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Comments

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Microsoft Gearing Up To Release a Smartwatch of Its Own

140Mandak262Jamuna I had a microsoft smart watch for about 12 years. (165 comments)

It was called Timex DataLink. Released around 1995 or so. You set up the calender, contacts etc in the PC and click on "send to watch" menu item. The CRT monitor will flash horizontal bars. You just hold the watch up in front of the monitor to receive the data.

It sort of worked. But it was too much of a pain but it worked when I tried. Eventually I stopped updating the data and carried around long obsolete phone numbers, addresses etc for a long time. It had super good battery life. Lasted 12 years or so. Then I went back to a simple Casio GShock.

yesterday
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No More Lee-Enfield: Canada's Rangers To Get a Tech Upgrade

140Mandak262Jamuna Re:About time (284 comments)

Yeah, I saw it too. What bummed me out was that, they did have some fighter planes of the X-wing class. They saved their elite flying squadrons and used these poor saps as cannon fodder.

2 days ago
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No More Lee-Enfield: Canada's Rangers To Get a Tech Upgrade

140Mandak262Jamuna Re:Enfield .303? Wow!! I know these rifles. (284 comments)

I am not very sure about that. Wiki says .303 Enfield is being phased out. May be being replaced by a 7.62 mm caliber weapon. It could be a NATO weapon, India buys from both NATO and Warsaw pact. Does crazy things like adding magic-matra missiles (NATO) on to MIG-21 or MIG-23. How they got the missiles' target acquisition radar with Russian cockpit displays and the target selection pointer I have no idea.

2 days ago
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No More Lee-Enfield: Canada's Rangers To Get a Tech Upgrade

140Mandak262Jamuna Enfield .303? Wow!! I know these rifles. (284 comments)

They are very common in India, and I assume in all of British Commonwealth. Local police have them but usually do not carry them around regularly. A typical police station would have about six of them very visible but locked by a strip of metal. All the police station scenes in Bollywood movies would have them. The National Cadet Corps, a high school student training program, would culminate with the training to use these rifles. We get to fire at most 10 rounds as the right of passage to get the "C" certificate if I remember right.

To imagine the same weapon used so heavily in the tropics, mud and monsoon being noted for its reliability in Arctic conditions is amazing. But this is a very simple basic weapon. Even India is phasing them out, apparently.

2 days ago
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Tesla Teardown Reveals Driver-facing Electronics Built By iPhone 6 Suppliers

140Mandak262Jamuna Re:Luxury auto makers suck in electronics. (155 comments)

Look at the supported phones of 2014 X3. Phones supported in AT&T not supported in T-mobile! What the hell? Why would the carrier make a difference to blue tooth? Google Nexus not supported. Google Nexus is supposed to be the reference implementation of Android. It probably tests only iPhone. Have you tried feeding it home made mp3 files?

2 days ago
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Tesla Teardown Reveals Driver-facing Electronics Built By iPhone 6 Suppliers

140Mandak262Jamuna Luxury auto makers suck in electronics. (155 comments)

The auto makers are mostly work with very long life cycles. Vehicles typically get used for 10 to 15 years, especially for well built luxury vehicles. Model life cycles are long too. They are not used to the fast changing world of electronics and entertainment systems. My friend driving Mercedes hates its navigation system. He often uses google maps on his iphone. My BMW balks at playing old mp3 file created by ripping CDs in WinAmp back in 2000. Every other music player and computer will play those files, BMW alone will keep crashing its music file system and resetting itself. BMW's support of bluetooth is abysmal. My 2006 Prius links without any issue any cell phone via blue tooth. Have you seen how small BMW's approved list of cell phones is? The damned thing would not even support Nexus4 or Nexus5. And if I pair it with an "unapproved" model, somehow it forgets the supported models too. Theoretically it can maintain connections to four phones simultaneously and auto switch on incoming calls. But in practice it is extremely poorly done.

Why wouldn't they just provide a simple docking station, allow the docked device access to the car speakers and stay away from building their own navigation and music players? They still think they can hold their customers up for ransom by demanding 1800$ for an integrated navigation system or 1200$ for the music player. No, just put in good speakers and allow us to bring our own devices into the car.

The lack of imagination of the auto makers is astounding. WiFi is what 15 years old? iPod is 10 years old? Why didn't they build a car with WiFi that will connect to your home, down load daily news, weather, traffic reports into the hard disk 10 years ago? After missing the boat then, now they are coming up with walled gardens of WiFi, memory storage in the car etc.

