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Whatever Happened To Programming? 623

Mirk writes "In a recent interview, Don Knuth wrote: 'The way a lot of programming goes today isn't any fun because it's just plugging in magic incantations — combine somebody else's software and start it up.' The Reinvigorated Programmer laments how much of our 'programming' time is spent pasting not-quite-compatible libraries together and patching around the edges." This 3-day-old article has sparked lively discussions at Reddit and at Hacker News, and the author has responded with a followup and summation.

Amateur Records the "Sound" of Mars Express 52

gyrogeerloose writes "A French amateur radio operator who built his own ground station using equipment from an abandoned telecom uplink site has listened in on the ESA's Mars Express space probe. While his antenna is too small to allow him to download actual data, he was able to record and convert the signal of the probe's X-Band transmitter into an audio file."

Coping With 1 Million SSH Authentication Failures? 497

An anonymous reader writes "I own a small Web development studio that specializes in open source software, primarily Drupal, WordPress, and Joomla for small businesses. Our production servers, which host about 50 sites and generate ~20K hits/week, are managed by a 3rd party that I'm sure many on Slashdot would recognize. Earlier today I was researching some problems on one of our sites and found that there have been over 1 million SSH authentication failures from ~1200 IP addresses on one of our servers over the last year. I contacted the ISP, who had promised me that server security would be actively managed, and their recommendation was, 'change the SSH port!' Of course this makes sense and may help to an extent, but it still doesn't solve the problem I'm facing: how do you manage server security on a tight budget with literally no system admin (except for me and I know I'm a n00b)? User passwords are randomly generated, we use a non-standard SSH port, and do not use any unencrypted services such as FTP. Is there a server monitoring program you would recommend? Is there an ISP or Web-based service that specializes in this?"

Comment Re:What's the problem? Its only a patent pending. (Score 1) 200

Its only a patent application that has been very well written. There is nothing novel about it and it probably will be rejected. Many products like MS Windows have done this for some time. Its a form of "nag-ware" that has been applied in areas outside of games too. It is interesting to note it is actually a game in itself. Copyright is a more correct place for this and the USPTO has stated they'll crack down on applications of this sort.

Prior art is everywhere and this is just a matter of how much one can spend on lawyers. I should know. I'm involved in another patent which is probably valid. If its been published in print, that is prior art. Describing it on BBC at the start is not. This is how patent courts work. The test is to see if something previously written in software is 'prior art'. True, the 'one-click shopping' patent is pure troll. (It came from KDE, not my company at the time, DigiCash.) It is really a patent on scripts and what a script does at the most basic (high)level.

If software patents continue, those lands that accept them will lose out. You can't develop anything when you have to do a patent search and then patent it if its new. The end result would be fighting your patent and not doing anything useful.

True inventions apply science. ("Computer science" is a tool for science, not a science itself.) While software is truly engineering, it has no place with inventions: A new material, a novel application of a discovery (almost all inventions) and a process that leads to a novel substance, device or an improvement are inventions. The way aluminium is made today is invention. The structure of a computer and its parts is an invention and covers anything that can be done with it. The later is mathematical and expressly excluded. Modulation methods and codecs are a means to an end and while mathematical, qualify for short term protection. Crypto is probably just where it doesn't qualify. These are where 'the lines are drawn' in a rational legal environment.



Some Newegg Customers Received Fake Intel Core i7s 447

Several readers have mentioned the strange goods that some customers received from Newegg in place of the Intel Core i7 920 processor they ordered. Word on the problem first surfaced on TribalWar on Thursday evening. Newegg still hasn't commented on this. It's not known whether it happened as a result fraud by another Newegg customer, in shipping, or where. The "processors" are made of aluminum, and the "fans" are some kind of synthetic molded material. The "factory seal" was printed onto the box; the holographic stickers on the boxes were also faked. The first part of this video shows the bogus goods. At this writing Google News lists a handful of blogs mentioning the fakes.
The Media

Popular Science Frees Its 137-Year Archives 135

DesScorp writes "Popular Science magazine has scanned every issue they've ever produced, and posted the archives at their website, at no charge. 'We've partnered with Google to offer our entire 137-year archive for free browsing. Each issue appears just as it did at its original time of publication, complete with period advertisements. It's an amazing resource that beautifully encapsulates our ongoing fascination with the future, and science and technology's incredible potential to improve our lives. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do.'" First search: the history of the flying car.
The Internet

Why Wikipedia Articles Vary So Much In Quality 160

Hugh Pickens writes "A new study shows that the patterns of collaboration among Wikipedia contributors directly affect the quality of an article. 'These collaboration patterns either help increase quality or are detrimental to data quality,' says Sudha Ram at the University of Arizona. Wikipedia has an internal quality rating system for entries, with featured articles at the top, followed by A, B, and C-level entries. Ram and graduate student Jun Liu randomly collected 400 articles at each quality level. 'We used data mining techniques and identified various patterns of collaboration based on the provenance or, more specifically, who does what to Wikipedia articles,' says Ram. The researchers identified seven specific roles that Wikipedia contributors play (PDF starting on page 175): Casual Contributor, Starter, Cleaner, Copy Editor, Content Justifier, Watchdog, and All-round Editor. Starters, for example, create sentences but seldom engage in other actions. Content justifiers create sentences and justify them with resources and links. The all-round contributors perform many different functions. 'We then clustered the articles based on these roles and examined the collaboration patterns within each cluster to see what kind of quality resulted,' says Ram. 'We found that all-round contributors dominated the best-quality entries. In the entries with the lowest quality, starters and casual contributors dominated.'"

Comment Getting Flash to work was a pain (Score 1) 132

But FreeBSD will protect you. I doubt Mozilla will ever catch me with a vulnerable version unless you say all Flash is vulnerable -- a point I won't argue. At least I have a 'kill script' to kill an annoying flash page.
While preserving the text I really want. For most viewing (video) I use VLC, clive and a script to glue them together. (written is sh -- hint tested with bash too) See the benefits of open source software?


Sorry Microsoft -- you sold the only good thing you had -- Office. Lets hope the designers will revolt and force the source open. They are, after all the only known RealHackers(tm) in Microsoft!

Comment Repetitio Est Mater Studiorum (Score 1) 1345

For some subjects, absolutely. I'm still wishing, however, that our local schools' science departments would emphasize the observation/experience connection to wonderment and hypotheses. Instead, we have a (very well ranked) system that focuses heavily on standardized tests (which is probably why they are ranked so high).

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