The Southern California Linux Expo (SCALE) is a venerable and-well regarded volunteer-run, regional Linux conference that draws over 2000 attendees and an amazing array of speakers and open source projects displaying their goodies in the exposition area. The tutorial and speech schedule is crazy-dense, with as many as 10 tracks going at once. Conference Chair Ilan Rabinovitch admits that there is no way you can take in all of SCALE. On the other hand, you are certain to find something new and interesting to learn if you have any interest at all in Open Source. And yes, we mean Open Source, not just Linux. This show has grown far beyond its humble roots as a get-together for a few local students interested in Linux. One last thing: When you register, if you use the promo code SLASH, the $70 pass for all three days is magically reduced to $35. And there are many other ways to get that discount or another one just like it, including affiliation with virtually any Southern California Open Source group or almost any Open Source project. SCALE is 100% non-profit, and wants to "spread the word," not make money.
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Ben Kamens spent over 5 years at Fog Creek, eventually working his way up to VP of engineering. However, after watching one of Salman Khan's talks he started to volunteer his time at Khan Academy, and is now the lead developer. In-between providing a free world-class education for anyone anywhere, he's graciously agreed to answer some of your questions. As usual, ask as many questions as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Gavin Newsom, former mayor of San Francisco and current lieutenant governor of California, argues in his new book Citizenville that citizens need to take the lead in solving society's problems, sidestepping government bureaucracy with a variety of technological tools. It's more efficient for those engineers and concerned citizens to take open government data and use it to build apps that serve a civic function—such as Google Earth, or a map that displays crime statistics—than for government to try and provide these tools itself. But Newsom doesn't limit his attacks on government bureaucracy to politicians; he also reserves some fire for the IT departments, which he views as an outdated relic. 'The traditional IT department, which set up and maintained complex, centralized services—networks, servers, computers, e-mail, printers—may be on its way out,' he writes. 'As we move toward the cloud and technology gets easier to use, we'll have less need for full-time teams of people to maintain our stuff.' Despite his advocacy of the cloud and collaboration, he's also ambivalent about Wikileaks. 'It has made government and diplomacy much more challenging and ultimately less honest,' he writes at one point, 'as people fear that their private communications might become public.' Nonetheless, he thinks WikiLeaks and its ilk are ultimately here to stay: 'It is happening, and it's going to keep happening, and it's going to intensify.' In the end, he feels the benefits of collaboration and openness outweigh the drawbacks." Keep reading for the rest of Nick's review.
Jon Brodkin writes "I’ve been a longtime fan of Brain Age. Mixed in among the standard-issue kill-everything-you-see/race/sports types of games that dominate gaming, Brain Age on the Nintendo DS always provided something unique, fun, and mentally stimulating. Doing math problems, counting syllables, recognizing patterns, and memorizing stuff was far more enjoyable than anyone would have expected in Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day, the game that kicked off the series seven years ago. Based on the research of neuroscientist Ryuta Kawashima, the exercises are designed to improve brain function—or at least give players the illusion that they’re getting smarter. Nintendo developed several sequels and spinoffs for the DS after that first game, and now a Nintendo 3DS-exclusive entry is here with Brain Age: Concentration Training, released as a download and physical media this past weekend for $30. Some improvements in gameplay are readily apparent. Handwriting recognition is significantly better. You play the game by holding the 3DS upright, rather than sideways like a book, and it works so well I wonder why previous Brain Age games used the wacky book-like layout at all." Read below to see what Jon thinks of the 3DS-exclusive version.
One of the more interesting conversations Tim Lord had at CES this year was with Ubuntu Community Manager Jono Bacon, who was showing off the Ubuntu Phone that is supposed to be released later this year. According to the Ubuntu website, it "delivers a magical phone that is faster to run, faster to use and fits perfectly into the Ubuntu family." Big words, but if Ubuntu parent Canonical can live up to them, the mobile phone market may soon have an interesting new operating system competitor to shake things up.