3 days ago
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Chemists Grow Soil Fungus On Cheerios, Discover New Antifungal Compounds

140Mandak262Jamuna I did not know I owned a ... (77 comments)

I did not know I have a microbial lab on top of my refrigerator! I kept throwing out old boxes of cheerios!

Cheerios are very good baby sitters too. Empty a small portion of them in the tray of the high chair and the infants will have hours of fun picking them one at time and inspecting them individually and find their mouth with their tiny hands by trial and error.

3 days ago
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Mixing Agile With Waterfall For Code Quality

140Mandak262Jamuna We should learn from municipalities, not toyota. (132 comments)

Agile process has its roots in the process used by the industrial engineers of Toyota, Japan in improving the quality of the process. It is interesting to note that the success of Toyota, Japan, is not easily replicated, and even Toyota, USA and other siblings are not able to be as efficient as Toyota, Japan. This process is good for making multiple copies of a well known object using large number of workers with highly interchangeable skills, and the process could be broken down into very small pieces where any team member could do any task.

Software development is not making the same widget again and again. This is the fundamental misapplication that is messing up agile implementations.

Software grows more like a city. Any new functionality needs to interface with and restricted by existing infrastructure. A large software project is like adding a new skyscraper to an throbbing downtown. If we could distill the collective wisdom of the town planners about clearly marking existing interfaces, existing users, the typical use case scenarios that will be affected by the reengineering, detours and diversions needed while the project is going on, we would get a better process. Agile is simply promising too much to the top management and then blaming the developers for "not doing agile right".

3 days ago
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As Prison Population Sinks, Jails Are a Steal

140Mandak262Jamuna Status quo ante can be restored easily. (407 comments)

The main reason for the drop in prison population is because so many criminals in Wall Street went scot free after the 2009 crisis. Just make up the short fall in prison population by jailing the top people of large financial firms. They have long ago gone from "too big to fail" and "too big to jail" to "too big to be free".

4 days ago
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Positive Ebola Test In Second Texas Health Worker

140Mandak262Jamuna These two patients are different. (463 comments)

They contracted ebola in the USA. Which means these ebola viruses is natural born US Ebola viruses, invested with more constitutional rights than an alien undocumented ebola virus. So these viruses must be given their due process. So it would take longer to process them.

5 days ago
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Lockheed Claims Breakthrough On Fusion Energy Project

140Mandak262Jamuna It is small, not sure it consumes less than 100MW (564 comments)

In all the fusion research the key question is, "Is it producing more energy than it consumes?" The article is silent about it. Looks like they have shrunk the size of the reactor. But might not have made it net energy producer. It speculates it could power a ship. But does not say clearly they have made it net energy producer. If Fusion produces significant amount of excess energy (more than it consumes) for a significant period, that facet alone, by itself, is a major break through, irrespective of size.

Looks like a desperate team trying to generate headlines to keep their funding going.

5 days ago
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Lockheed Claims Breakthrough On Fusion Energy Project

140Mandak262Jamuna We need cold hard facts. (564 comments)

uh oh, wait. Cold? Fusion? It aint gonna work noway nohow.

5 days ago
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Fighting the Culture of 'Worse Is Better'

140Mandak262Jamuna Radical changes are not (always) good. (240 comments)

Take a look at evolution. Sexual reproduction has so many hurdles to jump through before a beneficial mutation could find a toehold. In asexual reproduction individuals can rapidly and radically adjust to the changing environment and pass on the beneficial mutations to the next generations. They produce teeming masses of viruses, bacteria, fungi, insects, and at most reptiles. (A confirmed case of parthenogenesis of a shark sent shock waves through the biologists. But I think it has never happened among mammals).

Sacrificing backward compatibility and interoperability for radical changes would lead a large population of rapidly mutating code and runtime environment. You see this both in biology and software. Malware proliferates, ditches backward compatibility and interoperability and tries to adapt as quickly as possible to exploit newly discovered vulnerabilities. Giant organisms and big pieces of software change slowly, spend enormous amount of energy and effort in maintaining a thriving eco-system.

