NewsStream Pick of the litter from my aggregated feeds -- Summarized

2005: April part 2 part 1 [March, May]

RIAA File-Sharing Lawsuits Top 10,000 People Sued [RIAA Watch 4/29/2005] The total number of file sharers sued has now broken the five-digit barrier, coming in at 10,037 people sued by the RIAA since September 2003. This is an astounding figure. I just checked the Federal Judicial Caseload Statistics and found that this one wave of litigation represents 2.3% of all civil cased filed in federal court. And given the news reports of $3,000 average settlements, this means the RIAA's probably collected over $30 million from individual file sharers. [via Slashdot: 4/30/2005; 7:53:06 PM]: They paid a settlement to the RIAA in order for the RIAA to not go ahead with legal action. They haven't paid through judgments, they haven't paid fines, they haven't paid legally required fees. Repeat after me: The RIAA have not yet sued anyone. They have applied extortion using the threat of a costly legal battle involving megacorporation vs one individual. .... How long will it be before the RIAA's profit from threatened lawsuits exceeds that of music licensing? 4/30/2005 10:22:00 PM    
Gilligan's Island: In-depth legal implications, with case law citations[Santa Clara Law Review (1998) via Fark 4/30/2005; 11:53:54 AM] Gilligan's Island ranks among the most influential television shows of all time. Despite the fact that the last original episode aired thirty years ago, and the series has been the subject of numerous studies, its legal facets are almost never mentioned. As a result, even the show's most ardent fans are rarely mindful of just how much law appeared in the series. Accordingly, this essay seeks to shed some light on the jurisprudence of Gilligan's Island... 4/30/2005 10:04:09 PM    
15th Century Blogging Wednesday 30 April 1662. [Pepys' Diary (full) 4/30/2005] This morning Sir G. Carteret came down to the yard, and there we mustered over all the men and determined of some regulations in the yard, and then to dinner, all the officers of the yard with us, and after dinner walk to Portsmouth, there to pay off the Success, which we did pretty early, and so I took leave of Sir W. Pen, he desiring to know whither I went, but I would not tell him. I went to the ladies, and there took them and walked to the Mayor’s to show them the present, and then to the Dock, where Mr. Tippets made much of them, and thence back again, the Doctor being come to us to their lodgings, whither came our supper by my appointment, and we very merry, playing at cards and laughing very merry till 12 o’clock at night, and so having staid so long (which we had resolved to stay till they bade us be gone), which yet they did not do but by consent, we bade them good night, and so past the guards, and went to the Doctor’s lodgings, and there lay with him, our discourse being much about the quality of the lady with Mrs. Pierce, she being somewhat old and handsome, and painted and fine, and had a very handsome maid with her, which we take to be the marks of a bawd. But Mrs. Pierce says she is a stranger to her and met by chance in the coach, and pretends to be a dresser. Her name is Eastwood. So to sleep in a bad bed about one o’clock in the morning. This afternoon after dinner comes Mr. Stephenson, one of the burgesses of the town, to tell me that the Mayor and burgesses did desire my acceptance of a burgess-ship, and were ready at the Mayor’s to make me one. So I went, and there they were all ready, and did with much civility give me my oath, and after the oath, did by custom shake me all by the hand. So I took them to a tavern and made them drink, and paying the reckoning, went away. They having first in the tavern made Mr. Waith also a burgess, he coming in while we were drinking. It cost me a piece in gold to the Town Clerk, and 10s. to the Bayliffes, and spent 6s. 4/30/2005 9:21:26 PM    
Microsoft now running 64-bit Windows on internal servers [ZDNet.au 4/29/2005] Windows client senior product marketing manager Danny Beck said that servers running the company's Web site and MSN Search and Messenger applications had been migrated to the 64-bit version of Windows Server 2003. "Our MSN search engine is actually built on several thousand systems running the x64 version of Windows. The entire Microsoft.com site has been migrated, and we serve 30 million unique visitors every day." Beck said the company had seen a 10-times performance gain from the MSN Messenger servers since they went 64-bit. The servers handle about 70 million messenger users. See the usual at Slashdot [4/29/2005; 8:52:45 AM] 4/29/2005 9:43:03 AM    
Snails Edge Out ADSL [Slashdot: 4/26/2005] Following experiments last year, and after long preparations, a group of IT geeks in Israel has successfully proved that certain gastropods called African giant snails can be faster then ADSL and ... pigeons. The system used, called SNAP (SNAil-based data transfer Protocol), uses biological carriers (snails), and, for the first time, taking advantages of the unique merits of the wheel for data transfer. In spite of the relatively slow speed of the biological carrier, the SNAP system transfers data much faster than conventional technologies. 4/28/2005 10:00:42 PM    
Innovative fountain pen writes on the nanoscale [ScienceDaily 2005-04-27] The first practical fountain pen was invented in 1884. Now fountain pen history is repeating itself in the tiny world of nanoscale writing. Researchers at Northwestern University have demonstrated writing at the sub-100 nanometer molecular scale in fountain-pen fashion. The ink on the reservoir is driven through the microchannel via capillary action to reach the dispensing tip. At present, the smallest feature width achieved with the device is 40 nanometers. [Small Journal reference; Full article: 177K pdf] 4/28/2005 4:39:33 PM    
How to 'Stealth' Microsoft Windows XP Professional [CertificationMag 1/2005] The only true way to ensure the security of a computer is to remove its connectivity to any network altogether -- or keep it turned off. This article shares effective tips, tweaks and suggestions that you can apply quickly and easily to improve the security of any Windows XP Professional box on your network. 4/28/2005 4:12:51 PM    
Are We Having Fun Yet? The Benefits of Play [Bernie DeKoven's FunLog 4/28/2005] Mark Harris has graced us with a wonderful article to remind us how essential it is to play. "We wrestle with an undercurrent of belief that play is frivolous. Certainly children are the masters of play. It's what they do. It's also the way they learn, acquire cognitive and motor skills, and just make life interesting and fun. As adults we still play, but less spontaneously. We tend to schedule in our play time. When, that is, we can find time to schedule."
"Athletes refer to moments when they're in 'the zone,' when body, mind, and spirit acquire a kind of transcendent rhythm and performance is at a peak. In the zone of deep, transcendent play there is calm but also alert and focused readiness. Such moments of heightened awareness represent a state of 'flow'. This is the state of mind in which a person becomes so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter. Awareness to the task at hand acquires a kind of meditative brilliance. Mindfulness zeroes in like a laser beam. Everything feels in harmony. In the flow, we feel satisfied. " Play is essential to health, productivity, creativity.
4/28/2005 3:56:13 PM    
Thumbprinting at tanning salons, fitness clubs, Statue of Liberty and Disneyland. [Boing Boing 4/28/2005; 1:52:31 PM] Reader Brian says: "I'm shocked, SHOCKED that no one has posted information on how to fake finger prints. You have a story at the Register, another link, and my favorite, step by step picture example." 4/28/2005 3:23:04 PM    
What not to do when your customers are down [ComputerWorld Canada 3/18/2005] IT consultants and contractors must be very careful when their clients are down. This real-life story involves client with a Linux box running a variety of critical system packages, including a major mainstream database. The client's attitude to system administration is, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The result: after two years of not applying patches, the server is hacked. The consultant wants to rebuilt with current versions, but the client insists on having it restored, not upgraded, “It worked fine for three years. Put it back.” Of course, the consultant must then install security patches to prevent the box from being hacked again. Sadly, the database does not want to run. None of the vendors support the software — but the client insists on looking for a workaround instead of updating. What would you do? 4/27/2005 7:29:06 PM    
Of Outsourcing And Ocelots: The IT World According To John Cleese [InformationWeek 4/6/2005] All outsourcing projects involve some risk: You may not get expected service levels, your vendor may lose personnel that were key to your project, or flood, famine, and pestilence could break out in the country to which you've dispatched your entire IT operation. Should these inconvenient facts keep you from outsourcing? Not in the least, according to Brit comedian-turned-business consultant John Cleese. "A man who is afraid to make mistakes is unlikely to make anything." 4/27/2005 7:03:22 PM    
A simple XML data store for your Windows applications [Builder.com] Want to create a Windows application that lets your user edit and view structured data locally without connecting to a remote database? XML is the answer, and with Visual Studio it's a snap. 4/27/2005 6:52:34 PM    
Preserving Backward Compatibility [O'Reilly ONLamp 2/17/2005] Change is inevitable, but incompatibility is not. Upgrades are good, but forcing your users to change time after time is unpleasant. A little bit of planning can go a long way toward keeping your users happy. Garrett Rooney offers strategies for preserving backward compatibility, drawing examples from the Subversion project. 4/27/2005 8:27:07 AM    
Hackers Write Spyware For Cash, Not Fame [InformationWeek 4/4/2005] More than 70% of virus writers are writing spyware under contract, one more piece of evidence that hacking has evolved from mischievous hobby to moneymaking criminal venture. The bulk of the spyware being created by hackers linked to organized crime. According to Aladdin Knowledge Systems, "They're doing it for financial gain, pure and simple. Unlike in the past, when hackers were mostly 'script kiddies' who had nothing better to do, it's quickly becoming more of an organized crime venture." 4/27/2005 8:21:03 AM    
Comments are More Important than Code [ACM Queue March 2005 via Slashdot: 4/26/2005; 10:53:30 PM] Jef Raskin goes through the arguments that seem obvious only in hindsight - that 'self-documenting' code is good but not enough, that we should be able to write code based on good documentation, not the other way around, and that the thing that separates human-written code from computer-generated code is that our stuff is readable to future programmers. The Slashdot discussion is worth reading too. 4/27/2005 8:15:33 AM    
McDonald's Honors  Astronaut Chiao for Mission Accomplished [NASA Watch 4/26/2005] McDonald's congratulates NASA Astronaut and former restaurant employee, Commander Leroy Chiao on a successful mission in outer space. McDonald's will present Chiao with a Big Mac sandwich and French fries in Star City, approximately 40 miles outside of Moscow. The McDonald's meal will be one of the first "meals" on Earth Chiao will "enjoy" in nearly 200 days. 4/26/2005 7:39:01 PM    
