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Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

Input Devices

The Difference Between Film and Digital Photography (Video) 182

Posted by Roblimo
from the photographer-matters-more-than-the-camera dept.
Sally Wiener Grotta and her husband Daniel wrote some of the first books and articles about digital photography. Sally was an award-winning photographer in film days, and has maintained her reputation in the digital imaging age. In this interview, she talks about how to buy a digital camera -- including the radical idea that most people really don't need to spend more than $200 to take quality photos. (We had some bandwidth problems while doing this remote interview, but the sound is clear so we decided to run it "as is" rather than try to remake the video and lose the original's spontaneity.)
GNU is Not Unix

Meet the Director of the Software Freedom Conservancy (Video) 29

Posted by Roblimo
from the keeping-it-real-and-keeping-it-free dept.
Twelve years ago, Slashdot interviewed Brad Kuhn in his then-role as VP of the Free Software Foundation. Kuhn is still involved with the FSF, but has gone on, after a stint as CTO for the Software Freedom Law Center, to concentrate his efforts as President, Executive Director of the Software Freedom Conservancy. The Conservancy offers organization and support to copylefted and permissively licensed software, and Brad explains in the video below what that entails, as well as where the Conservancy fits in the expanding landscape of organizations that help protect the rights of software developers. Brad makes no bones about wishing for a world where all software is Free software, but that's a big-picture goal. In the meantime, there's a lot of work to go around, just making sure that developers' chosen licenses are intelligently selected, and properly respected.
IBM

IBM VP Talks About Another $1 Billion for Linux Development (Video) 50

Posted by timothy
from the a-billion-here-and-a-billion-there-can-add-up-to-real-money-if-you're-not-careful dept.
Brad McCredie is an IBM VP, and head of IBM's Power Systems development. (He's also one of the mere few hundred IBM Fellows that have been named in the past 50 years.) He pointed out in his keynote at this year's LinuxCon gathering that IBM has been adopting and supporting Linux (and associated software, like Apache) in various ways for the past decade and a half. Famously, the company promised to support Linux to the tune of a billion dollars in 2001, and McCredie renewed the promise on Tuesday. I sat down to talk with him about just how they'll go about spending the next billion dollars on Linux development; when a company has more than $200 billion in market capitalization, there are lots of ways to spread it around. Spending on hardware is one way, and McCredie also talked about the recently announced OpenPower consortium, which ties directly into the ongoing Linux push.
Linux

Gabe Newell Talks Linux As the Future of Games at LinuxCon NA 369

Posted by samzenpus
from the listen-up dept.
Slashdot's Timothy Lord is attending LinuxCon in New Orleans this week and writes in with the following. "Valve co-founder and managing director Gabe Newell says in no uncertain terms what the brain trust at Valve thinks: When it comes to actual users, 'Linux is currently insignificant by any metric' (by any metric that matters to game companies, at least, like number of players, minutes played, and — all important — revenue). On these fronts, Linux players are 'typically under 1 percent' of what game companies see. But that's not the upshot. The takeaway is just about the opposite, says Newell: 'The future of gaming is on Linux.' Newell expounded on the present and future of games on Linux in a keynote address at LinuxCon North America, which kicked off today in New Orleans. He described ways Valve is working to improve the landscape for games on Linux, and hinted at new hardware developments from the company in the near future." Keep reading for the rest of Tim's report.
First Person Shooters (Games)

Game Preview: Firefall (video) 122

Posted by Soulskill
from the massively-multiple-first-people-shooting-at-each-other-for-fun dept.
With three letters, you can get most gamers' attention: MMO. With three more, you can just as quickly inspire skepticism and doubt: FPS. Ever since the MMORPG craze got underway, players and developers have been looking for ways to meld it with the FPS craze that's been going on since the days of Doom. Unfortunately, it's proven much more difficult than expected. The spectrum ranges only from high profile failures, like Richard Garriott's Tabula Rasa, to minor successes, like the Planetside games. That's why Red 5 Studios, a company built upon industry veterans from studios like Blizzard, has been hesitant to throw around the term 'MMOFPS' to describe its first game: Firefall. They say emphatically that it's 'a shooter first and foremost,' and that it also has MMORPG elements. It's more than an academic distinction; they feel that you can't simply cobble together two different genres. In order for the game to work, it has to do the shooter part well, with the relevant RPG parts (character advancement, a persistent world, crafting, etc.) added only in service to the shooter aspect. As Firefall takes shape in an open beta period, it's clear that this is the proper approach. Red 5's unfinished experiment is promising.
Cellphones

