Space

Video Space Exploration Politics -- and an Explanation of the Apollo Flag 'Mystery' (Video) 39

Meet Tom Moser. And here's another NASA oral history interview with him. And we interviewed him last week ourselves. Tom has been involved, one way or another, as engineer or manager, with every American manned space flight program since 1963. Now, among other things, he's thinking of ways multiple governments and private companies can share their resources to make future space exploration feasible, which may not be engineering -- but in many cases politics can be more important than designing and building the hardware, which is why it's worth learning about.

And thinking of hardware, do you remember the conspiracy people talking about how the U.S. flag on the moon was faked because there's no way it could wave in the breeze without an atmosphere? Moser gives us the inside scoop on that: it was an engineering screwup, and at least partly his fault. Whoops!
Programming

Interviews: Ask Stack Overflow Co-Founder Jeff Atwood a Question 129

Jeff Atwood is an author, entrepreneur, and software developer. He runs the popular programming blog Coding Horror and is the co-founder of Stack Overflow and the Stack Exchange Network. In early 2012 he decided to leave Stack Exchange so he could spend more time with his family. A year later he announced his new company the Civilized Discourse Construction Kit, Inc. and the Discourse open-source discussion platform which aims to improve conversations on the internet. Jeff has agreed to give some of his time to answer any questions you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
Security

Video Harnessing Conflict in the Workplace (video) 93

Nigel Dessau has written a book titled Become a 21st Century Executive: Breaking Away from the Pack. One thing he mentions both in his book and in conversation is that you should harness conflict in the workplace rather than try to stop it. And the first name that came to mind was Linus Torvalds, and how kernel developer Sarah Sharp recently quit the kernel development team loudly and publicly because of Linus's 'Brutal' Communications Style. And now the Washington Post has put out an article under the headline, Net of Insecurity: The Kernel of the Argument, which is about Linus's management style and his recent conflicts with almost every Internet security maven within reach of his online writing. Meanwhile, at ZDNet, Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols calls the Post article "re-bundled old FUD about Linux and the internet's security."

Nigel likes Linus (as do most people who've met him in person) and points out that Linus can get away with being somewhat prickly because he's a genius. The same could be said about the late Steve Jobs and a number of other interesting leaders in the computer business. And Nigel's book and this interview also talk about something that may be more important in the long run than this year's small spate of Linux publicity, namely mentoring and how it can help millennials become productive workers in knowledge fields -- which a whole bunch of them need to start doing PDQ because all the baby boomers everybody loves to hate are either retired already or will be retired before long.
Math

Interviews: Ask Mathematician Neil Sloane a Question 189

Considered by many to be one of the most influential mathematicians alive today, Neil Sloane has made major contributions to the fields of sphere packing, combinatorics, and error-correcting codes. He is probably best known for being the creator and curator of the On-Line Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences (OEIS), known simply as “Sloane” by its many users. The repository is over 50 years old and contains over 260,000 sequences.

Neil recently turned 76 but his passion for mathematics remains as strong as ever. Talking about a recent project, he writes: “Back in September I was looking at an old sequence in the OEIS. The sequence starts 1, 12, 123, 1234, 12345, ..., 123456789, 12345678910, 1234567891011, ... The n-th term: just write all the decimal numbers from 1 to n in a row and think of this as a big number. The entry for the sequence had a comment that it is expected that there are infinitely many terms which are primes, but that no prime was known, even though Dana Jaconsen had checked the first 64,000 terms. So I asked various friends and correspondents about this, and people extended the search somewhat. In fact Ernst Mayer has set up a cloud-source project to look for primes in the sequence, and the sequence has now been checked to nearly n = 270,000 without finding a prime. But I am hopeful that a prime will appear before we get to n = 10^6. When a prime is found, as it surely will be, it probably won't be the largest prime known, but it will be close to the record (which is held by the latest Mersenne prime). We may make it into the top ten. It will certainly be the largest known prime which is easy to write down! (Explicitly, I mean. You may know that 2^32582657-1 is prime, but you won't be able to write down the decimal expansion without using a computer).”

