Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop
Michael Steinhart, Editor in Chief of The Enterprise Cloud Site, went to this year's New York Cloud Expo, and saw only one booth with beguiling, scantily-dressed females trying to attract people to their employers' display. But Michael says one booth with babes was one more than last year, when the same show had no booth babes at all. So we wondered: Are booth babes going away? And if they are, is it because of political consciousness or tight budgets? Since Michael has put more time than we have into thinking about these questions, we fired up our webcam and had a little conversation with him about the future of booth babes at IT conferences and trade shows.
The last time we talked to Jimmy Wales Wikipedia had just reached the 300,000 article mark, and there was some question about whether it would be a viable competitor to World Book or Encyclopedia Britannica. Things have changed a little since then. Wikipedia now includes over 26 million articles in 285 languages, and Wales is advising the UK government on making taxpayer-funded academic research available for free online. Jimmy has agreed to answer your questions about internet freedom and the enormous growth of Wikipedia. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
It's been over 13 years since we did a Q&A with Linux International executive director Jon "maddog" Hall. For decades, maddog has been one of the highest profile advocates for free and open source software. He is currently working on Project Caua which aims "to promote more efficient computing following the thin client/server model, while creating up to two million privately-funded high-tech jobs in Brazil, and another three to four million in the rest of Latin America." He's also gearing up for FISL in Brazil, and helping to plan the FOSS part of Campus Party Europe in London. maddog has graciously agreed to find time to answer some of your questions. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
A few weeks ago you had the chance to ask James Logan, the founder of Personal Audio, about the business, the patents the company holds, and the lawsuits it has filed. James answered most of the questions in great detail. Read below to see what he has to say and what question he passed on and why.
For around a decade programming was not part of the computer curriculum in the U.K.. Through a lot of hard work from advocates and the industry this will soon change, but a large skills gap still exists. Tim Gurney is just one of many working on closing that gap. His Coding in Schools initiative aims to "work with schools and students and inspire the next generation of computer programmers and software engineers by creating and spearheading schools based programming clubs." I recently sat down with Tim to talk about who's working on the problem and what yet needs to be done. Read below to see what he's doing to change the state of things.
The OIN (Open Invention Network) site's front page starts out by saying, "Open source software development has been one of the greatest sources of innovation. It has reduced costs, improved functionality and spurred new industries." After another few sentences it says, "Open Invention Network® is an intellectual property company that was formed to promote the Linux system by using patents to create a collaborative ecosystem." Go a little deeper, on the About page, and you learn that: "Patents owned by Open Invention Network® are available royalty-free to any company, institution or individual that agrees not to assert its patents against the Linux System. This enables companies to make significant corporate and capital expenditure investments in Linux — helping to fuel economic growth." Today's interviewee, Deb Nicholson, is the OIN's Community Outreach Director. We did a video interview with OIN CEO Keith Bergelt back in February. This one adds to what he had to say. And once again, we remind you: "...if you or your company is being victimized by any entity seeking to assert its patent portfolio against Linux, please contact [OIN] so that we can aid you in your battle with these dark forces." Make your first contact through Linux Defenders 911 -- and may the OIN be with you!
Contributor Tom Geller writes: "I recently wrote an article about Bitcoin and the law for Communications of the Association for Computing Machinery. In researching it I ran into plenty of wishful thinkers, ridiculous greedheads, and out-and-out nutbags promising a rosy future. I also found the expected blowback from vehement naysayers who think the best way to combat crazy is with more crazy. But despite that, I walked away believing that Bitcoin — or a decentralized cryptocurrency like it (let's call it "Coin") — is here to stay. As an interested outsider to the Coin economy, and a long-time technology commentator, here's what I think its future holds." Read on for Tom's predictions.
This is our second video starring Backyard Brains (Motto: "Neuroscience for Everyone!"). The first one was pretty lab-oriented, with a twitching roach leg here and there. This one has more roaches, with most of them crawling on command. Will the DoD see this and decide to make cockroach soldiers? Or roboroach bomb detectors and defusers? Or cockroach drone pilots? Anything's possible these days. But meanwhile, relax and enjoy learning about roboroaches and watching how, with little circuit boards on their little backs, they scurry hither and yon under control of their human masters. WARNING: Excessively squeamish people should not watch this video, but should stick to the transcript.
James Logan founded MicroTouch Systems in the 80s and served on the on the Board of Directors of Andover.net, the company that acquired Slashdot back in 1999, but it is the company he founded in 1996, Personal Audio, that has garnered him much attention recently. Personal Audio sued Apple in 2009 for $84 million, claiming infringement on patents for downloadable playlists. Apple eventually lost the case and a jury ordered them to pay $8 million in damages. More recently, Personal Audio has filed suit against several prominent podcasters claiming that “Personal Audio is the owner of a fundamental patent involving the distribution of podcasts.” The EFF challenged the patents calling the company a patent troll saying, "Patent trolls have been wreaking havoc on innovative companies for some time now." The vice president of licensing for the Texas company counters that the EFF is working for "large companies against a small business and a couple of inventors," adding "Every defendant calls every plaintiff a patent troll. I've heard IBM called a patent troll. It's one of those terms everyone defines differently." Mr. Logan has agreed to answer your questions about his company and his patents. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
Peter Wayner is no stranger to Slashdot. Not only that, he's written a bunch of books, plus articles for InfoWorld, PC World, the New York Times, and many other publications. Now he's working on a book about Autonomous Cars. Last year Peter wrote an article for Car & Driver about the privacy implications of vehicle recorders. Driverless cars will bring us a whole new set of problems, questions, and -- no doubt -- legislation. We're hoping to have more conversations on this topic (and others) with Peter in the future, so with any luck this video will be the first of a long series. With all that said, take it away, interviewer Timothy Lord... Update: 06/05 21:56 GMT by T : Peter's book is still in progress, but it's got a website, if you'd like an early glance.
