Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! ×

Comment The timing on this is deeply weird... (Score 1) 632

Only about an hour ago, there was a small anti-knife march going past my flat in East London. I have to admit that I reckon that licensed regulation has always been a better method for lowering misuse of weapons than an outright ban. However, that's going to be bloody hard to achieve with knives, given their prevalence as a tool in the real world. Oh well.
It's just a wonder that they haven't gotten as far as mounting an armistice on archery equipment, such as compound and recurve bows, or crossbows. Oh, that's right: it requires skill to use those. I guess I'm not so worried about the police coming to take my bows away from me, then.

Submission + - w00t Becomes A Word (fastsilicon.com) 2

mrneutron2003 writes: "In a move that shows the fluidity of the english language as well as the questionable ways in which we use it, Merriam-Websters has named "w00t" as the Word Of The Year. We wonder whether or not this is the first time a word has been adopted into Merriam-Websters dictionary that contains numbers and letters. The Sacremento Bee reports...
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Expect cheers among hardcore online game enthusiasts when they learn Merriam-Webster's Word of the Year. Or, more accurately, expect them to "w00t." "W00t," a hybrid of letters and numbers used by gamers as an exclamation of happiness or triumph, topped all other terms in the Springfield-based dictionary publisher's online poll for the word that best sums up 2007. Merriam-Webster's president, John Morse, said "w00t" was an ideal choice because it blends whimsy and new technology.


Submission + - Moore's Law, Deep Thought and 42 3

Stephen Gwyn writes: "So in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" it took the supercomputer "Deep Thought" 7.5 million years to come up with the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything right? The answer was 42 as we now know. But supposing the computational philosophers had been just a bit more clever. Suppose they actually wanted a run-time of 1 year instead of 7.5e6 years. Since, according to Moore's law, computational speed doubles every 18 months they should have just waited until computers were 7.5e6 times faster. 7.5e6 is roughly 2**23 (or 2^23,depending on your notation) so we have 23 times 18 months which is about 35 years. Add one year for the actual run time, and you have 36 years in all, which is much less than 7.5 million. Wait a little bit longer, and you can run it on your laptop as "iLife, the iUniverse and iEverything" application. Probably as a screen saver.

There is a paper written by some astronomers ("The Effects of Moore's Law and Slacking on Large Computations") which tells you exactly how long to wait to buy your computer when faced with a long runtime."

Submission + - Symbian blasts Google's phone initiative.

nowhere.elysium writes: According to a BBC report (found here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7082414.stm ) Symbian have suggested that Google are not experienced enough or capable of fully developing a workable mobile platform.
In the quoted statements in the article, Symbian's vice president, John Forsyth inferred that Google's interest in the field will also wane due to it being 'deeply unsexy', and that development is not likely for such a platform because "You have [...] a lot of zeroes in your sales figures before a developer gets out of bed." In the same series of statements, Linux is likened to the common cold: "About every three months this year there has been a mobile Linux initiative of some sort launched. It's a bit like the common cold. It keeps coming round and then we go back to business."
Considering that Symbian touts itself as Open Source compliant, this is something of an interesting attitude, what with many Open Source developers using Linux as their preferred platform.

Submission + - In UK, Big brother starts today 1

zerojoker writes: From today on a new regulation that requires all telecommunication companies to retain information about all landline and mobile calls made by members of the public for one year comes into force in the UK. [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/10/01/nphones101.xml] All members of the European Union decided that it's in the best intereset to spy on their own citizens [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telecommunications_data_retention]. Now this is turned into british law. Unlike — for example in Germany — Internet-connections are not monitored so far. But the European Commission is not happy with that [http://www.out-law.com/page-8472]. The fun thing is that only Irland and Slovakia voted against that European directive. Now politicians are claiming that "they can't do anything against that because Europe forces us to do so".

Submission + - GIMP 2 for Photographers

Jon Allen writes: "Gimp 2 for Photographers
Book review by Jon Allen (JJ)
Book homepage: http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/1933952032/

A glance through any photography magazine will confirm that Adobe Photoshop is the accepted standard image editing software, offering almost unparalleled power and conrol over your images. However, costing more than many DSLR cameras, for non-professionals it can be a very hard purchase to justify (and of course for Linux users this is a moot point, as Photoshop is not available for their platform).