Radical changes (saltations) has its advantages but also limitations. Slow incremental changes has its limitations but also advantages.

about a week ago
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Password Security: Why the Horse Battery Staple Is Not Correct

140Mandak262Jamuna Good passwords are everywhere. (546 comments)

Just look at the usernames in slashdot. They all make very good passwords. Take my username, please. It is a damn good password. If I can casually waste it as user id, imagine how many more goodies where it came from. 263Bhaskar 264Kuppa 261Shyam 260Thomas 259Raghu 258Siva ... Passwords just make themselves...

about a week ago
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First Man To Walk In Space Reveals How Mission Nearly Ended In Disaster

140Mandak262Jamuna Re:The Russian space program was amazing (122 comments)

The apocryphal story goes, the fountain pens with ink did not work well in zero gravity. So NASA invented the pressurized ball point pens. Russians switched to pencils.

about a week ago
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Birth Control Pills Threaten Fish Stocks

140Mandak262Jamuna Thanks Obama. (147 comments)

Someone has to say it.

about a week ago
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Tesla Announces Dual Motors, 'Autopilot' For the Model S

140Mandak262Jamuna Come on, Elon, quit fooling around. (283 comments)

Give us model E, the 40 K sedan. The rich people have paid enough money and you have built the credibility. Continuing to make play things too expensive for the masses is not how you are going to have long term impact or create disruptive technologies.

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Dealing With an Unresponsive Manufacturer Who Doesn't Fix Bugs?

140Mandak262Jamuna Your IT tech support seems to be worse. (204 comments)

If you think your security appliance is bad, wait till the management hears about the tech support appliance used by your IT. It seems to consist of posting a vague statement to Slashdot and hoping to get a solution. It is not how IT is done, buddy.

about two weeks ago
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Former Infosys Recruiter Says He Was Told Not To Hire US Workers

140Mandak262Jamuna On the recieving end of racism. (292 comments)

May be now some of those candidates would know what it means to be on the receiving end of racism and look with some sympathy and understanding when black, brown, yellow Americans complain about it.

about two weeks ago

Submissions

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Slashdot Beta. How to filter ? How to get to my comment?

140Mandak262Jamuna 140Mandak262Jamuna writes  |  about 8 months ago

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) writes "1. In the slashdot beta I don't see the knob that lets you see more stories or less. Did I miss something, and it is under some obscure icon? Or is it gone?

2. When I post a comment, I often go my profile, find my latest comments, expand the threads there to see if there are any follow ups. In beta I am not able to get to my comment. It gives me the whole story. Will there be a link to a specific comment and the local view of that thread alone?"
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Facebook + Instagram asking for photo IDs

140Mandak262Jamuna 140Mandak262Jamuna writes  |  about a year and a half ago

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) writes "Apparently Facebook and Instagram are asking their account holders to verify their identity using government issued photo ids that include their full name and date of birth. Your account has been secured and requires account validation. Please login to Instagram.com from your desktop computer to validate your identify. is the message they are getting, according to CNET. CNET is speculating that it is an attempt by these companies to crack down on underage users because they are worried about the liability.

And here in slashdot we are obsessing with privacy and google getting to collect so much of info etc etc. Out there there are people who seem to be willing to upload their IDs to these sites, and think it is a fair price to pay for these services. Is there a site that will give a fake photoshopped government issued ID to upload to such services?"

Link to Original Source
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Indian engineering students develop solar powered moped

140Mandak262Jamuna 140Mandak262Jamuna writes  |  more than 2 years ago

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) writes "The Tamil language newspaper news item reads, "Two engineering students [name, college] have developed a moped that runs on electricity charged by solar panels. It takes 8 hours to be fully charged. It has a range of 35 Km (19 miles). The moped is built entirely using parts salvaged from scrap yards. Commuters can charge it while working and return home. With more than 8 hours of power cut in the grid, ability to charge using solar panels is indispensable. It costs 60,000 Indian Rupees (1250$) and we hope to reduce the price down to 25,000 Rs (500$) in mass production".

If it takes 1250$ using scrap yard salvaged parts, I am not sure how it is going to be 500$ in mass production. But still it is a good attempt and a nice project for engineering college students."

Link to Original Source
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IE slips to third place in w3schools.com

140Mandak262Jamuna 140Mandak262Jamuna writes  |  more than 3 years ago

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) writes "Well, w3schools visitor profile is not the generic run of the mill net surfer. It is a little skewed towards web developer community. That also makes it a leading indicator of shifts in the web user profiles. In April 2011, IE has slipped to third place after Firefox and Chrome."
Link to Original Source
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Digg overrunn with spammers!

140Mandak262Jamuna 140Mandak262Jamuna writes  |  more than 4 years ago

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) writes "Conservative activists have been caught banding together to digg or bury news stories of the progressives. Blogger oleoleolson writes in alternet: A group of influential conservative members of the behemoth social media site Digg.com have just been caught red-handed in a widespread campaign of censorship, having multiple accounts, upvote padding, and deliberately trying to ban progressives. An undercover investigation has exposed this effort, which has been in action for more than one year. The article details the modus operandi of the net-mob. http://blogs.alternet.org/oleoleolson/2010/08/05/massive-censorship-of-digg-uncovered/"
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Why Chrome browser chokes on text files?

