Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

Image

Book Review: Super Scratch Programming Adventure! 74

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
MassDosage writes "I first heard about the Scratch programming language a few years ago and the idea of a simple language designed to teach kids to program in a fun, new way has always appealed to me. For those of you who don't know, Scratch was developed by the wonderfully named "Lifelong Kindergarten Group" at the MIT Media Lab. It's a programming language that allows programs to be built by dragging, dropping, configuring and combining various blocks that represent common coding concepts such as if/else statements and while loops. Scratch also provides tools for doing simple animation, playing audio and controlling sprites. The idea behind it is to make programming simple, fun and accessible to first time programmers so they can understand the key concepts without first needing to learn complex syntax which can come later when they move on from Scratch to other languages. It has been very successful and there are literally millions of Scratch programs freely available from the Scratch website and many others." Read below for the rest of Mass Dosage's review.
Image

Book Review: The Nature of Code 37

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
eldavojohn writes "I kickstarted a project undertaken by Daniel Shiffman to write a book on what (at the time) seemed to be a very large knowledge space. What resulted is a good book (amazing by CC-BY-NC standards) available in both PDF and HTML versions. In addition to the book he maintains the source code for creating the book and of course the book examples. The Nature of Code starts off swimmingly but remains front heavy with a mere thirty five pages devoted to the final chapter on neural networks. This is an excellent book for Java and Processing developers that want to break into simulation and modeling of well, anything. It probably isn't a must-have title for very seasoned developers (unless you've never done simulation and modeling) but at zero cost why not?" Read below for the rest of eldavojohn's review.
Crime

FBI Publishes Top Email Terms Used By Corporate Fraudsters 105

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the security-unclassified-uscode-smuggle-espionage dept.
Qedward writes "Software developed by the FBI and Ernst & Young has revealed the most common words used in email conversations among employees engaged in corporate fraud. The software, which was developed using the knowledge gained from real life corporate fraud investigations, pinpoints and tracks common fraud phrases like 'cover up,' write off,' 'failed investment,' 'off the books,' 'nobody will find out' and 'grey area'. Expressions such as 'special fees' and 'friendly payments' are most common in bribery cases, while fears of getting caught are shown in phrases such as 'no inspection' and 'do not volunteer information.'"
Books

Death of Printed Books May Have Been Exaggerated 465

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-think-it's-mark-twain's-fault dept.
New submitter razor88x writes "Although just 16% of Americans have purchased an e-book to date, the growth rate in sales of digital books is already dropping sharply. At the same time, sales of dedicated e-readers actually shrank in 2012, as people bought tablets instead. Meanwhile, printed books continue to be preferred over e-books by a wide majority of U.S. book readers. In his blog post Will Gutenberg Laugh Last?, writer Nicholas Carr draws on these statistics and others to argue that, contrary to predictions, printed books may continue to be the book's dominant form. 'We may be discovering,' he writes, 'that e-books are well suited to some types of books (like genre fiction) but not well suited to other types (like nonfiction and literary fiction) and are well suited to certain reading situations (plane trips) but less well suited to others (lying on the couch at home). The e-book may turn out to be more a complement to the printed book, as audiobooks have long been, rather than an outright substitute.'"
Transportation

The Copyright Battle Over Custom-Built Batmobiles 194

Posted by samzenpus
from the lost-their-wheels dept.
Hugh Pickens writes writes "Eriq Gardner writes that Warner Brothers is suing California resident Mark Towle, a specialist in customizing replicas of automobiles featured in films and TV shows, for selling replicas of automobiles from the 1960s ABC series Batman by arguing that copyright protection extends to the overall look and feel of the Batmobile. The case hinges on what exactly is a Batmobile — an automobile or a piece of intellectual property? Warner attorney J. Andrew Coombs argues in legal papers that the Batmobile incorporates trademarks with distinctive secondary meaning and that by selling an unauthorized replica, Towle is likely to confuse consumers about whether the cars are DC products are not. Towle's attorney Larry Zerner, argues that automobiles aren't copyrightable. 'It is black letter law that useful articles, such as automobiles, do not qualify as "sculptural works" and are thus not eligible for copyright protection,' writes Zerner adding that a decision to affirm copyright elements of automotive design features could be exploited by automobile manufacturers. 'The implications of a ruling upholding this standard are easy to imagine. Ford, Toyota, Ferrari and Honda would start publishing comic books, so that they could protect what, up until now, was unprotectable.'"
Android

