Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


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Submission Summary: 0 pending, 20 declined, 7 accepted (27 total, 25.93% accepted)

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Submission + - Rest in Peace, Heinz Zemanek

Knuckles writes: Austrian computer pioneer Heinz Zemanek, the first person to build a fully transistorized computer on the European mainland, died in Vienna, aged 94 (link in German). Officially named Binär dezimaler Volltransistor-Rechenautomat (binary-decimal fully transistorized computing automaton), but known as "Mailüfterl", the computer was built in 1955 and in 1958 calculated 5073548261 to be a prime number in 66 minutes. Its power was comparable to a small tube computer of the time, and it measured 4 by 2.5 by 0.5 meters. "Mailüfterl" means "may breeze" in Viennese German and was a play on US computers of the time, like MIT's Whirlwind. 'Even if it cannot match the rapid calculation speed of American models called "Whirlwind" or "Typhoon", it will be enough for a "Wiener Mailüfterl"' (Viennese may breeze), said Zemanek. Mailüfterl contained 3,000 transistors, 5,000 diodes, 1,000 assembly platelets, 100,000 solder joints, 15,000 resistors, 5,000 capacitors and 20,000 meters switching wire. It was built as an underground project at and without financial support from the technical university of Vienna, were Zemanek was an assistant professor at the time. In 1961, Zemanek and his team moved to IBM, who built them their own lab in Vienna. In 1976, Zemanek became an IBM Fellow and stayed at IBM until his retirement in 1985. He was crucial in the creation of the formal definition of the programming language PL/I. The definition language used was VDL (Vienna Definition Language), a direct predecessor of VDM Specification Language (VDM-SL). He remained a professor in Vienna and held regular lectures until 2006.

Submission + - Apple drops some features from CUPS 1.6 not needed by OS X (

Knuckles writes: "Most Slashdot readers will be aware that in 2007, CUPS (the Common Unix Printing System) became an Apple project when Apple hired chief developer Michael Sweet and purchased the CUPS source code. In 2002, Apple had adopted CUPS as the print system for OS X, starting with 10.2. As of the upcoming CUPS 1.6, Apple seems to have decided that they have less use for the "Common" in CUPS, as noted in a blog post by Tim Waugh, the print subsystem maintainer in Fedora:

The main part that is being dropped completely is CUPS Browsing. This is currently the primary mechanism for CUPS-to-CUPS printer queue discovery on Linux. It works by having each CUPS server periodically broadcast UDP packets on port 631 announcing its available queues, and listening for broadcasts from other CUPS servers. This discovery method is being dropped because DNS-SD is preferred upstream.

CUPS on Linux can use Avahi instead, but this change means that automatic CUPS queue discovery with CUPS 1.6 will require Avahi running on both the server and the client. In addition, CUPS 1.6 will drop several file type filters. These will be moved to a new package, so it should not be a big deal."

The Internet

Submission + - Miguel de Icaza on Mono, Moonlight, and Gnome

Knuckles writes: "Austrian newspaper Der Standard continues its recent series of in-depth interviews with free software developers. This time they sat down with Novell's Vice President of Developer Platform, Miguel de Icaza of Gnome and Mono fame. The interview was conducted at GUADEC (GNOME Users' And Developers' European Conference).

Miguel talks mainly about Mono 2.0 and .Net 3.5 compatibility, enhancing the collaboration with Microsoft over Silverlight ("Moonlight" in Mono), and the larger political situation of Mono and Moonlight. When the interviewer asks whether Moonlight is only validating Silverlight on the web, Miguel gives a quite detailed answer that includes a possibly well-deserved swipe at Mozilla.

And even the Mozilla guys — the keynote we had here was done on a mac, every single Mozilla developer uses a Mac. And it's funny, they constantly attack Silverlight, they constantly attack Flash and then all of them use proprietary operating systems, they don't seem to have a problem doing it. And then they had the Guiness record thing for Firefox 3 and you went to the website and it had a flash map to show where people are downloading — so there definitely is a double standard here. And that's after all their claiming that you can do everything in AJAX — so they definitely don't "walk the walk".

