gbrumfiel writes "A meteor that exploded over Russia's Chelyabinsk region this morning was the largest recorded object to strike the earth in more than a century, Nature reports. Infrasound data collected by a network designed to watch for nuclear weapons testing suggests that today's blast released hundreds of kilotons of energy. That would make it far more powerful than the nuclear weapon tested by North Korea just days ago, and the largest rock to strike the earth since a meteor broke up over Siberia's Tunguska river in 1908. Despite its incredible power, the rock evaded detection by astronomers. Estimates show it was likely only 15 meters across — too small to be seen by networks searching for near earth asteroids." Today's meteor event came a day after California scientists proposed a system to vaporize asteroids that threaten Earth. Of course, the process needs to be started when the asteroid is still tens of millions of kilometers away; there's no chance to shoot down something that's already arrived.
Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!
New submitter dmfinn writes "While his union address covered a wide range of topics, President Obama made sure not to skip over the U.S.'s space program. The talking point was nearly identical to the one he gave in 2009, in which he called for space R&D spending to be increased past the levels seen during the the original cold war space race. Now, 4 years after that speech, it appears things have gone the opposite way. Since 2009 NASA has seen some serious cuts. Not only has the space-shuttle program been deactivated, but the agency was forced to endure harsh funding cuts during the presidents latter term. Despite an ominous history, it now seems that Obama is back on the space objective, pushing congress to increase non-defensive R&D spending to 3% of the U.S. GDP. It's important to keep in mind that not all of this money goes directly to space related programs, though under the proposed budget the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy Office of Science, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology Laboratories will have their budgets doubled. There will also be an increase in tax credits towards companies and organizations working on these R&D projects. Should the U.S. go back to its 'Let's put a man on the moon' ideology, or is the federal government fighting an uphill battle against newly emerging private space expeditions? Either way, the question remains whether or not Obama will act on any of the propositions."
nk497 writes "Canonical has revealed that a developer preview of Ubuntu for phones will arrive next week, on the 21st of February. The touch preview will initially only be available for the Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 4 smartphones, but Canonical plans to support more devices. The release is designed to let developers create apps — and to give 'enthusiasts' a sneak peek — ahead of the smartphone side of Ubuntu arriving in version 13.10 in October. Canonical suggested that the OS will initially only support low-end smartphones, but the group plans to also support higher-end models, too, and the OS will work across mobile devices, PCs and TVs."
An anonymous reader writes "I am in my late 20s, live in the U.S., work in the IT industry, and am going to school to upgrade from an associate's degree to a bachelor's degree. One of my classes is a web-based course that requires students to write blogs. I am not attending one of those questionable for-profit schools. This is a large, state-funded, public university. In this course I have noticed poor writing skills are the norm rather than the exception. It is a 3rd year course, so students should have successfully completed some sort of writing course prior to this one. Blog posts, which students are graded on, tend to be very poorly written. They are not organized into paragraphs, have multiple run-on sentences, and sometimes don't make sense. I do not know what grades they are receiving for these posts. Slashdot, is what I am seeing the exception, or the norm? Is the bar being lowered for university students, or am I just expecting too much?"
head_dunce writes "A bill introduced Thursday by a bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers seeks to make it easier for states to collect sales taxes stemming from online purchases. Amazon is among the e-retailers supporting the proposal, while a lobbying group representing eBay and Overstock.com stands opposed. From the article: '"Small businesses and states alike are suffering from the inability to collect due -- not new -- taxes from purchases made online," said Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., adding the legislation is a "bipartisan, bicameral, common-sense solution that promotes states' rights and levels the playing field for our Main Street businesses."'"
New submitter dovf writes "The Bad Astronomer analyzes incoming reports about the apparent meteoric fireball over Russia: 'Apparently, at about 09:30 local time, a very big meteor burned up over Chelyabinsk, a city in Russia just east of the Ural mountains, and about 1500 kilometers east of Moscow. The fireball was incredibly bright, rivaling the Sun! There was a pretty big sonic boom from the fireball, which set off car alarms and shattered windows. I'm seeing some reports of many people injured (by shattered glass blown out by the shock wave). I'm also seeing reports that some pieces have fallen to the ground, but again as I write this those are unconfirmed." This is the best summary I've found so far, and links to lots of videos and images. He also clarifies something I've been wondering about: 'This is almost certainly unrelated to the asteroid 2012 DA14 that will pass on Friday.'"