A Wish List For Tablets In 2013 453

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
timothy writes "For the last few years, I've been using Android tablets for various of the reasons that most casual tablet owners do: as a handy playback device for movies and music, a surprisingly decent interface for reading books, a good-enough camera for many purposes, and a communications terminal for instant messaging and video chat. I started out with a Motorola Xoom, which I still use around the house or as a music player in the car, but only started actually carrying a tablet very often when I got a Nexus 7. And while I have some high praise for the Nexus 7, its limitations are frustrating, too. I'll be more excited about a tablet when I can find one with (simultaneously) more of the features I want in one. So here's my wish list (not exhaustive) for the ideal tablet of the future, consisting only of features that are either currently available in some relevant form (such as in existing tablets), or should be in the foreseeable near future; I'll be on the lookout at CES for whatever choices come closest to this dream." Read below to see what's on Timothy's wish list.
Operating Systems

New Releases From FreeBSD and NetBSD 149

Posted by timothy
from the under-the-new-year's-wire dept.
tearmeapart writes "The teams at FreeBSD have reached another great achievement with FreeBSD 9.1, with improvements to the already fantastic zfs features, more VM improvements (helping bringing FreeBSD to the next generation of VMs), and improvements in speed to many parts of the network system. Support FreeBSD via the FreeBSD mall or download/upgrade FreeBSD from a mirror. Unfortunately, the torrent server is still down due to the previous security incident." And new submitter northar writes "The other day the NetBSD project released their first update to the 6.x series, 6.0.1. They also (rather discreetly) announced a fund drive targeting 60.000 USD before the end of 2012 in the release notes. They better get going if their donation page is anything like recently updated."
Data Storage

Ask Slashdot: Easiest Way To Consolidate Household Media? 272

Posted by timothy
from the one-way-data-transfer-is-much-simpler dept.
First time accepted submitter Lordfly writes "The wife and I have started looking to buy a house. In the spirit of that, I've been giving away books, CDs, and DVDs to 'downsize' the pile of crap I'll have to lug around when we do find the right place. That got me thinking about digital files. I'm perfectly okay with giving up (most) books, CDs, and DVD cases. The only music I buy are MP3s anyway, and we stream most everything else if we wanted to watch a show or movie. That being said, I have a desktop, my wife has an old Macbook, we both have tablets, and I also have an Android smartphone. I'd like to set up something on an extra Windows box shoved in a closet that lets me dump every digital file we have (photos, music, ebooks, movies) and then doles it out as necessary to all of our devices. Unfortunately my best computer geek days are likely behind me (photography and cooking have consumed me since), so while I CAN schlep around a command line, I've lost most of my knowledge, so go easy on the 'just apt-get FubarPackageInstaller.gzip and rd -m Arglebargle' stuff. Something easy enough for my wife to use would be a major plus. So: What's the best way to make your own personal 'cloud'?"
Books

Amazon: Authors Can't Review Books 248

Posted by Soulskill
from the what-would-they-know-about-writing dept.
In an effort to step up its fight against astroturfers, Amazon has barred authors from reviewing books. It's not simply that authors can't review their own books — they can't review any book in a similar genre to something they've published. "This means that thriller writers are prevented from commenting on works by other authors who write similar books. Critics suggest this system is flawed because many authors are impartial and are experts on novels." British author Joanne Harris had a simpler solution in mind: "To be honest I would just rather Amazon delete all their reviews as it... has caused so much trouble. It is a pity. Originally it was a good idea but it is has become such an issue now. The star rating has become how people view if a book is a success and it has become inherently corrupt." How would you improve the online review system?
Google

Rivalry Building Between Amazon and Google 97

Posted by Soulskill
from the bezos-to-fight-brin-in-single-combat dept.
Amazon and Google, both giants in the online business world, started out as separate entities with two very different agendas. As each has grown into an empire, the overlapping areas of business between the two companies has grown as well. But with both companies moving strongly into the electronic device market, cloud services, and Amazon now building out its advertising network, they find themselves increasingly at odds, and 2013 may bring more direct battles."Amazon wants to be the one place where you buy everything. Google wants to be the one place where you find everything, of which buying things is a subset. So when you marry those facts I think you're going to see a natural collision," said VC partner Chi-hua Chien. Adds Reuters, "Not long after Bezos learned of Google's catalog plans, Amazon began scanning books and providing searchable digital excerpts. Its Kindle e-reader, launched a few years later, owes much of its inspiration to the catalog news, the executive said. Now, Amazon is pushing its online ad efforts, threatening to siphon revenue and users from Google's main search website."
Books