A Living or a Life? [Fast Company 4/26/2005] "The trouble with the rat race," the great management guru Lily Tomlin once observed, "is that even if you win, you're still a rat." Most of us must make a fateful choice: should we devote our time and talent to making a living -- or to getting a life? Mark Albion, who chucked a fast-track career at Harvard Business School, proves that there's a third way. The only way to find true "balance" is to make your passion and your work one and the same. "When my doctor asked me how many hours a week I work," says Albion, "my immediate response was, 'I don't know, John. How many hours a week do you breathe?' It's one integrated whole." 4/26/2005 7:27:29 PM    
Calculate the cost of a scope change request. [TechRepublic.com 4/26/2005] The project manager and project team are accountable for understanding the total impact of a scope change to a project. This article describes the elements that need your attention. Don't overlook this final factor: Deferred benefits. Your project will result in a benefit to the company. If a scope change request results in the project being delayed, the impact of the scope change should also include the cost of delaying the benefit. 4/26/2005 7:21:53 PM    
Can an Open Source Project Be Acquired? [Slashdot: 4/26/2005; 11:52:38 AM] ZDNet's Between The Lines says yes, one just did. Software startup JasperSoft acquired Sourceforge-based project JasperReports, which involved acquiring the copyrights and hiring the lead developer for the project. 
[Best comment: You -Really- Don't Get This?]"If I own a piece of code, I can do whatever the hell I want with it--including sell it to somebody else. It doesn't matter whether or not I've licensed it out under the GPL or other such Open Source license. Unless I surrender it to the public domain, I own that code, and I can license a GPL version, sell a closed version, offer a crippled demo, auction off a signed copy of the source code for a million dollars, and build an extra-shiny-and-nifty-for-my-eyes-only version--or whatever else I'd like to do with it."] 4/26/2005 7:17:46 PM    
Attention, extremely wealthy geeks: Life-Sized X Wing on eBay. [via Dave Barry's Blog 4/25/2005] When fully assembled the X-Wing measures 28 feet long, 20 feet wide, and about 10 and a half feet tall. Constructed from fiberglass, wood, and plastic, all placed over a steel frame, weighing 2000 lbs. This particular X-wing has spent the last several years hanging from the ceiling of the FAO Schwartz toy store in Orlando, Florida. It is in very good shape, and would be the ultimate centerpiece to any Star Wars collection. Ends April 30, 18:00:00 PDT Note: Rebel pilot not included. Free US domestic shipping if you "Buy-It-Now" for US $85,000.00. For bids of US $15,000 or more, eBay requires a valid credit card. 4/25/2005 7:46:40 PM    
Pegasus Mail and Linux/Open Source. [pmail.com 4/20/2005 via Linux Today 4/25/2005] David Harris, Owner/Author of Pegasus Mail and Mercury Systems, is thinking about moving towards Open Source. "Ideologically, I believe that Open Source and I are a good match, and I would like to consider going that way," he writes. "While Pegasus Mail and Mercury do not require a huge amount of money to develop and support, the fact remains that they *do* require a level of funding, and I am not entirely sure how this would work within an Open Source model."
"Hopefully this update to my position will reduce the amount of hate-mail I have received in the last three years from Open-Source zealots. While I understand the passion and admire the zeal of these people, I would suggest that a positive approach is always going to work better than trying to rip out my liver and feed it to the dogs. After all, this *is* my baby - I have been working on these programs and providing them free of charge for over fifteen years now, and I don't believe it's too much to ask if I expect a little basic human courtesy."
4/25/2005 6:51:38 PM    
OpenOffice Team Wants IBM Contribution. [vunet 4/25/2005] OpenOffice is a suite of productivity tools for text editing, spreadsheets and drawings. Sun acquired the product in 1999 and released the code in 2000 under an open source licence. It uses the code as the foundation of StarOffice, a commercial version of the suite. Sun is still the largest contributor, with about 100 developers. There are roughly 600 active contributors, comprising individual coders and people working for commercial developers such as Novell and Red Hat. Sun's OpenOffice project leader has gone public to shame IBM, which sells OpenOffice as part of its Workplace suite, into donating developer time to the project. "IBM has refrained from contributing to the development. It has thereby declined to participate in the open source environment," he said. Neener neener. 4/25/2005 5:23:04 PM    
Wireless Friendship Beads for Kids. [Gizmodo 4/4/2005] As part of her master's thesis studying communication among teenagers, Ruth kikin-Gil designed techno-jewelry 'BuddyBeads' that can be used to show friendship and indicate mood within groups. Messages are decided by the group in advance and construct a secret private code among its members, emphasizing their social structures, behaviors and needs. As the group changes, so does the bracelet’s composition. When two girls are no longer friends, they can remove their friend’s bead from the bracelet and keep it as a memory of their friendship. When they become friends again, few weeks later, the removed beads can be added to the bracelet once again. 4/24/2005 7:34:27 PM    
Mitch's Must Have Programs. [Lockergnome - Mitchelaneous 4/5/2005] Within the time span of one year I have installed, reinstalled, deleted, and created more than any one person should on one computer. About a week ago I figured it was time I did a little spring cleaning. I totally reformatted my machine and put Windows XP back on just like it came out of the box. So what programs to I make a note of installing first? What do I use most often and what do I find the most effective? Here's my basic list: TweakUI, FeedDemonFirefox, SmartFTP, Trillian, OpenOffice, NoteTab Pro, Audacity, Spybot, AVG Free ... 4/24/2005 6:40:31 PM    
Microsoft releases free new VB 2005 refactoring tool [Scobleizer 4/24/2005] Microsoft has made an agreement with Developer Express to include a fully functional version of Refactor! with VB 2005 and Visual Studio 2005. Refactor! for Visual Basic 2005 Beta 2 is a free plug-in that enables Visual Basic developers to simplify and re-structure source code, making it easier to read and less costly to maintain. Refactor! supports more than 15 individual refactoring features, including operations like Reorder Parameters, Extract Method, Encapsulate Field and Create Overload. 4/24/2005 3:10:25 PM    
Novell Insists NetWare is "Not Dead Yet" [eWeek 4/15/2005] With Novell's focus on Linux, many—including sites that depend on NetWare—wonder if it's the end of the road for Novell's once-dominant network operating system. Novell has indeed announced that there will be no further standalone NetWare releases, but the operating system will continue to live on as an underlying platform for Novell's Open Enterprise Server. The work Novell has done to plaster over the differences between NetWare and Linux in OES should extend the life of NetWare as a platform. This is good news for NetWare shops that aren't ready to migrate off this stalwart platform. "I think I'll go for a walk..." 4/24/2005 10:58:36 AM    
Microsoft's New Mantra - It Just Works [Fortune 4/21/2005] Windows guru Jim Allchin talks to FORTUNE about Microsoft's next version of its operating system, Longhorn, revealing some of its features for the first time. Allchin, a wiry-built 54-year-old who has been in charge of Windows for almost a decade, is admirably blunt about his own frustrations using the current operating system. “You shouldn’t have to spend a lot of time struggling with things,” Allchin said, adding that the number one design goal for Longhorn has been: “It just works.” 4/24/2005 10:41:46 AM    
Companies Gain by Swapping Software [Baseline 4/6/2005] Whatever you call it — community source software, shared source software or a gated software community — companies are betting that the future of "open" source code for the enterprise will consist of like-minded companies forming, ironically, closed communities. By sharing code only with partners, they hope to avoid the lack of control and tedious review processes of truly open source code, where any programmer can tweak code. Private collaborating is not new - businesses within industries have done it for years. What's new is the mix of companies, industries and vendors collaborating on software. Co-opting existing software allows companies to take the chassis of existing systems and build applications on top of them. The downside? Software and development tools borrowed from another company may be too customized. 4/23/2005 10:09:18 PM    
Outsource to Free Up Staff, Not Cut It: [Baseline 4/6/2005] More than 75 percent of the average IT budget is devoted to just keeping the lights on. Think what you could accomplish by outsourcing maintenance and focusing on projects that really matter. Ameritrade is among the new breed of company that sees outsourcing as a way to free up existing staff to focus on developing and delivering services that create a competitive advantage. Jerry Bartlett, Ameritrade's vice president of application development says the online broker has asked outsiders to do software maintenance and non-core development. "What we don't outsource," Bartlett says, "are the aspects we view as our core competencies in delivering the best possible experience to our clients." 4/23/2005 9:46:29 PM    
Peeling Away the FUD Wrapping on Linux/Windows "Studies[Groklaw 4/23/2005 12:17 PM EDT] You just have to read this: The Truth About Linux and Windows. Business Week's Steve Hamm looks more carefully than most at Laura DiDio's latest piece of work and finds it wanting: "I've got a bone to pick with the never-ending stream of studies by tech research outfits comparing Linux to Windows. For starters, it seems like about half of them are paid for by one camp or another. Even when analysts aren't on the payroll, this is really complex stuff—and useful facts are hard come by. And, beyond complexity, some studies just make me scratch my head. For example: a recent one put out by the Yankee Group. I just don’t trust its conclusions." So, finally, the mainstream press is noticing that something is wrong with the methodology of some of these studies, and Hamm carefully documents exactly why he questions the results. He is not a Linux "extremist". Lots more ... 4/23/2005 7:56:32 PM    
Can IT be delivered with a monthly utility bill? [Globe and Mail 4/21/2005] Two years ago, Nicholas Carr asserted that information technology doesn't matter. Now he contends that business is at a stage where technology as a corporate function will move to a service delivered by a utility provider. IT outsourcing, one of the industry's hottest trends, has grown from the very idea that IT service providers can achieve an economy of scale through the efficient delivery of ubiquitous computing and IT-enabled process functions, which reduces the cost to customers. Carr says, "When overcapacity is combined with redundant functionality, the conditions are ripe for a shift to centralized supply." ... To his credit, Mr. Carr challenges computing convention, even if the reality of what he believes is a lot more complicated than he's making it sound. 4/23/2005 3:25:12 PM    
Could you start a fire with a Coke can and a chocolate bar?  [via Boing Boing 4/23/2005via Make Blog 4/23/2005] 

