Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?

Comment Re:Too bad they pushed Love out (Score 4, Interesting) 197

SYS V needs to go open next, not that overloaded slowlaris, but lean mean SYS V

I was under the impression that the entire POINT of SYS V was for the major UNIX vendors to re-implement the guts of Unix as a clearly, enforceably, proprietary product (after the CONTU recommendations and the resulting copyright law changes explicitly extended copyright to software), then move to it and orphan the original development thread. (This might make opening it a hard sell to the members of the consortium.)

There were at least a couple issues with the proprietary status of the AT&T code:

One issue was that AT&T was still a government-regulated utility monopoly and there were some requirements about disclosing and releasing non-telephone-related inventions they came up with.

The big issue was that, before copyright applied and before software patents were hacked up (by recasting software as one embodiment of, or a component of, a patentable machine or process), the only protection was trade secret and the related contract law. Trade secrets generally stop being enforceable when the secret out of the bag (with some details about whether the claimant contributed to the leak). Bell Labs had shipped code to a LOT of educational institutions. When the U of New South Wales used the System 6 kernel code and an explanation of it as the two-volume text for an Operating System class, the textbooks became an underground classic. This, along with AT&T's benign-neglect licensing policies, led to the burst of little, cheap, generic UNIX boxes, as this was also when microcomputer chips were just becoming powerful enough to do the job.

Up to then a big barrier to entry was that every new machine needed a custom O.S. to deploy, and these were enormous, machine specific, and mostly in assembler. That made it an expensive, undertaking, suitable only for financial giants. But all but under 2,000 lines of Unix was in C, and the entire kernel, which included essentially all the platform-specific code as a subset, was well under 10,000 lines of code. If you had a C compiler and assembler for your new machine, it was a matter of a few man-months to port it and get it up and running. Essentially ALL the utilities and applications came right over. You didn't have to train users, either, because they all worked pretty much just like what they'd used in college.

The game was:
1. Grab a bootleg copy of the code.
2. Port it to your machine and get it working.
3. Go to AT&T and ask for a license "to port Unix to our new machine and sell it."
4. AT&T, as a matter of policy, completely ignores any "violations" you may have committed during the porting phase and cuts you a license at a very reasonable price.
5. You "port Unix in an AMAZINGLY short time" (like the ten minutes it takes to tell Sales to go to market) and you're in business.
6. You (with your new business) and AT&T (with their small cut) slap each other on the back and laugh all the way to the bank. PROFIT! for you. (profit) for AT&T.
7. Because of the policy in 4., everybody ELSE manearly everbody's king a new machine knows they can do the same thing. So many do. AT&T gets a rakeoff from ALL of them. PROFIT! for AT&T. Far more than if they went dog-in-the-manger, held up the first few for all the traffic would bear, and got no more customers for Unix.

And because of this, it was in nearly everbody's interest to NOT challenge the AT&T-proprietary status of Unix. And it stayed this way until SCO's management screwed up and altered step 4. (Even then the case turned on other issues, so it never did come to the point of attacking AT&T's claim that Unix code was proprietary.)

Comment Re:Why only trees? (Score 1) 73

piezo generators have less than a percent of efficiency is why.

I thought it was closer to 80%, at least theoretically. Can you give me a reference for that "Less than 1%" number?

Whether this maps into anything like that number in a practical device for converting "found" mechanical power - such as tree sway or vibrations - is another matter entirely.

Comment Can this be co-installed with the stock version? (Score 1) 169

Can this be co-installed with the current version (for instance, on Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, the latest Long Term Support Ubuntu release)?

Or do you have collisions which require you to purge the old one in order to try the new one, or which cause foulups if you don't?

(Honest question. I've seen a lot of that kind of thing with other projects. So now I'm a bit shy of trying the latest-and-greatest release of any tool on the production machines I depend on for time-critical work.)

Comment Re:Cue the SJW claptrap in.... (Score 0) 273

Cue the SJW claptrap in 3.... 2.... 1...

You may be right, but it'll be hard to hear over all the SIWs screaming about how horrible and misleading this study must be, because some person somewhere once overstated a completely unrelated fact about gender/sex bias on some obscure Internet forum, which proves (PROVES, do you hear me?) that all women and men who support them are always and everywhere wrong!!!!1!

Comment Re:Self-Selection? (Score 1, Insightful) 273

By "feel it necessary to point out their gender", do you mean going back in time and forcing their parents to give them a gender-neutral name like "Chris" instead of an obviously gendered name like "Maria"? Because I don't quite know how to tell you this, but time travel hasn't actually been invented yet... :D

Comment Re:Sue the government! (Score 1) 88

Ignoring sovereign immunity (and the all-too-typical American response of "let's sue!"), I can only imagine the results:

You: I'm suing the IRS for telling me my SSN was compromised!
IRS: Yes, when we discovered his SSN had been compromised, we notified him of the fact. Of course, we are in no way responsible for the compromise, so we have no idea why this idiot is suing us.
Judge: He is an idiot, isn't he? Case dismissed.

