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Boo! The House Majority PAC Is Watching You

Slashdot - 3 hours 56 min ago
An anonymous reader writes I received some interesting mail this week from the House Majority PAC. First, a "voter report card" postcard telling me my voting record was "excellent" (I'm a good citizen!), but also letting me know that they "plan to update this report card after the election to see whether you voted". OK, so one of the Democratic Party's super PACs want me to vote, but it seems to be something of an attempt at intimidation. Today, I received a letter in which they really put the pressure on. Here are some excerpts: "Who you vote for is secret. But whether or not you vote is public record. Our organization monitors turnout in your neighborhood, and we are disappointed that many of your neighbors do not always exercise their right to vote." So why contact me instead of them? Voting is a civic duty, but it isn't illegal to abstain. That's my neighbors' business, not mine. It's one way of expressing dissatisfaction, isn't it? And if there are no candidates you wish to vote for, then why should you vote for someone you don't want? But Big Brother PAC has other ideas: "We will be reviewing the Camden County [NJ] official voting records after the upcoming election to determine whether you joined your neighbors who voted in 2014. If you do not vote this year, we will be interested to hear why not." The letter is signed "Joe Fox Election day Coordinator". So what happens if I don't vote? Well, at least I got a scare this Halloween. Are PACs using similar tactics in other states?

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Categories: Tech/Science News

NASA Spacecraft Images Crash Site of Retired LADEE Probe

Slashdot - 4 hours 51 min ago
An anonymous reader writes In April, NASA ended the mission of its Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) mission by de-orbiting (read: crashing) it on the far side of the moon. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has now directly imaged the crash site, showing a small crater and the spray of rocks and dust caused by the crash. "LADEE's grave lies about 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometers) from the eastern rim of the larger Sundman V crater, just 0.2 miles (0.3 km) north of the spot where mission team members predicted the spacecraft would go down based on tracking data, NASA officials said. ... The new crater is less than 10 feet (3 meters) wide. It's so small because LADEE was just the size of a washing machine, and the probe was traveling relatively slowly (3,800 mph, or 6,116 km/h) when it impacted the surface. The LROC team was able to spot LADEE's impact crater after developing a new tool that compared before-and-after images of the same lunar sites, researchers said."

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Categories: Tech/Science News

LG's 0.7mm Smartphone Bezel Is World's Narrowest

Slashdot - Fri, 10/31/2014 - 23:48
SmartAboutThings (1951032) writes "LG Display has announced that it has developed a 5.3-inch Full HD LCD panel for smartphones with the world's narrowest bezel at 0.7mm. It's even thinner than a credit card, making the screen give you the impression that it 'overflows.' The company calls the construction Neo Edge technology; it uses an adhesive instead of double-sided tape to attach and seal the panel's circuit board and backlight unit.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Virginia Court: LEOs Can Force You To Provide Fingerprint To Unlock Your Phone

Slashdot - Fri, 10/31/2014 - 23:07
schwit1 writes with news of a Circuit Court decision from Virginia where a judge has ruled that a criminal defendant cannot use Fifth Amendment protections to safeguard a phone that is locked using his or her fingerprint. According to Judge Steven C. Fucci, while a criminal defendant can't be compelled to hand over a passcode to police officers for the purpose of unlocking a cellular device, law enforcement officials can compel a defendant to give up a fingerprint. The Fifth Amendment states that "no person shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself," which protects memorized information like passwords and passcodes, but it does not extend to fingerprints in the eyes of the law, as speculated by Wired last year. Frucci said that "giving police a fingerprint is akin to providing a DNA or handwriting sample or an actual key, which the law permits. A passcode, though, requires the defendant to divulge knowledge, which the law protects against, according to Frucci's written opinion."

