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+ - Ask Slashdot: What Is Your Most Odd Hardware Hack?

An anonymous reader writes: Another Slashdotter once asked what kind of things someone can power with an external USB battery. I have a followup along those lines: what kind of modifications have you made to your gadgets to do things that they were never meant to do? Consider old routers, cell phones, monitors, etc. that have absolutely no use or value anymore in their intended form. What can you do with them? Have you ever done something stupid and damaged your electronics?

+ - What to know before transitioning your team to Git->

An anonymous reader writes: When Emma Jane Hogbin Westby is into something, she's all in, and then she shares what she learns. For example, she doesn't just use Drupal, she wrote a couple of books about learning Drupal, and she created—and shared—a knitting pattern for Drupal socks. Using Drupal is how Emma Jane got started using Git. Then she wrote a book about using Git for Teams, created an O'Reilly video about Collaborating with Git, and, like she did with Drupal, she speaks about the open source project at tech events.

In this interview, catches up with Emma Jane before her upcoming OSCON talk and training and asked her about learning Git and using it with teams.

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+ - Xilinx and AMD: An Inevitable Match?->

itwbennett writes: Steve Casselman at Seeking Alpha was among the first to suggest that Xilinx should buy AMD because, among other reasons, it 'would let Xilinx get in on the x86 + FPGA fabric tsunami.' The trouble with this, however, is that 'AMD's server position is minuscule.... While x86 has 73% of the server market, Intel owns virtually all of it,' writes Andy Patrizio. At the same time, 'once Intel is in possession of the Altera product line, it will be able to cheaply produce the chip and drop the price, drastically undercutting Xilinx,' says Patrizio. And, he adds, buying AMD wouldn't give Xilinx the same sort of advantage 'since AMD is fabless.'
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+ - "Next time I'll try a bus!" The best of the DOT's aviation consumer complaints->

v3rgEz writes: Last July, MuckRock user Curtis Raye requested all aviation consumer complaints in the categories of "customer service" and "discrimination" made to the Department of Transportation in March and April of 2014. Just last week, the response came back in the form of 166 case histories — and while some serious incidents are mentioned, the overwhelming majority are decidedly not-so-serious. Read on for some of the best ones.
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Comment: Re:FDE on Android doesn't work as of yet (Score 3, Interesting) 124 124

Had I jumped to the Nexus 6 at the same time, however, that may not have been an issue.

As a recent Nexus 6 owner, I can confirm that encryption is enabled by default. I have not noticed any performance lag and the battery life has been really good. I will admit, I'm coming from an 'ancient' phone, so maybe that's why I think it's fast enough; way faster than my old phone.

+ - How Google avoids downtime->

Brandon Butler writes: Google has an innovative way of attempting to keep its services — like its cloud platform and apps — up and running as much as possible. The man in charge of it is Ben Trenyor, who runs Google's Site Reliability Engineer (SRE) team.

Each Google product has a service level agreement (SLA) that dictates how much downtime the product can have in a given month or year. Take 99.9% uptime, for example: That allows for 43 minutes of downtime per month, or about 8 hours and 40 minutes per year. That 8 hours and 40 minutes is what is referred to at Google as an “error budget.”

Google product managers don’t have to be perfect — they just have to be better than their SLA guarantee. So each product team at Google has a “budget” of errors it can make.
If the product adheres to the SLA’s uptime promise, then the product team is allowed to launch new features. If the product is outside of its SLA, then no new features are allowed to be rolled out until the reliability improves.

In a traditional site reliability model there is a fundamental disconnect between site reliability engineers (SREs) and the product managers. Product managers want to keep adding services to their offerings, but the SREs don’t like changes because that opens the door to more potential problems.

This “error budget” model addresses that issue by uniting the priorities of the SREs and product teams. The product developers want to add more features, so they architect reliable systems. It seems to work; according to tracking company CloudHamrony, Google had one of the most reliable IaaS clouds among the major vendors in 2014.

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+ - Linux on a Motorola 68000 solderless breadboard

lars_stefan_axelsson writes: When I was an undergrad in the eighties, "building" a computer meant that you got a bunch of chips and a soldering iron and went to work. The art is still alive today, but instead of a running BASIC interpreter as the ultimate proof of success, today the crowning achievement is getting Linux to run:

"What does it take to build a little 68000-based protoboard computer, and get it running Linux? In my case, about three weeks of spare time, plenty of coffee, and a strong dose of stubborness. After banging my head against the wall with problems ranging from the inductance of pushbutton switches to memory leaks in the C standard library, it finally works! "

Comment: Re:The police and health care are not the same (Score 1) 739 739

This is a good example of why Social Security and Medicare are failing. They aren't means tested. You can have a fat pension and $2m in assets and still get the same maximum social security check as someone who was a skilled construction worker and entered old age with little more than a home and a small savings account to hopefully pass onto the kids. Should they both be entitled to these programs? Absolutely not.

This is off-topic, but you do realize that in the US, if you work you are paying into both of these systems? Why shouldn't I have at least a chance of getting (some of) my money back out? That's why it is not means tested... I should get paid because it's my money to begin with!

Alas the reality may be that by the time I am eligible, the system could be bankrupt and I won't see a penny of it anyway. That is a different discussion.

