B612 Foundation Loses Partnership With NASA; Asteroids Not a Significant Risk 174

StartsWithABang writes: Yes, asteroids might be humanity's undoing in the worst-case scenario. It's how the dinosaurs went down, and it could happen to us, too. The B612 foundation has been working to protect us by mapping and then learning to deflect potential threats to our planet, but their proposed mission needed $450 million, a goal they've fallen well short of. As a result, NASA has severed their partnership, which is a good thing for humanity: the risk assessment figures show that worrying about killer asteroids is largely a waste.

Houston's Gifted Education Program Biased Against Blacks and Latinos 444

tiberus sends an NPR report investigating the fairness of gifted and talented programs in Houston schools. Analysts believe black and hispanic students are at put at a disadvantage because of the way in which the program is run. Quoting: Donna Ford, at Vanderbilt University, thinks that put Isaac at a disadvantage. She's been researching gifted education for decades, and when it comes to Houston's program she says, "I think it's a clear case of segregation, gifted education being segregated by race and income." Houston school leaders asked Ford to take a close look at their enrollment in the program, and she gave it a failing grade. "Racial bias has to be operating, inequities are rampant. Discrimination does exist whether intentional or unintentional," she told the school board in May of this year. Ford found that both Hispanic and black students are underrepresented in gifted programs and that black students are missing out the most. She also found that about half the seats in those programs go to higher-income students, even though the majority of the district is poor.
Open Source

Linux Foundation Puts the Cost of Replacing Its Open Source Projects At $5 Billion 146

chicksdaddy writes: Everybody recognizes that open source software incredibly valuable, by providing a way to streamline the creation of new applications and services. But how valuable, exactly? The Linux Foundation has released a new research paper that tries to put a price tag on the value of the open source projects it comprises, and the price they've come up with is eye-popping: $5 billion. That's how much the Foundation believes it would cost for companies to have to rebuild or develop from scratch the software residing in its collaborative projects.

To arrive at that figure, the Foundation analyzed the code repositories of each one of its projects using the Constructive Cost Model (COCOMO) to estimate the total effort required to create these projects. With 115,013,302 total lines of source code, LF estimated the total amount of effort required to retrace the steps of collaborative development to be 41,192.25 person-years — or 1,356 developers 30 years to recreate the code base present in The Linux Foundation's current collaborative projects listed above.

(Over-)Measuring the Working Man 165 writes: Tyler Cowen writes in MIT Technology Review that the improved measurement of worker performance through information technology is beginning to allow employers to measure value fairly precisely and as we get better at measuring who produces what, the pay gap between those who make more and those who make less grows. Insofar as workers type at a computer, everything they do is logged, recorded, and measured. Surveillance of workers continues to increase, and statistical analysis of large data sets makes it increasingly easy to evaluate individual productivity, even if the employer has a fairly noisy data set about what is going on in the workplace. Consider journalism. In the "good old days," no one knew how many people were reading an article, or an individual columnist. Today a digital media company knows exactly how many people are reading which articles for how long, and also whether they click through to other links. The result is that many journalists turn out to be not so valuable at all. Their wages fall or they lose their jobs, while the superstar journalists attract more Web traffic and become their own global brands.

According to Cowen, the upside is that measuring value tends to boost productivity, as has been the case since the very beginning of management science. We're simply able to do it much better now, and so employers can assign the most productive workers to the most suitable tasks. The downsides are several. Individuals don't in fact enjoy being evaluated all the time, especially when the results are not always stellar: for most people, one piece of negative feedback outweighs five pieces of positive feedback.

Fable Legends DX12 Benchmark Stressing High End GPUs 51

Vigile writes: In preparation for the release of the free-to-play Fable Legends game on both Xbox One and PC this winter, Microsoft and Lionhead Studios released a benchmark today that allows users to test performance of their PC hardware configuration with a DirectX 12 based game engine that pushes the boundaries of render quality. Based on a modified UE4 engine, Fable Legends includes support for asynchronous compute shaders, manual resource barrier tracking and explicit memory management, all new to the DX12 API. Unlike the previous DX12 benchmark, Ashes of the Singularity, which focused mainly on high draw call counts and mass quantities of on-screen units, Fable Legends takes a more standard approach, attempting to improve image quality and shadow reproduction with the new API. PC Perspective has done some performance analysis with the new benchmark and a range of graphics cards, finding that while NVIDIA still holds the lead at the top spot (GTX 980 Ti vs Fury X), the AMD Radeon mid-range products offer better performance (and better value) than the comparable GeForce parts.