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Qualcomm Begins Contributing To Reverse-Engineered Freedreno Linux Driver

Slashdot - Fri, 10/31/2014 - 22:23
An anonymous reader writes: For over two years there's been a Freedreno driver project that's been reverse-engineering Qualcomm's Adreno graphics hardware. Freedreno consists of both a user-space Gallium3D driver providing OpenGL / OpenGL ES support and a DRM/KMS kernel driver to replace Qualcomm's open-source kernel driver designed just around Android's needs. The community-based, reverse-engineering Freedreno driver project is finally paying off and gaining critical momentum with Qualcomm now contributing to the driver. QuIC through the Aurora Forum provided Adreno A4xx hardware support to the Freedreno MSM kernel driver.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Integrated Circuit Amplifier Breaches Terahertz Barrier

Slashdot - Fri, 10/31/2014 - 21:46
jenningsthecat writes: DARPA's Terahertz Electronics program has created "the fastest solid-state amplifier integrated circuit ever measured." The Terahertz Monolithic Integrated Circuit (TMIC), boasts a gain of 9dB — previously unheard of for a monolithic device in this frequency range. Plus, the status of "fastest" has been certified by Guinness — seriously! ('Cause you might not trust DARPA, but you gotta trust Guinness — right?). In related news, DARPA has also created a micro-machined vacuum power amplifier operating at 850 GHz, or 0.85 THz.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Physicists Identify Possible New Particle Behind Dark Matter

Slashdot - Fri, 10/31/2014 - 21:03
sciencehabit writes: Like cops tracking the wrong person, physicists seeking to identify dark matter — the mysterious stuff whose gravity appears to bind the galaxies — may have been stalking the wrong particle. In fact, a particle with some properties opposite to those of physicists' current favorite dark matter candidate — the weakly interacting massive particle, or WIMP — would do just as good a job at explaining the stuff, a quartet of theorists says. Hypothetical strongly interacting massive particles — or SIMPs — would also better account for some astrophysical observations, they argue.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo Crashes

Slashdot - Fri, 10/31/2014 - 20:10
Fallen Kell writes: Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo has crashed. "'During the test. the vehicle suffered a serious anomaly resulting in the loss of the vehicle,' the company said in a statement. "The WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft landed safely. Our first concern is the status of the pilots, which is unknown at this time.'"" ABC says one person is dead, and another injured. This was the craft's fourth powered test flight, and its first since January.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Colleges Face New 'Gainful Employment' Regulations For Student Loans

Slashdot - Fri, 10/31/2014 - 19:36
HughPickens.com writes: Education Secretary Arne Duncan says the Education Department wants to make sure loan programs that prey on students don't continue their abusive practices. Now Kimberly Hefling reports that for-profit colleges who are not producing graduates capable of paying off their student loans could soon stand to lose access to federal student-aid programs. In order to receive federal student aid, the law requires that most for-profit programs, regardless of credential level, and most non-degree programs at non-profit and public institutions, including community colleges, prepare students for "gainful employment in a recognized occupation" (PDF). To meet these "gainful employment" standards, a program will have to show that the estimated annual loan payment of a typical graduate does not exceed 20 percent of his or her discretionary income or 8 percent of total earnings. "Career colleges must be a stepping stone to the middle class. But too many hard-working students find themselves buried in debt with little to show for it. That is simply unacceptable," says Duncan. "These regulations are a necessary step to ensure that colleges accepting federal funds protect students, cut costs and improve outcomes. We will continue to take action as needed." But not everyone is convinced the rules go far enough. "The rule is far too weak to address the grave misconduct of predatory for-profit colleges," writes David Halperin. "The administration missed an opportunity to issue a strong rule, to take strong executive action and provide real leadership on this issue." The final gainful employment regulations follow an extensive rulemaking process involving public hearings, negotiations and about 95,000 public comments and will go into effect on July 1, 2015.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Smart Meters and New IoT Devices Cause Serious Concern

Slashdot - Fri, 10/31/2014 - 18:50
dkatana writes: The ongoing deployment of internet-of-things devices is already creating serious issues and discussions about the privacy of users, IoT security, and the potential threat of cyber criminals taking control of sensors and smart devices connected to the Internet. Security and privacy concerns associated with smart meters are why they are currently "optional" in several countries. That's the case in the Netherlands after consumer organizations and privacy watchdog groups campaigned vigorously to stop the mandatory smart meter deployment. A report from researchers at Tilburg University claimed that "smart meters have the capacity to reveal quite privacy-sensitive information, thus affecting not only informational privacy but also privacy of the home and of family life." This now applies to televisions as well — an article in Salon discusses the author's new "smart" TV, which came with a 46-page privacy policy. Quoting: "It logs where, when, how and for how long you use the TV. It sets tracking cookies and beacons designed to detect 'when you have viewed particular content or a particular email message.' It records 'the apps you use, the websites you visit, and how you interact with content.' It ignores 'do-not-track' requests as a considered matter of policy. It also has a built-in camera — with facial recognition."

