Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! ×

Submission + - SPAM: Quicken Bill Pay is No Longer Safe to Use 1

Bruce Perens writes: I don't usually make security calls, but when a company makes egregious and really clueless security mistakes, it's often the case that the only way to attract their attention and get the issue fixed is to publicize it. This one is with Quicken Bill Pay, a product of Metavante (not Intuit). It's from personal observation rather than an expert witness case, and the company has been unresponsive through their customer support channel.
Link to Original Source

Submission + - MariaDB Fixes Business Source License, Releases MaxScale 2.1 (perens.com)

Bruce Perens writes: MariaDB is releasing MaxScale 2.1, a new version of their database routing proxy, and has modified its timed-transition-to-Open-Source Business Source License to make it more acceptable to the Open Source community and more easily usable by other companies. I've blogged the issues I had with the license and how MariaDB has fixed them, and Kaj Arno has blogged the MariaDB side of the story.

Submission + - Law for Autonomous Vehicles: Supporting an Aftermarket for Driving Computers (perens.com)

Bruce Perens writes: How will we buy self-driving cars, and how will we keep them running as self-driving software and hardware becomes obsolete much more rapidly than the vehicle itself? Boalt Hall legal professor Lothar Determann and Open Source Evangelist Bruce Perens are publishing an article in the prestigious Berkeley Technology Law Journal on how the law and markets might support an aftermarket for self-driving computers, rather than having the manufacturer lock them down or sell driving as a service rather than selling cars. The preprint is available to read now, and discusses how an Open Car, based on Open Standards and an Open Market, but not necessarily Open Source, can drive prices down and quality up over non-competitive manufacturer lock-in.

Submission + - Open Source Codec Encodes Voice Into Only 700 Bits Per Second (rowetel.com)

Bruce Perens writes: David Rowe VK5DGR has been working on ultra-low-bandwidth digital voice codecs for years, and his latest quest has been to come up with a digital codec that would compete well with single-sideband modulation used by ham contesters to score the longest-distance communications using HF radio. A new codec records clear, but not hi-fi, voice in 700 bits per second, that's 88 bytes per second. Connected to an already-existing Open Source digital modem, it might beat SSB.

Obviously there are other uses for recording voice at ultra-low-bandwidth. Many smartphones could record your voice for your entire life using their existing storage. A single IP packet could carry 15 seconds of speech. Ultra-low-bandwidth codecs don't help conventional VoIP, though. The payload size for low-latency voice is only a few bytes, and the packet overhead will be at least 10 times that size.

Submission + - Silicon Valley Readers Can Easily View the SpaceX Falcon 9 Return to Flight (perens.com)

Bruce Perens writes: A rocket launch is an awesome thing to see. The SpaceX Falcon 9, carrying 10 Iridium satellites, is expected to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in Lompoc, an easy (if somewhat tedious) drive from the San Francisco Bay Area, on Sunday, January 8. There's a chance, of course, that you won't see the launch, as launches frequently scrub and reschedule, etc. My success record is about 1 in 3 so far. But you can join me in trying to see the SpaceX Falcon 9 return to flight this Sunday by following these instructions.

Submission + - How to View the SpaceX Falcon 9 Return to Flight at Vandenberg Air Force Base (perens.com)

Bruce Perens writes: Silicon Valley folks should, sometime, take the opportunity to view a launch at Vandenberg Air Force Base. Lompoc is 4-5 hours from the Bay, 2.5 hours from LA if there's ever no traffic. An upcoming SpaceX launch is notable because it's their return to flight, months after their last attempt blew up on the pad during a pre-launch test. Read how to view the launch.

Submission + - Vandenberg Fire Threatens ULA, SpaceX Launches (latimes.com)

Bruce Perens writes: A fire at Vandenberg Air Force Base on the California coast, currently over 10,000 acres in size, has approached the pads used by SpaceX and United Launch Alliance. No structures have been damaged, but power lines have been destroyed. There is about 1000 feet of firebreak around each pad, but the presence of smoke and the absence of electrical power is potentially a problem for rockets, payloads, and ground-support equipment. The WorldView 4 satellite and a Delta 4, and a SpaceX Falcon 9 with at least 7 and potentially 11 Iridium satellites are known to be on site. Ground support equipment at the base constitutes the United States only access to polar orbit for large rockets without overflying populated areas. Liquid oxygen stored on the site may already have been released as a precaution or boiled off, and there are large supplies of rocket fuel, but these have so far not been at hazard.

The Soberanes fire near Big Sur, 180 miles farther South on the California coast, has gone on for two months, burning 185 square miles and costing over 200 Million dollars to fight with no end in sight. Obviously, it's dry out there.

