SirLurksAlot (1169039) writes "We've all imagined what it would be like to have super powers (I personally can't wait to have the strength of 10 gorillas!), but how often have we stopped to consider what the ramifications of having said powers actually are? How would society change if these abilities became, if not common-place, but real and available? From the article: "In reality, though, enhanced humans already exist... and they don't look like Marvel characters. As different human enhancement technologies advance at different rates, they bleed into society gradually and without fanfare. What's more, they will increasingly necessitate discussion about areas that are often overlooked – what are the logistics and ethics of being superhuman?"" Link to Original Source top
SirLurksAlot (1169039) writes "News is beginning to circulate on Twitter and various sites that Jim Weirich, the creator of Rake, has passed away at the age of 58. He was an active developer (his last commit in the last 24 hours) and has made many contributions to the Ruby community over the years, as well as being a prolific speaker and teacher. He had a great sense of humor and was beloved by many. He will be greatly missed." top
Neural Network Learns to Recognize Humans, Cats, Spatulas
SirLurksAlot (1169039) writes "I recently came across an article from 2007 on the Washington Post in which the author asked a class of undergraduates to go 24 hours without any electronic media, including cell phones, MP3 players, computers, etc. The article details the experiences of the students during their 24 period sans technology, which ranged from dismay to a new-found sense of freedom. While the idea of media fasts isn't exactly new I wonder how they might affect IT workers. As a developer I often find myself bordering on obsessed when it comes to writing code, and nearly so with technology in general even though I try to strike a balance in life. Working in the corporate world makes the idea of a media fast doubly hard due to work responsibilities and on-call duty. So I ask you, Slashdotters, what is your experience with media fasting? Have you attempted it and if so what were the results? Is a media fast even possible for the average IT worker?" Link to Original Source top
SirLurksAlot (1169039) writes "Wired currently has an article up which bears good tidings for all zombie fans. The popular comic The Walking Dead is shambling its way to television. For those who haven't heard about it The Walking Dead is an ongoing zombie survival comic by writer Robert Kirkman which follows a small band of survivors in a post-apocalyptic world. According to Kirkman: '"The Walking Dead is the zombie movie that never ends, essentially,"' Kirkman went on to say '"Most zombie movies are about a group of characters dealing with extenuating circumstances and extreme conditions, until the length of the movie runs out and then they hop into a helicopter and it goes off. Watching those movies, I always thought the interesting part is, 'What do they do next?'"'' While there is no air date as of yet The Walking Dead will be appearing on AMC." Link to Original Source top
Reason for Motor Skill Memory Formation Discovered
SirLurksAlot (1169039) writes "According to an article on physorg.com scientists have discovered why motor skill memories form. The research team involved in the discovery was trying to understand connections between nerve cells and the cerebellum which enabled learning. Dr. Peer Wulff, one of the lead researchers, stated "What we were interested in was finding out how memories are encoded in the brain. We found that there is a cell which structures the signal output from the cerebellum into a particular code that is engraved as memory for a newly learned motor skill." This discovery could lead to significant advances in the area of prosthetics." Link to Original Source top
SirLurksAlot (1169039) writes "According to an article on Computerworld the US government is beginning to raise questions concerning H1-Bs and visa fraud in relation to IT workers. These questions were raised as part of a court filing against an IT firm known as Visions Systems Group in New Jersey. The firm has been indicted on charges of visa fraud, and the government has stated that those involved were "displacing qualified American workers." The government also issued a brief in which it stated that "In January of 2009, the total number of workers employed in the information technology occupation under the H-1B program substantially exceeded the 241,000 unemployed U.S. citizen workers within the same occupation," though it did not provide data to back up that assertion. Meanwhile the Department of Homeland Security is arguing that extending the duration of an H1-B visa from one year to 29 months is necessary to remain competitive." Link to Original Source top
SirLurksAlot writes "Due to the recent economic troubles my last employer (who is part of the foreign automotive industry) had to make a series of budget cuts, and unfortunately I was laid off. I have been on the job hunt since then, however in the mean time I have begun freelancing as a web developer. This is my first time in this role and so I would like the ask Slashdot readers: are there any best practices for freelance developers? What kind of process should I use when dealing with clients? Should I bill by the hour or provide a fixed quote on a per-project basis? What kind of assurances should I get from the client before I begin work? What is the best way to create accurate time estimates? I'm also wondering if there are any good open source tools for freelancers, such as for time-tracking and invoice creation (aside from simply using a spreadsheet). As I said I'm very new to freelancing, and any suggestions or insights would be welcome." top
SirLurksAlot (1169039) writes "It appears that Best Buy is now selling Ubuntu, both through its website as well as in its brick and mortar locations. Going by the release on the product page Ubuntu has actually been available for the low low price of $19.99 since May 6th of this year, and is being packaged as the "Complete Edition." While they don't specify what version they carry on their website, a quick call to a local store revealed it to be Hardy Heron, the latest Long Term Support version. One has to wonder how this development flew under the radar for almost two months without it being picked up by anyone." Link to Original Source top
