Video Gamers From the '90s Have Turned Out Mostly OK ( 239

A study reported on by Ars Technica indicates that video games, much ballyhooed (alleged) source of mental, physical and psycho-social ills for the kids who spent a lot of time playing them, don't seem to have had quite as big a negative effect on those kids as the moral panic of the past few decades would have you believe. Instead, There didn't seem to be an association between the number of games the children reported owning and an increase in risk for conduct disorder. When examining depression among shoot-em-up players, there was evidence for increased risk before the researchers controlled for all the confounding factors, but not afterwards. Of course, there's a lot of data to go around in the several studies referred to here, and the upshot seems to both less exciting and less simple than "Video games are good, not bad!"
Social Networks

Facebook Knocks "Six Degrees of Separation" Down a Few Notches ( 89

mikejuk writes: Six degrees of separation is the, already well established, idea that any individual is connected to any other via six network nodes. New research has discovered that the average between Facebook users is just three and a half: "We know that people are more connected today than ever before. Over the past five years, the global Facebook community has more than doubled in size. Today we're announcing that during that same time period, the degrees of separation between a typical pair of Facebook users has continued to decrease to 3.57 degrees, down from 3.74 degrees in 2011. This is a significant reflection of how closely connected the world has become." This may all be true and Facebook makes us better connected, but it leaves the question of the quality of the connections open. Are Facebook friends anything like real friends?

Windows 10 Passes Windows XP In Market Share 315

An anonymous reader writes: Six months after its release, Windows 10 has finally passed 10 percent market share. Not only that, but the latest and greatest version from Microsoft has also overtaken Windows 8.1 and Windows XP, according to the latest figures from Net Applications. Windows 10 had 9.96 percent market share in December, and gained 1.89 percentage points to hit 11.85 percent in January. Maybe it will jump even faster soon, but not necessarily for the best of reasons.
Data Storage

Triple M.2 NVMe RAID-0 Testing Proves Latency Reductions 73

Vigile writes: The gang over at PC Perspective just posted a story that looks at a set of three M.2 form factor Samsung 950 Pro NVMe PCIe SSDs in a RAID-0 array, courtesy of a new motherboard from Gigabyte that included three M.2 slots. The pure bandwidth available in this configuration is amazing, breaching 3.3 GB/s on reads and 3.0 GB/s on writes. But what is more interesting is a new testing methodology that allows for individual storage IO latency capturing, giving us a look at performance of SSDs in all configurations. What PC Perspective proved here is that users often claiming that RAIDs "feel faster" despite a lack of bandwidth result to prove it, are likely correct. Measurements now show that the latency of IO operations improves dramatically as you add drives to an array, giving a feeling of "snappiness" to a system beyond even what a single SSD can offer. PC Perspective's new testing demonstrates the triple RAID-0 array having just 1/6th of the latency of a single drive.

Math Says Conspiracies Are Prone To Unravel ( 303

An anonymous reader writes: Who doesn't love a good conspiracy theory? Well, I don't — they're usually annoying daydreams from annoying people. Fortunately, an Oxford mathematician seems to feel the same way. Dr. David Grimes just published research in PLOS One establishing a formula for determining the likelihood of a failed conspiracy — in other words, how likely some of its participants are to spill the beans. There are three main factors: number of conspirators, the amount of time passed since it started, and how often we can expect conspiracies to intrinsically fail (a value he derived by studying actual conspiracies that were exposed). From the article: "He then applied his equation to four famous conspiracy theories: The belief that the Moon landing was faked, the belief that climate change is a fraud, the belief that vaccines cause autism, and the belief that pharmaceutical companies have suppressed a cure for cancer. Dr. Grimes's analysis suggests that if these four conspiracies were real, most are very likely to have been revealed as such by now. Specifically, the Moon landing 'hoax' would have been revealed in 3.7 years, the climate change 'fraud' in 3.7 to 26.8 years, the vaccine-autism 'conspiracy' in 3.2 to 34.8 years, and the cancer 'conspiracy' in 3.2 years."

