bellwould writes "In teaching information tech to a 13-year-old with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), I've found she's wildly interested in the details of data transmission but not programming. We've had limited success with command-line tools like traceroute and tcpdump, but now I'm seeking tips/advice on software that may help her explore and visualize things like transmission protocols." What would you recommend?
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
darthcamaro writes "Unlike every other major browser vendor, Mozilla today does not allow users to have their private mode browser window open at the same time as a regular browser window. That's now set to change. This is a flaw that has been in Bugzilla since 2008 and has been the subject of heated discussion for years."
coondoggie writes "It seems well past time that the U.S. ditch its $1 bill — considering such a move could save the country somewhere in the neighborhood of $4 billion. But there is much resistance, or perhaps a lack of real consideration of the issue from most people. Watchdogs at the Government Accountability Office this week testified before a Congressional hearing on the topic, and said dollar coins could save $4.4 billion over 30 years (PDF), or an average of about $146 million per year."
judgecorp writes "The British Pirate Party has been asked by the music business organisation BPI to pull the plug on the Pirate Bay proxy it has been running. The Pirate Party provides a way round the court-ordered ban on ISPs providing connections to the file-sharing site, The Pirate Bay. So far the Pirate Party says the proxy is a 'legitimate route' to the site, but the BPI says the Pirate Bay is 'not above the law.'"
Hugh Pickens writes "The Washington Post reports that the U.S. birthrate is at its lowest since 1920, the earliest year with reliable records. The rate decreased to 63.2 births per 1,000 women of childbearing age — a little more than half of its peak, which was in 1957. The overall birthrate decreased by 8 percent between 2007 and 2010, but the decline is being led by immigrant women hit hard by the recession, with a much bigger drop of 14 percent among foreign-born women. Overall, the average number of children a U.S. woman is predicted to have in her lifetime is 1.9, slightly less than the 2.1 children required to maintain current population levels. Although the declining U.S. birthrate has not created the kind of stark imbalances found in graying countries such as Japan or Italy, it should serve as a wake-up call for policymakers, says Roberto Suro, a professor of public policy at the University of Southern California. 'We've been assuming that when the baby-boomer population gets most expensive, that there are going to be immigrants and their children who are going to be paying into [programs for the elderly], but in the wake of what's happened in the last five years, we have to reexamine those assumptions,' he said. 'When you think of things like the solvency of Social Security, for example, relatively small increases in the dependency ratio can have a huge effect.'"
An anonymous reader writes "A story at the BBC explains how the UK government has put an extra clause into a funding bill to ensure that any new 'free schools' (independent schools run by groups of parents or organizations, but publicly-funded) must teach evolution rather than creationism or potentially lose their funding. 'The new rules state that from 2013, all free schools in England must teach evolution as a 'comprehensive and coherent scientific theory.' The move follows scientists's concerns that free schools run by creationists might avoid teaching evolution. Sir Paul Nurse, president of the Royal Society, said it was 'delighted.' Sir Paul told BBC News the previous rules on free schools and the teaching of evolution versus creationism had been 'not tight enough.'"
ananyo writes "A global team of researchers has come up with the most accurate estimate yet for melting of the polar ice sheets, ending decades of uncertainty about whether the sheets will melt further or actually gain mass in the face of climate change. The ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are melting at an ever-quickening pace. Since 1992, they have contributed 11 millimeters — or one-fifth — of the total global sea-level rise, say the researchers. The two polar regions are now losing mass three times faster than they were 20 years ago, with Greenland alone now shedding ice at about five times the rate observed in the early 1990s. This latest estimate, published this week in Science, draws on up to 32 years of ice-sheet simulations and 20 years of satellite data to give an estimate two to three times more accurate than that in the last IPCC report."
