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Books

Book Review: Build Your Own Website: A Comic Guide to HTML, CSS, and WordPress 30

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
MassDosage writes "At the the risk of exposing my age I remember building my first website using a rudimentary Unix text editor (Joe) and carefully handcrafting the Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) while directly logged on to the web server it was being served from. Back then Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) weren't even a glint in the eyes of their creators. A lot has changed and there's now a world of fancy WYSIWYG web page editors to choose from as well as Content Management Systems that allow you to create websites without looking at the underlying code at all. While this is all very useful and allows less technical people to create websites I still feel that having at least some knowledge of how everything works under the hood is empowering — especially in situations where you want to go beyond the limits placed on you by a certain tool. This is where Build Your Own Website: A comic guide to HTML, CSS and Wordpress comes into the picture. Its aim is to enable people new to web development to learn the subject by teaching the fundamentals of HTML and CSS first and only then describing how to use a Content Management System (CMS) — in this case Wordpress. While Wordpress might not be everyone's kettle of fish it's a good choice as an example of a modern CMS that is easily accessible and very popular. The concepts presented are simple enough that it should be easy enough for a reader to apply them to a different CMS should they want to. Read below for The rest of MassDosage's review.
Books

Book Review: Spam Nation 82

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
benrothke writes There are really two stories within Spam Nation: The Inside Story of Organized Cybercrime-from Global Epidemic to Your Front Door. The first is how Brian Krebs uncovered the Russian cybergangs that sent trillions of spam emails for years. As interesting and compelling as that part of the story is; the second storyline is much more surprising and fascinating. Brian Krebs is one of the premier cybersecurity journalists. From 1995 to 2009, he was a reporter for The Washington Post, where he covered Internet security, technology policy, cybercrime and privacy issues. When Krebs presented the Post with his story about the Russian spammers, rather than run with it, the Post lawyers got in the way and were terrified of being sued for libel by the Russians. Many of the stories Krebs ran took months to get approval and many were rejected. It was the extreme reticence by the Post to deal with the issue that ultimately led Krebs to leave the paper. Before Krebs wrote this interesting book and did his groundbreaking research, it was clear that there were bad guys abroad spamming American's with countless emails for pharmaceuticals which led to a global spam problem. Read below for the rest of Ben's review.
Sci-Fi

Overly Familiar Sci-Fi 368

Posted by Soulskill
from the in-a-world-where-pants-are-optional dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Science fiction author Charlie Stross has a thoughtful post about an awkward aspect of the genre: too often, books set in the distant future seem far too familiar to us. Our culture evolves quickly — even going back 100 years would be a difficult transition to get used to. But when we're immersed in a culture 500 years ahead of us, everything's pretty much the same, but with spaceships. He says, "You can make an argument for writing SF in this mode in that it allows the lazy reader to ignore the enculturation issue and dive straight into the adventure yarn for which the SFnal trappings are just a brightly-colored wrapper. But I still find it really weird to read a far-future SF story that doesn't deliver a massive sense of cultural estrangement, because in the context of our own history, we are aliens." Some authors put more effort into this than others, but Stross points out that most just use it as a backdrop to tell a particular story. He concludes, "if you're not doing it to the cultural norms as well as the setting and technology, you're doing it wrong."
The Internet

Ask Slashdot: Dealing With Electronics-Induced Inattentiveness? 312

Posted by Soulskill
from the your-attention-is-the-currency-of-the-future dept.
An anonymous reader writes: I am a graduate student in his twenties who used to be able to read dozens and dozens of lengthy books in his childhood. Over the years, I have noticed that my attention span and ability to concentrate has decreased noticeably, seemingly in synchronization with society's increased connectedness with the Internet and constant stimulation from computers and mobile devices alike. I have noticed that myself and others seem to have a difficult time really sitting down to read anything or focus on anything relatively boring for even more than ten seconds (the "TL;DR Generation," as I sometimes call it).

I see it when socializing with others or even during a professor's lecture. I have tried leaving my mobile phone at home and limiting myself to fewer browser tabs in an effort to regain concentration that I believe has been lost in recent years. Nonetheless, this is an issue that has begun to adversely affect my academic studies and may only get worse in time. What advice do fellow Slashdot users have with regard to reclaiming what has been lost? Should such behaviors simply be accepted as a sign of the times?
Censorship

Gilbert, AZ Censors Biology Books the Old-Fashioned Way 289

Posted by timothy
from the biology-vs-culture dept.
nbauman writes The Gilbert, AZ school board has voted to tear out a page from Campbell's Biology (a standard highly-recommended textbook that many doctors and scientists fondly remember), because it discusses contraception without also discussing adoption. Julie Smith, a member of the Gilbert Public Schools governing board, said that she was a Catholic and "we do not contracept." Smith convinced the board that Campbell's violates Arizona law to teach "preference, encouragement and support to childbirth and adoption" over abortion. The Arizona Education Department decided that the pages didn't violate Arizona law, but nevermind. Rachel Maddow generously risked hassles for copyright violation and posted the missing pages as a service to Arizona honors biology students.
Books

