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Open Source

Live Patching Now Available For Linux 117

New submitter cyranix writes "You may never have to reboot your Linux machine ever again, even for kernel patching," and excerpts from the long (and nicely human-readable) description of newly merged kernel code that does what Ksplice has for quite a while (namely, offer live updating for Linux systems, no downtime required), but without Oracle's control. It provides a basic infrastructure for function "live patching" (i.e. code redirection), including API for kernel modules containing the actual patches, and API/ABI for userspace to be able to operate on the patches (look up what patches are applied, enable/disable them, etc). It's relatively simple and minimalistic, as it's making use of existing kernel infrastructure (namely ftrace) as much as possible. It's also self-contained, in a sense that it doesn't hook itself in any other kernel subsystem (it doesn't even touch any other code). It's now implemented for x86 only as a reference architecture, but support for powerpc, s390 and arm is already in the works (adding arch-specific support basically boils down to teaching ftrace about regs-saving).

The Mathematical Case For Buying a Powerball Ticket 480 writes Neil Irwin writes at the NYT that financially literate people like to complain that buying lottery tickets is among the silliest decisions a person could make but there are a couple of dimensions that these tut-tutted warnings miss, perhaps fueled by a class divide between those who commonly buy lottery tickets and those who choose to throw away money on other things like expensive wine or mansions. According to Irwin, as long as you think about the purchase of lottery tickets the right way — purely a consumption good, not an investment — it can be a completely rational decision. "Fantasizing about what you would do if you suddenly encountered great wealth is fun, and it is more fun if there some chance, however minuscule, that it could happen," says Irwin. "The $2 price for a ticket is a relatively small one to pay for the enjoyment of thinking through how you might organize your life differently if you had all those millions."

Right now the Multi-State Lottery Association estimates the chances of winning the grand prize at about 1 in 175 million, and the cash value of the prize at $337.8 million. The simplest math points to that $2 ticket having an expected value of about $1.93 so while you are still throwing away money when buying a lottery ticket, you are throwing away less in strictly economic terms when you buy into an unusually large Powerball jackpot. "I am the type of financial decision-maker who tracks bond and currency markets and builds elaborate spreadsheets to simulate outcomes of various retirement savings strategies," says Irwin. "I can easily afford to spend a few dollars on a Powerball ticket. Time to head to the convenience store and do just that."

Leaked Build of Windows 9 Shows Start Menu Return 346

Billly Gates writes A leaked alpha of Windows 9 has been brewing on the internet. Today a screenshot shows what MS showed us at BUILD which includes a start menu with additional tiny tiles for things like people, calendar, pc settings, and news etc. "The new hybridized Start menu appears to be part of build 9788, which was compiled on July 4. While no one seems to have leaked the ISOs for build 9788 yet, the general consensus seems to be that the build does indeed exist somewhere at Microsoft — and that it might also feature Windows NT kernel version 6.4 (i.e. the complete version number is 6.4.9788). The screenshots show a Windows 8.1 Pro watermark, but this isn’t unusual for a very early alpha of a new build of Windows. If this really is the next version of the Windows NT kernel, then we’re most likely looking at an early build of Windows 9 (Threshold) rather than Windows 8.2."

Phase-Changing Material Created For Robots 35

rtoz writes In the movie Terminator 2, the shape-shifting T-1000 robot morphs into a liquid state to squeeze through tight spaces or to repair itself when harmed. Now a phase-changing material built from wax and foam, and capable of switching between hard and soft states, could allow even low-cost robots to perform the same feat. The material developed by MIT researchers could be used to build deformable surgical robots. The robots could move through the body to reach a particular point without damaging any of the organs or vessels along the way. The Robots built from this material could also be used in search-and-rescue operations to squeeze through rubble looking for survivors.

Hulu Blocks VPN Users 259

New submitter electronic convict writes: "Hulu, apparently worried that too many non-U.S. residents are using cheap VPN services to watch its U.S. programming, has started blocking IP address ranges belonging to known VPN services. Hulu didn't announce the ban, but users of the affected VPNs are getting this message: 'Based on your IP-address, we noticed that you are trying to access Hulu through an anonymous proxy tool. Hulu is not currently available outside the U.S. If you're in the U.S. you'll need to disable your anonymizer to access videos on Hulu.' Hulu may make Hollywood happy by temporarily locking out foreign users — at least until they find new VPN providers. But in so doing it's now forcing its U.S. customers to sacrifice their privacy and even to risk insecure connections. Hulu hasn't even implemented SSL on its site."

Comment Re:Another Shitty Summary. (Score 2) 327

They're not going to die this year, but they do have a long decline ahead of them, just like IBM in the 90s.

Unlike IBM they won't pull out of it because they have no lucrative hardware business to fall back and no loyal stable of clients to turn themselves into a service operation. And unlike IBM, who only earned the hatred of a few thousand professionals, Microsoft has earned the hatred of millions and is still working on it.

For Microsoft, this ends at $0 per share.

Comment Re:Mod Up: Informative (Score 1, Informative) 327

It's not from their "continued struggles", it's from a single acquisition 5 years ago.

Why do we keep hearing this tired apology over and over again? Aquantive was worth $6.2 billion on the day it was bought then slowly bled bit by bit until it was worth zero. What bled away was its "good will" (aka expected income) as it became increasingly apparent that Microsoft was unable to leverage Aquantive's auction model in the same way that Google had leveraged Applied Semantics.

Comment Re:Like what? (Score -1) 327

Until there's something out there that "doesn't suck", I'd like Microsoft to remain healthy and viable.

What do you mean, "remain healthy"? Microsoft has had the corporate equivalent of liver cancer for a dozen years now. Chemo treatment has already started.

Comment Re:Yay! (Score 0) 327

I actually read TFA and it said they lost $6B due to a bad acquisition and that's why the quarterly profits were where they were.

See, the real story here is that Microsoft has been concealing this loss by carrying Aquantive on its books at far more than its real value. They did this in order to make their quarterlies look better than they actually are, therefore support the stock price. Microsoft hoped that the market would then regard this as a one-time expense (when it was really an ongoing loss over a period of years) and thus forgive them. And judging from the aftermarket movement, this strategem has worked perfectly. Whether it is legal is entirely another question. The word "fraud" comes to mind.

Even if Microsoft gets away with this, which they probably will, one fact can't be denied: Microsoft is weakening. The upcoming Windows 8 debacle should put the icing on the cake.

"The pyramid is opening!" "Which one?" "The one with the ever-widening hole in it!" -- The Firesign Theatre