Luckily, the free software community has provided us with an alternative. The GIMP, or Gnu Image Manipulation Program, offers a huge amount of the power of Photoshop but is available at no cost. Additionally GIMP is cross-platform, available for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Unix.

The one downside to using GIMP is that most magazines and photography books use Photoshop in their articles and tutorials, so if you do choose GIMP there's a bit more of a learning curve. Now once you're used to GIMP you'll find that many of Photoshop's features have equivalents, albeit with a different user interface, but getting that inital level of experience and familiarity with the software can be rather difficult. The GIMP does come with a manual, but it is really more of a reference guide and while very comprehensive it is not particuarly friendly for new users.

GIMP 2 for Photographers aims to rectify this.

Written clearly from a photographer's point of view (the author is a photographer who also teaches image editing), this book takes a task-oriented approach, looking at the types of editing operations that a photographer would require and then showing how to perform each task in the GIMP.

Rather helpfully, the GIMP software (for Windows, Mac, and Linux) is included on the book's accompanying CD. This means that you can follow each tutorial using the exact same version of software as the author, which really helps to build confidence that you're doing everything right.

I already have GIMP installed on OS X, so to test out the instructions in the book I performed an installation from the CD on a clean Microsoft Windows XP machine.

The exact filenames of the installation packages on the CD differ slightly from those in the accompanying README file, but the instructions in the book do list the correct files and after following this procedure the installation went without a hitch. The setup files do not ask any overly 'techy' questions, so it literally took less than 5 minutes to set up a fully working system.

As well as the GIMP application, the CD also includes all of the sample images used in the book, and for each editing tutorial the "final" image is provided so you can check your own work against the expected result.

Even more usefully, the CD contains an electronic copy of the complete book as a PDF file, so you can keep it on your laptop as a reference guide, invaluable when editing images on location (or on holiday!).

I'd have to say that this is without a doubt the most useful CD I've ever recieved with a book. Providing the applications and example files is good, giving readers instant gratification without needing to deal with downloads and websites (which may well have changed after the book went to press). But including the complete book on the CD as well is nothing short of a masterstroke, and something I'd love to see other publishers adopt.

So, the CD gets full marks but what about the book itself?

After showing how to install the software, the author takes us through basic GIMP operations — opening and saving files, cropping, resizing images, and printing. Once these basics are out of the way, the book moves on to a series of examples based on "real-life" image editing scenarios.

These examples are very well chosen, both in the fact that the vast majority of the technques shown are genuinely useful, but also in the way that they are ordered. Each example introduces a new feature of the software, building up your knowledge as you work through the book. By the end you can expect to be skilled not only in "standard" editing — adjusting colour balance, fixing red-eye, removing dust spots, and so on — but also in compositing, perspective correction, lighting and shadow effects, and building panoramic images.

Between the examples there is a good amount of more "reference" type material, with detailed descriptions of the various menus, toolbars, and dialogs you will encounter while using the software. Combined with lots of well-labelled screenshots this strikes a very good balance, ensuring that even after going through all the tutorials you'll still get value from the book as something to refer back to.

Overall the quality of the writing and general production standard is very high indeed. There are some points where it is noticable that the book was originally published in German, but this never becomes a stumbling block to the reader's understanding. Most importantly though, the author employs the "show, don't tell" philosophy throughout which is key to successful teaching.

In conclusion, I would have no hesitation in recommending GIMP 2 for Photographers to anyone with more than a passing interest in improving their photos. And even if you already use image editing software, the book is well worth a read — I have been using GIMP for several years and still learned a great deal. The accompanying CD is the icing on the cake, making GIMP 2 for Photographers a simply essential purchase."

