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Submission + - Inventing the Chromebook - First Version was Based on Firefox (jeff-nelson.com)

Andy Prough writes: Former Google engineer Jeff Nelson has written a fascinating blog post about how he created "Google OS", the forerunner to Chrome OS. Last August, he finally received a patent for it, but his work began in 2006, and the first versions of the OS were built on Firefox and a "bare-bones Linux distribution" that could execute any Linux program. In fact, when he first started writing the OS, Chrome itself did not exist, and the whole purpose for his work was to create a system that loaded fully — and only — into system RAM. This purpose grew out of his frustration with wait times as he wrote webapps for Google, and found himself waiting 30-45 seconds just to restart a web browser. By moving the entire OS to RAM, he was able to cut the Firefox restart time from 45 seconds to 1 second, and found similar speed increases for other mundane tasks. He built himself a "Chromebook" and used it as his primary development box for over a year. The fact that his boss and Google management originally had no interest in his project makes this story all the better. This blog post is a very interesting read, as it discusses the beginnings of the range of Google webapps that were ultimately created to "replace any and all functionality normally found on a desktop".

Submission + - Turbotax.com locks out Linux users (pastebin.com)

whtmarker writes: Despite supporting kindle fire and chromebook http://turbotax.intuit.com/personal-taxes/online/system-requirements_thickbox.jsp, linux users are finding themselves locked out of the turbotax website. Even two weeks ago, there when was an option to continue into the website, despite using linux thus not meeting the minimum requirements for the site. Dozens of linux users are frustrated http://pastebin.com/JhTAnnxA but this illustrates a general problem of cloud services. You can be locked out of your data and denied service on a whim.

Submission + - What is the best programming language for a 12-year-old to learn? 3

wintersynth writes: My friend is sending his 12-year-old to a tech summer camp and wants to know the best language for him to learn. It looks like Java and Python are the main options, both applied to game programming. There are also classes using the Lego Mindstorm scripting language, and Scratch. Slashdotters, I assume you've run into this question before, and I could use the help. Programming tools have changed a lot since I was learning SmartBASIC on a Coleco Adam as a kid. I want to recommend something that will be powerful enough to show him the unlimited possibilities in programming, but easy enough to maintain his interest and not discourage him. What do you teach your kids? What has been effective?

Submission + - Watch Adobe's CEO refuse to answer Australian pricing questions (delimiter.com.au) 1

daria42 writes: If you live in Australia, you might have good reason to be annoyed at Adobe, considering that the company charges up to $1,400 more for its Creative Suite (Photoshop, InDesign etc) than it does in the US. However, in a press conference in Sydney this morning, the company's global CEO Shantanu Narayen flatly refused to directly answer any questions about the price differential, instead farcically pushing the message that Australians should pay for Creative Suite on a monthly basis instead ('Creative Cloud'). Steve Jobs' comments that Adobe has "turned out crap" as a company since founder John Warnock left might have been quite prescient.

Submission + - Brazilians can Now Buy an "iPhone" Loaded with Android (bbc.co.uk)

Andy Prough writes: If you happen to be in Brazil and have 599 reals jingling in your pocket ($304 US dollars or £196), you can buy an iPhone — that runs Android. Gradiente Electronica, which registered the "iPhone" name in Brazil in 2000, has won the right to sell its iPhone Neo One, an Android phone running version 2.3, Gingerbread (http://www.gradiente.com.br/prod/23/smartphone-linha-g-gradiente-iphone-modelo-neo-one-gc-500-sf-dual-chip-android-23-3g-wi-fi-camera-5mp-cartao-2gb-grafite.aspx). Gradiente won the ruling from the Institute of Industrial Property (INPI), despite Apple's argument that Gradiente should lose the right to "iPhone" because it had not used the name between 2008-2012. Apple retains the right to appeal the case, and Gradiente now has the right to sue Apple for exclusivity in Brazil. If Gradiente wins, the only iPhones sold in Brazil would have a picture of a cute green robot on the box cover.

Submission + - Lawmakers Say CFAA Is Too Hard On Hackers (rollcall.com)

GovTechGuy writes: "A number of lawmakers are using the death of Internet activist Aaron Swartz to speak out against the Justice Department's handling of the case, and application of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The controversy surrounding the Swartz case could finally give activists the momentum they need to halt the steady increase in penalties for even minor computer crimes."
United States

Submission + - Pentagon' Distinguished Warefare Medal: for cyber attacks and drone wars (boston.com)

bios10h writes: "The Boston Globe writes that the Pentagon is create a new medal. "[The] troops who launch the drone strikes and direct the cyberattacks that can kill or disable an enemy may never set foot in the combat zone. Now their battlefield contributions may be recognized with the first new combat-related medal to be created in decades." A medal for hackers?"

Submission + - Do Not Track ineffective and dangerous, says researcher (nadim.cc)

Seeteufel writes: Nadim Kobeissi, security researcher, describes the Do Not Track standard of the W3C as dangerous.

In fact, Google’s search engine, as well as Microsoft’s (Bing), both ignore the Do Not Track header even though both companies helped implement this feature into their web browsers. Yahoo Search also ignored Do Not Track requests. Some websites will politely inform you, however, of the fact that your Do Not Track request has been ignored, and explain that this has been done in order to preserve their advertising revenue. But not all websites, by a long shot, do this.

The revalations come as Congress and European legislators consider to tighten privacy standards amidth massive advertiser lobbying. "Do not track" received strong support from the European Commission.


