Ask Slashdot: How Do I Engage 5th-8th Graders In Computing?
I think perhaps the first "marketable" skill would be just how to use a computer.
Forget all the programming stuff - that's cool and all, but do these kids know how to use a computer to begin with?
Explain away the magic. Teach them how to use a word processor, spreadsheet and presentation program. Doesn't have to be LibreOffice or Word or whatever - any generic word processor and spreadsheet will do.
The goal is to give them skills useful for life - perhaps they have a report they need to write - show them how after all their research is done, to type it up, and print it out and how neat and tidy it comes out.
That's a skill they'll need just to move on - and they can immediately benefit by producing homework that they're proud to turn in that looks all neat and professional.
Once they've mastered that skill, then you'll have figured out who in the group is technically minded and wants to do stuff, who needs reinforcement of the basics, and who still is too afraid of the computer. You can then show the technical group stuff about programming, fixing and mucking around the computer. Those who are struggling with the basics you can reinforce and help out with their homework assignments, and those afraid of the computer? Well, show them how to not be afraid. If they're afraid of breaking it, bring in a junker that works and show them that it's really quite hard to break a computer without taking a sledgehammer to it.
Before you even consider jumping into the technical side, see if your group has basic skills everyone will assume they have - typing, how to use a word processor, using the Internet, etc. Only then should you move on.
VirtualBox Development At a Standstill
Funny enough, Oracle updated Vbox with a new release just 2 weeks ago. That doesn't say "standstill" to be, but more "stable and fixing bugs".
Yeah, so what if they're not making big new feature requests? They're still supporting it with updates and bug fixes, and that's a sign of a mature stable product.
VirtualBox Development At a Standstill
don't fix it. I mean sure I'd like more features and stuff, but it works out of the box. No tweaking (other than to guest vm's) or anything necessary. It just works. Sure there are other (paid) alternatives out there but VirtualBox does it's job well for me.
Well, it can always be freer. I mean the base VM is FOSS, but the plugins definitely are not free at all - remote desktop server, and USB 2 support being the most common reasons to install the extension pack. Sure there's other features, but they're more niche (e.g., PXE support, webcam pass through, PCI pass though).
Reverse Engineering the Nike+ FuelBand's Communications Protocol
Metadata is NOT de-identified data. Metadata is data about data, while de-identified data is anonymized data.
Metadata would be for example how often and when you upload your results to their website, but nothing on what you ran or for how long and all that (that's data). The data itself would be your track, pace, location and all that information, tied to you.
De-identifying the data would mean advertisers get access to your track, pacing and other stuff, but with no name attached, and maybe even missing a few reporting points so your address isn't obvious by looking at the endpoints.
It's not that metadata is a bad term - it's reasonably accurate because it's the difference between say, a pen recorder and a wiretap recorder (ohe records details about the call, the other records the call itself). Or recording IP headers over recording packet contents.
You deal in metadata a lot - a file name is metadata - it's not a part of the file's contents (the data), just like the date and other details. You can get access to file metadata quite easily even if you can't read the file itself (and it's not possible to read the file without being able to access the metadata).
Alibaba Face Off With Chinese Regulator Over Fake Products
Hmmmm.... somehow I thought that knockoffs are legal in China? Maybe only if they knockoff another Chinese manufacturer? Maybe only if they sell it to a Chinese person?
Ironically, it's more a case of "ripping off your own products".
Knockoffs are legal... if they're of a non-Chinese good.
But try to knock off a Chinese product or even pirate a Chinese product (say a DVD or something) and China Does Something About It(tm). There have been more than a few piracy groups busted for pirating Chinese movies and TV series.
This applies in other countries, too. The night market here used to be known for the pirated DVDs, but various busts between Hollywood (who only remove the Hollywood movies and leave the Chinese pirated DVDs alone) and China itself (who go after the pirated Chinese DVDs only, and leave the pirated Hollywood ones alone) has resulted in those distributors being busted. It apparently lead to the operators being more vigilant and ensuring there aren't pirated DVDs available for sale there anymore.
