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Before Using StingRays, Police Must Sign NDA With FBI

samzenpus posted 1 hour ago | from the the-first-rule-of-tracking-club dept.

Privacy 42

v3rgEz writes Advanced cell phone tracking devices known as StingRays allow police nationwide to home in on suspects and to log individuals present at a given location. But before acquiring a StingRay, state and local police must sign a nondisclosure agreement with the FBI, according to documents released via a MuckRock FOIA request. As Shawn Musgrave reports, it's an unusual setup arrangement for two public agencies to swear each other to secrecy, but such maneuvers are becoming more common.

Ask Slashdot: Who Should Pay Costs To Attend Conferences?

samzenpus posted 7 hours ago | from the conference-or-else dept.

Businesses 156

An anonymous reader writes I wanted to get your opinion on who should pay the costs associated with attending conferences. In the past, I've covered costs associated with attending some local (in town) conferences, but despite claims to be willing to cover some costs associated with conferences, training, and certifications, my requests have been denied. The short version is I would like to attend a national conference, hosted in Las Vegas, and that while specific to a technology, it is what 90% of my day is related to so its directly work related. My employer has declined to pay some of the costs associated with the conference, but has said if I pay my way, they will pay for the training associated with it. Since this is a pretty hot technology, I'm very interested in getting certified and appreciate their offer.

I should add that I work for a public entity and due to some fairly public issues, we have enjoyed record levels of funding the past couple of years. We know that they cannot afford to continue so we're about to start a multi-year decrease in our budget. My current thoughts are: First, I was working for a company where we faced potential layoffs, getting as close as to within 24 hours of one. Even just having some job security is extremely appreciated. Second, I work in a WONDERFUL environment. They aren't clock punchers, its about getting the job done. We're not micromanaged and have freedom to try new things. For the public sector, I know those are rare things and I appreciate them. Third, I work on a very talented team. I am probably the weakest member, so for me its a perfect learning/growth opportunity. Finally, its not my employer saying the conference isn't important, its looking at the bottom line and that we are a public entity so its not like we can easily raise more money. Tough decisions must be made.

For this particular conference, I decided to try and save up my own money. Unfortunately, my personal life has gotten in the way, so I've resorted to begging. My problem with this is I hate begging, but what am I going to do for future conferences? So should I re-think my acceptance of my employers policy and start looking for a new job? Obviously, it is a personal decision, but I don't have a mentor or close friends to act as sounding boards, so I'd love to hear your thoughts.

How Our Botched Understanding of "Science" Ruins Everything

samzenpus posted 7 hours ago | from the you-keep-using-that-word-I-do-not-think-it-means-what-you-think-it-means dept.

Education 573

An anonymous reader writes "Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry writes at The Week, "If you ask most people what science is, they will give you an answer that looks a lot like Aristotelian 'science' — i.e., the exact opposite of what modern science actually is. Capital-S Science is the pursuit of capital-T Truth. And science is something that cannot possibly be understood by mere mortals. It delivers wonders. It has high priests. It has an ideology that must be obeyed. This leads us astray. ... Countless academic disciplines have been wrecked by professors' urges to look 'more scientific' by, like a cargo cult, adopting the externals of Baconian science (math, impenetrable jargon, peer-reviewed journals) without the substance and hoping it will produce better knowledge. ... This is how you get people asserting that 'science' commands this or that public policy decision, even though with very few exceptions, almost none of the policy options we as a polity have have been tested through experiment (or can be). People think that a study that uses statistical wizardry to show correlations between two things is 'scientific' because it uses high school math and was done by someone in a university building, except that, correctly speaking, it is not. ... This is how you get the phenomenon ... thinking science has made God irrelevant, even though, by definition, religion concerns the ultimate causes of things and, again, by definition, science cannot tell you about them. ... It also means that for all our bleating about 'science' we live in an astonishingly unscientific and anti-scientific society. We have plenty of anti-science people, but most of our 'pro-science' people are really pro-magic (and therefore anti-science). "

Nobody's Neutral In Net Neutrality Debate

samzenpus posted 8 hours ago | from the picking-sides dept.