Simon Phipps is President of the Open Source Initiative (OSI) at least until March 31, 2013. He is one of 11 Directors, with Legal Counsel Mark Radcliffe and OSI President Emeritus Eric Raymond serving as advisers. The main function of the OSI is to safeguard The Open Source Definition and to make sure that all software licenses it approves adhere to it. Over the years, license approvals have become contentious more than once. Lately, however, the OSI has avoided acceptance of new licenses that substantially duplicate existing ones, so a lot of the license approval furor has died down. Several recent improvements in the OSI include opening the organization to individual memberships, and setting up the FLOSS Competence Center Network, both of which will no doubt help the OSI carry out and expand its primary mission: "Open Source community-building, education, and public advocacy to promote awareness and the importance of non-proprietary software."
With his trademark hat and beard, Dr. Robert Bakker is one of the most recognized paleontologists working today. Bakker was among the advisers for the movie Jurassic Park, and the character Dr. Robert Burke in the film The Lost World: Jurassic Park is based on him. He was one of the first to put forth the idea that some dinosaurs had feathers and were warm-blooded, and is credited with initiating the ongoing "dinosaur renaissance" in paleontology. Bakker is currently the curator of paleontology for the Houston Museum of Natural Science and the Director of the Morrison Natural History Museum in Colorado. He is also a Christian minister, who contends that there is no real conflict between religion and science, citing the writings and views of Saint Augustine as a guide on melding the two. Dr. Bakker has agreed to take some time from his writing and digging in order to answer your questions. As usual, ask as many questions as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
CES is not a political show, so it only drew one visible protester: Kelly Chong, who is mad at camera manufacturers for (he says) destroying his camera repair business. He managed to get mentioned in Forbes, in an article headlined CES: One Man's Protest Against The World's Camera Makers. And now he's getting three minutes and five seconds of fame on Slashdot. Is his protest justified? According to a 2012 article headlined How Nikon Is Killing Camera Repair, at least one major camera manufacturer now refuses to sell parts to independent repair shops. So Kelly Chong seems to have a legitimate beef. Will anyone listen to him? Will major, multinational camera manufacturers start selling parts to independent repair people again? And what about those of us who do (at least some of) our own repairs? Labor charges aside, it's often lots faster and easier to do a simple repair yourself than to box your camera up and send it somewhere, not to mention the waiting time for it to get back to you.
Reducing various items to a fine powder in one of his blenders earned Blendtec CEO Tom Dickson a cult following. One of, if not the greatest viral marketing campaigns of all time, the "Will It Blend?" series has been watched almost 221,000,000 times on YouTube. In addition to receiving many marketing awards, Tom and his blenders have been featured on The Tonight Show and the History Channel series Modern Marvels. He has agreed to take a break from pureeing household objects and answer your questions. As usual, you're invited to ask as many questions as you'd like, but please divide them, one question per post.
Shane Chen is an inventor who likes to make all kinds of things. For instance, he designed the frame and invented a special reflective surface for the screen you see in the background of the video below. But many of his inventions have to do with transportation, especially the kind of transportation that doubles as personal thrill ride, like a sail for paddleboats and an electric surfboard. At this year's CES, I spoke with Chen's daughter Ywanne about his latest rideable invention, which is for obvious reasons called the Solowheel. Her father's the one you can see demonstrating the device in the background; you can see trickier riding in this YouTube video. She says that of all her father's inventions, this is the one that came together most easily: his first stab at a powered unicycle just worked, and since then it's been polishing the experience and getting it to market. And "to market" isn't a dream; for about $1800, you can have an experience that's a bit more intense than a Segway. The Solowheel can climb hills of surprising steepness, as long as the rider is up for it. Coming down looks more challenging, though.
Better known by his stage name "The Amazing Randi", James Randi has made it his quest to "debunk psychic nonsense, disprove paranormal fakers, and squash claims of pseudoscience in order to bring the truth to the forefront." Randi worked as a popular magician most of his life and earned international fame in 1972 when he accused the famous psychic Uri Geller of being a fraud and challenged him to prove otherwise. In 1996 Randi founded The James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) a non-profit organization whose mission includes "educating the public and the media on the dangers of accepting unproven claims, and to support research into paranormal claims in controlled scientific experimental conditions." He began offering $1000 in 1964 to anyone who could demonstrate proof of the paranormal. That amount has grown over the years, and the foundation's prize for such proof is now $1M. Around 1000 people have tried to claim the prize so far without success. Randi has agreed to take a break from busting ghostbusters and giving psychic healers a taste of their own medicine in order to answer your questions. As usual, you're invited to ask as many questions as you'd like, but please divide them, one question per post.
