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Comment Linux is a Kernel. Android is not *GNU*/Linux. (Score 5, Insightful) 233

What ever are you babbling on about? Android is a general purpose OS built on a Linux foundation that can run any code you want to run on it

This is one of the few cases where RMS's rambling about GNU and how distros should be called "GNU/Linux" actually makes sense.

LINUX is only a KERNEL.
As in the stuff that directly talks to your hardware and handles low-level stuff.

Above this kernel, you need a "userland" actual regular programs which are called.
And Android DOES NOT use the same GNU userland as most distributions.
Whereas regular distribution are "GNU/Linux" (i.e.: runs the Linux kernel and a bunch of userland program, lots from the GNU project [for low-level stuff like C library, shell, etc.], but quite a lots of other stuff [KDE, Firefox, LibreOffice.org]) and are fully POSIX compatible and can run almost any general purpose UNIX software out of the box (as long it was compiled for it), Android is Linux kernel + a very special userland made by Google (among which the most well known part is the Dalvik java-like environment. Even the C library is Google's own Bionic instead of the usual glibc, ulibc and other forks).
Out-of-the box, Android doesn't run most Unix software because several parts are missing.

(This is different from other mobile OS: Maemo/Meego/whatever-the-nom-du-jour-is, OpenMoko's SHR, Palm/HP WebOS, etc. all run a normal GNU/Linux stack, although in WebOS case, it uses a non standard gui instead of X.
Even router provide a unix like environment, only using more light-wieght embed-friendly components like Busyboy and ulibc or eglibc and without a graphic interface at all)

Again, the usual user-land, the "GNU/" part of "GNU/Linux" is missing.

(I run Debian in a chroot environment on my Android phone as just one example).

That's what your compensating by running a Debian chroot. You provide the missing userland.

You share the same kernel (Linux), but run a different set of userland programs on it. You provied a C library (I think Debian moved to eglibc ?) a shell, and hundreds of other part that make the userland environment. You provide back the "GNU/" part of "GNU/Linux".
And now, thanks to all the pieces provided by your chroot, you can run any Unix code.

Now, indeed, this is possible because Android uses the Linux kernel as a foundation, and its opensource make it possible to port a Debian userland to Android and run it along the normal system. So in a way you're right.

But I insist, Android is unlike any other GNU/Linux distribution around. (And until recently, it needed some special kernel functions that weren't in stock kernels).

This is unlike other Linux based mobile device, which already are based mostly on these pieces. You don't need to provide them. You can already run most of what you want on Maemo/Meego, OpenMoko, webOS based device (except for the part of webOS lacking X out of the box).

Out of the box, an Android machine is designed to run the default apps packaged with it and to fetch special android-apps from a special app market.

Now, thank to the general openness of the platform, it is possible to repurpose it, but out of the box, this is not your regular Unix-like OS. You need to install a chroot, or at least a lot of userland components.

And that's what the parent was referring to:
- Android stick : runs android, designed to run a few android apps (but you can do more if you want).
- RPi : runs a GNU/Linux disto, designed to pretty much do anything you want out of the box.

but that in no way makes the Android device limited to only certain things.

Android makes the device limited to run only Android apps out-of-the-box, unless you go out of the way and install the missing userland bit to turn it into a full Unix-like box.
But thanks to the open nature of the Linux kernel, this is actually possible. (It's not a locked down device that needs to be hacked)

Android and the classic Unix-like userland (of debian) are completely orthogonal one to another.

Comment Biology 101 (Score 4, Informative) 76

There is signifcant risk. You can get sick from eating it.


First and fore most:
- Influenza is a virus.
- It doesn't have a biochemistry of its own, it must use its host's. outside of a cell it's just an inert object.
- It is produced by one infected cell in the sick individual. And needs to reach a fresh cell within its (short) life time.
(its a virus containing RNA, and not encapsulated in a protein shell but in a lipid membrance. This means it won't survive long without a host cell whose biochemistry to use).
In short: that means that it must be quickly sneezed onto someone else (aerosol and particulate transmission). IT CANNOT STAY LURKING FOR A LONG TIME OUTSIDE IT'S PREVIOUS HOST UNTIL IT MEETS A NEW ONE.
This a *virus* (and a fragile one). Not a *bacteria*, not a *bacteria's spore*. Not a parasite. Nor one of the few more durable viruses wich might, under the right condition, resist a longer time until finding a new host (HIV viruses hidden inside the needle of a used syringe can survive a few hours before finding a new host)

- That means you need a living host, with living cell secreting viruses to transmit it.
- A fried émicé in a nice curry sauce sevred along a side dish of rice *DEFINITELY FAILS* the "living cell" definition.