Now, it rarely involves jail time - usually just complete seizure of goods.
FSF-Endorsed Libreboot X200 Laptop Comes With Intel's AMT Removed
So what's so controversial about it?
It's not controversial. it's just it's another computer in your computer that's running Non-Free Software(tm). So they get rid of it and thus they have a computer that is Completely Free Of Proprietary Software.
Former NATO Nuclear Bunker Now an 'Airless' Unmanned Data Center
Technically SCBA like the fire department uses, unless they use rebreathers.
Or just pumping in normal air.
The primary purpose of the low-oxygen environment is fire suppression - remember the fire triangle? Underground, a fire is a serious hazard because it's difficult to fight and can spread quite quickly.
So during normal operations, the servers are in a low oxygen atmosphere which means fire opportunities are minimized. During maintenance periods, it's possible to either use an SCBA (perhaps for emergency service) or to bring in fresh air so people can work normally (because SCBAs are a huge PITA to deal with - all the extra training, potential issues and even just plain comfort - you feel like you're working hard to get air, feel like your suffocating, and the mask can get clammy in a few minutes of use which just makes you want to rip it off).
Canada Upholds Net Neutrality Rules In Wireless TV Case
Good for Canada, your neighbors to the south have something else to be jealous about.
Down south here, our chief regulation of the ISP's, the head of the FCC - also the former CEO of the Cable Lobbying Organization as well as former CEO of the Wireless Lobbying Org appointed by President Obama - just announced that we'd have net nuetrality down here but the companies could pay each other for faster access, but this would be okay cause they could ask the FCC to look at the prices...with big strong guys like the former head of the Cable Lobbying Organization in charge of the FCC, what's to worry?
Trust me, we're quite jealous of what the FCC does down there as well - for we're often screwed up here.
For example - take cable services - we're required to buy a set top box from the provider - provided through the provider or a reseller, and that box cannot be moved to another provider even if they use the same equipment. Effectively, we're forced to buy equipment we can only use with the provider. We can't buy used equipment (except if it was originally sold by the provider), so no going to the US to buy cheap boxes, no going to another province, etc. Your box is locked to the provider, no one else in Canada will activate it. And if your box doesn't match any serial number the provider bought, they won't activate it either.
This includes stuff like broadband modems for internet too - if you're not happy with the cable modem your provider gives you, too f'in bad - you can't buy a different one because they won't activate it.
And it's only been a few years now that we've had cellphone number portability, and only within the last year that 3 year cellphone contracts have been eliminated, providers have to provide unlock codes for SIM locked phones, and no more surprise roaming charges and other stuff.
So for this one ruling, Canada's still a place where the telecommunications firms rule. Your FCC does a lot right in comparison.
Proposed Disk Array With 99.999% Availablity For 4 Years, Sans Maintenance
What they didn't mention is that the same reliability can be achieved with only three spares, by replacing spares at your convenience. Replacing drives can be somewhat costly if it has to be done quickly, but if you can schedule to replace the failed drive "some time in the next two months", that probably won't be costly.
The goal is to realize that for manufacturers, service calls are expensive. Perhaps a company has a 4 hour response time - if a disk fails, the company is still running with redundancy, but they're wanting that drive replaced pronto, which is easily $500+ per incident (need to have spares on hand, drop ship extras if a tech runs low, need to station techs around, maybe even need to fly a tech in).
So the goal is that building an extra 13 spare 1TB drives (which probably cost under $50 in bulk) is $650, or the cost of just over one service call.
If enough drives have to be replaced then the tech can change a whole pile of them at once, which is still cheaper than sending people out for individual drive failures.
The goal is basically to have no service calls over the service life - then maybe refresh it periodically at one's convenience by replacing all the failed drives in one go.
