Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Charles Stross has written a very clever article where he describes the religious metaphor he uses with non-technical folks to explain the relationship between Mac OS X and UNIX. There is one true religion in operating systems says Stross and it is UNIX although there's also an earlier, older, more arcane religion with far fewer followers, MULTICS, from which UNIX sprang as a stripped-down rules-deficient heresy. If MULTICS is Judaism then UNIX is Christianity. By the mid-1970s there were two main sects: AT&T UNIX, which we may liken unto the Roman Catholic Church, and BSD UNIX, which we may approximate to the Orthodox Churches. In an attempt to control the schisms, the faithful defined a common interoperating subset of the one true religion that all could agree on—the Nicene Creed of UNIX which is probably POSIX. Stross says that today the biggest church in the whole of UNIX is Mac OS X, which rests on the bedrock of Orthodox BSD but "has added an incredible, towering superstructure of fiercely guarded APIs and proprietary user interface stuff that renders it all but unrecognizable to followers of the Catholic AT&T path." But lo, in the late 1980s, UNIX succumbed to the sins of venality, demanding too much money from the faithful and so, in 1991 Linus Torvalds nailed his famous source code release to the cathedral door and kicked off the Reformation. 'The Linux wars were brutal and unforgiving and Linux itself splintered into a myriad of fractious Protestant churches, from the Red Hat wearing Lutherans to the Ubuntu Baptists.' More recently, a deviant faith has sprung from Linux. 'Android is the Church of Latter Day Saints of UNIX: hard-working, sober, evangelizing the public, and growing at a ferocious rate. There are some strange fundamentalist Mormon Android churches living in walled communities under the banners of Samsung and Amazon, but for the most part the prosperous worship at the Church of Google.' Stross notes that as with all religion, those sects with most in common are the ones who hold the most vicious grudges against one another. 'Is that clear?'"
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Nerval's Lobster writes "Some high-profile tech initiatives really crashed-and-burned this year. Did BlackBerry executives really think that BlackBerry 10 would spark a miraculous turnaround, or were they simply going through the motions of promoting it? That's the key question as BlackBerry 10 devices fail to sell. Then there's Facebook's misbegotten attempt at 'skinning' the Android OS with its Home app. Or maybe Healthcare.gov counts as 2013's biggest debacle, with its repeated crashes and glitches and inability to carry out core functions. What do you think was the biggest software or hardware (or both) mishap of the past twelve months?"
An anonymous reader writes with news that the UK is introducing new laws tightening security around military bases, quoting the article "The Ministry of Defense is set to introduce "draconian" new powers to tighten security and limit access to US airbases in Britain implicated in mass surveillance and drone strikes, The Independent can reveal. ... Among the 20 activities to be banned within the controlled area are camping 'in tents, caravans, trees or otherwise,' digging, engaging in 'any trade or business' or grazing any animal. Also among the offenses, which can result in an individual being 'taken into custody without warrant,' is a failure to pick up dog waste or causing damage to 'any crops, turfs, plants, roots or trees'"
sciencehabit writes "Hoping that studying deep frying in different gravitational conditions will help them improve space food for future astronauts, scientists with the European Space Agency chopped potatoes into thin sticks and deep fried them in extra-virgin olive oil, one side at a time, in a spinning centrifuge that created conditions of up to nine times Earth's gravity, akin to that seen on Jupiter. Higher gravity levels significantly increased the heat transfer between the hot oil and the potato, shortening frying time and resulting in thick, crispy crusts, the team reports. In fact, the scientists may have discovered the ideal gravitational condition for creating crunchy fries: The crust reached its maximum thickness when the potato was fried at three times Earth's gravity; any further increase in gravity levels did not improve the fries' crispiness."
An anonymous reader writes with an excerpt from the USA Today tech column: "...But until a lone information-technology contractor named Edward Snowden leaked a trove of National Security Agency documents to the media this summer, we didn't know just how much we'd surrendered. Now that we do, our nation can have a healthy debate — out in the open, as a democracy should debate — about how good a bargain we got in that exchange. For facilitating that debate, at great risk to his own personal liberty, Snowden is this column's technology person of the year for 2013."
astroengine writes "On Sunday, at 5:17 p.m. GMT (12:17 p.m. EST), Europe's Mars Express orbiter successfully completed a daring low-pass of Mars' largest moon Phobos. In an effort to precisely measure the gravitational field of the moon, the 10 year-old mission was sent on a trajectory that took it only 45 kilometers (28 miles) from the dusty surface, the closest any spacecraft has ever come to the natural satellite."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Reuters reports that thirty-three percent of Americans reject the idea of evolution and believe that 'humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time' rather than evolving gradually through a process of natural selection, as described by Charles Darwin more than 150 years ago. Although this percentage remained steady since 2009, the last time Pew asked the question, there was a growing partisan gap on whether humans evolved. The poll showed 43 percent of Republicans and 67 percent of Democrats say humans have evolved over time, compared with 54 percent and 64 percent respectively four years ago. 'The gap is coming from the Republicans, where fewer are now saying that humans have evolved over time,' says Cary Funk. Among religious groups, white evangelical Protestants topped the list of those rejecting evolution, with 64 percent of those polled saying they believe humans have existed in their present form since the beginning of time."