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Android Co-Founder Andy Rubin Leaving Google

Slashdot - Fri, 10/31/2014 - 18:05
An anonymous reader writes: The Wall Street Journal reports that Andy Rubin is leaving Google. Rubin co-founded Android in 2003 and stayed on when the company was acquired by Google in 2005. Rubin led Android through the acquisition of over a billion users, until 2013 when he moved to Google's robotics division. He was replaced in the Android division by Sundar Pichai, who continues in charge of that, Chrome, Google+, and many other products. Rubin's robotics role will be filled by James Kuffner. "Mr. Rubin's departure is a blow to Google's robotics efforts. However, Mr. Kuffner is experienced in the sector, having worked on human-like robot technology for over two decades, including seven years at Carnegie Mellon University and five years on Google's self-driving car project."

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Facebook Sets Up Shop On Tor

Slashdot - Fri, 10/31/2014 - 17:18
itwbennett writes: Assuming that people who use the anonymity network want to also use Facebook, the social network has made its site available on Tor, Facebook software engineer Alec Muffett said in a post on Friday. Facebook also decided to encrypt the connection between clients and its server with SSL, providing an SSL certificate for Facebook's onion address. This was done both for internal technical reasons and as a way for users to verify Facebook's ownership of the onion address. Since it is still an experiment, Facebook hopes to improve the service and said it would share lessons learned about scaling and deploying services via an onion address over time.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

MPAA Bans Google Glass In Theaters

Slashdot - Fri, 10/31/2014 - 16:35
An anonymous reader writes: The Motion Picture Association of America, along with the National Association of Theater Owners, have banned Google Glass and similar devices from being in movie theaters. They said, "As part of our continued efforts to ensure movies are not recorded in theaters, however, we maintain a zero-tolerance policy toward using any recording device while movies are being shown. As has been our long-standing policy, all phones must be silenced and other recording devices, including wearable devices, must be turned off and put away at show time. Individuals who fail or refuse to put the recording devices away may be asked to leave." This is a change from the MPAA's stance earlier this year that Glass was "no threat" in terms of copyright infringement. A spokesman said the ban is geared toward combating more sophisticated wearables in the future.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Breaching Air-Gap Security With Radio

Slashdot - Fri, 10/31/2014 - 15:49
An anonymous reader writes: Security researcher Mordechai Guri with the guidance of Prof. Yuval Elovici from the cyber security labs at Ben-Gurion University in Israel presented at MALCON 2014 a breakthrough method ("AirHopper") for leaking data from an isolated computer to a mobile phone without the presence of a network. In highly secure facilities the assumption today is that data can not leak outside of an isolated internal network. It is called air-gap security. AirHopper demonstrates how the computer display can be used for sending data from the air-gapped computer to a near by smartphone. The published paper and a demonstration video are at the link.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Hungary's Plans For Internet Tax On Hold After Protests

Slashdot - Fri, 10/31/2014 - 15:15
An anonymous reader writes: When news broke last week that the Hungarian government was planning to tax internet traffic at a rate of about 62 cents per gigabyte, people on the internet were outraged. But it went beyond that: there were protests in the streets in Hungary, and the European Union warned against the plan. Now, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has put the plans on hold, saying, "This tax in its current form cannot be introduced." It's not completely dead — Orban has planned consultations over the next year to look for other ways to tax revenue generated over the internet.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Most Planets In the Universe Are Homeless

Slashdot - Fri, 10/31/2014 - 14:29
StartsWithABang writes: We like to think of our Solar System as typical: a central star with a number of planets — some gas giants and some rocky worlds — in orbit around it. Yes, there's some variety, with binary or trinary star systems and huge variance in the masses of the central star being common ones, but from a planetary point of view, our Solar System is a rarity. Even though there are hundreds of billions of stars in our galaxy for planets to orbit, there are most likely around a quadrillion planets in our galaxy, total, with only a few trillion of them orbiting stars at most. Now that we've finally detected the first of these, we have an excellent idea that this picture is the correct one: most planets in the Universe are homeless. Now, thank your lucky star!"