Georgia Institute of Technology Researchers Bridge the Airgap
I'd be curious to know (I'm definitely underinformed, so this is an honest question) whether that tactic has lost some effectiveness over time. The classic monitoring-RF-to-read-CRTs stuff depended on getting an adequately clean copy of the distinctly analog output of the CRT. Now, all signals are fundamentally analog signals; but digital signals are analog signals designed to make guessing the correct value really easy(since there are only two possibilities, rather than an arbitrary number of them); and now more than ever it's a safe guess that sensitive data will be heading over a number of RF-emitting digital busses, from the keyboard to the computer, within the computer, and likely to the monitor as well.
Does the broadband noise still drown out the desired signal sufficiently to prevent reconstruction, or does our increased emphasis on high-speed digital busses (often designed to operate with some amount of error correction in the event of cheap lousy hardware being cheap and lousy) make it more tractable to either unambiguously pick the correct interpretation of a noisy input, or make a number of guesses and use known features of the bus to help eliminate the incorrect ones?
Well, it has lost a lot of effectiveness because we switched from CRTs to LCDs - a CRT has very distinct emission patterns because it has to drive the electron beam around. So you can detect when the syncs happen because they're driven by huge magnetic field coils on the side of the CRT in a standard frequency and pattern (vsync happens at the Hz level, hsync at the kHz level), and the amplifiers that drive the electron guns emit a lot of RF as they operate.
These days the emissions are far lower because we're not having to accelerate an electron beam, so the amplitudes are lower. Sure you can sniff the signal cabling but unless you're using analog cabling, most external signalling use a form of encoding that's designed to minimize RF emissions. Not because of Van Eck, but because they want to spread the peaks of emissions across a broadband range which makes it easier to pass RF emissions tests (e.g., FCC emissions tests).
So using a DVI or HDMI cable causes the signal to smear (TMDS - transition minimized differential signalling - transitions cause the big spikes in RF emissions, so if you can minimize them, you can increase rise/fall times which lowers RF emissions, spreading and smearing the signal across a wider frequency band and trying to hide it in the noise).
Of course, most digital busses don't do this (they assume the entire system will be RF shielded), same as CPUs so with the right receiver, those signals show up pretty clearly, especially if you can compromise the RF shielding.
Why ATM Bombs May Be Coming Soon To the United States
explain why pennies are still in circulation in the US!
Because there are actually people who live such lives that pennies matter in the US.
Getting rid of the penny is easy. Dealing with the social aftermath is not - try to explain to said poor folk that they're now paying up to 4 cents more for food (what, you think people always round properly? I've stopped dealing with many businesses who decide rounding UP always was going to be their business model) or other necessity. Or how it always seems that even if it rounds properly, the amount always seems to be against them (i.e., it always costs 1 or 2 cents more).
Yes, there are people who literally live and die by pennies every day. And no, they're too poor in the US to have much dealings with banking.
Snowden Documents: CSE Tracks Millions of Downloads Daily
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms? Not in Harper's Canada.
How true. Back in 2012, the Charter turned 30. Instead of celebrating that event (to be honest, it's been a serious PITA for politicians because it always gets in the way of fancy new laws they want to enact)
Instead of celebrating one of the largest social changes in Canada's history, what does Harper celebrate? The war of 1812 - a relatively minor war in Canadian history And he does it using apparently the worst ads in history - given two different ads, the government ran the one that drove people away. The irony is they did audience studies and had apparently a set of ads that got people interested in Canadian history.
Adobe's Latest Zero-Day Exploit Repurposed, Targeting Adult Websites
My favorite part is where the updater tells you that a new update is ready, but it won't install it automatically because Adobe needs another ad impression or something and you have to download and install it yourself. This is why I don't have Flash or Java installed anymore. I especially like when they try to sideload some crapware toolbar with their security update too. I can kind of understand this sort of behavior from a sketchy freeware app being hosted by J. Random Guy, but Oracle and Adobe are multimillion dollar corporations. Do they really care so little about their brand?