140Mandak262Jamuna 140Mandak262Jamuna writes  |  more than 4 years ago

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) writes "I am trying to use Chrome to display some text files with non standard extensions (or no extensions like Imakefile). All the browsers handle this nicely. But Chrome keeps throwing up the file save dialog instead of just rendering the damn file with some fixed with font. Others are also reporting the same issue. Wondering why Chrome made it so difficult? I tried to make Chrome the default file handler for text files, (instead of notepad) that did not help. How does Firefox detect the file:/// resource is text file and displays it without fuss? Where is the file extension and mime type association defined for Chrome? "
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"Blaming IE is simplistic" says PCMag.

140Mandak262Jamuna 140Mandak262Jamuna writes  |  more than 4 years ago

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) writes " PC Magazine is defending Internet Explorer with this piece contending the browser is merely a messenger and there could be more holes, and blaming IE is simplistic and provides a false sense of security.

It is worth noting that Kurtz used the phrase "one of the malware samples", implying that there are others and that additional attack vectors may be involved. There is a fair chance that Internet Explorer is not alone in enabling the attacks.

It concludes:

The main thing to keep in mind is that these attacks go beyond Internet Explorer and that simply switching browsers is not an adequate defense. Kurtz sums it up on his blog "The world has changed. Everyone's threat model now needs to be adapted to the new reality of these advanced persistent threats. In addition to worrying about Eastern European cybercriminals trying to siphon off credit card databases, you have to focus on protecting all of your core intellectual property, private non-financial customer information and anything else of intangible value."

"

Link to Original Source
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HP ships Linux on its netbooks quietly

140Mandak262Jamuna 140Mandak262Jamuna writes  |  more than 4 years ago

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) writes "HP is including Linux in its 110 series of netbooks that are shipping now. It goes by various names QuickWeb or Instant Web. When you power on these netbooks, they boot into a splashtop linux instance. The OS is locked down and only the predefined applications could be run. They are browser, photo viewer, music player, skype and some file browser to view files on USB drives. WiFi works. Then if the you want Windows7 or WinXP, you press a button and the machine boots to a full Windows machine.

The Linux part can not see the hard disk of the machine. I just got the machine yesterday and have not poked around much to know how much it can be hacked. The browser is Firefox, I have not even checked to see if I can install noscript on it.

For most users of netbook, this is a very good deal. When you are in a public wifi in a coffee shop or an airport, you are guaranteed not to pick up a virus. I am not saying Linux is more secure or FireFox is more secure. Simply if you stay within QuickWeb or InstantWeb, there is no way any file can be written to the Windows disk at all!

This is such a big brand differentiation and it can be touted to high degree. But HP for some strange reason is very quiet about this feature in its ads and press releases. From business stand point, every company would strive for brand differentiation so that they dont compete on price alone. Quite strange HP is so silent about it. People are spending on purchase and subscriptions to antivirus software. All that revenue could be targeted by selling a device that is guaranteed not to be infected. Once many users realize that they rarely boot to full windows, they and their circle of friends and family would become more receptive to cheaper plain net access devices in various form factors.

I am very sure Microsoft is giving HP hell for this move behind the scenes. Is it the first sign of PC vendors growing a back bone? Or the lackluster promotion of this feature bodes ill for such an experiment? I wonder."
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The Levy has broken or is it a storm in a tea cup?

140Mandak262Jamuna 140Mandak262Jamuna writes  |  more than 5 years ago

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) writes " Wall St Journal is reporting that Sony has decided to install Chrome browser as the default in its line of PCs. Though I have never been impressed by the Vaio line or its reliability, this is the first time a major PC vendor has decided to install something other than Infernal Exploder. I have always wondered what was keeping all the major vendors in line with Microsoft. Given the fierce competition between the vendors, at least one would have embarked on a strategy to position their line as the more secure one, with Firefox as the default browser. At least one should have decided not to compete on price alone and used something to differentiate their product line from the rest in the market. But none did. Till now. Is it the first levy to break? Or is it a company in trouble, i.e. Sony, trying to wring some money from some one with some cash lying around i.e. Google?"
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Port 4567 on Verizon FiOS routers

140Mandak262Jamuna 140Mandak262Jamuna writes  |  more than 5 years ago

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) writes "I got my home connection upgraded to Verizon FiOS. I am getting a blazing fast connection 20Mbps clocked by three different sites. But one important thing about it is that, the router/modem that must be used for this is supplied by Verizon and it leaves port 4567 open on the WAN site. Quick googling shows that it is a port used by Actiontec, OEM vendor to Verizon, to upgrade the firmware automatically. The router is, in fact, running a server and presents a user name password dialog to the whole world. I used Grc.com to verify that the port is really open to the entire world, not just to the Verizon servers alone.