Apple Has a Lot In Common With The Rolling Stones (Video) 147

Posted by Roblimo
from the it's-only-a-smart-phone-but-I-like-it dept.
Tech journalist Ron Miller (not a relative) wrote a piece titled Apple has a lot in common with The Rolling Stones, based on the song It's Only Rock 'N' Roll (But I Like It). In the article, Ron writes: "Much like the Rolling Stones, Apple has to get up on stage again and again and figure out a way to blow the audience away – and it’s not always easy." In fact, Apple's latest iPhone announcement seems to have been greeted with a massive "ho hum" instead of the frenzied interest some of their earlier product announcements have created. In today's video, Ron tells us why he thinks this is, and ruminates briefly about the future of Apple and what kinds of products might help people get excited about Apple again.
IT

Outsourced Manufacturing Plant Maintenance Creates IT Opportunities (Video) 67

Posted by Roblimo
from the taking-what-they're-giving-'cause-you're-working-for-a-living dept.
American manufacturing plants are no longer necessarily dank, dirty places where large men without shirts sweat until they drop. Rather, most plants today are full of computer-driven machinery that takes strong skills to install and maintain. And since many manufacturers, especially small ones, can't afford to have high level IT and repair people on staff, their maintenance work is often outsourced. Obviously, this doesn't mean outsourcing to a company in China or India (that's offshoring), but to one right here in the USA. Today's interviewee, Chris LeBeau, is director of information technologies for Advanced Technology Services, which is one of many companies that have sprung up to help factories operate efficiently in a highly computerized world. Most of their techs have wrench-turning skills, but more and more, they also have strong IT skills and walk around carrying tablet computers. So what you have here is a whole set of IT-related careers for people who enjoy working with computers but would rather stay physical and move around than spend all day in front of a monitor at a desk. Chris's comments about why IT-based factory maintenance is more usful here than in China are interesting, too -- and may offer a clue as to why some types of industry are bringing their manufacturing operations back to the U.S. from low-wage countries in order to increase efficiency.
Portables

OLPC Now Distributes Kid-Friendly Tablets, Not Just Notebooks (Video) 55

Posted by Roblimo
from the less-costly-than-even-a-few-years'-worth-of-textbooks dept.
Giulia D'Amico, Business Development VP for One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) talks about the new OLPC tablets, which are now available in the U.S. through Target, Amazon, Walmart, and other retailers, with some of the $150 sales price for each tablet going to support the OLPC project in places like Uruguay, Cambodia, Rwanda, and other countries where a tablet loaded with teaching software is a way better deal than trying to supply all the books a child needs for six or eight years of school. While there are many Android tablets for sale for less than $150, Giulia points out that the OLPC tablets contain up to $300 worth of software. Plus, of course, just as with almost any other Android device, there are many thousands of apps available for it through Google Play. And let's not forget the original OLPC laptop. It has been redesigned, and renamed the OLPC XO-4 and looks much cooler than the original. You can learn more about it through olpc.tv, which has videos from the introduction of both the OPLC tablet and the XO-4 at CES 2013. OLPC has shipped close to 3 million laptops so far, and is working to port Sugar to Android so that the laptop and the tablet can use the same software. One more thing: OLPC is now focusing on software rather than hardware. When the project started at MIT, back in 2006 or so, there was no suitable hardware available. Today, many companies make low-cost tablets and keyboards for them, so there's no real need for OLPC to make its own instead of using existing hardware.
Open Source

Live Q&A With Outercurve Foundation President Jim Jagielski 98

Posted by samzenpus
from the go-ahead-and-ask dept.
Jim Jagielski is one of the co-founders of the Apache Software Foundation, a director of the Open Source Initiative (OSI), new President of the Outercurve Foundation, and as we mentioned yesterday, your interview subject for the next two hours. Mr. Jagielski will be answering your questions below until 2:00 ET (18:00 GMT). Please keep it to one question per post so everyone gets a chance.