Try to figure this one out for yourself before you peek at a solution worthy of MacGuiver. 4/23/2005 2:46:01 PM    
McMakeover on fast-food strip [Globe and Mail 4/23/2005; 3:53:59 AM] In 2002, burger giant McDonald's realized its once-loyal consumers were eating elsewhere, gravitating toward healthier offerings from rivals such as Subway. The company had to improve its food and service, and they had to make sure the public knew they had changed. It was an operational as much as a marketing challenge. And it has worked - on both fronts. This week, McDonald's first-quarter profit blew away analysts' estimates.
In Canada, the SaladsPlus menu, which includes salads, yogurt and other "healthier" items, now makes up about 6 per cent of total sales. The company rolled out toasted deli sandwiches this year to huge success and they're expected to hit most U.S. locations in the near future. The new menu items give parents something to eat while they feed their kids McNuggets. Furthermore, the healthier foods are priced higher than traditional fare, with higher margins.
Speedee"Many restaurants are now being outfitted with wireless Internet equipment and video game systems. The McCafe store-within-a-store concept is also being rolled out across North America, letting customers sit on comfy leather McChairs while sipping McCappuccino or biting into a square of McBaklava.
Like flipping a light switch, McDonald's marketers changed the company's mantra. Gone was the focus solely on kids and families - now the chain would also target young adults and their pockets full of disposable income. Its marketing featured teens skateboarding, offered free music downloads, and began paying rap artists to embed references to the golden arches into their gold records.
Even Ronald McDonald will develop a new attitude and edgy sense of humour as the company tries to make him more "relevant" to young adults and kids. Ronald will change out of his clown suit and into seven different costumes, including an athletic suit and beachwear. Look for him at skateboard parks, hockey rinks, snowboard trails and walking down red carpets at Hollywood events.
4/23/2005 9:03:36 AM    
Macintosh Patent Galvanic Analytical EngineComputers in Space Examined [via Slashdot:Science 4/22/2005] Why are we still launching spacecraft with State Of The Ark computers? Three words: need, power, and radiation. Radiation is a big headache for spacecraft system designers. While core is a good solution for memory, ‘hardening’ CPUs means keeping them simple. The lower the component count on a chip (hence the dumber it is), the less susceptible it is to radiation. The Space Shuttle has state of the art computing technology - for the late 70’s. They’re sturdy beasts of silicon burden, not exotic thoroughbreds. Even the International Space Station has less brains than you would think. It stays up there thanks to the phenomenal computing power of - wait for it - an 80-386SX CPU! Can you feel the speed? 4/23/2005 8:39:57 AM    
Lack of Testing Threatening the Stability of Linux? [Slashdot: 4/22/2005; 9:53:50 AM] Andrew Morton, a Linux kernel maintainer, has said that he thinks that the lack 'credit or money or anything' given to those people who put in long hours testing Linux releases is going to cause serious problems further down the line. In his speech at Linux.Conf.Au he also waded into the ongoing BitKeeper debate, saying 'If you pick a good technology and the developers are insane, it's all going to come to tears. 4/22/2005 10:12:09 PM    
Scientists figure out how caffeine keeps us awake. [via CBS News 4/21/2005] When cells in a certain part of the brain become overworked, a compound in the brain kicks in, telling them to shut down. This causes people to become drowsy and fall asleep. Alter that natural process by adding coffee or tea, and the brain compound - called adenosine - is blocked, and people stay awake. "We knew that coffee kept us awake," Dr. Greene said. "Now we know why: Coffee and tea are blocking the link between the prolonged neural activity of waking and increased levels of adenosine in cells, which is why they prevent us from getting drowsy." Press release: Overworked brains release adenosine to slow cells, trigger sleep process. Neuron article: Adenosine Mediation of Presynaptic Feedback Inhibition of Glutamate Release. 4/22/2005 10:04:17 PM    
Best-ever Freeware Utilities [TechSupportAlert 3/1/2005 via Lockergnome 4/22/2005] There are a lot of great freeware products out there. Many are as good or even better than their commercial alternatives. This extensive list features Ian Richards' personal pick of the "best of the best," by category. 4/22/2005 9:05:30 PM    
WE KNOW WHERE YOU ARE. WE ARE ALWAYS WATCHINGBerkeley Professor explains terrifying consequences for student that stole his laptop. [Boing Boing 4/21/2005; 2:52:53 PM] Mark Frauenfelder: The last few minutes of this video from a biology class at Berkeley is of professor explaining the terrifying consequences that will soon befall the student that stole his laptop. Hell, I'm 500 miles away from Berkeley and I'm scared after watching this. Here's a torrent of the pertinent part of the video (8,000 downloads so far). A transcript of Professor Rine's speech is available here. A lot of blogs have been commenting on the super-advanced anti-theft and tracking technology that Professor Rine says his stolen laptop possesses. This comic strip parody is a hilarious take on the incident. 4/22/2005 9:20:05 AM    
GCC 4.0.0 Released [Slashdot: 4/21/2005; 10:53:07 PM]  Version 4.0.0 of the GNU Compiler Collection has been released. You can read the changelog or you can download the source tarball. The new version finally features SSA for trees, allowing for a completely new optimization framework. The changelog is pretty lengthy, and there's updates for C, C++, Objective-C, Fortran, Java, and Ada, as well as libraries for these languages (libstdc++, libgcj,...). 4/22/2005 8:30:37 AM    
Engineering Heroes Apollo 13 Engineers Honored [AP 4/19/2005] A group of engineers was honored Tuesday for concocting a plan using plastic bags, cardboard and duct tape to save Apollo 13's astronauts after their spacecraft was crippled by an explosion 35 years ago. Engineers on the ground had to figure out a solution, and then tell the astronauts how to make the fix. Ed Smylie, who oversaw NASA's crew systems division in 1970, was glad the engineering side of the mission was being recognized. Smylie and other engineers soon had a proposed solution to retrofit the canisters, but it took a day or two to build a mock-up and get instructions to the crew. Among the biggest concerns was whether the astronauts had duct tape, Smylie said. He later learned duct tape was commonly used on the spacecraft to clean filters and for other tasks. "I felt like we were home free," he said. "One thing a Southern boy will never say is, 'I don't think duct tape will fix it.'" 4/21/2005 4:26:40 PM    
The Red, Red Hills of Mars (updated) JPL has released a large, false-but-almost-real-color view assembled from frames taken by Spirit's panoramic camera on the rover's 454th martian day, or sol (April 13, 2005).
Next Stop: Methuselah
This view shows a region in the "Columbia Hills" slightly downhill from the rover. The view features two interesting outcrops in the middle distance and "Clark Hill" in the left background. The outcrop on the right, with rover tracks leading from it, is "Larry's Lookout." On the left is the Methuselah outcrop, with apparent layering.

