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Education

Pew Survey Documents Gaps Between Public and Scientists 43 43

PvtVoid writes: A new Pew Research Study documents an alarming gap between public perception of scientific issues and the opinions of the scientists themselves, as measured by a poll of AAAS scientists. Even worse, the gap is partisan, with clear differences between Republicans and Democrats, and between conservatives and liberals. For example, while 98% of AAAS members agree with the statement that "Human beings and other living things have evolved over time", only 21% of conservatives agree, compared with 54% of liberals. Global warming, similarly, shows an ideological gap: 98% of AAAS scientists agreed with the statement that "the Earth is getting warmer mostly due to human activity", compared with 21% of conservatives and 54% of liberals. Encouragingly, almost everybody thinks childhood vaccines should be required (86% of AAAS members, 65% of conservatives, and 74% of liberals.) Go here for an interactive view of the data.
Classic Games (Games)

18 Years On, Ultima Online Is Still Going 31 31

An anonymous reader writes: Ultima Online was released in September, 1997. It was the game that popularized graphical MMOs, and somehow, it's still running. Rock, Paper, Shotgun took a dive into the game to see how much it's changed, and who still plays it. As the community has shrunk, it's become increasingly tight-knit, and giving up the game now means giving up a social circle for many players. Even though newer MMOs have eclipsed the game's functionality, UO has a dedication to the full adventuring experience that later games haven't replicated. From the article: "While initially I couldn't understand the appeal of Ultima, when I decided to shake off the limitations of an early level character and simply explore for myself, I found a game world with a lot to offer. Player created civilizations, unique monsters, and the sheer mystery of the world combine to keep this ancient MMO compelling. For all the ways in which the genre has improved, Ultima Online remains one of just a few MMOs that let you live an alternative life. That feeling of ownership ... combined with the diversity on offer, keeps players coming back day after day."
Java

Ask Slashdot: Getting My Wife Back Into Programming After Long Maternity Leave? 131 131

An anonymous reader writes: My wife has been on a maternity leave for three years, now. She is starting to think about refreshing her coding skills and looking for a job. Before, she worked as a Java developer for around two years doing mostly Java Enterprise stuff. However, she is not very eager to go back to coding. I think she has the right mental skills to be a developer, but she is just not very passionate about coding or IT in general. On the other hand, it's relatively easier to find a job in IT than starting a new career.

We live in Spain, and with the current economic situation, the market for software developers is not great — but it's definitely better than other jobs. I there anything else she might do, ideally Java (but could be anything IT related) that would be easier and more fun than the typical Java Enterprise stuff, while also giving her a good change to find a decent job? (I'm a Java developer myself with many years of experience but mostly doing boring Java Enterprise stuff.)
NASA

NASA To Waste $150 Million On SLS Engine That Will Be Used Once 76 76

schwit1 writes: NASA's safety panel has noticed that NASA's SLS program either plans to spend $150 million human-rating a rocket engine it will only use once, or will fly a manned mission without human-rating that engine.

"The Block 1 SLS is the 'basic model,' sporting a Delta Cryogenic Second Stage (DCSS), renamed the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion System (ICPS) for SLS. The current plan calls for this [interim] stage to be used on [the unmanned] Exploration Mission -1 (EM-1) and [manned] Exploration Mission -2 (EM-2), prior to moving to the [Exploration Upper Stage] — also to be built by Boeing — that will become the workhorse for SLS. However, using the [interim upper stage] on a crewed mission will require it to be human rated. It is likely NASA will also need to fly the [Exploration Upper Stage] on an unmanned mission to validate the new stage ahead of human missions. This has been presenting NASA with a headache for some time, although it took the recent ASAP meeting to finally confirm those concerns to the public."

