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Power

California Is Giving Away Free Solar Panels To Its Poorest Residents 269

Posted by samzenpus
from the you-get-a-panel-and-you-get-a-panel-and-you-get.... dept.
MikeChino writes: Oakland-based non-profit GRID Alternatives is giving away 1,600 free solar panels to California's poorest residents by the year 2016. The initiative was introduced by Senator Kevin de León and launched with funds gathered under the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GCRF), the state's cap-and-trade program. SFGate reports: "Kianté London used the program to put panels on his three-bedroom North Richmond home, which he shares with two sons and a daughter. 'It helps me and my family a great deal to have low-cost energy, because these energy prices are really expensive,' said London, 46, whose solar array was installed this week. 'And I wanted to do my part. It’s clean, green energy.' London had wanted a solar array for years, but couldn’t afford it on his income as a merchant seaman — roughly $70,000 per year. Even leasing programs offered by such companies as SolarCity and Sunrun were too expensive, he said. The new program, in contrast, paid the entire up-front cost of his array."

Comment: Re:F/OSS reality (Score 1) 165

by Burz (#49784787) Attached to: Mandriva Goes Out of Business

Desktop pretends to be (or maybe they actually believe that's what they are creating) a product for end users but is a product for admins and developers who are familiar and comfortable with the UNIX-like environment to use on their personal computers.

This is total BS. Lots of people who aren't computer experts use Linux desktops every day. My wife is one of them.

The obligatory Slashdot-Linux-enthusiast defense of "Desktop Linux for my relative" never ceases to make me chuckle. I can always spot the authentic ones, because they contain the "we have the Web so who needs a native UI or native apps" meme.

Comment: Re:F/OSS reality (Score 1) 165

by Burz (#49784783) Attached to: Mandriva Goes Out of Business

I can always spot the authentic ones, because they contain the "we have the Web so who needs a native UI or native apps" meme.

Did you ever consider that people advance this idea because it's true? There's plenty of people that JUST want email and the web. They don't care about native apps and never will. They use their computers to communicate with other people, and couldn't care one whit about doing their taxes on their computer, or editing video.

Its demonstrably UNtrue, otherwise Apple and Microsoft would not still be viable companies. "Plenty of people" apparently does not define the whole consumer electronics market.

That you think Chrome OS belongs in the Desktop Linux category is instructive... But Google doesn't even identify Chrome OS as Linux. They could switch to a different, closed kernel and hardly anyone using Chromebooks would notice or care. That's because a Chromebook is a type of mainframe terminal or client, not a personal computer (it may be converted to a PC, but that's not its design).

If you don't think this is a common windows experience, you're not paying attention.

The tragedy is that you can't even give a Desktop Linux distro away for free despite how awful that Windows experience has been.

Comment: Re:F/OSS reality (Score 1) 165

by Burz (#49784241) Attached to: Mandriva Goes Out of Business

The reasons why GP is far from an excellent reply:

1. Anecdotes are not data. Doubly so if its someone who lives with you.

2. Native apps still matter because they attract a wide-ranging ecosystem of talented people who move between native apps and the Web, and...

3. ...That range of people between grandma and kernel developers form networks of support and advocacy. If the Power Users don't like your pile of bytes called an OS, the more creative ones won't start writing interesting apps for their non-techie friends and colleagues, and they won't recommend the OS either.

4. People depend on the 'look and feel' of software environments. Its what enables tech support staff to deliver *usable* instructions in a way that doesn't feel threatening to users, and also to get reliable answers from those same users. Having a well-defined GUI is important, but Linux is very slippery in this area.

There are many more reasons why GP represents nerdy myopia and wishful thinking. Perhaps the most important one is that Apple and Microsoft laid down, by example, a de-facto definition of what Desktop Personal Computer is. The FOSS community actively sabotages itself whenever it tentatively tries to reverse engineer the *concept* of the desktop PC; I think most of those numbskulls would define it as some kind of aberration that needs to be stomped out. Where "platform" is supposed to evoke (feature) stability and recognizable surroundings, the Desktop Linux crowd instead create this.