More than 15 months and almost 5 km from its landing on Mars, NASA's Spirit rover is still going strong. This is a perspective view of the steepness of the "Columbia Hills," showing sites nicknamed "Tennessee Valley," "Larry's Lookout," "Inner Basin," "Home Plate," and the basin and summit beyond.

Original post: Spirit, Sol 455, Columbia Hills - NavCam, Right - 15:38:38 and 15:44:28 Local Solar. The black and white picture links to a full-sized 989K greyscale image. [Eric Hartwell's NewsStream 4/16/2005]
4/21/2005 11:42:54 AM    
Open source methods and their future potential. [eGov monitor 4/20/2005 00:16 via Linux Today 4/20/2005] According to a Demos report, many of the principles of the open source model could have radical implications for governments, citizens and businesses in a wide range of fields - from law to the arts, from academia to social innovation. Open source methods have achieved remarkable success using an open, co-operative approach to produce much of the software that the world’s computers and the web now run on, as well as projects like the online encyclopaedia Wikipedia. The report argues that the future potential of open source principles are wide reaching, and that they could be applied in a many areas including the media, academia, legislative policymaking, and social innovation. 4/20/2005 7:26:00 PM    
The Power of Analogy. [Computerworld 4/11/2005] Q&A: Analogies are efficient strategic tools in the highly ambiguous world of IT, but they can lead you astray if used carelessly. Analogies are to strategy as blueprints are to buildings. Just be sure you've got the right blueprint.

Low-end chips are to Intel Corp.'s future as concrete reinforcing bars were to U.S. Steel's. Unless you know the history of the steel industry, that analogy will leave you cold. But it compelled former Intel CEO Andy Grove to change his product strategy. Intel for many years resisted entering the low end of the market. U.S. Steel had let minimills take over the low end with cheap concrete reinforcing bars called rebars. This was the beginning of the troubles for the U.S. steel business:  once the minimills got a beachhead at the low end, they moved up. At Intel, this really struck a chord. Andy Grove feared if they ceded the low end of the market, the high end might follow. He even began to refer to low-end PCs as "digital rebar," and soon thereafter Intel introduced the Celeron processor to fight it out on the low end and prevent other companies from getting a beachhead. In this case, the analogy wasn't about learning from someone's success but trying to prevent a repeat of someone's failure. It was about what they thought U.S. Steel should have done.