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Microsoft Enters the Wearables Market With 'Band'

Slashdot - Fri, 10/31/2014 - 13:47
Microsoft has announced the availability of "Microsoft Band," a wearable device that goes on the wrist. It's designed to do health- and fitness-related tasks, like monitoring heart rate and how well a wearer sleeps, and its on-board GPS lets users map their run/bike routes. The company says Band plays nicely with iOS and Android devices in addition to Windows phones. It also has full support for viewing phone notifications and calendar alerts, and a built-in microphone enables queries through the Cortana personal assistant software. The display is rectangular, 11mm x 33mm (0.43" x 1.3"), and has a resolution of 320x106. They claim a battery life of 48 hours, with a charge time of 1.5 hours or less. The device costs $200.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Ask Slashdot: Can You Say Something Nice About Systemd?

Slashdot - Fri, 10/31/2014 - 13:04
ewhac writes: "I'm probably going to deeply deeply regret this, but every time a story appears here mentioning systemd, a 700-comment thread of back-and-forth bickering breaks out which is about as informative as an old Bud Light commercial, and I don't really learn anything new about the subject. My gut reaction to systemd is (currently) a negative one, and it's very easy to find screeds decrying systemd on the net. However, said screeds haven't been enough to prevent its adoption by several distros, which leads me to suspect that maybe there's something worthwhile there that I haven't discovered yet. So I thought it might be instructive to turn the question around and ask the membership about what makes systemd good. However, before you stab at the "Post" button, there are some rules... Bias Disclosure: I currently dislike systemd because — without diving very deeply into the documentation, mind — it looks and feels like a poorly-described, gigantic mess I know nothing about that seeks to replace other poorly-described, smaller messes which I know a little bit about. So you will be arguing in that environment." Nice Things About systemd Rules: Post each new Nice Thing as a new post, not as a reply to another post. This will let visitors skim the base level of comments for things that interest them, rather than have to dive through a fractally expanding tree of comments looking for things to support/oppose. It will also make it easier to follow the next rule: Avoid duplication; read the entire base-level of comments before adding a new Nice Thing. Someone may already have mentioned your Nice Thing. Add your support/opposition to that Nice Thing there, rather than as a new post. Only one concrete Nice Thing about systemd per base-level post. Keep the post focused on a single Nice Thing systemd does. If you know of multiple distinct things, write multiple distinct posts. Describe the Nice Thing in some detail. Don't assume, for example, that merely saying "Supports Linux cgroups" will be immediately persuasive. Describe how the Nice Thing is better than existing, less controversial solutions. systemd is allegedly better at some things than sysvinit or upstart or inetd. Why? Why is the Nice Thing possible in systemd, and impossible (or extremely difficult) with anything else? (In some cases, the Nice Thing will be a completely new thing that's never existed before; describe why it's good thing.)We will assume out of the gate that systemd boots your system faster than ${SOMETHING_ELSE}, so no points for bringing that up. Bonus points are awarded for: Personal Experience. "I actually did this," counts for way more than, "The docs claim you can do this." Working Examples. Corollary to the above — if you did a Nice Thing with systemd, consider also posting the code/script/service file you wrote to accomplish it. Links to Supporting Documentation. If you leveraged a Nice Thing, furnish a link to the docs you used that describe the Nice Thing and its usage.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

The Shadow Over ShipPoint

The Daily WTF - Fri, 10/31/2014 - 11:00

In the winter of 2012-13, I was fired from the ill-rumored e-commerce company known as ShipPoint. Though I remained stalwart to the end, the wretched darkness embodied in ShipPoint's CTO and his twisted worshipers dogs me still, a malignant growth choking the very life out of my career aspirations. And although I fight every day to forget, to leave my time at ShipPoint behind, I still awaken in the uttermost black of night, shuddering, my mind wrenching itself free from nightmare's grip. I record this grim history only because I fear I may soon slip irredeemably into madness.

It was 2011 when, freshly downsized, I found myself wandering the LinkedIn Jobs Directory, seemingly in vain. I had almost made up my mind to hang out my shingle as a consultant when I received an email from a recruiter. I don't remember his name, nor the firm that he claimed to represent, only that he demanded that we meet in person; apparently he was privy to a lucrative opportunity whose details could only be revealed face to face. While suspicious, I must admit I was gripped by curiosity — tinged, I must now believe, with a touch of the wild. I met the recruiter, a grim, swarthy fellow of furtive glance and questionable heritage, in a refuse-choked alley far from the central business district. It was there, amidst the dumpsters and commercial-grade recycling bins, that I first heard in a grating croak the name whose syllables I would one day shudder to write.