Neil has agreed to take some time away from his favorite sequences and answer any questions you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
Space

Video Veteran Spaceflight Engineer Talks About Governance for Space Exploration (Video) 12

Meet Tom Moser. (And if that piece of oral spaceflight history wasn't enough, here's a second one.) He's been involved, one way or another, as engineer or manager, with every American manned space flight program since 1963. Now, among other things, he's thinking of ways multiple governments and private companies can share their resources to make future space exploration feasible, which is the main topic of today's video (and transcript), and one we plan to run next week as well.
Security

Video Can the Cloud Be More Secure Than Your Own Servers? (Video) 220

Sarah Lahav, CEO of Sysaid, believes "the cloud" can be more secure than keeping your software and data behind your firewall and administering it yourself, especially for small and medium-sized firms. Why? Because Amazon, Rackspace, and other major cloud and SaaS providers probably have lots more security experts and other IT people at their command than you do.

We've talked to Sarah before, and probably will again. She has strong opinions based on her experience in IT, and is happy to share those opinions. So take it away, Sarah...
Space

Video Solar Energy in Space is not Necessarily Easy to Harvest (Video) 85

The ARTEMIS Innovation web site says, "John C. Mankins, President of Artemis Innovation Management Solutions LLC, is an internationally recognized leader in space systems and technology innovation...." And one of John's biggest recent projects is coming up with a practical way to collect solar energy beyond our atmosphere and use it not only in space, but how to beam it down to the Earth's surface where we can use it to power our plug-in cars, household appliances, and other electrical devices.
Google

Interviews: Ask Alan Donovan and Brian Kernighan About Programming and Go 185

Alan Donovan is a member of Google’s Go team in New York and holds computer science degrees from Cambridge and MIT. Since 2005, he has worked at Google on infrastructure projects and was the co-designer of its proprietary build system, Blaze. Brian Kernighan is a professor in the Computer Science Department at Princeton University. He was a member of technical staff in the Computing Science Research Center at Bell Labs, where he worked on languages and tools for Unix. He is the co-author of several books, including The C Programming Language, and The Practice of Programming. Recently, the pair have co-authored a soon to be released book titled The Go Programming Language. Alan and Brian have agreed to give us some of their time to answer any questions you may have about the upcoming book, Go, and programming in general. Ask as many questions as you'd like, but please keep them to one per post.
Hardware

Video A Chat With the Author of 'Abacus to smartphone: The evolution of mobile and portable computing' (Video) 6

The last time we spoke with Evan Koblentz it was about a vintage computer festival. This time we talked about a book he's written written titled Abacus to smartphone: The evolution of mobile and portable computing. Yes, he's obsessed with computer history. But somebody has to be, and we're glad it's Evan because he is eminently suited for this task.
Programming

Video DevOps: Threat or Menace? (Video) 65

The title above is a joke. Mostly. We've heard so much about DevOps -- good, bad, and indifferent -- from so many people who contradict each other, that we turned to Alan Zeichick, one of the world's most experienced IT analysts, to tell us what DevOps is and isn't, how it can help get work done (and done right), how it can hinder progress, and how to make sure DevOps is a help, not a hindrance, if you or your employers decide to implement DevOps yourselves at some point.
Software

Video Marijuana Growers Need Software, Too (Video) 94

Meet Kyle Sherman, founder and CEO of Flowhub, a company that makes software for marijuana growers. The company's website says Kyle "worked at a grow and experienced the problems with cannabis inventory management first hand. Frustrated by the software his grow was using, he searched for something better. When his search failed him, he became fueled by a passion to create a system that would accelerate workflows, increase accuracy, and simplify compliance."

Every state that legalizes marijuana will give Flowhub a new set of potential customers (and a new set of regulations their software must take into account). And Kyle talks about making easy-to-use enterprise software for other industries, based on his experience making super-simple software for marijuana people. It's possible that Flowhub will also make new versions of the NUG, the handheld "all-in-one device" Flowhub provides along with its subscription-based software. Are we talking about unbridled optimism here? Absolutely! This is America, where possibilities are endless, even in the not-100%-legal (yet) marijuana industry.
The Internet

Video We Asked Doc Searls: Do Ad Blockers Cause Cancer? (Video) 116

A whimsical headline, but not much more of a shark-jumper than some of the talk we've heard lately from ad agencies, online publishers, and others who earn their living from online advertising. Doc Searls recently wrote a piece on his personal blog titled Beyond ad blocking — the biggest boycott in human history. Naturally, we wanted to ask Doc to expand a bit on what he's been writing about ad blocking and advertising in general. So we had a fine conversation about online advertising -- ending with a challenge to the advertising industry, which Doc says should be looking for ways to produce better, more effective, and less annoying ways to sell to us online.
Security

Video Will 'Chip and Pin' Credit Card Technology Really Increase Security? (Video) 317