Jakob Perry, today's interviewee, is a volunteer who helps make LinuxFest Northwest happen. This is an event produced by the Bellingham Linux Users Group that "has been a tradition in Bellingham, WA since 2000." Bellingham is a small town about a 1.5 hour drive away from Seattle, and a shorter distance from Vancouver, Canada. Last year they had 1200 people. They have a core group of about 10 year-round volunteers, with as many as 60 participating in the event itself, many of whom are students at Bellingham Technical College, which is where LinuxFest Northwest is held.
Frequent contributor Bennett Haselton writes "With the announcement of Verizon's "six strikes plan" for movie pirates (which includes reporting users to the RIAA and MPAA), and content companies continuing to sue users en masse for peer-to-peer downloads, I think it's inevitable that we'll see the rise of p2p software that proxifies your downloads through other users. In this model, you would not only download content from other users, but you also use other users' machines as anonymizing proxies for the downloads, which would make it impossible for third parties to identify the source or destination of the file transfer. This would hopefully put an end to the era of movie studios subpoenaing ISPs for the identities of end users and taking those users to court." Read below for the rest of Bennett's thoughts.
The recipient of nineteen honorary doctorates, and honors from three U.S. presidents, Ray Kurzweil's accolades are almost too many to list. A prolific inventor, Kurzweil created the first CCD flatbed scanner, the first omni-font optical character recognition, the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, the first text-to-speech synthesizer, and the first music synthesizer capable of recreating the grand piano and other orchestral instruments. His book, The Singularity Is Near, was a New York Times best seller. and is considered one of the best books about futurism and transhumanism ever written. Mr. Kurzweil was hired by Google in December as Director of Engineering to "work on new projects involving machine learning and language processing." He has agreed to take a short break from creating and predicting the future in order to answer your questions. As usual, you're invited to ask as many questions as you'd like, but please divide them, one question per post.
Timothy Lord starts this video with these words: "Sensors are a big deal at CES this year. They are small devices that track everything from the location of your pets to how many steps you have taken today." And so he chatted with Phillip Bolliger, founder of Swiss company Koubachi AG, which makes Wi-Fi sensors that help you give your plants the right amount of water and light and to keep them at the right temperature. As of this writing, the prices on their online store are in Euros, not dollars, but the sensors are now available through Amazon with U.S. pricing. Koubachi also has a free app for your iOS device, and a Facebook app for your computer or Android device, that will help you give your plants the right amount of fertilizer and other love even if you don't buy a Koubachi sensor.
John "Jack" R. Horner is the Curator of Paleontology at the Museum of the Rockies, adjunct curator at the National Museum of Natural History, and one of the most famous paleontologists in the world. Known in the scientific community for his research on dinosaur growth and whether or not some species lived in social groups, he is most famous for his work on Jurassic Park and being the inspiration for the character of Alan Grant. Horner caused quite a stir with the publication of his book, How to Build a Dinosaur: Extinction Doesn't Have to Be Forever, in which he proposes creating a "chickensaurus" by genetically "nudging" the DNA of a chicken. Jack has agreed to step away from the genetics lab and put down the bones in order to answer your questions. As usual, you're invited to ask as many questions as you'd like, but please divide them, one question per post.
Wayne Rasanen's Decatxt chording keyboard may be new and exciting to him, and he says has a patent on it so apparently the USPTO found it novel and original, but it's not the first chording keyboard by many long shots. The idea has been around (at least) since 1968. And let's not forget Braille chording keyboards, as described in a 1992 IEEE paper. And if you have an iPhone and want to experiment with a virtual Braille chording keyboard, there's an app for that. Maybe we're just jaded. Or maybe we've known a lot of blind people who used one-handed Braille chording keyboards to type as fast with one hand as a sighted person using a QWERTY keyboard and two hands. So it's hard for us to get excited about a chording keyboard. Be that as it may, we wish Wayne Rasanen all the luck in the world as he brings his invention to market.