NASA doesn't have the funds to human-rate it, and even if they get those funds, human-rating it will likely cause SLS's schedule to slip even more, something NASA fears because they expect the commercial manned ships to be flying sooner and with increasing capability. The contrast — a delayed and unflown and very expensive SLS vs a flying and inexpensive commercial effort — will not do SLS good politically. However, if they are going to insist (properly I think) that SpaceX and Boeing human-rate their capsules and rockets, then NASA is going to have to hold the SLS to the same standard.
Data Storage

Where Facebook Stores 900 Million New Photos Per Day 92 92

1sockchuck writes: Facebook faces unique storage challenges. Its users upload 900 million new images daily, most of which are only viewed for a couple of days. The social network has built specialized cold storage facilities to manage these rarely-accessed photos. Data Center Frontier goes inside this facility, providing a closer look at Facebook's newest strategy: Using thousands of Blu-Ray disks to store images, complete with a robotic retrieval system (see video demo). Others are interested as well. Sony recently acquired a Blu-Ray storage startup founded by Open Compute chairman Frank Frankovsky, which hopes to drive enterprise adoption of optical data storage.
The Almighty Buck

Scientist Union's Talks Stall Over Pay 56 56

HughPickens.com writes: The Sacramento Bee reports that the labor contract between California's state government and the 2,800 employees represented by the California Association of Professional Scientists expired this week, spotlighting yet again the long-running feud over whether the tiny union's members should earn as much as their peers in federal and local governments and private industry. "It's a challenge to keep people motivated," says Rita Hypnarowski. "We talk about retaining the best and the brightest, but I can see that's not going to happen." A recent survey by the Brown administration found that the total compensation for half of state-employed chemists is less than $8,985 per month ($5,715 in salary, plus $3,270 in benefit costs). That's 33 percent less than the median total compensation for federal chemists, nearly 13 percent less than the midpoint for local-government chemists and almost 6 percent below the private sector.

Members of the union perform a wide variety of tasks, everything from fighting food-borne illnesses to mopping up the Refugio State Beach oil spill. For example, Cassandra McQuaid left a job last year at the Department of Public Health's state-of-the-art Richmond laboratories where she tracked foodborne illnesses. It's the kind of vital, behind-the-scenes work that goes unnoticed until an E. coli outbreak makes headlines and local health officials need a crack team of scientists to unravel how it happened. "It really came down to money," says McQuaid. "I just couldn't live in the Bay Area on a state salary."
Education

Struggling University of Phoenix Lays Off 900 104 104

An anonymous reader writes: The struggles facing for-profit colleges continue. The University of Phoenix announced poor quarterly earnings yesterday, and the institution has laid off 900 workers since September. Enrollment is down 14% since last year, and the CEO of its parent company, Apollo Education Group, says enrollment is likely to drop from 206,000 to about 150,000 next year. Apollo's stock has lost more than half its value since the beginning of the year. "Tighter regulations on for-profits and the Obama administration's push to make community college free top the list of headwinds. And non-profit universities have entered the online education space, where for-profit schools once held center stage."
Operating Systems

People Are Obtaining Windows 7 Licenses For the Free Windows 10 Upgrade 117 117

jones_supa writes: Windows 7 has quickly started increasing its market share of desktop operating systems, nearing 61%. If you're wondering why this is happening when Windows 10 is almost here, the reason is this: Windows 10 will be available as a free upgrade for those running Windows 7 and 8, and the new OS will have the exact same hardware requirements as its predecessor, so the majority of PCs should be able to run it just as well. Because Windows 7 was launched in 2009, a license is more affordable than for Windows 8, so many users are switching to this version to take advantage of the Windows 10 free upgrade offer.
Security

Amazon's New SSL/TLS Implementation In 6,000 Lines of Code 80 80

bmearns writes: Amazon has announced a new library called "s2n," an open source implementation of SSL/TLS, the cryptographic security protocols behind HTTPS, SSH, SFTP, secure SMTP, and many others. Weighing in at about 6k lines of code, it's just a little more than 1% the size of OpenSSL, which is really good news in terms of security auditing and testing. OpenSSL isn't going away, and Amazon has made clear that they will continue to support it. Notably, s2n does not provide all the additional cryptographic functions that OpenSSL provides in libcrypto, it only provides the SSL/TLS functions. Further more, it implements a relatively small subset of SSL/TLS features compared to OpenSSL.
Verizon