Researcher Trying To Teach Computer What Women He's Attracted To 181

jfruh writes: Harm de Vries, a post-doctoral researcher at the Université de Montréal, is trying to build an algorithm that will sort through pictures on Tinder and OKCupid and pick out women he'll find attractive. "Tinder kept giving me pictures of girls I wasn't attracted to," he said in a phone interview. "So I wondered if I could use deep learning." His program, built using deep learning techniques, has about a 68 percent success rate, which isn't that bad. (A human friend to whom de Vries described his preferences managed 76 percent.)

Congressional Testimony: A Surprising Consensus On Climate 370

Lasrick writes: Many legislators regularly deny that there is a scientific consensus, or even broad scientific support, for government action to address climate change. Researchers recently assessed the content of congressional testimony related to either global warming or climate change from 1969 to 2007. For each piece of testimony, they recorded several characteristics about how the testimony discussed climate. For instance, noting whether the testimony indicated that global warming or climate change was happening and whether any climate change was attributable (in part) to anthropogenic sources. The results: Testimony to Congress—even under Republican reign—reflects the scientific consensus that humans are changing our planet's climate.

Survey: More Women Are Going Into Programming 280

itwbennett writes: We've previously discussed the dearth of women in computing. Indeed, according to U.S. Bureau and Labor Statistics estimates, in 2014 four out of five programmers and software developers in the U.S. were men. But according to a survey conducted this spring by the Application Developers Alliance and IDC, that may be changing. The survey of 855 developers worldwide found that women make up 42% of developers with less than 1 year of experience and 30% of those with between 1 and 5 years of experience. Of course, getting women into programming is one thing; keeping them is the next big challenge.

Windows 10 Grabs 5.21% Market Share, Passing Windows Vista and Windows 8 246

An anonymous reader writes: The effects of a free upgrade to Windows 10 are starting to trickle in. Available for just over a month, Windows 10 has now captured more than 5 percent market share, according to the latest figures from Net Applications. In just four weeks, Windows 10 has already been installed on over 75 million PCs. Microsoft is aiming to have 1 billion devices running Windows 10 "in two to three years," though that includes not just PCs, but smartphones, consoles, and other devices as well.

Ubuntu Is the Dominant Cloud OS 167

An anonymous reader writes: According to a new report by Cloud Market, Ubuntu is more than twice as popular on Amazon EC2 as all other operating systems combined. Given that Amazon Web Services has 57% of the public cloud market, Ubuntu is clearly the most popular OS for cloud systems. This is further bolstered by a recent OpenStack survey, which found that more than half of respondents used Ubuntu for cloud-based production environments. Centos was a distant second at 29%, and RHEL came in third at 11%. "In addition to AWS, Ubuntu has been available on HP Cloud, and Microsoft Azure since 2013. It's also now available on Google Cloud Platform, Fujitsu, and Joyent." The article concludes, "People still see Ubuntu as primarily a desktop operating system. It's not — and hasn't been for some time."

Scientific Papers With Shorter Titles Get More Citations 87

sciencehabit writes: Articles with shorter titles tend to get cited more often than those with longer headers, concludes a study published today, which examined 140,000 papers published between 2007 and 2013. It appears in the journal Royal Society Open Science. Citations are a key currency in the academic world. The number of times other researchers cite a scientist’s work is often an important metric in hiring and workplace evaluations. Citations also play a role in determining a journal’s place in the scholarly pecking order, with journals that publish more highly cited papers earning a higher “impact factor” (although many critics challenge that measure).

Google's Project Sunroof Tells You How Well Solar Would Work On Your Roof 105

An anonymous reader writes: Google's Project Sunroof aims to make the task of installing solar panels easier by providing financial advice and stats on what solar energy could do for you. The project is only available in San Francisco, Boston, and Fresno for now. Techcrunch reports: "To get started, you simply plug in your address and some data about your monthly electricity bill, and the tool will tell you what the recommended solar installation size is and how much it would cost to buy or lease the hardware. In case you want to go ahead with a solar install, the tool also lets you reach out to local solar providers. Google says these listings are sponsored, so chances are it'll get a bit of a kickback when it generates a sales lead for these companies."

