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 Microsoft isn't Evil (Score 1) 151

It's a corporation that watches out for its bottom line and does what it can to eek out a profit. I am a big user of open source software, and I turn down jobs that are primarily Microsoft based, but its because I like OSS tools and am use to them.

There are many people who feel the opposite way. They love Microsoft development tools and feel quite comfortable in the Microsoft environment. They believe Microsoft has done a lot to get computers and technology into the hands of billions of people. They like to point out the fact that millions of people could legitimately use OSS tools like Linux and Open Office for free decide to pirate Windows and Microsoft Office instead.

There were many questionable Microsoft practices in the past and there are probably a few going on today. This was because Microsoft took the competition of OSS tools more seriously than most people did back in the 1990s and feared the openness of the World Wide Web and Internet back when most people didn't even know what it was.

What Microsoft is doing in this case is fantastic. They are trying to enforce the proper licensing of their software on a global basis. They are doing this with cheaper software versions in developing countries and working with governments to enforce licensing regulations. After all, that's how Microsoft makes money.

It's a strategy that has been working. In China, the rate of piracy has declined - much of it is in large enterprises. Microsoft probably now earns billions in China through there effort to get users to license their software. Microsoft knows that this is a long term battle -- getting users and governments use to the concept of paying for software they pirate, but their efforts have been working.

Now, Microsoft is reversing itself in places where governments are using pirated software as an excuse to shut dissent. Giving out free licenses isn't directly hurting its revenue. These dissident organizations are small and as you point out, it doesn't cost Microsoft a penny to give out licenses.

However, imagine how this hurts Microsoft's efforts to get governments to enforce licensing in their society as a whole. The Russian government and businesses are just starting to pay licensing fees for their software. With Microsoft's move, this effort to enforce licensing will now grind to a halt. This is a great potential revenue loss for Microsoft and probably sets back their goal to stamp out Microsoft software piracy in those countries by two decades.

It doesn't matter what you think of copyright, Microsoft, software licensing, or open source software. It basically comes down to Microsoft giving up revenue and turning over its long term fight to get licensing revenue outside of the developed world.

Comment Re:No dependence (Score 2, Insightful) 338

Yes, we do depend upon Mideast oil! Even if we don't directly buy oil from the Middle East.

Oil is what is known as a fungible commodity, and the origin is not all that important. If the Middle Eastern producers decide to put less oil on the market, our costs still go up since there is now less oil to buy in the total market. We buy about $300 billion worth of oil from various sources and that $300 billion is part of the global market. If we increase our imports to $600 billion, the world wide price of oil would increase, and even if we don't buy a single drop from the Middle East, those producers will still reap the reward of our increased imports.

And, if we decide to decrease our imports to just $400 billion dollars, the world wide price of oil will fall, and the producers in the Middle East will make less money too.

Truthfully, the idea of Middle Eastern oil vs. non-Middle Eastern oil strikes me as somewhat racist. We get plenty of oil from Venezuela which has a more virulent anti-American government than Kuwait, Qatar, or Saudi Arabia. The big problem is that we're sending out a third of a trillion dollars out of our economy which hurts our trade deficit. At the same time, we make oil fairly cheap in the U.S. via all sorts of subsidies which encourages wasteful energy spending. We now have solar and wind industries that cannot compete against the subsidized oil industry and they're all asking for special incentives in order to compete.

Even worse, we have a growing China trying to seize up energy sources for its growth. It is contesting Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and all of its neighbors in off shore islands because owning those islands will give it access to the oil around those islands. It is developing oil sources all over Africa, Asia, and South America in order to feed its energy needs. With more demand for energy, the U.S. and China may find themselves arguing and maybe even fighting over the same remaining drops of oil.

What if (and this is a radical idea) we set energy costs to their true market value. Let's say we get rid of the special tax breaks for the oil companies, and they have to charge more money to cover their costs. Even better, we tax them for depletion of global resources and pollution caused by global oil exploration.

