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Facebook Lets Advertisers Target Insecure Teens, Says Report

Slashdot - Mon, 05/01/2017 - 21:20
An anonymous reader shares a report: Leaked documents from Facebook's team in Australia allegedly show the social giant's ability to help advertisers target teens who feel "worthless." The documents, first revealed by The Australian, say Facebook can spot when teens "need a confidence boost." The documents reportedly get even more specific, saying Facebook's algorithm can pinpoint when teens feel "useless," "stressed," "failure," "silly," "stupid," "worthless" and "defeated." Using Facebook's tools as well as image recognition, advertisers would be able to find teens in some of their lowest moments -- and then target ads to them. The leaked documents also detailed how advertisers could use Facebook's algorithms to find teens who were interested in "working out and losing weight" and promote health products, according to The Australian. Facebook's team in Australia was reportedly looking to capitalize on 6.4 million teens who use the social network in their region.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

US Appeals Court Won't Rehear 'Net Neutrality' Challenge

Slashdot - Mon, 05/01/2017 - 20:40
A federal appeals court on Monday declined to rehear a challenge to the Obama administration's landmark "net neutrality" rules requiring internet providers to guarantee equal access to all websites. From a report: The decision by the full appeals court in Washington not to reconsider a three-judge panel's decision that upheld the ruling comes days after Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai proposed to undo the 2015 net neutrality that reclassified internet providers like public utilities. The 2015 order bars internet providers from blocking, throttling or giving "fast lanes" to some websites. Pai has proposed reversing the reclassification and scrapping internet conduct standards, and has asked for comment on whether the FCC can or should retain any of the rules barring blocking, throttling or "fast lanes." Judge Sri Srinivasan said in a written opinion reviewing the decision "would be particularly unwarranted at this point in light of the uncertainty surrounding the fate of the FCC's order."

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Slashdot Asks: Do You Still Use RSS?

Slashdot - Mon, 05/01/2017 - 20:00
Real Site Syndication, or RSS has been around for over a decade but it never really managed to lure regular web users (though maybe it wasn't built to serve everyone). So much so that even Google cited declining usage of Google Reader, at one time the most popular RSS reader service, as one of the two reasons for shutting down the service. With an increasingly number of people looking at Facebook and Twitter for news, we thought it would be a good time to ask the following question: Do you use any RSS reader app? If yes, do you think it is still a good way to keep track of the "new stuff" that your favorite sites publish?

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Categories: Tech/Science News

UEFI Secure Boot Booted From Debian 9 'Stretch'

Slashdot - Mon, 05/01/2017 - 19:20
Debian's release team has decided to postpone its implementation of Secure Boot. From a report: In a release update from last week, release team member Jonathan Wiltshire wrote that "At a recent team meeting, we decided that support for Secure Boot in the forthcoming Debian 9 'stretch' would no longer be a blocker to release. The likely, although not certain outcome is that stretch will not have Secure Boot support." "We appreciate that this will be a disappointment to many users and developers," he continued, "However, we need to balance that with the limited time available for the volunteer teams working on this feature, and the risk of bugs being introduced through rushed development." The decision not to offer Secure Boot support at release leaves Debian behind Red Hat and Suse, making it the only one of Linux's three main branches not to support the heir-to-BIOS and the many security enhancements it offers.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Trump is Launching a New Tech Group To 'Transform and Modernize' the US Govt

Slashdot - Mon, 05/01/2017 - 18:40
President Donald Trump announced on Monday he has signed an executive order creating a new technology council to "transfer and modernize" the U.S. government's IT systems. From a report: The gathering is part of a new effort, called the American Technology Council, commissioned by Trump in an executive order signed this morning. The effort seeks to bring leading government officials together with Silicon Valley's top minds in order to "transform and modernize" the aging federal bureaucracy "and how it uses and delivers information." Trump isn't the first sitting U.S. president to look to Silicon Valley in an attempt to bring government into the digital age. His predecessor, former President Barack Obama, similarly launched efforts like the U.S. Digital Service, which the administration billed at the time as a "startup at the White House" that sought to pair tech experts with federal agencies that needed help. Over 20 technology chief executives will attend meetings at the White House in early June to talk about improving government information technology, the report adds.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

