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Operating Systems

Submission + - ReactOS 0.3.1 Release

fireballrus writes: This is release 0.3.1 of ReactOS, an open source effort to develop a quality operating system that is compatible with applications and drivers written for the Microsoft Windows NT family of operating systems (NT4, 2000, XP, 2003).

Mainly, the work focused on rewriting certain parts of the ReactOS Core (kernel, HAL, bootloader, etc). Read through the changelog, and you will see the amount of changes in this release!

Please don't forget this is an alpha-stage operating system, which means it is not suitable to replace your main OS. Also, this release is aimed to be run mostly in virtualizers / emulators (like QEmu, VMWare, Parallels, etc): because of the big amount of changes, our development team was not able to test/fix all problems which arise when running ReactOS on real hardware.

Press-release: http://www.reactos.org/en/news_page_34.html

Changelog: http://www.reactos.org/wiki/index.php/ChangeLog-0. 3.1

Download packages are here: http://sourceforge.net/project/showfiles.php?group _id=6553&package_id=6629&release_id=492696

ReactOS website: http://www.reactos.org/

Submission + - AnyDVD updated, now removes Blue-Ray DRM

mariushm writes: "SlySoft has just updated AnyDVD HD, offering users the possibility of watching Blue-Ray media without DRM. This comes after only two weeks from the first release which was able to remove DRM from HD-DVD.

Version has lots of features but probably the most important one is stripping the evil DRM infection from Blu-Ray and restore your fair use rights.

The free upgrade can also remove region encoding, works on Windows XP-64 and Vista-64, and fixes a ton of bugs. You can get the update or a trial copy here."

Submission + - Automagic parallelization with Codeplay Sieve C++

Max Romantschuk writes: "From an article in the Inquirer:

What Sieve is is a C++ compiler that will take a section of code and parallelize it for you with a minimum hassle. All you really need to do is take the code you want to run across multiple CPUs and put beginning and end tags on the parts you want to run in parallel.
Is this the Silver Bullet of parallelization? There's more info on Sieve on Codeplay's site."

Submission + - Thousands sign e-petition on rip-off Vista

CoolWolf writes: CustomPC News, Monday 26th February 2007
Thousands sign e-petition on rip-off Vista http://www.pcpro.co.uk/custompc/news/106025/thousa nds-sign-epetition-on-ripoff-vista.html

Petition info and link:
We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to bring pressure on Microsoft to stop them overcharging the UK for its Vista Operating System.
Submitted by Paul Milne — Deadline to sign up by: 20 April 2007 — Signatures: 8,051

Submission + - 9 Laws of Physics That Don't Apply in Hollywood

Ant writes: "Neatorama lists nine laws of physics that don't apply in Hollywood (movies and television/TV shows). In general, Hollywood filmmakers follow the laws of physics because they have no other choice. It's just when they cheat with special effects that people seem to forget how the world really works..."

Submission + - Microsoft attacks Google on Copyright

An anonymous reader writes: The Financial Times reports that Microsoft is attacking Google on copyright. It appears that in an attempt to differentiate itself from Google, Microsoft is portraying itself as more sympathetic to copyright holders. Microsoft stated that Google's decision to take copies of books unless publishers tell it not to "systematically violates copyright, deprives authors and publishers of an important avenue for monetising their works and, in doing so, undermines incentives to create".

Submission + - Microsoft gets ownd by its own Windows OneCare

Stony Stevenson writes: Microsoft has launched a marketing campaign that lets any student from an Australian university buy the Ultimate edition of Office 2007 (usually costs $1150) for only $75. A discount of about 93%. But when users go to the site, Microsoft Live OneCare pops up saying the site is a potential phishing scam.

From the article: When entering the site, some users have reported receiving a warning from Windows Live OneCare advising that the www.itsnotcheating.com.au site is a suspicious website.

The warning reads: "Phishing filter has determined this might be a phishing website. We recommend that you do not give any of your information to such websites. Phishing websites impersonate trustworthy websites for the purpose of obtaining your personal or financial information."

