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+ - Shuttleworth Agrees To FSF Demands For Edge Phone->

Submitted by WebMink
WebMink (258041) writes "In an interview at OSCON, Mark Shuttleworth of Canonical spoke about the vision behind the Ubuntu Edge phone as a concept device to test features the mobile industry is too conservative to try. Notably, he agreed with the Free Software Foundation's demands that the device should carry no proprietary software and have Free drivers (transcript):

So what’s going to be in there? That’s all going to be free software?
Yes, we’ll ship this with Android and Ubuntu, no plans to put proprietary applications on it. We haven’t finalised the silicon selection so we’re looking at the next generation silicon from all major vendors. I would like to ship it with all Free drivers.

"

Link to Original Source

+ - White Hat luxury car hacker to speak at USENIX security event despite injunction->

Submitted by alphadogg
alphadogg (971356) writes "The lead author of a controversial research paper about flaws in luxury car lock systems will deliver a presentation at this month’s USENIX Security Symposium even though a UK court ruling (inspired by a Volkswagen complaint) has forced the paper to be pulled from the event’s proceedings. USENIX has announced that in “in keeping with its commitment to academic freedom and open access to research,” researcher Roel Verdult will speak at the Aug. 14-16 conference, to be held in Washington, D.C. Verdult and 2 co-authors were recently prohibited by the High Court of Justice in the U.K. from publishing certain portions of their paper, “Dismantling Megamos Crypto: Wireless Lockpicking a Vehicle Immobilizer.” Among the most sensitive information: Codes for cracking the car security system in Porsches, Audis, etc."
Link to Original Source

Comment: Linux Pro, Ubuntu User, and Admin still around (Score 1) 125

by louiebeth (#38505362) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Geek-Centric Magazines Still Published On Paper?
Linux Magazine (at least the US version) has been gone for a couple years now. I’m guessing that the OP meant to write Linux Journal, which recently went digital?
AFAIK, the only remaining US print magazines, other than the ones associated with professional organizations, are:

Linux Pro Magazine
Ubuntu User
Admin magazine

These three have digital (PDF, DRM-free) and print subscriptions.
Books

+ - Book Review: Beginning Python Visualization->

Submitted by
aceydacey
aceydacey writes "Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. "Beginning Python Visualization: Creating Visual Transformation Scripts", published in February 2009 by Apress, shows how Python and its related tools can be used to easily and effectively turn raw data into visual representations that communicate effectively. The author is Shai Vaingast, a professional engineer and engineering manager who needed to train scientists and engineers to do this kind of programming work. He was looking for a tutorial and reference work, and unable to find a suitable text, wound up writing his first book. He wrote in the easy and clear style of someone comfortable and engaged with the subject matter.

The book uses several very specific examples that illustrate general principles.

The first example is using GPS data. By using Python one can extract data from GPS receivers and enter it into the computer and manipulate it to do what one wants including creating graphs and charts. In this section he shows how to use CSV, comma separated values, as a most useful file format. He shows show to extract data from real world GPS devices and import it via serial ports and the PySerial module. It would be easy for the reader to duplicate and extend this project.

The heart of the book is coverage of useful examples utilizing MatPlotLib, NumPy and SciPy. These related tools are easy to use and fully integrated with Python. MatPlotLib is for plotting data and graphs, including interactive graphs and image files. NumPy is a powerful math library comparable to commercial tools like MatLab, and SciPy extends NumPy to for the sciences. Examples are numerous and include signal analysis using Fourier transforms.

There is also a section on Image Processing using PIL, the Python Imaging Library. This is used for relatively simple image cropping and sizing and also for bit by bit image processing. Interpolation and curve fitting are also well covered. For anyone wanting an introduction to graphical analysis of statistical data, this would be an excellent resource.

The author is obviously a professional in this field. He has a knack for good organizational style and a pragmatic approach to the work. In the book he says "Most of the time, research is organized chaos. The emphasis, however, should be on organized, not chaos." A real value I got from the book is a better understanding of data files, format, and organization as well as methods and guidelines for selecting file formats and storing and organizing data to enable fast and efficient data processing. It is obvious that this book was written by a practicing engineer.