Businesses 101

ygslash writes Michael Wolff at USA Today has a long list of the many stakeholders in the net neutrality debate, and what each has to gain or lose. The net neutrality issue has made its way into the mainstream consciousness, thanks to grassroots activism and some help from John Oliver on HBO. But it's not as simple as just net neutrality idealists versus the cable companies or versus the FCC. One important factor that has raised the stakes in net neutrality is the emergence ("unanticipated" by Wolff, but not by all of us) of the Internet as the primary medium for distribution of video content. And conversely, the emergence of video content in general and Netflix in particular as by far the most significant consumers of Internet bandwidth. So anyone involved in the distribution of video content has a lot to gain or lose by the outcome of the net neutrality struggle.

Kickstarter Lays Down New Rules For When a Project Fails

samzenpus posted 9 hours ago | from the setting-expectations dept.

The Almighty Buck 172

An anonymous reader writes "In a blog post, Kickstarter announced several updates to its terms of use for projects. From the article: "Kickstarter has iterated on its policies several times since it launched in 2009, with the most recent wave of revisions surrounding the site's transition from only posting projects cleared by the staff to clearing all projects that meet a basic set of criteria. Even still, some projects lack clear goals, encounter setbacks, or fail to deliver, like the myIDkey project that has burned through $3.5 million without yet to distributing a finished product. The most recent terms revision is timely: on Thursday, science fiction author Neal Stephenson announced that a game he Kickstarted in 2012 with $526,000 in funding was officially canceled."

Hundreds of Thousands Turn Out For People's Climate March In New York City

samzenpus posted 9 hours ago | from the cooling-things-off dept.

Earth 167

mdsolar writes with an update on the People's Climate March. More than 400,000 people turned out for the People's Climate March in New York City on Sunday, just days before many of the world's leaders are expected to debate environmental action at the United Nations climate summit. Early reports from event organizers are hailing the turnout as the largest climate march in history, far bigger than the Forward on Climate rally held in Washington, D.C., last year. High-profile environmentalists including Bill McKibben, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jane Goodall and Vandana Shiva marched alongside policymakers such as Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and former Vice President Al Gore were also there, and more than 550 buses carried in people from around the country.

Trouble In Branson-Land, As Would-Be Space Tourists Get Antsy Over Delays

timothy posted yesterday | from the that's-only-a-few-months dept.

Transportation 76

schwit1 (797399) writes "Rumors are flying that some of the individuals who gave Virgin Galactic deposits for space tourism flights on SpaceShipTwo are demanding their money back. It appears that the most recent delay, revealed by Branson on David Letterman, is the cause." How much would you pay to go to space, if the ticket was only good starting 10 years from now? How about 20? How about, as Branson claims, if it was early next year?

Mark Zuckerberg Throws Pal Joe Green Under the Tech Immigration Bus

timothy posted yesterday | from the sorry-pal dept.

United States 234

theodp (442580) writes "A month after he argued that Executive Action by President Obama on tech immigration was needed lest his billionaire bosses at Mark Zuckerberg's FWD.us PAC have to hire 'just sort of OK' U.S. workers, Re/code reports that Joe Green — Zuckerberg's close friend and college roommate — has been pushed out of his role as President of FWD.us for failing to Git-R-Done on an issue critical to the tech community. "Today, we wanted to share an important change with you," begins 'Leadership Change', the announcement from the FWD.us Board that Todd Schulte is the new Green. So what sold FWD.us on Schulte? "His [Schulte's] prior experience as Chief-of-Staff at Priorities USA, the Super PAC supporting President Obama's re-election," assured Zuckerberg in a letter to FWD.us contributors, "will ensure FWD.us continues its momentum for reform." Facebook, reported the Washington Post in 2013, became legally "dependent" on H-1B visas and subject to stricter regulations shortly before Zuckerberg launched FWD.us with Green at the helm."

Fork of Systemd Leads To Lightweight Uselessd

timothy posted yesterday | from the not-big-and-fancy dept.

Open Source 424

An anonymous reader writes A boycott of systemd and other backlash around systemd's feature-creep has led to the creation of Uselessd, a new init daemon. Uselessd is a fork of systemd 208 that strips away functionality considered irrelevant to an init system like the systemd journal and udev. Uselessd also adds in functionality not accepted in upstream systemd like support for alternative C libraries (namely uClibc and musl) and it's even being ported to BSD.

Secret Service Critics Pounce After White House Breach

timothy posted yesterday | from the owen-wilson-has-the-president-well-protected dept.

