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Open Source

State of the GitHub: Chris Kelly Does the Numbers 23

Posted by timothy
from the git-along-little-hub dept.
I talked with Chris Kelly of GitHub at last week's LinuxCon about GitHub. He's got interesting things to say about the demographics and language choices on what has become in short order (just six years) one of the largest repositories of code in the world, and one with an increasingly sophisticated front-end, and several million users. Not all of the code on GitHub is open source, but the majority is -- handy, when that means an account is free as in beer, too. (And if you're reading on the beta or otherwise can't view the video below, here's the alternative video link.)
Hardware

Slashdot Talks WIth IBM Power Systems GM Doug Balog (Video) 36

Posted by Roblimo
from the 1-u-2-u-more-u-than-u-bargained-4 dept.
Yesterday we had a story titled 'IBM Gearing Up Mega Power 8 Servers For October Launch.' In the intro Timothy wrote, '...watch for a video interview with Balog on how he's helping spend the billion dollars that IBM pledged last year on open source development.' This is that video, and in it Balog tells us how much IBM loves Linux and open source, and how they're partnering with multiple distros, recently including Ubuntu. So get ready for Power 8 servers in October. IBM is pushing them like mad -- especially in the Linux/FOSS realm. (Alternate Video Link)

Comment: Re:Illegal (Score 1) 181

by Trailer Trash (#47763941) Attached to: Uber Has a Playbook For Sabotaging Lyft, Says Report

Yeah. I really don't get the nutjobs around here who run around bitching about how Taxis need less and less regulation. It's like they have no idea what it was like before the regulations were put in place. It's not like some politicians got together and conspired over the course of several decades to regulate an industry for the sole purpose of being dicks. Those regulations were instituted because taxi drivers and taxi companies were doing incredibly unethical things that were causing damage to both people and to the economy.

What I really don't get is the nutjobs (looking at you) who don't understand where Taxi regulation has ended up. It's easy to say how bad it used to be but now we have the end game of any regulatory regime where entrenched players totally control the "regulation" in order to tilt the playing field in their favor and erect barriers to entry that are all but impossible for a newcomer to overcome.

It's shameless. In NYC you have to buy a "medallion" in order to have a taxi. Hey, sounds easy, right? I mean, just go to the city and buy one, right?

Wrong.

They sold a very limited number of them and then quit. The secondary market has pushed the price of the medallion into the high 6 figures last I looked, possibly over a million dollars now. Note that's just to run one single cab. The medallions are owned by rich people who use them as an investment and rent them to taxi drivers on a monthly basis.

Now, you tell me: how does that "help" me, the taxi industry, or anybody else besides the people who own the medallions?

In Nashville they had new regulations a few years ago backed by Gaylord (owners of Opryland) to "regulate" the limousine/sedan industry here. Again, utterly shameless. Gaylord was specifically exempted *by name* from the "regulations". The whole point was to drive a company called "Metro Livery" out of service, and hurt others. The regulations force companies to have cars that are no more than 5 years old and prices could be no lower than $50/ride among other things. Yes, they specifically put a minimum price in the ordinance. I had used Metro Livery to get rides to the airport so I knew who they were targeting. Their cars were a few years older but I could get personal sedan service for less than the cost of a taxi.

The entire point was to put a lower cost competitor out of business. Again, how does that help anybody except the big players? Hint: It doesn't.

I agree that this industry needs to be lightly regulated - having a meter requirement for taxis is an example of useful regulation. What we have now is not the regulation that is needed and has nothing to do with helping consumers.

Comment: I drove cabs and limousines... (Score 4, Interesting) 181

by Roblimo (#47761215) Attached to: Uber Has a Playbook For Sabotaging Lyft, Says Report

I know the cab and limo business pretty well (check my /. user name), and I give Uber and Lyft another two years before they start fading. Drivers will get tired of paying high commissions, having all their income reported to the IRS, and beating up their cars like crazy. I survived and did well in the limo biz largely because I could do most of my own repairs and knew low-cost shops that could handle the rest. If I wanted to go back to driving for money (no need - between SS and the "side" freelance work I do, I'm fine) I'd probably work work with Uber until I built up my own "book" of business, that is, personal customers. Then I'd say "sayonara" to Uber, just as I did to the cab company as soon as I had enough personal business to tell them to go screw themselves and a threatened RICO suit against the Baltimore cab companies and the MD Public Service Commission opened the business to anyone with an inspected car, good commercial insurance, and a clean criminal record.