+ - Khrushchev's 1959 Visit to IBM->

harrymcc writes: In September of 1959, Nikita Khrushchev, the premier of the Soviet Union, spent 12 days touring the U.S. One of his stops was IBM's facilities in San Jose, which helped to create the area later known as Silicon Valley. The premier got to see the first computer which came with a hard disk, which IBM programmed to answer history questions. But what he was most impressed by was IBM's modern cafeteria. Over at Fast Company, I've chronicled this fascinating and little-known moment in tech history, which will be covered in an upcoming PBS program on Khrushchev's U.S. trip.
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+ - Is Geometric Algebra finally adopted in STEM curricula?->

quax writes: It has been over a century that William Kingdon Clifford developed Geometric Algebra. Yet due to his untimely death it was quickly forgotten, only to be partially reinvented when Dirac tackled relativistic quantum mechanics and introduced spinors. But geometric algebra is much more versatile than that, for instance it makes for a better alternative to vector calculus, combining div and curl operators and doing away with the cross-product in favor of bivectors. It is such a straightforward unification of otherwise, disparate mathematical techniques that I very much regret that my physics curriculum twenty years ago didn't cover it. Has this changed? Have you encountered geometric algebra in an undergraduate program?
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+ - Say Something Nice About systemd 4 4

ewhac writes: I'm probably going to deeply deeply regret this, but every time a story appears here mentioning systemd, a 700-comment thread of back-and-forth bickering breaks out which is about as informative as an old Bud Light commercial, and I don't really learn anything new about the subject. My gut reaction to systemd is (currently) a negative one, and it's very easy to find screeds decrying systemd on the net. However, said screeds haven't been enough to prevent its adoption by several distros, which leads me to suspect that maybe there's something worthwhile there that I haven't discovered yet. So I thought it might be instructive to turn the question around and ask the membership about what makes systemd good. However, before you stab at the "Post" button, there are some rules...

Bias Disclosure: I currently dislike systemd because — without diving very deeply into the documentation, mind — it looks and feels like a poorly-described, gigantic mess I know nothing about that seeks to replace other poorly-described, smaller messes which I know a little bit about. So you will be arguing in that environment.

Nice Things About systemd Rules:
  1. Post each new Nice Thing as a new post, not as a reply to another post. This will let visitors skim the base level of comments for things that interest them, rather than have to dive through a fractally expanding tree of comments looking for things to support/oppose. It will also make it easier to follow the next rule:
  2. Avoid duplication; read the entire base-level of comments before adding a new Nice Thing. Someone may already have mentioned your Nice Thing. Add your support/opposition to that Nice Thing there, rather than as a new post.
  3. Only one concrete Nice Thing about systemd per base-level post. Keep the post focused on a single Nice Thing systemd does. If you know of multiple distinct things, write multiple distinct posts.
  4. Describe the Nice Thing in some detail. Don't assume, for example, that merely saying "Supports Linux cgroups" will be immediately persuasive.
  5. Describe how the Nice Thing is better than existing, less controversial solutions. systemd is allegedly better at some things than sysvinit or upstart or inetd. Why? Why is the Nice Thing possible in systemd, and impossible (or extremely difficult) with anything else? (In some cases, the Nice Thing will be a completely new thing that's never existed before; describe why it's good thing.)

Bonus points are awarded for:

  • Personal Experience. "I actually did this," counts for way more than, "The docs claim you can do this."
  • Working Examples. Corollary to the above — if you did a Nice Thing with systemd, consider also posting the code/script/service file you wrote to accomplish it.
  • Links to Supporting Documentation. If you leveraged a Nice Thing, furnish a link to the docs you used that describe the Nice Thing and its usage.

We will assume out of the gate that systemd boots your system faster than ${SOMETHING_ELSE}, so no points for bringing that up.

+ - Expedition 42 ISS Crew Embrace Douglas Adams -> 1 1

SchrodingerZ writes: In November of this year, the 42th Expedition to the International Space Station will launch, and the crew have decided to embrace their infamous number. NASA has released an image of the crew, mimicking the movie poster for The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, a film released in 2005, based on a book with the same name by Douglas Adams. Commander Butch Wilmore stands in the center as protagonist Arthur Dent, flight engineer Elena Serova as hitchhiker Ford Prefect, flight engineer Alexander Samokutyayev as antagonist Humma Kavula, astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti as Trillian, and flight engineers Terry Virts and Anton Shkaplerov as two-headed galactic president Zaphod Beeblebrox. The robotic "Robonaut 2" also stands in the picture as Marvin the depressed android. Cristoforetti, ecstatic to be part of this mission stated,"Enjoy, don't panic and always know where your towel is!" Wilmore, Serova and Samokutyayev blasted off September 25th for Expedition 41, the rest of Expedition 42 will launch November 23rd.
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+ - Laid off from job, man builds tweeting toilet->

dcblogs writes: With parts from an electric motor, a few household items, an open-source hardware board running Linux, and some coding, Thomas Ruecker, built a connected toilet that Tweets with each flush. The first reaction to the Twitter feed at @iotoilets may be a chuckle. But the idea behind this and what it illustrates is serious. It tracks water usage, offers a warning about the future of privacy in the Internet of Things, and may say something about the modern job hunt. Ruecker built his device on a recent long weekend after he was laid off as an open source evangelist at a technology firm undergoing "rightsizing," as he put it. He lives in Finland.
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Why did the Roman Empire collapse? What is the Latin for office automation?