'There's No Good Way To Kill a Bad Idea'

Slashdot - Mon, 05/01/2017 - 18:00
The world is filled with bad, baseless, factually inaccurate ideas that refuse to die. From an article: Philosopher Russell Blackford, a lecturer at the University of Newcastle in Australia, tweeted about this phenomenon earlier this month: "The momentum behind bad ideas can be enormous -- they can plunge on, gathering force, long after receiving devastating criticism." If you've ever found yourself unable to halt someone else's idiotic plans once they were already in motion, you're not alone. Whether you're a politician trying to make congress see sense or simply a manager trying to halt an atrocious team-building plan, there's simply no foolproof way to kill a terrible idea. Blackford blames the momentum behind bad ideas on cascade effects. Yes, individuals are prone to making poor decisions for emotional or biased reasons (known as "cognitive heuristics") and this irrationality is part of the problem. But there's also a broader sociological issue, in that others' opinions carry a huge amount of weight in influencing our views. A cultural consensus -- even without proper evidence -- can form pretty quickly. If one person convinces a second, says Blackford, then a third person will be far more likely to agree with the majority view. This effect exponentially increases with each person who agrees with the others. "We soon have a sociological effect whereby everyone knows that, say, a certain movie is very good or very bad, even though everyone might have 'known' the exact opposite if only a few early voices had been different," says Blackford.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Power of Modern Programming Languages is That They Are Expressive, Readable, Concise, Precise, and Executable

Slashdot - Mon, 05/01/2017 - 17:20
An anonymous reader shares a Scientific American article: Programming has changed. In first generation languages like FORTRAN and C, the burden was on programmers to translate high-level concepts into code. With modern programming languages -- I'll use Python as an example -- we use functions, objects, modules, and libraries to extend the language, and that doesn't just make programs better, it changes what programming is. Programming used to be about translation: expressing ideas in natural language, working with them in math notation, then writing flowcharts and pseudocode, and finally writing a program. Translation was necessary because each language offers different capabilities. Natural language is expressive and readable, pseudocode is more precise, math notation is concise, and code is executable. But the price of translation is that we are limited to the subset of ideas we can express effectively in each language. Some ideas that are easy to express computationally are awkward to write in math notation, and the symbolic manipulations we do in math are impossible in most programming languages. The power of modern programming languages is that they are expressive, readable, concise, precise, and executable. That means we can eliminate middleman languages and use one language to explore, learn, teach, and think.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Trump Has Grand Plan For Mission To Mars But Nasa Advises: Cool Your Jets

Slashdot - Mon, 05/01/2017 - 16:40
Donald Trump would like to see Americans walk on Mars during his presidency. Nasa would love to get there that quickly, too. The reality of space travel is slightly more complicated, however. From a report: On Monday, during a call with astronaut Peggy Whitson, who was aboard the International Space Station, Trump pressed her for a timeline on a crewed mission to Mars, one of Nasa's longest standing and most daunting goals. "Tell me, Mars," he asked her from the Oval Office, "what do you see a timing for actually sending humans to Mars? Is there a schedule and when would you see that happening?" Whitson answered by pointing out that Trump, by signing a Nasa funding bill last month, had already approved a timeline for a mission in the 2030s. She added that Nasa was building a new heavy-launch rocket, which would need testing. "Unfortunately space flight takes a lot of time and money," she said. "But it is so worthwhile doing." Trump replied: "Well, we want to try and do it during my first term or, at worst, during my second term, so we'll have to speed that up a little bit, OK?" It was not clear whether the president meant the remark as a quip or something more serious.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

SpaceX Successfully Launches Its First Spy Satellite

Slashdot - Mon, 05/01/2017 - 16:00
SpaceX successfully launched NROL-76, a classified U.S. intelligence mission, from NASA's Kennedy Space Center Monday. Sunday's launch attempt was scrubbed due to a sensor issue. From a report: Not much is known about the National Reconnaissance Office's NROL-76 satellite, a classified payload, which will liftoff into low Earth orbit from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Do While False

The Daily WTF - Mon, 05/01/2017 - 12:30

It was early in Seth's tenure at PicoServices Inc. when he first heard about Joe.