Sure, the price of gasoline will rise, but by the magic of that invisible hand of market regulation, people, without the EPA having to mandate a single thing, will buy more fuel efficient cars. Maybe people will start buying the more efficient electric cars without the feds dangling a $5000+ subsidy. Maybe people will use more efficient LED lights without the federal government mandating it. Maybe solar power and wind power will be able to compete without the federal government handing out more money.

Maybe with fewer people driving, the cost of maintaining our roads will go down, and we can start working on other infrastructure projects. Maybe the cost of energy with our more efficient workforce and our better infrastructure will cause manufacturing jobs to move back to the U.S. Maybe by spending less money on oil and other imports, we actually reverse our balance of payments deficit.

It really doesn't matter who we buy our oil from. That $300 billion we're spending in oil imports could do some wonderful things here.

Comment Consider an Alternative Career Path... (Score 2, Insightful) 565

There are build managers, release managers, configuration managers, QA managers, etc. All who need high technical skills, but no need to do heavy duty programming skills. What they need is a technological eye and the ability to solve problems on the fly.

These positions get paid as much as developers, and are quite technical. And, they tend to be the place where older individuals can really make their mark. You can't out code 20 to 30 year old developers. They grew up in college with this stuff and know it forwards and backwards. However, most of them are pretty lost when it comes to the overall design of a software development life cycle.

As for programming, my recommendation is to forget about compiled languages.

Learn Linux and BASH shell scripting. Should take you a couple of weeks to get the hang of it. Then, try Python, and after that JavaScript/AJAX. These are the languages that glue everything together and can be used in either Windows or non-Windows environments.

Your main concern is getting a hang of object oriented programming. That was the most difficult thing for me to get my mind around.

Comment Why go through all that trouble of hacking? (Score 3, Interesting) 193

The types of ATMs being talked about are the non-bank machines that you see in many smaller stores in New York City. They're installed and sold by third party vendors to connect to the main banking networks.

A salesman goes into a store, and tells the owner that if they had an ATM in their store, their sales will go up because people will stop in to get cash. The store owner buys or leases the machine. However, they don't change the default service password that's listed in the owners manual. A manual you can buy on line.

There have been several incidences of someone coming into a small store, typing in the series of key presses to get to the service menu, entering the default password, and wham, the machine gives them all the cash! It's quick and easy with no messing hacking necessary.

Comment Is Copying Apple a Good Idea? (Score 1) 262

The main argument the article makes is look how well it works for Apple. But, Apple has spent years perfecting its products and building its reputation. You can also look at the Android model and see different hardware manufacturers building a phone that competes effectively against the iPhone monolith.

When Android 3 comes out, the various UIs on top of the Android phone and the various lower levels of hardware interface will go away. What was suppose to be an Android strength -- the OS being customizable to various platforms -- has a big weakness. The problem with Android 1.x and 2.x is that it is almost impossible to keep the OS up to date. Many phones are still sold with the old Android 1.6 OS and maybe with no hopes for updating. With the fast accelerating market (the original "Droid" is less than a year old and is now an obsolete phone) the vast differences in hardware is causing problems.

There are also weaknesses with the iPhone model. If the iPhone is available to all cell phone providers, they find themselves as a commodity business competing only on price. Android allowed Verizon to offer distinct phones that its rivals cannot offer. Android 3.0 will take away some of this flexibility as the hardware platform is more standardized, but it isn't as unified as the PC platform. There are too many marketing forces that want to keep the various phones distinct from each other.

W7P is following the Android 3.0 model. The phones can be base upon three different reference platforms, and the platform specifications are loose enough to allow for a wider variety of phones and functionality than found in the PC market. This can be an advantage as cell phone service providers and cell phone manufacturers try to make the devices they offer different from their competitors.

The main threat against W7P isn't external, but the internal forces at Microsoft. There is pressure to rewrite the Zune based W7P platform to use Windows internally. The W7P group already has been told that it cannot offer its OS on tablets (why this group is Windows 7 PHONE and not Windows 7 MOBILE). The Windows CE team is still around and has successfully killed the Project Pink group and is now aiming at the Zune and W7P group. The desktop Windows group is also taking aim at the Zune and W7P group. If Windows 7 Phone fails, it'll won't be because it wasn't a viable platform. Most reviews of W7P have been very good.

