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  • An Algorithm to End the Lines for Ice at Burning Man

    Any gathering of 65,000 people in the desert is going to require some major infrastructure to maintain health and sanity. At Burning Man, some of that infrastructure is devoted to a supply chain for ice. Writes Bennett Haselton, The lines for ice bags at Burning Man could be cut from an hour long at peak times, to about five minutes, by making one small... Well, read the description below of how they do things now, and see if the same suggested change occurs to you. I'm curious whether it's the kind of idea that is more obvious to students of computer science who think algorithmically, or if it's something that could occur to anyone. Read on for the rest; Bennett's idea for better triage may bring to mind a lot of other queuing situations and ways that time spent waiting in line could be more efficiently employed.

    201 comments | 4 hours ago

  • Developers, IT Still Racking Up (Mostly) High Salaries

    Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes Software development and IT remain common jobs among those in the higher brackets, although not the topmost one, according to a new study (with graph) commissioned by NPR. Among those earning between $58,000 and $72,000, IT was the sixth-most-popular job, while software developers came in tenth place. In the next bracket up (earning between $72,000 and $103,000), IT rose to third, with software development just behind in fourth place. As incomes increased another level ($103,000 to $207,000), software developers did even better, coming in second behind managers, although IT dropped off the list entirely. In the top percentile ($207,000 and above), neither software developers nor IT staff managed to place; this is a segment chiefly occupied by physicians (in first place), managers, chief executives, lawyers, and salespeople who are really good at their jobs. In other words, it seems like a good time to be in IT, provided you have a particular skillset. If those high salaries are in Silicon Valley or New York, though, they might not seem as high as half the same rate would in Omaha, or Houston, or Raleigh.

    129 comments | 4 hours ago

  • IBM Pays GlobalFoundries $1.5 Billion To Shed Its Chip Division

    helix2301 writes with word that Big Blue has become slightly smaller: IBM will pay $1.5 billion to GlobalFoundries in order to shed its costly chip division. IBM will make payments to the chipmaker over three years, but it took a $4.7 billion charge for the third quarter when it reported earnings Monday. The company fell short of Wall Street profit expectations and revenue slid 4 percent, sending shares down 8 percent before the opening bell.

    72 comments | 8 hours ago

  • Robot SmackDowns Wants To Bring Robot Death Matches To an Arena Near You

    Business Insider profiles Andrew Stroup, Gui Cavalcanti and Matt Oehrlein, who are trying to get off the ground a robot competition league, called Robot SmackDowns. The idea, as you might guess from the name, is to showcase violence and drama to draw on the crowd-appeal of wrestling, NASCAR, and monster truck rallies: this is definitely not Dean Kamen's FIRST — it's giant mechanical beasts shooting at and otherwise trying to destroy each other. And it's not quite right to call them robots in the usual sense; they're more like mecha: "In a MegaBots battle, a two-member team sits inside the bot's upper torso, where the controls systems are housed. Although the co-founders assure me that the pilot and gunner are well protected inside, the situation presents a heightened suspense. Each 15,000-pound robot is equipped with six-inch cannons inside its arms that fire paint-filled missiles and cannon balls at 120 miles per hour. Good aim can cause enough damage to jam its opponent's weapons system or shoot off a limb." They'll be launching a Kickstarter campaign soon; according to the article, "Assuming it raises enough money to build a fleet, [the company's] plan is to take the bots on the road. They will tour the country, face off in epic battles against other MegaBots, and build a fan base. Stroup says (without giving specifics) networks have reached out and will closely watch how MegaBot, Inc.'s upcoming Kickstarter campaign performs. The possibilities for distribution seem endless, though the team is tight-lipped about the exact direction it's headed."

    80 comments | 2 days ago

  • Kickstarter Cancels Anonabox Funding Campaign

    An anonymous reader writes: On Friday, the controversy surrounding Anonabox reached its zenith with Kickstarter officially canceling the project's funding campaign. Anonabox began with a modest goal of $7,500, but quickly reached its goal 82 times over. Then funders and interested parties began to scrutinize the project's claims, and that's when the project ran into trouble. From hardware that wasn't actually custom-made to software that didn't actually fulfill promises of privacy-focused routing on the internet, the facts regarding Anonabox proved that it was in blatant violation of Kickstarter's rules against false advertising. This project clearly failed, but if the support it initially garnered is any indication, the public is hungry for easy-to-use technology that encrypts and anonymizes all personal internet traffic.