"Oh, man," he was told by a coworker he'd recognized as having a good head on her shoulders. "I can't wait until you end up at a Joe review."

"Joe? Why's that?" he asked, tilting his head.

"Nope, no way. You get to experience Joe the hard way."

Over the coming week, Seth was pretty sure he'd caught people taking bets for something to do with the coming code review, but he wasn't sure why. Joe had seemed like a reasonable fellow when they'd reviewed Beth's code together, and he'd had a few useful pointers for Seth about how to talk to one of their project managers. What could be so bad?

When he got to the conference room where the team had gathered to review Joe's new code, Beth beckoned him over to sit by her, right at the base of the U-shaped table where he had a prime view of the projector. As Joe got his laptop plugged in, most of the room seemed to be watching Seth's face with varying degrees of subtlety.

Oh ... kay ... Seth thought, bracing himself for some weird hazing ritual.

Then the projector flickered to life, and he settled in to read the function.

public string DoSomething() { string r = null; try { do { if (!somePrecondition) break; if (!someOtherPrecondition) break; //Code goes here } while(false); } catch (Exception e) { r = "Error: " + e.Message; } return r; }

Joe walked them through his method, explaining the preconditions, then the business logic. Questions arose about this and that variable naming, inconsistent spacing, et cetera.

Finally, Seth blurted out the obvious question: "Why while false?"

"Obviously, you only want to have a single return. It's much easier to trace that way," Joe replied.

Seth begged to differ. "Okay, and?"

"This way, the rest of the code isn't evaluated if the precondition is true."

Seth blinked. "Why not just use if statements?"

"I did. You see?"

"No, but I mean, put your code in the else."

"Ah, but it gets so messy, all the indentation. Much cleaner this way."

"But ... but that's not ... what? You spent extra time writing lines that do nothing!"

Joe smiled. "Oh, no, of course not. I have a template I use for all my methods."

Chuckles broke out across the room, and a few knowing looks were exchanged.

"He always writes like this," Beth explained in a whisper. "Don't feel bad. We've all tried to talk him out of it."

Seth shook his head. "Okay, whatever, but, why return null?"

"Otherwise, I couldn't return a string here, if there's an exception," Joe explained. "You can't return if it's void."

"Okay but, that's what the exceptions are for, surely. Why not just let it bubble up?"

"And make the calling code clean up the mess? No, no. This is much cleaner."

It was futile. Joe kept insisting that his code was "cleaner," no matter what Seth said.

But Seth would not be deterred. Over the coming weeks, he kept trying to talk to Joe about these anti-patterns, digging up articles about goto, explaining compiler optimization, even roping in experts when they were sent to conventions.

Finally, after 2 months of this, Joe admitted to seeing the light and agreed to change his pattern. The other developers took Seth out to celebrate his success, and he didn't buy a single beer all night. Surely now, things would start looking up, right?