4/20/2005 6:53:36 PM    
An Update on Prompting a User to Save When Leaving an ASP.NET Page. [4GuysFromRolla.com 4/20/2005] Several months ago I wrote an article titled Using ASP.NET to Prompt a User to Save When Leaving a Page, using the onbeforeunload client-side event, which fires whenever a Web page is being exited. With some clever client-side programming you can use onbeforeunload to to save changes whenever the user is about to leave a page, be it through the user closing the browser window, clicking on a bookmark, clicking on a link in the Web page, or any other task that would cause the Web page to unload. This update deals with auto-postback Web controls (such as DropDownLists or CheckBoxes with their AutoPostBack property set to True); and how to prevent "Unspecified error" script errors that can creep up depending on how, exactly, the page was unloaded. 4/20/2005 6:17:56 PM    
Great apes to learn human behaviors [CNN 4/20/2005 14:32 via Boing Boing 4/20/2005] Researchers at the Iowa Great Ape Trust are putting eight intelligent bonobos in a human-like living situation to study how culture may emerge.  
Bonobos? Homer, Moe, Skinner, Lovejoy, Wiggum, Lenny, Carl, BarneyThe bonobos will be able to cook in their own kitchen, tap vending machines for snacks, go for walks in the woods and communicate with researchers through computer touchscreens. The decor in their $10 million, 13,000-square-foot, 18-room home includes an indoor waterfall and climbing areas 30 feet high. Bonobos, a species of ape from the Congo, are the most like humans. They constantly vocalize "as though they are conversing" and often walk upright. The animals, which have a life span of up to about 50 years, will be allowed to mate and have families -- and develop cultures that will be studied for generations to come. 4/20/2005 4:13:58 PM    
Target Remakes the Pill Bottle - sensibly and beautifully [New York Metro 4/18/2005 via Gizmodo, Boing Boing 4/19/2005] The standard-issue amber-cast pharmacy pill bottle has remained virtually unchanged since the second World War. An overhaul is finally coming, courtesy of Deborah Adler, a 29-year-old graphic designer whose ClearRx prescription-packaging system debuts at Target pharmacies May 1.
  1. Easy I.D. The name of the drug is printed both on the top and side.
  2. Code red. The bottle is Target’s signature red color - and a symbol for caution.
  3. Information hierarchy. Most important information (drug name, dosage, intake instructions) above the line, less important data below.
  4. Flat sides for readability; Upside down to save paper.
  5. Green is for Grandma. Different colored rubber rings for each family member.
  6. Info card that’s hard to lose tucked behind the label.
  7. Take “daily.” Avoids the word "once" on label, since it means eleven in Spanish.
  8. Clear warnings. Revamped the 25 most important warning symbols.
4/20/2005 3:44:07 PM    
Demystify scope definition by considering these categories -- a handy checklist --  [TechRepublic.com 4/19/2005; 2:52:13 PM] Defining scope is perhaps the most important part of the upfront definition and planning process. If you don't know what you are delivering and what the boundaries of the project are, you have no chance for success. 4/20/2005 2:03:58 PM    
Lack of Developers Delays OpenOffice.org. [LinuxWorld Australia 19/04/2005 11:21:10 via Linux Today 4/19/2005] Open source productivity suite OpenOffice.org may be touted as a viable alternative to Microsoft Office, but there are claims its pace of development and adoption of new features is being stifled by a "monolithic" code base and a developer community still largely controlled by Sun Microsystems. Project contributors speaking at the annual OpenOffice.org miniconference in Canberra this week raised numerous issues, including a lack of independent contributors. OpenOffice.org developer Ken Foskey said the biggest problem with the project is a lack of developers and a code base that is "just too big". "It's 10 million lines of code and takes serious commitment just to compile the thing." 4/20/2005 2:00:29 PM    
We Need Better Open-Source E-Mail... Now. [eWeek 4/18/2005 via Linux Today 4/19/2005] If open source is to continue gaining ground with the corporate desktop, it must develop not just an outstanding e-mail client, but an all-out replacement for Outlook on Windows, with all the popular mail-protocol support, Exchange 2000 and 2003 e-mail and calendaring support, GroupWise support, and spam protection. Even more than Firefox, a real Outlook replacement could make a big difference in persuading corporate IT departments that now is the right time for open source on the desktop. 4/20/2005 1:54:44 PM    
Building Web Service Wrappers for an XML-based System. [DevX: Latest Enterprise Content 4/20/2005; 12:53:37 AM] Giving external—or internal—clients direct access to existing applications isn't always practical, secure, or flexible. Instead, it's often better to provide Web service wrapper around existing applications. Such wrappers let you safely expose existing systems to both internal and external customers. The wrapper uses a configurable transportation protocol handler and can work with a variety of communication methods through a generic ProtocolHandlerInterface. 4/20/2005 1:47:33 PM    
Google's Impact on the Internet [Slashdot: 4/20/2005; 9:52:47 AM] The Globe & Mail and Fortune Magazine [$$] both wrote a piece on Google, one of the most important companies on the Internet. In particular, they mention the effects of Google's recent new services, like Blogger and Maps, as well as their take on how Google threatens the Microsoft Corporation. "If Sergey and Larry stick to their corporate mantra -- Don't be evil -- and are able to stem degeneration into the typically corrupt corporate ethos, who knows, they may just succeed in assuming the fair and honourable dominion over the world's information they so naively set out to achieve eight years ago in their garage." 4/20/2005 10:24:31 AM    
Halo 2 updates: Game patch now, maps April 25th and June 28th Bungie is overhauling its wildly popular first-person shooter with its second auto-update. While the update addresses the standard bugs and glitches most patches do, it will also tweak several elements of gameplay. The biggest change gamers will see is in the weapon balance. The first batch of new multiplayer maps for the game, originally vaguely scheduled for "late April," will be available April 25. [GameSpot 04/15/05 03:45 PM PST]
What's Update: Massive Attack! [Bungie 4/15/2005 2:16 PM PDT] The Autoupdate will be available on Monday April 18th, to fix cheats, bugs, glitches and gasp – tweak some important weapon balance issues. Next time you log in after it's available (it'll be spread out to mitigate server loads) you'll get a message alerting you to its presence. Don't worry if you don't see it first thing Monday morning, it'll show up in your neighborhood eventually.
Map Downloads Dated! [Bungie 4/18/2005 5:12 PM PDT] The first batch of new, downloadable Halo 2 multiplayer maps will be available on Monday April 25th for download on Xbox Live. Woot! The maps passed through Microsoft's certification process successfully today, which was all we were waiting for! We said we'd tell you as soon as we could, and we found out about an hour ago that they'd passed with flying colors.
4/19/2005 8:01:18 AM    
If you slept till 5:30 this morning, you slept in [Globe and Mail 4/19/2005; 3:53:00 AM] Azim Jamal gets his best work done "when the world is silent." He usually goes to bed at 8:30 p.m., the same time as his 10-year-old son, and wakes up at about 1 a.m. -- sometimes before his night-owl wife has even hit the sheets. "I think time is the biggest asset we have," he said. "And life is time; if you waste time, you waste life."

People are sleeping less and waking earlier to tackle heavy workloads, gain a competitive edge or squeeze in exercise. However, a U.S. study, which used wrist-motion sensors to track movement, found that while 10 per cent claimed to be up by 5 a.m. only 5 per cent were moving then. People who boast about needing little sleep often nod off and zone out -- sometimes unknowingly -- during the day. "Power naps" are really a sign of bad sleep habits, and our reliance on coffee is a sure sign of sleep-deprivation. Average healthy adults require about 8½ hours of sleep a night. Most people thought seven hours was optimal and obtained only six. And despite workaholics' testimonials about the connection between success and early waking, sleep experts say inadequate slumber costs North America up to $100-billion (U.S.) annually, including health-care costs, accidents and lost productivity. Inadequate sleep also has been linked to poor immune systems, digestive problems, more drug and alcohol use and more cardiovascular disease. 4/19/2005 7:41:37 AM    
Does Open Source = Closed Mind?  [BetaNews 4/15/2005 April 15, 2005, 9:36 AM via Linux Today 4/18/2005; 5:53:43 PM] "What's LI-Nux?" The question came from my cousin, Mary an art teacher. Well," Mary said, "I went online, did a search on your name and saw all these articles calling you DiDiot and other names. Why do these people hate you so much?" she asked, puzzled. "They think I hate Linux and that I'm a 'paid Microsoft shill,'" I replied. "That's silly," Mary countered, "why would anyone hate an operating system?"
Update: Open Source Equals Freedom and Open Mind [LinuxElectrons 4/17/2005 via Linux Today 4/18/2005; 6:52:09 PM] by Anonymous: "Laura DiDio has been making the rounds as a guest columnist on Internet news sites lately. She has been complaining that her reputation is being smeared on sites like Groklaw and Slashdot. Laura has also been receiving hate emails and late night phone calls.... Laura decries the Linux Loonies as a "fringe element of extremists". Wow, she casts some Linux advocates as terrorists. I think she just misunderstands the whole Linux scene... I also think its telling that Laura has had to lower herself to the very same level of Linux extremists that emailed and phoned her, by calling them names."
4/18/2005 6:11:44 PM    
Seattle DOS was a better rewrite of CP/M for 16 bits than CP/M-86 Tim Paterson did a better job of rewriting CP/M for 16 bits than Digital Research did, and it's related to the DOS vs CPM/86 porting issue Adam Barr discusses in Proudly Serving My Corporate Masters (starting at the bottom of page 187 in this online sample).

