Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Mozilla

Mozilla Rolls Out Firefox 3.6 RC, Nears Final 145

Posted by Soulskill
from the onwards-and-upwards dept.
CWmike writes "Mozilla has shipped a release candidate build of Firefox 3.6 that, barring problems, will become the final, finished version of the upgrade. Firefox 3.6 RC1, which followed a run of betas that started in early November, features nearly 100 bug fixes from the fifth beta that Mozilla issued Dec. 17. The fixes resolved numerous crash bugs, including one that brought down the browser when it was steered to Yahoo's front page. Another fix removed a small amount of code owned by Microsoft from Firefox. The code was pointed out by a Mozilla contributor, and after digging, another developer found the original Microsoft license agreement. 'Amusingly enough, it's actually really permissive. Really the only part that's problematic is the agreement to "include the copyright notice ... on your product label and as a part of the sign-on message for your software product,"' wrote Kyle Huey on Mozilla's Bugzilla. Even so, others working on the bug said the code needed to be replaced with Mozilla's own."
Microsoft

The History of Microsoft's Anti-Competitive Behavior 361

Posted by Soulskill
from the earning-a-reputation dept.
jabjoe writes "Groklaw is highlighting a new document from the European Committee for Interoperable Systems (PDF) about the history of Microsoft's anti-competitive behavior. Quoting: 'ECIS has written it in support of the EU Commission's recent preliminary findings, on January 15, 2009, that Microsoft violated antitrust law by tying IE to Windows. It is, to the best of my knowledge, the first time that the issue of Microsoft's patent threats against Linux have been framed in a context of anti-competitive conduct.' The report itself contains interesting quotes, like this one from Microsoft's Thomas Reardon: '[W]e should just quietly grow j++ share and assume that people will take more advantage of our classes without ever realizing they are building win32-only java apps.' It also has the Gates 1998 Deposition."
Software

+ - Software news

Submitted by
AKVIS LLC AKVIS LLC
AKVIS LLC AKVIS LLC writes "AKVIS Retoucher v.2.5. New Life for Old and Damaged Photographs

February 28, 2007 — AKVIS LLC announces the release of AKVIS Retoucher plug-in v.2.5 for Windows and Macintosh. New to version 2.5 of this photo restoration plug-in: compatibility with Windows Vista, new installation and activation method on Macintosh, bugs fixed. Upgrade for registered users is free.

Few things in life stir our memories and emotions the way photographs do. Unfortunately, as time goes by, old photographs fade out, get stained, or get otherwise damaged. In order to preserve them, many people try to digitize photos to pass these cherished images on to future generations.

AKVIS Retoucher plug-in restores damaged photographs to optimal condition with minimal effort and amazing results. Surface defects such as scratches, water spots, flakes and stains can be removed automatically, just select the defects and run the program. The wide variety of capabilities are demonstrated at http://akvis.com/en/retoucher/examples-image-resto ration.php.

Moreover, the software is able to reconstruct the lacking parts of a photo using the information of the surrounding areas. You can, therefore, restore a torn photo or a photo with some parts missing.

AKVIS Retoucher is a handy tool for improving the composition of your photos. You can remove date stamps, logos, small irrelevant details (wires, refuse bins, etc) and even big objects (i.e. people who fell into the shot by accident, cars in the background). If you need to increase the canvas size (from one side or proportionally) to bring the main object into focus, i.e. to center it, AKVIS Retoucher will help you to extend image patterns to the blank areas of the canvas.

New to version 2.5: simplified installation and activation on Macintosh; added compatibility with Adobe Photoshop CS3 beta (Windows and Mac Power PC) and with Adobe Photoshop Elements v.5.; added compatibility with Windows Vista.

The application is straightforward and can be used by amateur photographers who have never performed retouching/image restoration before. The program comes with a game-like tutorial, so any person can master the program within minutes.

The full functional trial version of AKVIS Retoucher is available at http://akvis.com.

AKVIS Retoucher Plugin is compatible with Adobe Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Corel Photo-Paint and Paint Shop Pro, Ulead Photoimpact and other digital imaging software that supports third-party plugins. The software runs on Microsoft Windows 2000/2003/XP/Vista and on Macintosh Mac OS X 10.4, PowerPC G3 and above.

AKVIS Retoucher sells for $87 USD, downloadable from http://akvis.com. Home users can enjoy the full line of AKVIS plugins in the AKVIS Alchemy bundle (Enhancer, Chameleon, Stamp, Coloriage, Noise Buster, Decorator, Sketch, LightShop and Retoucher) for USD $320 USD, a savings of $343 over purchasing each separately. For business licenses consult the official web-site. One license key allows activating the software on two computers, for example, on a desktop and a laptop.