As soon as he saw Joe's next checkin, Seth knew he had to write us:

for ( ; ; ) { if (!somePrecondition) break; if (!someOtherPrecondition) break; //Code goes here break; // Always break out of the loop at the end } hljs.initHighlightingOnLoad(); code { font-family: Consolas, monospace; } [Advertisement] Manage IT infrastructure as code across all environments with Puppet. Puppet Enterprise now offers more control and insight, with role-based access control, activity logging and all-new Puppet Apps. Start your free trial today!
Categories: Fun/Other

DRM Will Be Gone By 2025, Predicts Cory Doctorow

Slashdot - Mon, 05/01/2017 - 12:30
An anonymous reader writes: It's been two years since Cory Doctorow joined the EFF's campaign to eliminate DRM within 8 years -- and he still believes it'll happen. "Farmers and the Digital Right To Repair Coalition have done brilliantly and have a message which is extremely resonant with the political right as well as the political left." And now even the entertainment industry seems to oppose extending the DMCA to tractors. "The entertainment industry feels very proprietary towards laws that protect DRM. They really feel that they lobbied for and bought these laws in order to protect the business model they envisioned. For these latecomer upstarts to turn up and stretch and distort these laws out of proportion has really exposed one of the natural cracks in copyright altogether." Doctorow also says that "If there's anything good that might come of Brexit, it's that the UK will renegotiate and reevaluate its relationship to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and other directives. The UK enjoys a really interesting market position if it wants to be the only nation in the region that makes, exports, and supports DRM-breaking tools."

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Linux Kernel 4.11 Officially Released

Slashdot - Mon, 05/01/2017 - 09:34
prisoninmate quotes Softpedia: Linux kernel 4.11 has been in development for the past two months, since very early March, when the first Release Candidate arrived for public testing. Eight RCs later, we're now able to download and compile the final release of Linux 4.11 on our favorite GNU/Linux distributions and enjoy its new features. Prominent ones include scalable swapping for SSDs, a brand new perf ftrace tool, support for OPAL drives, support for the SMC-R (Shared Memory Communications-RDMA) protocol, journalling support for MD RAID5, all new statx() system call to replace stat(2), and persistent scrollback buffers for VGA consoles... The Linux 4.11 kernel also introduces initial support for Intel Gemini Lake chips, which is an Atom-based, low-cost computer processor family developed using Intel's 14-nanometer technology, and better power management for AMD Radeon GPUs when the AMDGPU open-source graphics driver is used.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

A Sophisticated Grey Hat Vigilante Protects Insecure IoT Devices

Slashdot - Mon, 05/01/2017 - 06:34
Ars Technica reports on Hajime, a sophisticated "vigilante botnet that infects IoT devices before blackhats can hijack them." Once Hajime infects an Internet-connected camera, DVR, and other Internet-of-things device, the malware blocks access to four ports known to be the most widely used vectors for infecting IoT devices. It also displays a cryptographically signed message on infected device terminals that describes its creator as "just a white hat, securing some systems." But unlike the bare-bones functionality found in Mirai, Hajime is a full-featured package that gives the botnet reliability, stealth, and reliance that's largely unparalleled in the IoT landscape... Hajime doesn't rashly cycle through a preset list of the most commonly used user name-password combinations when trying to hijack a vulnerable device. Instead, it parses information displayed on the login screen to identify the device manufacturer and then tries combinations the manufacturer uses by default... Also, in stark contrast to Mirai and its blackhat botnet competitors, Hajime goes to great lengths to maintain resiliency. It uses a BitTorrent-based peer-to-peer network to issue commands and updates. It also encrypts node-to-node communications. The encryption and decentralized design make Hajime more resistant to takedowns by ISPs and Internet backbone providers. Pascal Geenens, a researcher at security firm Radware, watched the botnet attempt 14,348 hijacks from 12,000 unique IP addresses around the world, and says "If Hajime is a glimpse into what the future of IoT botnets looks like, I certainly hope the IoT industry gets its act together and starts seriously considering securing existing and new products. If not, our connected hopes and futures might depend on...grey hat vigilantes to purge the threat the hard way." And long-time Slashdot reader The_Other_Kelly asks a good question. "While those with the ability and time can roll their own solutions, what off-the-shelf home security products are there, for non-technical people to use to protect their home/IoT networks?"

