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The First Draft of the SN manifesto is available

What do you fear the most?

  • Walking alone at night
  • Becoming the victim of identity theft
  • Safety on the Internet
  • Being the victim of a mass/random shooting
  • Public speaking
  • Candlejack coming to kidnap me
  • I doesn't afraid of anything
  • Other - Spe

[ Results | Polls ]
Comments:115 | Votes:533

posted by janrinok on Sunday November 23, @11:22AM   Printer-friendly
from the he-who-pays-the-piper dept.

Nature has a report that the Gates Foundation has announced a broad open access policy with regards to funded research:

from January 2015, researchers it funds must make open their resulting papers and underlying data-sets immediately upon publication — and must make that research available for commercial re-use. “We believe that published research resulting from our funding should be promptly and broadly disseminated,” the foundation states.

There is some concern that the "commercial use" availability clause may prevent publication in many journals, such as both Nature and Science

Nature, for example, states that openly archived manuscripts may not be re-used for commercial purposes. So do the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Elsevier and Wiley and many other publishers (in relation to their non-OA journals)

The nature article references an earlier report that suggested that even researchers who support open-access may want to restrict commercial re-use.

posted by martyb on Sunday November 23, @10:05AM   Printer-friendly
from the how-many-7-letter-words-start-with-"F"? dept.

The International Journal of Advanced Computer Technology, an open-access journal some accuse of being predatory due to its lack of actual editorial judgment of any kind, has recently accepted for publication a paper entitled Get me off Your F****** Mailing List [pdf]. (warning: NSFW language, in case it wasn't obvious)

This raises an interesting point about open-access journals: How does one police the quality of the work when some are faking the editorial process entirely?

posted by martyb on Sunday November 23, @08:09AM   Printer-friendly
from the our-inbox-is-your-inbox dept.

Inbox is a new email app based on Gmail, which appears to be mostly aimed at mobile users — with separate versions "optimized" for web, Android, and iOS. This blog post gives an overview of their development tools for the three platforms:

For iOS we developed the now open source J2ObjC cross compiler to translate our Java data model to Objective-C, and again we get a natural API on which to build our native iOS Inbox app (complete with [Reminder snooze]). The astute reader may wonder how we deal with the impedance mismatch when translating from a garbage collected language (Java) to a reference counted one (Objective-C). Generally, J2ObjC relies on Objective-C autorelease pools, so objects normally garbage-collected are instead freed when a pool drains. ...

As an old guy, I don't really like their usage of "impedance mismatch", but maybe the analogy is okay? See

posted by martyb on Sunday November 23, @06:15AM   Printer-friendly
from the we-promise-to-be-honest-from-now-on dept.

A recent study by the University of Zurich shows that bankers are substantially more dishonest than other professionals (abstract is in German). Interestingly, this is tied closely to their profession. As private individuals, they are just as honest (or dishonest) as anyone else. However, as soon as they are reminded of their profession, their dishonesty soars. The study draws the conclusion that the context and standards of the profession are the problem.

Of course, anyone who has been paying attention has long suspected this to be true. It is interesting that it has now been demonstrated in an objective study, and that a University was bold enough to do this in a country known for its banking industry. Perhaps this will help sow the seeds of much-needed reform?

posted by martyb on Sunday November 23, @04:22AM   Printer-friendly
from the prefer-to-own-an-automobile dept.

Jerry Hirsch writes in the LA Times that personal transportation is on the cusp of its greatest transformation since the advent of the internal combustion engine. For a century, cars have been symbols of freedom and status but according to Hirsch, passengers of the future may well view vehicles as just another form of public transportation, to be purchased by the trip or in a subscription. Buying sexy, fast cars for garages could evolve into buying seat-miles in appliance-like pods, piloted by robots, parked in public stalls. "There will come a time when driving the car is like riding the horse," says futurist Peter Schwartz. "Some people will still like to do it, but most of us won't." People still will want to own vehicles for various needs, says James Lentz, chief executive of Toyota's North American operations. They might live in a rural area and travel long distances daily. They might have a big family to haul around. They might own a business that requires transporting supplies. "You will still have people who have the passion for driving the cars and feeling the road," says Lentz. "There may be times when they want the cars to drive them, but they won't be buying autonomous-only cars."

One vision of the future is already playing out in Grenoble, France, where residents can rent from a fleet of 70 pod-like Toyota i-Road and Coms electric cars for short city trips. "It is a sharing program like what you see in Portland [Oregon] with bicycles," says Lentz. Drivers can check out and return the cars at various charging points. Through a subscription, they pay the equivalent of $3.75 for 30 minutes. Because the vehicles are so small, it's easy to build out their parking and charging infrastructure. Skeptics should consider the cynicism that greeted the horseless carriage more than a century ago, says Adam Jonas who adds that fully autonomous vehicles will be here far sooner than the market thinks (PDF). Then, Jonas says, skeptics asked: "Why would any rational person want to replace the assuredness of that hot horse body trustily pulling your comfortable carriage with an unreliable, oil-spurting heap of gears, belts and chains?"

posted by martyb on Sunday November 23, @02:30AM   Printer-friendly
from the waiting-for-effective-modern-java#++!!1one! dept.