Though Actiontec claims this port could not exploited I have quite a few concerns about it. If that password is cracked, hackers can upload a cracked version of the firmware and disable all protections at the router. I tried putting another router behind the verizon router but then my speed drops to 10Mbps. Thinking of getting a switch with firewall or configure the second router as a switch to protect my computers in case the Verizon router gets hacked.

I really would like to know the protections against password cracking on the router. How many failed logins are allowed per minute, per hour, per day, per week? Verizon knows which of its banks of servers are authorized to upgrade the firmware on the routers. Should it simply filter out all traffic to these ports originating from any other IP address? And why is the firmware upgrade initiated by an inbound call? Why cant the routers initiate a peridic check and look up their home servers and get a firmware upgrade? I don't like the way Verizon is implementing the automatic firmware upgrade. I fear someday soon somebody is going to crack that password and the hackers are going to get a million bots all with 20 Mbps connection to the world. Even if you are not a Verizon FiOS customer, you will be affected then."
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Firefox respecting Internet Explorer settings?

140Mandak262Jamuna 140Mandak262Jamuna writes  |  more than 5 years ago

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) writes "I have been using Firefox for a long long time. I also cripple the internet explorer in my home machines. Apart from hiding all the buttons and the address bar I use the tools/options to set the security level to the highest even for trusted zones etc. Just the basic paranoia, some hole in pdf reader or flash would let IE to be invoked and get to run ActiveX, so stop it. I have always been able to download software Gimp, OO, Firefox updates etc etc without any problems using FireFox.

Recently I had to install a MSFT software, PhotoStory, (for a child, school project, don't ask and get me steamed up again) and I found that even using Firefox, the software would not download and issue an error about security policy prevents the download. OK, this is MSFT, what to do? Brought up IE, set the privileges to default, downloaded the software and restored the status quo ante after download. But still I was irritated by the fact that MSFT is making Firefox respect the security zone settings for IE.

Yesterday I wanted to try the new video/audio chat through gmail. This time Google software that is needed to access the webcam and the microphone refused download with the same warning. Now Google too is making FireFox respect the stupid "security zone" based privileges. Why? How? Why do OpenOffice, Gimp etc download executables but Google and MSFT somehow make FireFox respect that security policy from IE?

(BTW, the gmail chat requires me to grant permissions to Flash to access my WebCam and microphone. No way, Jose. The menu items in flash settings asking for permission to access WebCam and the microphone have always bothered me. )"
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Privacy concerns with social networking sites

140Mandak262Jamuna 140Mandak262Jamuna writes  |  more than 5 years ago

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) writes " This company tries to become a social website by allowing its registered users to construct their family trees. The idea seems to be once a vast tree is created the users will be able to find their rich and famous relatives etc. I could imagine this being a very useful service to many people. One of my relatives added my name to his tree and geni created an account in my name and added me to the tree and notified me about it. The email had options to opt out of more spam from them. I had a talk with my relative and expressed my concern about adding vast quantities of private info about our lives to a searchable, indexable database owned by some for-profit company over which we have absolutely no control. As it is the net has so much of our public information. Why compound the problem by adding our private information as well?

Looks like it had an impact and my relative decided to close his account and destroy the tree. But geni claims they need my permission to destroy my account. Is it reasonable for a company that bribes its users with free family tree service in exchange for private info about people to follow a opt-out policy? Shouldn't they be required to notify me and get my consent before they add my name? I have received invites from other social networking sites, but they all require me to create an account first. If I ignore the email, I hope, they would not add me to their databases. Probably they will just sell my email address to spammers and stop with that.

