the name of Frederic Tudor, born in 1783 and known by the mid-19th century as the "Ice King of the World." What he had done was figure out a way to harvest ice from local ponds, and keep it frozen long enough to ship halfway around the world.

Today, the New England ice trade, which Tudor started in Boston's backyard in 1806, sounds cartoonishly old-fashioned. The work of ice-harvesting, which involved cutting massive chunks out of frozen bodies of water, packing them in sawdust for storage and transport, and selling them near and far, seems as archaic as the job of town crier. But scholars in recent years have suggested that we're missing something. In fact, they say, the ice trade was a catalyst for a transformation in daily life so powerful that the mark it left can still be seen on our cultural habits even today. Tudor's big idea ended up altering the course of history, making it possible not only to serve barflies cool mint juleps in the dead of summer, but to dramatically extend the shelf life and reach of food. Suddenly people could eat perishable fruits, vegetables, and meat produced far from their homes. Ice built a new kind of infrastructure that would ultimately become the cold, shiny basis for the entire modern food industry."
Education

Librarians: The Google Before Google 91

Posted by samzenpus
from the go-ahead-and-ask dept.
An anonymous reader writes NPR has an article about the questions people ask librarians. Before the internet, the librarian was your best bet for a quick answer to anything on your mind. "We were Google before Google existed," NYPL spokesperson Angela Montefinise explains. "If you wanted to know if a poisonous snake dies if it bites itself, you'd call or visit us." The New York Public Library in Manhattan recently discovered a box of old reference questions asked by patrons and plans to release some in its Instagram account. Here are a few of the best:
  • I just saw a mouse in the kitchen. Is DDT OK to use? (1946)
  • What does it mean when you dream of being chased by an elephant? (1947)
  • Can you tell me the thickness of a U.S. Postage stamp with the glue on it? Answer: We couldn't tell you that answer quickly. Why don't you try the Post Office? Response: This is the Post Office. (1963)
  • Where can I rent a beagle for hunting? (1963)
Youtube

Viacom's Messy Relationship With YouTube and The Rise of Stephen Colbert 72

Posted by samzenpus
from the birth-of-the-nation dept.
Presto Vivace writes with this story about how Stephen Colbert became a YouTube Megastar. "Clips from The Colbert Report soon became a staple at YouTube, a startup that was making it easier for anyone and everyone to upload and watch home movies, video blogs, and technically-illicit-but-increasingly-vanilla clips of TV shows from the day before. And Colbert’s show was about to find itself at the center of a conflict between entertainment media and the web over online video that’s shaped the last decade. In fact, The Colbert Report has been defined as much by this back-and-forth between Hollywood and the web as by the cable news pundits it satirizes....A year after The Colbert Report premiere, Google acquired YouTube for $1.65 billion in stock. Five months later, Viacom sued YouTube and Google for copyright infringement, asking for $1 billion in damages. The value of these videos and their audiences were clear. The Colbert Report and “Stephen Colbert” are mentioned three times in Viacom’s complaint against YouTube, as much or more than any other show or artist."
The Almighty Buck

The Magic of Pallets 232

Posted by samzenpus
from the none-better dept.
HughPickens.com writes Jacob Hodes writes in Cabinet Magazine that there are approximately two billion wooden shipping pallets in the holds of tractor-trailers in the United States transporting Honey Nut Cheerios and oysters and penicillin and just about any other product you can think of. According to Hodes the magic of pallets is the magic of abstraction. "Take any object you like, pile it onto a pallet, and it becomes, simply, a "unit load"—standardized, cubical, and ideally suited to being scooped up by the tines of a forklift. This allows your Cheerios and your oysters to be whisked through the supply chain with great efficiency; the gains are so impressive, in fact, that many experts consider the pallet to be the most important materials-handling innovation of the twentieth century." Although the technology was in place by the mid-1920s, pallets didn't see widespread adoption until World War II, when the challenge of keeping eight million G.I.s supplied—"the most enormous single task of distribution ever accomplished anywhere," according to one historian—gave new urgency to the science of materials handling. "The pallet really made it possible for us to fight a war on two fronts the way that we did." It would have been impossible to supply military forces in both the European and Pacific theaters if logistics operations had been limited to manual labor and hand-loading cargo.

