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Comment Re:Android, iOS, Blackberry OS, Windows Phone 7? (Score 1) 170

The mobile space is an important strategic market for Microsoft. Open standards that exist on mobile could leak into the corporate space. A competitive free market would erode their primary source of revenue. I really don't see losing money on each phone being sold as much of a problem for Microsoft. Better for them to lose money now, even lots of it, than for a free market (or a competitor) to win.

As long as subscribers can chose from several competing mobile platforms, Microsoft has lost in this space. They need for Silverlight to become a de-facto standard to maintain their long term control. Expect them to keep pushing developer tools and corporate back office integration.

Comment Re:WD HD Live (Score 1) 516

Also seconding (thirding? fourthing?) this. They have them for about $120 at Costco. They're tiny and silent. I had a little trouble with old DivX avi's I transcoded a few years ago, but it plays x264 + matroska just fine. I used one to replace a mac mini in my living room and it generally does a better job of making video streaming convenient. They play files over SMB, but they've been hacked to support NFS.

Big thanks to the guys hacking it at


Sneak Preview For Coming KDE SC 4.5 249

omlx writes "KDE SC 4.5 is in feature freeze right now. Therefore, I decided to share some early screenshots with you. In general there are no major changes; it's all about polishing and fixing bugs. There are a lot of under-the-hood changes in libs, which as end users we cannot see. KDE SC will be released in August 2010." Note: you can also try out a beta of the release now, if you'd like.

Breakthroughs In HTML Audio Via Manipulation With JavaScript 141

jamienk writes "Imagine if you could grab and manipulate audio with JavaScript just like you can images with Canvas. Firefox experimental builds let you do just that: crazy audio visualizations, a graphic equalizer, even text-to-speech, all in JavaScript! Work in progress; you need a special build of Firefox (videos available), being worked on via W3C."

Comment Re:Hating facebook (Score 2, Insightful) 247

Personally, what I find worthy of hate isn't the lack of privacy, it's their locked-in system. Users create a web of friends in Facebook, and that web only exists inside FB's servers. Within Facebook you can't link to friends on LinkedIn or Myspace or Buzz or whatever. Protocols need to be used that allow users to link identity across social networks.

As far as privacy goes, it's really a question of how you use their service. For now, you really need to assume that anything you post on FB will be shared with the entire internet. Just as Microsoft eventually figured out how to make Windows reasonably secure, Facebook will probably figure out how to make their privacy settings reasonably simple. Assuming they get it right, what's left to hate? Same as MS: monopoly lock-in.

Comment Which Ubuntu? (Score 1, Informative) 263

The article says they used Ubuntu, but doesn't say whether they're using regular desktop Ubuntu or the Netbook remix. They admit that they haven't optimized the kernel: it's entirely possible that battery life could be improved by recompiling the kernel with different flags or some equally esoteric maneuver. Of course normal users shouldn't have to optimize their kernels, but installing the netbook edition shouldn't be that esoteric. The article doesn't say if they did that or not, but if they had, I suspect that they would say so.

I haven't installed plain Ubuntu in a while, so I don't know if it offers to optimize for netbooks at install time. It would be nice if it did that.

Comment Re:Losing (Score 1) 90

I don't think Google is all that interested in on-premise software. On-premise is valued by sysadmins because they perceive themselves as in control of the system. Once online companies can start delivering software that equals the reliability and UI quality of local apps, you're going to see a huge migration away from locally maintained software. Obviously, that's a tall order and not something we're going to see for a few years. But give the cloud another decade and people will wonder that every mid-sized organization had their own help desk and IT staff.

Lots of IT folks today like being in control of their own hardware and focus on that aspect of running their systems locally. They argue that management will see things the same way. Ten years ago, I thought pretty much the same thing: "Surely, no organization that cares about its data will let themselves be locked into proprietary software. That is why open source and open formats will soon dominate corporate IT." I was wrong. Open source has proved itself, but most organizations today still run a proprietary IT stack. Any sysadmin who thinks that management cares that Sharepoint and Exchange are running on local hardware is fooling himself. Management will be happy to outsource the IT division to cloud services run by Google or Salesforce or Microsoft or whoever offers what appears to have the best ROI. Once cloud software reaches the reliability and responsiveness of desktop apps, they'll demand the infrastructure be switched to the cloud in a heartbeat. No more desktop support and server rooms in the basement. Just plug your monitor and keyboard & mouse into the network and go. Microsoft realizes that their days of locking in customers via proprietary local apps are numbered. The future of vendor lock-in is the cloud, and that is the market that they, and Google, and others, are aiming for.