Tech Salaries Had Biggest Year-Over-Year Leap In 2015 ( 125

Nerval's Lobster writes: Average technology salaries in the U.S. saw the biggest year-over-year leap ever, up 7.7 percent to $96,370 annually, according to Dice's new survey data. Bonuses and contract rates also rose from 2014, and tech salaries in seven metro areas reached six-figures for the first time since the survey began more than a decade ago. Contract workers saw a rise (5%) in hourly compensation, with contractors earning $70.26 per hour. Other Websites have shown similarly high salaries for tech professionals; Glassdoor, for example, called data scientist the best job in America, with an average salary of $116,840 and bountiful job prospects. But while everything might seem great on a macro level, that doesn't mean tech workers don't face their share of stagnant salaries, brutal workplaces, and annoying managers.

Nielsen Adds Facebook To Social TV Ratings ( 28

New submitter AnneMackay451 writes with news that the Nielsen media audience measuring company will now include social media buzz into its ratings. From the article: "Nielsen wants to know what TV shows are getting the biggest buzz on Facebook. The measurement firm is expanding its Twitter TV Ratings to include data from Facebook and, eventually, Instagram. The new reports are being rebranded as Nielsen's Social Content Ratings. The new ratings will measure online buzz about TV programs and streaming originals when they launch later this year. Social conversations will be measured both during a show's airtime and 24-hours-a-day."

Estimating Damages From the VW Emissions Scandal ( 109

ckwu writes: Last year, the news broke that in the U.S. almost 600,000 Volkswagen diesel vehicles, model years 2009 to 2015, contain software that altered engine performance and lowered emissions of toxic nitrogen oxides (NOx) during emissions tests but not during normal driving. A new study calculates the societal impact of this extra NOx: 46 excess expected deaths and $430 million in excess damages. U.S. regulators have filed a federal lawsuit against the automaker alleging violations of the Clean Air Act.

Twins Study Finds No Evidence That Marijuana Lowers IQ In Teens ( 307

sciencehabit writes: Roughly half of Americans use marijuana at some point in their lives, and many start as teenagers. Although some studies suggest the drug could harm the maturing adolescent brain, the true risk is controversial. Now, in the first study of its kind (abstract), scientists have analyzed long-term marijuana use in teens, comparing IQ changes in twin siblings who either used or abstained from marijuana for 10 years. After taking environmental factors into account, the scientists found no measurable link between marijuana use and lower IQ.

Tension Escalates Between Netflix and Its TV Foes ( 302

An anonymous reader writes: Viewership numbers are vital within the TV industry. For years, the networks have relied upon ratings to make money — higher numbers mean higher ad revenue. The most important part of the ratings system is that individual networks can't just claim whatever viewership they want; third-party companies like Nielsen control the stats. But Netflix doesn't operate by the same rulebook, and this is frustrating the networks. Execs from Netflix and various networks have started arguing about it, both at an industry event this weekend, and in media interviews. NBC had hired a firm to estimate Netflix's viewership numbers, because Netflix won't release them. Netflix says the estimate is laughably wrong, but has also suggested shows fare better on their platform than on cable or broadcast television. If true, it gives them leverage to recruit more and better talent to produce such shows. But it's impossible to refute without numbers, and the networks are increasingly annoyed they can't do that. NBC thinks the media tends to give Netflix a pass on these statements. FX chief John Landgraf said, "[Netflix's Ted Sarandos] shouldn't say something is successful in quantitative terms unless you're willing to provide data and a methodology behind those statements. You can't have it both ways."