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Categories: Tech/Science News

VC Founder Predicts AI Will Take 50% Of All Human Jobs Within 10 Years

Slashdot - Mon, 05/01/2017 - 03:34
An anonymous reader quotes CNBC: Robots are likely to replace 50 percent of all jobs in the next decade, according to Kai-Fu Lee, founder of venture capital firm Sinovation Ventures and a top voice on tech in China. Artificial intelligence is the wave of the future, the influential technologist told CNBC, calling it the "singular thing that will be larger than all of human tech revolutions added together, including electricity, [the] industrial revolution, internet, mobile internet -- because AI is pervasive"... For example, he said, companies in which his firm has invested can accomplish feats such as recognizing 3 million faces at the same time, or dispersing loans in eight seconds. "These are things that are superhuman, and we think this will be in every industry, will probably replace 50% of human jobs, create a huge amount of wealth for mankind and wipe out poverty," Lee said, later adding that he expected that displacement to occur in the next 10 years.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Neowin: Microsoft's Windows Phone Business 'Is Dead'

Slashdot - Mon, 05/01/2017 - 01:34
An anonymous reader quote Neowin: If you've been expecting Microsoft to issue a press release formally announcing the end of its Windows phone business, you're probably hoping for a bit too much. But make no mistake: its phone hardware business is dead. RIP-dead. Send-flowers-dead. Worm-food-dead. Some fans, and even some in the media, have consistently refused to acknowledge this, despite the clear signs in recent quarters. Now, Microsoft's own figures, and its statements regarding its phone division, should make it irrefutably clear that there is no life left in its Windows phone business. During the quarter ending in December, Microsoft's phone revenue dropped to just $200 million, which included some sales of feature phones, before the company completed its sale of that business unit to Foxconn in November. That figure has now dropped to virtually nothing... Today, as Microsoft published its earnings report for Q3 FY2017, it revealed that its "Phone revenue declined $730 million". Based on its earlier financial disclosures, that means the company's phone hardware revenue fell to just $5 million for the entire quarter ending March 31, 2017. During Microsoft's earnings call today, its chief financial officer, Amy Hood, acknowledged this, stating that there was "no material phone revenue this quarter". The outlook for the next few months is similarly bleak, as Hood predicted "negligible revenue from Phone" in the coming quarter.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Hacker Leaks 'Orange Is the New Black' Episodes After Failing To Extort Netflix

Slashdot - Mon, 05/01/2017 - 00:34
An anonymous reader writes: "A hacker (or hacker group) known as The Dark Overlord (TDO) has leaked the first ten episodes of season 5 of the "Orange Is The New Black" show after two failed blackmail attempts, against Larson Studios and Netflix," reports BleepingComputer. The hacker said he stole hundreds of gigabytes of audio files from Larson Studios last December. "TDO claims the studio initially agreed to pay a ransom of 50 Bitcoin ($67,000) by January 31, and the two parties even signed a contract, albeit TDO signed it using the name 'Adolf Hitler.'" This might have been the reason why the company thought this was a joke and didn't pay the ransom as initially agreed. At this point, the hacker turned from the studio to Netflix, but the company didn't want to pay either. As a warning, the hacker leaked the first episode of season 5, but half a day later, he leaked 9 more. "According to Netflix's website, season 5 is supposed to have 13 episodes and is scheduled for release in June, this year." The hacker also claims he's in possession of shows and movies from other movie studios and television channels, such as FOX, IFC, NAT GEO, and ABC. Some of the titles include "Celebrity Apprentice," "NCIS Los Angeles," "New Girl," and "XXX The return of Xander Cage".