"When you think about electronics manufacturing, you probably don’t automatically think about Africa. You are about to meet somebody who would like to change your mind about that. His name is Tony Smith, and he is the CEO and Founder of Limitless Electronics." That's how Slashdot Editor Timothy Lord introduces this video. And that's what it's about: Former Microsoft employee Tony Smith at CES 2013 talking about his efforts to bring electronics assembly and distribution to his native country, Cameroon, through his company, Limitless Electronics.
Bennett Haselton writes "Here are three hacks that I adopted in the last few weeks, each of which solved a minor problem that I had lived with for so long that I no longer thought of it as a problem — until a solution came along, which was like a small weight off my shoulders. None of these hacks will help impress anyone with your technical prowess; I'm just putting them here because they made my life easier." Read on for the rest of Bennett's thoughts.
Jörg Sprave's day job is as a manager in the world of consumer electronics. But he has been for many years making manifest the sort of things that once filled my school notebook margins with doodles: slingshots and other devices for launching bolts, steel balls, and other stuff at high speed at targets or just into the air. (Some of his "slingshots" are hard to recognize as such; he eschews the classic American wrist-rocket braced design as well as the old Tom Sawyer forked branch in favor of things a bit more elaborate.) Thanks to the Internet, hobbies that were once obscure are now easy to follow, and Sprave's homemade slingshots are no exception; you can follow his exploits through an ongoing series of YouTube videos and a forum site that builds on these videos. He's doing it in Germany, too, where firearms may be harder to come by than in the U.S., but giant honkin' firecrackers are available (at least for part of the year), and acts accordingly. Amazingly, he has yet to lose an eye; his goggles are a wise precaution. Sprave has agreed to answer your questions about his own take on physics as a hobby. As usual for Slashdot interviews, you're invited to ask as many questions as you'd like, but please divide them, one question per post.
Rikki Endsley has been Community Manager for USENIX since September, 2011. She also edits their magazine, ;login:, writes for publications ranging from Linux.com to Network World, and is a long-distance runner to boot. But this interview concentrates on USENIX, a worthy organization that does a great job of helping its members (and the entire Unix/Linux community) stay up to date technically and, with its job board, keep USENIX members employed. Toward the end of the conversation, Rikki mentions some of the intangible but valuable benefits people get when they attend USENIX events. (Remember: If you don't have time to watch the video, can't see the video or just don't like video, you can click on the "Show/Hide Transcript" link and read a text version of the video.)
Timothy ran into these NSD people at CES. If we were giving out a "best huckster" award, NSD booth dude Doug Lo would surely be a finalist for it. He's one heck of a talker. The exercise balls he's pushing? A number of companies have been making and selling similar products for many years. They seem to have some medical benefit as physical therapy aids for people with wrist or carpal tunnel problems, and may also be useful exercise devices for people who want to strengthen their hands and fingers. Have you used a gyroscope exercise ball? If so, did it help cure a wrist problem or help strengthen your hands and fingers? And which of these brands (if any) did you try?
In January, 2012, Slashdot carried a story about the launch of a $10 million X-Prize for Tricorder design. This year, at CES, Timothy Lord met Alan Zack, who works for the X PRIZE Foundation, and learned a little more about the Tricorder prize and what it's going to take to win it. "Ultimately," says the www.qualcommtricorderxprize.org page, "this tool will collect large volumes of data from ongoing measurement of health states through a combination of wireless sensors, imaging technologies, and portable, non-invasive laboratory replacements." If the success of the Ansari X PRIZE is any indication, it's a rational goal -- and the competition will be exciting to follow as it cranks up.
This video shows a computer case that's "pretty expensive," says Timothy Lord. "It's over $300. On the other hand, it is beautiful." The manufacturer, Taiwan-based IN WIN, has put a $399 MSRP (Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price) tag on their top-of-the-line "limited edition" computer cases. Wow. Most of us probably won't buy one of these, considering that low-cost mid-tower cases can be had for $30, and the entire computer used to edit this video cost $399 (with the addition of some RAM and a better video card). But there is a market for Lamborghinis, and there is a market for computer cases that cost as much as a complete low-end computer. And CES (annoying sounds if you click the link) is a great place to look at them even if you don't really need a computer case that costs more than a minimum wage worker's entire weekly paycheck.