First time accepted submitter jscheib writes "According to Will Oremus in Slate, a report released today finds that 'New York City could slash its emissions by a whopping 90 percent by 2050 without any radical new technologies, without cutting back on creature comforts, and maybe even without breaking its budget.' The key elements are insulating buildings to cut energy needs, converting to (mostly) electric equipment, and then using carbon-free electricity to supply the small amount of energy still needed. Oremus notes that including energy savings would reduce the net price tag to something more like $20 billion."
drdread66 writes "Reuters reports today that Research In Motion co-founder Jim Balsillie dumped his entire stake in BlackBerry at the end of 2012. While it's common to see high-level executives sell some of their shares to gain some liquidity, it's unusual to see them exit their positions completely. This has to be seen as a massive vote of 'no confidence' from someone who was on the inside long enough to know what's going on in the company."
Celarent Darii writes "Slashdot readers have undoubtedly heard of Google Docs and the many other online word processing solutions that run in the browser. However, as a long-time user of TeX and LaTeX, these solutions are not my favorite way of doing things. Wouldn't it be nice to TeX something in your browser? Well, look no further, there is now an online collaborative LaTeX editor with integrated rapid preview. Some fantastic features: quasi-instant preview, automatic versioning of source, easy collaboration and you can even upload files and pictures. Download your project later when you get home. Are you a TeX guru with some masterpieces? Might I suggest uploading them? For the beginner: you can start here."
mykepredko writes "Tesla Motors CEO and founder Elon Musk definitely isn't the best guy to try to pull a fast one on. The visionary entrepreneur set Twitter a titter when he claimed earlier this week that New York Times writer John Broder had fudged details about the Tesla Models S car's range in cold weather, resulting in what he termed a 'fake' article. Musk promised evidence, and now he has delivered, via the official Tesla blog."
gbooch writes "With the permission of Adobe Systems, the Computer History Museum has made available the source code for Photoshop version 1.0.1, comprising about 128,000 lines of code within 179 files, most of which is in Pascal, the remainder in 68000 assembly language. This the kind of code I aspire to write. The Computer History Museum has earlier made available the source code to MacPaint."
GovTechGuy writes "A number of lawmakers are using the death of Internet activist Aaron Swartz to speak out against the Justice Department's handling of the case, and application of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The controversy surrounding the Swartz case could finally give activists the momentum they need to halt the steady increase in penalties for even minor computer crimes."
judgecorp writes "Britain is considering switching off air traffic control radar systems and using "passive radar" instead. A two year feasibility study will consider using a network of ground stations which monitor broadcast TV signals and measure echoes from aircraft to determine their location and velocity. The system is not a new idea — early radar experiments used BBC shortwave transmitters as a signal source before antenna technology produced a transceiver suitable for radar — but could now be better than conventional radar thanks to new antenna designs and signal processing techniques. It will also save money and energy by eliminating transmitters — and release spectrum for 5G services."
bios10h writes "The Boston Globe writes that the Pentagon is creating a new medal to honor cyber soldiers. '[The] troops who launch the drone strikes and direct the cyber-attacks that can kill or disable an enemy may never set foot in the combat zone. Now their battlefield contributions may be recognized with the first new combat-related medal to be created in decades. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced Wednesday that the Pentagon is creating a medal that can be awarded to troops who have a direct impact on combat operations, but do it well away from any combat zone.'"
mikejuk writes "Programmers often say that regular expressions are fun ... but now they can be a whole lot of fun in a completely new way. Want to try your hand at a regular expression crossword? The idea is simple enough — create a crossword style puzzle with regular expressions are the 'clues.' In case you don't know what a regular expression is — it is a way of specifying what characters are allowed using wild-card characters and more. For example a dot matches any single character, an * any number of characters and so on. The regular expression crossword is more a sort of Sudoku puzzle than crossword however because the clues determine the pattern that the entries in a row have to satisfy. It also has to use a hexagonal grid to provide three regular expressions to control each entry. This particular regular expression crossword(pdf) was part of this year's MIT Mystery Hunt. This annual event is crammed with a collection of very difficult problems and the regular expression crossword, created by Dan Gulotta from an idea by Palmer Mebane, was just a small part of the whole — and yes there is a solution."
