Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?

Comment: Re:*shrug* (Score 1) 386

by WheezyJoe (#49760445) Attached to: 25 Years Today - Windows 3.0

OS/2 preceded Windows, so I'm not really sure how your history makes sense. Windows was Microsoft stabbing IBM in the back and making a clone of OS/2.

Windows 1.0 was released 20 November 1985.

OS/2 version 1.0 was announced in April 1987 (about the time Windows had reached release 1.04), and released in December of that year.

Windows 2.0 was released December 9, 1987.

As to the whole backstabbing thing:

The collaboration between IBM and Microsoft unravelled in 1990, between the releases of Windows 3.0 and OS/2 1.3. During this time, Windows 3.0 became a tremendous success, selling millions of copies in its first year. Much of its success was because Windows 3.0 (along with MS-DOS) was bundled with most new computers. OS/2, on the other hand, was only available as an expensive stand-alone software package.

Volumes have been written about this, but key was that Microsoft had more at interest than selling Windows - Microsoft was selling a platform for its Office products, and maybe a chance at file format lock-in for business applications. That meant they wanted as many copies out there as possible. IBM, on the other hand, wanted to sell overpriced PS/2 machines, and had no interest in cannibalizing this by bundling OS/2 with the likes of Dell, Gateway, Compaq, and Packard-Bell, whereas all of these companies desperately needed someone to supply an OS to complete a turn-key product. Microsoft did a simple business assessment, and concluded they could team up with the clones and blow the doors off the market if they weren't bound somehow to promoting IBM's hardware.

Comment: Re:*shrug* (Score 1) 386

by WheezyJoe (#49760223) Attached to: 25 Years Today - Windows 3.0

except for academia, did the PC/RT even count?

Even in academia, did the PC/RT even count? They sold minimal numbers of the things. The only place I've even ever seen them was in Austin... deep IBM-land.

We had 'em in Pittsburgh. IBM was doing a joint-venture with CMU, and there were so many around campus in public clusters they seemed ubiquitous. My first encounter with Unix (with a GUI and a large-screen display, great keyboards). Pretty sweet at the time, but hell to maintain and repair. Anyway, IBM dropped out of the project, one of the many "what the?" moments IBM would generate as they stumbled over cheap, semi-capable (but steadily improving) PCs.

Comment: Re:*shrug* (Score 4, Interesting) 386

by WheezyJoe (#49757845) Attached to: 25 Years Today - Windows 3.0

That explains why in the mid '80s to mid 90's IBM was busy in a joint venture with Microsoft first and alone afterwards... to produce a PC system with networking, multi-tasking and file permissions and even 32 bits (OS/2).

Wasn't IBM forced into doing this by the roaring success of a company called Netware? Yeah, Netware. Remember them?
The reason the PC succeeded was not because it was great out of the box... it was because of legions of 3d-parties hacking DOS with TSR add-ons that expanded the capabilities of the machine. Microsoft would play catch-up, incorporating the best of what was out there (e.g., memory managers), finally culminating in Windows, which was more than just a GUI... it was memory management, standardized device drivers, and networking packaged together.

IBM was always late to the game. The RS/6000 line came late after Sun, Apollo, and DEC had already proved a market for desktop workstations (except for academia, did the PC/RT even count?) Then, they realized that Microsoft and Netware were slowly hacking the PC into a multitasking, networked workstation for a fraction of workstation prices. Businesses could buy 5, 10 Windows PC's for the price of one workstation, and manage it themselves without a service contract. By the time OS/2 came along, the war was already over, because as lousy and crashy as Windows could be, it had become ubiquitous, and anyway, when you want to sell MILLIONS of PC's, it's never about the OS... it's about the killer app(s) that runs on it. Windows was a platform to sell copies of Word and Excel. Nobody had any reason to write any killer app for OS/2 when they could write it once for Windows and get rich.