Company Website: http://akvis.com
Product Page: http://akvis.com/en/retoucher/
Screenshots: http://akvis.com/en/retoucher/screenshots-image-re storation.php
Download for Windows: http://akvis.com/download/akvis-retoucher-setup.ex e
Download for Macintosh: http://akvis.com/download/akvis-retoucher-setup.dm g
Buy Link: http://akvis.com/en/retoucher/price-image-restorat ion.php"

Online Storage 2.0: Six Sites Reviewed 142

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the who-needs-hard-drives dept.
mikemuch writes "Services like box.net, openomy, and eSnips are more than just places to access your files from the web. Some include media organization tools, Windows shell integration, drag-and-drop uploading, tagging, and social content sharing. ExtremeTech has a review up of six online storage services with Web 2.0 twists."
Security

A Myspace Lockdown - Is It Possible? 180

Posted by Cliff
from the separate-your-workers-from-distractions dept.
Raxxon asks: "We (my business partner and I) were asked by a local company to help 'tighten up' their security. After looking at a few things we ran some options by the owner and he asked that we attempt to block access to MySpace. He cited reasons of wasted work time as well as some of the nightmare stories about spyware/viruses/etc. Work began and the more I dig into the subject the worse things look. You can block the 19 or 20 Class C Address Blocks that MySpace has, but then you get into problems of sites like "MySpace Bypass" and other such sites that allow you to bypass most of the filtering that's done. Other than becoming rather invasive (like installing Squid with customized screening setups) is there a way to effectively block MySpace from being accessed at a business? What about at home for those who would like to keep their kids off of it? If a dedicated web cache/proxy system is needed how do you prevent things like SSL enabled Proxy sites (denying MySpace but allowing any potentially 'legal' aspects)? In the end is it worth it compared to just adopting an Acceptable Use Policy that states that going to MySpace can lead to eventual dismissal from your job?"
IBM

+ - Dow Jones performance boost?

Submitted by LongDon
LongDon (10746) writes "Maybe companies should be a little more careful when they publicly tout their new customers. According to the article from 2005, "Dow Jones says it has already witnessed a performance boost since migrating to IBM's pSeries platform and now has the ability to more easily deal with increases in market activity." I guess that is why their computer systems could not keep up with the trading load yesterday."
The Almighty Buck

Dow Jones Plunge Fueled by Overwhelmed Computers 215

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the sure-always-blame-the-it-guys dept.
cloudscout writes "The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped over 400 points today. While there were various valid financial reasons for such a decline, some of the blame is being placed on computer systems that couldn't keep up with the abnormally high volume at the New York Stock Exchange and the resulting tremor as they switched over to a backup system."
Programming

+ - Who still uses Smalltalk?

Submitted by
itsmeront
itsmeront writes "There has been a lot of talk about the future of Smalltalk. There are number of Object Oriented Languages that are candidates for replacing Smalltalk. Why has Smalltalk lasted so long? Why do business software suppliers still choose Smalltalk? Who are the people that still bet on the future of Smalltalk and how do they manage to succeed. http://weeklysqueak.wordpress.com/2007/02/27/mindi ng-your-business-with-smalltalk-part-1-of-4/"
Databases

+ - MySQL Cookbook

Submitted by
Michael J. Ross
Michael J. Ross writes "Of all the technical challenges faced by the typical experienced computer programmer, questions about syntax form a relatively small portion. This is especially true now that current coding editors and IDEs offer statement expansion and syntax checking. Rather, the most common type of technical challenge is understanding how to solve a specific data access or manipulation problem. Hence the growing popularity of programming "cookbooks," which are filled with "recipes," each comprising a concise statement of a focused problem, followed by a solution, with plenty of sample code to show how to implement it. For developers using the MySQL database system, the gold standard of such books is MySQL Cookbook, by Paul DuBois.

Published by O'Reilly Media, the second edition appeared in November 2006, under the ISBN-10 of 059652708X and the ISBN-13 of 978-0596527082. This new edition has been updated for MySQL version 5.0. The publishers have a Web page devoted to the book, where the visitor can find both brief and full descriptions of the book, an online table of contents and index, a sample chapter (number 5, "Working with Strings") in PDF format, errata (none reported as of this writing), and a way to post your own review on the O'Reilly Web site. There are also links for purchasing the book, or reading an online version, in the Safari Bookshelf program.

The bulk of the book's material is divided among 20 chapters, covering a wide range of topics: Using the mysql Client Program; Writing MySQL-Based Programs; Selecting Data from Tables; Table Management; Working with Strings; Working with Dates and Times; Sorting Query Results; Generating Summaries; Obtaining and Using Metadata; Importing and Exporting Data; Generating and Using Sequences; Using Multiple Tables; Statistical Techniques; Handling Duplicates; Performing Transactions; Using Stored Procedures, Triggers, and Events; Introduction to MySQL on the Web; Incorporating Query Results into Web Pages; Processing Web Input with MySQL; Using MySQL-Based Web Session Management.

Most of these chapters contain a generous number of sections, each serving as a recipe for a specific problem within MySQL. Two of the chapters have only four such recipes, but most have a dozen or more, with a few of them boasting more than three dozen recipes. Each recipe begins with a brief problem statement, and usually an equally brief solution statement, followed by a much more lengthy discussion, which contains the actual explanation of the solution, the sample code, and the expected output of that code. Some of the sections conclude with a mention of related recipes that could also be consulted.

