Regular contributor Bennett Haselton writes "As Google releases more data about their compliance with requests from foreign governments, they should clarify their stance on exactly when they will comply with requests to turn over user data to foreign law enforcement." Bennett expands on that thought below; read on for some details of just why that kind of disclosure matters, in making sense of Google's own efforts to provide transparency.
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Jason Levine writes "My son is 8 years old. I'd love to get him interested in science-fiction, but most of the books I can think of seem to be targeted to older kids/adults. Thinking that the length of some novels might be off-putting to him, I read him some of the short stories in Isaac Asimov's I, Robot. He liked these, but I could tell he was having a hard time keeping up. I think the wording of the stories was too advanced and there was too much talking and not enough action. Personally, I love Asimov, but I think much of it just went over his head. Which science fiction and/or fantasy books would you recommend for an 8-year-old? (Either stories he could read himself or that we could read together over the course of a few weeks.)"
benrothke writes "In Digital Vertigo: How Todays Online Social Revolution Is Dividing, Diminishing, and Disorienting Us, author Andrew Keen, who describes himself as the Anti-Christ of Silicon Valley (whatever that means), raises numerous profound questions about social media and its implications on society. In the new world of social media and Web 3.0, which is claiming to revolutionize communication and interactions, Keen writes that history is repeating itself and points to the beginning of the industrial revolution as an example. He writes of Jeremy Bentham who invented the Panopticon; a structure where the inhabitants were watched at all times. Bentham felt the Panopticon could make humanity more virtuous, more hard-working and happier; similar to the promise of Web 3.0. The Panopticon was a failure, and Keen sees the same for Web 3.0. The book is a critique of Web 3.0." Read below for the rest of Ben's review.
coondoggie writes "It's not one-of-a-kind, but it's pretty darn close. Sotheby's this week auctioned off a rare, working Apple 1 computer for $374,500 to an unnamed bidder. The price was more than double the expected price listed on the Sotheby's web site. Sotheby's notes about the Apple 1 say it is one of six thought-to-be-operational boxes and one of about 50 known to exist."
SomePgmr tips this quote from Geek.com: "Fans of the cyberpunk novel Snow Crash have reason to rejoice today, as it's been announced that the film adaptation of Neal Stephenson's classic has been revived once again, this time with an exciting writer and director at the helm in the form of Joe Cornish. Cornish is known for his recent sci-fi alien invasion flick Attack the Block, which was filmed and released in the UK by the same studio that put out Shaun of the Dead. Cornish's first film came to the U.S. in a limited release in 2011 and did well enough that Paramount took notice and pursued Cornish for the Snow Crash project."
Last week you got a chance to ask the team behind Space Command about their project and all things sci-fi. Marc Zicree, Doug Drexler, David Raiklen, and Neil Johnson were nice enough to put down the blasters and answer a handful of your best questions. David even answered one of his own! Read below to see what they had to say.
First time accepted submitter discussM tipped us to a story about a recently granted patent in which "a system and method preventing unauthorized access to copyrighted academic texts is provided in which trademark licenses, discussion boards, and grade content are integrated into a web-based system that aligns the interests of teaching professionals, students, and publishers while also enhancing the overarching academic mission to create and disseminate knowledge." Quoting Torrent Freak: "As part of a course, students will have to participate in a web-based discussion board, an activity which counts towards their final grade. To gain access to the board students need a special code, which they get by buying the associated textbook." But don't worry too much, from Ars: "Beyond the legal questions, other experts suggested forcing students to buy texts through such a system is unlikely to be implemented. Professors have few incentives to make it more difficult and to compel students even more than they already are to buy textbooks, digital or analog. (A 2011 survey from UC Riverside found that 78 percent of undergraduates 'bought fewer books, bought cheaper books or read books on reserve to help meet expenses.')"
New submitter toxygen01 writes "Neal Stephenson, sci-fi writer mostly known for his books Snowcrash and Cryptonomicon, takes on revolutionizing virtual sword fighting with help of crowdfunding. Inspired by the little-known fictional universe of 'Mongoliad,' an interactive book he is collaborating on, his company is trying to develop hardware (low-latency motion controller) and software for realistic medieval sword fighting. From what is promised, it will try to be open for other developers by having API and SDK available for further modding." Very few Kickstarter drives have a steel longsword as one of the rewards for investing.