The theme of the book is that Python can be an all purpose environment for data manipulation and visualization, using nothing but free and open source tools that are easily integrated and scriptable without using multiple programming languages. The book should be an invaluable tool for scientists and engineers but it is also easily accessible to anyone interested in math and data analysis. There is no need for an advanced math background. While, as a matter of full disclosure, I have undergraduate degrees in Math and Physics, I feel the book should be easily accessible to anyone with a solid high school math background who is seriously interested in the subject. The book contains a short introductory tutorial on the basics of Python so anyone familiar with programming in any language should be fine.

The book is an easy read from front to back, and I am sure it will also be a good reference resource for the future. The writing style is very clear and unforced and I found surprisingly few errors. While the Python world has a surplus of introductory and general books, books covering this kind of specific domain are especially welcome, and we could use more on other topics by competent authors.

At 363 pages the book is a surprisingly fast read. Its methodology is to use specific, short code examples to make all the key points. Most of the code samples are well selected, short and written in clear, concise Python. This is not the kind of book that overwhelms you with massive amounts of code. Either the book was well edited or else it was written by an exceptionally lucid thinker, or both.

So, if you want to learn how to process, organize, and visualize data from various sources using the Python language, I recommend this book to you. I have also posted a podcast of an interview with the author at Python411"

Link to Original Source
Programming

+ - The Essential Guide to Flash CS4 AIR Development->

Submitted by
utahcon
utahcon writes "As a reference guide, this book is incredible. With all the detailed examples and explanations into the possibilities of AIR applications, this is absolutely the kind of book to have on hand when working in AIR. The information is clearly segmented and it is very easy to quickly find what you are looking for. All the examples have great supporting notes and it's easy to follow along as each sample application is built."
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Education

+ - Book Review -- OUTLIERS by Malcolm Gladwell

Submitted by
TechForensics
TechForensics writes "Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell, is subtitled "the story of success". It is a book that purports to explain why some people succeed far more than others. It suggests that a success like Bill Gates is more attributable to external factors than anything within the man. Even his birth date turns out to play a role of profound importance in the success of Bill Gates and Microsoft Corporation.

Outliers also tries to answer such diverse questions as what Gates has in common with the Beatles; why Asians have superior success at math; and the reason the world's smartest man is one of the least accomplished. All of these things are viewed in terms of generation, family, culture, and class. Outliers — those persons of exceptional accomplishment — typically have lives that proceed from particular patterns.

Chapter 1 is an examination of similar towns in Italy with vastly disparate life expectancies and no apparent reason. Though the towns were only miles apart, the life expectancy in Roseto was surprisingly longer-- longer, in fact, than any neighboring town in the region, making Roseto an outlier. The eventual explanation, namely, the prevalence of multigenerational families under a single roof with the attendant reduced stress of lifestyle, while not one of the book's more shocking revelations, nevertheless serves as an example of an outlier and the sometimes hidden causes of their status.

Chapter 2 seeks to answer the curious question why athletes on elite Canadian teams were all born in the same few months of their birth year. In a system in which achievement is based on individual merit, one would assume the hardest work would translate to the best achievement. The fact this criterion on was wholly overmastered by timing of birth was studied and showed that hidden advantage, namely being older and stronger than persons born later in the year of eligibility brought continuous, cascading, even snowballing advantage, which ultimately produced Canada's most elite players. If everyone born, in, say, 1981 was eligible to begin play only in a single year, then naturally the older boys, being larger and better coordinated, would dominate. Hockey player selection in Canada is shown to be a self-fulfilling prophecy, namely a situation where a false definition in the beginning invokes a new behavior which makes the original false conception come true.