At the time I was doing development work on CP/M Z80 systems, and we were looking for a way to move to a 16 bit OS (8086, NSC8000, 68000). I still have an original Seattle DOS manual (unfortunately, somewhere in storage) from when we did our research. Whether or not the Seattle DOS code was based on CP/M (which was in practice the open source OS of its time), Tim wisely made the basic API the same as CP/M and provided an extended API for 16 bit functions. CP/M-86, on the other hand, replaced the API with a single "new, improved" 16 bit version. This meant that I could port my programs and utilities to Seattle DOS simply by changing a few macro definitions, maintaining single source for both operating systems. I would have had to change all my source code to port to CP/M-86 (don't forget, this was all assembler). When IBM introduced the PC, with the choice of DOS or CP/M-86, it was clear that "DOS" took the Seattle DOS approach. I remember disassembling DOS 1.0 up to 2.1 - if only I could find those files ... Even if CP/M-86 hadn't been priced way too high, DOS still would have been the sensible choice since it was much easier (hence cheaper) to preserve our applications.

Origins of MS-DOS [Proudly Serving My Corporate Masters March 2, 2005] Tim Paterson, who wrote the operating system QDOS on which the original PC-DOS and MS-DOS was based, is suing the author of a book which claims that QDOS was a ripoff of CP/M. Microsoft legally acquired QDOS; the issue is whether Paterson had earlier "ripped off" CP/M when writing QDOS. It's not clear what exactly "rip-off" means; there's no doubt that QDOS looked like CP/M, because most command-line-based OSes back then looked the same (and still do; Monad on the surface looks a lot like CP/M, QDOS, PC-/MS-DOS, and any Unix shell).
4/18/2005 1:02:38 PM    
Convergence in Academic Jargon Generation and Parsing The circle of technology is almost complete. Academic jargon generators have met academic jargon parsers, and we can finally get rid of the academics who are now redundant. Despite the "Vodka is good, but the meat is rotten"[pdf] myth, computers have been better than people at generating garbage for years. It has been shown [ref: 87,133,279] that the primary [ref: 32,942] functionalityization [ref: 88,166] of academic [ref: 482-507,666] jargonization [ref: 1] is to stretch out a single zero-to-one-line idea into a series of journal articles, concluding with the need for further funding.
"The principal occupation of the academic community is to invent dialects sufficiently hermetic so as to prevent knowledge from passing between territories. By maintaining a constant flow of written material among the specialists of each group, academics are able to assert the acceptable technique of communication intended to prevent communications." -- [Wright House]
Computer Program Makes Essay Grading Easier A professor of sociology spent six years developing the program and has been testing it on his pupils for the past two. Students load papers directly into the system via the Web and get nearly instant feedback. The program scans text for keywords, phrases and language patterns. It analyzes sentence and paragraph structure and can ascertain the flow of arguments and ideas. It gives each work a numeric score based on the weight instructors place on various elements of the assignment. Students have challenged the scores, but if they don't use the right lingo in their papers, they're out of luck. "In sociology, we want them to learn the terms," Brent said. With up to 140 students enrolled in his writing-intensive, introductory sociology course, Brent estimates he's saved more than 200 hours of work per semester. -- [CNET 4/7/2005 via Slashdot: 4/8/2005] >
GPLed code generates automated Comp Sci papers -- output accepted for conferences!. A GPL'ed automated computer science paper generator programmed by MIT students produces results so good that the output has been accepted at conferences. Between the pompous CS-speak ("few hackers worldwide would disagree with the essential unification of voice-over-IP and public/private key pair. In order to solve this riddle, we confirm that SMPs can be made stochastic, cacheable, and interposable") and the amazing diagrams, this thing is nearly the funniest thing EVAR. [Boing Boing 4/13/2005]
4/18/2005 8:33:43 AM    
The Red, Red Hills of Mars

Spirit, Sol 455, Columbia Hills - NavCam, Right - 15:38:38 and 15:44:28 Local Solar

The black and white picture at right links to a 645K full-sized greyscale image; the one below to 989K colorized 1280 x 1024 desktop.

4/16/2005 4:29:29 PM    
The new media realities Is it finally time to drop the piano roll surcharge? Try as you might, you can't blame it all on illegal MP3s, but you probably can blame "The Internets". The audience for television, radio, newspapers, magazines, books, and music continues its steep nose dive. At the same time, the sales of movies (DVD and theatre), videogames, and web ads continue to set new records. In Mainstream Media Meltdown Chris Anderson provides detailed statistics and sources on what's happening to the consumer media world. [The Long Tail 4/10/2005 via Boing Boing 4/12/2005] It should be fascinating to see how Star Wars III compares to Halo 2's $125 million in first-day sales. The people have voted with their wallets ... and guess where Microsoft is putting its money? 4/16/2005 11:06:53 AM    

Neuromarketing: Coming to an Agency Near You [Mind Hacks 4/16/2005; 9:53:36 AM] The TV programme Scientific American Frontiers has made online video available from a programme on the psychology and neuroscience of hidden motives. The first segment explores the brain's reaction to 'cool' and 'uncool' products, a new field, christened neuromarketing. Shades of William Gibson's PATTERN RECOGNITION ...  [Update: referenced on BoingBoing 4/18/2005]

From the article: Montague had his subjects take the Pepsi Challenge while he watched their neural activity with a functional MRI machine, which tracks blood flow to different regions of the brain. Without knowing what they were drinking, about half of them said they preferred Pepsi. But once Montague told them which samples were Coke, three-fourths said that drink tasted better, and their brain activity changed too. Coke "lit up" the medial prefrontal cortex -- a part of the brain that controls higher thinking. Montague's hunch was that the brain was recalling images and ideas from commercials, and the brand was overriding the actual quality of the product. For years, in the face of failed brands and laughably bad ad campaigns, marketers had argued that they could influence consumers' choices. Now, there appeared to be solid neurological proof. Montague published his findings in the October 2004 issue of Neuron, and a cottage industry was born.
4/16/2005 10:25:28 AM    
The Business of Software: Geeks Rule and MBAs Drool. [MSDN 4/11/2005; 2:53:43 PM] Eric Sink explains the importance of "deep technology clue" for non-coders in a small ISV. "I just finished making a really difficult technology decision and I want to tell you the story of what happened. ...
I really want an Eclipse plug-in for Vault. For several months I have been trying to figure out the best way to get one. We deliberately built Vault in C#, consciously accepting the tradeoffs. We want to continue working in C#, but we want that C# code to "Just Work" on a Java VM.

C# and Java are remarkably similar. Why not build a translator to take our C# source and generate Java? We thought about writing one, but it could take a long time. Furthermore, it turns out that the syntax conversion is the easy part; the class libraries are a much bigger challenge. The converted code would still try to call the .NET Framework, but those libraries don't exist in the JVM. In the end, we decided to purchase a solution to this problem from a company called Mainsoft. Their product, Visual Mainwin for J2EE, happens to do exactly what we want. Mainsoft's tool is a Visual Studio add-on which compiles C# to Java byte code instead of to IL. They include a class library that provides support for .NET Framework stuff.

In the end, we've got a pure Java solution, nothing but a collection of jar files. We can run them on Windows or on Linux. By purchasing Mainsoft's product, we allow ourselves to keep our primary focus on Vault itself. That's a big win. The tradeoff is that this product was very expensive. This is a classic example of a "build vs. buy" problem.