Submission + - Bloggers who risked all to reveal Junta in Burma 2

An anonymous reader writes: Internet geeks share a common style, and Ko Latt and his four friends would not be out of place in cyber cafés across the world. They have the skinny arms and the long hair, the dark T-shirts and the jokey nicknames. But few such figures have ever taken the risks that they have in the past few weeks, or achieved so much in a noble and dangerous cause. Since last month Ko Latt, 28, his friends Arca, Eye, Sun and Superman, and scores of others like them have been the third pillar of Burma's Saffron Revolution. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article2563937.ece

Submission + - Older Men + Younger Women = Longer Lifespan (go.com) 1

Ant writes: "According to this three page ABC News story, scientists say older men coupling with younger women increased human lifespan. Scientists think they've found one of the reasons why humans defy evolution theory and live well beyond their reproductive life. It's all those old guys latching on to younger women and passing their good genes down to their kids... Seen on Shacknews."

Submission + - Australia cracked US combat aircraft codes (news.com.au)

SpamSlapper writes: FORMER defence minister Kim Beazley has told how Australia cracked top-secret American combat aircraft codes to enable the shooting down of enemy aircraft in the 1980s. The radar on Australia's Hornets could not identify most potentially hostile aircraft in the region, but dispite many requests, the codes were not provided, so "In the end we spied on them and we extracted the codes ourselves". The Americans knew what the Australians were doing and were intrigued by the progress they made.

Submission + - Microsoft threatens Halo 3 gamers with LIVE ban (pro-g.co.uk) 7

JamesO writes: "When contacted by Pro-G a Microsoft rep confirmed rumours that gamers who play Halo 3 early will have their LIVE accounts banned. Simply not connecting to the internet doesn't appear to be a solution either. The rep also confirmed that Microsoft is able to ban accounts based on information collected by the console which shows when the game was played. This news is sure to come as a shock to some gamers who have already started playing the final chapter in the blockbuster Halo trilogy.

This appears to suggest that games who play Halo 3 before the official street date will only avoid a ban if they never access Xbox LIVE. Microsoft is preparing an official statement on the Halo 3 banning scandal. We'll give you more on this breaking news story as we get it."


Submission + - "Solar rainstorm" filled the first oceans (arxivblog.com) 1

KentuckyFC writes: "The origin of the oceans is a major mystery for planetary geologists. Now a new analysis by Japanese scientists indicates that the most likely source of water is the cloud of dust and gas from which the solar system formed, the so-called solar nebula. That means the oceans were filled when the Earth passed through a cloud of water causing a "solar rainstorm" of fantastic proportions"

Submission + - NASA looking for a few good astronauts (networkworld.com)

coondoggie writes: "NASA today said it is accepting applications for the 2009 Astronaut Candidate Class. Those selected could fly to space for long-duration stays on the International Space Station and missions to the moon and who knows maybe Mars. To be considered, a bachelor's degree in engineering, science or math and three years of relevant professional experience are required. Typically, successful applicants have significant qualifications in engineering or science, or extensive experience flying high-performance jet aircraft — a requirement that might slim the field some. Teaching experience, including work at the kindergarten through 12th grade level, is considered qualifying. Educators with the appropriate educational background are encouraged to apply. http://www.networkworld.com/community/node/19669"
The Matrix

Submission + - Tech's brave women who lead startups (oreillynet.com)

Technical Writing Geek writes: "In a culture that celebrates the individual (even though none of us works in a bubble), the female geeks are being absorbed into teams. So, it seems that I've located the women: they are mostly at the big companies doing all sorts of cool and innovative things. They are in excellent, prestigious positions. But that isn't the entire picture either. There are quite a few, individual women who are risk takers. These are women who leave the comforts of salaried, benefited work at the big companies to go and lead startups.


Data Storage

Submission + - Sun acquires new Lustre (sun.com)

JerkBoB writes: This morning, Sun announced an agreement to purchase the assets of Cluster File Systems, the company behind the Lustre High Performance File System. From the press release:

The agreement further extends Sun's momentum in open source and Solaris and complements the Company's current direction to provide the industry's most complete end-to-end High Performance Computing (HPC) storage solution.
Given Sun's failure to win any part of the DARPA HPCS award last November, I wonder how this acquisition will change things for Sun in the HPC world?

Slashdot Top Deals

Your code should be more efficient!