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Massive Tinder Photo Scrape Has Users Upset

Slashdot - Sun, 04/30/2017 - 23:34
Images of Tinder users "were swept up in a massive grab of some 40,000 photos from the dating app by a dataset collector who plans to use the selfies in artificial intelligence training," writes Slashdot reader Frosty Piss, sharing this summary of a report in TechCrunch. Tinder said in a statement that the photo sweeper "violated the terms of our service" and "we are taking appropriate action and investigating further." The creator of the data set, Stuart Colianni, has released it under a CC0: Public Domain License and also uploaded his scraper script to GitHub. He describes it as a "simple script to scrape Tinder profile photos for the purpose of creating a facial dataset," saying his inspiration for creating the scraper was disappointment working with other facial data sets. He also describes Tinder as offering "near unlimited access to create a facial data set," and says scraping the app offers "an extremely efficient way to collect such data." The article notes that Tinder's API has already been used for other "weird, wacky, and creepy" projects, including "hacking it to automatically like every potential date to save on thumb-swipes; offering a paid look-up service for people to check up on whether a person they know is using Tinder; and even building a catfishing system to snare horny bros and make them unwittingly flirt with each other. "So you could argue that anyone creating a profile on Tinder should be prepared for their data to leech outside the community's porous walls in various different ways -- be it as a single screenshot, or via one of the aforementioned API hacks. But the mass harvesting of thousands of Tinder profile photos to act as fodder for feeding AI models does feel like another line is being crossed."

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Developer Hacks Together Object-Oriented HTML

Slashdot - Sun, 04/30/2017 - 22:34
An anonymous reader writes: Ever since I started coding, I have always loved object-oriented design patterns. I built an HTML preprocessor that adds inheritance, polymorphism, and public methods to this venerable language. It offers more freedom than a templating engine and has a wider variety of use cases. Pull requests appreciated!

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Categories: Tech/Science News

E-Commerce Is Clogging City Streets With Delivery Trucks

Slashdot - Sun, 04/30/2017 - 21:34
The Atlantic's CityLab describes "a massive surge in deliveries to residential dwellings...creating a traffic nightmare." An anonymous reader quotes their report: While truck traffic currently represents about 7% of urban traffic in American cities, it bears a disproportionate congestion cost of $28 billion, or about 17% of the total U.S. congestion costs, in wasted hours and gas. Cities, struggling to keep up with the deluge of delivery drivers, are seeing their curb space and streets overtaken by double-parked vehicles, to say nothing of the bonus pollution and roadwear produced thanks to a surfeit of Amazon Prime orders... Often, the box trucks will double-park in a two-lane street if there's no loading zone to pull into, snarling traffic behind them... "The streets were not designed for that kind of activity," says Alison Conway, an assistant professor of civil engineering at the City College of New York. Scott Kubly, director of the Seattle Department of Transportation, says "With the volume of deliveries, ticketing isn't effective for us in terms of managing the street. UPS and FedEx will just negotiate a lump sum payment for all the tickets they get instead of fighting every ticket"... In 2011 in Washington, D.C., UPS alone received just shy of 32,000 tickets. Instead of adjudicating each ticket, many large cities will strike agreements or introduce programs through which delivery companies can pay off all tickets in one swoop. The article points out online retails sales have grown 15% every year this decade in the U.S. -- calling it the other side of the "retail apocalypse" that's killing brick-and-mortar stores.

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Categories: Tech/Science News

Microsoft And Apple Target Schools In War With Chromebook

Slashdot - Sun, 04/30/2017 - 20:34
An anonymous reader writes: "Google [is] commanding 58% of U.S. K-12 schools. Windows is in second with around 22% and the combined impact of MacOS and iOS are close behind at 19%," reports TechCrunch, citing figures from consulting firm Futuresource. But now Chromebooks are under fire from cheaper iPads and Microsoft's upcoming Windows 10 Cloud laptop with its cloud-based software. "For many schools, the dream of a one-device-per-child experience has finally been realized through a consumer technology battle waged by the biggest names in the industry... Fostering an entire generation of first-time computer users with your software and device ecosystem could mean developing lifelong loyalties, which is precisely why all this knock-down, drag-out fight won't be drawing to a close any time soon." That raises an interesting question. Do Slashdot readers remember the computers that were used in their own high schools -- and did that instill any lifelong brand loyalty?

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Categories: Tech/Science News

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