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Why Buy Microsoft Milk When the Google Cow Is Free? 409

Posted by samzenpus
from the free-docs dept.
theodp writes "Touring a high school with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt informed students they're eating Google 'dog food' because Microsoft's costs money. 'Why would we use Google Docs over like Microsoft Word?' a teacher asked the class. 'Because it's free!' exclaimed a grinning Schmidt. 'Schmidt's comment,' writes GeekWire's Blair Hanley Frank, 'highlights one of the risks Microsoft faces in the academic world. While Microsoft has started offering schools incentives to use Office 365, including free licenses for their pupils, the company is under greater pressure from its competitors. As more schools like Chicago's face budget shortfalls, free and discounted products from companies like Google and Apple, especially when attached to financial assistance, start looking better and better.' Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis said she'd rather see companies pay more in taxes and fund schools that way, rather than relying on their charity or free software."

Controversial Torrent Streaming App 'Popcorn Time' Shuts Down, Then Gets Reborn 199

Posted by Soulskill
from the why-buy-the-cow dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A piece of software called 'Popcorn Time' drew a lot of attention last week for encapsulating movie torrents within a slick, stream-based UI that made watching pirated films as easy as firing up Netflix. The app ran into trouble a few days ago when it was pulled from its hosting provider, Mega, and now Popcorn Time's creators say they're shutting it down altogether. They say it was mainly an experiment: 'Piracy is not a people problem. It's a service problem. A problem created by an industry that portrays innovation as a threat to their antique recipe to collect value. It seems to everyone that they just don't care. But people do. We've shown that people will risk fines, lawsuits and whatever consequences that may come just to be able to watch a recent movie in slippers. Just to get the kind of experience they deserve.' However, the software itself isn't a complete loss — the project is being picked up by the founder of a torrent site, and he says development will continue."

Comment: Re:Obligatory (Score 2) 314

by Karellen (#46332841) Attached to: Ford Dumping Windows For QNX In New Vehicles

The oil, water temperature, and alternator warning lights would all be replaced by a single "This Car Has Performed An Illegal Operation" warning light.

If only! Then Microsoft would finally start catching up with Unix, which got there first (as always):

Ken Thompson has an automobile which he helped design. Unlike most automobiles, it has neither speedometer, nor gas gauge, nor any of the other numerous idiot lights which plague the modern driver. Rather, if the driver makes a mistake, a giant “?” lights up in the center of the dashboard. “The experienced driver,” says Thompson, “will usually know what’s wrong.”

-- The Unix Haters Handbook, Chapter 2 (p.17)


Does Crime Leave a Genetic Trace? 160

Posted by Soulskill
from the finally-an-explanation-for-the-hamburgler dept.
gallifreyan99 writes "Scientists have spent decades trying to understand and fix social problems like violence and alcoholism, usually focusing on the poor and disadvantaged. But now a small band of researchers is claiming that biology plays a vitally important role — because trauma can change you at a genetic level that gets passed on to kids, grandkids, and perhaps even beyond." Part of the research involved testing the effect of stress on the genetics of mice. A number of mice were subjected to stressful situations and then allowed to raise their children. The children, when later subjected to stress, were more vulnerable to it than normal mice (for example, they would stop struggling in a potentially fatal situation earlier than 'happy' mice). This was expected. What's interesting is that when those children were later bred with normal mice, and that third generation was raised by normal mice (so that parental neglect wasn't a factor), they still showed the same vulnerability to stress. A subsequent generation showed the same.

Comment: Re:Why so low a commonality? (Score 2) 202

by Karellen (#46105723) Attached to: 20% of Neanderthal Genome Survives In Humans

Yup, given that I've read elsewhere that we share about 90% of our genome with fricking cows - all that data for building animal cells, and vertebras, and hearts, and livers, and kidneys, and mammary glands, and hair, and eyes, and nerves, and skin, etc..., having only 20% of the Neanderthal genome in common with us is setting off my bullshit alarm big time.

Comment: Re:Wrong answer. Switch file formats first, then a (Score 4, Informative) 273

by Karellen (#46105661) Attached to: UK Government May Switch from MS Office to Open Source

Actually, now I've read the article, that's what the Minister is saying. Move to open formats first.

That will make it possible to switch software later, if they choose to. But even if the government doesn't, it will allow the people they work with to use their own choice of software, and prevents lock-in. Using MS Office becomes a choice, and can be selected (or dropped) on its merits, rather than being suffered out of necessity.

It's the BBC article and the /. summary which try to make it look like this is purely about switching software.

Comment: Wrong answer. Switch file formats first, then apps (Score 5, Insightful) 273

by Karellen (#46105245) Attached to: UK Government May Switch from MS Office to Open Source

I want to see a greater range of software used, so civil servants have access to the information they need and can get their work done without having to buy a particular brand of software.

In that case, you want to first switch your mandated file format from MS's doc(x)/xls(x) to ODF's odt/ods. Then you can use MS Office, or switch to a new (possibly open-source, possibly even Free Software) office suite as you prefer.

Open Source

UK Government May Switch from MS Office to Open Source 273

Posted by Soulskill
from the busting-the-lock-in dept.
New submitter Karashur sends this report from The Guardian: "Ministers are looking at saving tens of millions of pounds a year by abandoning expensive software produced by firms such as Microsoft. Some £200m has been spent by the public sector on the computer giant's Office suite alone since 2010. The Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude believes a significant proportion of that outlay could be cut by switching to free 'open-source' software, such as OpenOffice, or Google Docs. 'I want to see a greater range of software used, so civil servants have access to the information they need and can get their work done without having to buy a particular brand of software. In the first instance, this will help departments to do something as simple as share documents with each other more easily. But it will also make it easier for the public to use and share government information.'"

