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Hardware Hacking

Submission + - Blind Accessibility, VAXen, and BSD

Mortimer.CA writes: The most recent BSDTalk (#143) has an interview with Deborah Norling (who's blind) where she talks about: command-line accessibility, documentation quality, using (serial port) Braille and speech systems on old PDPs and VAXen/s, GUI screen readers, and SIMH.
Operating Systems

FreeBSD 7.0 Bests Linux In SMP Performance 288

cecom writes "After major improvements in SMP support in FreeBSD 7.0, benchmarks show it performing 15% better than the latest Linux kernels (PDF, see slides 17 to 19) on 8 CPUs under PostgreSQL and MySQL. While a couple of benchmarks are not conclusive evidence, it can be assumed that FreeBSD will once again be a serious performance contender. Some posters on LWN have noted that the level of Linux performance could be related to the Completely Fair Scheduler, which was merged into the 2.6.23 Linux kernel." Update: 03/06 21:32 GMT by KD : An anonymous reader sent in word that Linux kernel developer Nick Piggin reran the benchmark today and came to a different conclusion: In his benchmark Linux was faster than FreeBSD.

Submission + - AMD/ATI's opensource efforts revealed

mattaw writes: Phoronix have revealed in some detail the plan of AMD/ATI to support a community written Radeon opensource driver.

To whit, they are releasing specs and some example code under NDA and an opensource library that connects to the card's BIOS. They already have XOrg developers onboard and have also attracted Jerome Glisse who reverse engineered ATI cards to make the Avivio driver (incidentally probably killing that driver but the new ATI open driver will surely benefit from his excellent work).

While not completely open, this is pretty open for starters, HOWEVER I for one am not certain of things like support for hardware video decoding or extra on board hardware (TV-Out etc.).

Checkout the final comments: "The aim of this open-source driver is not to overtake the fglrx driver but rather is designed for those who just want a working desktop with 3D capabilities and basic video playback. This new driver is ideal for FOSS enthusiasts and those wishing to run the latest development kernels and versions of X.Org."

Still there is no argument that this is a brilliant result.

Submission + - Replacing a Voice Mail System

mikey1134 writes: "I am a Network Technician for medium-sized business firm in the north-eastern US. I have been charged with creating a backup to our voicemail system. The current implementation is a Lucent Intuity Audix system running on SCO Unixware system (let the joking ensue) The system is no longer supported by the installers and the only choice offered for a redundant system is a complete replacement with a price tag upwards of $20,000. We are looking at replicating the current system, but hardware for it (PXO, cards etc.) is hard to come by. I've considered suggesting something like Asterisk but I've never personally seen a voicemail-only implimentation. Can anyone point me in the right direction for either keeping the old system going (new hardware, etc.) or failing that, suggestions for a drop-in replacement system, preferably utilizing free software."
Operating Systems

Submission + - ASK Slashdot: Which Linux Flavor for Servers 1

BrownBag writes: First off, I'm a linux noob. My buddies and I are currently running our website on a webhost's Linux server. We've got the "AMP" part of LAMP down pretty good, and are now looking to colocate our own server running Linux. We are looking for a Linux distro that can scale well for multiple server growth (future), is rock solid, and configures well with memcache, load balancer, firewall etc. A free distro would be ideal, but if the Slashdot community recommends a Linux distro that is not free, that is fine as well, since our minds are open to grow with the right distro. I've done some searching on linux, but that is not yielding the fruit I am looking for. Our first goal would be to run it (learn it) as a localhost and configure it with Plesk or similar, to get ready for the real thing.
The Internet

Submission + - Gunplay blamed for Internet slowdown (networkworld.com)

coondoggie writes: "Internet service providers in the U.S. experienced a service slowdown Monday after fiber-optic cables near Cleveland were apparently sabotaged by gunfire. TeliaSonera AB, which lost the northern leg of its U.S. network to the cut, said that the outage began around 7 p.m. Pacific Time on Sunday night. When technicians pulled up the affected cable, it appeared to have been shot. "Somebody had been shooting with a gun or a shotgun into the cable," said Anders Olausson, a TeliaSonera spokesman. The company declined to name the service provider whose lines had been cut, but a source familiar with the situation said the lines are owned by Level 3 Communications Inc. Level 3 could not be reached immediately for comment. http://www.networkworld.com/news/2007/082107-gunpl ay-blamed-for-internet.html"
Linux Business

Submission + - BMC throws down open source licensing gauntlet (bmc.com)

An anonymous reader writes: BMC threw down an open source licensing gauntlet at OSCON by making several open source integration projects available under the BSD License. Claiming that the BSD conferred the most freedom on developers, and doesn't mandate what they can or must do with code they modify BMC's open source leader whurley continues to shock the systems management marketplace into submission publicly challenging HP, IBM, and CA to follow suit and provide their users and developers with true freedom. Linux Today , eWeek , The Register , and industry analyst James Governor all are shocked and impressed by this move, but the real question is...Can HP, CA, and IBM possibly keep up with BMC's new open source leadership and their unexpected openness.
Linux Business