That joint-venture? Too little, too late, again. IBM in the 80's and 90's was a string of awful decisions, and before it was over it was entirely feasible that the great IBM would disappear entirely (check out their stock price, rock-bottom in 92, 93).

Comment: Re:But... (Score 1) 244

I never met him, but I'll bet Sir E. and Bernie worked hours and days and weeks just to get one of their songs hitworthy.

Yes, with a computer and something like GarageBand, recording a passable song is doable. But writing a GREAT song is still really fucking hard and time-consuming as it always has been.

Comment: Re:Typo: Digital Rights Management (Score 1) 371

by WheezyJoe (#49675175) Attached to: Firefox 38 Arrives With DRM Required To Watch Netflix

Firefox can also come without that "shit". From the article:

Mozilla also announced the launch of a separate Firefox download that won’t automatically install Adobe’s technology for playing back DRM-wrapped content in the browser.

As stated in TFA, the Mozilla foundation had to choose whether to support DRM in its own code according to HTML standards, or else accept that most users will resort to awful buggy plugins like Flash or simply switch to Chrome, Safari, or Edge to get the content they want so bad. I, myself, prefer Firefox not become a marginalized has-been project with single-digit adoption.

Choose your poison. There's a silver lining in DRM over browser: it encourages more content over Internet as opposed to cable TV, encouraging more people to dump their overpriced cable subscriptions and have a stake in the net-neutrality war.

Comment: Game Addiction Makes Money (Score 1) 950

It's not just porn and MMORGs. The Verge posted a story on slot machines where the industry puts a LOT of effort into figuring out what kind of bells and whistles best hit the reward-center of your brain to keep you playing. Now, designers of other kinds of games are getting in on it:

"I can’t tell you how often I’ve been approached since the publication of my book by Silicon Valley types who say things like, ‘Wow, the gambling industry really seems to have a handle on this attention retention problem that we’re all facing,'" Schüll told me. "'Will you come tell our designers how to do a better job?’"

Check out the thing they call the "zone", where players get so absorbed by the machine they pay no attention to their surroundings.

To understand the zone, you first have to understand "flow," the concept developed by Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi to describe a hyperfocused state of absorption. During "flow," time speeds up (hours feel like minutes) or slows down (reactions can be made instantly) and the mind reaches a state of almost euphoric equilibrium. Schüll, in her book, describes Csikszentmihaly’s four criteria of flow: "[F]irst, each moment of the activity must have a little goal; second, the rules for attaining that goal must be clear; third, the activity must give immediate feedback; fourth, the tasks of the activity must be matched with challenge." For most of their history, slots easily fulfilled the first two criteria; after lowering volatility, they fulfilled the third criterion, and with the introduction of multiple lines, endless bonus rounds, and the occasional mini-game, they finally fulfilled the four criteria.

If you've ever taking a stroll through a casino, you've seen this. No reason it can't go on in some kid's bedroom.

+ - The Medical Bill Mystery

Submitted by writes: Elisabeth Rosenthal writes in the NYT that she has spent the past six months trying to figure out a medical bill for $225 that includes "Test codes: 105, 127, 164, to name a few. CPT codes: 87481, 87491, 87798 and others" and she really doesn't want to pay it until she understands what it’s for. "At first, I left messages on the lab’s billing office voice mail asking for an explanation. A few months ago, when someone finally called back, she said she could not tell me what the codes were for because that would violate patient privacy. After I pointed out that I was the patient in question, she said, politely: “I’m sorry, this is what I’m told, and I don’t want to lose my job.”" Bills variously use CPT, HCPCS or ICD-9 codes. Some have abbreviations and scientific terms that you need a medical dictionary or a graduate degree to comprehend. Some have no information at all. Heather Pearce of Seattle told me how she’d recently received a $45,000 hospital bill with the explanation “miscellaneous.”