I don't get it - I mean Flash used to have an auto-updater that popped up when you rebooted and installed the latest version after getting permission. Now they make you visit their damn web page to download the updated installer which you then must run.
At least Oracle is slightly better in that it downloads and runs the updater automatically. Only slightly because they both want you to install Symantec or McAfee or Chrome or Ask or whatever.
But Flash updates are useless as they just point you to their website. And it used to work just fine by itself.
Adobe's Latest Zero-Day Exploit Repurposed, Targeting Adult Websites
As soon as sites stop putting in 40 freaking ad networks each page perhaps we will sTop. They are getting worse and worse with MOST SHOCKING
Ironically, they're all owned by Google, those ad networks. Maybe if you went to shadier sites you'll find the 2% (Google has around 98% marketshare in online advertising thanks to ownership of such fine ad networks like DoubleClick and other purveyors of pop ups and pop unders) that Google doesn't have.
The American App Economy Is Now "Bigger Than Hollywood"
Case in point, Clash of Clans makes $500,000 per day and it is well known that Apple commands the overwhelming majority of mobile app $$$ volume. If you add in the revenue from the top 100 "freemium" pay-to-play games that $10 billion figure is going to shrink very, very quickly.
It depends, actually.
On iOS, a developer is far better off making an ad-free app and selling it for money in the App Store.
On Android, though, the situation is a developer will not make money this way - instead, the better way to make money is to give away your app for free and pay for it via in-app ads. You'll make far more money this way, and be able to rape your customer's devices for information (something iOS asks permission for - an app can't access the contact list without the user knowing).
So on IOS, sell your app to make money, no ads.
On Android, give away your app and sell ads.
I don't have statistics on in-app purchases though if I had to guess, I would say Android makes more money because of bigger audience.
A game like Clash of Clans may make half a million a day, but the split is probably 1:3 iOS:Android because there would be more Android users, and assuming they're just as likely to pay up.
Nobel Laureate and Laser Inventor Charles Townes Passes
He also discovered electron tunneling, though he gave it as evidence of how nonsensical quantum mechanics was. He was correct on the derivation, but wrong on the interpretation.
Well, it IS nonsensical - I mean, by what means should an electron be able to go from point A to point B without acquiring the necessary energy to get over the energy barrier? Granted, the uncertainty principle means there's a chance it could "borrow" the energy temporarily, but that's a random event. What happened is we have a controllable way to tunnel electrons.
These days we use electron tunnelling every day - the NAND flash chip relies on the floating gate to hold electrons and influence the transistor's parameters which is how it stores bits. And to get those electrons to the gate, we merely bias the transistor in such a way that electrons magically disappear and reappear on the floating gate, without shooting the electrons through the insulation.
We don't get why or how they do it, but we can exploit it.
New Micro-Ring Resonator Creates Quantum Entanglement On a Silicon Chip
Entanglement communicates state by some mechanism that has no measurable latency. Making a computing device based on entanglement would be amazing.
Sorry, that doesn't happen because information doesn't transfer faster than the speed of light.
What happens Is you have two entangled particles. If you measure the state of one, the other one flips to the opposite state instantaneously.
However, you cannot control what you measure. Perhaps you were measuring if the particle was up spin or down spin. Well, you measure it, and find it up spin. The only information you have is you know the other one is down spin.
The other side measuring will find yes, it's down spin (if they measure it after you) but they only know that means your particle is up-spin.
You have no idea what it means - it's not like you can say "if you measure up-spin on your particle, I won" then send the particles on their way, because the result of the measurement is non-deterministic. If you won, your measurement will produce a 50-50 chance it will measure as down-spin for you. For all you know, you run the measurement and it comes up as up-spin.
No real information has been transferred because you cannot control the result of the measurement.
The iPad Is 5 Years Old This Week, But You Still Don't Need One
It is also worth noting here that there is more to this market equation than *just* Tablet vs. Smartphone.
Steve Jobs didn't envision in a "Post PC" world that the PC would be dead - he noted there will always be a PC, just that they would do things more suited to a PC than trying to clunkily adapt when forced into situations they were not designed for.