Update: 2pm ET has come and gone. Mr. Jagielski might stick around for a bit and answer questions later so make sure to check back. A big thanks to him for his time and answers! Here's a link to his user page where you can read all his responses.
Open Source

Q&A With Outercurve Foundation President Jim Jagielski Tomorrow 12-2pm ET 5

Posted by samzenpus
from the got-a-question? dept.
Jim Jagielski is likely best known as one of the developers and co-founders of the Apache Software Foundation, where he has previously served as both Chairman and President. He also is a director of the Open Source Initiative (OSI) and now serves as President of the Outercurve Foundation. Formerly known as the CodePlex Foundation, the Outercurve Foundation is "a not-for-profit foundation created as a forum in which open source communities and the software development community can come together with the shared goal of increasing participation in open source community projects." Jim has agreed to answer your questions in real-time about his new position and the Outercurve Foundation itself on Wednesday, August 28th from 12-2pm ET (16:00-18:00 GMT). Check back tomorrow and hear what he has to say.
Biotech

The Cryonics Institute Offers a Chance at Immortality (Video #2) 155

Posted by Roblimo
from the living-forever-sounds-kind-of-boring dept.
Today's interviewee is Cryonics Institute (CI) Director Andy Zawacki, who takes Slashdot's Robert Rozeboom into the facility where they keep the tanks with frozen people in them. Yesterday, Rob talked with David Ettinger, who is both the group's lawyer and the son of CI founder Robert Ettinger. For those of you who are obsessed with the process of vitrification, here's a link to a story about The Cryonics Institute's 69th Patient and how she was taken care of, starting at the moment of her deanimation (AKA death). The story has anatomical drawings, charts, and color pictures of Andy carrying out the actual procedure. But Cryonics, while endorsed as a concept by numerous scientists, may not be as good a way to insure immortality as transplanting your brain into a fresh (probably robotic) body, as Russian billionaire Dmitry Itskov hopes to do by 2035. There are also many groups that claim to offer spiritual (as opposed to corporeal) immortality. Which method of living forever works best? That remains to be seen, assuming any of them work at all. Perhaps we'll find out after the Singularity.
Biotech

The Cryonics Institute Offers a Chance at Immortality (Video) 254

Posted by Roblimo
from the never-ever-refer-to-me-as-a-corpsicle-you-room-temperature-bag-of-bones dept.
Do you want to be frozen after you die, in hopes of being revived a century or two (or maybe ten) in the future? It can cost less than an electric car. That's what the Cryonics Institute (CI) offers. David Ettinger, today's interviewee, is both the son of CI founder Robert Ettinger and CI's lawyer. In this video, among other things, he talks about arrangements that were made for his father's demise, and how they were able to start the cryopreservation process almost immediately after he expired. Is Cryonics the best chance at immortality for those of us likely to die before the Singularity arrives, and gives all of us the tools we need to live forever? David Ettinger obviously thinks so. (This is Video #1 of 2. The second one is scheduled to run tomorrow. It's an interview with CI Director Andy Zawacki, who takes us into the facility where the frozen bodies are stored.)
Python

Interviews: Q&A With Guido van Rossum 242

Posted by samzenpus
from the ask-away dept.
Guido van Rossum is best known as the creator of Python, and he remains the BDFL (Benevolent Dictator For Life) in the community. The recipient of many awards for his work, and author of numerous books, he left Google in December and started working for Dropbox early this year. A lot has happened in the 12 years since we talked to Guido and he's agreed to answer your questions. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
Space

Jon Oxer Talks About the ArduSats That are On the Way to ISS (Video) 17

Posted by Roblimo
from the they-sang-the-hit-song-'hitching-a-ride'-all-the-way-into-space dept.
Two ArduSats were launched last week from Japan, along with an ISS resupply package, and on August 9 this payload is due to arrive at the International Space Station. Jon Oxer is a co-founder of Freetronics, a company that sells Arduino-based products, so he has a vested interest in ArduSat's success. He's also a major Free Software booster, which may be part of the reason he was at OSCON -- where Timothy Lord and his camcorder caught up with him. BTW: This is the same JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) launch that is carrying the first talking humanoid robot to go into space from Earth. So this launch is not only "a giant leap for robots," as Japanese robot Mirata famously said, but is also a good-sized step for Arduinos. And for CubeSats, too.
Security