Also, if you're cooking impaired:
- poultry meat is ALWAYS served thoroughly cooked. chicken are rather filthy animals and if you don't cook their meat, you're at high risk of food poisoning due to parasites, bacteria, and other stuff. Influenza is the least of your problems. YOU CAN'T EAT CHICKEN RAW.
- cooking destroys and sterilise almost anything (the only exception are prions. prions could somewhat survive some amount of cooking and still be able to replicate afterward. mad cow disease CAN BE transmitted by cooked food, but that's an exception)
- viruses will be *COMPLETELY DESTROYED* during the cooking (along with all the other bad stuff. this make the food safe and edible. cooking was invented exactly for this purpose) the only usual risks that remain after cooking are non infectious but chemical (pollution, toxins, poison).

Last but not least:
- Avian flu (H5N1) is *A. BIRD. DISEASE*.
- It's got a Haemagglutinin 5 (H5) on its surface - that's were it's codename comes from.
- H5 binds to bird cell. It can easily infect birds.
- H1, H2 and H3 are the one binding to human cells. You would need on of these to infect humans.
- It can only *very very very rarely* enter a human host, only by sheer luck, almost *by error*. We're speaking about a few dozens of individuals each year during avian flu outbreaks, and this is mostly the poeple who are exposed to birds a lot (the farmers handling them working in the overcrowded farms with thousand of chicken cramed in a small place. not the guy eating a chicken wing).

So even if the virus was magically able to survive a long time outside a living host (it doesn't) AND even if the virus was able to magically survive cooking (it doesn't neither) chance for catching avian flu through eating are close to none.

On the other hand, if you're a poor farmer working daily on a farm with thousands of chickens packed together and if an avian flu epidemic spreads among your flock, there's a small chance for you to catch it to. (And sadly for you, because you're a poor farmer in the backland and not a wealthy citizen in the big city, you will let the disease evolve without treatment, hoping that it will end on its own, and you might have a complication, like a pneumonia).

In short:
- You can catch bird flu, if you're a living bird and another living bird sneeze on you.
(Among birds, the oro-fecal pathway works too. Don't peck neither on other birds' fresh shit)

- You can catch bird flu, if you're a (living) human and you got sneezed on by sick birds several thousand times a day in the tiny overcrowded farm where you work and you are not lucky.
If you're already sick and *really not lucky at all*, you could even father a human-spreading hybrid.
(- same as above, but higher risk rates, if you're a pig).

- You *CAN'T* catch bird flu, if you're a (healthy) human eating a deep fried chicken.

However it can't spread to human to human ... yet.That is the part that is missing.
The real risk from this is it can mutate or combine with another flu or cold virus that does have the gene for human to human transmission. A swine would be the perftect candidate if any are around the farm to do this. Also the virus could interact with a standard cold virus in a human and then with that mutation can spread person to person as a very lethal virus.

Thank you for repeating the second half of my post.
That explains why an epidemic of flu among chicken is problematic to humans.
Bird flu is not dangerous to humans per se. But if it spreads among birds, you increase the chance of making a hybrid which will be abble to spread among humans.
That's one of the reason will you want to avoid a bird flu epidemic among birds.

As I said, you don't want 1 virus managing to win the mutation/evolution lottery and gain capability to spread among humans.

Comment Not Android's problem (Score 1) 152

According to RMS, Android is NOT free software, and this is because of nasty policies of google to misuse free software.

Read your quote. The problem is not Android it self, the problems are BLOBs (binary large ojects) - big pieces of non-free software that is installed on some machine and is required to run them.

Android it self is open-source. You can get 3rd party modified builds (like CyanogenMod), a sure sign that the freedom to tinker (FSF's and RMS's goals in life) are respected. BUT...