    75 comments | 2 days ago

  • Bill Gates: Piketty's Attack on Income Inequality Is Right

    New submitter rvw sends word that Bill Gates has posted a review of Capital in the Twenty-First Century, an acclaimed book by economist Thomas Piketty about how income equality is a necessary result of unchecked capitalism. Gates, one of the most successful capitalists of our time, agrees with Piketty's most important conclusions. That said, he also finds parts of the book to be flawed and incomplete, but says Piketty has started vital debate on these issues. Gates writes, Yes, some level of inequality is built in to capitalism. As Piketty argues, it is inherent to the system. The question is, what level of inequality is acceptable? And when does inequality start doing more harm than good? That's something we should have a public discussion about, and it's great that Piketty helped advance that discussion in such a serious way. ... I agree that taxation should shift away from taxing labor. It doesn't make any sense that labor in the United States is taxed so heavily relative to capital. It will make even less sense in the coming years, as robots and other forms of automation come to perform more and more of the skills that human laborers do today. But rather than move to a progressive tax on capital, as Piketty would like, I think we'd be best off with a progressive tax on consumption.

    826 comments | 4 days ago

  • Anonabox Accused of Lying About Its Product Being Open-Source On Kickstarter

    blottsie writes The "anonabox" has raised more than $550,000 on Kickstarter in only three days. But some believe the company's claims that the router-like device, which is said to automatically route users' Internet traffic through Tor, is entirely open-source are false. Anonabox developer August Germar tells the Daily Dot, however, that the device was commissioned specifically to run their code.

    72 comments | 4 days ago

  • HBO To Offer Online Streaming Without TV Subscription

    An anonymous reader writes By now, everyone not living in total isolation knows that HBO has announced plans to offer content streaming in 2015 with no TV subscription requirements. Many wonder what took HBO so long to make this transition. Some speculate that the growing unpopularity of ISP giants has shifted bargaining power in HBO's favor. Others say that it's purely maths; there are more cord-cutters and more people willing to shell out money for specific content, as evidenced by Netflix surpassing HBO in earnings this year "despite Netflix having a smaller customer base". Whatever the reason, all are expecting this development to induce "more content providers to make their shows more readily available online".

    139 comments | 4 days ago

  • The Great Robocoin Rip-off

    FhnuZoag writes: Last year, Andrew Wilkinson, founder of MetaLab, bought a Robocoin Bitcoin ATM, figuring it would be a fun little side project and a good way to help move Bitcoin forward. It did not quite turn out that way. He has now written a timeline of the 10-month, $25,000(CAD) struggle. In short: there was a massive shipping delay, a $2,000 charge to clear customs, no knowledge base, unhelpful support, and the ATM itself flat out didn't work.

    116 comments | 5 days ago

  • "Double Irish" Tax Loophole Used By US Companies To Be Closed

    An anonymous reader writes: The Irish Finance Minister announced on Tuesday that Ireland will no longer allow companies to register in Ireland unless the companies are also tax resident. This will effectively close off the corporate tax avoidance scheme known as the "Double Irish" used by the likes of Google, Apple, and Facebook to route their earnings through their Irish holdings in order to garner an effective tax rate of, as in Google FY2013, 0.16%. Ireland's new policy will take effect in 2015 for new companies. "For existing companies, there will be provision for a transition period until the end of 2020."

    259 comments | 5 days ago

  • Too Much Privacy: Finnish Police Want Big Euro Notes Taken Out of Circulation

    jones_supa writes The Finnish Police are concerned that larger banknotes, namely the €200 and €500 banknotes, encourage criminal activity and should therefore be removed from Finnish cash circulation. Markku Ranta-aho, head of the Money Laundering Clearing House of Finland, says criminals prefer cash because it is harder for police to track. In contrast, a record of electronic money transfers remains in the banking system, which makes the police's job considerably easier. Ranta-aho also says citizens rarely use the larger banknotes anyway, with which The Bank of Finland's advisor Kari Takala agrees. However, The Bank of Finland is skeptical about the ability of a ban on €500 banknotes to eliminate underground labor and trade in Finland. Takala suggests criminals would just switch to smaller bills. More illegal transactions take place via bank transfers, he says.