C++ expert Scott Meyers announced that his new book: "Effective Modern C++" has been released. Or maybe that should be post-modern?

In my opinion, the original two Effective C++ books changed the style of programming books for the better. We went from "This is the language" to "You know the language but this is the best way we know to use it".

What's interesting about this particular book, apart from the fact that the best way to use C++ has changed yet again, is that C++ is actually arguably now a bit simpler than it was. Yes it has lambdas and more features but a lot of the real pain points — like template boil plate and being careful to avoid creating copies of objects — have been improved with move semantics and the auto keyword. It's still a beast of a language but it feels that this time it is a bit more manageable and the book seems to reflect that.

posted by martyb on Sunday November 23, @12:35AM   Printer-friendly
from the eavesdropping-should-be-called-eavescatching dept.

American companies are supplying technology that the governments of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are using to spy on their citizens’ communications and clamp down on dissent, according to a new report ( ) [PDF] from the UK-based advocacy group Privacy International.

Verint Systems, a manufacturer of surveillance systems headquartered in Melville, N.Y., has sold software and hardware to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan that is capable of mass interception of telephone, mobile, and Internet networks, the group alleged in its Nov. 20 report. It also provided the training and technical support needed to run them, the report said.

Verint, which claims customers in 180 nations, in turn sought decryption technology made by a firm in California, Netronome, as it helped the Uzbek government attempt to crack the encryption used by Gmail, Facebook, and other popular sites, according to the report.

posted by martyb on Saturday November 22, @10:39PM   Printer-friendly
from the was-first-used-in-Isengard dept.

Over at Hackernews is a link to a WindPower Engineering article from September on Electricity stored as a temperature difference.

This is basically a write up of the Isentropic energy storage system which uses a gravel storage medium and argon gas as a thermal transfer medium:

James Macnaghten and Mark Wagner, co-founded Isentropic, Ltd., a company that is currently developing a new storage technology called pumped-heat electricity storage (PHES), which stores electricity as heat and cold. PHES, Isentropic claims, is cheaper than pumped hydro, is deployable anywhere in the world, and is comparable—and in some cases superior—to pumped hydro with a round-trip storage efficiency of 72 to 80%.
An independent study by Parsons Brinckerhoff reports that PHES costs 30% less than pumped hydropower with a per hour storage cost of $103/kWh. Currently the technology is scaled to support up to a 2,000-home town. For this scale, the building housing the system is estimated to be 20 to 40m tall.

Note: as highlighted in the HN threads the storage cost quoted above appears to be capital cost of building the store, not the operating cost.

The Isentropic homepage has an informative Youtube video describing the PHES process, and an Isentropic process is formally defined as one where "the entropy of the system remains constant throughout".

Original HackerNews link. Although relatively old this is an interesting storage technology I haven't seen covered previously on SN.

posted by LaminatorX on Saturday November 22, @08:39PM   Printer-friendly
from the first-do-no-harm dept.

I am the maintainer of the Epoch Init System, a single threaded Linux init system with non-intrusiveness in mind, and I'm preparing to release 2.0. It's mostly a code cleanup release, but while I'm at it, I thought I'd ask the Soylent community what features they'd like to see. I'm open to all good ideas, but I'm wary of feature creep, so as a result, I won't consider the following:

* multithreaded/parallel services, because that goes against design goals of simplicity and harms customizability
* mounting support or networking support; it's an init system, use busybox if you need a mount command.

So what do soylentils want to see in the next release of the Epoch Init System?

posted by LaminatorX on Saturday November 22, @06:38PM   Printer-friendly

Scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory are studying a mysterious ecosystem at one of the world's deepest undersea hydrothermal vents to get clues about what life could be like on other planetary bodies, such as Jupiter's icy moon Europa, which has a subsurface ocean. At the vents tiny shrimp are piled on top of each other, layer upon layer, crawling on rock chimneys that spew hot water. "You go along the ocean bottom and there's nothing, effectively," says Max Coleman. "And then suddenly we get these hydrothermal vents and a massive ecosystem. It's just literally teeming with life." Bacteria, inside the shrimps' mouths and in specially evolved gill covers, produce organic matter that feed the crustaceans. The particular bacteria in the vents are able to survive in extreme environments because of chemosynthesis, a process that works in the absence of sunlight and involves organisms getting energy from chemical reactions. In this case, the bacteria use hydrogen sulfide, a chemical abundant at the vents, to make organic matter. The temperatures at the vents can climb up to a scorching 842 degrees Fahrenheit (450 degrees Celsius), but waters just an inch away are cool enough to support the shrimp. The shrimp are blind, but have thermal receptors in the backs of their heads.

