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Submission + - Object Storage versus Block Storage: Understanding the Technology Differences 2

Esther Schindler writes: Even very technical people scratch their heads over the business value of object storage. In other words, what problems does it solve? What are its drawbacks and limitations? Which types of applications run better, what breaks, and what do you need to completely redesign to take advantage of the storage technology?

Ultimately every IT admin wants to know if object storage is a good fit for certain workloads. This article defines object storage, compares it to alternatives, and gives an overview of where it can make a performance difference for enterprise computing.

Submission + - Why The iPhone Fingerprint Sensor is Good Enough

blackbearnh writes: There's been a lot of hubbub over the last week about the fact that some German hackers were able to lift a fingerprint off an iPhone 5s and use it to unlock the phone. Security experts are decrying the new feature, claiming that fingerprints aren't secure. But O'Reilly blogger James Turner thinks it's all bull turds. He argues that since most people don't even lock their phones with a simple four digit pin, much less one of those monstrosities that the experts tell us we should be using, any level of additional security is good. In his opinion, the goal isn't to create a phone that the NSA couldn't break into, but to make it just hard enough so that a thief will choose another one instead.

Submission + - Meet a Professional Genome Wrangler (

Esther Schindler writes: Computers have played a part in the pursuit of science for most of their history. Humanity would not have made it to the moon without a myriad of computers controlling every aspect of the space flight, and computers are crucial in modern statistical analysis of data. But bioinformatics, and specifically genomics (the study of the human genome, and how it influences traits and diseases), are even more critically dependent on the use of computers, for a number of reasons. In Meet a Professional Genome Wrangler: Madeleine Ball Keeps DNA Straight at Harvard’s Personal Genome Project, James Turner interviews Ball to discover what's involved in the process — geeky details and all.

If one genome is big, 100,000 genomes is overwhelmingly huge, and it’s Dr. Madeleine Ball’s job to keep all the data happy. Ball oversees data collection and the public data portals for the PGP, as their Director of Biology. This can be as awesomely geeky as tweaking python scripts to analyze data, or as mundane as packaging blood samples so they can be sent off to be biobanked.

To me, the most interesting stuff is in regard to data formats that only sound like standards.

One of Ball’s largest challenges is the lack of uniformity in personal health records (PHRs). The PGP program participants (who currently number in the low thousands) are very active, uploading all sorts of personal data such as PHRs, X-Rays, and MRI scans. Unfortunately, getting all that information into a consistent format is daunting. “Everyone has their own way of doing a health record,” says Ball, “And they all say, ‘Oh, we have electronic health records,’ as if it solves everything. That’s kind of like saying, ‘We all have Word documents;’ it doesn’t mean they’re all using the same coding systems.”

See what you think.

Submission + - A Commencement Speech for 2013 CS Majors

blackbearnh writes: Most commencement speeches are long on platitudes and short on practical advice. O'Reilly blogger James Turner has tailored a speech aimed specifically at the current batch of graduating CS majors. Among the advice that the 35 year industry veteran offers are to find a small company for your first job, but not one that is going to burn you out. Also, keep learning new things, but don't fall into the trap of learning the flavor of the day technology.

Submission + - Project management lessons from Game of Thrones (

Esther Schindler writes: In George R.R. Martin’s masterful series, A Song of Ice and Fire (currently an HBO television show, Game of Thrones), many characters in the fantasy world of Westeros create goals, make plans, maneuver people and events toward the goal they want, and eventually realize their goal. It’s kind of like project management, says Carol Pinchefsky in Everything I Know About Project Management, I Learned from Game of Thrones, but with more entrails.

For example:

Danerys also shows another key quality of good project management: She constantly seeks to learn, and she frequently integrates new information into her plans. That allows her to take advantage of opportunities when they arise, where an inflexible project leader (say, King Joffrey) sees only distractions.

At one point, she tells her people, “I swear to you that those who would harm you will die screaming.” Remember that loyalty to your team is important, although threatening blood and fire might not work in the boardroom.

Well, perhaps it depends on your boardroom.

Comment Re:not charity (Score 2) 417

1) Unless you think that pretty much every piece of quality animation produced in the last 30 years (Iron Giant, Dexter's Laboratory, everything from Pixar, etc.) is "soul-crushingly-commercial toy-selling animation", you might want to do a little research on CalArts and their animation program.

2) In addition to the scholarship, the Brony Thank You Fund also donated nearly $20,000 to Toys for Tots, over $10,000 to the College View School, and over $1,600 each to GLSEN and Engineers without Borders in the last 12 months. Bronies for Good (a brony fundraising group) raised over $100,000 to aid an orphanage.

The only sarcasm I can detect around here is yours...

Comment Re: Can someone explain bronies? (Score 4, Insightful) 417

How about people who are genuinely appreciative of an animated cartoon with all-ages appeal, quality animation, and great voice work.

Not everything needs to be some kind of snarky ironic entity. There's room in the world for sincerity, as much as the Internet tries to beat that sentiment into oblivion.

And for the record, less than 20% of bronies self-identify as furries, the vast majority are heterosexual, and the fandom has nothing to do with pedophilia.

Submission + - The Bronies Get Their Own Charity

blackbearnh writes: There's a long history of media fandoms organizing fundraising campaigns, donating blood, and doing other charitable activities. However, even large and well-established groups such as Trekkies/ers and Star Wars fans usually work with established non-fannish charities like the Red Cross or Toys for Tots. Some may see them as a plague on the Internet, the Brony community has taken their charitable endeavors to the next level by going to the trouble of creating a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt public charity. The Brony Thank You Fund received word from the IRS last week that, after nearly a year of work, they had been granted tax-exempt status. The Fund is currently raising donations to endow a permanent animation scholarship at CalArts, and is the same group that made news last year when they became the first fan group to purchase commercial time on national TV, for a 30 second spot praising My Little Pony and encouraging donations to Toys for Tots.

Submission + - First Fan-Sponsored Ad Runs on Network TV (

blackbearnh writes: Fans can be passionate about their favorite TV programs, but the Bronies (adult My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic) fans have taken it to the next level. In an effort to support the show, they have purchased commercial air time on The HUB, the network that airs My Little Pony.

The ad thanks the makers of the show for doing such a good job, and encourages viewers to donate to Toys for Tots to show their appreciation. As far as can be determined, this is the first time (Star Trek included!) that fans of a show have ever purchased advertising time. The group that produced the ad, The Brony Thank You Fund, is also in the middle of fundraising to endow an animation scholarship at CalArts.


Submission + - The Cost of Crappy Security in Software Infrastructure (

blackbearnh writes: Everyone these days knows that you have to double and triple check your code for security vulnerabilities, and make sure that your servers are locked down as tight as you can. But why? Because our underlying operating systems, languages, and platforms do such a crappy job protecting us from ourselves. A new article suggests that the inevitable result of clamoring for new features, rather than demanding rock-solid infrastructure, is that the developer community wastes huge amounts of time protecting their applications from exploits that should never be possible in the first place. TFA: The next time you hear about a site that gets pwned by a buffer overrun exploit, don't think "stupid developers!", think "stupid industry!"

Submission + - Is Television Paying too Much Attention to Fans? ( 2

blackbearnh writes: Forums and chat groups are letting fans organize and discuss their favorite shows with increasing ease, but what happens when the writers and producers of TV shows start paying attention? An article in today's Christian Science Monitor takes a look at how the production staff of recent shows has interacted with their fan base, and how the fans are having an increasing influence on not only the popularity, but also the plot and characters.

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