First time accepted submitter greglaw writes "Our company makes development tools, meaning that all our customers are programmers. If you'll forgive the sweeping generalization, on the whole good programmers don't make good salespeople and vice versa. However, it's important that our salespeople understand at some level the customers' problems and how exactly we can help. The goal is not to turn the salespeople into engineers, but just to have them properly understand e.g. what the customer means when he uses the term 'function call.' Most of our customers use C/C++. Does anyone have any recommendations for how best to go about this? Online courses or text books that give an introduction to programming in C/C++ would be great, but also any more general advice on this would be much appreciated."
MassDosage writes "Having developed software for nearly fifteen years, I remember the dark days before testing was all the rage and the large number of bugs that had to be arduously found and fixed manually. The next step was nervously releasing the code without the safety net of a test bed and having no idea if one had introduced regressions or new bugs. When I first came across unit testing I ardently embraced it and am a huge fan of testing of various forms — from automated to smoke tests to performance and load tests to end user and exploratory testing. So it was with much enthusiasm that I picked up How Google Tests Software — written by some of the big names in testing at Google. I was hoping it would give me fresh insights into testing software at "Google Scale" as promised on the back cover, hopefully coupled with some innovative new techniques and tips. While partially succeeding on these fronts, the book as a whole didn't quite live up to my expectations and feels like a missed opportunity." Read below for the rest of MassDosage's review.
dsinc was the first to note, but an anonymous reader writes "Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451, the dystopian novel about the logical conclusion of many trends in modern society, and many other works that have inspired fans of speculative fiction for decades, has died at the age of 91 in Los Angeles, California, Tuesday night, June 5th, 2012. No details on how he died were released, but I suspect it may have had something to do with the Earth orbiting the sun over 90 times since he was born. I guess we'll have to wait to be sure."
Med-trump writes "A petition to remove references to evolution from high-school textbooks claimed victory in South Korea last month after the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST) revealed that many of the publishers would produce revised editions that exclude examples of the evolution of the horse or of avian ancestor Archaeopteryx."
jkauzlar writes "Believe it or not, it's been 18 years since Design Patterns by Gamma, et al, first began to hit the desks of programmers world-wide. This was a work of undeniable influence and usefulness, but there is criticism however that pattern-abuse has lead to over-architected software. This failure is perhaps due to wide-spread use of patterns as templates instead of understanding their underlying 'grammar' of this language such that it may be applied gracefully to the problem at hand. What's been missing until now is a sufficiently authoritative study of design patterns at this 'grammatical' level of abstraction. Jason McC. Smith, through a surprisingly captivating series of analytic twists and turns, has developed a theory of Elemental Design Patterns that may yet rejuvenate this aging topic." Keep reading for the rest of Joe's review.
New submitter sdoca writes "I am a Java developer and for the past number of years I have mainly been working on server side code. I have an idea for a webpage/application that I would like to develop. For the general public, it will be a site where they can view upcoming events, filter them by type, date etc. and view details of events they're interested in. There will also be an admin section to the app where organizations who want to post their events can log in and set them up. In the long term, writing a view-only version as an Apple and/or Android app is on the radar, but I want to focus on the generic web app for now. I'm not sure what languages/frameworks to look at using for the webpage portion of my project. Many (many!) years ago, I wrote some applets. After that I did some work in WebObjects and after that I tinkered with Wicket. I have no experience with PHP and would like to stay in my Java comfort zone as much as possible, but want to use the right tool. I'm concerned about browser compatibility issues. Chrome didn't exist when I last did web page development. I'm looking for good resources (books, internet) that will guide me through the potential issues and your recommendations for a web development framework."
PerlJedi tips a story that highlights one of the downsides to ebooks. A blogger who recently read Tolstoy's War and Peace on his Nook stumbled upon some odd phases, such as: "It was as if a light had been Nookd in a carved and painted lantern..." After seeing the word 'Nookd' a few more times, he found a dead-tree version of the book and discovered that the word was supposed to be 'kindled.' Every instance of the word 'kindle' in the ebook had been replaced with 'Nook.' "The Superior Formatting Publishing version isn’t a Barnes and Noble book, so this isn’t the work of a rogue Nook marketer from B&N. Rather, it’s likely that Superior Formatting Publishing ported its Kindle version of War and Peace over to the Nook — doing a search and replace to make sure that any Kindle references they’d inserted, such as in the advertising at the end of the book about their fine Kindle products, were simply changed to Nook. The unwitting hilarity of a publisher doing a 'find and replace' and accidentally changing the text of a canonical work of Western thought is alarming. Many versions of e-books are from similar outfits, that distribute public domain works formatted for Kindle or Nook at the lowest possible prices. The great democratizing factor of the ebook formats – that anyone can easily distribute – can also mean that readers can never be quite sure that they are viewing the texts as the author intended."