"ShipPoint," he said in response to my question about their development environment, "is dedicated to becoming cutting-edge with their development tools and processes. They use Subversion, and I hear they have a focus on quality and testing." I proceeded through a phone interview, and then on to meet James Akeley, ShipPoint's development manager. Imploring that I call him "Jimmy", he proclaimed his easy-going attitude to be matched only by his and ShipPoint's commitment to quality. Though the pay was a bit on the low side, I accepted his offer. I was to start the following Monday, taking the train and then a bus to the ugly one-story building of nondescript gray that contained ShipPoint's offices, a geriatric hulk muttering tonelessly to itself as it wallowed in its crumbling and almost-abandoned office park by the seashore.

My first day at ShipPoint began as prosaically as one could expect with a simple task that would lead me through their codebase. As an e-commerce provider, ShipPoint's stock in trade was web applications written using ASP.NET, and I made careful note of several places where classic code smells made themselves apparent. The team went out to lunch, as was their custom. Jimmy drove, with Jack Mason, the second-most senior developer, in the passenger seat. Sharing the back with me was Rob Carter, the company's web designer — one who would prove himself my most stalwart companion in the unguessed-at trials that lay ahead. While our lunchtime discussion was generally mundane, with only Rob expressing any interest in developing familiarity with his new associate, I found an appropriate pause in the conversation to present Jimmy and Jack with the potential problems I had detected during my brief venture into the code. Given his repeated assertions regarding dedication to quality, I expected Jimmy, at least, to be keenly interested in my discoveries. My surprise was considerate when he and Jack rebuffed me, declaring that Dan Marsh — the CTO — didn't want us to spend time refactoring code. "He and the other executives think it's a waste of time," Jimmy explained, some small measure of remorse evident in his voice, while next to him Jack nodded his head approvingly. "They want us to focus on new deploying new features."

I was disappointed by this, and by the subsequent revelation that, though ShipPoint did indeed mandate Subversion for source control, Jimmy and Jack only ever copied all the files to a separate, timestamped folder before committing. While the two senior developers were hesitant to discuss their mysterious and unseen leader, I was eventually able to coax from Rob what little he knew of the enigmatic Mr. Marsh. It seemed Marsh wasn't a developer, but, after joining the company a decade prior, his possession of certain esoteric scraps of scripting knowledge qualified him as ShipPoint's sole IT person. His authority spread as the years went by, unquestioned by his superiors and the developers he eventually allowed to join his staff, until he now led all technological decision-making at ShipPoint from within the only private office on their floor, an office whose door opened by invitation only.

After several months of my attempted improvements being either stutteringly denied by Jimmy or gruffly rebuked by Jack, new allies arrived at ShipPoint. Arthur Gilman was a brave and clever youth who joined the company alongside his mentor. Walter Peaslee was a hoary old veteran who had been using .NET since the framework was in beta. If anyone could help me champion sane coding and source-management practices at ShipPoint, it was these dynamic individuals. And changes were surely needed, as the months had shown me deep-rooted stability issues that would cause pages to crash or take minutes to load. It had likewise become clear that the senior developers were unwilling or uninterested in tackling these issues, holding up Mr. Marsh's desire for them to complete his endless list of superficial improvements as reason to hack as quickly as possible, leaving Rob and me to fix up the messes they left behind them.

At Christmastime, a chink in the armor appeared. Jimmy announced that he was leaving the company, taking his passive deference to Mr. Marsh with him. I decided to take action, and, with the idealistic Arthur at my heels, endeavored to implement a few changes. First, set up a bug-tracking system and then begin using Subversion properly, setting my protégé to create branches that would let the team collaborate without creating multiple copies of the application's source. Jack agreed to the changes in principle, and victory seemed close at hand. Only no sooner had Arthur went live with the Subversion changes than a blood-curdling cry was heard from Jack's cubicle! His files, Jack insisted, were gone, and he accused us of the most sordid and calculated mayhem, insisting that we sought to discredit him before Mr. Marsh. Not waiting for Arthur to explain that the files had simply been moved to a branch folder, Jack stormed into the CTO's office. By the time we had returned perplexed to our workstations, a directive to return the source control repository to its previous state awaited us, bearing the CTO's imprimatur. This was merely a prelude of things to come as repeated future attempts to sanitize our source-control procedures (and reclaim the gigabytes of storage consumed by the many redundant copies of our source code) were met with similar fear, uncertainty, and doubt from Jack, rapidly followed by executive sanction.