Chapter 3 is far and away the most interesting in the book. It sets forth the so-called 10,000 hour rule, and in its course, shows why Bill Gates and the Beatles succeeded for essentially the same reason. Gladwell begins by noting that musical geniuses such as Mozart, and chess grandmasters, both achieved their status after about 10 years. 10 years is roughly how long it takes to put in 10,000 hours of hard practice. 10,000 hours is the magic number of greatness. Both Bill Joy at the University of Michigan and Bill Gates at Seattle's famous Lakeside school, two schools with some of the first computer terminals, had access to unlimited time-sharing computer time at essentially the beginning of the modern industry and before anyone else. Because both were absorbed and drawn into programming, spending countless hours in fascinated self-study, both achieved 10,000 hours of programming experience before hitting their level. Because hitting that level took place at exactly the time need for that level of computer expertise manifested in society, ability came together with need and unique uber programmers were born. The Beatles played seven days a week on extended stints in Hamburg Germany and estimated by the time they started their phenomenal climb to greatness in England that they had played for 10,000 hours. Subsequent studies of musicians in general in music school showed that elite, mid-level, and low-level musicians hewed very closely to the "genius is a function of hours put in and not personal gifts" school of thought: members of each group had similar amounts of total lifetime practice. This book makes a fascinating case that genius is a function of time and not giftedness, validating both Edison's famous saw about 98% perspiration and Feynman's claim that there is no such thing as intelligence, only interest.

The next chapter tells the tale of Bill Langen, whose IQ is one of the highest in recorded history. However, he was a spectacular failure in his personal life. Prof. Oppenheimer, on the other hand ascended to work on the Manhattan Project though in graduate school he had tried to poison his advisor. The difference is shown to result from an astonishing lack of charisma and a sense of what others are thinking in Langen, and an extreme personability in Oppenheimer, which is said to show that success is not a function of hard work or even genius but more of likability and the ability to empathize.

Chapter 5 tells the tale of attorney Joseph Flom, of Skadden Arps Slate Meagher and Flom. According to Gladwell, Flom did not succeed through hustle and ability but rather by virtue of his origins. Intelligence, personality and ambition were not enough, but had to be coupled with origins in a Jewish culture in which hard work and ingenuity were encouraged and in fact a necessary part of life. This, along with having to scrabble in a firm cobbled together out of necessity because Jews were not hired by white shoe law firms, gave the partners and unusual and timely expertise: Flom's firm decided it had to take hostile takeover cases when no one else would, and that turned Flom and his partners into experts in a kind of legal practice just beginning to boom when they hit their stride.

Chapter 6 traces the influence on a person's culture of origin and how it marks him more in the present day then may be generally appreciated. Psychological experiments proved that a so-called culture of honor, such as that found in the South were people of necessity had nothing but their reputations caused the products of such a culture to be much more aggressive in defending themselves, their reputations and honor.

Chapter 7 traces the influence of Korean culture and deference to superiors as significant facts in a high number of plane crashes in the national airlines. It was only when cultural phenomena such as the inability to contradict a superior were corrected by cultural retraining that Korean Air Lines began to achieve the same safety levels of the airlines of other countries. This chapter is interesting for its treatment of flight KAL 007 alone.

Chapter 8 will have strong interest for most Slashdot readers. There is an Asian saying that no one who can rise before dawn 360 days a year can fail to make his family rich. The hard, intricate work of operating a successful rice paddy, equal in complexity to an organic chemical synthesis almost, is shown to have produced an ability for precision and complexity which outstrips growers of other crops. The fact that Asian languages in many cases use of shorter and more logical words for numbers confers a strong early advantage which, like the age advantage in the hockey player example, snowball significantly over time. Gladwell argues Asians are not innately more able at math, but culturally more amenable to it based on the felicity of a language which is to our language as the metric system of weights and measures is to the English.

The final chapters of the book show that inner-city kids placed in intensive study schools achieve as much as kids from rich suburbs. The reason is found to be cultural: the long hours in those schools take up evening hours which would be spent at home and also take up summer hours, which in the special schools are full of math instead of the less than well-directed extracurricular pursuits typically found in the lower income family home.

On the whole this book is going to provoke some ire and certainly some head scratching. It is bound to bear out in the minds of many Prof. Richard Feynman's assertion, which we may modify to say that giftedness and IQ are not inherent but conferred by accidents or benefits of culture, or at least via mechanisms that are not obvious. Even if such a conclusion sounds laughable to you, this book may change your thinking."
Microsoft