Submission + - Gut Bacteria Conspired in Melamine Poisonings (sciencemag.org)

sciencehabit writes: In 2008, nearly 300,000 infants in China got sick from milk formula tainted with melamine, a plastics additive that was used illegally to bulk up the formula's apparent protein content. Now, a study in rats implicates bacteria living in the gut as unwitting accomplices in this mass poisoning. The bacteria convert some melamine to cyanuric acid, whichwas present in high concentrations in fatal kidney stones. The work helps clarify how melamine toxicity arises and also drives home the key role that gut bacteria play in human health.

Submission + - Punkbuster Service Goes Down, Hundreds of Online Game Servers Affected (hothardware.com)

MojoKid writes: "PunkBuster, the anti-cheating service implemented in hundreds of online games, is down. As of the time of writing, the official PunkBuster website is up and down, after having been completely down for the past couple of hours. On Twitter, there are numerous reports of gamers who've been unable to play online in the most popular PunkBuster-backed title of the moment, Battlefield 3. EA has gone as far as to post an interim fix. Applying the fix is a simple matter of extracting an archive and then overwriting a couple of files inside of your Battlefield 3 install folder. While EA has little power over PunkBuster's ability to get things 100% functional again, this issue does highlight the fact that third-party solutions are not always the way to go."

Submission + - Robots work better when you treat them like people (fastcompany.com)

yl-roller writes: An MIT study found that cross-training, which is swapping jobs with someone else on your team to help everyone understand the work better, works even when the coworker is a machine. It kind of reminded me of this Stanford study that found people treat computers with the same kind of politeness that they use with people.

Submission + - Monsanto takes home $23m from small farmers (rt.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Seed giant Monsanto has won more than $23 million from hundreds of small farmers accused of replanting the company’s genetically engineered seeds. Now, another case is looming – and it could set a landmark precedent for the future of seed ownership.

Submission + - Source code for Photoshop 1.0 (computerhistory.org)

gbooch writes: "With the permission of Adobe Systems, the Computer History Museum has made available the source code for Photoshop version 1.0.1, comprising about 128,000 lines code within 179 files, most of which is in Pascal, the remainder in 68000 assembly language.

This the kind of code I aspire to write.

The Computer History Museum has earlier made available the source code to MacPaint (which you'll find here http://www.computerhistory.org/atchm/macpaint-and-quickdraw-source-code/)."


Submission + - Radar Guns Primed for Asteroid Spin Trap (discovery.com)

astroengine writes: "During the flyby of asteroid 2012 DA14 on Friday, radio astronomers will be priming their antennae to do some cutting-edge science on the interplanetary interloper. After firing radio waves at the space rock, the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) will work in tandem with several dishes that make up the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) to detect the reflected signal, radar gun style. But they're not measuring the object's speed. They're actually going to gain a measure of DA14's spin, a quantity that relates to the physical mechanism of the Yarkovsky Effect — the impact that solar heating has on the long-term trajectory of asteroids."

Submission + - Tesla, Ford, Amazon Hint at Cloudy Future for Cars (slashdot.org)

Nerval's Lobster writes: "The automobile, once the most analog of technologies, is rapidly becoming a smartphone on wheels: Amazon announced Feb. 13 that Ford SYNC Applink-equipped vehicles will include the Amazon Cloud Player, allowing drivers to access their music libraries via voice command or dashboard controls. Ford isn’t the only automotive company seeking to integrate cloud computing into the driving experience. Tesla Motors’ Model S electric sedan boasts a 17-inch capacitive touch-screen in place of the usual dashboard buttons and dials. And who could forget Google's self-driving car? This isn't a future everybody wants—there are more than a few wannabe Steve McQueens who won’t feel complete unless they can stomp on a pedal connected to an internal-combustion engine, flick a physical dashboard knob to the radio station of their choice, and peel out their driveway in a cloud of burning rubber. But as the latest technology migrates into automobiles, it could well be the future we’re going to receive."

Submission + - Ask slashdot: spreadsheet with decent programming language?

slartibartfastatp writes: "Spreadsheets are very flexible tools for data analysis and transformations, the obvious options being MS Excel and LibreOffice. However, I found increasingly infuriating to deal with the VBA--dialect functions or (even worse) its translated versions. Is there any spreadsheet that allows usage of a decent programming language in its formulae? I found PySpread intriguing, but still very beta (judging from its latest release version 0.2.3). Perl or even javascript would be better options than =AVERAGE(). The slashdot community knows any viable alternatives ?"

Submission + - How do you store sensitive data on your mobile devices?

infodragon writes: I'm just now seriously diving into the mobile world and have many questions surrounding all the devices, apps and options. However, one stands out; How do I protect sensitive data? On Linux this question is easy, I use RAID 1/5/6, depending on need, with LVM in the middle and topped with LUKS. This setup is very powerful and extremely flexible. Is it possible to match the strength of LUKS on Android? iOS? What are the solutions the /. crowd has used?

Submission + - BYOD nightmare: iOS devices hobble Exchange servers when they synch (networkworld.com)

coondoggie writes: "Microsoft and Apple recommend that businesses deny certain iPhones, iPads and iPods access to Calendar items until the companies can clear up a problem that slows Exchange servers to a crawl when the devices try to synch. The problem reveals itself to end users as an error message when they try to update items with Exchange Server 2010 that says "Cannot Get Mail" and "The connection to the server failed," according to a Microsoft support notification. The only option presented to users is to choose "OK," Microsoft says."