Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
Back in 1982, John Flansburgh, John Linnell, and a drum machine formed They Might Be Giants. Over the last 29 years TMBG have released 15 studio albums, won 2 Grammy Awards, and have become one of the most nerd-loved bands ever. In addition to projects like Dial-A-Song, TMBG were one of the first bands to create their own online music store, and have been making podcasts on a semi-monthly basis since 2005. The band has agreed to answer all your questions about the naming conventions of Turkish cities, building spiritual bird houses, and the music business. As usual, ask as many questions as you'd like, but please keep it to one question per post.
A few weeks back, we posted a story here that described Koomey's Law, which (in the spirit of Moore's Law) identifies a long-standing trend in computer technology. While Moore's prediction centers on the transistor density of microprocessors, Jonathan Koomey focuses instead on computing efficiency — in a nutshell, computing power per watt, rather than only per square nanometer. In particular, he asserts that the energy efficiency of computing doubles every 1.5 years. (He points out that calling this a "law" isn't his idea, or his doing — but it's sure a catchy turn of phrase.) Koomey has agreed to respond to your questions about his research and conclusions in the world of computing efficiency. Please observe the Slashdot interview guidelines: ask as many questions as you want, but please keep them to one per comment.
Attorney Jennifer Granick has defended many high profile hackers, including researcher Christopher Soghoian, creator of a fake boarding pass generator (2006); Michael Lynn versus Cisco/ISS (2005); Jerome Heckenkamp; and Luke Smith and Nelson Pavlosky in Online Policy Group v. Diebold Election Systems (now Premier Election Solutions), a copyright misuse case related to electronic voting. Granick also won an exemption from the U.S. Copyright Office in 2006 allowing phone unlocking despite the anti-circumvention provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which set the stage for renewal of the exemption and for the jailbreaking exemption in 2009. At Stanford, Granick worked with Lawrence Lessig on constitutional copyright cases and taught six years worth of law students about computers, technology and civil liberties. While Civil Liberties Director at the EFF, Granick started the Coders' Rights Project and participated in litigation against ATT and the federal government for violation of surveillance regulations. Now an attorney at ZwillGen PLLC, Granick assists individuals and companies creating new products and services. And now, she's graciously agreed to answer your questions. Please, as usual, ask as many questions as you'd like, but confine each question to a separate post.
Last week you asked the Director of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, Eben Upton, about developing an ultra-low-cost computer and running a charitable organization. Below you'll find his answers. Thanks go out to a busy Eben for responding so quickly.
Last week, you asked Kevin Mitnick questions about his past, his thoughts on ethics and disclosure, and his computer set-up. He's graciously responded; read on for his answers. (No dice on the computer set-up, though.) Thanks, Kevin.
When Eben Upton isn't working as an ASIC architect for Broadcom, he is the Director of the Raspberry Pi Foundation. The foundation is a UK registered charity which exists to promote the study of computer science and related topics, especially at school level. Raspberry Pi plans to develop, manufacture and distribute an ultra-low-cost computer, for use in teaching computer programming to children. Their first product is about the size of a credit card, and is designed to plug into a TV or be combined with a touch screen for a low cost tablet. The expected price is $25 for a baseline Model A device, and $35 for a Model B device with integrated 2-port USB Hub, 10/100 Ethernet controller and 128MB of additional RAM. Eben has agreed to answer your questions about what it takes to make an ultra-low-cost computer, running an educational charity, or anything else. The usual Slashdot interview guidelines apply: ask as many questions as you want, but please keep them to one per comment.
Kevin Kelly ("Senior Maverick for Wired Magazine," among many other things) is back with answers to a selection of the questions posed to him by Slashdot readers. Read on below for his take on travel, the Long Now Foundation (including the 10,000-year clock — clocks! — that is among the foundation's projects), the future of fusion, and what to do about inevitable widespread suckage.
The hacker with perhaps the most famous first name around, Kevin Mitnick, has gone from computer hacking of the sort that gets one on the FBI's Most Wanted list (and into years of solitary confinement) to respected security consultant and author, helping people minimize the sort of security holes he once exploited for fun. His new book is called Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World's Most Wanted Hacker; it's his first since the expiration of an agreement that he could not profit from books written about his criminal activity. Kevin's agreed to answer your questions; we'll pass the best ones on to him, and print his answers when they're ready. Note: Kevin also answered Slashdot questions most of a decade ago; that's a good place to start. Please observe the Slashdot interview guidelines: ask as many questions as you want, but please keep them to one per comment.