Another topic is Miguel's suggestion to "refresh the look and feel of the entire desktop" using Moonlight.

To be realistic I don't think we can do absolutely everything that would take years. So if I would have my choice today I would probably rewrite the gnome panel completely with Moonlight. I wouldn't go as far as doing the file manager although I think it would be great to do a new file manager or improve Nautilus but it would be a lot of work.

It should be noted that Miguel has not been responsible for Gnome development for a long time, so don't take this as "plans for Gnome"."


Submission + - Acer: Vista disappointed 'entire industry'

Knuckles writes: "Financial Times Germany quotes (German) Acer president Gianfranco Lanci as saying, 'the entire industry is disappointed by Windows Vista.' Here is an English report about the FTD article by Lanci said that despite the year-long wait that Microsoft imposed on the industry, Vista was not ready on launch. Lanci: 'Stability is certainly a problem.'"

Submission + - Wii puts Japanese TV stations under pressure

Knuckles writes: "The Times reports that "Japanese desert prime-time TV to play on their Nintendo Wii". Recent figures from Japan's audience-tracking firms show that "last week was the first in nearly two decades where no single show on any commercial station attracted more than a 9 per cent audience share. "According to one senior executive of the country's largest commercial television channel, Fuji TV, families who used to tune in to its colourful diet of soap operas, panel games and comedy variety shows may, instead, be drifting away and choosing to spend the same, economically-critical "golden hour" time playing on their Wii."

Personally, I'd like new games, but I can bridge the gap with the virtual console. If only it worked with PAL games over component cables."
XBox (Games)

Submission + - Xbox 360 Failure Rate Reaches 33%?

Knuckles writes: "DailyTech reports that with a failure rate around 33%, "the Xbox 360 is the least reliable gaming console in recent history", with launch consoles even worse. The numbers were found by polling EB Games and Gamestop employees, who answered under strict anonymity, and verifying the results with other retailers, such as Best Buy. DailyTech does however not disclose the number of employees they asked. EB Games Canada allegedly had to change their warranty policies to cope."

Submission + - Samsung and MS: Novell-like patent agreement

Knuckles writes: "The Samsung website has a press release announcing a broad patent deal between Samsung and Microsoft. It includes clauses that are similar to Novell's deal, giving Samsung rights to alleged Microsoft patents in Linux.

Through the agreement, Samsung will obtain access to Microsoft patents that may be practiced in a range of Samsung's existing and future product lines, such as computer products, set-top-boxes, digital media players, camcorders, televisions, printers, and home appliances. In these product lines, Samsung and its distributors and customers may utilize Microsoft's patents in Samsung's products with proprietary software and Samsung will also obtain coverage from Microsoft for its customers' use of certain Linux-based products.
Unfortunately it is not clear if they try to include just products that are based on "Linux" the kernel, or also products that are based on the OS that is usually, and erroneously, called by that name."

Submission + - Novell CTO/OS Friedman interviewed at Brainshare

Knuckles writes: "Austrian newspaper Der Standard has released another interview from Novells Brainshare conference, this time with Novell CTO/Open Source Nat Friedman. (Slashdot carried an interview with Miguel de Icaza recently). Friedman talks about a lot of things: what's up with the Evolution email client, Service Pack 1 for SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop, proprietary media support, the Novell/MS deal (saying that he does not think that Novell patches will be rejected because of the deal), Beagle improvements, and why Hula failed at Novell (and its future)."

Submission + - Iwata interviews Wii developers

Knuckles writes: "On the Wii website the President of Nintendo, Satoru Iwata, conducts quite extensive interviews with the developers of Wii, such as the General Manager of Research and Development. The interview comes in two volumes with three parts each. Iwata actually asks many interesting questions, such as
In general, no engineer hates higher performance. As an engineer, didn't you experience any inner conflict when it was decided that we would not necessarily take Wii in the direction of sheer horsepower alone?
The interview is the start of a series according to the Wii website."

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