How Verizon Is Hindering NYC's Internet Service 101 101

Cuillere writes: Verizon promised to make FiOS available to all New York City residents. The deadline passed a year ago, and many residents still don't have FiOS as an option, but Verizon claims to have done its part. "The agreement required Verizon to 'pass' homes with fiber (not actually connect them), but no one wrote down in the agreement what they thought 'pass' meant. (Verizon’s interpretation, predictably, is that it doesn’t have to get very close.)" The situation is a mess, and the city isn't having much luck fighting it in the courts. Susan Crawford offers a solution: set up wholesale fiber access for third party ISPs and absolve Verizon of customer service responsibility.
Encryption

MIT's Bitcoin-Inspired 'Enigma' Lets Computers Mine Encrypted Data 36 36

Guy Zyskind, Oz Nathan, and the MIT Media Lab have developed a system to encrypt data in a way that it can still be shared and used without being decrypted. "To keep track of who owns what data—and where any given data’s pieces have been distributed—Enigma stores that metadata in the bitcoin blockchain, the unforgeable record of messages copied to thousands of computers to prevent counterfeit and fraud in the bitcoin economy." Enigma needs a fairly large base of users to operate securely, so its creators have proposed requiring a fee for anyone who wants data processed in this way. That fee would then be split among the users doing the processing. Those with encrypted datasets on the Enigma network could also sell access to datamining operations without letting the miners see the unencrypted data.
News

Analysis: Iran's Nuclear Program Has Been an Astronomical Waste 198 198

Lasrick writes: Business Insider's Armin Rosen uses a fuel-cost calculator from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists to show that Iran's nuclear program has been "astronomically costly" for the country. Rosen uses calculations from this tool to hypothesize that what Iran "interprets as the country's 'rights' under the 1970 Non-Proliferation Treaty is a diplomatic victory that justifies the outrageous expense of the nuclear program." Great data crunching.
United Kingdom

UK's National Computer Museum Looks For Help Repairing BBC Micros 60 60

tresho writes: 1981-era 8-bit BBC Micro computers and peripherals are displayed in a special interactive exhibit at the UK's National Museum of Computing designed to give modern students a taste of programming a vintage machine. Now, the museum is asking for help maintaining them. "We want to find out whether people have got skills out there that can keep the cluster alive as long as we can," said Chris Monk, learning coordinator at the organization.

"Owen Grover, a volunteer at the museum who currently helps maintain the cluster of BBC Micro machines, said they held up well despite being more than 30 years old. The BBC Micro was 'pretty robust,' he said, because it was designed to be used in classrooms. This meant that refurbishing machines for use in the hands-on exhibit was usually fairly straightforward. 'The main problem we need to sort out is the power supply,' he said. 'There are two capacitors that dry out and if we do not replace them they tend to explode and stink the place out. So we change them as a matter of course.'"
Privacy

Surveillance Court: NSA Can Resume Bulk Surveillance 141 141

An anonymous reader writes: We all celebrated back in May when a federal court ruled the NSA's phone surveillance illegal, and again at the beginning of June, when the Patriot Act expired, ending authorization for that surveillance. Unfortunately, the NY Times now reports on a ruling from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which concluded that the NSA may temporarily resume bulk collection of metadata about U.S. citizens's phone calls. From the article: "In a 26-page opinion (PDF) made public on Tuesday, Judge Michael W. Mosman of the surveillance court rejected the challenge by FreedomWorks, which was represented by a former Virginia attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, a Republican. And Judge Mosman said that the Second Circuit was wrong, too. 'Second Circuit rulings are not binding' on the surveillance court, he wrote, 'and this court respectfully disagrees with that court's analysis, especially in view of the intervening enactment of the U.S.A. Freedom Act.' When the Second Circuit issued its ruling that the program was illegal, it did not issue any injunction ordering the program halted, saying that it would be prudent to see what Congress did as Section 215 neared its June 1 expiration."