Data-Crunching Could Kill Your Downtime At Work 170

An anonymous reader writes: How many of you are reading this at work? One of the unspoken perks of many white collar jobs is that you can waste time while still appearing productive. Workplaces are aware that this goes on, and they police it to some extent by blocking Facebook or simply looking over your shoulder — but there's only so much they can do. The new generation of workplace analytics software is starting to change that. "Employers of all types — old-line manufacturers, nonprofits, universities, digital start-ups and retailers — are using an increasingly wide range of tools to monitor workers' efforts, help them focus, cheer them on and just make sure they show up on time." This inevitably leads to the question: does cracking the whip more often actually increase productivity? To hear the makers of this software tell it, the value is almost limitless, and it will never be misused to micromanage your job. But the article lacks any independent support for that idea, and I'm sure many of you could provide examples where time-keeping software has only been a hindrance.
United States

Georgia Aquarium Battles Federal Government Over Belugas 90

An anonymous reader writes: The Georgia Aquarium has argued in court that the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration's denial of its permit to import beluga whales from Russia was arbitrary and capricious. The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration's National Marine Fisheries Service says the aquarium failed to meet the requirements of a law meant to protect marine mammals. Both sides accuse the other of twisting the facts, a NOAA lawyer accuses the aquarium trying "to confuse the court," and a lawyer for the aquarium says the government had "cooked the books" on whale population numbers.
Classic Games (Games)

Interviews: Game Designer Steve Jackson Answers Your Questions 38

A while ago you had the chance to ask Steve Jackson, founder and editor-in-chief of Steve Jackson Games, about the numerous games he's created, his efforts to digitize those games, and what to do when the Secret Service shows up at your office. Below you will find his answers to your questions.
The Internet

ARIN IPv4 Addresses Run Out Tomorrow 215

jcomeau_ictx provided that teaser of a headline, but writes: Not really. But the countdown at should go to zero sometime tomorrow around noon, considering it's at 45,107 as I write this, it's counting down about one address every two seconds, and there are 86,400 seconds per day. Just happened to notice it today. Might be worth a little celebration at every NOC and IT enterprise tomorrow.

Google Studies How Bad Interstitials Are On Mobile 259

An anonymous reader writes: A Google study of their own Google+ site and app found that 69% of visitors abandoned the page when presented with the app interstitial. Google said it was getting rid of them and asked others to do the same. TechCrunch reports: "It's worth noting that Google's study was small scale, since the company was only looking at how an interstitial promoting the Google+ social service native app performed (and we don't know how many people it surveyed). It may very well be the case that visitors really didn't want the Google+ app specifically — and that Google+ itself is skewing the data. (Sadly Google is not offering comparative stats with, say, the Gmail app interstitial, so we can but speculate.)"

The Science and Politics Behind Colony Collapse Disorder; Is the Crisis Over? 174

iONiUM writes: An article at the Globe and Mail claims that there is no longer any Honeybee crises, and that the deaths of the Honeybees previously was a one-off, or possibly non-cyclical occurrence (caused by neonics or nature — the debate is still out). The data used is that from Stats Canada which claims "the number of honeybee colonies is at a record high [in Canada]." Globally, the UN's Food and Agricultural Organization says that "worldwide bee populations have rebounded to a record high." The story reports: "I have great news for honey lovers everywhere. The Canadian honeybee industry is thriving. Despite those headlines about mass die-offs and and killer pesticides, the number of honeybee colonies is at a record high. Last year, according to Statistics Canada, nearly 700,000 honeybee colonies produced $200-million worth of honey. Bee survival rates have rebounded even in Ontario, which was hard hit by unusually high winter die-offs."

Silicon Valley Still Wrestling With Diversity Issues 398

An anonymous reader writes: As major tech companies come under increased scrutiny over the diversity of their workforces, many of them are focusing solely on the "pipeline" of workers educated in a computer-related field. They're pouring resources into getting kids to code, setting up internships, and even establishing mentoring programs for underrepresented groups. But experts say they're still failing to root out their own internal biases when making hiring decisions. "That bias shows up in recruiting, with companies drawing from the same top universities, where black and Hispanic graduates are still lagging behind other groups. ... The problem is particularly acute at start-ups, where black founders are just 1 percent of venture-invested firms, according to a 2011 survey by CB Insights." The tech companies are under mounting pressure to solve this problem, and the solutions they're pursuing won't show results quickly.

Study: Living Near Fracking Correlates With Increased Hospital Visits 132

New submitter Michael Tiemann writes: An article published in PLOS One finds increased hospital admissions significantly correlate with living in the same zip code as active fracking sites. The data comes from three counties in Pennsylvania, whose zip codes mostly had no fracking sites in 2007 and transitioned to a majority of zip codes with at least one fracking site. While the statistical and medical data are compelling, and speak to a significant correlation, the graphical and informational figures flunk every Tufte test, which is unfortunate. Nevertheless, with open data and Creative Commons licensing, the paper could be rewritten to provide a more compelling explanation about the dangers of fracking to people who live within its vicinity, and perhaps motivate more stringent regulations to protect them from both immediate and long-term harm.