I believe there is neither a technological or legal solution to this problem. A new geni.com could easily be run by Russian mafia outside US borders and thumb their noses at us. I think the only solution is social. They are using social engineering to pry private info from the public by offering some service or the other for free. We need to educate the public about the implications of succumbing to the temptations by them. Today if I set up a stand in a fairground and ask people to give the names, addresses and phone numbers of their relatives and friends in exchange for small token gifts the response would not be overwhelming. Somehow people believe it is wrong to tell strangers such information. But set up the same stand in the internet and people are punching in the email addresses of their friends and relatives like gangbusters. What would it take to educate the public about the menace to privacy these companies pose?"
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Add Confusion to FUD. OpenDocument Foundation

140Mandak262Jamuna 140Mandak262Jamuna writes  |  more than 6 years ago

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) writes "Yesterday in Slashdot we saw the first story about a misleadingly named organization "OpenDocument Foundation" abandoning Open Document Format for something else. Even a few slashdotters were confused initially, then a little digging revealed, that this organization had nothing to do with the founding or support of OpenDocument Format. They turned out to be a couple of shills for MSFT without event the proverbial garage. But the other news organization too are trumpeting around that ODF has been abandoned by its own founders. Story 1 and story 2 and story 3.

We know MSFT has the track record of deliberately confusing issues. It misleadingly named its format OOXML, trying to make the less informed think it is OpenOfficeXML while saying with innocent face it stands for OfficeOpenXML. It tried to buy votes in the ISO committee. Now either it promoted these shills or these shills are hoping to win favor from MSFT.



Will this back fire, the way the ISO committee vote back fired? Do we need to update the FUD=Fear Uncertainity Doubt with Confusion? Or do we wait till we get proper words beggining with K and E could also be added with just cause and make the acronym truly FUC D?"
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Inject mechanism to replace hypodermic needles

140Mandak262Jamuna 140Mandak262Jamuna writes  |  more than 7 years ago

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) writes " Cnet is reporting a new drug delivery mechanism adapted from ink jet printers by HP.

The article says, "The company is licensing a medical patch it has developed to Ireland's Crospon that potentially can replace hypodermic needles or pills for delivering vaccines or other types of medication to patients. The patch contains up to 90,000 microneedles per square inch, microprocessors and a thermal unit."

I remember inkjet printer works by heating the ink, so much so that it is ejected in an micro explosion from the nozzle. I wonder how many drugs can still be potent after being subjected to that kind of heat and pressure. Still it could turn out to be useful mechanism for some drugs. But wait till the refurbished medicine cartridge makers to enter the market if you want it at a cheaper price. ;-)"
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Will Google lose its trademark?

140Mandak262Jamuna 140Mandak262Jamuna writes  |  more than 7 years ago

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) writes "Once upon a time, Google was the new kid on the block in the search engine arena. Then it became the big kahuna of that area. There was a time when using google as a verb would have brought a smile. But now every body and his brother and even the prim and proper, stiff upper lip and what not types like the Deputy Attorney General Ronald Smetana are using it as a verb. The quotes have been dropped, the capitalization still persists as some vestigial token acknowledging it as a neologism.

Already a number of dictionaries define google as a plain English word. If OED or some such big name dictionary includes it, would Google lose its trademark? Does Google have lawyers who assiduously take steps to protect its trademark and not allow it to become a generic word to mean "search the internet"? Didn't Xerox lose its trademark or came close to losing it? Imagine a world where Microsoft Live could be branded as "Microsoft Live Google"!"
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Coming to a word processor near you: Ads!!

140Mandak262Jamuna 140Mandak262Jamuna writes  |  more than 7 years ago

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) writes "Microsoft is planning a version of Works (its stripped down office package) that is ad supported . Works is usually part of the crapware preinstalled by many OEM vendors. Though it is supposed to sell for 40$ or so, I don't know anyone who bought MS-Works.

There is this ambiguous statement in the article, "Melissa Stern, Sr Product Manager for Microsoft, said the program will display advertisements when Works is being used online or off. The ads will be based on what the users are doing with the software, not the content they might be typing into a word processor."

Looks like MSFT believes that users will be using the word processor to do other things than typing stuff in it."
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JKRowling, Goblins and *IAA

140Mandak262Jamuna 140Mandak262Jamuna writes  |  more than 7 years ago

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) writes "In the latest book, The Deathly Hallows by JKR I came across a very interesting passage. Don't worry, this is not a spoiler. It does not reveal any plot details.

"You don't understand, Harry, nobody could understand unless they have lived with the goblins. To a goblin, the rightful and true master of any object is its maker, not the purchaser. All goblin-made objects are, in goblin eyes, rightfully theirs."

"But if it was bought — "

" — then they would consider it rented by one who had paid the money. They have, however, great difficulty with the idea of goblin-made objects passing from wizard to wizard. [snip] I believe he thinks, as do the fiercest of his kind, that it ought to have been returned to the goblins once the original purchaser died. They consider our habit of keeping goblin-made objects, passing them from wizard to wizard without further payment, little more than theft."