This book, like so many other programming cookbooks, is weakened by the practice of offering a "Solution" subsection that consists of only one or two sentences — so terse and high-level that it provides, for all practical purposes, no solution to the reader. The actual solution is found in the "Discussion" subsection, which follows. This practice makes no sense. Because both subsections address the problem solution, they should be combined into a single subsection, naturally labeled "Solution." It appears that the purpose of the current Solution statements is to provide a terse summary. If so, then it should be labeled as such, yet still included within the new Solution subsection.

Despite this illogical division of each solution into two subsections, the content of the problem solutions found in MySQL Cookbook should be quite valuable, for several reasons: Firstly, the author has chosen the sorts of problems, within each category, that the MySQL programmer would typically encounter. No doubt this is a consequence of Paul DuBois being the author of a number of MySQL books, as well as one of the earliest contributors to the online MySQL Reference Manual. Secondly, the solutions work, and have been demonstrated to do so. Thirdly, the writing style is straightforward, which is characteristic of O'Reilly's titles. Fourthly, all of the problem solutions contain sample code and its output, which not only demonstrate the validity of each solution (as noted in my second point), but also allows the reader to see how the solution works simply by reading the material, and not having to type in the sample code to get the output within their own development environment — assuming one is even at hand, when reading the book.

The bulk of MySQL-related code in use today, was created not just to be accessed within a database client program, such as mysql, but instead from interpreted programming languages — especially those used heavily on Web sites. This is one area where MySQL Cookbook really shines, because it contains a large amount of sample code in Perl, PHP, Python, Java, and even Ruby. That is not to say that every code sample in one language has corresponding samples for all of the other languages; that would undoubtedly make the book much longer than it currently is, and probably unwieldy. But in cases where all of the languages are capable of expressing brief solutions, then they are included.

Regardless of whether the reader chooses the print or online versions, there are roughly two ways to make use of this book. If a programmer wishes to significantly increase their knowledge of what MySQL can do for them, and also increase their comfort level with utilizing those capabilities, then they might elect to read the book from stem to stern. Given that this would involve reading over 900 pages, it would certainly take some time for the average developer, but arguably could be time well spent. At the other end of the spectrum, the reader might elect to peruse individual sections that look interesting — particularly if they are relevant to a current project. This approach is certainly doable, because each of the recipes is self-contained, without the cross-referencing seen in many non-recipe style books. Admittedly, there are some "See Also" sections, but they are relatively few in number, with largely optional information, and tend to simply enrich the book's presentation, rather than frustrating the reader by pointing to other areas of the book.

This new edition of MySQL Cookbook concludes with four appendices, and an index. The first appendix explains where to obtain the software for MySQL, the five API programming languages used in the book, and the Apache Web server. The second appendix shows how to execute programs written in those five interface languages, on the command line. The third appendix is a fairly substantial primer on Java Server Pages (JSP) and Tomcat, providing an overview of servlets and JSP, as well as how to install and set up a Tomcat server, the Tomcat directory structure, the basics of JSP pages, and more. The last appendix lists resources outside the book for MySQL and the five aforementioned languages.

Unlike far too many programming books on the market now, this book's index is generally quite thorough, which is essential for a work of this size (975 pages). The recipe titles in the table of contents, are detailed enough to make it possible for the reader to locate the appropriate recipe in the book for their particular problem — assuming the book addresses that problem — and are grouped by subject, making it easier to find related recipes, which oftentimes can provide insight into other problems that they do not address directly.

Despite the obvious effort that has gone into both editions of this book, there are still some areas for improvement, and most of them are related to the readability of the sample code. Admittedly, there are different schools of thought as to optimal coding style, including use of whitespace, the placement of braces, and other matters. This assessment can only be my own opinion, based upon years of reading other people's code. The sample code in MySQL Cookbook would be more readable if more whitespace were utilized to separate function and variable names from open and close parentheses. This is especially true for the SQL code and MySQL extensions, for which all of the keywords are in all uppercase. The code fragments and full programs written in the API languages — such as Perl and PHP — are more readable, though they sometimes suffer from nondescriptive variable names. One might argue that the aforesaid choices are needed to cut down on the space consumed by the code on the book's pages. But if that were true, then the author likely would not have wasted an entire line for each open brace. Last, and certainly not least for the programmer who would like to try out the author's sample code in their own environment, it is unfortunate and inexplicable as to why the sample code is not offered on the O'Reilly Web site for downloading.

All in all, MySQL Cookbook is a well-organized and neatly written work, which should be of tremendous value to any software developer trying to find proven solutions to common database programming problems.

Michael J. Ross is a Web consultant, freelance writer, and the editor of PristinePlanet.com's free newsletter. He can be reached at www.ross.ws, hosted by SiteGround."
Quickies

+ - Using Hardware to Clone Hardware

Submitted by
narramissic
narramissic writes "If you've ever been asked to install, configure, and deploy a number of servers as quickly and efficiently as possible, you know there are three main methods: build by hand, script part or all of the install and configuration, or image the hard drives. Here's a tip (a twist on hard drive imaging) for using hardware to clone hardware, instead of using software."

"Pascal is Pascal is Pascal is dog meat." -- M. Devine and P. Larson, Computer Science 340

Working...