    314 comments | about a week ago

  • Netflix To Charge More For 4K Video

    Mr D from 63 points out that watching Netflix in Ultra high-definition is going to cost you a little extra per month. A higher-resolution, 4K stream from Netflix will cost more. The company has boosted its monthly price for streaming ultrahigh-definition television and movies to $11.99 per month, citing the higher expenses associated with that content. In May, Netflix announced that its original series, such as House of Cards, would be available to stream in the 4K format, which offers roughly four times the resolution of current high-def TVs.

    158 comments | about a week ago

  • Google Rejects 58% of "Right To Be Forgotten" Requests

    gurps_npc writes CNN Money has a short, interesting piece on the results of Google implementing Europe's "Right to be Forgotten." They are denying most requests, particularly those made by convicted criminals, but are honoring the requests to remove salacious information — such as when a rape victim requested the article mentioning her by name be removed from searches for her name. "In evaluating a request, we will look at whether the results include outdated or inaccurate information about the person," Google said. "We'll also weigh whether or not there's a public interest in the information remaining in our search results -- for example, if it relates to financial scams, professional malpractice, criminal convictions or your public conduct as a government official."

    144 comments | about a week ago

  • Statisticians Uncover What Makes For a Stable Marriage

    HughPickens.com writes Randy Olson, a Computer Science grad student who works with data visualizations, writes about seven of the biggest factors that predict what makes for a long term stable marriage in America. Olson took the results of a study that polled thousands of recently married and divorced Americans and and asked them dozens of questions about their marriage (PDF): How long they were dating, how long they were engaged, etc. After running this data through a multivariate model, the authors were able to calculate the factors that best predicted whether a marriage would end in divorce. "What struck me about this study is that it basically laid out what makes for a stable marriage in the US," writes Olson. Here are some of the biggest factors:

    How long you were dating: (Couples who dated 1-2 years before their engagement were 20% less likely to end up divorced than couples who dated less than a year before getting engaged. Couples who dated 3 years or more are 39% less likely to get divorced.); How much money you make: (The more money you and your partner make, the less likely you are to ultimately file for divorce. Couples who earn $125K per year are 51% less likely to divorce than couples making 0 — 25k); How often you go to church: (Couples who never go to church are 2x more likely to divorce than regular churchgoers.); Your attitude toward your partner: (Men are 1.5x more likely to end up divorced when they care more about their partner's looks, and women are 1.6x more likely to end up divorced when they care more about their partner's wealth.); How many people attended the wedding: ("Crazy enough, your wedding ceremony has a huge impact on the long-term stability of your marriage. Perhaps the biggest factor is how many people attend your wedding: Couples who elope are 12.5x more likely to end up divorced than couples who get married at a wedding with 200+ people."); How much you spent on the wedding: (The more you spend on your wedding, the more likely you'll end up divorced.); Whether you had a honeymoon: (Couples who had a honeymoon are 41% less likely to divorce than those who had no honeymoon)

    Of course correlation is not causation. For example, expensive weddings may simply attract the kind of immature and narcissistic people who are less likely to sustain a successful marriage and such people might end up getting divorced even if they married cheaply. But "the particularly scary part here is that the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. is well over $30,000," says Olson, "which doesn't bode well for the future of American marriages."

    445 comments | about a week ago

  • Four Dutch Uberpop Taxi Drivers Arrested, Fined

    An anonymous reader writes with news that authorities in the Netherlands have arrested four drivers sharing their car for money through the Uberpop app. The drivers were then released with a fine of EUR 4,200 (USD 5,300) each and further threatened with additional fines of EUR 10,000 (USD 12,600) for each time they might be caught doing it again. While similar bullying applied to short rentals of private rooms through sites like Airbnb hasn't had the same success so far the thoughts go to the fined drivers, hoping they won't ever be caught carrying their grandmother to the supermarket then have to explain how they dared. Uber says it will "fully support" the affected drivers."

    280 comments | about a week ago

  • Mining Kickstarter Data Reveals How To Match Crowdfunding Projects To Investors

    KentuckyFC writes Since 2001, crowdfunding sites have raised almost $3 billion and in 2012 alone, successfully funded more than 1 million projects. But while many projects succeed, far more fail. The reasons for failure are varied and many but one of the most commonly cited is the inability to match a project with suitable investors. Now a group of researchers from Yahoo Labs and the University of Cambridge have mined data from Kickstarter to discover how investors choose projects to back. They studied over 1000 projects in the US funded by over 80,000 investors. They conclude that there are two types of backers: occasional investors who tend to back arts-related projects, probably because of some kind of social connection to the proposers; and frequent investors who have a much more stringent set of criteria. Frequent investors tend to fund projects that are well-managed, have high pledging goals, are global, grow quickly, and match their interests. The team is now working on a website that will create a list of the Twitter handles of potential investors given the URL of a Kickstarter project.