I thought it is remarkably similar to the way a slashdotter would describe the mind set of *IAA people about CDs and DVDs! Has JKR expressed any opinion about *IAA and its tactics?"
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A bus built like a prius?

140Mandak262Jamuna 140Mandak262Jamuna writes  |  more than 7 years ago

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) writes "Electric motors built into the hubs of car wheels can improve the efficiency of electric/hybrid vehicles, according to IEEE Spectrum.

The CEO of the company making such wheel-hub motors plugs thus: A motor housed inside a wheel hub can shunt up to 96 percent of the torque it generates directly to the patch of tire that touches the road, With a conventional drive train, roughly 20 percent of the power generated by the motor is lost to friction.

Hype and plugging aside, the company has actually built two buses that can run for 1 hour without using the diesels. It has two electric motors built into the hubs and has some pretty heavy duty batteries. In the stop-and-go city traffic the regenerative braking gives big boost to the efficiency. Still, these buses cost 250 K$ more each, and they save some 20 K liters of diesel a year or some 60 K$ a year.

IANAFinExprt but it looks like it is cost effective if the useful life of the vehicle is more than 5 years and we can assume faster than inflation rise of gas/diesel prices."
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140Mandak262Jamuna 140Mandak262Jamuna writes  |  more than 7 years ago

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) writes "Apple says you need a iTunes account to use iPhone according to PC world . The article says: The move will allow Apple to create its own billing relationship with iPhone customers, rather than collecting payments for any iTunes purchases they make via the mobile operator. "It would be naive to imagine that Apple wouldn't leverage iTunes with iPhone," said Emma Mohr-McClune, senior analyst for wireless services in Europe at Current Analysis Inc.



Dont know what I hate more. Leveraging a near monopoly position in one area to muscle into other areas and reduce competition? Or the cell phone companies who charge an arm and length for trivial services like text messaging? Hope MSFT, AAPL and all the cellphone companies, *IAA and cable/sattelite providers will all fight an internecine battle to death. No it is not hope, it is a dream."

Journals

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HP ships Linux on its netbooks quietly

140Mandak262Jamuna 140Mandak262Jamuna writes  |  more than 4 years ago HP is including Linux in its 110 series of netbooks that are shipping now. It goes by various names QuickWeb or Instant Web. When you power on these netbooks, they boot into a splashtop linux instance. The OS is locked down and only the predefined applications could be run. They are browser, photo viewer, music player, skype and some file browser to view files on USB drives. WiFi works. Then if the you want Windows7 or WinXP, you press a button and the machine boots to a full Windows machine.

The Linux part can not see the hard disk of the machine. I just got the machine yesterday and have not poked around much to know how much it can be hacked. The browser is Firefox, I have not even checked to see if I can install noscript on it.

For most users of netbook, this is a very good deal. When you are in a public wifi in a coffee shop or an airport, you are guaranteed not to pick up a virus. I am not saying Linux is more secure or FireFox is more secure. Simply if you stay within QuickWeb or InstantWeb, there is no way any file can be written to the Windows disk at all!

This is such a big brand differentiation and it can be touted to high degree. But HP for some strange reason is very quiet about this feature in its ads and press releases. From business stand point, every company would strive for brand differentiation so that they dont compete on price alone. Quite strange HP is so silent about it. People are spending on purchase and subscriptions to antivirus software. All that revenue could be targeted by selling a device that is guaranteed not to be infected. Once many users realize that they rarely boot to full windows, they and their circle of friends and family would become more receptive to cheaper plain net access devices in various form factors.

I am very sure Microsoft is giving HP hell for this move behind the scenes. Is it the first sign of PC vendors growing a back bone? Or the lackluster promotion of this feature bodes ill for such an experiment? I wonder.

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Security concerns over Port 4567 of Verizon FiOS

140Mandak262Jamuna 140Mandak262Jamuna writes  |  more than 5 years ago Submitted to Ask Slashdot: I got my home connection upgraded to Verizon FiOS. I am getting a blazing fast connection 20Mbps clocked by three different sites. But one important thing about it is that, the router/modem that must be used for this is supplied by Verizon and it leaves port 4567 open on the WAN site. Quick googling shows that it is a port used by Actiontec, OEM vendor to Verizon, to upgrade the firmware automatically. The router is, in fact, running a server and presents a user name password dialog to the whole world. I used Grc.com to verify that the port is really open to the entire world, not just to the Verizon servers alone.

Though Actiontec claims this port could not exploited I have quite a few concerns about it. If that password is cracked, hackers can upload a cracked version of the firmware and disable all protections at the router. I tried putting another router behind the verizon router but then my speed drops to 10Mbps. Thinking of getting a switch with firewall or configure the second router as a switch to protect my computers in case the Verizon router gets hacked.