Decibullz creator Kyle Kirkpatrick talks as fast as an old-time carnival barker and is as enthusiastic about his product as Dr. Ironbeard was about his potions. A lot of people are probably satisfied with $10 earbuds, but it's kind of a cool (more accurately a warm) idea to have earbuds you can heat in your microwave, then shape and reshape as often as you like to fit perfectly in your ears.They're just one of many interesting items on display this year at CES (annoying sound if you click the "CES" link).
Many reporters go to the CES, AKA Consumer Electronic Show (warning - link landing page plays annoying sound) in Las Vegas to see the newest 42.001" LCD TVs, which are 0.001" bigger than last year's 42" models. And there are many boring Windows 8 devices, many of which both run Windows and can display the number 8. These items, along with keynotes from tech gurus like Bill Clinton (We're not making this up!) may be amazing to some news outlets, but not to Slashdot or to Our Man Timothy, who seeks out the new, the bizarre, and the unusual and -- without taking a dime from them -- lets their instigators talk to him about their wares. But it's got to be good stuff, not run of the mill incremental advances. Like the Good Night Lamp(tm), which was invented by Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino, whose "work has been exhibited," says the goodnightlamp.com/team page, "at the Milan Furniture Fair, London Design Festival, The Victoria & Albert Museum and the Museum of Modern Art in New York." Now the Good Night Lamp people are showing off their product and trying to raise money through Kickstarter. But that's enough from us. We will now hand the microphone to Ms. Deschamps-Sonsino and let her tell you the rest.
This video is an interview with Matt Heusser, who makes a good living as an independent IT consultant. He says many other people who are currently pounding out code or performing other routine computer-oriented tasks can become independent, too. He's not selling a course or anything here, just passing on some advice to fellow Slashdot readers. He's written up some of this advice in a series of four articles: Getting People to Throw Money At You; How to become IT Talent; That Last Step to Become ‘Talent’ In IT; and The Schwan’s Solution. He also gave a speech last November titled Building your reputation through creative disobedience. (The link is to a 50 minute video of that speech.) Anyway, we figure quite a few Slashdot readers are at least as smart as Matt and may want to take some career steps similar to the ones he has taken. In today's video, he gives you some ideas about how to stop being an IT worker and how to become IT talent instead.
A while ago you had the chance to ask founder of the GNU Project, and free software advocate, Richard Stallman, about GNU/Linux, free software, and anything else. You can read his answers to a wide range of questions below. As usual, RMS didn't pull any punches.
Let's say you are an IT stud named Yoed Anis, you spent a year in Japan and decided you really like Saké, and you're back home in Austin, Texas. Since Texas, like Japan, grows lots of rice, you obviously need to start the Texas Saké Company to produce Rising Star and Whooping Crane Sakés, which you sell online and through a number of Texas restaurants and retailers. But whatever we can say in print pales beside a two-part brewery tour conducted by Toji Yoed himself, accompanied by Timothy Lord and his trusty camcorder. Yes, there's a transcription. But the video tour itself is better, even though it regretfully does not include the delightful aroma of Saké being made. (Someday, perhaps, Slashdot Studios will be equipped for Smell-O-Vision, but that's at least a few years off.)
timothy writes "For the last few years, I've been using Android tablets for various of the reasons that most casual tablet owners do: as a handy playback device for movies and music, a surprisingly decent interface for reading books, a good-enough camera for many purposes, and a communications terminal for instant messaging and video chat. I started out with a Motorola Xoom, which I still use around the house or as a music player in the car, but only started actually carrying a tablet very often when I got a Nexus 7. And while I have some high praise for the Nexus 7, its limitations are frustrating, too. I'll be more excited about a tablet when I can find one with (simultaneously) more of the features I want in one. So here's my wish list (not exhaustive) for the ideal tablet of the future, consisting only of features that are either currently available in some relevant form (such as in existing tablets), or should be in the foreseeable near future; I'll be on the lookout at CES for whatever choices come closest to this dream." Read below to see what's on Timothy's wish list.