Perhaps I should start using stronger words than "numbskull" for these true believers.

Comment: Re:F/OSS reality (Score -1, Troll) 165

by Burz (#49780167) Attached to: Mandriva Goes Out of Business

The reasons why GP is far from an excellent reply:

1. Anecdotes are not data. Doubly so if its someone who lives with you.

2. Native apps still matter because they attract a wide-ranging ecosystem of talented people who move between native apps and the Web, and...

3. ...That range of people between grandma and kernel developers form networks of support and advocacy. If the Power Users don't like your pile of bytes called an OS, the more creative ones won't start writing interesting apps for their non-techie friends and colleagues, and they won't recommend the OS either.

4. People depend on the 'look and feel' of software environments. Its what enables tech support staff to deliver *usable* instructions in a way that doesn't feel threatening to users, and also to get reliable answers from those same users. Having a well-defined GUI is important, but Linux is very slippery in this area.

There are many more reasons why GP represents nerdy myopia and wishful thinking. Perhaps the most important one is that Apple and Microsoft laid down, by example, a de-facto definition of what Desktop Personal Computer is. The FOSS community actively sabotages itself whenever it tentatively tries to reverse engineer the *concept* of the desktop PC; I think most of those numbskulls would define it as some kind of aberration that needs to be stomped out. Where "platform" is supposed to evoke (feature) stability and recognizable surroundings, the Desktop Linux crowd instead create this.

Comment: Re:F/OSS reality (Score -1) 165

by Burz (#49780007) Attached to: Mandriva Goes Out of Business

Desktop pretends to be (or maybe they actually believe that's what they are creating) a product for end users but is a product for admins and developers who are familiar and comfortable with the UNIX-like environment to use on their personal computers.

This is total BS. Lots of people who aren't computer experts use Linux desktops every day. My wife is one of them.

The obligatory Slashdot-Linux-enthusiast defense of "Desktop Linux for my relative" never ceases to make me chuckle. I can always spot the authentic ones, because they contain the "we have the Web so who needs a native UI or native apps" meme.

Science

Can Bad Scientific Practice Be Fixed? 397

Posted by samzenpus
from the what's-in-it-for-me? dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Richard Horton writes that a recent symposium on the reproducibility and reliability of biomedical research discussed one of the most sensitive issues in science today: the idea that something has gone fundamentally wrong with science (PDF), one of our greatest human creations. The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness. According to Horton, editor-in-chief of The Lancet, a United Kingdom-based medical journal, the apparent endemicity of bad research behavior is alarming. In their quest for telling a compelling story, scientists too often sculpt data to fit their preferred theory of the world or retrofit hypotheses to fit their data.

Can bad scientific practices be fixed? Part of the problem is that no-one is incentivized to be right. Instead, scientists are incentivized to be productive and innovative. Tony Weidberg says that the particle physics community now invests great effort into intensive checking and rechecking of data prior to publication following several high-profile errors. By filtering results through independent working groups, physicists are encouraged to criticize. Good criticism is rewarded. The goal is a reliable result, and the incentives for scientists are aligned around this goal. "The good news is that science is beginning to take some of its worst failings very seriously," says Horton. "The bad news is that nobody is ready to take the first step to clean up the system."

Comment: Re:See it before (Score 4, Interesting) 276

by Burz (#49666551) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What's the Future of Desktop Applications?

Anyone who looks back in my posting history will see that I have long, LONG advocated for tackling the UI and packaging paradigms on FOSS desktops because they choke-off interest from the type of creative person who develops apps. (Even worse, they scare away people who would like to experiment and become budding app developers, so those people cut their teeth on OSX or Windows almost as a rule.)

PC tools are supposed to link the user with the power and features of the underlying hardware, making them at least discoverable in the GUI; In other words, there must be lots of vertical integration. Also... the GUI must have a 'gist' or feel consistent because this is a sign of feature-stability in the OS.