Comment World Ends Tomorrow: Story at 11! (Score 3, Insightful) 416

This patent was granted about two years ago. The main point of the patent is to give Apple a way of including ad services in the core of its OS. That service, iAds, is now part of the iPhone OS.

The illustrations and scenarios are probably bogus to make people think this will apply to Mac OS X and for a completely different purpose. Read the patent carefully (patent #20090265214), and you'll see it applies directly to iAds.

Claim 1. A computer-implemented method for operating a device, the method comprising: disabling a function of an operating system in a device; presenting an advertisement in the device while the function is disabled; and enabling the function in response to the advertisement ending.

When you view iAds, the functions of the OS are "disabled" (that is, until you dismiss the iAd). The OS is reenabled once the iAd is dismissed.

Claim 5. The computer-implemented method of claim 1, further comprising selecting the function among a plurality of functions before each advertisement presentation.

Sounds like iAds.

Claim 12. The computer-implemented method of claim 1, further comprising presenting in the device a user-selectable control that when activated triggers at least one selected from the group consisting of: causing presentation of a page from an advertiser associated with the advertisement; recording a user rating of the advertisement; again presenting the advertisement; sharing the advertisement with another user; initiating a transaction for user purchase of a product that eliminates the presentation of advertisements on the device; postponing presentation of the advertisement; causing the advertisement to be presented ahead of schedule; causing a previous advertisement to be presented; causing a preview of a subsequent advertisement to be presented; causing an overview of all available advertisements to be presented; and initiating a transaction for user purchase of a product or service to which the advertisement relates.

Yup, iAds.

If you've never applied for a patent, you don't understand this weird world.

  • When you apply for a patent, you must keep the patent broad enough that no one else can make a slight modification and get around your patent. For example, I come up with a totally new and cool device. Let's say a holographic sex robot. I use the term "keyboard based control pad" to define how this device works. Someone copies my holographic sex robot, but doesn't use a "keyboard based control pad". My patent is useless.
  • You also need to keep the patent defined tight enough to avoid prior art. Imagine this time I take care of defining my holographic sex robot as a mere electronically enabled sex device, that way, no one could build a similar device, but make it less robotic and thus avoid my patent. In this case, someone could show prior art by showing that there are already electronically enabled sex devices on the market.
  • When you apply for a patent, you are showing intentions of future directions and thus alerting potential competitors. Imagine if you're an electronics gaming company and you're thinking of building a holographic sex robot. You come up with some unique features and want to patent them. But, you must be careful not to alert your potential competitors what you have in mind. They could try to throw up their own patents in front of your efforts, or come up with their own sex robots before you get a chance with your holographic sex robot. Instead, when you file your patent, you pretend the patent covers a new unique touch interface with a certain responsive IO. You draw console screens to illustrate how your device works. You never mention the words "holographic", "sex", or "robot". Now, when you come out with your holographic sex robot at CES in Las Vegas, you've taken the market by complete surprise.

Of course, there is the case that Apple will never use this patent. Most patents applied for are never used. They're pure subterfuge which Apple is really great at. Apple took the domain mammals.org a while ago and that raised a big ruckus. What is Apple planning to do? Does this have anything to do with Darwin? Is there an iCat and iDog in our future? After a decade of ownership, Apple has done nothing with it.

Or, maybe it is a patent in a direction Apple thought they were heading, but changed their minds. One of the things most people don't realize about Apple is they do almost no long term planning. Apple simply jumps on markets when the time is ripe using the assets they already own. Thus iOS is based upon Mac OS X. The iPad is really just a giant iPod Touch, but makes a great slate computer.

My feeling is not to sit here are worry about it until our Infinite Loop overlords tell us what to do.

Comment You have to defend trademarks no matter how silly (Score 3, Interesting) 104

To understand this, you must understand how trademarks work: If you fail to defend a trademark, you will lose it.