More People In Europe Are Dying Than Are Being Born ( 547

jones_supa writes: More people in Europe are dying than are being born, according to a new report co-authored by a Texas A&M University demographer. In contrast, births exceed deaths, by significant margins, in Texas and elsewhere in the United States, with few exceptions. The researchers find that in Europe, deaths exceeded births in most of the counties of Germany, Hungary, Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic, as well as in Sweden and the Baltic States. Further south, natural decrease is found occurring in the majority of the counties of Greece, Portugal and Italy. More births than deaths (natural increase) is widespread in Ireland, Cyprus, Iceland, Lichtenstein and Luxembourg. "Natural decrease is much more common in Europe than in the U.S because its population is older, fertility rates are lower and there are fewer women of child-bearing age," the researchers explain. "Natural decrease is a major policy concern because it drains the demographic resilience from a region diminishing its economic viability and competitiveness."

Algorithms Claimed To Hunt Terrorists While Protecting the Privacy of Others ( 81

An anonymous reader sends this report from Motherboard: Computer scientists at the University of Pennsylvania have developed an algorithmic framework for conducting targeted surveillance of individuals within social networks while protecting the privacy of untargeted digital bystanders. ... The algorithms are based on a few basic ideas. The first is that every member of a network (a graph) comes with a sequence of bits indicating their membership in a targeted group. If say, the number two bit was set in your personal privacy register, then you might be part of the “terrorist” target population. For an algorithm searching a network for targets, it doesn’t just get to ask to reveal every network member’s bits. It has a budget of sorts, where it can only reveal so many bits and no more. The algorithms work to optimize this scenario such that as many bits-of-interest are revealed as possible. It does this optimization via a notion known as a statistic of proximity (SOP), which is a quantification of how close a given graph node is to a targeted group of nodes. This is what guides the search algorithms.

UK Cuts Men's Recommended Weekly Alcohol To 14 Units ( 274

jones_supa writes: Men have been advised to drink no more than seven pints of beer a week – the same as the maximum limit for women – in the first new drinking guidelines to be released by the UK's chief medical officers for 20 years. They also advise there is no safe level of drinking for either sex, and issued a stark warning that any amount of alcohol consumption increases the risk of developing a range of cancers, particularly breast cancer. David Spiegelhalter from University of Cambridge said: 'These guidelines define 'low-risk' drinking as giving you less than a 1% chance of dying from an alcohol-related condition.'

Java Named Top Programming Language of 2015 ( 358

Nerval's Lobster writes: What was the most popular programming language of 2015? According to the people behind the TIOBE Index, Java took that coveted spot, winning out over C, Python, PHP, and other languages. "At first sight, it might seem surprising that an old language like Java wins this award," read TIOBE's note accompanying the list. "Especially if you take into consideration that Java won the same award exactly 10 years ago." Yet Java remains essential not only for businesses, it continued, but also consumer-centric markets such as mobile development (i.e., Google Android). That being said, even big languages can tumble. (Dice link) Objective-C tumbled from third place to 18th in the past 12 months, thanks to Apple's decision to replace it with Swift. In 2016, TIOBE expects that "Java, PHP (with the new 7 release), JavaScript and Swift will be the top 10 winners for 2016. Scala might gain a permanent top 20 position, whereas Rust, Clojure, Julia and TypeScript will also move up considerably in the chart." What has been your most-used (or best-loved) programming language of the last 12 months?
Data Storage

Tech Segments Facing Turbulence In 2016 ( 72

Nerval's Lobster writes: David Foote, an analyst who accurately predicted the tech industry's job growth in 2015, is back with some new predictions about which segments will do well in 2016 (Dice link). At the top of his list: DevOps, cloud and software architects, and cybersecurity experts. Those that won't perform well? SAP specialists, storage 'gurus,' and network managers could all face some headwinds. 'Companies are continuing to outsource infrastructure and that will reduce the need for network specialists except for network security which will remain in-house,' he says. Whether or not he's right about which parts of the tech industry will do better than others, there are also increasing signs that things could get very tight from a funding perspective for startups, as even the so-called 'unicorns' risk seeing investor money (and customers) dry up.