Big Data for People and Revolutionaries, Not Just Businesses (Video) 9

Posted by Roblimo
from the if-they're-watching-you-why-not-watch-yourself-to-see-what-they-see? dept.
This started as a basic, "Tell us how your service can help Slashdot readers who might want to go go into business," interview, but quickly morphed into something else. For one thing, Sumall CEO Dane Atkinson is not only a William Gibson fan, but actually knows Mr. Gibson rather well. For another, he soon jumped off the business topic, let his inner idealist take the stage, and started talking about how we, as individuals, can use Sumall's (free) service to track ourselves much the way NSA and big businesses do, and how we can see at least some of what they know about us. Then we started talking about how political candidates, parties, and even revolutionaries can (and do) use Sumall to track results of their actions -- and how cults and dictatorships do, too. The interview moves into subversive territory at around 7:40, but if you watch/listen from the beginning you'll get a more complete grasp of how this particular Big Data subset works, whether it's for small business marketing or as a way to justify your personal paranoia level.
Ubuntu

Jono Bacon Talks About Ubuntu Phone Progress (Video) 55

Posted by Roblimo
from the my-phone-is-smarter-than-yours dept.
Timothy Lord caught up with Ubuntu's Jono Bacon at OSCON and got a nice update on the state of the Ubuntu Phone, which Canonical first announced in January, 2013. Tim interviewed Jono about it on camera at CES in February. Look at the "Related Stories" attached to this intro and you'll see a bunch more Ubuntu phone stories. DISCLOSURE: At least two Slashdot editors currently run Ubuntu or Kubuntu, so we have at least a mild pro-Ubuntu bias. Bias or no, It's interesting to watch the Ubuntu phone development process, even as those who are satisfied with Android phone or iPhones, ask, "Why?" We could ask the same about the Firefox OS Phone, too. Maybe the most realistic answer in both cases is, "Because we could." But who knows? These new phone operating systems might turn out to be more useful than Android or iOS. We'll see.
Open Source

Attorney Jim Hazard is Working to Open-Source Law (Video) 58

Posted by timothy
from the laws-are-sort-of-a-kind-of-source-code dept.
Jim Hazard is a lawyer who leans geek; since he got his law degree in 1979, he's been the guy in the office who could make sense of things technical more often than others could, and dates his interest in regularizing complex legal documents (and making them a bit *less* complex) back to the era where Wang word processors were being replaced with personal computers. Most documents -- no matter how similar to each other, and how much work was spent in re-creating similar parts -- were "pickled" in proprietary formats that didn't lend themselves to labor-saving generalization and abstraction. That didn't sit well with Jim, and (in the spirit of Larry Lessig's declaration that "law is code," Hazard has been working for years to translate some of the best practices and tools of programmers (like code re-use, version control systems, and hierarchies of variables) to the field of law, in particular to contract formation. (Think about how many contracts you're party to; in modern life, there are probably quite a few.) He calls his endeavor Common Accord, and he'd like to see it bring the benefits of open source to both lawyers and their clients.
Security

Sound-Based Device Authentication Has Many Possibilities (Video) 56 Screenshot-sm

Posted by Roblimo
from the it's-so-secret-we-don't-even-want-the-government-to-know-about-it dept.
Imagine a short (audio) squawk, less than one second long, as a secure authentication method for cell phones or other mobile devices. A company called illiri has developed (and has a patent pending on) a method to do exactly that. The company is so new that its website has only been up for a month, and this interview is their first real public announcement of what they're up to. They envision data sent as sound as a way to facilitate social media, mobile payments (initially with Bitcoin), gaming, and secure logins. Couldn't it also be used for "rebel" communications, possibly by a group of insurgents who want to overthrow the Iranian theocracy? Or even by dissidents in Russia, the country our interviewee, illiri co-founder Vadim Sokolovsky, escaped from? (And yes, "escaped" is his word.) And, considering the way illiri hopes to profit from their work, should they think about open sourcing their work and making their money with services based on their software, along with selling private servers that run it, much the way Sourcefire does in its industry niche? Their APIs are already open, so moving entirely to open source is not a great mental leap for illiri's management. In any case: Is their idea worthwhile? Are there already ways to achieve the same results? Is illliri's way enough better than existing mobile device security systems that it's worth exploring? And would it be better, not just for the world in general, but as a way to help illiri's founders make a living if their software was open source? (Transcript included)

Never put off till run-time what you can do at compile-time. -- D. Gries

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