MTorrice writes "During the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, clean up crews applied millions of liters of dispersants to break up the oil. At the time, the public and some scientists worried about the environmental effects of the chemicals, in particular how long they would last in the deep sea. According to a new Environmental Protection Agency study, the key active ingredient in the dispersants degrades very rapidly under conditions similar to those found at the Gulf surface during the spill. Meanwhile, in the much colder temperatures found in the deep sea, the breakdown is quite slow. The chemicals' persistence at deep-sea and Arctic temperatures suggests more research is needed on their toxicity, the researchers say."
Beeftopia writes "The relationship between regulator and regulated is once again called into question as industry pressure leads to a scientist's removal from an EPA regulatory panel. From the article: 'In 2007, when Deborah Rice was appointed chair of an Environmental Protection Agency panel assessing the safety levels of flame retardants, she arrived as a respected Maine toxicologist with no ties to industry. Yet the EPA removed Rice from the panel after an intense push by the American Chemistry Council (ACC), an industry lobbying group that accused her of bias. Her supposed conflict of interest? She had publicly raised questions about the safety of a flame retardant under EPA review.'"
dstates writes with news from NASA about the state of available water in the Middle East. From the NASA article: "'GRACE data show an alarming rate of decrease in total water storage in the Tigris and Euphrates river basins, which currently have the second fastest rate of groundwater storage loss on Earth, after India,' said Jay Famiglietti, principal investigator of the study and a hydrologist and professor at UC Irvine. 'The rate was especially striking after the 2007 drought. Meanwhile, demand for freshwater continues to rise, and the region does not coordinate its water management because of different interpretations of international laws.'" dstates adds: "Water is a huge global security issue. To understand the middle east, you need to understand that the Golan Heights provides a significant amount of the water used in Israel. Focusing on conflicts and politics means that huge volumes of valuable water are being wasted in the Middle East, and this will only exacerbate future conflicts. Water is a serious issue between India and China. And then there is Africa. U.S. food exports are in effect exporting irrigation water drawn from the Ogallala aquifer. Fracking trades water for energy, and lack of water limits fracking in many parts of th world. Think about it."
hypnosec writes "Oracle is going to open source JavaFX ports for Android and iOS soon as a part of its efforts to open source the framework. JavaFX, destined to replace Swing GUI library as the default method to develop graphical user interfaces, is a framework used to develop cross-platform rich Internet applications. The ports for iOS and Android are based on an 'unreleased version of JavaSE Embedded for iOS/Android.' Oracle's Richard Bair revealed that the 'first bits and pieces' for JavaFX for iOS should probably be out sometime next week. The rest of the release will be scheduled along with the release of Prism (the next-generation toolkit). Oracle is going to keep javafx-font proprietary, but Bair has said developers are already working toward an open source native replacement of the component through the OpenJFX list."
Bob the Super Hamste writes "On Tuesday Comcast announced that it would accelerate its acquisition of NBCUniversal and purchase the remaining 49% owned by GE for $16.7 billion. Previously GE and Comcast were expected to operate NBCUniversal jointly until mid 2014 with Comcast having the option to extend that out until 2018. So far there are not details on when the deal with be completed but the article indicates that Comcast's complete acquisition of NBCUniversal will be completed years earlier that initially thought."
