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Windows Telemetry Rolls Out 527

ihtoit writes: Last week came the warning, now comes the roll out. One of the most most controversial aspects of Windows 10 is coming to Windows 7 and 8. Microsoft has released upgrades which enable the company to track what a user is doing. The updates – KB3075249, KB3080149 and KB3068708 – all add "customer experience and diagnostic telemetry" to the older versions. gHacks points out that the updates will ignore any previous user preferences reporting: "These four updates ignore existing user preferences stored in Windows 7 and Windows 8 (including any edits made to the Hosts file) and immediately starts exchanging user data with vortex-win.data.microsoft.com and settings-win.data.microsoft.com."

Comment Re:Is there a browser that doesn't try to be a nan (Score 2) 199

It's not that Firefox disables flash behind your back: it displays a security warning in place of flash boxes, having a button to enable the plugin again. Also, it will only do it for versions of flash which are known to be vulnerable. This is quite a good thing IMHO: remaining within the nanny terminology, it's not a matter of how much grown up you are, if you have a vulnerable plugin, and you visit a compromised site, your machine will be owned.

Comment Re:People go to museums to see dinosaurs (Score 4, Interesting) 283

It would be nice if Mozilla completed their project of a javascript-based interpreter for flash. It would be the same thing that they’ve done for PDF. The overlap between flash and javascript + HTML5 is complete so it should be viable, and as a bonus SWFs would run under the same security sandbox as javascript.

What the GNOME Desktop Gets Right and KDE Gets Wrong 267

An anonymous reader writes: Eric Griffith at Phoronix has provided a fresh perspective on the KDE vs. GNOME desktop debate after exclusively using GNOME for the past week while being a longtime KDE user. He concluded his five-page editorial (which raises some valid points throughout) by saying, "Gnome feels like a product. It feels like a singular experience. When you use it, it feels like it is complete and that everything you need is at your fingertips. It feels like the Linux desktop. ... In KDE, it's just some random-looking window popup that any application could have created. ... KDE doesn't feel like cohesive experience. KDE doesn't feel like it has a direction its moving in, it doesn't feel like a full experience. KDE feels like its a bunch of pieces that are moving in a bunch of different directions, that just happen to have a shared toolkit beneath them." However, with the week over and despite his criticism, he's back to using KDE.

Comment Re:Depends (Score 1) 517

While I prefer to stick to documented facts rather than anyone's anecdotal evidence, including mine, when I make absolute statements about correctness, since we're entering this realm, I'll tell you that I do have a late-2011 HP laptop, DV7-something, with no antivirus running and no extra software installed besides the ones that I actually need. Formatted after the purchase in order to get rid of the extra manufacturer-installed stuff. The last time I've posted a measured sample of its performance here on Slashdot, I was greeted with 6 responses telling me how slow it was. And to be honest it's not a machine that I personally find excessively slow to use.

Comment Re:Depends (Score 2) 517

Why, I'm citing specific, documented misdesigns of Windows components that cause the machine to progressively slow down until it becomes unusable, which is what this article is about. I'm picking specific ones because the post I was responding to spoke of "superstition without numbers". I'm also citing two specific ones that wouldn't be fixed by an SSD, which is another point that was being made by the same post. No amount of care would have prevented you from incurring into those bugs, unless you don't use Windows Update, which of course is not feasible today. Such slowdowns are not "apparent to me", they are measured and recognised by Microsoft, as the links that I've put in my comment show. I also was careful to choose two slowdowns that aren't related to machines with insufficient system resources: the first one would manage to freeze a Core i7 running Windows XP, the second one would hinder machines with double the amount of memory recommended by Microsoft themselves for Windows 7.

Finally, about the fact that you have to be careful about the stuff that you install, which is orthogonal to the problem that Windows systems slow down themselves even if you don't touch them: the problem is that people need to install stuff to make their computers work. Want to read PDFs (most people will)? You get one knick-knack with the relevant auto-update. Want to watch YouTube (most people will)? There goes another one. Want to be able to download stuff from the internet? If you're not an expert, and most people aren't, you're going to need an anti virus, and there goes another invasive software you'll need to install. The point is that my bathroom can be cleaned without burning down my house, whereas there's no such option to clean up Windows, which is another major design failure - in addition to the fact that the system slows down by itself.

Comment Re: Hate to be that guy, but Linux (Score 1) 517

The point is that you cannot just stick to the desktop in Windows 8. Even if you hack the OS with third party tools in order to make some fake Start menu return from the afterlife, you just can't change the fact that some functionality remains into the Metro side (both OS functions and third-party applications, because Microsoft strongly pushed third-party developers to use Metro). And some of the broken UI design still bites even on the desktop side (invisible magic areas, undocumented destructive gestures that get activated by mistake if you happen to use a touchpad, the “charms”...).