Several ARM chipsets (including the one used in the TFA's motherboard) need a proprietary binary driver for the graphic core. (Some other components, like webcam, and radio interfaces, might need such modules too. Like the camera of HP's phones and tablets. At least for this laptop, TFA's author plan to USB webcams so it would be easy to select some standard UVC cams).

So the stuff installed on an Android phone might not be entirely opensource. You can get a 3rd party firmware, but you're not entirely free to tinker it: you might need non-free bits (mostly the openGL ES modules and drivers) to make it work.


People reading sources like Phoronix might have noticed that some mobile GPUs are either getting reverse engineered drivers (similar to Nouveau for Nvidia on the desktop) or even getting collaboration from the original manufacturer (like the opensource drivers for AMD on the desktop).
Lima for Mali, Freedno for Adreno, even Nvidia having released specs and code for the 2D part of Tegra, etc.

So, someday it should be possible to install a fully opensourced variant of Android on your phone/tablet/netbook. Although maybe not with all feature fully functional (it's going to take some time until the opensource drivers are on par with the current closed source BLOBs. And some other parts, like webcams, might still not be opensourced).

I addition to RMS's rant, I should add another problem: DRM/Tivoization. Some devices don't let you install your arbitrary firmware, and require you to jump through hoops in order to be able to run non-signed code. (like the whole story with "Gold-Cards" and replacing the booting firmware on some HTC phones).

Also, Google deliberately delays in publishing source code, and with all of these, it is shameful for Google to call Android "free software".

As the author/copyright holder of the code of Android, they can do pretty much anything they like with their own code. (as any author holding copyright on any other piece of software can, too. Even Linus could make shit with the few parts of the Linux kernel he holds copyright on. Except that, as the copyright of Linux parts is distributed among lots of authors, the possibilities are much more limited).

In addition to that, the code is licensed under a BSD-like license. 3rd parties using it aren't require to release it either (the phone manufacturer aren't required to publish their modifictaions. Don't hope of HTC releasing their HTC Sense).

Now, the most critical part is the Linux kernel, and due to its GPL licensing, 3rd parties like Google and manufacturer ARE REQUIRED to publish their modifications, and they do.
So anything required to boot an android device (minus binary drivers and DRM as mentioned before) is available, even if you might be limited to use another users space (using stock opensource android, instead of HTC's sense).

As of google delaying releases (well beside the fact that as mentionned before, they have the right to do it being the authors and copyright holder) well:
- They have explained their reasons: Android 3.x was a quickly hacked/cobled together version to have it run on tablets. The code was a hackish mess, they didn't want to publish the code until having cleaned and stabilised it for Android 4.x.
- They have always kept their promise to release code (even if they weren't required to): Android 4x *IS* out.

And most importantly:
free software is above all about the freedom to tinker.
the current situation doesn't prevent these freedom.
even if the manufacturer and/or carrier are assholes and refuse to upgrade the firmware and you're stuck with a buggy Androird 3.x derivative on your device,
you can still get a 3rd party free alternative firmware, and boot your own custimozied linux kernel, with your own compiled andoird 4.x on the device. (like for example a firmware from Cyanogen).

Again, the only limits are availability of drivers as mentioned in your quote of RMS. And DRM making the installation of 3rd party more difficult.
The slowness of google release and a skipped version (again, skipped. as in "there's no public 3.x, wait for the 4.x version very soone". not as in "we'll definitely stop releasing code after 3.x forever") doesn't prevent your freedom, at worse it requires a little bit patience.

Comment Dumb questions (Score 1) 346

I still don't get it why such things are considered "security question".
The only thing they might protect against is a completely blind random automated probing.

And I can't understand why in 2012 anyone would still give actual answers to this question: it take a couple of seconds maximum to find the relevant info on facebook.
If you can't block such security holes, at least use some form of joke or pun: you mother's maiden name is "Chtulhu" or "this is none of your business" as First pet, etc.
If a celebrity use as security measure, an info that 99.9% of her fan know already, she almost deserve to get her nude pic uploaded.

(and that's ignoring the fact that some of them would probably enjoy the free publicity).