TrueSatan writes "Finally, Bradley Manning's military court case starts. He's only had to wait 2 years to be heard. Manning claims that while remanded in custody in Iraq he 'passed out due to the heat' and 'contemplated suicide.' The United Nations special rapporteur on torture found Manning's detention was 'cruel and inhuman.' Manning wants the case against him to be dismissed because his pre-trial punishment was so severe. Manning's attorney, David Coombs, earlier released an 11-page letter detailing the conditions of Manning's confinement. Manning offered guilty pleas to minor charges, but not to spying, aiding American enemies or treason, and those pleas have been accepted by the judge."
redletterdave writes "In each one of Amazon.com's 80 fulfillment centers around the globe, Amazon relies on barcodes and human hands rather than robots or automation to find and ship the proper items in a quick and efficient manner. Without robots, Amazon utilizes a system known as 'chaotic storage,' where products are essentially shelved at random but are tagged with barcodes to be scanned at every step of the ordering, selection and shipping process. The real advantage to chaotic storage is that it's significantly more flexible than conventional storage systems. If there are big changes in a product range, the company doesn't need to plan for more space, because the products or their sales volumes don't need to be known or planned in advance if they're simply being stored at random. Free space is also better utilized in a chaotic storage system, and it's also a major time saver to not organize products as they come in. This system is the true key to Amazon.com's success in online retail."
An anonymous reader writes with this news from Australia's Computerworld: "The German parliament is set to discuss a controversial online copyright bill that is meant to allow news publishers to charge search engines such as Google for reproducing short snippets from their articles. Earlier this week, Google started a campaign against the proposed law. Google was criticized for its campaign against the law. The search engine 'obviously' tries to use its own users for lobbying interests 'under the pretext of a so-called project for the freedom of the Internet,' wrote Günter Krings and Ansgar Heveling, politicians of the CDU and CSU conservative parties, who together form the biggest block in the German parliament."
First time accepted submitter novakom writes "Apparently during the cold war, one fall-back position the U.S. was looking at to ensure mutual assured destruction was to put nukes on the moon. This would ensure that the U.S. could retaliate against even an effective first strike by the Russians. The first step, of course, would be to detonate a nuke on the moon. And yes, Carl Sagan was on the team (and apparently leaked the info!)"
First time accepted submitter r3dR0v3r writes "I have the opportunity to help improve / replace the website of my small U.S. town (~6000 people). The town leaders are open to most any suggestions, and are open to the idea of having the website facilitate a more open government — by being a place at which town documents, meeting agendas, meeting minutes, legal forms, ordinances, etc. can be found in an organized way and downloaded. And of course the site should provide general info about the town, it's services, recreation opportunities, etc.. Now, we have no budget, so we'll be looking at free/open software. I've considered options such as Drupal, but I'm doing this as volunteer work so I don't want to start from scratch and spend overly much time. Thus, I'm looking for advice about any existing platforms made specifically for municipalities as a great way to get a jump start. I'm guessing there are other slashdotters that have helped their communities in this way. Your suggestions please?"
nk497 writes "Dell's 'Project Sputnik' laptop is now on sale. The XPS 13 Developer Edition comes with Ubuntu 12.04 pre-installed, and costs $1,549 — $50 more than the same model running Windows. The Ubuntu Ultrabook is the result of a skunkworks project to optimise the open-source OS to run on Dell projects, to create better laptops for developers. The idea of the project was to create a laptop for developers, based around 'the idea that developers are the kings of IT and set the agenda for web companies, who in turn, set the agenda for the whole industry,' Dell said." Reader skade88 points out a positive review from Ars Technica.
cryptoz writes "Cumulonimbus has released a new version of their open source, global barometer network. The network is built around an Android app called pressureNET which uses barometric sensors in new phones (such as the Nexus 4, Galaxy Nexus, Galaxy S3, Note, and others) in order to build the comprehensive network. They plan to use the data to improve short-term weather prediction, and the gives a teaser of the new data visualization tool they are building."
dcblogs writes "IBM has 112,000 employees in India, up from 6,000 in 2002, with an average wage of about $17,000, according to an internal company document. That wage level may seem shockingly low to U.S. IT workers, but it is in alignment with IT wages in India.The Everest Group said the annual wages generally in India for a software engineer range from $8,000 to $10,000; for a senior software engineer, $12,000 to $15,000, and between $18,000 and $20,000 for a team lead. A project manager may make as much as $31,000. IBM employs about 430,000 globally. According to the Alliance at IBM, the U.S. staff is at about 92,000. It was at 121,000 at the end of 2007, and more in previous years. It has been widely expected over the past year or two that IBM's India workforce was on track to exceed its U.S. workforce, if it hadn't exceeded it already."