To get a sense of the productivity gains that were achieved, consider the time it took to unload a boxcar before the advent of pallets. "According to an article in a 1931 railway trade magazine, three days were required to unload a boxcar containing 13,000 cases of unpalletized canned goods. When the same amount of goods was loaded into the boxcar on pallets or skids, the identical task took only four hours." Pallets, of course, are merely one cog in the global machine for moving things and while shipping containers have had their due, the humble pallet is arguably "the single most important object in the global economy."
Transportation

Finland Announces an Anti-Laser Campaign For Air Traffic 111

Posted by samzenpus
from the stop-pointing dept.
jones_supa writes Trafi, the Finnish Pilots' Association, and STUK, the Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority, have launched a joint campaign against air traffic interference with the title "Lasers Are Not Toys." Ilkka Kaakinen from Trafi says that laser pointers interfering with air traffic is a real problem in Finland. "We receive reports of several cases of laser interference every month and every one of them is potentially dangerous," Kaakinen says. Last year, 60 cases of laser pointer interference were reported in Finland, and the figure for this year was at 58 in November. Despite the continuing interference, only one person has been caught misusing a laser pointer in this way in Finland. That single person was not convicted of a crime, as the court was not able to establish intent. Kaakinen says other countries hand down severe punishments for interfering with air traffic, even years-long stretches in prison. He also reminds that it is important for users of laser pointers to understand that the devices are not toys, and that children should be warned of the potential danger in using them irresponsibly – or ideally, not given one at all.
China

US Seeks China's Help Against North Korean Cyberattacks 153

Posted by samzenpus
from the thanks-but-no-thanks dept.
An anonymous reader writes The United States has declined an offer by North Korea for a joint investigation into the hacking of Sony Pictures and asked China to help block cyber attacks. "We have discussed this issue with the Chinese to share information, express our concerns about this attack, and to ask for their cooperation," a senior administration official said. "In our cybersecurity discussions, both China and the United States have expressed the view that conducting destructive attacks in cyberspace is outside the norms of appropriate cyber behavior." China has so far seemed less than sympathetic: "Any civilized world will oppose hacker attacks or terror threats. But a movie like The Interview, which makes fun of the leader of an enemy of the U.S., is nothing to be proud of for Hollywood and U.S. society," said an editorial in The Global Times, a tabloid sister paper to China's official The People's Daily. "No matter how the U.S. society looks at North Korea and Kim Jong Un, Kim is still the leader of the country. The vicious mocking of Kim is only a result of senseless cultural arrogance."
Television

Dish Pulls Fox News, Fox Business Network As Talks Break Down 259

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-fox-for-you dept.
An anonymous reader writes Fox News and Fox Business were pulled by Dish Network over the weekend, as both continue to argue over a fee agreement. From the article: "Dish said in a statement early Sunday morning that 21st Century Fox had blocked access to the two networks after Dish balked when rates for other networks owned by the media conglomerate were made a part of the negotiations. Tim Carry, executive vice president of distribution at Fox News Channel, countered in a statement that "Dish prematurely ceased distribution of Fox News in an attempt to intimidate and sway our negotiations. It is unfortunate that the millions of Fox News viewers on Dish were used as pawns by their provider. Hopefully they will vote with their hard earned money and seek another one of our other valued distributors immediately."
Google

Google+ Will Make Your Videos Look Better 37

Posted by Soulskill
from the won't-fix-your-awkward-breathing-into-the-microphone dept.
ErnieKey writes: A new Google+ feature for uploaded videos has been released that automatically enhances lighting, color, and stability. Soon, it'll also enhance speech in videos. "As more and more people now also take videos with their smartphones, it makes sense for Google to bring some of the technologies it has developed for photos (and YouTube) to these private videos, as well. Google has long offered a similar feature for YouTube users, so there is likely some overlap between the two systems here. While YouTube offers the option to 'auto-fix' videos, though, it doesn't automatically prompt its users to do this for them. YouTube also offers a number of manual tools for changing contrast, saturation and color temperature that Google+ doesn’t currently offer."
Media