The answer seems to be: sort of, a little, but not a whole lot, according to Jerry Irvine, who is a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Cybersecurity Leadership Council and CIO of Chicago-based Prescient Solutions. More security theater? It sounds that way when Jerry starts reeling off the kinds of attacks the new cards will do nothing to prevent. Even so, October 1 is the date after which merchants are supposed to be liable for fraudulent purchases made with old-style cards, and are supposed to have point of sale terminals that accept "chip and PIN" cards.
The Almighty Buck

Video Why Kickstarter Became a Public Benefit Corporation (Video) 40

Meet Kickstarter co-founder and CEO Yancey Strickler. Timothy Lord asked Yancey about Kickstarter's recent move to become a Public Benefit Corporation, which is, according to Wikipedia, "a specific type of corporation that allows for public benefit to be a charter purpose in addition to the traditional corporate goal of maximizing profit for shareholders."

This corporate restructuring has no tax advantages, and creates a slight increase in paperwork, Yancey says. So why did they do it? Please view the video (or read the transcript, which has more info than the video) to find out.
Programming

Video Security is an Important Coding Consideration Even When You Use Containers (Video) 57

Last month Tom Henderson wrote an article titled Container wars: Rocket vs. Odin vs. Docker. In that article he said, "All three are potentially very useful and also potentially very dangerous compared to traditional hypervisor and VM combinations."

Tom's list of contributions at Network World show you that he's not a neophyte when it comes to enterprise-level security, and that he's more of a product test/analytical person than a journalist. And afraid to state a strong opinion? That's someone else, not Tom, who got flamed hard for his "Container Wars" article, but has been proved right since it ran. Tom also says, in today's interview, that the recent Apple XcodeGhost breach should be a loud wake-up call for developers who don't worry enough about security. But will it? He's not too sure. Are you?
Build

Video Why Hardware Development Takes Longer in the West Than in China (Video) 65

This was originally going to be a second video about the Popup Factory Demo we talked about last Wednesday. But this section of Tim's lengthy interview with people from the Popup Factory seemed like it would be of broader interest to Slashdot people -- and your coworkers, bosses, and friends who may be involved in device production or prototyping. There are some hard words here, because David Cranor is talking about problems that go way beyond the usual perceived Chinese advantages such as low labor costs and a lack of environmental regulations.
Build

Video Popup Factory Demo at Solid Conference 2015 (Video 1 of 2) 9

With rapid, low-cost "maker" tools including 3-D printers, low-volume circuit board etching and populating equipment, and lots of outsourcing to independent designers and engineers rather than having everyone on staff, it is easier every year to make Internet of Things things -- and many other electronic, mechanical, and electro-mechanical devices, too. Formlabs was the company that did the demo at O'Reilly's 2015 Solid Conference for Slashdot's Timothy Lord that he made into this two-part video (second part coming soon) to give you an idea of what's happening in this fast-moving field. Please note that these videos are not an endorsement of Formlabs. There are many companies doing similar things these days. Please feel free to mention your favorite in the comments (below).
Politics

Interviews: Ask John McAfee About His Presidential Run 157

samzenpus writes: He's run a multi-billion dollar company and hidden in the jungles of Central America while being chased by Belizean authorities, but John McAfee's presidential bid may be his most interesting adventure yet. Last week John said: "Our government is in a dysfunctional state. It is also illiterate when it comes to technology. Technology is not a tool that should be used for a government to invade our privacy. Technology should not be the scapegoat when we fail to protect our digital assets and tools of commerce. These are matters of priorities," when announcing his run. According to his Cyber Party website: "Donkeys and elephants just don't make sense in the modern world. If the federal bureaucracy adopts technology in a meaningful way, it will become much easier to adapt to changes in policy or procedure. 10 hour long congressional hearings will no longer be needed for a simple change in workflow. By adapting a lean approach to government, the amount of savings that can be realized by improved efficiency will eliminate the need for wholesale changes to foundational policies. Other parties consistently lag behind trends in technology – Cyber Party members are committed to staying ahead of the curve and remaining proactive in policymaking." John has agreed to answer any questions you have about his step into politics or any other questions you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
Education

Video GameStart Uses Minecraft to Teach Kids Programming (Video 2) 18

As we said last week, "You can't teach all programming by using Minecraft to keep kids interested, but you can use Minecraft, Java, and Eclipse to give them a good start." That's what Tyler Kilgore and his colleagues at GameStart are doing. Watch today's video (number 2), go back to last week's video (number 1) if you missed it, and read both days' transcripts for the full scoop.

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