So what's the problem? “Medical bills and explanation of benefits are undecipherable and incomprehensible even for experts to understand, and the law is very forgiving about that,” says Mark Hall. “We’ve not seen a lot of pressure to standardize medical billing, but there’s certainly a need.” Hospitals and medical clinics say that detailed bills are simply too complicated for patients and that they provide the information required by insurers but with rising copays and deductibles, patients are shouldering an increasing burden. One recent study found that up to 90 percent of hospital bills contain errors and an audit by Equifax found that hospital bills that totaled more than $10,000 contained an average error of $1,300. “There are no industry standards with regards to what information a patient should receive regarding their bill,” says Cyndee Weston, executive director of the American Medical Billing Association. “The software industry has pretty much decided what information patients should receive, and to my knowledge, they have not had any stakeholder input. That would certainly be a worthwhile project for our industry.”

+ - As Hubble breaks a distance record, we learn its true limits

Submitted by StartsWithABang
StartsWithABang writes: You might think that, when it comes to finding the most distant objects in the Universe, all we need is a good telescope, to leave the shutter open, and wait. As we accumulate more and more photons, we’re bound to find the most distant, faint objects out there. Sure, Hubble just broke its own cosmic distance record, but it's certainly not the most distant. Thinking so misses an important fact: the Universe is expanding! And with that expansion, the wavelength of the light we can see gets redshifted. Ultraviolet light winds up in the infrared, infrared light winds up in the microwave, and the most distant galaxies that are out there are invisible, even to Hubble. Here are Hubble's limits, and how the James Webb Space Telescope will overcome them.

+ - Cyberlock lawyers threaten security researcher over vulnerability disclosure

Submitted by qubezz
qubezz writes: Security researcher Phar (Mike Davis/IOActive) gave his 30 days of disclosure notice to Cyberlock (apparently a company that makes electronic lock cylinders) that he would release a public advisory on vulnerabilities he found with the company's security devices. On day 29, their lawyers responded with a request to refrain, feigning ignorance of the previous notice, and invoking mention of the DMCA (this is not actually a DMCA takedown notice, as the law firm is attempting to suppress initial disclosure through legal wrangling). Mike's blog states:

The previous DMCA threats are from a company called Cyberlock, I had planned to do a fun little blog post (cause i .. hate blog posts) on the fun of how I obtained one, extracted the firmware bypassing the code protection and figured out its "encryption" and did various other fun things a lock shouldn't do for what its marketed as.. But before I could write that post I needed to let them know what issues we have deemed weaknesses in their gear.. the below axe grinderery is the results.

What should researchers do when companies make baseless legal threats to maintain their security-through-obscurity?

+ - SpaceX Testing Passenger Escape System Tomorrow->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes: On Wednesday, SpaceX will be performing the first test of a prototype for its passenger capsule escape system. Most rockets have a launch abort system that will save the lives of its crew within the first few minutes of launch, but not beyond a relatively low altitude. SpaceX is designing the new system to be able to return astronauts safely from the ground all the way up into orbit. The Dragon capsule will fire eight SuperDraco thrusters, each capable of producing 120,000 lbs of axial thrust in under a second. With that amount of thrust, the capsule can get half a kilometer away from a failing rocket in under 5 seconds. SpaceX will have 270 sensors about the prototype, including a crash test dummy. The main mission goals include determining the best sequencing for the launch abort timeline, getting all eight thrusters to fire in unison, and seeing how an aborted launch affects both the inside of the capsule and the area around it. The test is planned to start at 7 a.m. EDT (11:00 UTC), but they have a 7.5-hour window if there are minor delays.
Link to Original Source

+ - Astronaut drink the first home-brewed coffee in space

Submitted by schwit1
schwit1 writes: In addition to drinking the first home-brewed coffee in space, the astronauts also used a 3-D printed mug, though the printing took place not in space but on Earth.

Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, dressed in a "Star Trek" captain's uniform, became the first person in space to sip from a freshly-made cup of coffee on Sunday (May 3), using the International Space Station's newly-installed espresso machine.

Recent research has tended to show that the Abominable No-Man is being replaced by the Prohibitive Procrastinator. -- C.N. Parkinson