In the venerable person of Walter Peaslee, I was sure a sane counterpart had been found to our volatile senior developer. But the hand of Marsh proved subtle. When attempting to bring Walter's vast experience to bear on our DevOps dilemma, great was my surprise when I found him languishing on a project to produce a report for ShipPoint's CEO. Harbored as the chief executive was on far alien shores, all features of the report required Mr. Marsh's approval. With a sigh that seemed to carry a weight beyond even his advanced years, Walter explained that the CTO would lead him on for weeks regarding the simplest decision, often ignoring multiple emails. With his calendar eternally full to ward off meetings, Mr. Marsh would eventually return terse feedback along the lines of "this is the wrong color", disregarding the actual functionality.

I was saddened, but not surprised, when Walter graciously notified me that he would be submitting his resignation at the end of the week. After being regaled with the sanity-challenging truth of his experience working with Mr. Marsh, I had not the heart to try to convince him to stay. Indeed, I wondered if he might have awakened to a reality that I, too, should embrace. Arthur, on the other hand, being young and impressionable perhaps to a fault, was distracted by a new assignment: the task of utterly redesigning the central UI of our flagship application. It was here, in this project, that the forces of order and of chaos manifest at the heart of ShipPoint would collide in a last, terrible sortie. My support had meanwhile been secured by a timely email from Mr. Marsh, promising to install me as the lead of a new team of developers, since, he astutely pointed out amidst aggravating hints that the two shared some dark and malignant tradition, Jack was content to be a lone wolf. I must admit that the appeal to my leadership aspirations led me to lapse into a period of content productivity, and as the months went by I mostly avoided Jack and his hasty, problematical contributions to the codebase wherever I could, bringing as much improvement to the features I implemented as possible without incurring the wrath of Jack or the dreaded and still unseen Mr. Marsh.

Arthur, alas, had no choice but to collaborate with Jack, who effectively owned the backend of the application he was redesigning. While I thought I had coached the young man to weather this abominable partnership, the elder developer proved maddeningly cunning. While Arthur attempted to coordinate front-end and back-end features in the hurried sprints that Mr. Marsh had demanded, each release was plagued by wave after wave of new bugs, lapping like a foetid, corrosive black tide at a bleak, doomed shore. It was only Rob's fortuitous glimpse of an email seen over Jack's shoulder that we determined Mr. Marsh had been secretly communicating a list of shadow features he had apparently sold to management, and Jack was hacking code at a maddening pace to deliver said features in each release. It was with grim resignation that I entered the repository and inspected the terrible results. I perceived that Arthur's excellent front-end work had been reduced to little more than window-dressing, twisted into whatever shapes Marsh and Jack required to realize their fiendish goals. When I opened the solution containing Jack's jealously-guarded back-end code, obfuscated though it was behind incomprehensible names like "Solution1" and "MvcProject4", only then did I begin to grasp the horror that had taken root beneath the facade of a UI redesign. I saw them in a limitless stream—flopping, hopping, croaking, bleating—surging inhumanly through the spectral moonlight in a grotesque, malignant saraband of fantastic nightmare! That interminable list of poorly-implemented features, its shapeless mass extending blasphemous profusions in all directions throughout the code. It seemed to surge and breathe even as I watched...

It was with a mind gone almost entirely over to the feverish that I found myself composing email after email to Mr. Marsh, laying bare the deleterious effect that this noxious circumvention of procedure was having on our product. Rob was good enough to support this dangerous endeavor, and together we believed we may have been turning the tide of the CTO's sentiment against Jack, whose bland reassurances had apparently blinded Mr. Marsh to the depth of the horror. This last flicker of naiveté on our part was efficiently snuffed when Arthur's employment was terminated without notice. Though no word from Mr. Marsh was forthcoming, Jack's smug explanation was that the youth was slowing down the delivery of critical new features, and, worse, his incompetent code changes were found to be at the root of the catastrophic server instabilities. Perceiving the tolling of a grim bell to have begun, Rob informed me he was thinking of getting out of the technology game altogether, returning to the simple pastoral life he had known while running an organic fruit stand outside a nearby beachfront town. I tried to reassure him that we would find a way to prevail, but in truth my own hope was waning. ShipPoint and its uncouth stewards had ground my desire to write excellent code and promote best practices down to their merest remainder. Deep within me a malaise had taken root, and I knew when I looked hard into the glass that the end was drawing near.

