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Comment Crouton on chromebooks is Good (Score 2) 187

I've been running crouton on a toshiba chromebook for a couple years now and I use it with surprising frequency.

I spend most of my time on the linux side, running terminals, vpns, and some custom chat and web apps. It's not my main system but I frequently use it as a supplement.

The downside of the config is the annoying/slow "developer mode" bios warning on reboot that you get from unlocking the chromebook bios, and the 3-4 commands you have to run after each reboot to get crouton up and running and happy. Luckily you don't need to reboot often. My average is about once every two months because I've let the battery run down too far. I'm very happy with it especially for the price.

Comment As someone managing an SSH server (Score 1) 497

If your passwords are randomly generated and long, it doesn't matter how many attempts to guess them are tried. The likelyhood of a random guess getting through are lower than your chances of winning the lottery. Let people waste their time on futile attempts.

To further decrease your chances, use public keys authentication instead of passwords, or two factor authentication, or limit connections by IP address.

Changing the post does fool most SSH scanners as well.

I don't like fail2ban because it can lead to DoS vectors.

Bottom line is that logged attacks that have no hope of getting through shouldn't cause a panic.


Nintendo Wins Lawsuit Over R4 Mod Chip Piracy 146

schliz writes "The Federal Court has ordered an Australian distributor to pay Nintendo over half a million dollars for selling the R4 mod chip, which allows users to circumvent technology protection measures in Nintendo's DS consoles. The distributor, RSJ IT Solutions, has been ordered to cease selling the chip through its site and any other sites it controls, as well as paying Nintendo $520,000 in damages."

Comment datapoint (Score 2, Interesting) 945

I have an Apple laptop (more like, portable workstation) and I bought it after numerous computer-generations of all kinds of PC laptops, some quite expensive and focused on gaming/performance. I've had it for a year now and I can say that it is the *only* laptop I've ever owned where I've been completely satisfied with the build and service quality. Having a top-flight desktop with an uncompromising unix shell is quite nice too. For gaming I dual boot.

BTW, for a more mainstream data point, the Apple laptops swept Consumer Reports "most recommended buy" in multiple categories recently.

Despite being from a "closed" company, it gives me a platform that lets me natively run Linux, Windows, and MacOSX. It offers more choices. Development tools are much easier to come by as well.


Australian AvP Ban Reversed 71

Earlier this month, we discussed news that Sega's new Aliens vs. Predator video game had been refused classification in Australia, effectively banning it. After a scathing response from the developer saying they wouldn't censor the game, and later news that the classification scheme may be updated to include an R18+ rating, it now seems that the Classification Board has seen fit to give the game a green light after all. Sega's Darren Macbeth told Kotaku, "We are particularly proud that the game will be released in its original entirety, with no content altered or removed whatsoever. This is a big win for Australian gamers. We applaud the Classification Review Board on making a decision that clearly considers the context of the game, and is in line with the modern expectations of reasonable Australians."

PhD Candidate Talks About the Physics of Space Battles 361

darthvader100 writes "Gizmodo has run an article with some predictions on what future space battles will be like. The author brings up several theories on propulsion (and orbits), weapons (explosives, kinetic and laser), and design. Sounds like the ideal shape for spaceships will be spherical, like the one in the Hitchhiker's Guide movie."

Submission + - SecondLife to Remove Free Content From Web Search (

Outland Traveller writes: In a move that continues to shake the SecondLife(tm) community of content creators, merchants, and consumers, Linden Labs declared that free virtual content will no longer be searchable without listing payments on their website portal, and additional fees will be added with the intention of discouraging content listed for inexpensive selling prices. Adding to the controversy are the officially stated justifications in the FAQ, such as "They [free content listings] hinder the shopping experience because a 'sort by price' puts all freebies first" as well as the perplexing statement "They [free listings] garner so much attention that Residents are driven toward the freebies instead of quality, fairly priced items". While initially this move was explained as a response to community feedback, the residents involved in this feedback process were revealed to be less than 100 in number, primarily larger merchants among a community of millions. Within 24 hours of the announcement the feedback thread has swelled to over 1,000 overwhelming negative responses. Additionally in-world protests have erupted throughout the day, over 20,000 objects have been voluntarily removed from the online store by angered merchants. Various independent virtual content listing sites have been proposed such as and, but attempts to post this information on the Second Life forums has been met with aggressive administrative censorship of these links. This move by Linden Lab is particularly troubling because the online web listing service is the de facto search engine for virtual content in Second Life, since the in-world search tools are unable to provide information about an object beyond a name and location, such as basic textual descriptions, pictures, licensing, size, or content-category.

Comment Re:Going back to sleep now... (Score 1) 664

OK, have you heard of Google Gears?