Imagine a company called ElectronCo coming up with a new electronic doodad and calling it an "iPud". Apple sues claiming that the name iPud is too close to iPod and iPad, and thus it is a trademark violation, and will confuse the consumer.

If ElectronCo can show that Apple knew about the iPood, and didn't defend its trademark against that, Apple could actually lose the case.

Therefore, companies spend lots of time and effort defending their trademarks from all possible rivals no matter how ridiculous or silly it may look.

Comment Re:Gir's Analysis: Doom, Doom, Doom (Score 5, Insightful) 298

There is a concept in the marketing industry called "The Delta". The Delta is the thing your product has that not only distinguishes it from other products, but will get consumers to choose your product over the others -- despite other possible short comings.

The original iPhone came out without copy/paste, but it still offered some unique features that allowed people to "forgive" Apple on that aspect. The web browser, the interface, the coolness factor, etc. Apple claimed they didn't include copy/paste because they were trying to work out the way to have copy/paste on a touch interface without any menuing system. When the iPhone finally came out with copy/paste, most people praised it as simple, intuitive, and easy to use.

One problem with Windows 7 Phone is that the copy/paste issue has been solved. We know how to have a nice copy/paste interface. The other issue is that the Windows 7 Phone isn't unique. What's the "Delta" over the iPhone and Android phones? This isn't saying that Windows 7 Phone isn't competitive, but that whatever advantages it has must make people decide to buy the device over the iPhone which does come with copy/paste, 100K+ apps, a wide consumer environment, and its coolness factor.

If the Windows 7 Phone came out two years ago, it would be extremely competitive and people would be rushing out to buy it. As it stands now, it is just another app phone missing features that other app phones already have.

Comment Pressure on Mozila (Score 1) 154

Since the release of WebKit and the dominance of WebKit based browsers on the mobile platform, there has been lots of pressure on FireFox to switch to from their own Gecko engine to WebKit.

WebKit is open source like Gecko, but unlike Gecko, WebKit is driving the HTML5 standards. Since WebKit is open source, there is no real reason FireFox must have its own unique rendering engine. In fact, it'll free up resources at FireFox to work on other aspects of their browser.

Flock, moving to Chrome is just putting a bit more pressure on FireFox to switch.

Comment Re:Bad joke (Score 0) 284

Let's take the case of a restaurant. It has a public access space (the front tables) and a private space (the kitchen area). If someone forgets to lock the kitchen door, you still have no right to "access" the kitchen. You further have no right to take stuff, publish the secret recipes you found in the filing cabinets, or to vandalize the place.

A website is public, and you can expect the public to use the publicly accessible parts of it. However, if you find a security hole, you have no right to access that.

I think the problem is that this is Apple, AT&T, and the proprietary iPhone and not the super cool Android phone. But, AT&T also sells Android phones. And, so does Verizon which also had similar issues. What if someone accessed via AT&T and Verizon information about YOUR phone. YOUR phone number. YOUR billing address, YOUR bank account. Is that still okay?

If I leave my keys in the car. If I leave my front door open, the police might "laugh at me", but a crime has still taken place.

As for the "implied" license: Are you saying that if you can figure out some sort of hack via a security hole, you have permission to enter? This was not a link that said "Click here to view iPad account holder information". This was a script written probing for a security hole. It as if someone port scanned your PC.

Internet security is extremely difficult. You have millions of people you want to let in, but at the same time, you have information you don't want public. Even Google gets hacked. Hackers aren't just kids. They're sometimes backed by crime syndicates and foreign governments. Don't be so sure of yourself. How much do you know of your own computer? Are all those protocols your computer uses to communicate absolutely secure? Could there be some bug in one of the hundreds of third party libraries that you don't know about?