dcblogs writes "U.S. government contracts often require bidders to have achieved some level of Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI). CMMI arose some 25 years ago via the backing of the Department of Defense and the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. It operated as a federally funded research and development center until a year ago, when CMMI's product responsibility was shifted to a private, profit-making LLC, the CMMI Institute. The Institute is now owned by Carnegie Mellon. Given that the CMMI Institute is now a self-supporting firm, any requirement that companies be certified by it — and spend the money needed to do so — raises a natural question. 'Why is the government mandating that you support a for-profit company?' said Henry Friedman, the CEO of IR Technologies, a company that develops logistics defense related software and uses CMMI. The value of a certification is subject to debate. To what extent does a CMMI certification determine a successful project outcome? CGI Federal, the lead contractor at Healthcare.gov, is a veritable black belt in software development. In 2012, it achieved the highest possible Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) level for development certification, only the 10th company in the U.S. to do so."
Daniel_Stuckey writes "Now, where do you find people willing to work in a fallout zone for minimum wage? According to a Reuters report, hidden within hundreds of contractors working on the cleanup effort are yakuza-controlled companies that pay headhunters to find homeless people willing to work inside the fallout zone. The sheer scale of the cleanup effort is staggering. While decontaminating the Fukushima plant itself will cost tens of billions and take years, there are also the surrounding areas in Fukushima prefecture, where cleanup costs are expected to top $30 billion. With Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco), the owner of the Fukushima plant, essentially nationalized at this point, Reuters reports that there's some $35 billion in taxpayer funds on the table for contractors."
Maybe, maybe not. It depends on the application and the user. We're seeing tablets advertised like crazy these days, and a trip to any busy coffee shop with free wi-fi will make it obvious that while there may not be as many tablets in use as notebooks, you see a lot more of them than you did five years ago, when it seemed like Bill Gates was the only person who had one, which he tried to show off as often as he could. In 2010, Apple debuted the iPad, and before long tablets were all over the place. So, on behalf of people we know -- and there are more than a few -- who either sneer at tablet computers or aren't sure they need one, we turned to David Needle, editor of TabTimes.com, for advice on what kind of tablet to buy -- assuming we need to buy one at all.
SpaceGhost writes "The Associated Press reports: 'The Federal Aviation Administration announced six states on Monday that will develop test sites for drones, a critical next step for the march of the unmanned aircraft into U.S. skies.' The sites will be in Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia. They quote Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx saying, 'These test sites will give us valuable information about how best to ensure the safe introduction of this advanced technology into our nation's skies.' This is a first step to allowing commercial drone use."
First time accepted submitter techfilz writes "The Mars One Project has selected 1058 second round candidates out of more than 200 000 applicants from over 140 countries. There are another two selection rounds to go before the lucky few get a one way trip to Mars. Starting in 2018, four astronauts will leave for Mars every two years to begin a human settlement partly funded by crowdsourcing and a reality TV show."
theodp writes "After making light of a bad situation — Safeway's closing of its Chicagoland Dominick's grocery store chain and termination of 6,000 workers — with a satirical SciFi YouTube clip, Dominick's employee Steve Yamamoto found himself suspended just one day before the grocery chain closed up shop for good. 'My store manager got a phone call that she had to suspend me,' Yamamoto told NBC Chicago. 'I was like, "Are you serious?" It's crazy as it is. I'm just dumbfounded.' Perhaps Safeway was concerned that viewers of Yamamoto's video might think that aliens, robots, and monsters did Dominick's in, although the Chicago Tribune suggests financial machinations as a more likely culprit: 'By pulling the plug on Chicago [Dominick's], Safeway could not only satisfy [hedge fund] Jana, but also generate a $400 million to $450 million tax benefit.'"
littlekorea writes "A series of servers produced by Dell, air-gapped Windows XP PCs and switches and routers produced by Cisco, Huawei and Juniper count among the huge list of computing devices compromised by the NSA, according to crypto-expert and digital freedom fighter Jacob Applebaum. Revealing a trove of new NSA documents at his 30c3 address (video), Applebaum spoke about why the NSA's program might lead to broader adoption of open source tools and gave a hot tip on how to know if your machines have been owned."
First time accepted submitter DeafScribe writes "Every year during the holidays, many people in the deaf community lament the annual family gathering ritual because it means they sit around bored while watching relatives jabber. This morning, I had the best one-on-one discussion with my mother in years courtesy of her iPhone and Siri; voice recognition is definitely improving. It would've been nice if conference-level speech-to-text had been available this evening for the family dinner. So how about it? Is group speech to text good enough now, and available at reasonable cost for a family dinner scenario?"