Comment Re:What's the point? (Score 1) 110

Not everyone has a very good grasp of their family history. I know my grandparents, but very little about my great-grandparents. Also, I know how my grandparents died, but not what else they were at risk for. Adoptees may not even know their biological parents.

I'm not disputing your larger point that family history shouldn't be ignored. But genetic testing is available to anyone, regardless of their relationship with their parents. This is also a science that's advancing by leaps and bounds. Imperfect as it is, we can reasonably expect it to improve greatly in terms of accuracy and accessibility in the near future.

Comment Re:I'm already excited (Score 2, Insightful) 286

I personally think that the best "Civ" game ever made was, by leaps and bounds, Alpha Centauri.

I haven't played the newer Civ games, but Alpha Centauri was so full of awesome that I don't find that hard to believe. And you're right, it wasn't about the tactics. Being able to build your own units was cool, but what made it a great game was the narrative. There was a real sense of different, evolving cultures fighting for the soul of the planet. In my experience, what made playing Civilization so enjoyable wasn't just the conquest strategy, it was the sense of playing out history. Alpha Centauri got that right. If the rest of the Civ franchise hasn't, they may be fun games, but they won't be anything special.


Breaking the Squid Barrier 126

An anonymous reader writes "Dr. Steve O'Shea of Auckland, New Zealand is attempting to break the record for keeping deep sea squid alive in captivity, with the goal of being able to raise a giant squid one day. Right now, he's raising the broad squid, sepioteuthis australis, from egg masses found in seaweed. This is a lot harder than it sounds, because the squid he's studying grow rapidly and eat only live prey, making it hard for them to keep the squid from becoming prey themselves. If his research works out, you might one day be able to visit an aquarium and see giant squid."

Why Time Flies By As You Get Older 252

Ant notes a piece up on WBUR Boston addressing theories to explain the universal human experience that time seems to pass faster as you get older. Here's the 9-minute audio (MP3). Several explanations are tried out: that brains lay down more information for novel experiences; that the "clock" for nerve impulses in aging brains runs slower; and that each interval of time represents a diminishing fraction of life as we age.

Facebook Master Password Was "Chuck Norris" 319

I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "A Facebook employee has given a tell-all interview with some very interesting things about Facebook's internals. Especially interesting are all the things relating to Facebook privacy. Basically, you don't have any. Nearly everything you've ever done on the site is recorded into a database. While they fire employees for snooping, more than a few have done it. There's an internal system to let them log into anyone's profile, though they have to be able to defend their reason for doing so. And they used to have a master password that could log into any Facebook profile: 'Chuck Norris.' Bruce Schneier might be jealous of that one."

Drupal's Dries Buytaert On Drupal 7 55

itwbennett writes "The Drupal community has been working on Drupal 7 for two years, and there are 'hundreds of changes' to show for it, says Drupal creator Dries Buytaert in an interview with ITworld's Esther Schindler on the occasion of Drupal 7 going into Alpha test this week. Most notable for end users are 'some massive usability improvements,' says Buytaert, while site builders will see the greatest changes in the Drupal Content Construction Kit (CCK), which has been moved into the Drupal core. But one thing that hasn't changed is the not-so-easy upgrade path. 'The upgrade path for a Drupal site has never been really easy, to be honest,' Buytaert says. 'We do break backwards compatibility. It's a little bit painful because it requires all of the contributed modules — and there's 4,000-5,000 of them — to make changes.' But Buytaert doesn't think that's all bad. 'Innovation is key. Backwards compatibility limits innovation,' Buytaert contends. 'The rule we have is: We'll break the API if it makes a better API, and if it allows good innovation and progress to be made. Also: The second rule is that we'll never break people's data. We'll always provide an upgrade path for the data.'"

Comment Re:Good (Score 1) 406

I agree that competition is good. The analogy with Window's isn't quite accurate though, since Google doesn't (or can't) lock out competitors the way Microsoft can.

Ideally, Bing and other search engines will continue will continue to improve and gain market share at Google's expense, and Google Chrome and other OS's will also gain market share at Window's expense.

Comment Work around Flash (Score 3, Informative) 93

The best solution to working around Flash video that I've worked out it to use the Video download helper Firefox plugin, then play the videos in Mplayer. It has pretty good support for Youtube and its many imitators. Unfortunately, it doesn't handle copy-protected stuff so it won't work with the full length movies on Youtube or anything on Hulu. It is an extra step to download the video before playing it, but the add-on makes it pretty easy, so I find it worth the hassle if I'm going to watch anything more than a few minutes long.

I haven't seen anything approximate ported to Chrome yet. Hopefully it'll get one soon... or better yet the <Video> tag becomes universally supported even sooner.

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