Mark Westlake is the Chief Revenue Office for TechMediaNetwork. Slashdot has often taken a mediawatch role, especially when it comes to technology coverage -- which is what TechMediaNetork does for a living. As Chief Revenue Office, Mark is in charge of making sure enough money comes in to pay writers and editors, pay for bandwidth and servers, and hopefully have enough revenue over and above expenses to show a profit. We've interviewed editors and writers, and plenty of writers' work gets linked from Slashdot, but we pay little or no (mostly no) attention to the business side of the publishing business. Like it or not, if we are going to have online news someone has to sell the ads and make decisions about whether to set up a paywall or not. That's Mark's job. Like him or not, he does a job somebody has to do, and has been doing it for 30 years. He knows he's talking to a potentially hostile audience here, but he accepts that. As he says, near the end of the video, "...you can't please everybody, right?"
antdude writes "The National Purchase Diary (NPD) Group Blog reports that 'Internet Connected TVs Are Used To Watch TV, And That's About All — The Internet connected high definition television (HDTV) screen has so far failed to break beyond the bounds of its TV-centric heritage, with little use for the big screen beyond the obligatory video services. But the connection is being used to provide access to a far wider variety of alternative sources for video content. The latest NPD Connected Intelligence Application & Convergence report highlights that nearly six out of ten consumers who own a connected HDTV are accessing Over-the-Top video services through the device.' (Seen on DSL reports.)" Wired's headline on a story based on the same information puts things more bluntly: "No One Uses Smart TV Internet Because It Sucks."
One day Rob 'samzenpus' Rozeboom was happily working away at Slashdot HQ, then in Holland, MI, when a gentleman came though the door with a plan to make millions of dollars by reverse-engineering Rob Malda. There was a certain Underpants Gnome Step 2: '????' bizzareness to the idea, but he offered him a car just for a chance to meet Rob Malda, an offer Rozeboom could (and did) refuse. But that is just one of the many reader comments and requests he has dealt with in his years at Slashdot. Most of them come in by email, and we've included a few of the weirder ones in the video for your chuckling pleasure.
Jon Brodkin writes "Pity poor Mega Man. The little blue robot boy with a gun for a hand was one of the most popular heroes in the Nintendo Entertainment System's heyday, starring in a video game series almost every bit as good as The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Bros. The original Mega Man series resulted in some great games for the original NES and the Super Nintendo. But then he dropped (swiftly) from the face of the Earth. Attempts to bring Mega Man into the 3D world resulted in games not nearly as fun as their predecessors. Most recently, the planned Mega Man Legends 3 for Nintendo 3DS managed to generate a bit of fan excitement, but the project was canceled in July 2011. Gamers moved on — some grudgingly. Fans have clamored for Capcom to revive Mega Man for years, and it's happened to some extent. Mega Man 9 and 10 came out in 2008 and 2010, respectively, continuing the original series with the same graphical and gameplay style perfected in the 1980s. And Monday, something perhaps even more exciting occurred for Mega Man's 25th anniversary: the release of Street Fighter X Mega Man, a celebration of two excellent game series that have lost their luster in the HD age." Read on for the rest of Jon's review.
In this video (with transcript), we review Planetside 2, a new MMOFPS game from Sony Online Entertainment. The game is a true first-person shooter, using its MMO nature to bring a persistent world into play, with battles sometimes involving hundreds of players, and it does so without trying to shoe-horn in ill-fitting MMORPG tropes like questing, story development, or insurmountable gear disparities. The combat favors relative realism (you won't be rocket jumping around, and nobody gets to be Rambo), but it's mixed with vehicle combat in a way that manages to be entertaining without being unfair. Planetside 2 is free to play, using microtransactions to support itself. It wisely avoids selling gear you can't acquire in-game (aside from cosmetic stuff), and doesn't require purchases to be competitive. Hit the link below to see/read our review.
Since before all other interfaces, Enlightenment has been making computers look and feel like they're from the future. On December 21, the decade long effort to rewrite Enlightenment will see the first officially stable release. With e17 a few days away, project founder and master of X11 graphics hacking Carsten Haitzler (the Rasterman) has agreed to answer your questions. Ask as many questions as you like, but only one per post please.
Today's interview victim, Jerry Irvine, is CIO of Chicago-area IT consultancy Prescient Solutions and is also a member of the National Cybersecurity Task Force. He concentrates on security but is a broad-spectrum IT expert who is entitled to put all these initials after his name: CISM, CISSP, MCSE, CCNA, CCNP, CCDA, CCDP, CNE, CBCP, CASP, CIPP/IT. He's also a really nice guy. In this video he talks about common ways IT departments blow their budgets and how not to have these problems where you work. (Hint: If you're an IT manager or CIO who has trouble getting your bosses to come across with an adequate IT budget, you might want to share this video with them.)