+ - Review of Beginning Silverlight 2 from Apress.com->

Submitted by
utahcon
utahcon writes "In web development, it's important to keep current on new and updated technologies to avoid falling behind in the field. As a designer-turned-coder, I enjoy reading about and following up on the latest tools available for design and interface programming. Having designed and programmed in Flash for almost 10 years now, I was excited to read this book and see how Microsoft was tackling Rich Internet/Interactive Applications. The author, Robert Lair, starts out the book with an introduction to Silverlight and the benefits of building interactive applications using Silverlight and its related tools. After the brief introduction, the real work begins and the reader is quickly involved in writing Silverlight applications. Robert does a great job walking the reader through the various tools available while building each application, and each example builds on or incorporates the previous examples, effectively 'stair-stepping' the reader up to building their own Silverlight applications. Robert suggests that the reader be prepared with some knowledge of C#, JavaScript, and XML, but still keeps the code and examples simple enough to follow quickly and open enough to continue building as the reader's knowledge expands. Possibly the only break from this learning curve flow is the final chapter, where Robert describes and builds a custom control for Silverlight, a button with an extra 'cool down' function that isn't possible using just the predefined Silverlight controls. This is definitely one of the most exciting areas in Silverlight, and while it seems a bit abrupt to dive right into coding a custom control, there isn't a great way to teach such a high-level process without hitting it head-on. Robert handles that extremely well by walking through the code in steps and giving detailed explanations on each piece of the control. Following the book from beginning to end, the reader will certainly have the tools and enough starting experience to create and deploy Silverlight applications. As with most design and interface tools, the only limit is the imagination and creativity of the person behind the tools. This book provides an excellent starting point for anyone interested in learning about Silverlight and its capabilities. As I finished the book, I found myself even more excited about Silverlight applications. While I'm not prepared to run around shouting 'Flash is dead!', I am thrilled to see a contender to Adobe's Flash and Flex. It's also good to see an option for the .NET developers to build the Rich Internet Applications while using the programming language and tools they are accustomed to. This book will put those developers on the fast track to rivaling even the best Flash/Flex applications available today."
Link to Original Source
PHP

+ - Book Review: Practical CakePHP Projects

Submitted by
RaisinBread
RaisinBread writes "Practical CakePHP Projects is published by Apress, intended for for developers familiar with PHP, and at least marginally familiar with CakePHP as well. The book starts with some introductory material, then moves on to twelve chapters of practical project implementation. If you're not familiar with CakePHP, it's a rapid application framework for PHP. It cuts out a large swath of redundant tasks needed in everyday web development. It's a mature framework with a fantastic community I'd recommend you check out.

Honestly, the first impression of the book isn't great (stick with me though, it gets much better). First, as a member of the core CakePHP team, it's always a bit disappointing to see a book coming from people I'm not familiar with. I'd suggest prospective authors get their feet wet contributing to the community in a significant way before moving straight on to commercial publishing. The lack of community interaction shows in the first chapter-it's essentially a rehash of material that is better found in CakePHP's official online documentation. It's going to be more up to date, and there's really no reason to have it in this book..

You'll probably want to skip right to chapter 2, where the title of the book comes into play — actual projects created in CakePHP. In general, the specific project chapters are technically accurate and easy to follow. Newcomers to the CakePHP field will enjoy the examples and code they can pick through to better see the big picture.

Having said that, some chapters seem much more relevant than others. For example, leading out with a blog application (which is usually the first example new users are pointed to in the official documentation) seems a bit redundant. They don't cover much new ground there, focusing on vanilla MVC interactions. There's a bit of a diversion into the creation of RSS feeds, but that's more or less covered in the official manual as well.

The following chapter covering a simple e-commerce application is similarly uninteresting. More vanilla MVC, peppered with a bit of Google Checkout and PayPal integration at the end, which unfortunately only amounts to rendering some buttons that hand users along to their respective payment engines.

New users may appreciate these chapters, but you'll probably find comparable overviews of Cake's underpinnings in blogs, the CakePHP Bakery, and in the official manual.

The remaining chapters of the book (4-13) is where the book really shines. Project examples are varied, and each idea is inviting and innovative:
  • A message forum webservice
  • Google maps for traveling salesmen
  • A Twitter/Google translator mash-up
  • Unit Testing (not so much, but stay with me)
  • An ACL-enabled control panel
  • Internationalization using behaviors
  • Custom automagic fields
  • Custom view tags integrated with plugins
  • "Dynamic Data Fields" (not that CakePHP specific, but interesting to some)
  • Captcha (which is more of an example with controller/component callbacks)

My impression of the remaining chapters was very positive. The steps are easy to follow and seem well-explained. The code inserted onto the printed page gets a bit hefty in places (three consecutive pages in chapter 9), but that's to be expected in some instances, I suppose. It's a programming book, after all.

