Jim Hall writes: In a June 29, 1994 post in comp.os.msdos.apps on USENET, a physics student announced an effort to create a completely free version of DOS that everyone could use. That project turned into FreeDOS, 20 years ago! Originally intended as a free replacement for MS-DOS, FreeDOS has since advanced what DOS could do, adding new functionality and making DOS easier to use. And today in 2014, people continue to use FreeDOS to support embedded systems, to run business software, and to play classic DOS games!
Jim Hall writes: Security blogger Krebs reports that Target's data breach started with a stolen HVAC account. Last week, Target said the initial intrusion into its systems was traced back to network credentials that were stolen from a third party vendor. Sources now claim that the vendor in question was a refrigeration, heating and air conditioning subcontractor that has worked at a number of locations at Target and other top retailers. Attackers stole network credentials from Fazio Mechanical Services, then used that to gain access to Target's network. It’s not immediately clear why Target would have given an HVAC company external network access, or why that access would not be cordoned off from Target’s payment system network.
Jim Hall writes: "I'd like Slashdot's help in a study I'm working on, about software usability — specifically, the usability of open source software. My history in writing and contributing to Free and open source software goes back to 1993 (including FreeDOS, etc) so I know most open source developers put functionality and features first, and the user interface is "form follows function." That means a lot of open source programs can be difficult for "average" folks to use — and sometimes, even for other developers to use. My study will include a usability test, and the output will be an analysis of open source software, identifying features that make for successful usability so other open source programmers can use that for their own programs. You can find more information at my blog. My question for Slashdot is this: What open source programs have good usability? What open source programs would you recommend for this study?"
Jim Hall writes: "Many of us in IT recognize that software patents are a bad idea — you can patent just about anything if you put "on a computer" at the end of it. But now we can finally do something about it. Congress is considering the America Invents Act — your Representatives are very interested in hearing from you. Also, the USPTO is inviting public comments to change the system (you need to file by June 29, 2011.) I've written a blog post about software patents with more, starting with a primer of copyright and patents."
Jim Hall writes: Insomniac Games has long been an exclusive PlayStation developer: Disruptor on PS1, Spyro the Dragon on PS1, Ratchet & Clank on PS2 and PS3, Resistance on PS3. That's changed. This week, Ted Price announced a partnership with EA Partners to work on a new game together, supporting both the PlayStation 3 and XBox 360. No details yet on what the new game series is supposed to be.
Jim Hall writes: A freshly discovered asteroid, called 2010 GA6 and as long as a tennis court, will pass Earth at about the distance of the moon Thursday, according to NASA. GA6 was first observed Monday by the Catalina Sky Survey, a telescope project in Arizona that seeks out near-Earth asteroids and comets. It will make its closest approach to Earth, at a distance about 430,000 kilometers, at 10:06 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time.