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Comment CRC ruined MathWorld (Score 1) 143

Like a lot of people here, I have a lot of nostalgia for my oldschool CRC handbook. I have many fond memories of poring over its extensive listings of mathematical formulas and scientific tables.

But in a Slashdot discussion of nostalgia over the Chemical Rubber Company, we should not forget the MathWorld debacle. MathWorld was an online math encyclopedia in the mid 90s. It was one of the earliest proofs of the power of the web's collaborative processes for publishing, predating Wikipedia by almost a decade. It started out as Eric's Treasure Troves, hosted by Eric Weisstein on his UVA account page when he was an undergraduate. But with hundreds of submissions by collaborators, it grew into a comprehensive listing of almost any branch of mathematics, a resource which many math students relied on on a daily basis. It eventually got a book deal, and was published into a paper encyclopedia by CRC. After publication, CRC decided that the ongoing web resource infringed its copyright, and shut it down, including content that had never been part of the published work.

Eventually a deal was reached between Weisstein/Wolfram and CRC and the website was restored, but the damage had been done. MathWorld would never recover its status as the premier home on the web of mathematical knowledge. The MathWorld community was shattered and a new GPLed math encyclopedia was started, PlanetMath. And eventually in the mid 2000s Wikipedia exploded, including much mathematical content. CRC's reactions was one of the earliest and most egregious examples of old media companies responding to the rise of the internet in the worst way possible. CRC should no longer be regarded as responsible stewarts of mathematical knowledge.

Comment Subjunctive is a lost art (Score 1) 78

Is Sen. Wyden describing what ACTA is actually doing? No? Then the jussive subjunctive is appropriate (in the US). "Senator Wyden Demands ACTA Go Before Congress" would be better a better headline. For me, it's not just a nitpick; it's a matter of clarity. I had difficulty understanding what the intent of the sentence was until I read the summary.

Comment hack != crack (Score 1) 339

Now that we've totally lost the war to reserve the word "hack" for what hard-core coders do only (tinkering with their devices and making software run), and not what blackhat infiltrators do, (accessing systems illicitly), I guess it was only a matter of time before someone started using "crack" wrong too.

Comment Re:GPLv2 conflicts with Apple App store (Score 3, Informative) 717

The App Store TOS have changed many times since the FSF posted that, and that particular sentence no longer appears. So what is now the basis for VLC's actions? You can see the current TOS at It does contain clauses about "you may only use this app on a device you own" etc, which would appear to be against GPL. But it also says the App Store license only applies if the app doesn't have its own EULA. Seems to me (though IANAL) that in the case of a GPL app, that would be the EULA, and would hold instead of Apple's terms. Seems to me that VLC's actions were more about publicity and general offense about Apple's DRM than any actual claims that the GPL was violated. Though surely if they'd used GPL3 then they'd have a basis for such a claim.

How To Index and Search a Video By Emotion 76

robotsrule writes "Here's a a demonstration video of EmoRate, a software program that uses the Emotiv 14-electrode EEG headset to record your emotions via your facial expressions. In the video you'll see EmoRate record my emotions while I watch a YouTube video, then index that video by emotion, and then navigate that video by simply by remembering a feeling. The web page for EmoRate explains how I used Emotiv's SDK to build the software program, and how I trained the system by watching emotionally evocative videos on YouTube while wearing the headset."

Comment This is a violation of Apple's own guidelines (Score 2, Informative) 527

Back when the iPhone first came out, and people were shrieking for native development, Steve Jobs announced his "sweet spot", which was the ability to write web apps for the thing (??). To support this position, Apple posted on their development site guidelines on best practices for modern web apps. These guidelines specifically advise against using browser sniffing (except under certain rare conditions which are not met here). One should instead use object detection.

Here are those guidelines. The document lists at length all the reasons not to engage in browser sniffing which are rehashed here. Basically there may be low or no correlation between the information in the user agent string and the browser's abilities. For example all browsers claim to be Mozilla, but it doesn't mean they all have the same feature set as Mozilla's Firefox.

Apple's developers who wrote this gallery appear not to have read this document, or more generally to understand the purpose of web standards at all. Apple's new HTML5 gallery touts standards, but it flouts all the goals of standards. The point of standards is that we can target a standard, rather than a browser. Apple violates the entire purpose, and deserves censure for this hypocrisy.


FreeNAS Switching From FreeBSD To Debian Linux 206

dnaumov writes "FreeNAS, a popular, free NAS solution, is moving away from using FreeBSD as its underlying core OS and switching to Debian Linux. Version 0.8 of FreeNAS as well as all further releases are going to be based on Linux, while the FreeBSD-based 0.7 branch of FreeNAS is going into maintenance-only mode, according to main developer Volker Theile. A discussion about the switch, including comments from the developers, can be found on the FreeNAS SourceForge discussion forum. Some users applaud the change, which promises improved hardware compatibility, while others voice concerns regarding the future of their existing setups and lack of ZFS support in Linux."
The Media

Jobs Rumor Debacle Besmirches Citizen Journalism 286

On Friday someone posted a false rumor that Steve Jobs had suffered a heart attack on CNN's unverified citizen journalism site, iReport. Apple's stock price went vertical, losing 9% before Apple stepped in and denied the rumor; the stock then recovered most of its loss. The SEC is investigating. PCWorld looks at the hit taken by citizen journalism as a result of this incident. "[The] increasingly blurred line between journalism and rumor is a serious concern for Al Tompkins, the broadcast/online group leader at The Poynter Institute — a specialized school for journalists of all media forms. 'How could you possibly allow just anybody to post just anything under your [CNN] label unless you have blazing billboards that say, "None of this has been verified, we've not looked at any of this, we have no idea if this is true"?' he asks."

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