Nintendo says, "With Wii Street U powered by Google, you can step into Google Street View with an immersive experience that feels like you’re actually there! View a 360-degree Google Maps Street View of locations all over the world using the Wii U GamePad motion controls. Use the GamePad touch screen to type in an address or location and explore, or instantly travel to over 70 fascinating, hand-picked locations around the globe." It all looks lovely, but can't we do most of this with Android phones? And couldn't a smart developer make the Google Street View Android phone experience even more immersive, so we wouldn't all need to buy a Wii U? Nintendo, we love you, but the Wii U still looks pretty dead unless it gets some major rethinking, and this Street View app doesn't seem to be it.
We're not talking cheap here; Willow Garage PR2 robots list for $280,000 with the academic discount, $400,000 without. Still, spokesman Ryan points out that it can take a PhD candidate two or more years to build a robot chassis and create new software equivalent to Willow Garage's open source robotware. The thought, too, is that if a university buys the robot a lot of students can share it. Sounds good, doesn't it? But much though we might want a robot, it's probably a good thing Slashdot doesn't have one because we'd probably spend all day fighting over who got to use it next.
Last week you had the chance to ask Neil Gaiman, Amber Benson and the crew of Blood Kiss about the upcoming Kickstarter movie, vampires, and their past projects. The film has reached the initial funding goal with the new target being $200K, making it an entirely fan funded film. Below you'll find their answers to your questions.
This video is WeVideo CEO Jostein Svendsen talking about his company's service, not a demo of it, although we surely should do a demo/review of WeVideo before long. If you are involved in casual video production, this is something you need to check out. And if you want to try editing a video or two but have no idea if you're going to be good enough that it will be worth spending money on video editing software, plus the time to learn how to use it, WeVideo's free version (which puts a watermark on your finished video) might be a good way to try your hand at this necessary but unheralded part of the videomaking process.
OpenShift, says Wikipedia, "is a cloud computing platform as a service product from Red Hat. A version for private cloud is named OpenShift Enterprise. The software that runs the service is open-sourced under the name OpenShift Origin, and is available on GitHub." This is a video interview in which Diane Mueller Explains OpenShift in depth. You may want to watch this OpenStack demo video as well.
Writer and novelist Neil Gaiman and Amber Benson of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame have teamed up to star in a new vampire movie called, Blood Kiss. Kickstarted by ST:TNG and Emmy-winning writer Michael Reaves, Blood Kiss is a film noir vampire movie set in Golden Age Hollywood. Of his acting debut Gaiman says, "I'm willing to pretend that the prospect of acting doesn't terrify me in order to help Michael Reaves make his film." The trio have agreed to take a break from the blood and answer any questions you have about the new project or their past work. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post.
Imagine game designer Steve Jackson and a bunch of friends building Lego trains and tracks and scenery, including buildings and other props. Sounds like fun, doesn't it? The group calls itself the Texas Brick Railroad. A lot of members have children, so their meetings tend to be family affairs. Plus, as they're doing here, they often display their train sets at public events where -- yes -- their trains attract children like crazy. This video shows off both current Lego trains and some of the classic, no-longer-sold Lego trains that members have collected over the years, including the highly-prized monorails. There's a transcript, but face it: This is basically visual material, and worth checking out on a computer or handheld that runs Flash if your normal one doesn't. (We've requested an upgrade from Flash-only video, but don't hold your breath. It might be a good while before we get it.)
According to reports a bush fire burned down John McAfee's home in Belize on Thursday. The local fire department was unable to to contain the blaze and the the two main buildings were completely destroyed. Property Manager Noel Codd (who was not there at the time) estimated the value of the buildings at $250,000 each. Despite the reported cause of the fire, McAfee says that the destruction of his compound was no accident. We caught up with him to talk about why he thinks the fire was set and what he plans to do now. Read below to see what he had to say.
Linus Torvalds, Jon 'maddog' Hall, and many other names closely associated with Linux are also closely associated with beer. (Ed. note: I have personally watched them associate with beer, and may have even joined them.) It comes as no surprise, therefore, when Linux advocate and LinuxAutomation.org founder Kurt Forsberg talks about using Linux to control his beer brewing. Kurt is a strong believer in Linux Automation who talks about home thermostats, sprinklers, and many other application, "anything you can automate..." but, he adds, "we spend all our time brewing beer so we haven't explored many of those yet." He says this with a big smile, of course. And if you want to keep up with Linux Automation on Faceboook, go ahead; like everyone + dog they have a Facebook page.
This may be a coincidence, but according to MapLight, Senators who voted last week for the bill allowing states to directly collect taxes on sales via the Internet, AKA The Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013, received 40 times as much campaign donation money (yes, that's four-oh, not just four) from businesses in favor of the bill as those who voted against it received from businesses that were against Internet sales taxes. Was this bribery? Of course not! We're not some piddly fifth-world country. But it's a prime example of how money influences politics here in the good old USA, and it's far from the only one we've seen lately. In this video, MapLight Program Director Jay Costa shares a bunch more with us, along with tips on how to spot this sort of thing and some steps we voters can take to fight against both direct and indirect influence-buying. Note that all this is totally non-partisan; the politicians with the most influence -- whether local, state or federal -- get most of the available special interest money no matter what other agenda(s) they may have. And for those who want to learn more about who is spending their dollars to influence your representatives, Jay also suggests a look at these two money-in-politics resources: FollowTheMoney.org and OpenSecrets.org.