Seattle Police Held Hackathon To Redact Footage From Body Cameras 91

Posted by Soulskill
from the privacy-policey dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Hackathons are common these days, but you don't often hear about events hosted by law enforcement. That's what the Seattle Police Department did on Friday, with the solitary goal of finding a good way to redact the video streams taken by police body cameras and dash cameras. Seven different teams demonstrated solutions, but in the end, none thought automation could realistically handle the task in the near future. "The Washington State public records act requires that almost all video filmed by any government agency – including police – be disclosed upon request. The only real exception is for video which is part of an open case currently under investigation. However, various parts of the state code include other restrictions – the identity of minors cannot be disclosed. Requests from victims or witnesses who may be at risk if their identities are disclosed also must be honored. However in all such cases the video still must be released – it is just the faces or other potential identifying characteristics, which might include gender or even a person's gait – which need to be blurred and redacted." The city just started a pilot program for body-worn police cameras.
Microsoft

Ask Slashdot: Is an Open Source .NET Up To the Job? 396

Posted by Soulskill
from the good-steps-or-irrelevant-steps dept.
Rob Y. writes: The discussion on Slashdot about Microsoft's move to open source .NET core has centered on:

1. whether this means Microsoft is no longer the enemy of the open source movement
2. if not, then does it mean Microsoft has so lost in the web server arena that it's resorting to desperate moves.
3. or nah — it's standard Microsoft operating procedure. Embrace, extend, extinguish.

What I'd like to ask is whether anybody that's not currently a .NET fan actually wants to use it? Open source or not. What is the competition? Java? PHP? Ruby? Node.js? All of the above? Anything but Microsoft? Because as an OSS advocate, I see only one serious reason to even consider using it — standardization. Any of those competing platforms could be as good or better, but the problem is: how to get a job in this industry when there are so many massively complex platforms out there. I'm still coding in C, and at 62, will probably live out my working days doing that. But I can still remember when learning a new programming language was no big deal. Even C required learning a fairly large library to make it useful, but it's nothing compared to what's out there today. And worse, jobs (and technologies) don't last like they used to. Odds are, in a few years, you'll be starting over in yet another job where they use something else.

Employers love standardization. Choosing a standard means you can't be blamed for your choice. Choosing a standard means you can recruit young, cheap developers and actually get some output from them before they move on. Or you can outsource with some hope of success (because that's what outsourcing firms do — recruit young, cheap devs and rotate them around). To me, those are red flags — not pluses at all. But they're undeniable pluses to greedy employers. Of course, there's much more to being an effective developer than knowing the platform so you can be easily slotted in to a project. But try telling that to the private equity guys running too much of the show these days.

So, assuming Microsoft is sincere about this open source move,
1. Is .NET up to the job?
2. Is there an open source choice today that's popular enough to be considered the standard that employers would like?
3. If the answer to 1 is yes and 2 is no, make the argument for avoiding .NET.
Media

Behind the Scenes With the Star Trek Fan Reboot 105

Posted by Soulskill
from the excellent-work dept.
SternisheFan writes: The original Starship Enterprise was on a 5-year mission, but the original series was canceled after the third year. A continuation of Star Trek:TOS is being created by a dedicated cast and crew intent on keeping true to the spirit of Gene Roddenberry's television show. From recreating the original sets with incredible accuracy and attention to details, staying faithful to original storylines has been a true labor of love for all involved. Here are a series of videos showing the progress being made on recreating the iconic series. (And if you missed it last time, here's the first episode they produced.)
Earth

Massive Volcanic Eruptions Accompanied Dinosaur Extinction 67

Posted by Soulskill
from the some-say-dinosaurs-can't-swim-in-magma dept.
schwit1 writes: A careful updating of the geological timeline has shown that massive volcanic eruptions aligned with the extinction event that wiped out the non-avian dinosaurs 66 million years ago (abstract). "A primeval volcanic range in western India known as the Deccan Traps, which were once three times larger than France, began its main phase of eruptions roughly 250,000 years before the Cretaceous-Paleogene, or K-Pg, extinction event, the researchers report in the journal Science. For the next 750,000 years, the volcanoes unleashed more than 1.1 million cubic kilometers (264,000 cubic miles) of lava. The main phase of eruptions comprised about 80-90 percent of the total volume of the Deccan Traps' lava flow and followed a substantially weaker first phase that began about 1 million years earlier.

The results support the idea that the Deccan Traps played a role in the K-Pg extinction, and challenge the dominant theory that a meteorite impact near present-day Chicxulub, Mexico, was the sole cause of the extinction. The researchers suggest that the Deccan Traps eruptions and the Chicxulub impact need to be considered together when studying and modeling the K-Pg extinction event."

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