Submission + - Linux and the Indy 500

tbone1 writes: "Teams from the Indy Racing League are in Indianapolis to prepare for The Indianapolis 500 on the 27th of May. There is a story in the Indianapolis Star about a local Linux programmer who is trying to get the Linux logo on a car. Usually it's the big companies who have year-long deals with the top IRL teams — Marlboro, Target, Motorola, etc — but for a small team racing at the 500 only, a small logo can be purchased for $11,000, or you can be a primary sponsor for about $350,000, and possibly get "Team Linux" in the car's name."
Linux Business

Submission + - Open-source wants open-wheel exposure

kurtis25 writes: "An Article in the Indianapolis Star shares the hopes of a computer programmer who is trying to raise enough money online to become an IRL sponsor, putting a big Linux penguin logo on a car in this years Indianapolis 500. According to the Tux 500 website the group is hoping to raise $350,000 by May 21 to be the primary sponsor of the car; they have already raised $11,000, enough to be a minor sponsor for a car which will sport a small penguin logo."

Submission + - H1-B visa abuse by Indian outsourcing firms

sledge_hammer writes: I found several articles detailing the ways in which the H1-B visas are being abused by Indian outsourcing firms. It provides evidence to a lot of the arguments already made on Slashdot including how lack of skilled labor should be driving IT wages up. Even though I am an Indian citizen that would need an H1-b to work in this country, I have to say that this a gross miscarriage of the program and raising the visa cap is not the solution to the problem. Personally, these abusive practices have resulted in me not having an H1 visa slot after this year's lottery even though I am a recent mech. engineering graduate of a top 10 school working for an industrial goods fortune 500 company and getting paid better on par with my peers and industry standards. http://www.sharedprosperity.org/bp187.html — Paper from the Economic Policy Institute detailing problems with the current system and ways in which it can be abused. http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/conten t/feb2007/db20070208_553356.htm — Article detailing how numerous outsourcing firms are abusing the system to gain visas. This in turn prevents legitimate employers from hiring foreign nationals. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/ch ronicle/archive/2007/03/30/EDGRJN7CFB1.DTL — Article about how Microsoft has been abusing the system for years. BTW sorry about the links, but I am a n00b, so I have no clue how to do HTML tags! :-)

Submission + - Google violating "Don't be Evil" motto?

ihuntrocks writes: "Search engine giant Google, along with several other large companies purchase their server systems from Dell. The catch: Dell doesn't do the work on them. Instead, it is contracted out to another company, which only hires temporary employees, the majority of which have no technical background whatsoever. This company also largely does not supervise these inexperienced employees, but rather leaves that task to other temporary employees (who may also have no technical knowledge). This often times leads to misconfiguration of things, like Google servers, or sometimes worse: systems leaving the warehouse completely blank. This lack of supervision and technical background allow employees to bypass the quality control checking and additional auditing on these systems and make such errors, often times with impunity when this is discovered by the company. I also believe, as an IS professional, that companies like the one contracted by Dell hurt trained and experienced IT/IS professionals by offering jobs like this to temporary employees only, for near poverty scale wages. These temporary employees are often hired at the end of the quarter, when Dell places things on sale, to meet the volume demand, and are then laid off until needed again. Are companies like Google hurting IT/IS professionals by allowing their work (perhaps unknowingly) to be done by companies like this? What do the members of the Slashdot community think should be done about this by companies like Google, if anything, and what should we, as IT/IS professionals do to preserve quality of work and competitive wages when faced with issues like this?"

Submission + - GM announces new electric vehicle: meet Chevy Volt

savuporo writes: Who killed the Electric Car ? Who cares, its alive again. General Motors has announced a new Chevy Volt at Detroit auto show. Its actually a plug-in serial hybrid, but can go 40 miles on purely electric mode on its lithium-ion battery pack. If driving less than that in a day, you never need to stop at the gas station again.

Submission + - Acer bugging computers

tomjen writes: What if a well known laptop company had silently placed an ActiveX Control on their computers that allowed any webpage to execute any program?

Well Acer did and they have (based on the last modified-by date of the file) been doing this since 1998.

"Checking the interface of the control reveals it has a method named "Run()" as shown below. The method supports parameters "Drive", "FileName", and "CmdLine". Isn't it strange for a control that's marked "safe for scripting" to allow a method that is suggestive of possible abuse?"
The Internet

Submission + - Registrar Cybersquatting on Searched Domains

neutronblast writes: I work at web development firm and recently we were searching for new domain names for a client by going to a registrar and seeing if any of them were availible. After finding the name that we wanted, we emailed the client to get approval to purchase the name. The next day when we went to register it we found that it had been registered by an "Internet Domain Holding Company" (a.k.a. cybersquatter) called Maltuzi, LLC.

Coincedence? I'm not sure. I did some research and came up with and article at this Wired Blog and on the forums at webmasterworld.

Has anyone else had this experience? If so, let this be a caution to you and to just pony up the 10 bucks if you think you might want the name.

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