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Submission + - The Complications Of Owning Software

shmG writes: When someone buys something at a store, they assume they own it. A recent court ruling says that isn't so with software — and that means that unlike a used car, you can't resell it. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled in Vernor v. Autodesk that an individual who purchases and then resells secondhand software is not the "owner" of that copy of the software. Therefore, that person cannot resell it if the license agreement accompanying the software restricts such resale. "What if you have a Honda Accord with software running the navigation and radio systems? If Honda were to put in a software licensing agreement, what's the difference between that and regular software? It would mean you wouldn't be able to resell the Honda Accord. You could do this with anything that runs software — microwaves, TVs, cell phones,et cetera," Halpern said.

Comment Re:Not really. (Score 1) 553

Actually character recognition is really good especially with the newer Windows 7 tablet interface. Besides it is/was not a choice between full-fledged performance and touchscreen capability. HP hybrid tx2000 series tablet pcs are regular fully-powered laptops that double as tablets. It makes sense when you need to read and annotate a lot of documents or take notes. There's also the fact the most laptop owners have access to a powerful desktop when they need to do heavy-duty creative/productive work. Having said that, the older tablets had terrible screens in terms of readability. I am looking forward to a tablet hybrid that uses Pixel Qi screens

Submission + - Samsung settles with Rambus in patent dispute. (

Tackhead writes: After almost a decade of legal wrangling, Samsung has settled with Rambus over the antitrust case (regarding allegations of price-fixing for DDR and SDRAM) that was scheduled to proceed this month. As part of the settlement, Samsung agrees to purchase $200M in Rambus stock, pays $200M in cash to Rambus, plus $25M per quarter for the next 5 years in licensing fees. No immediate word on the implications for Micron or Hynix.
The Internet

Submission + - High Performance Web Sites

Michael J. Ross writes: "Every Internet user's impressions of a Web site is greatly affected by how quickly that site's pages are presented to the user, relative to their expectations — regardless of whether they have a broadband or narrowband connection. Web developers often assume that most page-loading performance problems originate on the back-end, and thus the developers have little control over performance on the front-end, i.e., directly in the visitor's browser. But Steve Souders, head of site performance at Yahoo, argues otherwise in his book, High Performance Web Sites: Essential Knowledge for Frontend Engineers.

The typical Web developer — particularly one well-versed in database programming — might believe that the bulk of a Web page's response time is consumed in delivering the HTML document from the Web server, and in performing other back-end tasks, such as querying a database for the values presented in the page. But the author quantitatively demonstrates that — at least for what are arguably the top 10 sites — less than 20 percent of the total response time is consumed by downloading the HTML document. Consequently, more than 80 percent of the response time is spent on front-end processing — specifically, downloading all of the components other than the HTML document itself. In turn, cutting that front-end load in half would improve the total response time by more than 40 percent. At first glance, this may seem insignificant, given how few seconds or even deciseconds it takes for the typical Web page to appear using broadband. But any delays, even a fraction of a second, accumulate in reducing the satisfaction of the user. Likewise, improved site performance not only benefits the site visitor, in terms of faster page loading, but also the site owner, with reduced bandwidth costs and happier site visitors.

Creators and maintainers of Web sites of all sizes should thus take a strong interest in the advice provided by "Chief Performance Yahoo!," in the 14 rules for improving Web site performance that he has learned in the trenches. High Performance Web Sites was published on 11 September 2007, by O'Reilly Media, under the ISBNs 0596529309 and 978-0596529307. As with all of their other titles, the publisher provides a page for the book, where visitors can purchase or register a copy of the book, or read online versions of its table of contents, index, and a sample chapter, "Rule 4: Gzip Components" (Chapter 4), as a PDF file. In addition, visitors can read or contribute reviews of the book, as well as errata — of which there are none, as of this writing. O'Reilly's site also hosts a video titled "High Performance Web Sites: 14 Rules for Faster Pages," in which the author talks about his site performance best practices.

The bulk of the book's information is contained in 14 chapters, with each one corresponding to one of the performance rules. Preceding this material are two chapters on the importance of front-end performance, and an overview of HTTP. Together these form a well-chosen springboard for launching into the performance rules. In an additional and last chapter, "Deconstructing 10 Top Sites," the author analyzes the performance of 10 major Web sites, including his own, Yahoo, to provide real-world examples of how the implementation of his performance rules could make a dramatic difference in the response times of those sites. These test results and his analysis are preceded by a discussion of page weight, response times, YSlow grading, and details on how he performed the testing. Naturally, if and when a reader peruses those sites, checking their performance at the time, the owners of those sites may have fixed most if not all of the performance problems pointed out by Steve Souders. If they have not, then they have no excuse, if only because of the publication of this book.

Each chapter begins with a brief introduction to whatever particular performance problem is addressed by that chapter's rule. Subsequent sections provide more technical detail, including the extent of the problem found on the previously mentioned 10 top Web sites. The author then explains how the rule in question solves the problem, with test results to back up the claims. For some of the rules, alternative solutions are presented, as well as the pros and cons of implementing his suggestions. For instance, in his coverage of JavaScript minification, he examines the potential downsides to this practice, including increased code maintenance costs. Every chapter ends with a restatement of the rule.