Book Review: Bulletproof SSL and TLS 92

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
benrothke writes If SSL is the emperor's new clothes, then Ivan Ristic in Bulletproof SSL and TLS has shown that perhaps the emperor isn't wearing anything at all. There is a perception that if a web site is SSL secured, then it's indeed secure. Read a few pages in this important book, and the SSL = security myth is dispelled. For the first 8 of the 16 chapters, Ristic, one of the greatest practical SSL./TLS experts around, spends 230 pages showing countless weaknesses, vulnerabilities, attacks and other SSL weaknesses. He then spends the next 8 chapters showing how SSL can, if done correctly, be deployed to provide adequate security. Keep reading for the rest of Ben's review.
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: Best Practices For Starting and Running a Software Shop? 176

Posted by Soulskill
from the have-a-lot-of-patience dept.
An anonymous reader writes: I'm a systems architect (and a former Unix sysadmin) with many years of experience on the infrastructure side of things. I have a masters in CS but not enough practical exposure to professional software development. I'd like to start my own software product line and I'd like to avoid outsourcing as much as I can. I'm seeking advice on what you think are the best practices for running a software shop and/or good blogs/books on the subject.

To be clear, I am not asking about what are the best programming practices or the merits of agile vs waterfall. Rather I am asking more about how to best run the shop as a whole. For example, how important is it to have coding standards and how much standardization is necessary for a small business? What are the pros and cons of allowing different tools and/or languages? What should the ratio of senior programmers to intermediate and junior programmers be and how should they work with each other so that nobody is bored and everyone learns something? Thanks for your help.
Books

Judge Approves $450M Settlement For Apple's Ebook Price Fixing 69

Posted by Soulskill
from the dragging-it-out dept.
An anonymous reader writes: On Friday a U.S. federal judge approved a settlement in the Apple ebook price-fixing case that could see the technology giant paying $450 million. $400 million of that would go to the roughly 23 million consumers thought to be affected by the price fixing, and the rest would go to lawyers. Though the case is now settled, the dollar amount is not necessarily final — an appeals court still has to rule on a previous verdict. If the appeals court finds in Apple's favor, then the total settlement drops to only $70 million. If they find against Apple, then it's the full amount. "The settlement appeared to reflect fatigue by Apple, the Justice Department, state attorneys general and class-action lawyers eager to conclude a case that has dragged on, largely because of delays by Apple."
Education

Interviews: Ask Adora Svitak About Education and Women In STEM and Politics 155

Posted by samzenpus
from the go-ahead-and-ask dept.
samzenpus writes Adora Svitak is a child prodigy, author and activist. She taught her first class on writing at a local elementary school when she was 7, the same year her book, Flying Fingers was published. In 2010, Adora spoke at a TED Conference. Her speech, "What Adults Can Learn from Kids", has been viewed over 3.7 million times and has been translated into over 40 different languages. She is an advocate for literacy, youth empowerment, and for the inclusion of more women and girls in STEM and politics. 17 this year, she served as a Youth Advisor to the USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington, DC. and is a freshman at UC Berkeley. Adora has agreed to take some time from her books and answer any questions you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post.
Education

"Barbie: I Can Be a Computer Engineer" Pulled From Amazon 561

Posted by timothy
from the made-it-past-the-drawing-board dept.
New submitter clcto writes Back in 2010, Computer Engineer Barbie was released. Now, with the attention brought to the Frozen themed programming game from Disney and Code.org, unwanted attention has been given to the surprisingly real book "Barbie: I Can Be a Computer Engineer". So much so, that Mattel has pulled the book from Amazon. The book shows Barbie attempting to write a computer game. However, instead of writing the code, she enlists two boys to write the code as she just does the design. She then proceeds to infect her computer and her sister's computer with a virus and must enlist the boys to fix that for her as well. In the end she takes all the credit, and proclaims "I guess I can be a computer engineer!" A blog post commenting on the book (as well as giving pictures of the book and its text) has been moved to Gizmodo due to high demand.
The Almighty Buck

Blowing On Money To Tell If It Is Counterfeit 114

Posted by samzenpus
from the huff-and-puff dept.
HughPickens.com writes Scientific American reports that simply breathing on money could soon reveal if it's the real deal or counterfeit thanks to a photonic crystal ink developed by Ling Bai and Zhongze Gu and colleagues at Southeast University in Nanjing, China that can produce unique color changing patterns on surfaces with an inkjet printer system which would be extremely hard for fraudsters to reproduce. The ink mimics the way Tmesisternus isabellae – a species of longhorn beetle – reversibly switches its color from gold to red according to the humidity in its environment. The color shift is caused by the adsorption of water vapor in their hardened front wings, which alters the thickness and average refractive index of their multilayered scales. To emulate this, the team made their photonic crystal ink using mesoporous silica nanoparticles, which have a large surface area and strong vapor adsorption capabilities that can be precisely controlled. The complicated and reversible multicolor shifts of mesoporous CPC patterns are favorable for immediate recognition by naked eyes but hard to copy. "We think the ink's multiple security features may be useful for antifraud applications," says Bai, "however we think the technology could be more useful for fabricating multiple functional sensor arrays, which we are now working towards."
Science