Best practices seem to be evident as well — keeping your models thick and your controllers thin, not repeating code, and following CakePHP convention in order to take advantage of automagic are all present.

Aside from the rehash that is the introduction and first few chapters, the authors seem to avoid that in the rest of the book. Each chapter is atomic enough to pick up on its own (more or less), yet you don't have to be re-introduced to covered topics each time you move on.

Putting my own personal grudge of people publishing before contributing to the core effort aside, I'd recommend the book to users who are getting started with CakePHP. Experienced users have probably seen most of what's here, but new users will enjoy example after example of good CakePHP code in interesting, practical projects."

The Internet

+ - SPAM: Managing Online Forums

Submitted by
stoolpigeon
stoolpigeon writes "I vividly remember the first time I was able to dial up a bbs with my Commodore Vic-20. It was Star Trek themed and I was excited to see that the Sysop was online. We typed a few lines of text back and forth while I hollered to everyone in the house that I was talking to someone through the computer. Things have come a long way since then and I've put in quite a few hours experiencing one of the more exciting sides of the internet, participating in community. Of course it hasn't all been great. Communities on-line are just like any other in that there are differences of opinion and issues that arise. Some are handled well, some are not. Social interaction can be very complicated and learning how to manage a social site can be a process that involves a lot of painful lessons. Fortunately not all of our learning has to come through direct experience. Sometimes we have the opportunity to learn from the experience of others. Patrick O'Keefes book Managing Online Forums is that guide to the budding leader of the webs next great community.

Since the reader will be relying on O'Keefes experience and opinions, his personal history in the subject at hand is extremely relevant. He has been involved in web site design since 1998 and managing online communities since 2000. As the founder and owner of the iFroggy Network he has extensive experience in managing site policy, staff and members. O'Keefe is also active in other communities including his role as a moderator for Sitepoint. Patrick has also published articles there on forum management.

The book's byline is that it provides everything that you need to know to run a successful community discussion board. There is a wide range of topics covered though the emphasis is primarily placed on what I would call the soft side of community management. The technical discussion is limited, though it is there. There is no real discussion of how to go about setting up software. There are some suggestions as to choosing a domain name and software. Two options are given for software, vBulletin and phpBB. Each is described in a summary consisting of a few paragraphs of basic information. There is little discussion of installation from a technical standpoint. The most technical information deals with the core issues of security and backing up data. I didn't see this as a real weakness as there is already plenty of documentation on these choices and many more. Adding it all in would have really bulked up the book while distracting from the primary mission which is informing the reader on building successful communities.

While there is not much technical detail, there is discussion of features from a social perspective. O'Keefe doesn't discuss whether or not a feature should be used because performance or storage ramification but rather focuses on the positives or negatives in terms of managing how participants might view or use those options. This is the information that is not already out there in multiple places. O'Keefe is able to discuss from experience how he has seen users react to these features in the past as well as warning of any possible benefits or pitfalls. This is of course his opinion on these matters. This fact about the nature of the book is going to make or break it for the reader.

I envision that someone would come to this book from three possible positions. They may already have a strong opinion of the issues presented and disagree with the author. On the other hand they may agree. The last group would be people who come without strong presuppositions. I think that the first group would not enjoy the book, there is no objective evidence or argument that will bring these people over. This is after all, subjective opinion. The other two groups I think have a lot to gain, the third group most of all. A person who comes to the material with an open mind, looking for options and guidance will I gain a strong preparation for dealing with a number of issues that are almost certain to arise in online groups.

The book begins by quickly reviewing a set of basic questions that should be asked before a site is set up for a new community. They are fundamental but important and I think it is surprising how many endeavors to build communities don't seem to have considered them. The are, "What will your community cover?", "Whom do you want to attract?", "What will the benefits of your community be?", and "How will you support the community financially?". All of these questions, the naming of the community and site, hosting and software are covered up front.