My little group of owner/drivers competed successfully with Boston Coach, Carey, and other national companies. I have no doubt that I could compete successfully with Uber, too. Lyft? A low-rent gypsy cab service. I could beat them, too, but why bother? I did a little gypsy cab work many years ago, but didn't love it.

Programming

The Grumpy Programmer has Advice for Young Computer Workers (Video) 119

Posted by Roblimo
from the hey-kids-get-off-my-code dept.
Bob Pendleton calls his blog "The Grumpy Programmer" because he's both grumpy and a programmer. He's also over 60 years old and has been programming since he was in his teens. This pair of videos is a break from our recent spate of conference panels and corporate people. It's an old programmer sharing his career experiences with younger programmers so they (you?) can avoid making his mistakes and possibly avoid becoming as grumpy as he is -- which is kind of a joke, since Bob is not nearly as grumpy as he is light-hearted. (Transcript covers both videos. Alternate Video Link One; Alternate Video Link Two)

Comment: Re:Urgh (Score 2) 501

Have you Americans *still* not gotten over this whole Marxist/Communist/Socialist = EVIL thing yet? Your government really did a good job with the propaganda during the Cold War it seems.

Holy shit, dude. It's not the propaganda from the Cold War, it's the tens of millions of dead bodies that Communism produced last century. In my book, that is EVIL, yes. That doesn't mean there aren't other evils in the world or that the US has always been the bastion of freedom that we should be or any of that.

I cannot fathom how someone could be arguing in 2014 that Communism isn't evil.

Comment: Re:Why not just use hard drives and then store... (Score 5, Interesting) 193

by Eric Green (#47740445) Attached to: Facebook Experimenting With Blu-ray As a Storage Medium

You're actually talking about MAID (Massive Array of Idle Disks), a technology that I first encountered in 2002. Now-bankrupt Copan Systems was the company I first encountered that was doing MAID, and New SGI (i.e. former Rackable Systems) bought their assets out of bankruptcy in 2010. Most storage companies now offer MAID add-ons for their storage arrays, though not all of them allow completely powering down the drive like Copan's solution did.

The upsides of MAID: Disks are cheap. Turning on and spinning up a hard drive to pull up some bits is faster than a robot fetching a Blu-Ray disk, placing it into a drive in the jukebox, and waiting for the disk to spin up and come online. You could store many more bytes in a cabinet with MAID than you could in an optical disk cabinet.

Downsides: The disk drives in a MAID array simply don't last that long, comparatively speaking. Spinning them up and down all the time is hard on a drive. So you end up having to replicate data and from time to time migrate data to new drives as old drives reach their service life. The service life of rarely used Blu-Ray media that has always been handled robotically (i.e., nothing touching its surfaces ever) is such that Blu-Ray media from ten years ago is probably still usable, the technology itself will become obsolete like DVD-RAM long before the media wears out. Not so much with hard drives, though disk arrays basically have unlimited life given typical failure patterns (i.e., if you're using RAID6, a drive develops errors, you remove the failing drive from the array, rebuild the array on a new drive, and chances of having two more drives fail during rebuild and thus losing the array are slim for a 12-drive array). So MAID has not really taken off the way we expected ten years ago.

At the time I first encountered MAID I was working for a company called DISC Storage, which had a NAS head which would automatically migrate little-used data to an optical jukebox in a way similar to what Facebook appears to be attempting. I designed and implemented the clustering function that would replicate the data between two NAS heads / optical jukeboxes, since the DVD-RAM platters were not themselves RAID'ed, as well as implemented a lot of the back end functionality for jukebox control and so forth. In any event, it looked like a NAS head but most of the files had been migrated to the DVD-RAM platters, and if you accessed one of those files, you would (at some point maybe 15 seconds later) get your data back as the file got read back onto the hard drive. It worked. But it was somewhat slow and cumbersome, because you're relying on a robot to go out and fetch the disk and put it in a drive, and disk robots then, and now, simply aren't that fast compared to media that's already in a drive ready to be spun up and read.

So anyhow, it was fairly obvious to me by mid 2003 that optical jukeboxes simply weren't going to be the future. In the ten years since DISC went under (there is a German company by that name now but it isn't the same company, it bought the name and some of the IP), I have not had any inclination to work for a company doing optical storage, because it's clear that for most problems it isn't the solution. It's too slow, too bulky, and magnetic disk drives and magnetic tape drives just continue getting bigger and cheaper every day. And now, with SSD coming on strong, optical jukeboxes look even less compelling.