US Bureau of Labor Statistics: Programmer Jobs Will Decline 8% ( 349

theodp writes: Two weeks ago, as the nation's schools 'taught kids to program' with an Hour of Code, Microsoft and others celebrated a 6-year lobbying effort that culminated in the passage of legislation that made Computer Science a core K-12 subject, which the software giant said "will advance some of the goals outlined in Microsoft's National Talent Strategy." But on Tuesday, Computerworld reported that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has put somewhat of a buzzkill on the learn-to-code party, saying IT jobs will grow 12% over the next decade, although computer programmers will see an 8% decline. "Computer programming can be done from anywhere in the world, so companies sometimes hire programmers in countries where wages are lower," explained the government. The silver lining is that software developers, the largest occupational group in IT, will increase by 17% or 186,600, over this period. The nomenclature here is a little muddy, since "programmers" and "software developers" are often used interchangeably. Here's how they're distinguished in this article: "Programmers are focused on coding and implementing requirements, and that’s why they may be more susceptible to offshoring, in contrast to software developers who may be more engaged with the business, analyzing needs and collaborating with multiple parties."

Ask Slashdot: Resources For Explaining Statistics For the Very First Time? ( 90

theodp writes: Teaching multivariate statistics to college students, writes AnnMaria De Mars, was a piece of cake compared to her current project — making a game to teach statistics to middle school students who have never been exposed to the idea. In the interest of making a better game, De Mars asks, "Here's my question to you, oh reader people, what resources have you found useful for teaching statistics? I mean, resources you have really watched or used and thought, 'Hey, this would be great for teaching?' There is a lot of mediocre, boring stuff on the interwebz and if any of you could point me to what you think rises above the rest, I'd be super appreciative." Larry Gonick's The Cartoon Guide to Statistics is pretty amazing, but is it a little too advanced for this age group? Anyone have experience with the Khan Academy Data and Statistics offerings? Any other ideas?

Facebook, Google Top Year-End App List 30

Nerval's Lobster writes: New data from research firm Nielsen shows that — surprise, surprise — Facebook, Google, and Apple dominated the list of most-used mobile apps. Facebook's core app took the top spot on Nielsen's list with 126 million unique users per month, followed by YouTube with 97 million, Facebook Messenger with 96 million, and Google Search with 95 million. This is partially a consequence of the mobile world essentially becoming a duopoly between Google Android and Apple's iOS, meaning that the core apps produced by those companies are always front-and-center (and thus always in use) for the majority of mobile users. But not every app launched by these companies succeeds: While Facebook dominates, for example, the company is notable for some app misfires, including Paper and Facebook Home. That might be cold consolation to indie app developers trying to build up a significant audience.

Looking For Jupiter-Class Planets Indicates Solar Systems Like Ours Are Rare ( 90

An anonymous reader writes: A high school senior from New York analyzed data for more than 1,100 stars and pinpointed the frequency of Jupiter analogs (planets with similar mass and orbital period to Jupiter) to 3%. He published his results in a paper for the Astrophysical Journal. The relative rarity of Jupiter-like planets indicates that true solar system analogs should themselves be rare. By extension, given the important role that Jupiter played at all stages of the formation of the solar system, Earth-like habitable planets with similar formation history to our solar system will be rare.

$5 Raspberry Pi Zero Compared To Intel's NetBurst CPUs & Newer ( 99

An anonymous reader writes: Curious about the performance of a Raspberry Pi Zero, Phoronix has published a number of Raspberry Pi 2 + Pi Zero performance benchmarks with paired power consumption data. They found the Pi Zero performed slower than even an Intel Celeron 320 from the NetBurst era, but that the Raspberry Pi 2 was performing between that Celeron and a Pentium 4 "C" 2.8GHz CPU from 2004. While the Raspberry Pis didn't win in raw performance, the performance-per-Watt of the Raspberry Pi 2 was 220x greater than the Pentium Northwood. The Pi Zero had an average power consumption of 2.7 Watts and the Raspberry Pi 2 was at 3.5 Watts; however, compared to newer Broadwell and Skylake processors, Intel's low-end parts delivered greater power efficiency while the Raspberry Pi had the best value.

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