Mirk writes "Academic researchers want to make their papers open access for the world to read. If they use traditional publishers like Elsevier, Springer or Taylor & Francis, they'll be charged $3000 to bring their work out from behind the paywall. But PeerJ, a new megajournal launched today and funded by Tim O'Reilly, publishes open access articles for $99. That's not done by cutting corners: the editorial process is thorough, and they use rigorous peer-review. The cost savings come from running lean and mean on a born-digital system. The initial batch of 30 papers includes one on a Penn and Teller trick and one on the long necks of dinosaurs." $99 entitles you to publish an article a year, for life. $300 nets you unlimited articles published per year.
astroengine writes "President Barack Obama called for 'meaningful progress' on tackling climate change in his State of the Union speech in Washington, DC on Tuesday night. While acknowledging that 'no single event makes a trend,' the President noted that the United States had been buffeted by extreme weather events that in many cases encapsulated the predictions of climate scientists. 'But the fact is, the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15. Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and floods — all are now more frequent and intense. We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science — and act before it's too late,' Obama added." Other significant statements from Obama's speech: 34,000 troops coming back from Afghanistan over the next year; new gun regulations "deserve a vote"; rewards for schools that focus on STEM education; increases in tech research; a proposal to raise the minimum wage to $9.00/hr and tie it to inflation; and a proposal to use oil and gas revenues to fund a move away from oil and gas,
fixpert writes "We hooked up Pinoccio (an Open Source, wireless Arduino-compatible microcontroller) to a Pololu 3pi Robot to create an unmanned rover that can be driven via the Web. We posted a quick video where you can see us driving our Web Rover in Nevada all the way from Brazil. We used the iPhone's built-in accelerometer as a super-intuitive interface for driving the bot. You can read all about the project — how we built it, what you need to make your own (including source code), and a simulator of the accelerometer interface that you can play with. We're hoping to make Pinoccio the perfect platform for Software Developers to learn how to hack on DIY hardware."
An anonymous reader writes "Ars reports on new legislation in the Missouri House of Representatives which is seeking equal time in the classroom for Intelligent Design, and to redefine science itself. You can read the text of the bill online. It uses over 600 words to describe Intelligent Design. Scientific theory, the bill says, is 'an inferred explanation of incompletely understood phenomena about the physical universe based on limited knowledge, whose components are data, logic, and faith-based philosophy.' It would require that 'If scientific theory concerning biological origin is taught in a course of study, biological evolution and biological intelligent design shall be taught.' The legislation's references to 'scientific theory' and 'scientific law' make it clear the writers don't have the slightest idea how science actually works. It also has this odd line near the end: 'If biological intelligent design is taught, any proposed identity of the intelligence responsible for earth's biology shall be verifiable by present-day observation or experimentation and teachers shall not question, survey, or otherwise influence student belief in a nonverifiable identity within a science course.'"
redletterdave writes "Days after the New York Times released a brutal review of Tesla's electric Model S sedan, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has fired back, claiming the Times article was completely bogus and misleading. In the article in question, Times writer John Broder took the Tesla Model S on a test drive from Washington to Boston, stopping at various service plazas in Delaware and Connecticut well within the projected 265-mile range of the car, as rated by the EPA. However, Broder's Tesla Model S, despite a heftier 85 kilowatt-hour battery for an extra 100 miles of range in 'ideal conditions,' died shortly before reaching its final destination. Broder blames the cold weather and heating issues for his abridged trip; Musk, however, claims the driver did not follow Tesla's instructions, which is why his trip was cut so short. 'We've taken great pains to ensure that the car works very well in the cold, which is why we're so incensed by this ridiculous article,' Musk said."
1sockchuck writes "In a landscape with dueling open clouds, which is the most open? Cloud software specialist Eucalyptus sees pushing boundaries of openness as an opportunity. 'We're extending our open model into professional services,' said CEO Marten Mickos. 'Anyone can look at the source code, training material, documents that go around the code, everything. We realize that our competitors will look at it, but we're happy to offer it to the world in order to better the product.' The open cloud arena is becoming more competitive with the growth of OpenStack, CloudStack and OpenNebula, 'There are a number of reasons we are making this shift, but the most important one is culture,' Eucalyptus said in a blog post. 'If we truly are an open source company, does it make sense for us to develop closed-source intellectual property, tightly control access to that information, and use it primarily as a way to drive direct business unit revenue?' What lies ahead in the Open Cloud Wars?"