Don't be so gun ho on Linux/GNU either. It is far from secure unless you keep your machine off, unplugged, locked in a closet, and off any network. Almost every day, my Linux desktop machine reports about a half dozen security issues and bugs. And, since it is a desktop machine, I can update it, reboot it, and hopes everything keeps working. I can't do this with my database server or my web server. It needs to be up almost 24 hours each day, and I have to certify that bug fixes won't break anything. Takes about a week to go through the process, so it's about 3 months behind in updates. Maybe longer.

Hacking is a crime whether you like it or not. It doesn't matter if something was easily hackable or hard to hack. It doesn't matter if the security hole was well known or zero day.

Your argument that since this was a webserver, thus not a hack is laughably immature. You really think writing a PHP script to poking around at various non accessible directories, and taking random guesses is public access?

There maybe some liability AT&T has in this case if they were negligent in securing the information. That would be for the court to answer. This would be like a bank that has a master key to their safety deposit boxes kept on a nail by the front door in the lobby. However, that guy who took the key, and rummaged through the safety deposit boxes would still have committed a crime.


Submission + - Wired Magazine Creationist Website as "Expert" (wired.com)

qazwart writes: Wire Magazine in a story about Stonehenge and Carbon 14 Dating uses as a source a well known young earth creationist website, Archeology Experts. Archeology Experts has such fine articles such as this one about how Dinosaurs footprints and human footprints were found together in the same strata of earth, thus proving man and dinosaur walked at the same time: http://www.archaeologyexpert.co.uk/EarlyFootprints.html.

In the article, the author quotes Archeology Experts making a claim that Carbon 14 decay has slowed down in recent years (thus making items that are carbon 14 dated much younger than archeologists claim.

The article also states:

The site [Archeology Experts] points out that live mollusk shells in Hawaii were dated as 2,000 years old and a “freshly killed seal” in Antarctica dated 1,300 years. A claim refuted by Talk Origins: http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CD/CD011_4.html.

Wired Magazine is one of the most popular technology and science magazines and websites around. However, this lapse calls into question whether Wired magazine can be trusted as a news source.

Comment Why Flash is Dead (Score 1) 495

Take a look at many of the iPhone/iPad and Android apps. Do you notice something? Take a look at Hopstop, Facebook, Twitter, FlightAware, Weather Channel. Now, do you see something?

A good percentage of the iPhone/Android apps are customized interfaces for webapps. That's right. Instead of downloading and installing these apps, the user could simply go to the webpage and do the same thing.

Even more strange is that many of these apps are paid apps. That is, the user is buying an app when they could do the same thing for free by merely visiting the webpage? Why are users doing that?

We could snarkily claim that these users are stupid (They're not using Linux after all!) Or, we could say that maybe there is something about native apps that users prefer and are even willing to pay a few dollars for in order to enjoy the privilege of using a natively written app.

That is why Flash is dead. Adobe is trying to push the AIR platform as a write once/execute anywhere platform. Adobe wants to push Flash as a "Universal" web platform for creating rich webapps. But, the users aren't going to buy that. It's not an HTML5 vs Flash debate because users don't want to use HTML5 either. They want the apps they download to work as effortlessly as the mobile device they're using.

If you're a Flash developer, it's about time to learn to program in the native apps found on these various platforms. Heck, learn them all! I believe that Android is Java based (I haven't programmed on it yet) and the iPhone uses Objective C which is not too difficult a language to pick up. Plus, both platforms have extensive SDK that help with things like GUI, buttons, scrolling, etc.

Because the truth is that no one wants to use a Flash app on any platform.

Comment What Venom! (Score 2, Insightful) 457

My o' My. What venom I hear from the likes of those Apple Panboys. Did us Apple Fanboys sound like that back in the late 1990s when the whole PC industry was eating our lunch?


More and more people are buying Apple products. They weren't sheeple or stupid idiots or people with money to burn and no brains when they weren't buying Apple products, and they aren't that now. These are willy consumers and see nice products at somewhat reasonable prices. Reasonable prices? A JooJoo tablet is the same price as an iPad. The WeTab (formally, the WePad) will be selling in Europe for $600. Remember the Zune? Came out at the same price as an iPod -- and the Zune was physically bigger, heavier and was brown. And, of course, there's the Adamo XPS which is just like the MacBook Air, but costs $500 more.