My point is simply this: Virtually all decisions in a small ISV involve issues of both technology and money, so they should be made with the involvement of technology person. Getting them right is really, really hard, even for people who can see through all the technology abstractions. When such decisions are made without this expertise, the chances of a good result go way down. People like to wonder why software companies fail. This is one of the big reasons why.
4/16/2005 10:03:47 AM    
Microsoft makes its move in the media market This time, for sure. Microsoft has a history of coming late to the game but going home with all the prizes. Just as the advent of the Internet spurred people to upgrade their PCs from mere word processors, Microsoft is counting on integrated media as the next big thing. Think of the incredibly successful iPod, combined with the Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP), but with seamless TiVo integration. Microsoft's upcoming Xbox 2, which is fully integrated with their media strategy, is expected to find its way into millions of homes disguised as a simple gaming platform.
Software giant plays catch-up [Globe and Mail 4/16/2005; 3:52:41 AM] The battle is really about who controls the next generation of home entertainment; how content is received, stored, viewed, manipulated and distributed. In essence, it is a platform war like the one in the early 1990s that firmly established Microsoft as the rainmaker of the PC world.
Some 15 million people have bought an Apple Computer iPod, making it a cultural icon in less than three years. Archrival Microsoft has spent years formulating a strategy to neatly combine all the elements of home entertainment: music, photos, movies, TV shows, and games, in a way that is easy for the consumer to embrace. Finally, Microsoft's hardware partners are starting to ship handheld devices that use the software giant's technology to handle all kinds of media.
One of the reasons Microsoft is playing catch-up is the typical home computer hasn't been ready for the challenge. That's changed with faster computers, faster and continuous Internet connections, and affordable, massive hard drives to store hours of movies, TV and music and years of family memories in digital form. Easy-to-use software lets users personalize and edit that content. And new wireless standards offer the means to move it all over the home.
4/16/2005 8:22:50 AM    
LED Evolution Could Spell The End For Bulbs [USA Today 4/14/2005 via Slashdot: 4/16/2005; 6:53:23 AM] Within 15 years, the ubiquitous incandescant light bulb may finally be gone, replaced by light-emitting diodes, or LEDs. LEDs are based on semiconductor technology, just like computer processors, and are increasing in brightness, energy efficiency and longevity just as each year's new crop of processors is faster and cheaper than last year's. LEDs have been around since the 60s, but it wasn't until the 90s that they were able to produce white light.
Current white LEDs will last up to 50,000 hours, about 50 times as long as a 60-watt bulb, which makes them attractive for places where changing bulbs is difficult or expensive. This week researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic said they had boosted the light output per watt of a white LED to almost six times that of an incandescent light bulb, beating even a compact fluorescent bulb in efficiency. As the cost drops over time, long life and efficiency become more and more attractive.
LEDs are also durable. Being solid-state, they can resist the vibrations in aircraft and cars. Neon signs, a leading cause of fires at restaurants, are vulnerable to vandalism. By contrast, LED signs made of Plexiglas are tough. At a recent trade show, iLight exhibited an LED sign that still worked after taking a blast from a shotgun. Finally, for the first time last year, LEDs made major progress in a critical commerical market: Christmas lights.
4/16/2005 7:39:58 AM    
Trace your ancestry to Africa with cheek swab and $100. [via Boing Boing 4/13/2005] Want to know where your ancestors REALLY came from? $100 and a cheek swab will tell you. National Geographic has developed a five-year genographic study where participants can join in and track their genetic lineage to a common African ancestor. The $100 test will tell you the route that your ancestors took and when, and both the DNA and genographic results will be made available to individual participants on the 'net. 4/15/2005 9:43:19 AM    
Preparing for Indigo—Choosing the Right Technology Today [DevX 4/14/2005; 12:53:34 AM] Today .NET offers three distinct technologies for application connectivity: Web services, remoting, and Enterprise Services. Each offers something that the other does not: interoperability, extensibility, and productivity. Since .NET debuted some five years ago, all three technologies have been inundated in either hype or misconceptions. With Indigo around the corner, it is time to take a long hard look at these three technologies, and separate fact from myth so that you will be best prepared for Indigo. This article starts by examining the existing technologies, describing their merits and shortcomings, putting them in the correct perspective of a modern distributed application, and suggests where to best apply them. Then the article briefly describes the Indigo programming model, and assesses how to best mitigate the cost of the migration. 4/15/2005 9:37:26 AM    
Game developers too scared to program for Linux? Linux--How To Take Over The Market. [OSNews 4/13/2005 via Linux Today 4/13/2005] "The majority of new pc game releases are made for Windows. Perhaps some developers are too scared to program for Linux? I find Cedega is relatively good for Windows games, but Windows games will always run better in their native environment, no matter how good the program made to convert them. As great as Cedega and Wine are in general, they don't fix the immediate problem, that being the industry leaders in this market, or any market, don't program for Linux. If that were changed, I am sure that would give Linux the boost it needs to be pushed forward." 4/15/2005 9:28:05 AM    

Linux--How To Take Over The Market. [OSNews 4/13/2005 via Linux Today 4/13/2005] "The purpose of this article is to voice my personal opinion on what I feel is keeping GNU/Linux from taking over the mainstream operating system market..."

"Windows XP is obsolete, it's old now. The successor? None, yet. At least not until when late 2005 or 2006 rolls around and with it, Windows Longhorn. But what about those that don't want to wait that long for up to date software and the newest technologies? The answer to quite a few is Linux. But when casual users think of Linux, they either think about geeks with bottle glasses and plaid shirts, or something that is completely unknown, and to some, scary.

