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Programming

New Book Argues Automation Is Making Software Developers Less Capable 212

Posted by Soulskill
from the more-time-to-browse-the-internet-though dept.
dcblogs writes: Nicholas Carr, who stirred up the tech world with his 2003 essay, IT Doesn't Matter in the Harvard Business Review, has published a new book, The Glass Cage, Automation and Us, that looks at the impact of automation of higher-level jobs. It examines the possibility that businesses are moving too quickly to automate white collar jobs. It also argues that the software profession's push to "to ease the strain of thinking is taking a toll on their own [developer] skills." In an interview, Carr was asked if software developers are becoming less capable. He said, "I think in many cases they are. Not in all cases. We see concerns — this is the kind of tricky balancing act that we always have to engage in when we automate — and the question is: Is the automation pushing people up to higher level of skills or is it turning them into machine operators or computer operators — people who end up de-skilled by the process and have less interesting work?

I certainly think we see it in software programming itself. If you can look to integrated development environments, other automated tools, to automate tasks that you have already mastered, and that have thus become routine to you that can free up your time, [that] frees up your mental energy to think about harder problems. On the other hand, if we use automation to simply replace hard work, and therefore prevent you from fully mastering various levels of skills, it can actually have the opposite effect. Instead of lifting you up, it can establish a ceiling above which your mastery can't go because you're simply not practicing the fundamental skills that are required as kind of a baseline to jump to the next level."
The Internet

Power and Free Broadband To the People 262

Posted by samzenpus
from the get-you-some-internet dept.
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes Slashdot member and open source developer Ben Kallos @KallosEsq — who is now a NYC Councilman — is pushing to make it a precondition to Comcast's merging with Time Warner that it agree to provide free broadband to all public housing residents in the City (and by free I mean free as in beer). Kallos, along with NY's Public Advocate, Letitia James, is leading a group of state and local politicians calling on Comcast to help bridge the digital divide in NY.
Beer

Study: Compound Found In Beer Boosts Brain Function 119

Posted by samzenpus
from the drink-one-anyway dept.
An anonymous reader writes Researchers have found that a chemical found in hops may actually improve memory. Unfortunately, a person would need to drink 3,520 pints of beer a day to get a high enough dose of the chemical to boost their brain power. A daunting task for even the most enthusiastic Oktoberfest participant. From the article: "Researchers at Oregon State University discovered that doses of xanthohumol, a flavonoid found in hops, improved memory and thinking in a lucky group of mice. Flavonoids are a class of compounds present in plants, known to have numerous health benefits. Last year, researchers discovered that a flavonoid found in celery and artichokes could potentially fight pancreatic cancer. The researchers treated the mice with dietary supplements of xanthohumol over the course of eight weeks. Their goal was to determine if xanthohumol could affect palmitoylation, a naturally occurring process in animals (including humans) that's associated with memory degradation. The mice then went through a series of tests—including the popular Morris water maze—to gauge whether or not the treatments had improved their spatial memory and cognitive flexibility. For the younger mice in the group, it worked. But on the older mice, unfortunately, the xanthohumol didn't seem to have any effect."
Beer

SteadyServ Helps Keep the Draft Beer Flowing (Video) 48

Posted by Roblimo
from the software-and-beer-are-a-natural-partnership dept.
"With iKeg's Technology We Guarantee You Will Never Run Out of Beer," boasts the SteadyServ website. As you listen to interviewee Mike Flockenhaus, though, you'll realize almost immediately that SteadyServ isn't making equipment for home use, but for bars and taverns that serve draft beer. Here's another good line from their site: "With the new iKeg® system, we aim to ensure that you get your beer, in the right place, at the right time. We also want to simplify the lives of all the hard-working people in the beer industry. After all, wanting and having your beer are not the same thing." Even better, it looks like they're hiring. Wouldn't it be wonderful to help keep America from running out of draft beer? (Alternate Video Link)
Graphics