SirLurksAlot (1169039) writes "Many supporters of the SETI@home project have recently received a message informing them of impending budget cuts for the Arecibo Observatory and asks them to show their support for the project by writing to Congress. The letter also informs supporters that there are currently two bills (Senate bill 2862 sponsored by Senator Hillary Clinton, and a similar House bill, H.R. 3737), which are intended to secure funding for the project. According to The Planetary Society the current plan for the Arecibo Observatory involves cutting funding by more than 60% from $10.4 million to just $4 million by 2011." Link to Original Source top
SirLurksAlot (1169039) writes "Ars Technica reports that Microsoft has recently applied for a patent for a technology which would attempt to enforce manners in the use of cell phones, digital cameras, DVRs and other digital devices. According to the article the technology could be used to bring common social conventions such as "No flash photography" and "No talking out loud" to these devices by disabling features or disabling the device entirely. The article also points out that the technology could be implemented in situations involving sensitive equipment, such as in airplanes or hospitals. The patent application itself is also an interesting read, as it describes a number of possible uses for the technology, including "in particular zones to limit the speed and/or acceleration of vehicles, to require the use of lights, to verify an indication of insurance coverage and/or current registration, or the like." While this technology could certainly be of interest to any number of organizations one has to wonder how the individuals who own devices which obey so-called "Digital Manners Policies" would feel about it." Link to Original Source top
SirLurksAlot (1169039) writes "Ars Technica has an article up comparing the presidential candidates' views on issues which are near and dear to the hearts of most Slashdotters, including net neutrality, privacy, telecom immunity and their overall philosophy on technology. Concerning net neutrality, the two camps seems to have very different views. An adviser for McCain (Chuck Fish, who also happens to be a former Time Warner executive.) argues against imposing regulations on service providers while Obama's technology adviser (Daniel Weitzner, who is a computer scientist hailing from MIT) states that "Openness is more important than bandwidth," going on to say that "I'd rather have a more open Internet at lower speeds than a faster Internet that has all sorts of discrimination built in. We've lived with tiny narrow little pipes and done extraordinary things with them." I don't know about everyone else, but in this case I would like to have my cake and eat it too." Link to Original Source top
Study: Telecommuting makes work worse for non-tele
SirLurksAlot (1169039) writes "A recent article on Ars Technica states that telecommuting may have adverse effects on those who stay in the office. According to the article researcher Timothy Golden "found that in-office employees took less satisfaction in their jobs and felt less of a relationship and obligation to their company as the number of telecommuting coworkers grew. In-office employees in his study became disappointed at having fewer and weaker relationships. They also got frustrated at a perceived increase in workload and difficulties that telecommuting can present to finishing projects and building strong working relationships."" Link to Original Source top
SirLurksAlot (1169039) writes "According to an article on out-law.com (which can also be found here) the FTC has released a set of guidelines for the advertising industry regarding the tracking a user's online activities. From the article: '"Behavioral advertising provides benefits to consumers in the form of free content and personalized advertising but... this practice is largely invisible and unknown to consumers," said an FTC statement. "The purpose of this proposal is to encourage more meaningful and enforceable self-regulation to address the privacy concerns raised with respect to behavioral advertising."'
SirLurksAlot (1169039) writes "According to an article on Ars Technica it appears that Congress is planning to question the FCC on the way regarding how the commission is run. From the article: "The FCC — and Chairman Kevin Martin in particular — are in hot water with Congress over the way that the Commission is run. While Martin was at CES, telling all who would listen that the FCC will investigate Comcast's traffic-shaping practices, the House Energy and Commerce Committee announced a formal investigation of the FCC. The news couldn't be more welcome to the industries that the FCC regulates."" Link to Original Source top
SirLurksAlot (1169039) writes "According to an article on Ars Technica, Warner Music, Universal, and EMI (leaving Sony BMG as the last major holdout) will now be offering their entire music catalogs on Amazon completely DRM-free This move positions Amazon to be a major competitor for iTunes, and could spell the beginning of the end for DRM altogether." Link to Original Source top
SirLurksAlot (1169039) writes "Australia seems to be big in the news lately regarding privacy and censorship, as previously discussed here. According to this article, the latest development down under centered around a proposed "Human Services Access Card," which would have contained personal information, and which have been stored in on an encrypted RFID chip.
From the article: "Had it been implemented, the Access Card program would have required Australians to present the smart card anytime they dealt with certain federal departments, including Medicare, Centrelink, the Child Support Agency, or Veterans' Affairs."
The plan has since been shut down by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd." top
SirLurksAlot (1169039) writes "A recent study shows that Computer Science graduates are experiencing an increase in starting salaries. Despite (or perhaps because of) a reduced interest in Computer Science in colleges across the nation and the recent trend towards outsourcing, it looks like there could be a change of fortune for current Comp. Sci. graduates.
From the article "A recent study of post-college careers from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (also noted by the Chronicle) found that computer-science grads saw their average starting salary offers grow by 4.5 percent last year alone. The new average salary for a job right out of college is now $53,051. That's the highest amount this decade."" Link to Original Source