Ask Slashdot: How Do You "Unwrap" e-Gifts? 86

Posted by samzenpus
from the virtual-stockings dept.
theodp writes "With all of the content that can be delivered electronically — e-books, music, apps, movies, e-gift cards, tickets — the percentage of Christmas gift giving that's digital is growing each year. However, the e-gift unwrapping user experience on Christmas morning leaves much to be desired. In addition to providing old-school mail delivery of gift cards, Amazon offers a variety of other options, including e-mailing a gift card on a specific day with or without a suggested gift, posting it on someone's Facebook Wall, or allowing you to print one for personal delivery. Another suggestion — using USB drives — harkens back to the days of burning CDs with custom playlists for last-minute gifts, but you'll be thwarted by DRM issues for lots of content. So, until Facebook introduces The Tree to save our e-gifts under until they're 'unwrapped' on Christmas morning with the other physical gifts, how do you plan on handling e-gift giving and getting?"
Books

Book Review: Burdens of Proof 70

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
benrothke writes "When the IBM PC first came out 31 years ago, it supported a maximum of 256KB RAM. You can buy an equivalent computer today with substantially more CPU power at a fraction of the price. But in those 31 years, the information security functionality in which the PC operates has not progressed accordingly. In Burdens of Proof: Cryptographic Culture and Evidence Law in the Age of Electronic Documents, author Jean-François Blanchette observes that the move to a paperless society means that paper-based evidence needs to be recreated in the digital world. It also requires an underlying security functionality to flow seamlessly across organizations, government agencies and the like. While the computing power is there, the ability to create a seamless cryptographic culture is much slower in coming." Keep reading for the rest of Ben's review.
Image

Book Review: Terrible Nerd 66

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
tgeller writes "It's hard to believe that today's nerdier children will one day bore their grandkids with stories of primitive mobile access, household robotics, and 3-D printers. Some will become rich and famous by latching onto tomorrow's winners; others will find themselves irrelevant as the objects of their obsessions fail in the marketplace. But all with the energy to remember will come away with stories from the dawn of creation. One such witness is Kevin Savetz, a 41-year-old technology journalist and entrepreneur whose new book Terrible Nerd recounts 'true tales of growing up geek' during the '80s computer revolution. It's a rich chronicle that deftly mixes details of his beloved technologies with the zeitgeist a particular time and space. As such, it's an entertaining read for technologists and non-techies alike." Keep reading for the rest of tgeller's review.
Programming

Ask Slashdot: How Does an IT Generalist Get Back Into Programming? 224

Posted by Soulskill
from the one-leg-at-time dept.
CanadianSchism writes "I've been in the public sector for the past 6 years. I started off doing my work study in web design and a bit of support, eventually going through the interview process to fill in a data processing technician post, and getting the job. The first four years of my work life were spent in various schools, fixing computers, implementing new hardware, rolling out updates/ghosting labs, troubleshooting basic network and printer problems, etc. I was eventually asked to work on the administrative information systems with an analyst, which I've been doing for the past 2 years. That's consisted of program support, installing updates to the pay/financial/purchasing/tax/energy systems, taking backups on SQL servers, etc. I've never had the opportunity to take time for myself, and jump back into my first love: programming. I've picked up Powershell books (have two here at the office), but haven't gotten anything down yet, as there are always other projects that come up and whittle my attention to learning a language down to zilch. This new year will see a change in that, however. I'll be setting aside an hour every day to devote to learning a new language, in the eventual hope that I can leave this company (take a sabbatical) and hop into the private sector for a few years. My question to you all is, what language should I start with, to learn and get back into the principles of programming, that will help me build a personal portfolio, but will also lend to learning other languages? At this point, I'm not sure if I'd like to make/maintain custom applications, or if back-end web programming would be more interesting, or any of the other niches out there."
Space

Cassini's Christmas Gift: In the Shadow of Saturn 32

Posted by Soulskill
from the cassini-is-the-best-thing dept.
astroengine writes "As the Cassini mission continues to orbit the ringed gas giant Saturn, it's hard to imagine what magnificent view the NASA spacecraft will show us next. Today, however, is one for the history books. As a very special Christmas holiday treat, the Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for Operations (CICLOPS) team have processed a magnificent view of Saturn that is rarely seen — a portrait from the dark side of the planet."

Murphy's Law, that brash proletarian restatement of Godel's Theorem. -- Thomas Pynchon, "Gravity's Rainbow"

Working...