A Microsoft spokesperson said the company was unaware of the warning but pledged to amend it as soon as possible.

Submission + - The Book of JavaScript

Michael J. Ross writes: "Developers of Web sites, whether professional programmers or Web hobbyists, are oftentimes impressed by the more advanced functionality that can be achieved on a Web page using JavaScript. Yet these personal discoveries of JavaScript's power do not always motivate the developers to implement similar functionality on their own sites — partly because most of those custom-built JavaScript functions are cryptic, and make no attempt to show how the developer would customize the code for their own use. The majority of JavaScript books are of limited help in this regard, because they focus on the language details, illustrated only with code snippets. Many readers would benefit more from instruction via working examples, which is the approach used by The Book of JavaScript.

The book was written by David Thau, a.k.a. "thau!," a veteran of the Internet and computer programming — especially JavaScript, which he has taught to countless other programmers, through this book, as well as numerous courses, conference presentations, and the tutorials he has written for Webmonkey.

Published by No Starch Press under ISBN-10 1593271069 and ISBN-13 978-1593271060, the second edition of The Book of JavaScript appeared in December 2006. The publisher maintains a Web page for the book, where visitors can find an online copy of the book's table of contents, excerpts from reader reviews, links for purchasing the paper and electronic versions of the book, a sample chapter ("Chapter 2: Using Variables and Built-In Functions to Update Your Web Pages Automatically") as a PDF file, the errata discovered by the author and readers (several reported so far), and a link to the author's companion site.

Unlike some books' companion sites, this one is worth a visit, and not just to see a working example of the tip box described in chapter 8, which is used to show how to create an array. Thau's site has links for viewing, running, and downloading all of the sample code in the book's figures. In addition, the visitor can obtain copies of the book's JavaScript libraries, for doing cookies, form validation, and plug-in detection. There are links for viewing and downloading the three sample Web sites. However, in his AntWeb site, at least as of this writing, none of the images are showing up on his homepage. Another problem, of much less importance, is the strange behavior of the "Websites" and "Freeware" options on his "Chapters" drop-down list box. Choosing either one takes the visitor to his "Websites" page, but always displays "Freeware" in the drop-down. It is hard to imagine that this behavior is intentional.

The book's material spans 528 pages, most of which is found in 18 chapters, covering a variety of topics: an overview of JavaScript's capabilities, alternatives, and limitations, among other less technical issues; variables and built-in functions; browser detection and simple control flow; rollovers, events, images, and the "document" object; window manipulation and properties; creating your own JavaScript functions; Web forms; arrays and iteration; timing events; frames and image maps; handling form input and strings; cookies; dynamic HTML, CSS, and DOM; AJAX basics; XML; server-side AJAX; a sample application (an online to-do list); and debugging JavaScript and AJAX. The book also offers four appendices: answers to chapter assignments; online resources (tutorials, sample code, AJAX sites, and AJAX frameworks); a complete reference to JavaScript's objects and functions; the code for the book's two longest applications, namely, the Italian translator and the to-do list.

This second edition serves as a follow-up to the well-regarded first edition that came out seven years earlier. Both the book and the language itself have clearly withstood the test of time. There are several reasons for the popularity of that first edition: It taught the language and its capabilities largely through the use of complete JavaScript functions, each of which served as an illustrative example of not just the elements and rules of the language, but also straightforward ways of accomplishing common tasks in JavaScript. After all, looking at sample code is how most programmers prefer to learn or verify how a language works.

The book assumed no prior knowledge of JavaScript or any other computer language, on the part of the reader. This characteristic not only set it apart from the large number of other JavaScript titles published at that time, but it made the book more attractive to people new to programming in general and Web programming in particular. Such readers might also favor this book over others because of the author's approachable writing style, in which he fully explains topics in a leisurely manner, without the terseness seen in most programming language books. This is not to say that brevity in technical works is ever a mistake per se; the busy professional programmer wants to find answers as quickly as possible. But such brevity can quickly prove frustrating to non-techies, who lack the background for understanding terse explanations and for knowing where they can turn for clarification.