Ask Slashdot: the State of Free Video Editing Tools? 163

Posted by timothy
from the what-are-you-happy-with? dept.
New submitter Shadow99_1 writes I used to do a lot of video editing (a few years ago, at an earlier job) and at that time I used Adobe Premiere. Now a few years later I'm looking to start doing some video editing for my own personal use, but I have a limited budget that pretty well excludes even thinking about buying a copy of Adobe Premiere. So I ask slashdot: What is the state of free (as in beer or as in open source) video editing tools? In my case... I support a windows environment at work and so it's primarily what I use at home. I am also using a camcorder that uses flash cards to record onto, so for me I need a platform that supports reading flash cards. So that is my focus but feel free to discuss video editing on all platforms. I've been looking forward to the Kickstarted upgrade to OpenShot; based on the project's latest update, early versions of an installer should start appearing soon. Video editing is a big endeavor, though, and ambitious announcements and slipped schedules both seem to be the norm: an open-source version of Lightworks was announced back in 2010. Some lighter open-source options include Pitivi (raising funds to get to version 1.0) and Kdenlive, also in active development (most recent release was in mid-May). Pitiviti's site links to a sobering illustration about many of the shorter- and longer-lived projects in this area.
Open Source

State of the GitHub: Chris Kelly Does the Numbers 34

Posted by timothy
from the git-along-little-hub dept.
I talked with Chris Kelly of GitHub at last week's LinuxCon about GitHub. He's got interesting things to say about the demographics and language choices on what has become in short order (just six years) one of the largest repositories of code in the world, and one with an increasingly sophisticated front-end, and several million users. Not all of the code on GitHub is open source, but the majority is -- handy, when that means an account is free as in beer, too. (And if you're reading on the beta or otherwise can't view the video below, here's the alternative video link.)
Technology

Automated Remote Charging for Your Flying Drones (Video) 30

Posted by Roblimo
from the aerial-drones-as-automated-traffic-law-enforcers-are-(sadly)-inevitable dept.
The Skysense website says, 'Save time and manage your drone operations remotely: whenever the batteries run out, land on a Skysense Charging Pad and take off as soon as the batteries are recharged. Without ever leaving the office.' That certainly sounds convenient. Since it looks like everybody and her dog is jumping on the flying drone bandwagon, the next step is obviously charging the things without human intervention. We're talking about battery-powered ones, of course, like the multicopter drones that are starting to be used for things like pipeline inspection, mapmaking, and security alarm response. Sadly, using drones for beer delivery is currently against the law in the USA, as are the Burrito Bomber and the much-ballyhooed Amazon Prime Air drone delivery system. All this may change in the next few years as the FAA figures out how to regulate the many commercial drones that will inevitably be zipping through our skies, landing on pads to recharge themselves, and continuing their missions without human intervention. The next step in drone automation will probably be using driverless ground vehicles as drone launching and control stations. Shockingly, there aren't a dozen Kickstarter projects raising money to build automated ground support systems for automated flying drones already, but surely they'll show up before long. (Alternate Video Link)
Democrats

Silicon Valley's Love-Hate Relationship With President Obama 131

Posted by Soulskill
from the getting-along-because-the-alternative-is-worse dept.
theodp writes: "Covering President Obama's visit to Silicon Valley, the AP reports that the relationship between the White House, Silicon Valley and its money is complicated. Less than a year after David Kirkpatrick asked, "Did Obama Just Destroy the U.S. Internet Industry?", and just two months after Mark Zuckerberg gave the President a call complaining about NSA spying, Silicon Valley execs hosted two high-stakes Democratic Party fundraisers for the President. The White House declined to identify the 20 high-rollers who paid $32,400 per head to sit at the Tech Roundtable. The President also attended an event hosted by Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and Y Combinator president Sam Altman, where the 250 or so guests paid $1,000 to $32,400 a head for bar service that featured wine, beer and cognac. The following day, Obama celebrated solar power at a Mountain View Walmart before jetting out of NASA's Moffett Field."
News

Interview: Ask Ben Starr About the Future of Food 137

Posted by samzenpus
from the ask-me-anything dept.
samzenpus (5) writes "Ben Starr is a chef, travel writer, reality TV star, wine and beer brewer, cheesemaker, and ultimate food geek. Ben traveled all 7 continents in his early 20s, staying with local families and learning to cook the cuisines of the world in home kitchens and local markets. FRANK, his underground Dallas restaurant, has a waitlist of 3,000 and reservations are selected by random lottery. He is a passionate local and sustainable food advocate. Ben is a flag waver for the new generation of chefs who embrace modern technology, and his Camp Potluck feeds hundreds of hungry Burning Man attendees every year. Ben has agreed to put down his chef's knife and answer your questions. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post."
Beer