Interviews: Ask Malcolm Gladwell a Question 111

Posted by samzenpus
from the go-ahead-and-ask dept.
Malcolm Gladwell is a speaker, author, and staff writer for The New Yorker since 1996. Gladwell's writing often focuses on research in the social sciences and the unexpected connections or theories made from such research. His books: The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, Outliers: The Story of Success, and David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants are all New York Times best sellers. Malcolm has agreed to give us some of his time to answer any question you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post.
Books

Machine-Learning Algorithm Ranks the World's Most Notable Authors 55

Posted by Soulskill
from the dr.-seuss-oddly-absent dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Every year the works of thousands of authors enter the public domain, but only a small percentage of these end up being widely available. So how do organizations such as Project Gutenberg choose which works to focus on? Allen Riddell has developed an algorithm that automatically generates an independent ranking of notable authors for any given year. It is then a simple task to pick the works to focus on or to spot notable omissions from the past. Riddell's approach is to look at what kind of public domain content the world has focused on in the past and then use this as a guide to find content that people are likely to focus on in the future.

Riddell's algorithm begins with the Wikipedia entries of all authors in the English language edition (PDF)—more than a million of them. His algorithm extracts information such as the article length, article age, estimated views per day, time elapsed since last revision, and so on. This produces a "public domain ranking" of all the authors that appear on Wikipedia. For example, the author Virginia Woolf has a ranking of 1,081 out of 1,011,304 while the Italian painter Giuseppe Amisani, who died in the same year as Woolf, has a ranking of 580,363. So Riddell's new ranking clearly suggests that organizations like Project Gutenberg should focus more on digitizing Woolf's work than Amisani's. Of the individuals who died in 1965 and whose work will enter the public domain next January in many parts of the world, the new algorithm picks out TS Eliot as the most highly ranked individual. Others highly ranked include Somerset Maugham, Winston Churchill, and Malcolm X.
Government

Sweden Considers Adding "Sexism" Ratings To Video Games 642

Posted by samzenpus
from the including-everyone dept.
An anonymous reader writes A government-funded agency in Sweden is considering creating special labels for video games based on whether or not the games' portrayals of women are sexist. From the article: "Avoiding sexism and gender stereotypes in video games produced in Sweden will become a key goal for the association, which has been given a 272,000 kronor ($36,672) grant by Sweden's government-funded innovation agency, Vinnova. Inspired by the Bechdel test, which looks at whether fictional films or books feature at least two women talking about a topic other than men, Dataspelsbranchen will work with several game developers to analyze how Swedish video games portray female characters and gender issues.
Books

R. A. Montgomery, Creator of the "Choose Your Own Adventure" Books, Dead At 78 80

Posted by timothy
from the your-codename-is-jonah dept.
Dave Knott writes Raymond Almiran Montgomery, original publisher and author of the incredibly popular "Choose Your Own Adventure" book series for children, the 4th bestselling children's series of all time, has died at the age of 78. In 1975, Montgomery founded a small press and when, in 1977, Ed Packard submitted an innovative book for young readers, "Sugarcane Island", Montgomery immediately saw it for what it was: a role-playing game in book form. He leapt at the chance to publish it, and launched a series, writing the second book, "Journey Under The Sea", himself. When Montgomery went through a divorce and sold his stake in the press to his ex-wife, he took the series, renamed as "Choose Your Own Adventure", to Bantam. The books went on to sell more than 250 million copies across 230 titles in 40 languages. Montgomery's interests also extended to new technology, adapting the series to the Atari console in 1984. He was also responsible for the Comic Creator software on Apple's Macintosh computers. Montgomery died on November 9th. The cause of death was not disclosed.
Education

Ask Slashdot: Programming Education Resources For a Year Offline? 223

Posted by timothy
from the maybe-a-local-phrasebook dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I will be traveling to a remote Himalayan village for year and won't have access to the internet. What offline resources would you all recommend to help me continue to develop my coding skills? I think this would be a good time to get better at fundamentals, since I won't be able to learn any new frameworks or APIs. What about other, non-programming skills to practice and learn? Any ideas?" What would you bring?
Sci-Fi

HBO Developing Asimov's Foundation Series As TV Show 242

Posted by Soulskill
from the to-succeed,-planning-alone-is-insufficient dept.
wired_parrot writes: Jonathan Nolan, writer of Interstellar and The Dark Knight, and producer of the TV show "Person of Interest," is teaming up with HBO to bring to screen a new series based on Isaac Asimov's Foundation series of books. This would be the first adaptation of the Hugo-award-winning series of novels to the screen.

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