A while ago you had the chance to ask mathematician and theoretical physicist Freeman Dyson about his work in quantum electrodynamics, nuclear propulsion, and his thoughts on the past, present, and future of science. Below you'll find his answers to your questions.
"CrunchBang Linux is a Debian based distro with the Openbox window manager on top of it. So it is Debian under the hood with Openbox on the surface," says distro supporter Larry Cafiero. A glance through the #! (CrunchBang) forums showed an exceptionally fast response rate to problems posted there, so even if you haven't heard of #! (it's not in the DistroWatch Top 10), it has a strong and dedicated user community -- which is one of the major keys to success for any open source project. In order to learn more about #! Linux (and to share what he learned), Timothy Lord pointed his camcorder at Larry during LinuxFest Northwest and made this video record of their conversation.
We've seen FIRST robotics competitions on Slashdot before. But Kraken-themed FIRST robots? And a good look at what goes into making a competitive robot? For that, Timothy went to Sehome High School in Bellingham, Washington, where members of their Seamonsters robotics team (AKA FIRST Robotics Competition team # 2605; it's a team number, not a date) gave him a good look at their robot's guts, along with showing him how it's controlled and how they organize the 25+ people who work to build and run their robot(s). If you're thinking about joining or starting a FIRST team, this video is essential viewing for you. It's also essential if you just like the idea of robots competing with each other at pyramid-climbing and Frisbee-style disc-throwing. Go, bots, go! Update: 05/08 22:16 GMT by T : Correction: I didn't go to the high school — much simpler, I met the robot creators (and their disk-chucking robot) at LinuxFest Northwest, where they had an impressive demo room set up.
Last week you had the chance to ask software designer and international man on the run John McAfee about his exploits in business, programming, and the jungle. Mr. McAfee provided some extraordinarily entertaining and frank answers to your questions. Read below and enjoy.
HiveBio in Seattle is not the world's first community-based biology lab, but it may be the first one started by a high school student. Her name is Katriona Guthrie-Honea, and her co-founder is Bergen McMurray. They managed to get a lot of equipment and supplies donated to their new venture, along with a successful Microryza Campaign that raised $6425 even though their target was only $5100. They're renting space from a local hackerlab, and getting an insane amount of publicity for a venture that's just starting out. But why not? If Bergen's and Katriona's example can spur others to learn and create, whether in mechanical engineering, physics, electronics, computer science or biology, it's all good -- not only for the participants, but for anyone who might someday benefit from creations or discoveries made by people who got their first taste of hands-on science or engineering in a hackerspace or community biology lab.
John McAfee was best known as a software designer and founder of the computer anti-virus company McAfee Associates until his saga in Belize began. McAfee's works on producing natural antibiotics commercially in Belize was quickly overshadowed by police raids, murder allegations, and a month of evading Belizean authorities while maintaining his innocence. He was eventually captured and deported back to the United States in December 2012 without being charged with any crime. "Boston George" Jung (a man who has lived quite an unusual life himself) has been tapped to write McAfee's biography titled, No Domain. Now that things have mostly settled down, John has agreed to answer your questions. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post.
Jakob Perry organized the first LinuxFest Northwest when he was still a student. He got off to a good start: now LFNW has been running for 14 years, and has retained its flavor as a low-key, friendly conference. Exhibitors from Linux distributions from tiny (CrunchBang) to huge (Red Hat) were on hand for 2013, and enough speakers and topics to fill about 80 different sessions over the two days of the conference. Not all of it's about Linux per se, either: the EFF and FSF were represented, along with a BSD table, and a local astronomy group with a great name. At this year's event I ran into the first Firefox OS phone that I've had a chance to play with in person. Firefox OS integrates Linux by way of the Android kernel, but is otherwise its own beast. Ubuntu and Mozilla contributor Benjamin Kerensa was on hand to talk about what makes it tick, and to give a demo of the all-HTML5 interface.
The idea of the Hackathon was to develop either Web or mobile applications that would dovetail with county services and be useful for county workers, county residents or both. The winners got cash prizes, but many people on the nine competing teams weren't aware of them until the closing awards ceremony when the three winners were announced. But then, this is a helpful part of the country where, if an old person falls down on the sidewalk, strangers will rush to her side, whip out cell phones in case a 911 call is needed, and help her to her feet. A hackathon to benefit your neighbors is nothing but an extension of that spirit. One note: Several county employees said this was the first-ever government-organized hackathon around here, but there was a Tampa Mayor's Hackathon last June, and Tampa is the biggest city in Hillsborough County. But this is all good, and Hillsborough hopes to hold a bigger (and hopefully better-publicized) hackathon next year. Meanwhile, there are more home-grown tech events around here every year. April 25 saw the 3rd annual Ignite Tampa event, which brought together people involved in "technology, arts, communications, education, non-profits, the government sector and more" to meet with "the community" -- and local venture capitalists. And the inaugural Sarasota-Bradenton BarCamp is scheduled for May 2 - 5. And so on. Lots of events, many of which combine technology and the arts, which is always a delightful mix -- and one we look forward to seeing even more of in coming years, not only in Florida but everywhere in the world.