An anonymous reader writes "Canadian Justice Minister Rob Nicholson announced yesterday that the government will not be proceeding with Bill C-30, the lawful access/Internet surveillance legislation. Yet despite the celebration of the Canadian Internet community, Michael Geist notes that the law could return. On the same day the government put the bill out its misery, it introduced Bill C-55 on warrantless wiretapping. Although the bill is ostensibly a response to last year's R v. Tse decision from the Supreme Court of Canada, much of the bill is lifted directly from Bill C-30. Moreover, there will be other ways to revive the more troublesome Internet surveillance provisions. Christopher Parsons points to lawful intercept requirements in the forthcoming spectrum auction, while many others have discussed Bill C-12, which includes provisions that encourage personal information disclosure without court oversight. Of course, cynics might also point to the 2007 pledge from then-Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day to not introduce mandatory disclosure of personal information without a warrant. That position was dropped soon after a new minister took over the portfolio."
earlzdotnet writes "I've been programming for a few years now, and I have a full time job. I'm one of those lucky souls that actually enjoy programming, so I commonly work on my own open source projects on weekends. However, I wouldn't mind working on a short-term projects (i.e. not more than ~2 months) every once in a while on weekends. I've looked at freelancing before, and I could probably make more money by working at McDonald's on weekends than that. I've also looked into making web sites for small businesses, but it requires a bit too much commitment and support for me, especially since I'm terrible at graphics design. I've tried my hand at writing reusable components to sell to other programmers, but that was pretty pointless (I made one $20 sale). I've seen teaching suggested, but I'm self-taught and probably not experienced enough to responsibly teach people. Are there any other options to make a bit of cash as a programmer? Is programming just one of those things that requires complete dedication, or what?"
rbowen of SourceForge writes with an interesting way to look at the value of certain free software options: "Apache OpenOffice 3.4.1 has averaged 138,928 downloads per day. That is an average value to the public of $21 million per day, as calculated by savings over buying the competing product. Or $7.61 billion (7.61 thousand million) per year." (That works out to about $150 per copy of MS Office. There are some holes in the argument, but it holds true for everyone who but for a free office suite would have paid that much for Microsoft's. The numbers are even bigger if you toss in LibreOffice, too.)
judgecorp writes "Vertu, the luxury phone maker formerly owned by Nokia, has chosen Android over Windows Phone for its new £6700 Vertu Ti device. The bling brand is no longer part of Nokia, so is free to shun Windows Phone — apparently because there are not enough apps there for Vertu's rich customers." Previous Vertu handsets used Symbian. Note: £6700 is just over 10,000 USD.
toygeek writes "Which is cheaper: Running a server from home, or renting a VPS (Virtual Private Server)? We're trying to pinch pennies where we can, and my son Derrick suggested upgrading an extra PC we have and running his Minecraft server at home. Would it save enough money to be worth it? I wanted to share the results of my analysis with my Slashdot brethren." The upshot in this case? "Overall it is VERY cost effective for us to run the home server."
isoloisti writes "An article by some Microsofties in the latest issue of Computing Now magazine claims we have got passwords all wrong. When money is stolen, consumers are reimbursed for stolen funds and it is money mules, not banks or retail customers, who end up with the loss. Stealing passwords is easy, but getting money out is very hard. Passwords are not the bottleneck in cyber-crime and replacing them with something stronger won't reduce losses. The article concludes that banks have no interest in shifting liability to consumers, and that the switch to financially-motivated cyber-crime is good news, not bad. Article is online at computer.org site (hard-to-read multipage format) or as PDF from Microsoft Research."
An anonymous reader writes "Software giant Adobe has bowed to public pressure and slashed the price of some of its products for Australian customers a day after being ordered to front a parliamentary committee hearing to explain its excessive charges."
First time accepted submitter Ben Rooney writes "Children in the Baltic state of Estonia will learn statistics based less on computation and doing math by hand and more on framing and interpreting problems, and thinking about validation and strategy. From the article: 'Jon McLoone is Content Director for computerbasedmath.org, a project to redefine school math education assuming the use of computers. The company announced a deal Monday with the Estonian Education ministry to trial a self-contained statistics program replacing the more traditional curriculum. “We are re-thinking computer education with the assumption that computers are the tools for computation,” said Mr. McLoone. “Schools are still focused on teaching hand calculating. Computation used to be the bottleneck. The hard part was solving the equations, so that was the skill you had to teach. These days that is the bit that computers can do. What computers can’t do is set up the problem, interpret the problem, think about validation and strategy. That is what we should be teaching and spending less time teaching children to be poor computers rather than good mathematicians.”'"