Comment Re:Depends (Score 0) 517

Oh come on, every Windows installation slows down with usage, to the point of requiring to be formatted. Even without anti-virus software and third party add-ons (not that it would be a justification, because one buys a computer with the intention of using it somehow, not to look at the desktop background). Buying an SSD is not an acceptable solution, because SSDs currently cost 6 times as much as spinning rust drives.

It is not a matter of HD activity, either, and it's not superstition. Just two examples: in the case of Windows XP, which is post-Windows 98, we had the catastrophic Windows Update failure to scale that caused all Windows XP machines to become unusable for hours just some months ago. Back then it was a matter of CPU usage, not disk. In the case of Windows 7, which is post-Windows 98 too, you might have noticed that on machines with 2 GB of memory or less (which is twice the minimum required amount) another Windows Update bug caused the Windows Update service to eat all the available RAM and thrash the machine, again, into the land of unusability. In this case, it was a matter of RAM usage, not disk.

Comment Re:Here's a FAQ for slashdotters (Score 2) 126

Point A: Java was standardized by a consortium as well. I believe that even the APPLET tag was standardized by the w3c. Oh, and that was before the w3c had began “standardizing” DRM hooks.
Point B: When Java was added to HTML, everyone and his dog (including Microsoft) thought that Java was the future and that every software in the world would have been rewritten in Java. Proof in the fact that the "Java" branding was added to Javascript in order to increase its appeal.
Point C: the sandbox for Java applets gave the unsigned ones even fewer permissions than the current Javascript sandbox does for the most obscure of the web pages.
Point D: Compilers have been written targeting the JVM bytecode for pretty much every modern language (Python, Ruby, Scala, Lisp and, of course, Javascript), many of them actually faster than their reference C implementations, so I don't know how much lower in level you can get.
Point E: Look, DOM manipulation from an applet. And do you know what else integrated even more with the DOM? Microsoft's ActiveX.

But above all, all points, even if they were true, are but minor differences in implementation, compared to the huge fact being the very nature of a bytecode that is supposed to be run by web pages, that alters the open nature of the web by making its pages write-only, and the introduction of a compiler into the workflow of HTML development. (Who will make the better compiler, Microsoft or Mozilla? Will php scripts output bytecode or do we have to change server-side scripting? What's the failure model for browsers implementing an older subset of the bytecodes?)

Comment Re:Here's a FAQ for slashdotters (Score 1, Interesting) 126

3) How is this different from Java, Flash, Silverlight?

It is different because:

A) It' s a w3c standarized effort

B) All the big players are behind it (Google, Mozilla, Microsoft and Apple)

C) It relies on the browser security model, it does not bypass it

D) It' s a low-level bytecode, more so than AS3, JVM or Silverlight, so it can run any language.

E) It runs in the same "space" as the DOM, it's not a separate/embeeded app.

In other words, it's exactly like Java but instead of being designed by a software company, it's being introduced by personal data sellers, ad designers, NSA henchmen, DRM paladins, government lobbyists and walled-garden tenders. And unlike Java, it's going to be used by every single web page and we won't be able to uninstall it. Sounds great, what could possibly go wrong.

Open Source

Reasons To Use Mono For Linux Development 355

Nerval's Lobster writes: In the eleven years since Mono first appeared, the Linux community has regarded it with suspicion. Because Mono is basically a free, open-source implementation of Microsoft's .NET framework, some developers feared that Microsoft would eventually launch a patent war that could harm many in the open-source community. But there are some good reasons for using Mono, developer David Bolton argues in a new blog posting. Chief among them is MonoDevelop, which he claims is an excellent IDE; it's cross-platform abilities; and its utility as a game-development platform. That might not ease everybody's concerns (and some people really don't like how Xamarin has basically commercialized Mono as an iOS/Android development platform), but it's maybe enough for some people to take another look at the platform.

Russian Official Calls For "International Investigation" of the Apollo Program 307

MarkWhittington writes: According to a Tuesday article in the Moscow Times, a spokesman for Russia's Investigative Committee named Vladimir Markin suggested that an international investigation be mounted into some of the "various murky details surrounding the U.S. moon landings between 1969 and 1972." Markin would particularly like to know where some of the missing moon rocks went to and why the original footage of the Apollo 11 moon landing was erased. Markin hastened to add that he is, of course, not suggesting that NASA faked the moon landings and just filmed the events in a studio.
The Internet

North Korea Blocks Data Access For Foreigners 28

According to Reuters, foreigners in North Korea who formerly had online access via the country's 3G network have now been blocked from using it, in the wake of a fire at Pyongyang's Koryo Hotel, though it was not immediately clear whether the two events are related. Vox.com has an interesting look into what internet access is like for North Koreans, but as the linked Reuters report explains, access is in general much freer for residents as well as visiting foreigners.

In any problem, if you find yourself doing an infinite amount of work, the answer may be obtained by inspection.