Books

Why We Still Can't Really Put Anything In the Public Domain 87

Posted by timothy
from the here-are-nice-things-no-wait dept.
Press2ToContinue writes While you can make a public domain dedication or (more recently) use the Creative Commons CC0 tool to do so, there's no clear way within the law to actually declare something in the public domain. Instead, the public domain declarations are really more of a promise not to make use of the exclusionary rights provided under copyright. On the "public domain day" of Copyright Week, Public Knowledge has pointed out that it's time that it became much easier to put things into the public domain. Specifically, the PK post highlights that thanks to the way copyright termination works, even someone who puts their works into the public domain could pull them back out of the public domain after 35 years.
Books

Book Review: FreeBSD Mastery: Storage Essentials 75

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
Saint Aardvark writes If, like me, you administer FreeBSD systems, you know that (like Linux) there is an embarrassment of riches when it comes to filesystems. GEOM, UFS, soft updates, encryption, disklabels — there is a *lot* going on here. And if, like me, you're coming from the Linux world your experience won't be directly applicable, and you'll be scaling Mount Learning Curve. Even if you *are* familiar with the BSDs, there is a lot to take in. Where do you start? You start here, with Michael W. Lucas' latest book, FreeBSD Mastery: Storage Essentials. You've heard his name before; he's written Sudo Mastery (which I reviewed previously), along with books on PGP/GnuPGP, Cisco Routers and OpenBSD. This book clocks in at 204 pages of goodness, and it's an excellent introduction to managing storage on FreeBSD. From filesystem choice to partition layout to disk encryption, with sidelong glances at ZFS along the way, he does his usual excellent job of laying out the details you need to know without every veering into dry or boring. Keep reading for the rest of Saint Aardvark's review.
Programming

Interviews: Alexander Stepanov and Daniel E. Rose Answer Your Questions 42

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
samzenpus (5) writes "Alexander Stepanov is an award winning programmer who designed the C++ Standard Template Library. Daniel E. Rose is a programmer, research scientist, and is the Chief Scientist for Search at A9.com. In addition to working together, the duo have recently written a new book titled, From Mathematics to Generic Programming. Earlier this month you had a chance to ask the pair about their book, their work, or programming in general. Below you'll find the answers to those questions."
United Kingdom

Winston Churchill's Scientists 75

Posted by timothy
from the they-never-never-never-gave-up dept.
HughPickens.com writes Nicola Davis writes at The Guardian that a new exhibition at London's Science Museum tiitled Churchill's Scientists aims to explore how a climate that mingled necessity with ambition spurred British scientists to forge ahead in fields as diverse as drug-discovery and operational research, paving the way for a further flurry of postwar progress in disciplines from neurology to radio astronomy. Churchill "was very unusual in that he was a politician from a grand Victorian family who was also interested in new technology and science," says Andrew Nahum. "That was quite remarkable at the time." An avid reader of Charles Darwin and HG Wells, Churchill also wrote science-inspired articles himself and fostered an environment where the brightest scientists could build ground-breaking machines, such as the Bernard Lovell telescope, and make world-changing discoveries, in molecular genetics, radio astronomy, nuclear power, nerve and brain function and robotics. "During the war the question was never, 'How much will it cost?' It was, 'Can we do it and how soon can we have it?' This left a heritage of extreme ambition and a lot of talented people who were keen to see what it could provide." (More, below.)
Television

Ridley Scott Adapts Philip K. Dick's 'Man in the High Castle' For Amazon 94

Posted by timothy
from the changed-but-how-could-it-be-otherwise dept.
An anonymous reader writes with word of an adaption of Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle. Ridley Scott is the executive producer for the adaptation of a Philip K. Dick novel that's one of 13 new TV shows from Amazon Studios. There's also a video adaptation of The New Yorker magazine, and all 13 pilots are available free online. Votes of viewers will help decide which ones get picked up for a full season, and Amazon is promising customers that they've assembled "some of the greatest storytellers in the business with works of novelty and passion."
Encryption

Spanish Judge Cites Use of Secure Email As a Potential Terrorist Indicator 174

Posted by timothy
from the envelopes-show-guilty-knowledge dept.
An anonymous reader writes Is it possible that using secure email services can be construed as an indicator of being a terrorist? Although it's a ridiculous notion that using secure email implies criminal activities, a judge cited that reason to partially justify arrests in Spain. In December, as part of "an anti-terrorist initiative" Operation Pandora, over 400 cops raided 14 houses and social centers in Spain. They seized computers, books, and leaflets and arrested 11 people. Four were released under surveillance, but seven were "accused of undefined terrorism" and held in a Madrid prison. This led to "tens of thousands" participating in protests. As terrorism is alleged "without specifying concrete criminal acts," the attorney for those seven "anarchists" denounced the lack of transparency.
Education

