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Comment: Rsync; better yet: datamover (Score 3, Informative) 239

by Apogee (#40203495) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Syncing Files With Remote Server While On the Road?

I think rsync pretty much provides all you need in one tiny command-line to get data from A to B.

But if you want to increase your resilience against failing network connectivity, and make sure you don't delete anything that hasn't been properly copied to your server, I suggest you take a look at datamover: http://www.cisd.ethz.ch/software/Data_Mover

Essentially, it's a daemon written in Java that monitors an outgoing directory. Everythings that is written in there gets safely copied over to a central storage drive. Behind the scenes, they use rsync to do the copying, but it's wrapped in tons of features that improve the reliability of the moving process, like a quiet period before a file gets moved (good for applications that write their output incrementally and sporadically into files), multiple retries on network time-outs, high-water marks, data transformation (e.g. compression) during the move process, etc. It also is very anal about sending you emails for anything that could possibly be a data integrity problem.

We rely on it to store the raw data from scientific experiments. With the proper configuration, your holiday pictures should be just fine.

Open Source

Open Source Developer Knighted 101

Posted by samzenpus
from the knights-who-say-free dept.
unixfan writes "Georg Greve, developer of Open Document Format and active FOSS developer, has received a knighthood in Germany for his work. From the article: 'Some weeks ago I received news that the embassy in Berne had unsuccessfully been trying to contact me under FSFE's old office address in Zurich. This was a bit odd and unexpected. So you can probably understand my surprise to be told by the embassy upon contacting them that on 18 December 2009 I had been awarded the Cross of Merit on ribbon (Verdienstkreuz am Bande) by the Federal Republic of Germany. As you might expect, my first reaction was one of disbelief. I was, in fact, rather shaken. You could also say shocked. Quick Wikipedia research revealed this to be part of the orders of knighthood, making this a Knight's Cross.'"

Comment: Re:I'm sure it didn't help. (Score 1) 1040

by Apogee (#29632933) Attached to: Did Chicago Lose Olympic Bid Due To US Passport Control?

Thanks to the TPA (Travel Promotion Act), there's really No Problem(TM). In addition to all the border troubles, simply charge the poor guy visiting another $10, which can then be spent on promoting tourism.

What a brilliant idea: An entrance fee to the US... just like a theme park.

Programming

IBM Releases Open Source Machine Learning Compiler 146

Posted by timothy
from the what-you-meant-to-say-is dept.
sheepweevil writes "IBM just released Milepost GCC, 'the world's first open source machine learning compiler.' The compiler analyses the software and determines which code optimizations will be most effective during compilation using machine learning techniques. Experiments carried out with the compiler achieved an average 18% performance improvement. The compiler is expected to significantly reduce time-to-market of new software, because lengthy manual optimization can now be carried out by the compiler. A new code tuning website has been launched to coincide with the compiler release. The website features collaborative performance tuning and sharing of interesting optimization cases."
Education

HTML Tags For Academic Printing? 338

Posted by timothy
from the gedankenexperiment-draws-cries-of-use-ps-or-pdf dept.
meketrefi writes "It's been quite a while since I got interested in the idea of using html (instead of .doc. or .odf) as a standard for saving documents — including the more official ones like academic papers. The problem is using HTML to create pages with a stable size that would deal with bibliographical references, page breaks, different printers, etc. Does anyone think it is possible to develop a decent tag like 'div,' but called 'page,' specially for this? Something that would make no use of CSS? Maybe something with attributes as follows: {page size="A4" borders="2.5cm,2.5cm,2cm,2cm" page_numbering="bottomleft,startfrom0"} — You get the idea... { /page} I guess you would not be able to tell when the page would be full, so the browser would have to be in charge of breaking the content into multiple pages when needed. Bibliographical references would probably need a special tag as well, positioned inside the tag ..." Is this such a crazy idea? What would you advise?
Toys

Lego Loses Its Unique Right To Make Lego Blocks 576

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the this-could-be-huge dept.
tsa writes "The European Department of Justice has decided that the Danish company Lego does not have exclusive rights to the lego building block anymore (sorry, it's in Dutch). Lego went to court after a Canadian firm had made blocks that were so like lego blocks that they even fit the real blocks made by Lego. The European judge decided that the design of the lego blocks is not protected by European trademarks and so anyone can make the blocks." If true, hopefully this will open doors for people interested in inexpensive bulk purchase of bricks of specific sizes and colors. Perhaps at long last I can build a life-sized Hemos statue for my office.

Comment: Some hints for your situation (Score 5, Insightful) 308

by Apogee (#24749317) Attached to: Software Quality In a Non-Software Company?

I'm in a quite similar situtation, and perhaps I can provide a few hints from what we're currently doing.

I'm working for a relatively well-known institute in academia (biotech field), with a group that among other research projects, also provides web-based services to the research community. Funding is partially tied to the operation of the services, so there is actually enough pressure to make sure that they work and work correctly at all times.

Still, until about a year ago, development was very ad-hoc, in a mix of languages, and with many "islands of knowledge", where some parts of the system were only known to one post-doc, and other parts could only be fixed by the group head (who, as they are, was usually busy with many other things...). After some hard times and near-misses, we started looking around for ways to improve our development.

I was quite attracted by the ideas of Agile, and I believe that they're a good fit to the kind of processes you find in science, as well as in software engineering. We initially had a professional Scrum coach come in and talk with us about software development practices, and then decided to apply Scrum to our processes.

It's now a bit more than 1 year since then, we're still using Scrum with a few adaptations to fit the academic environment (we're also using Scrum for projects that are really science and research, not software development). In a recent secret poll among the team, Scrum got high marks for making the team more productive, and for creating an environment where code and knowledge is shared. People are happy with the structure that Scrum provides, and we always know where the project stands. Incidentally, we also write better software faster.

But we're still improving the way we work. The transition is slow and painful, and we're only slowly adopting things such as test-driven development, automated builds and pair programming. In my experience, there's a lot of resistance against these "newfangled" methods in the academic culture, especially that of people who weren't trained as software engineers, but rather as physicists, chemists, biologists, but now find themselves producing software.

Some hints on what I've found useful in re-shaping our work environment:

- You can't change the whole structure in one day. Get permission to run a small, isolated project in "the new way", and use this to demonstrate the advantages. Remember, there are many metrics for success: Code quality, timely delivery, not having single points (persons) of failure, as well as team velocity and personal satisfaction. Try to make a case from this small project (and gain experience while doing so), and then grow it out slowly.

- I would not advise to do some clever "breaking the build, and thus showing everybody how fragile the system is" exercise. This may not be seen as constructive.

- Instead, provide convincing evidence by example that your way is more productive and more certain. Bugs that are fixed stay fixed, and don't creep in later again. Timelines are better kept. That sort of thing...

- If you can get someone in to talk about the current best thinking in software development, do so (someone else mentioned this already). It's good to hear an outside opinion, and to understand that these practices are not theoretical but used by large companies world-wide.

- I found Joel Spolsky's 12-point assessment very useful to find out where your organization stands: http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000043.html ... These are also good points to whisper into management's ears.

Media

+ - Russian North Pole photos faked->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Story up on Google News: http://news.google.com/news?ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&tab= wn&ncl=1119206286&hl=en Finnish paper claims Reuters used Titanic film shot 9.8.2007 at 13:00 http://newsroom.finland.fi/stt/showarticle.asp?int NWSAID=16424&group=General Reuters regrets misleading caption of sub clip 10.8.2007 at 7:25 http://newsroom.finland.fi/stt/showarticle.asp?int NWSAID=16431&group=General"
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