What FOSS has is a bunch of developers who tinker with the OS itself (I include the GUI in this, as it rightfully belongs in the category of OS) and assume that anyone who understands how a system works internally can trivially design GUI features... a big, big flaw in what is not so much an articulated belief as an unhealthy attitude. This is part of the subconscious of the FOSS world, and it results in maladies like not being able to describe fixes and workarounds (or just general usage instructions) as GUI snapshots and walkthroughs (almost always, the user will be directed to the CLI); It means even seasoned tech support personnel will struggle to interpret DEs and other UI features they are not very familiar with. Just getting to the point where your cousin or boss can try out your creations is hell.

App developers should have the power to create exceptions for UI features in their *apps* (I said apps, not OS), because that embodies the two things app developers subconsciously look for: power and feature-stability. The default behavior is always the OS way (i.e. ONE way) out of respect for all users in general; If the default behavior/appearance is ten possible ways, then the app developer feels like they are managing chaos instead of power.

My 'remedy' for the FOSS OS problem would be for a distro like Ubuntu to shed its identity as a "Linux distro" because the Linux moniker just confuses people at this point; and to take full control over the UI design so that it conforms more to a single vision (something that is apparently already under way). Pretty much all of the OS except the kernel should be original to the project or forked and, as Google did for a while with Android, Canonical should threaten to fork the kernel if that is necessary to improve the UX.

I'll also point out that Ubuntu has gotten some meta-features that were typically missing from a Linux distro, like a full-blown SDK and extensive whole-system hardware compatibility tests and searchable database. What would remain to be done beyond this is to standardize on a GUI IDE (with capabilities like Xcode) and extend the hardware program to include a certification process (with licensed emblem) that system and peripheral manufacturers can use in a straightforward way.

Also, packaging is a whole other cup of worms, though I personally think emulating OSX app folders would be a good foundation for easily-redistributed apps. This means that an OS repository would have to stop at some well-defined point instead of trying to mash all the apps and OS together along with the kitchen sink.

Open Source

OpenBSD 5.7 Released 80

Posted by Soulskill
from the onward-and-upward dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Right on schedule, OpenBSD 5.7 was released today, May 1, 2015. The theme of the 5.7 release is "Source Fish." There are some big changes in OpenBSD 5.7. The nginx httpd server was removed from base in favor of an internally developed httpd server in 5.7. BIND (named) was retired from base in 5.7 in favor of nsd(8) (authoritative DNS) and unbound(8) (recursive resolver). Packages will exist for BIND and nginx. This version includes a new control utility, rcctl(8), for managing daemons/services, USB 3 support and more. See a detailed log of changes between the 5.6 and 5.7 releases for more information. If you already have an OpenBSD 5.6 system, and do not want to reinstall, upgrade instructions and advice can be found in the Upgrade Guide. You can order the 5.7 CD set from the new OpenBSD Store and support the project.

Comment: Re:OpenBSD proves the claim to be wrong. (Score 1) 58

by Burz (#49487769) Attached to: Why "Designed For Security" Is a Dubious Designation

You forgot AppArmor, which is one of the most widely-used on Linux. Of course, I'd much rather have Qubes' isolation mechanisms so that my banking, work and leisure activities (and even my NICs) don't even share the same virtual machine -- My data sets are kept separate and the interfaces between those domains are simple and very strong.

Comment: Re:on designed for "security" (Score 1) 58

by Burz (#49486829) Attached to: Why "Designed For Security" Is a Dubious Designation

When I am designing for "SECURITY" I want to simplify the critical protocols so that they can be described by a state machine and then implement them in silicon.

It would be interesting to see a Xen hypervisor implemented in silicon, as that is what Amazon EC2 and Qubes OS base their security on. Qubes doesn't even use kernel-based permissions for its single-user desktop model; It gives you the means to control dom0 and everything else resides in VMs.

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