Comment: Re:Lots of services? Why? (Score 1) 158

By having separate services, they're kept in their own process memory space, so no memory-surfing hackery can jump into another database instance.

So SQL Server is so badly written that an application - already in a separate process - causing the DB to perform unexpected memory accesses and read/write random memory is an expected exploitable attack? Fuuuuuuuu.....

You might install a 2000, 2005, 2008, 2008 R2, and 2012 instance all on the same machine.

Hmmmmm....., I can see how this might be useful on a beefy test server that does automatic builds and regression tests of your entire source tree across your entire range of supported dependencies. I think it's a pretty rare use-case, and probably not that likely to apply to the original poster, but OK.

each instance generates three separate folders

The datadir is a (possibly junctioned/redirected) subdirectory of the binary installation directory? That's... interesting. And the pathname includes the SQL server version? Doesn't that make upgrading even more of a pain?

Comment: Re:Lots of services? Why? (Score 1) 158

SQL Server alone is 10 services.


Bloody "enterprise" software! So, install a DB server with a reasonable footprint instead. Like PostgreSQL, or even MySQL. They are available for Windows, you know. Also, if IIS is anything like that, then ditto Apache. If no-one's making any connections to it, Apache will happily sit there in the background using almost no resources.

5 of them are per-instance, which means that installing multiple instances of SQL Server will add more installations of this same service to your system.

Why would you install multiple instances of SQL server? What's the point? And where would you install them to? "c:\program files\SQL Server 1", "c:\program files\SQL Server 2", etc...? Or...?

Comment: Lots of services? Why? (Score 2) 158

I'll be needing to install all of your basic Microsoft developer suites, IIS, SQl Server, ANdroid SDK, Java SDK, device emulators, etc. etc. Plus AMP and finally GIS software. There will obviously be a lot of services running, long build times, and so on.


Why will there be "a lot" of services running? Yes, you'll have IIS and SQL server, but that's only two services - and if you've only got a small test database and a couple of dev websites, they'll hardly take any resources at all if you're not actually using them. So, if you're not sat in front of the computer actually doing development, and someone else is logged in instead, it shouldn't really affect them at all. Ditto "long build times" - what sort of things are you planning on writing that are going to take so long to build that you'll have to walk away from the computer for long enough that someone else will want to use it concurrently?

Visual Studio, the SDKs, and the emulators will put extra entries in other people's start menus, but so what? If they don't run them themselves, they won't do anything or get in the way. Presumably not all these other users run your music production and photo editing software either, and that's not hurting them, is it?

To wit, I wouldn't be able to use my desktop for my other purposes like the music editing.

Why on earth not?

Comment: Re:Send them to mars (Score 1) 174

by Karellen (#45573465) Attached to: Mediterranean Sea To Possibly Become Site of Chemical Weapons Dump

That's only the case if you want to go into a controlled orbit very close to the sun. But we don't want to do that.

To crash something into the sun, we'd be happy with any orbit which is elliptical enough such that the perihelion is inside the sun's radius. We don't care what velocity we have at that point, even if it's theoretically high enough to send us back out to the orbit of Earth (or even Neptune) on the other side of the orbit, because the act of hitting the surface of the sun will remove any problems there.

So, we don't actually need to change our speed very much. We "just" need to change direction. Or any combination of direction and speed which gets us within 1 solar radius somehow. As another commenter has noted, we can use slingshots off other bodies in the solar system to change our delta-v in a large number of ways. We should be find a suitable slingshot *somewhere* to get us on a suitable orbit for impacting the sun without needing too much extra propellant.


Astronomers Discover Largest Structure In the Universe 143

Posted by samzenpus
from the biggest-there-is dept.
KentuckyFC writes "Until now, the largest known structure in the Universe was the Huge-LQG (Large Quasar Group), a cluster of 73 quasars stretching over a distance of 4 billion light years. Now astronomers say they've spotted something even bigger in data from gamma ray bursts, the final explosions of energy released by stars as they die and the universe's most energetic events. Astronomers have measured the distance to 283 of these bursts and mapped their position in the universe. This throws up a surprise. At a distance of ten billion light years, there are more gamma ray bursts than expected if they were evenly distributed throughout the universe. This implies the existence of a structure at this distance that is about ten billion light years across and so dwarfs the Huge-LQG. What's odd about the discovery is that the Cosmological principle--one of the fundamental tenets of cosmology--holds that the distribution of matter in the universe will appear uniform if viewed at a large enough scale. And yet, structures clearly emerge at every scale astronomers can see. The new discovery doesn't disprove the principle but it does provide some interesting food for thought for theorists."

Nearly 1 In 4 Adults Surf the Web While Driving 365

Posted by Soulskill
from the get-off-my-roads dept.
cartechboy writes "A new survey out this week says that the number of motorists who surf the Web has nearly doubled over the past four years. In 2009, 13 percent of motorists admitted that they'd accessed the Internet while driving. In 2013, that figure had jumped to 24 percent. Smartphones are the primary culprit, making the unsafe task even easier. Other distracted driving behavior is on the rise, too, and younger drivers are the biggest issue — 76 percent of motorists 18 to 29 said that they talked on a hand-held cell phone while driving. 70 percent said they were texting. Keep in mind we have states legislating smartphone use task by task, which clearly doesn't help."

Nothing is easier than to denounce the evildoer; nothing is more difficult than to understand him. - Fyodor Dostoevski