"If I had to pick one thing to improve above all others, I'd have to say software installation. For example, in order to install KDE 3.4 RC1 on my system, I found some APT repositories, downloaded and installed somewhere around 30 packages, and it worked. To install the Macromedia flash player I fire up the command line, download the Gnuzip package, throw a few commands in the terminal, and flash is ready to go. However, a new user to Linux (fresh from Windows) is accustomed to double-clicking a setup icon, clicking 'next' four or five times followed by 'Finish'. That won't work here. The last time I tried to explain Apt to an avid Windows user, I got a blank stare."
4/15/2005 9:25:48 AM    
Searching Your Website with Microsoft Index Services. [4GuysFromRolla.com 4/15/2005] Search has become so ubiquitous that visitors to your site immediately look for the search function. This article examines using Microsoft Index Services to specify a specific group of documents or HTML pages to be indexed, using the Adobe IFilter plug-in which lets it index PDF documents as well, and building a simple, fast, and extensible search tool using .NET. 4/15/2005 8:53:53 AM    
Unit Testing the Data Access Layer. [4GuysFromRolla.com 4/15/2005] Unit testing the Data Access Layer still remains a common problem, since databases are slow, common, persistent, external, and relational. This conflicts with the nature of unit tests, which should be quick, independent, and repeatable. This article will show how to resolve these problems so that you can reliably unit test database objects like stored procedures, functions, triggers, and the DAL that uses them. It also explains how to add diagnostic tests in NUnit to ensure that a developer's environment is set up correctly for unit tests, and how to handle configuration values like changing the database name or user connection information. 4/15/2005 8:45:45 AM    
Opportunity Surfs the Dunes: The Opportunity Mars rover, now more than 350 days and 4.5 km past its "warranty", continues rolling south across the Meridiani plains. On Sol 433 (April 12), the rover was passing through this lovely dune field. The ripples are a few centimetres high. 4/14/2005 10:48:52 PM    
Linux Can't Kill Windows [InfoWorld via Slashdot: 4/14/2005; 8:52:22 AM] Tom Yager 4/13/2005 - Linux may be superior to Windows in every measure, but it will never put a dent in Windows' mind share because Linux is an operating system, not a platform. Open source Unix is a 500,000-piece bag of Legos that comes with some drawings and a few models you can build on. On paper, an OS is an ideal place to start building, because you get to choose everything that sits above it in those gaps between your hardware and your application. But it's foolish not to use the hundreds of platforms and modules already available to fill in the holes. Windows already fills in all the blocks between the hardware and your apps, in ways you can't alter but which you can useas you want. You can code with the tools of your choice and in the programming language of your choice, and unless you stray too far from the rule book, everything you create will interoperate with everything others write for Windows. An operating system is a rack into which device drivers and APIs are inserted. A platform is a rack into which applications are inserted. Linux is an operating system, not a platform. There is only one platform that can stand toe-to-toe with Windows, and that's the combination of OS X and Java. Stay tuned; I'll tell you all about it.  [More of Tom Yager's columnTom Yager's Weblog] 4/14/2005 9:31:15 PM    
Running your company on web apps: One interesting thing about starting a company today versus a few years ago: Lots of cool web apps are now available that you can more or less run you company on ... 4/14/2005 8:52:32 PM    
Microsoft, Video Game Companies Invading Hollywood Turf Video games are already competing with movies in terms of earnings. Microsoft's "Halo 2" and Rockstar's "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas," last year's biggest titles, generated sales of over $250 million each. Even more worrisome, some video game companies have begun to behave less like publishers and more like movie studios and networks.
"Microsoft has decided to try and turn Halo 2 into a film -- without the help of a film studio. In a first-of-its-kind deal, Microsoft retained the services of ex-Columbia Pictures topper Peter Schlessel, who in turn helped broker a deal with CAA to bring 28 Days Later scribe Alex Garland aboard to create a screenplay for the property. Deal was made without the benefit of a studio overseeing development. Grand Theft Auto publisher Rockstar is also believed to be looking to hire a screenwriter to adapt its hit game." [Source: Could Hollywood be facing its first-ever video game strike? Variety.com 4/13/2005 via Boing Boing]
4/14/2005 7:33:31 PM    
Could Hollywood be facing its first-ever video game strike?.  [Variety.com 4/13/2005 via Boing Boing 4/14/2005; 6:52:38 PM] The top story in Hollywood's Daily Variety: is a video game labor strike by the entertainment industry's two actors' unions imminent? As recent releases like Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas demonstrate, big names are becoming a must-have for game titles. Voice talent in GTA:SA included James Woods, Samuel L. Jackson, Peter Fonda, and the blogosphere's own Wil Wheaton. From Clint Eastwood to Vin Diesel to Heather Graham and even Marlon Brando in EA's "Godfather" adaptation, A-list talent is turning from a rarity to a must-have in the vidgame world. Even more worrisome to SAG, some vidgame companies have begun to behave less like publishers and more like movie studios and networks. And movie and TV studios have, in turn, become increasingly interested in releasing their products via emerging technologies, like cell phones, complicating how performers get paid. 4/14/2005 7:31:20 PM    

What proprietary software can teach open source developers about winning over new users [via Slashdot:4/12/2005; 2:52:24 PM] "As proponents of open source software, it should not be beneath us to pursue popularity or to look to proprietary developers as examples. And by following the right examples, we can help spread the usage of open source software without sacrificing the goal of software excellence.

"Being the best doesn't always mean being the most popular. Though open source applications often excel in stability and in quantity of features, they are often surpassed by their proprietary counterparts in their ability to win over regular users.

"There are three traits that are likely to make an application popular: it is cool or attractive in some way, it provides easy entry, and it is addictive. Barring these things, most average users will stick with the status quo. Open source developers have made great strides in recent years in developing office software that eases migration from Microsoft, and there are some powerful applications for Linux in just about every field. Linux software can surely provide that 'wow' impression to a user, but there is not often enough an easy point of entry that brings that 'wow' to a new user quickly.

"By no means am I proposing a dumbing-down of Linux software to serve the masses, nor am I suggesting that no open source or Linux developers are serving the interests of new users. To really take off, however, a product must be addictive. There's a big difference between, "I used that once, and it was pretty cool," and "I don't know how I ever lived without this!" It's the latter which will carry users through the learning process of a potentially complex application and get them convincing their friends to try it."

4/12/2005 10:27:06 PM    
IBM's Future is in Services, Not Goods - So What To Research? [Slashdot: 4/12/2005; 4:53:26 PM] According to IBM exec Paul Horn, the company's business model is shifting from goods and products to software and services. IBM’s tentative approach to supporting services ended in July 2002, when it announced that it was planning to buy PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting. By the end of 2003, the two companies’ first full year of merged operation, close to half of IBM’s revenues were coming from services. In contrast, services accounted for less than 15 percent of R&D spending. “So did that mean Lou [Gerstner, then the CEO] could say, ‘Do I need only half the R&D spending?’” Horn recalls wondering. “Those things get you thinking.” Horn's challenge, then, has been to take a $6 billion research organization dedicated to work that advances technology products and get it to do work that benefits service businesses. IBM is thus in the process of answering an important question for all technology companies: can corporations perform useful research in the services arena? 4/12/2005 10:00:01 PM    

Hardware accelerator for physics calculations. [Seattle Times 4/11/2005 via Boing Boing 4/12/2005] A San Jose startup is building a "physics accelerator" for PCs that will contain hardware optimized for calculating realistic simulations of real-world physics.

Dubbed PhysX, the chip will enable things like gelatinous creatures whose bodies shift shape like a liquid, crumpling fenders in car crashes, massive explosions with 10,000 pieces of debris, clothing that hangs realistically, and lava or blood that flows like the real thing.

The PC gaming community is about to be overshadowed by new consoles with plenty of extra processing power to handle better physics. A PC with a physics chip could match the consoles. But do gamers really want to buy an add-on card just to improve the realism in their games? Ageia argues that they will when they realize physics is key to situations where they try to do something in a game and the environment doesn't respond. If you crash a plane into some trees and none fall, it destroys the fantasy.

Comment: See 16 Commandments of Investing.

4/12/2005 9:31:03 AM    
The Performance Paradox. [Fast Company 4/12/2005; 6:53:39 AM] If you deliver, you only qualify to deliver more. Establish a reputation for great value, top quality, or pulling late-night miracles in time for crucial client meetings, and soon enough, the goalposts move. "Greatness" lasts only as long as someone fails to imagine something better. Inevitably, the exceptional becomes the expected. So how can we possibly get off the treadmill? 4/12/2005 9:19:32 AM    
16 Commandments of Investing. [X PRIZE Space Race News! 4/11/2005; 4:53:54 PM] If you see any of the following, run away 1. The principals cannot understand why the coolness factor is not enough to get capital. 2. The principals adhere to the 'build it and they will come philosophy' instead of specifically defining their market by depth and size in their business plan. ... 4/12/2005 9:10:54 AM    
ROI, TCO, COO, Yakety yak, don't talk back.. [Doc Searls' IT Garage 4/12/2005; 12:52:14 AM] So here we are, making another migration for a client when the new CFO starts it up about how are we going to justify costs, overuns, Return on Investment. What is really comical though, is that almost every small company we have contracted to, just as they start getting big, always bring in the new Financial Heads, and they appoint them in charge of IT. Don't ask me why, I have no idea who's great idea that was to make finance in charge of IT. In fact, the big industry financial heads I know stay as far away from impeding IT at all costs. But not the small growing transition companies. The best small biz managers I know will typically still steer IT from the top, not at the financial interference level. IT is fully accountable for the metrics of performance as it relates to IT, but the last thing any IT person wants is micro economic management. 4/12/2005 9:03:20 AM