So color me amazed. Optical jukebox and optical media technology essentially has barely moved on in the past ten years and what wasn't particularly compelling then, is even less compelling now. If you have need to keep data for a *long* time, this is how you do it... but frankly, I will be surprised if Facebook even exists ten years from now given the pace of innovation in the industry (though I'm just as surprised that Slashdot still exists!), so I question why they would do this rather than invest in LTO tape libraries, which have the advantage of being significantly denser.

Comment: Re:It's not an attempt to "game the system"... (Score 1) 180

by Eric Green (#47726695) Attached to: The 2014 Hugo Awards

Orson Scott Card is proof that ideology doesn't stop you from winning Hugos. All that is necessary is to write something interesting and mind-blowing. Writing formulatic space operas that are basically 1950's Don Pendleton manly war-fighting men set in space rather than in the wilds of darkest Africa or Southeast Asia is not the sort of thing that gathers awards, those have been done so many times that they're mind candy, something entertaining if in a certain mood but hardly mind blowing. Neither are fifteen page dissertations on why Libertarianism is the only proper ideology for running a space station. Nobody wants an ideological tract when they read science fiction, they want to have their mind blown. Orson Scott Card's later books haven't won Hugos not because of his right wing ideology, but, rather, because they've been boring, having nothing new to offer over his earlier fiction that did win awards. Which is a shame, because his 80's output was ridiculously good, then he got full of himself and his output got boring.

I liked Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress as a work of fiction, and probably would have nominated it for an award that year if I hadn't been 2 years old at the time. L. Neil Smith's work, on the other hand, read like Libertarian tracts with cardboard characters and stereotypical plots, I read a couple of them and was, like, "meh", even though at the time I considered myself somewhat Libertarian and liked a number of other Prometheus Award winners. But ideology is *boring*. In the end, what I want when I read science fiction is something that's going to make me say "wow!", with a story that isn't predictable and characters that seem like real (if perhaps quirky) people and ideas that make me go "Hmm." Heinlein managed that for me, as do writers like Vernor Vinge, Ken MacLeod, and Neal Stephenson. Too many other "Libertarian" or "right-wing" authors don't. If you're going to turn it into an ideological tract with cardboard characters spouting ideological talking points, or just another by-the-numbers space opera where manly men of the finest cardboard kill lots of mooks while spouting pretentious jargon... YAWN.

Comment: Re:Correction: (Score 0) 338

by Trailer Trash (#47724937) Attached to: FCC Warned Not To Take Actions a Republican-Led FCC Would Dislike

Hint: Republicans don't just do this with the telco industry.

And yes, they are far worse than the Dems. Grow up.

This is my favorite part about Democrat voters. They don't claim their party has anything good about it - it's just "better than Republicans".

If that's your best reason to vote then, please, stay home on election day.

Comment: Re:Correction: (Score 4, Insightful) 338

by Trailer Trash (#47724929) Attached to: FCC Warned Not To Take Actions a Republican-Led FCC Would Dislike

this time Chief of Staff Matthew Berry, speaking at the National Conference of State Legislatures, has endorsed states' right to ban municipal broadband networks

He's endorsed the right of the people in each state to get bent over by massively-corrupt telcos with their monopolistic behaviors - by reinforcing their monopolies - all in the name of a free market (despite the fact that it's anything but).

FTFY.

Those telcos are forced to provide service to everybody at the same price, which means they make a profit on tightly packed businesses in the city and that offsets their losses on the more widespread customers out of town. If the city comes in and serves only the tightly packed businesses, they can easily offer the service at a lower price and still make money or break even, and the telco ends up losing their profitable customers and therefore their ability to offset their losses elsewhere.

I'm not against "municipal broadband", but they need to be held to the exact same standard as all other carriers in the same area. That might well mean offering service to out of town customers, also.

I didn't understand the fuss until last time this came up and someone in the industry explained it quite clearly in a +5 post.

Open Source

At Home with Tim O'Reilly (Videos 5 and 6 of 6) 6

Posted by Roblimo
from the original-members-of-the-open-source-movement dept.
Today's videos are parts five and six of our casual interview with Tim O'Reilly, founder of O'Reilly Media and one of the most influential open source boosters around. (You supplied the questions. He supplied the answers.) We had a lot more to say about Tim Tuesday when we ran parts one and two of our video interview with him. Yesterday we ran parts three and four. (Today's alternate Video Links: Video 5 ~ Video 6.)

The test of intelligent tinkering is to save all the parts. -- Aldo Leopold

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