You have a smartphone, you have a tablet, and you have the PC. The deal is that each does stuff better than the others. What we used to do clumsily on PCs we did better with tablets and smartphones.
I mean, people like to watch TV away from the TV - pre-iPad, that meant having to watch on a laptop or a phone. The phone was too small, the laptop too big and heavy and uncomfortable.
Or read a book - you could use a Kindle which works, except when you need color Read it on your phone or laptop is not very appealing.
There is not one device that's perfect for all tasks. There are things a smartphone will do better than either a tablet or laptop. There are things a tablet will do better than a smartphone or laptop. And there are plenty of things a laptop will do better than a tablet or smartphone. Sure you can substitute one for the other, but the end result is often sub-par.
Jobs even did the mandatory car analogy - the PC is a truck - a very versatile vehicle that can do tons of things, but to be honest, there are times when a car is far better. And it's why we have a variety of vehicles out on the roads - each has their own place. Sure they could all be replaced with trucks, but the truck can be quite subpar in some respects over a car. Doesn't mean in a "post-truck" world you get rid of all trucks - no, that's stupid. It just means you now have vehicles more suited to different activities.
How One Small Company Blocked 15.1 Million Robocalls Last Year
I don't SMS. Sorry. I don't even have a texting plan at all because I've never used it, never had a reason to use it, and all the texts I've received over the years were all spam. Maybe only a couple were legitmate, one when I was keeping a number alive via Google Voice, and another when Google or someone texted me a confirmation code (I think it may have been my carrier to confirm a purchase).
Now, I too only answer the phone when I recognize the number. However, I admit, I have a landline as well and expect people to call that and leave a voicemail (did I mention I don't have voicemail on my phone, either?).
And yes, I've also been caught by my own filter - I did happen to forget my phone one day and had to use a payphone. I left a message.
I never have to pay for incoming calls (unless I am roaming in another country) here in Europe. So there is no cost. Yet I have NEVER received a cold call on my phone.
Not once in the probably 10 years I have the number.
That's because in Europe, the caller pays, and to help differentiate the call rates, cellphones have a different prefix so you can tell when you're going to pay.
So of course people won't robocall a cellphone in Europe - why would you when it'll cost you 10 cents to make the call? Calling a landline is free, calling a cellphone is not. Naturally forcing people to pay will get them to not pay in the end.
Of course, in North America that's not feasible since a phone number can be a landline or a cellphone and there's no way to tell just by looking. Especially since numbers can go between the two for number portability.
Though, the carriers can implement caller pays by simply stating the called number is a cellphone and do they want to pay for the call.
Ask Slashdot: What Makes a Great Software Developer?
I absolutely agree that curiosity (along with a willingness to actually RTFM) go a long way to making one indispensable in a team. However, that brings its own risks with it: If you can't be replaced, you can't be promoted. How do you balance the benefits to your career (in terms of increased productivity, reputation etc) against the risks (stagnation, either because they can't manage without you, or because they realise how productive you are and aren't prepared to lose your utility)?
Even the go-to guy can be promoted - he becomes the technical guru (sometimes referred to as system architect or system analyst, even).
There are two career tracks, after all - you could go up through management, or the technical track. You may know the entire system, but as you go up, what you do is you teach - even I find my job consists less and less coding and more and more architecting, solving problems, and thinking, evaluating and reporting.
Hell, by knowing the system you know you can make reasonable estimates - if someone says it's simple but you know it's a hairy mess, that makes your life so much easier.
And anyhow, as you rise, there will be new know-it-alls as well and what makes you good is you all learn from each other (one of the biggest problems is ego, and learning to eat crow and to respect that someone may actually know more than you makes you even better still.
Of course, there's also a laziness aspect - I hate writing pages of code if I can think about it a little more and turn out something more concise, so what little coding I do often starts with a lot of pre-planning to what I do write is simple and not complicated.