Authors Alarmed As Oxford Junior Dictionary Drops Nature Words 174

Posted by Soulskill
from the sign-of-the-times dept.
Freshly Exhumed writes: Margaret Atwood, Andrew Motion, and Michael Morpurgo are among 28 authors criticizing Oxford University Press's decision to scrap a number of words associated with nature from its junior dictionary. In an open letter (PDF) released on Monday, the acclaimed writers said they are "profoundly alarmed" and urged the publisher to reinstate words cut since 2007 in the next edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary. Among words to be dropped are acorn, blackberries, and minnows.
Education

South Africa Begins Ambitious Tablets In Schools Pilot Project 66

Posted by timothy
from the goverment-schools dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Guateng province — which is home to Johannesburg and Pretoria and is the richest state in sub-Saharan Africa — has just kicked off a pilot project to replace textbooks with tablets in seven government schools. If successful, the project will be extended to all 44 000 schools in the area. It's all been put together in a hurry — the local minister for education announced it in a media interview less than a year ago and details have never been made fully public, but he's hoping it will be an end to 'Irish Coffee' education in which rich white students float to the top." From the article: The classroom of the future being piloted is modelled on the system that’s been in use at Sunward Park High School in Boksburg for the two years. That former “model C” was the first state school in South Africa to go textbook free, and has pioneered the use of tablets in public education here. ... As with Sunward Park, the schools in this new pilot will be using a centralised portal developed by Bramley’s MIB Software for managing tablets and aggregating educational content into a single portal. MIB’s backend pulls in CAPS aligned digital textbooks from the likes of Via Afrika as well as extra resources from around the web. Content from Wikipedia, the BBC, the complete works of Shakespeare and Khan Academy is all cached locally for teachers to reference during lessons and pupils to use for self-directed study and research.
Government

Writers Say They Feel Censored By Surveillance 130

Posted by samzenpus
from the sticks-and-stones-may-break-my-bones-but-words-may-imprison-me dept.
schwit1 writes with news about the impact of government surveillance on authors and their work worldwide . A survey of writers around the world by the PEN American Center has found that a significant majority said they were deeply concerned with government surveillance, with many reporting that they have avoided, or have considered avoiding, controversial topics in their work or in personal communications as a result. The findings show that writers consider freedom of expression to be under significant threat around the world in democratic and nondemocratic countries. Some 75 percent of respondents in countries classified as "free," 84 percent in "partly free" countries, and 80 percent in countries that were "not free" said that they were "very" or "somewhat" worried about government surveillance in their countries. The survey, which will be released Monday, was conducted anonymously online in fall 2014 and yielded 772 responses from fiction and nonfiction writers and related professionals, including translators and editors, in 50 countries.
Programming

Ask Slashdot: Are Progressive Glasses a Mistake For Computer Users? 464

Posted by timothy
from the you-mean-socialist-glasses dept.
An anonymous reader writes I'm a daily, all-day computer user and use two 19-inch monitors for my work. I'm at the age now where I need reading glasses, and my optometrist steered me to progressive lenses. I don't need any correction for distance, only reading. I'm trying very hard to get used to them, but I hate them. The focal point seems to be about 1 inch big, with everything around that blurry. Reading books on my iPad is a struggle; I have to turn my head side to side simply to keep the line of text in focus, and when I do that, the page warps and flow in a dizzying manner. I don't think reading should be like watching a tennis match. And using my two monitors at work? Hopeless and frustrating! Has anybody here who uses either very large or multiple computer monitors figured out how to comfortably use progressive glasses? Or are they simply inappropriate for this kind of use?
Cloud

2015 Means EU Tax Increase On Cloud Storage, E-books and Smartphone Applications 164

Posted by timothy
from the takings-clause dept.
schwit1 writes With the new year, a change in fiscal rules in the European Union is increasing the tax on many purchases of digital content like e-books and smartphone applications. Under the new rules, first approved in 2008, the tax rate on digital services like cloud storage and movie streaming will be determined by where consumers live, and not where the company selling the product has its European headquarters. Tax experts say Europe's revamped rules could add up to an extra $1 billion in annual tax revenue for European governments.
Earth

2014: Hottest Year On Record 560

Posted by samzenpus
from the it's-getting-hot-in-here dept.
Layzej writes Data from three major climate-tracking groups agree: The combined land and ocean surface temperatures hit new highs this year, according to the United States' National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the United Kingdom's Met Office and the World Meteorological Association. If December's figures are at least 0.76 degrees Fahrenheit (0.42 degrees Celsius) higher than the 20th century average, 2014 will beat the warmest years on record, NOAA said this month. The January-through-November period has already been noted as the warmest 11-month period in the past 135 years, according to NOAA's November Global Climate Report. Scientific American reports on five places that will help push 2014 into the global warming record books.
Books

Happy Public Domain Day: Works That Copyright Extension Stole From Us In 2015 328