Kevin Kelly has for decades been involved in some of the most interesting projects I know about, and in his roles as founding editor (and now editor at large) of Wired Magazine and editor of The Whole Earth Catalog has helped spread the word about many others. Kelly is probably as close to a Rennaisance man as it's possible to be in the 21st century, having more-than-passing interest and knowledge in a range of topics from genetic sequencing and other ways that we can use measurement in pursuit of improved health to how technology is used and reused in real life. Among other projects, he's also the founder of CoolTools, which I consider to be (unsurprisingly) the closest current equivalent to the old Whole Earth Catalogs. (Disclaimer: I've had a few reviews published there, too.) (He's also one of the founders of The WELL, now part of Salon.) Kelly is also Secretary of the Board of Directors of the Long Now Foundation, the group which for years has been designing a clock to ring on 10,000 years in the future. Below, ask questions of Kelly, bearing in mind please the Slashdot interview guidelines: ask as many questions as you want, but please keep them to one per comment. He'll get back soon with his answers.
Last week, you asked questions (many rather pointed!) of Amir Taaki, co-founder of Bitcoin Consultancy, which develops Bitcoin related services, exchanges and Bitcoin itself. (They also own Britcoin.co.uk.) Says Taaki: "When creating video games I spent much time imagining tools to make artists lives easier, and how we could keep funding developers to write free software. One contribution of mine to the community was a site where developers could get funded for developing features and I'd love nothing more than to pay people to write free software." With regard to Bitcoin, similarly, "We need fulltime developers thinking about the problems and solutions needed to keep this system running. We aim to get all the creative thinkers from the community and provide a mechanism for enabling their work." Below find his answers to the questions readers raised.
"Bitcoin," says the project's website, "is a peer-to-peer currency. Peer-to-peer means that no central authority issues new money or tracks transactions." Wikipedia offers a readable explanation of the underlying technology. In (very) short, Bitcoin uses a distributed database and public key encryption to allow users to reassign ownership of units of Bitcoin currency (BTC), and does so in a way that can keep the user's identity private. Bitcoin isn't yet accepted the way credit cards are, but it's more than theoretical. You can buy (some) things with Bitcoin, and trade the currency itself. Now, you can ask question about Bitcoin of Amir Taaki, a developer of client interfaces and stock trading software for Bitcoin, and owner and operator of trading exchange Britcoin.co.uk. Amir requests that questions focus not "so much on the mining (too many people get focused on that when it's a minor aspect of Bitcoin) nor simple technical questions (people can go find that info themselves on Wikipedia/the forums/sourcecode)," but rather on the harder-to-answer questions. Reading some of the related stories listed below may give you ideas on what those are. Standard Slashdot Interview rules apply: ask as many questions as you want, but please keep them to one per comment. Amir will get back with his answers.
Last week you asked some questions of musician and programmer Jonathan Coulton. He's answered your inquiries about the music industry, video games, and being an ex-code monkey. Read below to see what he had to say.
Even though he created the definitive guide to enjoying yourself outside, Jonathan Coulton is best known for the programmer anthem Code Monkey, his Thing a Week project, and writing the theme song to Portal. In 2005 Coulton left his programming job to pursue his music career, and has since become a successful one man music label. Jonathan has agreed to answer your questions about robots, life, and internet stardom. Normal Slashdot interview rules apply.
As World of Warcraft prepares for the launch of its third expansion, Cataclysm, on December 7th, the design team is busily trying to finish all the new high level content, the destruction and rebuilding of Azeroth, and major changes to many of the game's systems and classes. At Blizzcon we spoke with Greg Street (a.k.a. Ghostcrawler), Lead Systems Designer for WoW, about Blizzard's goals for this expansion, the problems they're trying to solve, reasoning for the creation of a few new features, and why they aren't willing to simply throw more people at complicated projects. Read on for our discussion about World of Warcraft: Cataclysm.
The StarCraft 2 team spent most of Blizzcon talking about the map editor and custom games. We spoke with Alan Dabiri, a Lead Software Engineer for Wings of Liberty who worked on the user interface and helped out on the game's integration with Battle.net. He provided some more details about plans for making the map editor more approachable, the coming updates for Battle.net (including chat channels), and a bit about the development of Heart of the Swarm, the Zerg-themed expansion being worked on now. Read on for our conversation about StarCraft 2.