The book is a quick read compared to most technical books, and not just due to its relatively small size (168 pages), but also the writing style. Admittedly, this may be partly the result of O'Reilly's in-house and perhaps outsource editors — oftentimes the unsung heroes of publishing enterprises. This book is also valuable in that it offers the candid perspective of a Web performance expert, who never loses sight of the importance of the end-user experience. (My favorite phrase in the book, on page 38, is: "...the HTML page is the progress indicator.")

The ease of implementing the rules varies greatly. Most developers would have no difficulty putting into practice the admonition to make CSS and JavaScript files external, but would likely find it far more challenging, for instance, to use a content delivery network, if their budget puts it out of reach. In fact, differences in difficulty levels will be most apparent to the reader when he or she finishes Chapter 1 (on making fewer HTTP requests, which is straightforward) and begins reading Chapter 2 (content delivery networks).

In the book's final chapter, Steve Souders critiques the top 10 sites used as examples throughout the book, evaluating them for performance and specifically how they could improve that through the implementation of his 14 rules. In critiquing the Web site of his employer, he apparently pulls no punches — though few are needed, because the site ranks high in performance versus the others, as does Google. Such objectivity is appreciated.

For Web developers who would like to test the performance of the Web sites for which they are responsible, the author mentions in his final chapter the five primary tools that he used for evaluating the top 10 Web sites for the book, and, presumably, used for the work that he and his team do at Yahoo. These include YSlow, a tool that he created himself. Also, in Chapter 5, he briefly mentions another of his tools, sleep.cgi, a freely available Perl script that tests how delayed components affect Web pages.

As with any book, this one is not perfect — nor is any work. In Chapter 1, the author could make more clear the distinction between function and file modularization, as otherwise his discussion could confuse inexperienced programmers. In Chapter 10, the author explores the gains to be made from minifying JavaScript code, but fails to do the same for HTML files, or even explain the absence of this coverage — though he does briefly discuss minifying CSS. Lastly, the redundant restatement of the rules at the end of every chapter, can be eliminated — if only in keeping with the spirit of improving performance and efficiency by reducing reader workload.

Yet these weaknesses are inconsequential and easily fixable. The author's core ideas are clearly explained; the performance improvements are demonstrated; the book's production is excellent. High Performance Web Sites is highly recommended to all Web developers seriously interested in improving their site visitors' experiences.

Michael J. Ross is a Web developer, freelance writer, and the editor of's free newsletter."

Submission + - Do you know how to use a slide rule? ( 5

high_rolla writes: "How many of you know what a slide rule it? Better yet, how many of you have actually used one? The slide rule was a simple yet powerful and important tool for engineers and scientists before the days of calculators. In fact, several people I know still prefer to use them. In the interest of preserving this icon we have created a virtual slide rule for you to play with."

Submission + - Happiness through a warm electrode (

sufijazz writes: "A story by Gregory Mone on the Popular Science website talks about trials to use deep brain stimulation to cure chronic depression. From the article:

Antidepressants may generate billions of dollars in revenue for pharmaceutical companies, but recent studies suggest that pills work only 50 percent of the time — and they don't do much at all for the millions like Hire who are severely depressed.
So the alternative being tried is brain surgery whereby electrodes are lodged in the patient's brain and 2 Volts of electricity is passed. Why the pulses affect mood is still unclear, but scientists believe that they may facilitate chemical communication between brain cells, possibly by forcing ions through nerve fibers called axons. In turn, this may trigger the release of mood-regulating chemicals like serotonin and norepinephrine. Similar trials are being conducted in other places. Exact numbers are hard to ascertain, but it's estimated that fewer than 50 patients in North America are walking around with wires in their brain."


Submission + - Making the Case for Firefox 1

TwilightSentry writes: "I'm a student in a small private high-school (~500 students) with a network of mostly Windows computers (We've got some Macs and a Linux server). Our IT administrator favors IE over Firefox, primarily because it can be controlled through Active Directory. I've shown him Firefox ADM, which allows such control of Firefox, and espoused the benefits of AdBlock Plus and Firefox's greater security (Along with the thousand-eyes, fewer bugs idea). His response has been that ads are blocked by our web-filter, and as Firefox and IE7 now pretty much have UI parity, there wouldn't be enough improvement for users to justify taking the time to implement the change.

So, I ask the Slashdot crowd: How would you justify such a switch to your IT admin., if at all?"

Submission + - Linux on cell phones under threat ( 1

StonyandCher writes: "Despite signs that mobile Linux is heating up — such as the launch of Motorola's Linux-based Razr2 — confusion about goals and slow-moving consortiums is hindering growth, according to this article: "It's clear that the leading operators are telling the industry to consolidate," said Jason Whitmire, general manager of mobile solutions for Wind River, a Linux software developer with products for mobile phone vendors. "They expect to use only one OS stack or maybe two, so they have asked the industry to join together and do something." By his count, there are 22 different flavours of mobile Linux. The LiMo Foundation, the Linux Phone Standards Forum (LiPS) and the Open Source Development Labs' Mobile Linux Initiative are among the new groups formed over the past couple of years to try to reduce the fragmentation in the mobile Linux market and to encourage interoperability... but they are still waiting on at least one vendor (ie, RedHat) to join up, which might also be critical to their progress."

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