In each of the following major sections, the author's advice is accompanied by example templates and policies. In chapter three, "Developing Guidelines", the community guidelines for KarateForums.com and SitePoint.com are printed. There are excellent documents in the chapter on managing staff that give good examples of staff guidelines that can be used in those communities that grow and the work of management needs to be shared. All of these are built on real policies and guidelines. The staff section also includes a nice decision matrix for various situations that may arise, such as hot linking or cross posting.

The chapter "Banning Users and Dealing with Chaos" is of course full of interesting examples and history. It is also very valuable. The fact is any successful community will need to deal with adverse conditions and this is where inexperience can be the most costly. O'Keefe outlines likely scenarios and how to handle them. He also gives further examples of guidelines that can help the administrator in staying above the fray and maintaining their sanity when things can be very contentious. From the personal anecdotes, O'Keefe has already been through much of the worse that the web has to offer. This chapter and all that it entails is balance by a chapter on creating a good and healthy environment as well as the importance of keeping things interesting.

Two other chapters deal with what I think of as the business side of running forums. There is a chapter on developing traffic. I was glad to see that this included not only what to do but also what not to do. And there are similar warning within methods that can be used in a positive way or a negative way. O'Keefe cautions against activities that may bring what appear to be short term gains but do not really build sustainable community. While physically separate in the book, I found that this section dovetailed with the chapter on generating income. O'Keefe basically runs down all the various methods for making money with a site. Once again he give the pros and cons as well as strong warnings against the things that are going to be counter productive.

There are three appendices. The first is a list of resources, the second is a set of blank templates that match the examples given in the body of the book and the third is a glossary. I think that glossary is an important because I believe that this book would be an excellent guide to anyone who wants to not only form an online community but is new to the whole idea. These folks may be very caught off guard by the things they will probably need to deal with, beyond the technical issues of getting a site up and running. This book would probably be something that anyone out there setting up sites for others could quickly recommend to help the new manager to be be successful once the site is up and live.

I think there is a lot here also for those with some experience on-line if they don't have a lot of experience running a community site or if they are just looking for some new ideas. I've been corresponding with others electronically for quite a while and I still found quite a bit here that was of value. There is also the strength of going in with policies and actions that are built to head off problems rather than respond to them once they have taken place. I would think this gives any new community a much higher chance of growing and thriving. Managing Online Forums is unique in this regard, to my knowledge. Taking on the human side of managing a site rather than just the technical components."
Operating Systems

+ - Monnok reviews Linux Administration, Fifth Ed.->

Submitted by
utahcon
utahcon writes "Monnok @ Utahcon.com just posted a review of Linux Administration: A Beginner's Guide, Fifth Edition.

This book filled in a lot of the holes in my education concerning Linux and administration in general. A good investment for anyone looking to start their own solid Linux server, or a reference book for the more seasoned admin. From reading this book, I feel much more confident in my admin-abilities and have solid ground to reach higher levels of Linux administration. All of which of course, adds to my value as an employee!

"

Link to Original Source
Image

Beginning iPhone Development 216

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
Cory Foy writes "When my wife got a Touch several months back, the first thing I wanted to do was build some applications for it. Who wouldn't want to play with a device that has accelerometers, position sensors and multi-touch gestures? But being new to the Mac world, I needed something to help guide me along. Beginning iPhone Development aims to be that guide. But does it live up to the challenge of teaching a newbie Mac and iPhone developer?" Read below for the rest of Cory's review.
Image

MySQL in a Nutshell 86

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
stoolpigeon writes "MySQL is frequently touted as the world's most widely used relational database management system. Many of the best known web applications and web sites use MySQL as their data repository. The popularity of MySQL has continued to grow while at the same time many were concerned by the lack of many features considered essential to a 'real' rdbms. Such naysayers have done little to impede the growth or development of MySQL. The first edition of MySQL in a Nutshell, published in 2005, gave users a handy reference to using MySQL. The second edition, published in 2008, covers many new features that MySQL fans proudly proclaim as an answer to all those critics clamoring for a better-rounded rdbms." Read below for the rest of JR's review.

"If that makes any sense to you, you have a big problem." -- C. Durance, Computer Science 234

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