The Southern California Linux Expo (SCALE) is a venerable and-well regarded volunteer-run, regional Linux conference that draws over 2000 attendees and an amazing array of speakers and open source projects displaying their goodies in the exposition area. The tutorial and speech schedule is crazy-dense, with as many as 10 tracks going at once. Conference Chair Ilan Rabinovitch admits that there is no way you can take in all of SCALE. On the other hand, you are certain to find something new and interesting to learn if you have any interest at all in Open Source. And yes, we mean Open Source, not just Linux. This show has grown far beyond its humble roots as a get-together for a few local students interested in Linux. One last thing: When you register, if you use the promo code SLASH, the $70 pass for all three days is magically reduced to $35. And there are many other ways to get that discount or another one just like it, including affiliation with virtually any Southern California Open Source group or almost any Open Source project. SCALE is 100% non-profit, and wants to "spread the word," not make money.
Ben Kamens spent over 5 years at Fog Creek, eventually working his way up to VP of engineering. However, after watching one of Salman Khan's talks he started to volunteer his time at Khan Academy, and is now the lead developer. In-between providing a free world-class education for anyone anywhere, he's graciously agreed to answer some of your questions. As usual, ask as many questions as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Gavin Newsom, former mayor of San Francisco and current lieutenant governor of California, argues in his new book Citizenville that citizens need to take the lead in solving society's problems, sidestepping government bureaucracy with a variety of technological tools. It's more efficient for those engineers and concerned citizens to take open government data and use it to build apps that serve a civic function—such as Google Earth, or a map that displays crime statistics—than for government to try and provide these tools itself. But Newsom doesn't limit his attacks on government bureaucracy to politicians; he also reserves some fire for the IT departments, which he views as an outdated relic. 'The traditional IT department, which set up and maintained complex, centralized services—networks, servers, computers, e-mail, printers—may be on its way out,' he writes. 'As we move toward the cloud and technology gets easier to use, we'll have less need for full-time teams of people to maintain our stuff.' Despite his advocacy of the cloud and collaboration, he's also ambivalent about Wikileaks. 'It has made government and diplomacy much more challenging and ultimately less honest,' he writes at one point, 'as people fear that their private communications might become public.' Nonetheless, he thinks WikiLeaks and its ilk are ultimately here to stay: 'It is happening, and it's going to keep happening, and it's going to intensify.' In the end, he feels the benefits of collaboration and openness outweigh the drawbacks." Keep reading for the rest of Nick's review.
CowboyRobot writes "The January edition of Science, Technology & Human Values published an article titled Technological Change and Professional Control in the Professoriate, which details interviews with 42 faculty members at three research-intensive universities. The research concludes that faculty have little interest in the latest IT solutions. 'I went to [a course management software workshop] and came away with the idea that the greatest thing you could do with that is put your syllabus on the Web and that's an awful lot of technology to hand the students a piece of paper at the start of the semester and say keep track of it,' said one. 'What are the gains for students by bringing IT into the class? There isn't any. You could teach all of chemistry with a whiteboard. I really don't think you need IT or anything beyond a pencil and a paper,' said another."
skade88 writes "Pepsi will release on Feb 28th a new breakfast Mountain Dew. The new drink called Kick Start is Mountain Dew mixed with fruit juice. It will come in two flavors, Citrus and Fruit Punch. 'Our consumers told us they are looking for an alternative to traditional morning beverages – one that tastes great, includes real fruit juice and has just the right amount of kick to help them start their days,' said Greg Lyons, Mountain Dew's vice president of marketing."