Comment No risk in the meat (Score 4, Insightful) 76

Oh sure, apparently if you cook the chicken thoroughly the chances of catching the virus a minimum, but still..

Influenza is a virus. It's a thing which spread from one living being to another. It has nothing to do with your food. *You* could eat sicked chicken without any risk as long as it's dead and cooked (and you have to cook poultry thoroughly if you don't want to have a big food poisoning problems anyway).

Also, birdflu is a *BIRD* disease, humans normally don't catch it under normal circumstances. (The 'H5' receptor on the virus only binds to chicken cells. You need H1 or H3 to bind to human cells easily if my memory serves me right) So even if you have a sick chicken in your house, chance are almost nothing would probably happen to you.

The problem is not *you*. The problem with is with the high density of birds in those farms and their massive (over-)population.
If one single chicken catches the bird flu, it can spread very quickly to the whole farm, then neighbouring farm, then the whole region (same as human flu at a workplace in a densely populated area).
If you don't stop the disease today, by killing the 150'000 chicken who were in direct contact with a sick chicken (and could catch it) today, then in a few days, you'll have a dozen of million of sick birds on your hands and a massive epidemiological problem. (Same with humans: If you don't stay at home when you're sick, you're going to make all your colleagues sick and before you know, the whole building housing your workplace is full of cick people).

In addition to that, if there's such a massive amount of virus spreading around, there's a tiny bit of risk that "by error" a virus infects a human who is a lot in contact with the chickens and the bird epidemic (and by "a lot" i really mean "a lot". As in "the farmer who work in the chicken farm everyday". Not as in "some random guy who happen to eat chicken").
For the human him-/her-self this isn't necessarily bad news (in a big city, in theory... sadly we're usually speaking about very poor farmers in remote area, so their accessibility to proper treatment is very likely to be sub-optimal). Nor is it a direct danger for other humans around (it was already a big amount of luck that the *bird* virus managed to infect a human. Jumping from that point onward to another human *again* is like winning a lottery 2 times in a row: *very* unlikely).
But due to the peculiarities of influenza genetics, inside the human the bird flu virus could get mixed with a human flu it the human has it too. (The bird flu stealing the gene for the correct receptor to be able to efficiently bind and infect human cells). The same could also happen inside an animal which could catch both flu at the same time (pigs can occasionally catch bird flu, and pigs can also catch human flu - this a pig could also serve this role of mixer).
And *this* mutant hybrid would be problematic because this new humanized bird flu could cause an epidemic among the human population.

In short, the sick chickens aren't dangerous for humans. They are not killed because of that. The reason they are killed is to stop the bird flu spreading and causing an epidemics among the birds. And also to lower the risk that 1 virus manage to win the lottery and become a human-infecting hybrid and in turn cause a human epidemic.

But the flesh is perfectly edible. You can safely eat chicken, and you can safely take advantage of the lower prices.

(It's a different situation than the mad cow disease.
Mad cow disease is due to a protein, which survives cooking.
Bird flu is due to a virus, which requires a living bird, and doesn't infect humans anyway).

Comment It's just a UI (Score 2) 210

Seems like it would take a whole lot more.

VLC is already modularized. Most of the functionality resides inside a library, and this library has already been ported to ARM CPUs too.

The only thing needed is "just" yet another UI. Next to the classic windows, Mac OS X Quartz, Linux GTK, Linux QT, textmode and a few other less known, they now need to add a metro interface.
It's basically just making new menu/button that work nicely on a metro tile, and connecting them to the already existing portable VLC engine.

That will actually require only a couple of week-ends worth of time.

The rest of the time budget will probably be spent getting everything working together nicely, and ironing out bugs (which *WILL* take a lot more time, specially given the complexity of VLC).

Comment Not quite as simple (Score 5, Interesting) 248

First you have to know which compound of the venom are the active ingredient (a venom is not a single molecule, it's a big mix of lots of substances).

Maybe the important part are just small peptide (works also for small nucleic acid strands). In this case, yes: just slap the gene inside a bacteria or yeast and just harvest the thing in a huge brewery tank. This will cost a tiny fraction of the current method. (as in "a few bucks for a dozen of kilograms"). Washing industry thrives on this kind of process and has already made it fucking incredibly cheap (do you really think that the digestive enzyme in your washing powder where harvested from actual animals ?)