Submission + - September 19th SpaceX Launch will be visible across California, Nevada. (reddit.com)

Bruce Perens writes: The nighttime launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 containing Iridium satellites at 9:49 PM PST Monday September 19th from Vandenberg AFB SLC-4 is likely to be visible across California and in some Nevada locations. Although Vandenberg has a landing pad for the Falcon under construction, this will probably be a drone-ship landing and some California observers might see two of the landing burns.

Submission + - Tesla Fatal Autopilot Accident Shows Superiority of Google's Approach (teslamotors.com)

Bruce Perens writes: Tesla has announced the first known fatality while using autopilot. Neither Autopilot nor the driver saw a white trailer side against a brightly-lit sky as a trailer turned into the path of the Tesla on a divided highway. Due to the trailer's wheel height, the Tesla hit the trailer windshield-first.

The interesting thing about this is that it would probably not have happened with a Google car, because Google makes use of radar that can see above the base of the windshield (probably critical in this case), and can identify pedestrians, bicycles, and other vehicles even through foliage and beyond the usual eyepoints of a human driver.

My impression is that Elon Musk has rejected a google-style radar as impractical mainly based upon it's appearance (it's a spinning cylinder atop the roof of the car). It might be time for Musk and Tesla to re-assess the practical sensor kit required for autopilot.

Tesla makes the point that this is only an investigation, and that the known death toll of Autopilot so far is lower than that for conventional automobiles.

Submission + - Home Depot Rejects Review Containing Safety Information 1

Bruce Perens writes: The "AFCI" breaker is a relatively new kind which detects hidden electrical sparks from poor series electrical connections, by receiving high electrical frequencies that electrical arcing emits. Such sparks can eventually cause a fire. In looking for one on the Home Depot site, I came upon this device, with a review from a customer who returned the breaker because it trips every week or two on their lighting circuit. This indicates exactly the problem the device is meant to catch.

Because there was no way to feed back to the reviewer, I wrote a second review with some safety advice, hoping to inform the next person to come by. But Home Depot rejected it, because it did not specifically discuss the product.

Of course we can't cure all of the world's fire hazards. But it's nice to point out a problem when you see one, lest some poor sap's home burn down. But this is difficult to do when staff at the vendor and its web site don't have a clue. Maybe some publicity on Slashdot will help.

Submission + - The Economy is Growing, but Carbon Emissions Aren't. That's a Really Big Deal. (washingtonpost.com)

Bruce Perens writes: This Washington Post story says that political policy changes aimed at reducing carbon emissions and economic change due to the availability of affordable less-carbon-emitting energy sources is working to reduce carbon emissions:

The IEA attributed the second straight year of decoupled growth and emissions to a greater uptake of renewable energy, particularly wind, and fewer emissions in China and the United States, the two largest emitters by far. The former country is cutting back its coal use deliberately, while in the U.S., market forces have had a similar effect, as cheap natural gas has pushed out a considerable volume of coal in electricity generation.


Submission + - Licensing Code Fragments in Your Blog - It Really Does Matter (perens.com)

Bruce Perens writes: I help some big companies stay on top of Open Source compliance. Last week, a customer found a code fragment that had originated in a blog, in the documentation-writing product of a very big software company that is concerned with documents and graphics. The file was meant to be re-distributed with documents my customer produced. The entirety of the blog was licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike. The big software company's code wasn't under any sort of share-alike license, and thus they were probably infringing on the blog author, and my customer was at risk of being a contributory infringer when it re-distributed this file.

We contacted the help desk of the big software company, and they might get back to us someday. Before getting louder with them, I contacted the blogger.

Bloggers have placed their work under Attribution Share-Alike and other restrictive licenses to prevent their work from being cloned improperly by unscrupulous people on the net, mostly search-engine-optimization scams. The Attribution Share-Alike license requires proper attribution of the author, and sharing of modifications under the same terms as the original. But like many of us, this blogger put code fragments in his writing, and intended for his readers to use them. CC Attribution Share-Alike isn't the right license for that purpose. It's not compatible with proprietary code, nor is it compatible with other share-alike licenses like the GPL.

The blogger admitted that it was tempting to get the big software company to take a look at its own compliance issues, but then graciously agreed to change his blog's licensing. Now, it's CC Attribution Share-Alike for the text, and the MIT license for the code fragments. And his readers can use the code fragments he publishes without worry, as the MIT license is compatible with pretty much everything.

Public domain or the BSD license would have worked as well. Remember that the default in copyright law is All Rights Reserved. If you don't put a public domain declaration or some sort of license on your code, other folks don't really have the legal right to use it at all.

Hopefully, other bloggers will see this and make sure their code fragments are licensed appropriately. Also, programmers should be careful to make sure that they have the right to use code, even if they're just pulling a dozen lines off of someone's blog. It's not at all clear that the fair use doctrine always applies to such use, make sure you have a license and attribute your copy properly.

Slashdot Top Deals

Take an astronaut to launch.

Working...