Government 213

HughPickens.com writes On Friday evening, a man jumped the White House fence, sprinted across the North Lawn toward the residence, and was eventually tackled by agents, but not before he managed to actually enter the building. Now CBS reports that the security breach at the White House is prompting a new round of criticism for the Secret Service, with lawmakers and outside voices saying the incident highlights glaring deficiencies in the agency's protection of the president and the first family. "Because of corner-cutting and an ingrained cultural attitude by management of 'we make do with less,' the Secret Service is not protecting the White House with adequate agents and uniformed officers and is not keeping up to date with the latest devices for detecting intruders and weapons of mass destruction," says Ronald Kessler. "The fact that the Secret Service does not even provide a lock for the front door of the White House demonstrates its arrogance." But the Secret Service must also consider the consequences of overreaction says White House correspondent Major Garrett. "If you have a jumper and he is unarmed and has no bags or backpacks or briefcase, do you unleash a dog and risk having cell phone video shot from Pennsylvania Avenue of an unarmed, mentally ill person being bitten or menaced by an attack dog?" But Kessler says Julia Pierson, the first woman to head the Secret Service, has some explaining to do. "If the intruder were carrying chemical, biological or radiological weapons and President Obama and his family had been in, we would have had a dead president as well as a dead first family."

Is Alibaba Comparable To a US Company?

timothy posted 2 days ago | from the well-the-name-is-magical-to-start dept.

Businesses 111

lpress writes Alibaba is this week's hot news — they have had a lengthy PR campaign (preceded by a documentary film) followed by a record-setting stock offering. After a day of trading Alibaba's market capitalization was comparable to that of established tech giants. But, there are cultural and structural differences between Alibaba and U.S. companies. Alibaba is tightly woven into a complex fabric of personal, corporate and government organization relationships. The same can be said of information technology companies in Singapore. Is owning a share of, say, Apple, conceptually the same as owning a share of Alibaba?

Washington DC To Return To Automatic Metro Trains

timothy posted 2 days ago | from the nothing-can-go-nothing-can-go-nothing-can-go-wrong dept.

Transportation 175

Bruce66423 (1678196) writes with news of interest to anyone with reason to ride mass transit in the U.S., specifically on the D.C. Metro system: After a crash some five years ago, automatic operation was abandoned. Now however replacement of 'faulty' modules means that moving the whole system on to automatic operation can happen. One quote is depressing: "And because trains regularly lurch to a halt a few feet short of where they should be at platforms, Metrorail riders have grown accustomed to hearing an announcement while they're waiting to board: 'Stand clear. Train moving forward.'" That never happens on the London underground with human operators? What's wrong with American drivers?

Is Google's Non-Tax Based Public School Funding Cause For Celebration?

timothy posted 2 days ago | from the more-the-merrier dept.

Education 88

theodp (442580) writes "Google's "flash-funding" of teachers' projects via DonorsChoose continues to draw kudos from grateful mayors of the nation's largest cities. The latest comes from Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto (fresh from a Google-paid stay at the Google Zeitgeist resort), who joined Google officials at Taylor Allderdice HS, where Google announced it was 'flash funding' all Pittsburgh area teachers' crowd-funding campaigns on DonorsChoose.org. DonorsChoose reports that Google spent $64,657 to fund projects for 10,924 Pittsburgh kids. While the not-quite-$6-a-student is nice, it does pale by comparison to the $56,742 Google is ponying up to send one L.A. teacher's 34 students to London and Paris and the $35,858 it's spending to take another L.A. teacher's 52 kids to NYC, Gettysburg, and DC. So, is Google's non-tax based public school funding — which includes gender-based funding as well as "begfunding" — cause for celebration?"

Ask Slashdot: Alternate Software For Use On Smartboards?

timothy posted 2 days ago | from the if-they're-smart-they-can-write-it-themselves dept.

Education 90

SmarterThanMe (1679358) writes Teacher here, you can call me Mr. SmarterThanMe. I have a fancy smartboard installed in my room. Smartboards allow me to show students a whole range of other stuff other than just whatever I'm writing. I can prepare instructions and activities before the lesson and just move through the boards. I can pull up some students' work and display it through the projector. I can bring up some stimulus for use in a writing task. So much better than blackboards. Except the software that comes bundled with this particular brand of smartboard is ridiculously clunky. Without naming this particular piece of software, and highlighting its shortfalls, has anyone got any suggestions on alternatives (open source or otherwise)? The main features that I'd like are:

  • Handwriting recognition
  • The ability to make and use templates
  • Grids or guides or *something* to be able to teach measurement

I have gold star stickers for any good suggestions.