Russell Chozick owns a small company in Austin. TX, called Flashback Data that recovers data from messed-up hard drives. And SSDs and Flash memory, too. How badly damaged does a drive have to be to defeat Russell and his crew? Apparently, smashed to bits. Not long aqo we did a video about a company that destroys data on hard drives, and we've had at least one Ask Slashdot where the question was, "What's the Best Way To Destroy Hard Drives?" In today's video, Russell is talking about the opposite of destruction -- except that he destroys data upon request, too. Obviously, checking the wrong box on a customer order form could cause big problems at Flashback Data, couldn't it? Let's hope they never do that -- and let's hope we all back up all of our data so we never need to use a data recovery service. You do back up all your data, don't you?
Ann Arbor based Brain Monkeys is an education company that teaches kids about robots and technology. With the help of her staff, founder Katie Tilton teaches a wide variety of after school classes, workshops, and summer school programs designed to let kids learn through hands-on activities. Recently, I was lucky enough to visit for one of their "Speed Sumo" nights. Kids get a NXT LEGO kit and 90 mins to build a robot that can push another robot out of a small sumo ring. Students get a basic tutorial on what makes a good sumo robot, then are free to come up with designs that they think will work best. Some of the more interesting features I saw included claws, a wedged shaped nose, and a flail-like tail (shout out to The Hammer!). Once the 90 minute build time is up the kids battle it out in the ring with the winner getting a high-five and bragging rights for building the most awesome robot of the night. Katie says: "Every day of the week I teach somewhere. I'm basically a teacher with art on a cart, but I'm robots in a car."
When you call your business Penguin Computer & Telephone Solutions, it's obvious that Linux is your favorite operating system. Company owner Frank Sflanga, Jr. happily works on Windows, Mac and whatever else you want or have around, but he is a Linux person at heart; in fact, he's a founder and leading member of The Southwest Florida GNU/Linux Users Group. But the point of this interview, which some will want to label an ad (although it's not), is to show how Frank started his one-man consulting business and made it successful so that other Slashdot readers can follow in his footsteps and become self-employed -- if they are so inclined. You might want to note that most of Frank's clients were not familiar with Linux when he first started working with them, and most are not particularly interested in software licensing matters as long as Frank keeps their stuff working. You might also want to note that Ft. Myers, FL, where Frank is located, is not exactly famous as a hotbed of leading-edge technology, which means that even if you live someplace similar, where business owners ask "What's a Linux?" you might be able to make a decent living running a Linux-based IT consulting business.
Famous for his work in math, astronomy, nuclear engineering, and theoretical physics, Freeman Dyson has left his mark on almost every scientific discipline. He's won countless awards, and written numerous books on a wide range of topics both scientific and philosophical. One of his biggest contributions to science was the unification of the three versions of quantum electrodynamics invented by Feynman, Schwinger and Tomonaga. 10 years after moving to the U.S. he started working on the Orion Project, which sought to create a spacecraft with a nuclear propulsion system. STNG exposed the idea of a Dyson sphere to the masses, and his hypothetical plan for making a comet habitable with the help of genetically-engineered plants is a personal favorite. Mr. Dyson has graciously agreed give us a bit of his time in order to answer your questions. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) director Jamie Love -- formally James Packard Love -- is the brain behind the "$1 a day" HIV drugs that have saved millions of lives in Africa and other poor parts of the world. Basically, he went around asking, "How much would it cost to make this HIV medication if the patent cost was removed?" At first, no one could answer. After a while, the answer came: Less than $1 a day. At that price, the Bush administration set up a massive program to deliver generic anti-HIV drugs to Africa. Jamie also works on copyright issues, boosts free software (he's a Linux user/evangelist and had more than a little to do with the Microsoft antitrust suit), and generally tries to make the international knowledge ecology more accessible and more useful for everyone, especially those who aren't rich. Or necessarily even prosperous. He's a smart guy (read the Wikipedia entry linked above), but more than that he's bullheaded. Jamie has worked on some of his initiatives for years, even decades. In many cases you can't say, "He hasn't succeeded," without adding "yet" on the end. (You'll understand that statement better after you watch the video, which we broke into two parts because it is far longer than our typical video interview.)
David Gallo is an oceanographer and Director of Special Projects at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He has participated in expeditions to all of the world’s oceans and was one of the first scientists to use a combination of robots and submarines to explore the deep seafloor. As a member of James Cameron’s Deep Ocean Task Force and the XPrize Ocean Advisory Board, David actively encourages the development of new technologies for ocean exploration. With more than 8 million views, his TED presentation entitled Underwater Astonishments is the 4th most viewed TED Talk to date. David has agreed to come up for air and answer any questions you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.