Posted by samzenpus
from the it's-ours-now-we-keep-it dept.
Jennifer Jenkins, Director of Duke's Center for the Study of the Public Domain, points out what could have entered public domain in 2015 but won't and why we need to use the upcoming Public Domain Day to focus on the importance of copyright reform. She writes: "What could have been entering the public domain in the US on January 1, 2015? Under the law that existed until 1978 -- Works from 1958. The films Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and Gigi, the books Our Man in Havana, The Once and Future King, and Things Fall Apart, the songs All I Have to Do Is Dream and Yakety Yak, and more -- What is entering the public domain this January 1? Not a single published work."
Government

CIA on UFO Sightings: 'It Was Us' 197

Posted by Soulskill
from the tortured-the-aliens-until-they-left dept.
mrflash818 sends word that the CIA has taken the blame for a majority of early UFO sightings. In a tweet, the agency said, "It was us," and linked to a document summarizing their use of U-2 spy planes from 1954-1974 (PDF). "High-altitude testing of the U-2led to an unexpected side effect — a tremendous increase in reports of unidentified flying objects," the CIA wrote in the document, which it wrote in 1998. "In the mid-1950s, most commercial airliners flew at altitudes between 10,000 and 20,000 feet and [many] military aircraftoperated at altitudes below 40,000 feet. Consequently, once U-2s started flying at altitudes above 60,000 feet, air-traffic controllers began receiving increasing numbers of UFO reports." [T]he CIA cross-referenced UFO sightings to U-2 flight logs. "This enabled the investigators to eliminate the majority of the UFO reports," the CIA wrote, "although they could not reveal to the letter writers the true cause of the UFO sightings."
Books

How Amazon's Ebook Subscriptions Are Changing the Writing Industry 250

Posted by Soulskill
from the race-to-zero dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Amazon is now offering an ebook subscription service — $9.99/month gets you access to 700,000 titles, both self-published and traditionally published. The funds are gathered together, Amazon takes its cut, and the rest is divided up based on how many times a given book was read.

Some authors like it, and some don't, but John Scalzi pointed out that this business model is notable for being different from how the writing industry has worked in the past: "[T]he thing to actively dislike about the Kindle Unlimited 'payment from a pot' plan is the fact that it and any other plan like it absolutely and unambiguously make writing and publishing a zero-sum game. In traditional publishing, your success as an author does not limit my success — the potential pool of money is so large as to be effectively unlimited, and one's payment is independent of any other purchase a consumer might make, or what any other reader might read.

In the traditional publishing model, it's in my interest to encourage readers to read other authors, because people who read more buy more books — the proverbial tide lifts all boats. In the Kindle Unlimited model, the more authors you and everyone else reads, the less I can potentially earn. And ultimately, there's a cap on how much I can earn — a cap imposed by Amazon, or whoever else is in charge of the 'pot.'"
Books

App Gives You Free Ebooks of Your Paperbacks When You Take a "Shelfie" 131

Posted by samzenpus
from the show-us-the-pages dept.
Peter Hudson writes Alan Henry writes on LifeHacker: "Paper books are awesome, but sometimes there's no beating the portability of an ebook on your phone or tablet. If you have a physical book you'd love to read on the go, BitLit may be able to get you an ebook version for free—all you need to do is take a photo of your book case: a 'shelfie.'" CNET notes that it's not quite as useful as it sounds: "As you might expect from a startup in the e-book space, BitLit currently offers a very limited selection -- only about 75,000 books, so the likelihood of a match is pretty slim. Browsing the library, I recognized very few mainstream authors."
Portables

Study: Light-Emitting Screens Before Bedtime Disrupt Sleep 179

Posted by Soulskill
from the why-you're-tired-all-the-time dept.
jfruh writes: Tablets and e-readers are more convenient in many ways than paper books, but many people have complained that the physical experience of using them isn't as good. And now we have some specific quantification of this fact: a study has shown that people who read text on a tablet before bed don't sleep as well as those who read a traditional book (abstract).
Books

Amazon "Suppresses" Book With Too Many Hyphens 292

Posted by samzenpus
from the what-until-they-get-a-load-of-this dept.
An anonymous reader writes Author Graeme Reynolds found his novel withdrawn from Amazon because of excessive use of hyphens. He received an email from Amazon about his werewolf novel, High Moor 2: Moonstruck, because a reader had complained that there were too many hyphens. "When they ran an automated spell check against the manuscript they found that over 100 words in the 90,000-word novel contained that dreaded little line," he says. "This, apparently 'significantly impacts the readability of your book' and, as a result, 'We have suppressed the book because of the combined impact to customers.'"
Education

Ask Slashdot: Resources For Kids Who Want To Make Games? 121

Posted by Soulskill
from the building-blocks-of-fun dept.
Mr. Jones writes: My 11-year-old son is fascinated by games — game mechanics in particular. He has been playing everything from Magic to WarFrame since he was 5 years old. He seems mostly interested in creating the lore and associated mechanics of the games (i.e. how a game works). If it was only programming I could help him, but I am lost when it comes to helping him learn more formal ways of developing and defining gameplay. I really see a talent for this in him and I want to support it any way I can. Can you suggest any conferences, programs, books, websites, etc. that would help him learn?