But on the bright side, you would have caused a federal lawyer and a judge to spend time reading your suit, and, in the former case, writing a response, or, in the latter case, reading the response and writing a judgment. With that sort of practice at wasting taxpayer money, you might end up qualified to run for office! :D

Comment Re:Huh? (Score 1) 70

3D printed objects aren't the strongest due to the way the layers are laminated together. I imagine the last place you'd want a weak join is on a 150+ foot long blade swishing through the air.

You betcha.

Especially since a spinning blade gets more efficient as it gets faster. Higher speed = lower torque for a given horsepower density, so a higher tip speed ratio (TSR) wastes less energy "twisting" the air downwind.

Efficient wind turbines run at a TSR of 6 or higher - which means that in windy conditions the tips are running at an appreciable fraction of the speed of sound.

If one of those puppies breaks off it's NOT the kind of baseball bat or boomerang you want coming toward you, whether flying or summersaulting along the ground. (Imagine a caber toss with giants and redwood logs.) Not to mention what the resulting unbalanced spinning does to the other blades and the pylon.

Comment You're right, it's bogus. Dang! (Score 1) 118 mentions none of this.

You're right, it's bogus.

I was told that decades ago. But a little research (in the online patent databases) shows that there were ionization smoke detectors for decades before that (back in the tube era, even, when beta emitters were easily available to the common man). NASA says their only involvement with smoke detector design was (in collaboration with Honeywell) coming up with a variable-sensitivity design to stop annoying false alarms in Skylab.

Sorry to have repeated a myth. B-b

Comment Heroes in more ways than one. (Score 4, Interesting) 118

The Appollo I martyrs are heroes in more ways than one.

One of NASA's responses to the fire was to design a detector for miniscule amounts of smoke particles, to provide an early warning of electrical problems that might lead to a fire - in time to evacuate the capsule if on the ground or hunt down and fix the problem if in space.

The detector used a miniscule amount of radioactive material to ionize the smoke particles and then detected the current conducted by the ions. (Radioactive materials were for NASA, a government agency, to design with, difficult for random inventors or corporations to even consider.)

The first, space-rated, low-volume prototypes were pricey. But the circuitry and the detection chamber were dog-simple and could be dirt-cheap when manufactured in volume.

So this was plowshared, and became the ionization-type smoke detector, the first practical, affordable, smoke detector suitable for broad deployment in residences. Even when this was the only type in use, it was quickly saving, first hundreds, then thousands of lives per year.

Modern detectors, combining ionization and photoelectric mechanisms, are credited with cutting the death toll from fires by somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2. They detect different types of fires, and the one detected by ionization accounts for somewhat less than half of them - which is still an enormous number.

So the loss of those three lives has been repaid with enormous interest in the decades that followed. The benefits are still flowing.

Comment Such sites would RATHER be boycotted. (Score 1) 118

Even better if they boycotted all sites which block ad-blocking viewers, ...

If you're blocking ads, you don't contribute to their revenue, but do contribute to their resource consumption. So the operators of such sites would RATHER be boycotted by people using ad-blockers.

Sounds like a win-win. B-)

Comment They should have argued it was a "Taking". (Score 0) 84

But the rule has meant millions in lost profits for utilities. Those companies argued that the program impermissibly targets retail customers.

They should have argued that it was a "taking" and the government had to reimburse them for their losses.

The tail end of the Fifth Amendment reads:

[...] nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

and the Supremes have already ruled that new laws and regulations, and changes to existing ones, that suck part of the value out of property (in this case, the value of the power generation and transmission infrastructure, which is based on the profit it creates) constitute a "partial taking" and require the government to pay for what it took.

Getting the Supremes to recognize that a rule change which imposes a change in the flow of money from customers to the investors in a busines can constitute a fifth amendment taking of the value of the latter's investment would inhibit arbitrary economic winner-picking regulations and move the US economy away from Fascism (alias "crony capitalism) and toward (free-market) Capitalism.

Comment But how about BeagleBone? (Score 1) 147

So happy to see the Raspberry Pi 3D support. Thanks for the goodies!

Goes double.

Is anything similar planned for BeagleBones - especially BeagleBone Black, which is the current cutting edge?

I have to deal with them, and the last time I looked their kernels were coming out of a separate project - which distributes an archive of script to be applied to the corresponding version of the packages, to be overlaid on and applied to the corresponding kernel sources, to hack them into shape for the Bones. It would be far easier to keep up with kernel fixes if the Bones (or at least the Black) were supported directly by the official kernel distributions.

Comment Re:Has the systemd problem been addressed? (Score 1, Informative) 147

If systemd "doesn't even have usable logs", then neither does sysvinit. Because systemd can log to exactly the same places sysvinit does, in exactly the same way! And on my system it does. Systemd also has other options, which I may explore later at my leisure. But for now, nothing about my logs has changed with systemd!

Of course, I'm using Debian, and this whole thing is reminding me very much of the glibc transition, back in the day. Lots of people were screaming about how glibc was breaking everything, because certain vendors (no names will be mentioned...rdht) rushed the transition out the door. Debian took their time and did it right, and Debian users barely even noticed the transition.

Slashdot Top Deals

When speculation has done its worst, two plus two still equals four. -- S. Johnson