I'm guessing that's part of the strategy here. Just because the apps are "web apps" doesn't mean this has to be a thin client. The apps can run locally an synchronize data when network is available.

In any case, a thin client might not be such a bad thing. Google pretty much has made its business out of succeeding at things others have tried, but getting the details and timing right.

Timing is everything in tech products. You might have the right solution, but unless the other things are aligned, you're spitting into the win. What has changed since the the early 90s when the thin client idea was first floated? Plenty. And plenty has happened in the past several years that makes thin clients -- especially ones that can replicate apps off the net -- attractive. Wifi is ubiquitous, and lots of people are buying data plans for their smart phones -- carriers are even offering bundles with "free" netbooks.

Why is Google doing Android? Because their future depends on a world with ubiquitous, cheap, net-neutral wireless access they can sell services over. With iPhone mopping up the competition in the smartphone arena, Google has an opportunity to sell a phone that is open -- unlike Windows Mobile -- and that reinforces the future it prefers. I'll bet ChromiumOS is aimed at the same problem: enticing the carriers into the commodity bandwidth game.

Think about how nicely something like that would work with GSM. Let's say that where you don't have coverage, it still works though something like Gears. When you do, your data gets backed up to Google. When you drop your Chromium netbook, you take the SIM out and buy a new one for $299; or maybe get a swap replacement as the old one gets fixed. In any case its like nothing happened. If you accidentally delete your thesis, or it is deleted by malware, or of somebody steals your netbook and deletes all your work, a backup is stored on Google's mighty data storage network. That's another key to the puzzle: Google's ability to manage vast amounts of data is one of its competitive advantages, and another reason they prefer a world of cheap networking.

Comment Re:Amanda Seyfried/Julianne Moore love scene? Chec (Score 4, Interesting) 485

The only ones to "stick it out" are the ones who are the most likely to profit. This tends to be apps people mostly want.

Speaking as somebody currently living on the proceeds of a software company I sold, this is a naive view.

It's not enough to have an app people want. You have to (a) sell it for enough money to make a profit and (b) keep support costs down enough so your sales profit doesn't disappear.

Right off the bat, when you sell software, it's not a matter of "a lot of people wanting" your product; it's how many want it at the price you set. Let's say you have a product that nobody would be willing to spend much money for, but you could sell it for about the price of a cup of coffee. Let's suppose the product is cheap to make and after you sell it your customers never call you. You can make money with that.

Suppose you come up with a ringtone. It takes you a week to get it into whereever you are selling it, then 5000 customers download it at $1.99, of which you clear $1.00 after the store gets its cut. $5000 for a week of work isn't going to make you rich, but it's a respectable payday. You can live off of that kind of project.

Is this something that people "want"? Well, sure, so long as its priced cheap. The key is that of those 5000 customers, you'll hear from maybe one or two, and you can just pay them $2.00 to go away.

Now suppose you (like I did) develop some kind of mobile data collection app that drives important enterprise decisions. That's pretty damned valuable. You can easily convince a company to pay you $500 *per seat*. The problem is that even if you could wish the software into existence, the customers need more than $500 per seat of support. In fact that's why an open source model works very well for critical systems -- you give the software away and charge for the real expensive parts. In any case, my calculations showed that we broke even on a $10,000 sale, after all was said and done, so we might as *well* have given the software away. We typically sold consulting services at anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000 a pop, which was where we made our money. Believe me, when you've got a team of six engineers, a $20,000 project doesn't look so big.

The point is that the "build a better mousetrap" theory is simply wrong.

Your ringtones and iFarts are bottom feeders in the world of app development. They are profitable for their developers precisely because users don't care very much about them. Price a product like that low enough and you can make money.

The kind of apps that developers garner respect and admiration for developing are a different kettle of fish. It's *hard* to make a profit selling apps that people really care about, because customers demand a relationship with you. That's expensive.

The last thing you need is a third party inserting itself into that expensive and delicate process -- especially an opaque, unpredictable one. You work with your customers and discover they really need some extra functionality. You build it, then have to wait to find out whether you can sell it? That's nuts. You need that like you need a hole in the head.

And this is even worse: you make a portfolio of apps, and then you can't sell them to a different developer? That's a critical exit strategy for many small developers. They have the vision and brains to create an app, but don't have the size to support it. So they develop and market it, and sell it to somebody who is already supporting apps for the main customer base. That's what I did when I sold *my* business. When I had more customers that I could know personally, it wasn't fun anymore so I told one company that if they didn't buy the software I'd sell it their competitor.

Basically, what Apple is telling is that the iPhone is *still* not a platform. It's a music playing phone that can also run toys like iFart.

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