All of these laudable attributes of the first edition have been carried over into this latest edition. The primary change found in this second edition, is the coverage of AJAX (asynchronous JavaScript combined with XML). Even though the additional material substantially increases the length of the book, by 124 pages, the end result is still far from unwieldy — mostly due to several factors: The book's table of contents, along with the index, are detailed enough to make it relatively easy to find a particular topic in the book, assuming that it is included. The subsection listings in the table of contents, like good source code, make liberal use of whitespace for readability. In the text itself, coloring the headings and note numbers blue make them stand out.

Aside from the aforesaid problems with the book's companion site, there are a few other areas for improvement: It was noted earlier that the last appendix contains the sample code from chapters 15 and 17. The author states that these code listings were located in an appendix, rather than the chapters themselves, because they are too long. Actually, they comprise only a dozen pages, which would have been better located in the chapters where the reader expects to see them, and where they would be close at hand for referencing. The first listing is only two pages long, and definitely should be located in chapter 15. Even for the second listing, if the author is concerned about readers getting frustrated flipping through the 10 pages to find the continuation of the chapter's discussion, a simple note at the beginning of that code, as to what page the discussion is resumed, would be sufficient.

Some fundamental language elements of JavaScript are introduced fairly late in the book. For instance, it is noted above that an explanation as to how to create an array — an essential concept in just about any procedural language — is not found until the eighth chapter, on page 134. This is more than one third of the way into the book's 18 chapters. On the other hand, given that the author has chosen to present these language concepts, for the most part, only when needed and when describing the sample code, this later introduction of some key concepts might not prove much of a problem to most readers. However, this is a case in which the completeness and accuracy of the book's index, are even more critical than usual. In this regard, the book does not fail the reader, as the index appears to provide enough coverage.

The formatting of the code throughout the text is not entirely consistent, as evidenced by some open braces appearing on their own lines, thus wasting space, and in other cases on the same line as the preceding parenthesized expression, though separated by a pointlessly large number of spaces. Code level blocks are indented two or four spaces, seemingly at random. Continuation lines are indented exactly the same; they would be more clear if they had double the number of spaces as code level blocks. Of more importance to the reader attempting to figure out what code is serving what purpose, there are far too many large chunks of code lacking any comments, which are needed, since much of the code is not self-describing. In most of the functions, the only comment lines are those for hiding the JavaScript from outdated browsers — a practice that should have been phased out in this latest edition.

Any experienced programmer who needs a complete JavaScript reference book, or a book that covers all the language's elements in fine detail, would be best served by choosing a different book from this one. On the other hand, once they had secured such a book, they would likely find David Thau's contribution an enjoyable source of ideas on what can be done using JavaScript capabilities. For anyone who wishes to learn JavaScript in a practical and relaxed way, by reading clearly explained sample projects and their code, should be well pleased with The Book of JavaScript.

Michael J. Ross is a Web programmer, freelance writer, and the editor of PristinePlanet.com's free newsletter. He can be reached at www.ross.ws, hosted by SiteGround."

Submission + - Windows Vista Needs DST Patch

An anonymous reader writes: Windows Vista and Windows XP may require a HotFix patch to the C Runtime Library MSVCRT.dll as part of the Daylight Savings Time nightmare. Microsoft released a technical bulletin on 3/1/07 detailing the products which require the patch. Unfortunately Microsoft had the Vista Patch on 2/16/07 and the Windows XP patch on 2/19/07 but they decided to hold on to them until 3/1/07. This is the second round of Operating System patches for Windows and Daylight Savings Time. See KB932590 for more details. http://support.microsoft.com/kb/932590/en-us. Note that to get the patches, you must call Microsoft and request the patch.

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"The eleventh commandment was `Thou Shalt Compute' or `Thou Shalt Not Compute' -- I forget which." -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982