Last week, you asked questions of Eugene Kaspersky; below, find his answers on a range of topics, from the relationship of malware makers to malware hunters, to Kasperky Labs' relationship to the Putin government, as well as whitelisting vs. signature-based detection, Internet ID schemes, and the SCADA-specific operating system Kaspersky is working on. Spoiler: There are a lot of interesting facts here, as well as some teases.
Frequent contributor Bennett Haselton writes: "Hotmail and Yahoo Mail are apparently sharing a secret blacklist of domain names such that any mention of these domains will cause a message to be bounced back to the sender as spam. I found out about this because — surprise! — some of my new proxy site domains ended up on the blacklist. Hotmail and Yahoo are stonewalling, but here's what I've dug up so far — and why you should care." Read on for much more on how Bennett figured out what's going on, and why it's a hard problem to solve.
Today we're doing a live interview from 18:30 GMT until 20:30 GMT with long time contributor Luke Leighton of Rhombus Tech. An advocate of Free Software, he's been round the loop that many are now also exploring: looking for mass-volume Factories in China and ARM processor manufacturers that are truly friendly toward Free Software (clue: there aren't any). He's currently working on the first card for the EOMA-68 modular computer card specification based around the Allwinner A10, helping the KDE Plasma Active Team with their upcoming Vivaldi Tablet, and even working to build devices around a new embedded processor with the goal of gaining the FSF's Hardware Endorsement. Ask him anything. (It's no secret that he's a Slashdot reader, so expect answers from lkcl.)
Professor Lampe is using gamification in his 200-student lecture classes to make them more interesting. He says big-class lectures can often be as boring for the professor as they are for the students. A little bit of game-type action can spice things up and make classes more interesting. Near the end of the video he points out that gamification is becoming popular for employee training in private enterprise, so why not use the concept in universities and other educational institutions?
Frequent contributor Bennett Haselton writes this week with his favorite novelty science gift items for 2012. Levitation engines, puzzles, optical illusions brought to life, and all of the tips and tricks he's found for getting the products to work correctly. Decorative, whimsical, and not too expensive — except for the items that have earned it by being pretty amazing. Read on for the details, and be sure to mention other good possibilities (Just 14 shopping days left until Christmas) in the comments below.
A couple of weeks ago you had a chance to ask Canonical Ltd. and the Ubuntu Foundation founder, Mark Shuttleworth, anything about software and vacationing in space. Below you'll find his answers to your questions. Make sure to look for our live discussion tomorrow with free software advocate and CTO of Rhombus Tech, Luke Leighton. The interview will start at 1:30 EST.
Since he was a teenager, Jeff Behary's been interested in the work of Nikola Tesla, and has been collecting antique electric devices of a particular kind: ones that send electricity through the human body to effect medical benefits, many of which do so with the aid of Tesla coils. Tesla's not the only inventor involved, of course, but his influence overlapped and widely influenced the golden age of electrotherapy. Behary's day job as a machinist means he has the skills to rehabilitate and restore these aging beasts, too, along with a growing family of related devices. He's assembled them now, in West Palm Beach, Florida, into the Turn of the Century Electrotherapy Museum. This is a museum of my favorite kind: home-based and intimate, but with serious depth. Though it's open only by appointment, arranging a visit there is worth it, whether you're otherwise part of the Tesla community or not. Behary knows his collection inside and out, with the kind of deep knowledge it takes to fabricate replacement parts and revamp the internal wiring. The devices themselves are accessible, with original and restored pieces up close and personal — you need to be mindful about which ones are humming and crackling at any given moment. (There's also an archive with books, papers, and other effects relating to Tesla and other electric pioneers, not to mention glowing tubes that predate the modern vacuum tube, and the oldest known surviving Tesla coils, recovered from beneath their maker's Boston mansion. Electrotherapy is the organizing principle, but not the extent of this assembly.) And while Behary isn't fooled by all the therapeutic claims made by some machines' makers about running current through your limbs or around your body, he also doesn't discount them all, either, and points out that some of them really do affect the body as claimed. Yes, he's tried most of the machines himself, though he admits he's never dared taking the juice of his personal Tesla-powered electric chair. View the first video for a tour of part of this astounding collection; the second video is an interview with Jeff Behary.