Beer Price Crisis On the Horizon 397

Posted by timothy
from the overarmed-and-overreaching dept.
Rambo Tribble (1273454) writes "The aficionados of beer and distilled spirits could be in for a major price-shock, if proposals by the Food and Drug Administration come to pass. Currently, breweries are allowed to sell unprocessed brewing by-products to feed farm animals. Farmers prize the nutritious, low-cost feed. But, new rules proposed by the FDA could force brewers to implement costly processing facilities or dump the by-products as waste. As one brewer put it, "Beer prices would go up for everybody to cover the cost of the equipment and installation.""
Beer

To Reduce the Health Risk of Barbecuing Meat, Just Add Beer 179

Posted by timothy
from the honey-this-is-my-medicine dept.
PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) writes "Grilling meat gives it great flavour. This taste, though, comes at a price, since the process creates molecules called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) which damage DNA and thus increase the eater's chances of developing colon cancer. But a group of researchers led by Isabel Ferreira of the University of Porto, in Portugal, think they have found a way around the problem. When barbecuing meat, they suggest, you should add beer. The PAHs created by grilling form from molecules called free radicals which, in turn, form from fat and protein in the intense heat of this type of cooking. One way of stopping PAH-formation, then, might be to apply chemicals called antioxidants that mop up free radicals. And beer is rich in these, in the shape of melanoidins, which form when barley is roasted." (The paper on which this report is based, sadly paywalled.)
Biotech

Synthetic Chromosomes Successfully Integrated Into Brewer's Yeast 107

Posted by Soulskill
from the origin-story-for-superyeast dept.
New submitter dunnomattic writes: "Researchers at New York University School of Medicine have achieved a milestone in synthetic biology. A fully synthetic yeast chromosome, dubbed 'synIII,' has successfully replaced chromosome 3 of multiple living yeast cells. The researchers pieced together over 250,000 nucleotide bases to accomplish this feat. Dr. Jef Boeke, the lead author of the study, says, 'not only can we make designer changes on a computer, but we can make hundreds of changes through a chromosome and we can put that chromosome into yeast and have a yeast that looks, smells and behaves like a regular yeast, but this yeast is endowed with special properties that normal yeasts don't have.' Work is underway (abstract) to synthesize the remaining 15 chromosomes."
Beer

Klingon Beer 100

Posted by Soulskill
from the don't-drink-and-warp-drive dept.
An anonymous reader writes: "We may not have Saurian Brandy or Romulan Ale, but we'll soon have Klingon Beer. Tin Man Brewing Company in Evansville, Indiana has gotten the OK from CBS to create 'Klingon Warnog,' a Dunkelweizen with 'a modern aroma [of] predominantly mild banana and clove.' It will have an ABV of 5.5%. The Klingon beer will apparently join Vulcan Ale in the Federation of Beer. I wonder what their Prime Directive is."
Social Networks

First Study of the Evolution of Memes On Facebook 56

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the memepool-goes-to-college dept.
KentuckyFC writes "The way memes evolve on Facebook is startlingly similar to the way genes evolve on Earth. That's conclusion of a team of researchers who have analyzed the evolution of thousands of memes that have appeared more than 460 million times on Facebook. The memes are ideas like: 'No one should die because they cannot afford health care and no one should go broke because they get sick. If you agree please post this as your status for the rest of the day,' which has been copied 470,000 times. However, the meme quickly mutated. A version that included the phrase '[Your Name] thinks that' appeared 60,000 times. And humorous versions appeared too: 'No one should be without beer because they cannot afford one.'

