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Comment TrackVia (Score 1) 281

If they have internet access, for something different, but which I think is exactly along the lines of what you describe, check out a SaaS product called TrackVia ( It's relatively cheap (you might try to get them to give you pro bono access as a charity) and has all the abilities you describe designed specifically for non-technical people, but is also quite versatile.

Hope that helps!

Comment Re:Would probably be found (Score 4, Interesting) 576

Code does not have to be fully reviewed for the open source development process to discipline attempts at compromise. There is a nonzero probability that any given piece of code will be reviewed for reasons other than looking for a back door, and if the probability is higher than trivial, it would dissuade parties from attempting to surreptitiously put in a back door. If a back door were found, the contributor would be known and repercussions would follow.

Moreover, I would not be at all surprised if foreign governments who have a national security interest in running uncompromised operating systems have devoted time and resources specifically to code review of the kernel for potential compromises.

Comment Re:Chinese (Score 1) 514

I'm not sure that I hear a success story there. Has it actually contributed to your career significantly, or are you just enjoying being able to speak/read the language? In the U.S., there are so many Chinese-Americans who can speak much more fluently than someone who learned it as a second language and/or Chinese immigrants who would basically be willing to sacrifice a limb for a green card that it's not a particular competitive advantage in the workplace. In China, there is such discrimination against foreigners in hiring and promotion that trying to get a real job is an exercise in futility. It doesn't sound like you've been able to actually do more than gain some social value from your experience with Chinese.

Comment Re:Chinese (Score 5, Informative) 514

As someone who has learned Chinese as an adult, I would recommend against it unless you have the opportunity to do so without sacrificing considerable opportunity costs or have the luxury of not having to worry about opportunity costs. The learning process is considerably more time-consuming and challenging than a European language, and you cannot learn it to a functional level from taking classes. (There are many foreigners I've met in China who took four years of Chinese as an undergraduate and were astonished to discover when they set foot in the country that they were totally non-functional.) You have to actually live in a Chinese-speaking country, and it's very hard to get a decent job in China unless you're moved there by a multinational and retain your salary and benefits from the home country. Even then, if you're working a regular job, you simply won't have time to learn the language in a reaonable tme frame. I know plenty of expats in China who have been working here for 7-10 years and still can barely ask for directions in Chinese.

Finally, if you think you can simply show up in China and people will be beating down your door to give you a great job, think again. The idea that China is full of potential is a total myth for Westerners. There are almost no opportunities for Westerners outside of teaching English or other jobs unrelated to professional technical positions, and no Chinese-owned firm I've heard of has ever given a Westerner a management position with any authority. Whereas in the United States, being a non-U.S. citizen does not impose a glass ceiling, in China quite the opposite is true. You simply won't make money here unless you are working for a multinational and are moved here from your home country rather than someone who moves here and is then hired in-country, in which case your living here is taken as a clear signal you're willing to work for local wages.

In short, people who talk about Chinese as a way to open doors and create opportunities are simply out of touch with the realities on the ground in China.

Comment Consider the Long Term (Score 1) 666

If the firm uses CentOS today because they find that optimal, they may find paying for Red Hat support tomorrow optimal. If they use some other operating system, they will be less likely to ever send Red Hat money. So take this opportunity to educate the CIO so that if your firm is ever in the position of needing their services, he or she will know where to go.

The goal should not be to eliminate free riders. In fact, free riding is an inherent component of the open source model and many who are free riders today will become paying customers tomorrow. The economic model works when the number of free riders is not so high that it chokes off resources necessary to develop the platform.

Whether or not that is the case for Red Hat is going to have little to do with your firm's decision or people's sentiments about whether paying for open source software is the right or wrong thing to do, and much to do with the general incentives that their economic model produces. Red Hat knows there are firms like yours wrestling with the same decision, and that many of them will chose options such as CentOS, but hopes that there are a sufficient number for whom it is a good business decision to avail themselves of Red Hat's (and other open source contributors') services that the product will command sufficient resources to continue to improve.


North Korea's Own OS, Red Star 316

klaasb writes "North Korea's self-developed computer operating system, named 'Red Star,' was brought to light for the first time by a Russian satellite broadcaster yesterday. North Korea's top IT experts began developing the Red Star in 2006, but its composition and operation mechanisms were unknown until the internet version of the Russia Today TV program featured the system, citing the blog of a Russian student who goes to the Kim Il-sung University in Pyongyang."

Using EMP To Punch Holes In Steel 165

angrytuna writes "The Economist is running a story about a group of researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology in Chemnitz, Germany, who've found a way to use an EMP device to shape and punch holes through steel. The process enjoys advantages over both lasers, which take more time to bore the hole (0.2 vs. 1.4 seconds), and by metal presses, which can leave burrs that must be removed by hand."
The Internet

The Effects of the Cloud On Business, Education 68

g8orade points out two recent articles in The Economist about the rise of cloud computing. The first discusses how software-as-a-service has come to pervade online interactions. "Irving Wladawsky-Berger, a technology visionary at IBM, compares cloud computing to the Cambrian explosion some 500m years ago when the rate of evolution sped up, in part because the cell had been perfected and standardised, allowing evolution to build more complex organisms." The next article examines how the cloud will force a "trade-off between sovereignty and efficiency." Reader pjones contributes news that the Virtual Computer Lab will be supplementing more traditional computer labs at North Carolina State University, and adds, "NCSU's Virtual Computing Lab and IBM are offering the VCL code as a software 'appliance' for use in schools to link to the program. Downloads are available at ibiblio at UNC-Chapel Hill. The VCL also is partnering with to make the software available and to allow further community participation in future development."

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