But maybe not. Maybe it can be a complex protein that requires some post processing (chaperone helping to fold it into an unusual shape, enzyme modifying some parts) - (but very unlikely. If the venom can cross the skin without injection, it needs to be something small). Or maybe it can be a small chemical molecule that is produced by a long and complex chain of chemical reaction necessitating a big collection of enzymes (very likely, given that it can easily cross the skin).
In this case you need to identify the candidate, understand the process that produce it (not impossible but it takes time), and then either put the whole machinery inside yeast (bacteria post-process a lot less their proteins) and go for the brewery-tank method, or replicate the synthesis in another way (produce the protein in bacteria and then do the modification in a lab. Or find a way to synthetise the small chemical compound by using a sequence of chemical reactions in a lab) and scale it up to industrial scale.
This *WILL* end up being incredibly cheap in the long term, but requires much more research and development.

There's a whole branch of science to study that, called "Venomics".

Until then, you're stuck at putting bee on a micro electric chair until they are so pissed of that they start stinging the glass.

(And I'm betting that perhaps, all the benefit come from the few traces of adrenalin-like substance that the bee end-up secreting after going through such predicament and of which a small part might end up in the venom itself).

But the fact that they extract only a gram from a whole hive, means that they are probably concentrating/extracting the product already, so they know already a few tips in which direction to look to find the interresting part.

Comment Generation time lenght (Score 1) 221

We have bred various breeds of dogs, horses, cats, swine, chickens, and other animals for our own purposes, within the span of recorded history. {...} If we can make evolutionary changes in those animals, then we can experience evolutionary changes ourselves within the span of recorded history.

The problem with this is the time that 1 generation takes.
- For bacteria, you can observe a lot interesting stuff happening, because a single generation has a time span between couple of dozens of minute and a hour. On a single day you can get near to 100 generations. Spend just 1 week observing them (a little bit less than a thousand generations), and you can see the effect of lots of generation reproducing and adapting and evolving. (That why bacteria are so problematic regarding antibiotic resistance: they evolve rapidly simply because they live at another time scale).
- All the animals you mention have generations that take a couple of years. To observe the effect of evolution (still aiming for a thousand+ generations), you need quite a lot of generations, over a couple of millennia (which is, *indded* the span of recorded history).
- Humans are among the slowest animals to reach maturity, they only start reproducing after a decade and a half, 10 time longer than the other animals you mention. Thus still keeping the time frame you give, this would require a 10 time longer time span to observe the same amount of evolution. We're not speaking a couple of millennia here, but a couple of dozens of millennia, which is much longer than recorded history (and coincidentally is around the age of the homo sapiens specie - so indeed we can expect to have evolution happening at this time scale. The diversifications of ethnicities, for example).

In short:
1000 generations of a bacteria != 1000 generations of cats != 1000 generations of humans != 1000 generation of even slower maturing living being (some trees for example).

And that's neglecting the whole question of evolutionary pressure.

Comment As a cheap dev platform (Score 1) 353

Why anyone on /. can seriously believe that Valve intends to maintain their Linux port one moment beyond the announcement of the "SteamBox" baffles me

Because (according to several sources of information, including Phoronix whose Micheal has interviewed Gabe at Valve) Valve is interested in keeping "Steam-on-*any*-Linux" in addition to "Steam-on-the-specific-Ubuntu-fork-running-on-Steambox", because that will be a nice dev platform for indie and other small studios. Currently alternatives from the other big players is still expensive for indie and amateurs.

Also, Valve has expressed interests in not locking down too much this future console, but keeping it hacker/mod friendly for those still interested.

And from a practical point of view, once you have a Steam running nicely on a linux-powered machine, having Steam run on any random linux distro (or even other unix-like OSes) doesn't require much more efforts, and the Linux community has already highly motivated people to put a huge part of the efforts (packaging, testing, patching bugs in system libraries, collaborating with valve to fix steam or source, etc - for example as soon as the Ubuntu DEBs were released in closed beta, several other distros got their own steam package with all the necessary libraries) so it's not like "maintaining their Linux port" is going to cost any more resources.