Looks like when companies build products to take on Apples' products, those products also take on Apple pricing too. You cannot build a 9" touch screen, well made tablet for under $500 and still make money. Even the HP Slate is going to sell for the same price as the iPad when it comes out in the end of July (running WebOS).

I don't know who this Paul is, but netbooks have been in the doldrums for a few months before the iPad, and sales have continued to drop since the iPad came out. There suppose to be 50,000,000 of them netbook suckers? He's an idiot.

The question is how other companies are viewing the iPad. Quite a few have quietly dropped working on up coming models, and instead are working on various tablet computers. Looks like these companies see the writing on the wall -- the netbook is pretty much dead.

And good riddance for netbooks too! Netbooks were money pits for most of these companies. You can't make money selling $300 netbooks. Heck, the Windows 7 license itself was close to $100. (Yes, I know: Linux is the answer. I use Linux too, but Linux based netbooks never sold very well. Linux is a nice kernel, and the GNU utilities are nice, but the Gnome and KDE desktops suck. Non-geeks hated them).

Nope, these companies see the writing on the wall: They're all coming on with tablets. HP's Slate will be coming on at the end of July running WebOS. Android tablets are in the works for Dell and other companies. They're not waiting around for ChromeOS which will be a disaster. Anything that'll run on ChromeOS will run on a iPhone OS or WebOS based tablet. Besides, the trend is people using web-based data in native apps. Look at all the Android and iPhone apps, and how many of them are simply apps that give you the same data you can get from the company's webpage? And, people are PAYING for that instead of using the free webpage. That should tell you something. It's the real reason why Flash is dead. Despite what Adobe thinks, nobody want to run an AIR app when they can run a native app instead.

And, all of these companies will sell their tablets for about $500 -- matching the iPad's price. Why? Because you can make money on a $500 tablet which is something you cannot do with a $300 netbook.

By the way, nothing I mentioned called netbooks worthless or that you were an idiot buying one. You bought them for a good reason and are probably pleased your bought one.

The problem is that netbook computers not profitable to build. And, that's their real downfall.

Comment Re:Of course. (Score 1) 178

One way is to say that the pipeline provider is providing a wholesale service to others. These would include cable companies, phone companies, ISPs, and maybe even companies like Apple, Microsoft, and Google. These other companies would compete for your dollars and all would have the same access to the data pipeline. The pipeline provider would be regulated like the old phone company was. The idea would be to provide universal service at a reasonable price.

You would have multiple companies competing to provide you with a wide variety of services, but all on an equal footing since they're all buying the same wholesale service. The pipeline service would automatically be "net neutral" because they don't have any data packets of their own they'd want to manipulate. They simply get paid by the gigabyte of data, and they won't care whether that gigabyte is a movie, a bit torrent, music, or someone playing an on line game.

This is the way Europe, Japan, and many other places handle their ISP situation. The result is cheaper and faster Internet connectivity.

One of the big problems in the U.S. is that we allow pipeline providers to also own the content. That presents lots of temptation to 'manage' the data on that pipeline. For example, why should Comcast allow Apple or Netflix equal access to distribute movies that compete against services that Comcast also offers. Comcast wants you to subscribe to HBO and not get the content from Apple and Netflix. If your cable provider only provided you a cable, you could shop around and get the content you want from the supplier of your choice.

The way we do it now, even if a third party manages to break the data pipeline monopoly, the fact that of the data pipeline providers owns content could prevent competition. Comcast, a cable provider, now owns NBC, one of the three major TV networks. Meanwhile, Verizon is attempting to install FIOS into Comcast's cable franchise area. What would happen if Comcast simply decided that FIOS couldn't show NBC? Would you subscribe to FIOS if you couldn't get one of the major networks? So much for fair competition.

Slashdot Top Deals

"The Avis WIZARD decides if you get to drive a car. Your head won't touch the pillow of a Sheraton unless their computer says it's okay." -- Arthur Miller