Slashdot contributor Bennett Haselton writes with "a response to some of the objections raised to my last article, about a design for a distributed social networking protocol, which would allow for decentralized (and censorship-resistant) hosting of social networking accounts, while supporting all of the same features as sites like Facebook." Social networking is no longer new; whether you consider it to have started with online communities in the mid-90s or with the beginnings of sites many people still use today. As its popularity has surged, it has grown in limited ways; modern social networks have made communication between users easier, but they've also made users easier to market to advertisers as well. There's no question that the future of social networking holds more changes that can both help and harm users — perhaps something like what Bennett suggests could serve to mitigate that harm. Read on for the rest of his thoughts.
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15 years is a long time on the internet. Many websites have come and gone over that time, and many that stuck around haven't had any interest in preserving their older content. Fortunately, as Slashdot approaches its 2^17th story, we've managed to keep track of almost all our old postings — all but the first 2^10, or so. In addition to that, we've held onto user comments, the lifeblood of the site, from 1999 onward. As we celebrate Slashdot's 15th anniversary this month, we thought we'd take a moment to highlight a few of the notable or interesting stories and discussions that have happened here in the past decade and a half. Read on for a trip down memory lane.
It took Dr. Adam Blankespoor two years and $14,000 to convert his 1996 Honda Civic into an all-electric plug-in vehicle. He's an automotive engineer and researcher, but if he can do it, you can probably follow in his footsteps and create your own electric vehicle if you are so inclined. He talks about a 45 mile range, with 30 miles as a practical limit. That's not competitive with the Tesla S, but there's also a massive price difference to consider. This is another person Slashdot met at the Ann Arbor Maker Faire. If you want to see what kinds of electric vehicles other have made, possibly for inspiration, the Electric Vehicle Photo Album is a good place to start. And if you want information on how to build your own electric car, using "electric car conversion" as your Google search term will put you on the track of more electric car information than you can shake a Tesla Coil at.
I recently sat down with one of our co-founders, Jeff "hemos" Bates, to talk about Slashdot's 15th anniversary and the world of niche news. Because history was involved, Jeff had a lot to say about the growth of specialized news and the partisanship that groups make. Bates contends that what's old is new when it comes to media, and that people would rather be right than get along. Below you'll find a condensed version of his treatise on niche media and communities.
He co-founded Apple Computer, he's a programmer and engineer who invented the Apple I and Apple II computers, he's one of our most influential readers, he is known simply as Woz. To kick-off our 15th anniversary month, Woz has agreed to take some time to answer a few of your questions; as with other Slashdot interviews, you're invited to ask as many questions as you'd like, but please ask them in separate posts. We'll be running a number of other special interviews this month, so keep your eyes open.
There you were, one evening in Ann Arbor, MI, looking at a bunch of crazy spinning pinwheel-type things on light poles that seemed to change speed, colors, and light patterns with each minor wind shift. You were seeing Whirlydoodles. Slashdot met Whirlydoodle creator Timothy Jones at the 2012 Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire and shot a quick video of him and his colorful "micro-electric wind turbine" in action.
CowboyNeal writes: "Last week was a big week for gamers, with the release of both Borderlands 2 as well as Torchlight 2. I already shared my thoughts on the former last week, so I got to playing the latter over the weekend. Torchlight 2 is the follow-up to Torchlight, the 2009 point-and-click ARPG created by Runic Games. What's new that the first game didn't have? And, the big question, how does it stack up against Diablo 3? Click the link below to learn my impressions of the game."
CowboyNeal writes: "This week sees the release of Borderlands 2, the sequel to Gearbox Software's 2009 role-playing shooter Borderlands. Pandora is ready to be explored yet again, with a cast of new heroes, and a few familiar faces along the way. There's new and different guns, and also guns, and did I mention guns? Also, there's guns. Read on to learn about my experience in Borderlands 2, and the joys of Pandora's gun-based economy."
CowboyNeal writes: "It seems like the news on everyone's favorite most resilient BitTorrent site never ends, as we approach its ninth birthday in just a couple days. Google has even recently wiped TPB results from auto-complete searches. Last month Nick Bilton wrote a rather insightful piece in the NYT (also covered on Slashdot), about 'Why Internet Pirates Always Win.' Read on, as I examine not only why he's right, but how piracy could be further curbed already."
George Albercook says he got carried away talking with some third and fourth graders about space and asked them, "Would you like to go?" Except, of course, he couldn't send them beyond the atmosphere in person, so as a consolation he worked with them to send up a balloon that could carry experiments high enough that the sky is black 24 hours a day and the Earth's curvature is easy to see. This interview with George was at the 2012 Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire. Click on the link just below, if you'd like to read the transcript.
This presentation was given by Joshua Corman at CodenomiCON 2012 in Las Vegas, an invitation-only security mini-conference sponsored by the pen-testing company Codenomicon that ran concurrently with Black Hat USA 2012. Josh is Director, Security Intelligence, for Akamai, and is one of the instigators of Rugged Software. He sympathizes with Anonymous more than with corporate or government forces that are determined to bring order to everything, including the Internet, on their terms. We have no transcript for this video since we only have permission to embed it, not to alter or add to it. But it's well worth watching, including the accompanying slides. And if Joshua Corman is speaking anywhere near you, it's well worth your time to go see him.
Frequent contributor Bennett Haselton writes: "The distributed-social-networking Diaspora Project recently announced that their software will be released as open source. I don't know if Diaspora specifically will be the Next Big Thing in social networking, but I hope that social networking moves to a decentralized model within the next few years, where anyone can set up and run a hub to administer profiles for themselves and their friends or clients, and where profiles can interact with each other in a distributed fashion instead of on a centralized system like Facebook." Read on for Bennett's thoughts on how that model could work.
The Wiki Weapon Project and its idea of making guns with 3D printers has already been mentioned on Slashdot. It has also been written up on Forbes.com and a lot of other geek and non-geek sites. Note that when some Wiki Weapon proponents talk about making "guns" with 3D printers, they may be talking only about lower receivers or other static parts, not barrels, firing pins or other parts that must be machined to close tolerances and are subjected to a lot of stress when the gun fires. But low-cost 3D printing and low-cost CNC machining technologies are both advancing at a rapid rate, so thinking about the intersection of firearm manufacturing and open source is both worthwhile and timely. There's been a strong debate about this topic on Eric S. Raymond's Armed and Dangerous blog that's worth reading. Also recommended: The Home Gunsmith.com and CNC Gunsmithing. Astute Slashdot readers will, no doubt, recommend many more. Meanwhile, this video is about licensing, distribution, and legal matters, not the actual manufacture of firearms. There's a transcript (we're finally doing transcripts of selected videos) below the video for those who prefer to read instead of watch.
CowboyNeal writes "Controversial patent-holding company Intellectual Ventures has been covered on Slashdot before, but a recent CNET article takes a look inside the company, at how they work, and what they have planned for the future. Read below to find out if they are merely a patent-troll, or if their shrewd tactics belie a more noble master plan?"
The place is big. It has lots of bats. And the people there not only make things, but play games and just plain hang out. Some are making a TARDIS they hope to take to Burning Man. Others are college student roboteers, working on their entry in a regional IEEE robotics contest. They're cutting, shaping, drilling, soldering, programming, talking, and generally having a great time. Timothy says they're Texas-friendly, too, so go ahead and stop on by if you're in the neighborhood. They're open 24/7, too, so whenever you have an urge to make something, ATX Hackerspace is ready to help you satisfy that urge.