connorblack writes "I want to be a web developer, and everyday I ask myself the same question: why am I wasting my time getting a computer science degree? I feel like I'm trapped- most of the courses I spend all my time on are far removed from the skills I need to succeed as a web developer. But on the other hand, I can't imagine another degree that would allow me to stay in a programming mindset. The fact is that web development has taken huge bounds in the last few years, and sadly most universities haven't caught up. Computer science is a field that overlaps with web development, but getting a computer science degree to become a web developer is like getting a zoology degree to become a veterinarian. Close, but no cigar. So here's the deal: I'm in my second year of a computer science degree, and the thought of wasting two more years, getting left in the dust, and becoming irrelevant has me horrified. I want to start my web development career now. Or at least as soon as possible. I can drop out and devote 6 months to teaching myself, but I want something more structured. Something that has the benefits of a classroom and an authority figure, but which teaches me exactly what I need to know to do what I want to do. Any suggestions?"
theodp writes "In an open letter on TechCrunch, Vivek Wadhwa calls on Congressman Luis Gutierrez to lift his 'hold on Silicon Valley' and stop tying immigration reform for highly-skilled STEM immigrants to the plight of undocumented immigrants. So, why should the STEM set get first dibs? 'The issues of high-skilled and undocumented immigrants are both equally important,' says Wadhwa, but 'the difference is that the skilled workers have mobility and are in great demand all over the world. They are getting frustrated and are leaving in droves.' Commenting on Gutierrez's voting record, Wadhwa adds, 'I would have voted for visas for 50,000 smart foreign students graduating with STEM degrees from U.S. universities over bringing in 55,000 randomly selected high-school graduates from abroad. The STEM graduates would have created jobs and boosted our economy. The lottery winners will come to the U.S. with high hopes, but will face certain unemployment and misery because of our weak economy.' So, should Gutierrez cede to Wadhwa's techies-before-Latinos proposal, or would this be an example of the paradox of virtuous meritocracy undermining equality of opportunity?"
An anonymous reader writes "Live outside the U.S.? Tired of paying huge local price markups on technology products from vendors such as Apple, Microsoft and Adobe? Well, rest easy, the Australian Government is on the case. After months of stonewalling from the vendors, today the Australian Parliament issued subpoenas compelling the three vendors to appear in public and take questions regarding their price hikes on technology products sold in Australia. Finally, we may have some answers for why Adobe, for example, charges up to $1,400 more for the full version of Creative Suite 6 when sold outside the U.S."
drdread66 writes "A nationwide corn shortage brought on by last year's drought has started to curtail ethanol production. While this shouldn't be surprising to anyone, it raises public policy issues regarding ethanol usage requirements in motor fuel. Given that the energy efficiency of ethanol fuel is questionable at best, is it time to lift the mandate for ethanol in our gasoline?"
First time accepted submitter CarlosF writes "Does Lunar New Year belong alongside those other red-letter days? Efforts to recognize Lunar New Year at the state and local level have been afoot for years. In 1994, San Francisco decided to close public schools on Lunar New Year, but this was largely a response to demographic reality rather than political pressure."
hypnosec writes "The ozone layer seems to be on a road to recovery over Antarctica; according to Europe's MetOp weather satellite, which is monitoring atmospheric ozone, the hole over the South Pole in 2012 was the smallest it's been in the last 10 years. The decrease in size of the hole is probably the result of reduction in the concentration of CFCs, especially since the mid-1990s, because of international agreements like the Montreal Protocol."
An anonymous reader writes "Hurd, the GNU micro-kernel project that was founded by Richard Stallman in 1983, may finally be catching up with Linux on the desktop... Plans were shared by its developers to finally bring in some modern functionality by working on support for Serial ATA drives, USB support, and sound cards. There are also ambitions to provide x86-64 CPU architecture support. GNU Hurd developers will be doing an unofficial Debian GNU/Hurd 'Wheezy' release this year but they hope for the Debian 'Jessie' release their micro-kernel in Debian will make it as part of some official CDs."
McGruber writes "The Federal Times, a weekly print newspaper published by Gamnett Government Media Corp, is reporting that the Rapiscan Systems 'backscatter' passenger screening machines used by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration will likely be redeployed to federal buildings. Rapiscan System's backscatter machines have exposed passengers to radiation since they were first installed. As previously reported on Slashdot, TSA decided last month to stop using the machines because the manufacturer was unable to make changes to the machines that were mandated by Congress. Now TSA is attempting to sucker another federal agency into taking the nude-o-scopes."