The harbinger came, as it so often does, with a revocation: came a day that Rob needed me to reconfigure something for him on the Production server that had long been my charge, when, upon attempting to connect, I was rebuffed by the server's protestations of an incorrect password. Under my questioning, Jack hesitantly and stutteringly informed me that the password had changed and he'd forgotten to update me. No sooner had he left to fetch the promised credential than my phone rang. Shouldering the receiver, I heard the voice of the spectral Mr. Marsh for the first time. Never have the words "Could you pop by my office for a sec?" been uttered in such a sardonic and inhuman tone as to induce in the listener a shocking wave of panic fear. I felt numb as leaden limbs carried me to the unopened door. Pulled into the dark recesses the portal revealed, I came face to face with unbounded horrors that defy description. Let me only say that the stated reason for my termination was "a change of corporate direction towards a smaller, more agile development team".

Though I survived my meeting with the terrible Mr. Marsh, I was rendered practically an invalid by my abruptly-curtailed employment at ShipPoint, and made my way to a relative's country home to engage in a lengthy convalescence. I received an email from Rob soon after my firing, informing me that he had left the company and was exiting the industry altogether, going so far as to delete his LinkedIn profile. The horrifying dreams in which I blindly shoveled hastily-implemented code into a branchless Subversion repository while pursued down lightless corridors by a shapeless unseen terror had begun to pass when the first job posting appeared. ShipPoint was calling, its unspeakable tendrils reaching out across the vast cosmic gulfs of the internet to ensnare unwary developers. And while I have sworn never to take a job without assurance of sane development practices again, I do not know that my programmer's soul will ever be entirely free of its taint...

So far I have not yet deleted my LinkedIn profile as Rob did. The tense extremes of horror are lessening, and I feel queerly drawn toward the job postings instead of fearing them. I see and do strange things in Subversion, and commit my changes with a kind of exaltation instead of terror. Stupendous and unheard-of splendors await me in Marsh's cube farm, and I shall seek them soon. Iä-R'lyeh! Codethulhu fhtagn! Iä! Iä! No, I shall not delete my LinkedIn profile—I cannot be made to delete my LinkedIn profile!

I shall coax Rob back into software development, and together we shall go to marvel-shadowed ShipPoint. We shall take the bus out to that brooding industrial park by the sea and dive down through black abysses of code to the Cyclopean and many-columned database, and in that lair of the Expert Beginners we shall dwell amidst wonder and glory for ever.

 

Photo credit: gagilas / Foter / CC BY-SA

Categories: Fun/Other

Statisticians Study Who Was Helped Most By Obamacare

Slashdot - Fri, 10/31/2014 - 10:25
HughPickens.com writes We know that about 10 million more people have insurance coverage this year as a result of the Affordable Care Act but until now it has been difficult to say much about who was getting that Obamacare coverage — where they live, their age, their income and other such details. Now Kevin Quealy and Margot Sanger-Katz report in the NYT that a new data set is providing a clearer picture of which people gained health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. The data is the output of a statistical model based on a large survey of adults and shows that the law has done something rather unusual in the American economy this century: It has pushed back against inequality, essentially redistributing income — in the form of health insurance or insurance subsidies — to many of the groups that have fared poorly over the last few decades. The biggest winners from the law include people between the ages of 18 and 34; blacks; Hispanics; and people who live in rural areas. The areas with the largest increases in the health insurance rate, for example, include rural Arkansas and Nevada; southern Texas; large swaths of New Mexico, Kentucky and West Virginia; and much of inland California and Oregon. Despite many Republican voters' disdain for the Affordable Care Act, parts of the country that lean the most heavily Republican (according to 2012 presidential election results) showed significantly more insurance gains than places where voters lean strongly Democratic. That partly reflects underlying rates of insurance. In liberal places, like Massachusetts and Hawaii, previous state policies had made insurance coverage much more widespread, leaving less room for improvement. But the correlation also reflects trends in wealth and poverty. Many of the poorest and most rural states in the country tend to favor Republican politicians.

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