According to the exobiologists, these mysterious shrimps and its symbiotic bacterium may hold clues "about what life could be like on other planetary bodies." It's life that may be similar—at the basic level—to what could be lurking in the oceans of Europa, deep under the icy crust of the Jupiter moon. According to Emma Versteegh "whether an animal like this could exist on Europa heavily depends on the actual amount of energy that's released there, through hydrothermal vents." Nobody is seriously planning a landing mission on Europa yet. But the European Space Agency aims to launch its JUpiter ICy moons Explorer mission (JUICE) to make the first thickness measurements of Europa's icy crust starting in 2030 and NASA also has begun planning a Europa Clipper mission that would study the icy moon while doing flybys in a Jupiter orbit.

posted by janrinok on Saturday November 22, @05:08PM   Printer-friendly
from the fewer-submissions-than-SN dept.

Verizon's attempt at technology journalism has seemingly been halted, as its widely mocked news site hasn't published anything new in more than three weeks.

The site, SugarString is bankrolled by Verizon Wireless and got off to a rocky start when its editor, Cole Stryker, was seeking out reporters and told prospective candidates that the site would not write about spying and net neutrality.

Sugarstring has fallen silent ever since the Daily Dot broke the news of the site's self-censorship on October 29th.

A couple questions are raised here -- the first is, knowing that techies are overwhelmingly pro-privacy and pro-information, why would such a corporation embark on such a foolhardy endeavour? The next question is, how did they manage to make a site more horrible than Beta?

posted by janrinok on Saturday November 22, @03:32PM   Printer-friendly
from the follow-the-money dept.

Chris Beard, CEO of the Mozilla Corporation, announced in his blog Wednesday, 11 November 2014, that they were ending their 10-year relationship with Google. As of December, they begin a five-year "strategic partnership" with Yahoo.

For those wondering why the switch, The Verge has an interesting take on it:

In tech, little things can have big consequences — in this case, a tiny search bar. Last night, Firefox made a surprising announcement: after 10 years with Google as its default search engine, it would be handing the tiny search bar over to Yahoo. On the face of it, it's a strange move. If you're looking for almost anything on the internet, Google is a much better way to find it than Yahoo is. But that small search bar isn't just a feature, it's a business. And it’s a business that reveals how Mozilla and Google could increasingly be at odds with each other.

[We touched on this in a recent story about Firefox's expanding search options, but this aspect seems significant enough to merit specific attention. -LaminatorX]

posted by janrinok on Saturday November 22, @02:06PM   Printer-friendly
from the first-they-mock-you dept.

Wences Casares, founder and CEO of Xapo, a Bitcoin storage company, has posted another gentle guide to Bitcoin. Rather than a wide-ranging FAQ (like this one), Casares tackles the overriding question in many people's minds: why should the world take the word of Bitcoiners that their "currency" will eventually win broad acceptance as a means of exchange around the world?

Casares goes over the main attributes of currency systems that historically have proven successful. Rather than start with copper coins or gold nuggets, he changes things up a bit by introducing us to the Micronesian island of Yap, where residents used stones for money; his LinkedIn piece reads like a business book parable but was apparently based on actual history. The stones worked, says Casares, because they were scarce (to the islanders), durable, came in different size denominations for convenience, and could be easily exchanged in commerce.

posted by martyb on Saturday November 22, @12:36PM   Printer-friendly
from the pirate-bay,-the-sequel dept.

The Center for American Progress reports:

It's official, TV is moving online. Fewer customers are buying cable packages and more are opting for lower-cost options that let them watch movies and television shows wherever they want--at an airport or in a coffee shop.

But there are more than 100 online services, from Netflix to Hulu, that allow customers to watch all their favorite episodes of The Simpsons at any time they want. Meanwhile, big broadcast and cable companies have struggled to compete with [the] mobile-ready entertainment market, clamoring for customers' attention.
[On November 10,] the Motion Picture Association of America joined the pack with a new site called WheretoWatch, a sort of online search engine where customers can type in the name of a movie or TV show and find out exactly where they can watch it legally. Users can search by title, genre, year it was produced or released, MPAA rating (PG or R), and whether it's online, on DVD or in theaters.

posted by martyb on Saturday November 22, @11:35AM   Printer-friendly
from the branching-out dept.

It's much like the days before Soylent News ie. like an anthill has been kicked; chaos, with uncoordinated swarming over the problem space. To summarize what was discussed in the last 18 hours [1]: there seem to be systemd-less Jessie ISOs already available e.g. Exe GNU/Linux and Refracta. Someone tested systemd boot speed and discovered there's no difference, at least on default installs. There were offers of server space, and a discovering of important dependencies eg. GIMP depending on libpulse0 -> libsystemd-id128-0, discussion of GUI environments without dependency issues e.g. LXDE/LXQt, automatic package building infrastructure e.g. USE="-pulse -systemd". For those considering a move to FreeBSD there seems to be an Apple-sponsored systemd-alike being pushed by some. There was also some dreaming about the intermediate to long term e.g. if people really want the features of a launchd or systemd (or upstart or...) there could be an opportunity for an end to the SysV/BSD init split, but of course that would require years of work, consensus building and helicopter cat-herding — maybe it isn't even impossible. The #debianfork chat channel is on Freenode.

[1] Story was submitted at: 2014-11-20 03:12:49 UTC.

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