Proposed Law Would Limit US Search Warrants For Data Stored Abroad

timothy posted 2 days ago | from the step-in-the-right-direction dept.

Privacy 119

An anonymous reader writes On Thursday, a bipartisan law was introduced in the Senate that would limit US law enforcement's ability to obtain user data from US companies with servers physically located abroad. Law enforcement would still be able to gain access to those servers with a US warrant, but the warrant would be limited to data belonging to US citizens. This bill, called the LEADS Act (PDF), addresses concerns by the likes of Microsoft and other tech giants that worry about the impact law enforcement over-reach will have on their global businesses. Critics remain skeptical: "we are concerned about how the provision authorizing long-arm warrants for the accounts of US persons would be administered, and whether we could reasonably expect reciprocity from other nations on such an approach."

KDE's UI To Bend Toward Simplicity

timothy posted 2 days ago | from the bringing-the-good-stuff-to-the-surface dept.

KDE 182

sfcrazy (1542989) writes "KDE Software is often criticized for being too complicated for an average user to use. Try setting up Kmail and you would know what I mean. The KDE developers are aware of it and now they are working on making KDE UI simpler. KDE usability team lead Thomas Pfeiffer Thomas prefers a layered feature exposure so that users can enjoy certain advanced features at a later stage after they get accustomed to the basic functionality of the application. He quotes the earlier (pre-Plasma era) vision of KDE 4 – "Anything that makes Linux interesting for technical users (shells, compilation, drivers, minute user settings) will be available; not as the default way of doing things, but at the user's discretion."

Why a Chinese Company Is the Biggest IPO Ever In the US

timothy posted 2 days ago | from the visible-from-space dept.

China 190

An anonymous reader writes The Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has made headlines lately in US financial news. At the closing of its Initial Public Offering (IPO) on Friday, it had raised $21.8 billion on the New York Stock Exchange, larger even than Visa's ($17.9 billion), Facebook's ($16 billion), and General Motors ($15.8 billion) IPOs. Some critics do say that Alibaba's share price will plummet from its current value of $93.60 in the same way that Facebook's and Twitter's plummeted dramatically after initial offerings. Before we speculate, however, we should take note of what Alibaba is exactly. Beyond the likes of Amazon and eBay, Alibaba apparently links average consumers directly to manufacturers, which is handy for an economy ripe for change. Approximately half of Alibaba's shares "were sold to 25 investment firms", and "most of the shares went to US investors."

Dropbox and Google Want To Make Open Source Security Tools Easy To Use

Soulskill posted 3 days ago | from the bang-your-head-on-the-screen-to-unlock-your-forehead-profile dept.

Open Source 24

An anonymous reader writes: Dropbox, Google, and the Open Technology Fund have announced a new organization focused on making open source security tools easier to use. Called Simply Secure, the initiative brings together security researchers with experts in user interaction and design to boost adoption rates for consumer-facing security solutions. The companies point out that various security options already do exist, and are technically effective. Features like two-factor authentication remain useless, however, because users don't adopt them due to inconvenience or technical difficulty.

Canadian Regulator Threatens To Impose New Netflix Regulation

Soulskill posted 3 days ago | from the play-ball-or-go-away dept.

Canada 318

An anonymous reader writes: Netflix appeared before the Canadian broadcast regulator today, resulting in a remarkably heated exchange, with threats of new regulation. The discussion was very hostile — the CRTC repeatedly ordered Netflix to provide subscriber information and other confidential data. As tempers frayed, the Canadian regulator expressed disappointment over the responses from a company that it said "takes hundreds of millions of dollars out of Canada." The CRTC implicitly threatened to regulate the company by taking away its ability to rely on the new media exception if it did not cooperate with its orders.

TrueCrypt Gets a New Life, New Name

Soulskill posted 3 days ago | from the and-hopefully-won't-disappear-into-the-void dept.

Encryption 260

storagedude writes: Amid ongoing security concerns, the popular open source encryption program TrueCrypt may have found new life under a new name. Under the terms of the TrueCrypt license — which was a homemade open source license written by the authors themselves rather than a standard one — a forking of the code is allowed if references to TrueCrypt are removed from the code and the resulting application is not called TrueCrypt. Thus, CipherShed will be released under a standard open source license, with long-term ambitions to become a completely new product.

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