    20 comments | about a week ago

  • Ex-NSA Director Keith Alexander's Investments In Tech Firms: "No Conflict"

    Presto Vivace (882157) writes "No conflicts appear to exist" among Keith Alexander's investments, the NSA said. "New financial disclosure documents released this month by the National Security Agency (NSA) show that Keith Alexander, who served as its director from August 2005 until March 2014, had thousands of dollars of investments during his tenure in a handful of technology firms." Don't worry, the NSA assures us that there was no conflict of interest.

    59 comments | about a week ago

  • What Will It Take To Run a 2-Hour Marathon?

    HughPickens.com writes Alex Hutchinson writes at Runner's World that runners have cut the distance to the sub-two marathon in half since 1998, but it will get progressively harder to trim the remaining seconds. Still, the physiologists tell us that it's not impossible, meaning it is possible. Hutchinson says it will take several things: a cold day in March or November; a straight, flat course that is mind-numbingly boring; pacemakers who will shepherd leaders around the course cutting the wind and setting the pace; and a runner with a frame of about 5'6", weight of about 120 pounds, and towering self-confidence.The road is so flat and straight, you can see them coming from a mile away. Six runners flow in arrowhead formation around the Canadian city of Saskatoon. The early November air is still and dry, the sky overcast, and the temperature hovers a bit above freezing, just as predicted. All in their early 20s, they've been training together for this moment for years; only in the last month did their coach select which three will go for the record. The remaining three form the front of the arrowhead, blocking the wind and enduring the mental effort of controlling the pace. Should one of them cross the finish line in two hours—or faster—all six will share equally in the $50 million jackpot promised by the heirs to the Hoka One One fortune. The pot of money is up for grabs, for any runner, anywhere in the world. The chase is on. So, will they make it? And what year is this? I'm saying the year is...2075—and they make it.

    254 comments | about two weeks ago

  • AT&T To Repay $80 Million In Shady Phone Bill Charges

    First time accepted submitter dibdublin writes The Federal Trade Commission announced today that AT&T will pay $105 million for hiding extra charges in cellphone bills. The best part of the news? $80 million of it will go back into the pockets of people bilked by AT&T. The FTC announcement reads in part: "As part of a $105 million settlement with federal and state law enforcement officials, AT&T Mobility LLC will pay $80 million to the Federal Trade Commission to provide refunds to consumers the company unlawfully billed for unauthorized third-party charges, a practice known as mobile cramming. The refunds are part of a multi-agency settlement that also includes $20 million in penalties and fees paid to 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as a $5 million penalty to the Federal Communications Commission."

    61 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Glut of Postdoc Researchers Stirs Quiet Crisis In Science

    HughPickens.com writes: Carolyn Johnson reports in the Boston Globe that in recent years, the position of postdoctoral researcher has become less a stepping stone and more of a holding tank. Postdocs are caught up in an all-but-invisible crisis, mired in an underclass as federal funding for research has leveled off, leaving the supply of well-trained scientists outstripping demand. "It's sunk in that it's by no means guaranteed — for anyone, really — that an academic position is possible," says Gary McDowell, a 29-year old biologist doing his second postdoc. "There's this huge labor force here to do the bench work, the grunt work of science. But then there's nowhere for them to go; this massive pool of postdocs that accumulates and keeps growing." The problem is that any researcher running a lab today is training far more people than there will ever be labs to run. Often these supremely well-educated trainees are simply cheap laborers, not learning skills for the careers where they are more likely to find jobs. This wasn't such an issue decades ago, but universities have expanded the number of PhD students they train from about 30,000 biomedical graduate students in 1979 to 56,800 in 2009, flooding the system with trainees and drawing out the training period.

    Possible solutions span a wide gamut, from halving the number of postdocs over time, to creating a new tier of staff scientists that would be better paid. One thing people seem to agree on is that simply adding more money to the pot will not by itself solve the oversupply. Facing these stark statistics, postdocs are taking matters into their own hands, recently organizing a Future of Research conference in Boston that they hoped would give voice to their frustrations and hopes and help shape change. They ask, "How can we, as the next generation, run the system?"

    283 comments | about two weeks ago

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