The team analyzed how often variants appeared and how different they were to the original to get a measure of each meme's evolution. It turns out that this evolution follows the same mathematical evolution, called the Yule Process, that genes follow. And there are other similarities too. There is a small but clear preference for variants that are shorter than the original memes. That's analogous to bacteria favoring small genomes because they allow fast replication. And the same advantageous sequences can appear in many different memes, probably transferred by a single individual from one meme to another. This process is analogous to lateral gene transfer in bacteria. There are some differences too. Evolution is a blind process in biology but not in social media there can be a conscious effort to create mutations that will spread more effectively. This leads to some memes evolving with very high replication rates that are not described by the Yule process. The team says the results should provide greater insight into the nature of information transfer in social networks. It also raises the interesting question of how far evolution might go when given a little time to play with memes."
Beer

Fake Pub Studies Drinking Habits 118

Posted by Soulskill
from the top-shelf-research dept.
sciencehabit writes "In a pub on the campus of London South Bank University, you may think you're drinking an ice cold brew, but don't be too sure. A fake pub with barstools, beer pumps, and all the trappings of a real one was built on the university for psychologists to better understand how and why we drink. Hidden cameras and a cheerful staff — who are undercover psychology students — help analyze behavior when customers, or test subjects, pay a visit."
Government

These Are the Companies the FAA Has Sent notices To For Using Drones 136

Posted by samzenpus
from the you're-grounded dept.
Daniel_Stuckey writes "Just as soon as the Minnesota-based Lakemaid Beer company excited everyone by delivering beer to ice fisherman with drones, the Federal Aviation Administration ruined their fun by demanding that they cease operations. But Lakemaid isn't the only company that's been harassed by the agency. Since 2012, the agency has sent official notices to 13 companies for the commercial use of drones."
Advertising

Super Bowl Ads: Worth the Price Or Waste of Time? 347

Posted by samzenpus
from the did-you-see-that? dept.
samzenpus writes "Every year companies are willing to dish out big bucks to reach tens of millions of consumers with their Super Bowl ads. With an average price tag of $4 million for a 30-second commercial, this year is no exception. We've seen: beer obsessed frogs, field goal kicking horses, celebrities drinking various beverages, explosions of all sizes, homages to 1984, and day trading babies in the past. Since talking about the commercials has become almost as popular as the game itself, here's a place to do just that. What have you liked and what do you think would have been better left on the cutting room floor."
Beer

Ancient Egyptian Brewer's Tomb Found 66

Posted by samzenpus
from the pyramid-lite dept.
Rambo Tribble writes "Reminding us of beer's pivotal role in the civilization of humankind, the BBC comments on the discovery of an Ancient Egyptian tomb, belonging to the distinguished 'head of beer production' in the Pharaoh's court. From the article: 'Experts say the tomb's wall paintings are well preserved and depict daily life as well as religious rituals. Antiquities Minister Mohamed Ibrahim told the Egyptian al-Ahram newspaper that security had been tightened around the tomb until excavation works are complete.'"
Transportation

Ford Rolls the Dice With Breakthrough F-150 Aluminum Pickup Truck 521

Posted by samzenpus
from the shiny-new-truck dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "USA Today reports that Ford's next F-150 pickup truck will be made mostly of aluminum, instead of steel, in a bid to save weight. It will likely either be hailed as a breakthrough product to buyers who've made F-150 the bedrock of its business or one that draws comparisons to a 'rolling beer can.' The automaker has asked Alcoa, which makes aluminum blast shields for battlefield-bound vehicles, to lend some of its military-grade metal for the automaker's display, according to people familiar with Ford's plans. Ford's sales job will be considerable: The company is eager to demonstrate the toughness of aluminum, which is lighter than steel, to pickup buyers at next month's Detroit auto show. 'This is already the most significant debut at the auto show,' says Joe Langley. 'Everybody's going to be dissecting that thing for a long time, especially since Ford will be taking such a big gamble.' As a transformative product with a potentially troublesome introduction, the new F-150 has drawn comparisons with Boeing Co.'s 787 Dreamliner — an aircraft developed under the company's commercial airplane chief at the time, Alan Mulally, who in 2006 became Ford's chief executive officer. Because of the complicated switch to aluminum from steel in the F-150's body, IHS Automotive estimates Ford will need to take about six weeks of downtime at each of its two U.S. truck plants to retool and swap out robots and machinery. Ford is apparently trying to squeeze more than 700 pounds out of its next generation of pickup trucks. Using aluminum to cut weight would help meet rising fuel economy standards in the United States, which is requiring a fleetwide average of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025."

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