Comment Risk vs. benefits (Score 1) 528

If every teacher had one of these along with the training on how to use it when that nut kicked in the door

A. ...you would maybe have stunned the one real wannabe mass killer who would have otherwise done something stupid this year (and thus maybe saved a couple of dozen of potential victims).

B. ...and you would have a country filled with countless problems of abusive tasering (badly behaving kids who got on the nerves of their teachers. Not that the brats were in their rights to begin with. But using a potentially lethal weapon to deal with verbal menace or bad behavious *is* inappropriate) and several extra cases of taser-related deaths on top of the usual ones.
Just look at how much cases of inappropriate tasering there has been since tasers became popular among various security branches.

(And I'm not counting in the potential of malevolent kids stealing their teacher's electrical weapon for nefarious purposes)

Comment Still waiting... (Score 1) 331

...yup but sadly 2 decades after Maastritch, there still isn't a common EU taxation law.

So currently, corporation get to game the system all they want - thanks to the increased mobility offered by the european union.
But there's no way for the state to get money to finance eduction, health, and so on. Because of lack of a European-level tax.
(more likely instead of an actual tax - i.e.: an extra tax to be paid by individuals and corporations - it would be better as flux of money between states. If all corporation run away to ireland, it would be fair for ireland to pay to the EU a share of the increased income coming from the companies moving in).

Curriously: although it's not even actual part of the EU but just having bilateral convention with it, and although its considered as a tax haeven, Switzerland DOES give money to the EU currently.

Comment BUT THEY ARE LEGAL (Score 1) 331

These tax avoidance schemes play a significant role in the current global financial crisis, and the debt problems of countries like the US. It also represents an highly unfair competitive advantage for large multinationals in competition with smaller national-scaled companies.

But, it *still* *completely* *LEGAL*. Unfair, unethical, but legal.

If you have a problem with that, don't sue them.

If you have a problem with companies gaming the system in order to take advantage of it, don't try to hit them (other will take turns and you're in for a huge whack-a-mole game). Try to change the system itself. Try to bring new laws, try to create new international tax scheme.
(And try to find a way to do it without alienating said company and having them run away from you).

Comment Huge difference (Score 2) 331

There's a practical difference (at least that's how it's defined in Switzerland - which is one of the possible tax avoidance place, although far less attractive than the ones in the summary).

- One is *lying*, giving false information and not paying the taxes you're required by law to pay. You pretend you don't have money and try to hide it (in order not to pay taxes. But according to the law you should be paying taxes). This is illegal. A person or a company doing so should be persecuted.

- The other is just shifting money around. You're absolutely honest and give any needed information out. You simply move the money to another place, where the tax happen to be lower than the first place. Once there, you openly collaborate with the local tax institution, declare all the money you have and pay all the taxes you're required to pay. It just happens that said taxes are lower than in the country of origin. But nothing is hidden, all money is openly accounted for. No one pretends anything false. This *IS LEGAL*. A person or a company doing so is just cleverly playing the system. WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE is collaborating with the local government so some tax money is funneled back to the original country.

Ireland, for example, has almost no taxes. There's nothing wrong in the law about storing your money there. There's nothing wrong about paying almost no taxes (as long as you declare everything and don't hide anything). If you're unhappy with this, you should bring to court the company putting their money there. you should instead write to your politician asking that the European Union finally comes up with a solution for EU-level taxes (so money is shared between Ireland and the other countries where the money was prior transfer but were the company isn't paying taxes).

Comment New Wifi (Score 1) 553

So if some new technology comes out... won't work for Windows 7. Imagine if this spring, some new version of WiFi is released that works over distances of 20 miles, at gigabit speeds, and allows infinite porn downloading.

You mean, like IEEE 802.11ac? :-D

More seriously:
A new feature will probably be supported the same way Bluetooth was supported before microsoft included it into the service pack: an ugly vendor specific hack included with the driver.
So the end user will be stuck between two hard choices:
- keep the older OS version and put up with the crappy stack
- pay and upgrade to the newer OS version with buil-in official support

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