Yes, you can now have full remote access to your home computer or a server at work that's running Ubuntu Linux. Really any Linux distro, although only Ubuntu is formally supported by Splashtop. What? You say you already control your home and work Linux computers from your Android tablet with VNC? That there's a whole bunch of Android VNC apps out there already? And plenty for iOS, too? You're right. But Cliff says Splashtop is better than the others. It can play video at a full 30 frames per second, and has low enough latency (depending on your connection) that you can play video games remotely in between taking care of that list of server issues your boss emailed to you. Or perhaps, in between work tasks, you take a dip in the ocean, because you're working from the beach, not from a stuffy office. It seems that work and living locations get a little more remote from each other every year, and Splashtop is helping to make that happen. This video interview is, itself, an example of how our world has gotten flatter; Cliff was in China and I was in Florida. The connection wasn't perfect, but the fact that we could have this conversation at all is a wonder. Please note, too, that while Cliff Miller is now Chief Marketing Officer for Splashtop, he was also the founder and first CEO of TurboLinux, so he is not new to Linux. And Splashtop is the company that supplied the "instant on" Linux OS a lot of computer manufacturers bundled with their Windows computers for a few years. Now, of course, they're focusing on the remote desktop, and seem to be making a go of it despite heavy competition in that market niche.
Slashdot regular contributor Bennett Haselton writes "My last article on prediction markets contained an erroneous assumption, one whose implications are far-reaching enough that they deserve their own article. (And if you read to the end, I'm offering $100 to be split between the readers who submit the best alternative solution or the best counter-argument to the points made here.)" Read below for the rest of Bennett's thoughts.
Jon Brodkin writes "The Wii U has been out for two weeks, with most of the attention naturally focusing on the console’s tablet-y GamePad and blockbuster titles such as New Super Mario Bros. U and Assassin’s Creed 3. But $60 games aren’t the only draw on Nintendo’s new system. There are exactly five games on the Nintendo eShop for $20 or less: Nano Assault Neo, Little Inferno, Mighty Switch Force! Hyper Drive Edition, Chasing Aurora, and Trine 2: Director’s Cut. You could call most or all of these indie games, depending on your definition of an independent developer." Read below for the rest of Jon's review.
Eugene Kaspersky probably hates malware just as much as you do on his own machines, but as the head of Kaspersky Labs, the world's largest privately held security software company, he might have a different perspective — the existence of malware and other forms of online malice drives the need for security software of all kinds, and not just on personal desktops or typical internet servers. The SCADA software vulnerabilities of the last few years have led him to announce work on an operating system for industrial control systems of the kind affected by Flame and Stuxnet. But Kaspersky is not just toiling away in the computer equivalent of the CDC: He's been outspoken in his opinions — some of which have drawn ire on Slashdot, like calling for mandatory "Internet ID" and an "Internet Interpol". He's also come out in favor of Internet voting, and against SOPA, even pulling his company out of the BSA over it. More recently, he's been criticized for ties to the current Russian government. (With regard to that Wired article, though, read Kaspersky's detailed response to its claims.) Now, he's agreed to answer Slashdot readers' questions. As usual, you're encouraged to ask all the question you'd like, but please confine your questions to one per post. We'll pass on the best of these for Kaspersky's answers. Update: 12/04 14:20 GMT by T : For more on Kaspersky's thoughts on the importance of online IDs, see this detailed blog posting.
This is what we asked Jason Perlow. He wrote a Linux Magazine column for many years and now writes for ZDNet. The ZDNet blurb describes him as "a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies." Most recently, he worked for IBM, and for Unisys before that. So Jason knows plenty about Linux and its role in big-time enterprise computing. In this video, he talks about how Linux needs to take another step forward to gain even more enterprise traction in coming years.
Richard Stallman (RMS) founded the GNU Project in 1984, the Free Software Foundation in 1985, and remains one of the most important and outspoken advocates for software freedom. RMS now spends much of his time fighting excessive extension of copyright laws, digital rights management, and software patents. He's agreed to answer your questions about GNU/Linux, free software, and anything else you like, but please limit yourself to one question per post.