I really would like to know the protections against password cracking on the router. How many failed logins are allowed per minute, per hour, per day, per week? Verizon knows which of its banks of servers are authorized to upgrade the firmware on the routers. Should it simply filter out all traffic to these ports originating from any other IP address? And why is the firmware upgrade initiated by an inbound call? Why cant the routers initiate a peridic check and look up their home servers and get a firmware upgrade? I don't like the way Verizon is implementing the automatic firmware upgrade. I fear someday soon somebody is going to crack that password and the hackers are going to get a million bots all with 20 Mbps connection to the world. Even if you are not a Verizon FiOS customer, you will be affected then.

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Privacy concerns with social networking sites

140Mandak262Jamuna 140Mandak262Jamuna writes  |  more than 6 years ago 140Mandak262Jamuna writes " This company tries to become a social website by allowing its registered users to construct their family trees. The idea seems to be once a vast tree is created the users will be able to find their rich and famous relatives etc. I could imagine this being a very useful service to many people. One of my relatives added my name to his tree and geni created an account in my name and added me to the tree and notified me about it. The email had options to opt out of more spam from them. I had a talk with my relative and expressed my concern about adding vast quantities of private info about our lives to a searchable, indexable database owned by some for-profit company over which we have absolutely no control. As it is the net has so much of our public information. Why compound the problem by adding our private information as well?

Looks like it had an impact and my relative decided to close his account and destroy the tree. But geni claims they need my permission to destroy my account. Is it reasonable for a company that bribes its users with free family tree service in exchange for private info about people to follow a opt-out policy? Shouldn't they be required to notify me and get my consent before they add my name? I have received invites from other social networking sites, but they all require me to create an account first. If I ignore the email, I hope, they would not add me to their databases. Probably they will just sell my email address to spammers and stop with that.

I believe there is neither a technological or legal solution to this problem. A new geni.com could easily be run by Russian mafia outside US borders and thumb their noses at us. I think the only solution is social. They are using social engineering to pry private info from the public by offering some service or the other for free. We need to educate the public about the implications of succumbing to the temptations by them. Today if I set up a stand in a fairground and ask people to give the names, addresses and phone numbers of their relatives and friends in exchange for small token gifts the response would not be overwhelming. Somehow people believe it is wrong to tell strangers such information. But set up the same stand in the internet and people are punching in the email addresses of their friends and relatives like gangbusters. What would it take to educate the public about the menace to privacy these companies pose?"

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JKR, goblins and *IAA

140Mandak262Jamuna 140Mandak262Jamuna writes  |  more than 7 years ago In the latest book, The Deathly Hallows by JKR I came across a very interesting passage. Don't worry, this is not a spoiler. It does not reveal any plot details.

"You don't understand, Harry, nobody could understand unless they have lived with the goblins. To a goblin, the rightful and true master of any object is its maker, not the purchaser. All goblin-made objects are, in goblin eyes, rightfully theirs."

"But if it was bought ---"

"---then they would consider it rented by one who had paid the money. They have, however, great difficulty with the idea of goblin-made objects passing from wizard to wizard. [snip] I believe he thinks, as do the fiercest of his kind, that it ought to have been returned to the goblins once the original purchaser died. They consider our habit of keeping goblin-made objects, passing them from wizard to wizard without further payment, little more than theft."

I thought it is remarkably similar to the way a slashdotter would describe the mind set of *IAA people about CDs and DVDs! Has JKR expressed any opinion about *IAA and its tactics?

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Telcos reject govt subsidy to serve rural areas!

140Mandak262Jamuna 140Mandak262Jamuna writes  |  more than 7 years ago Before you break out the champaigne bottles, please note the story is about Indian telcos. According to The Economist , the government put up a pool of money to subsidize expansion of mobile phones to rural India and invited bids from the mobile phone companies. Most companies are bidding zero, and one negative!. "But something rather odd happened in India: in 38 of the 81 regions on offer, many mobile operators bid zero. In other words, they asked for no subsidies at all. In 15 regions, India's biggest operator, Bharti Airtel, even offered to pay. As a result, barely one-quarter of the 40 billion rupees ($920m) available in subsidies is likely to be allocated." says the article. The article says the companies will still benefit by the subsidy because atleast some of the infrastructure will be paid for by the pool funded by Universal Service Funds, a kind of tax on mobile phone service elsewhere.

The article goes further to say that now the Governments of these devloping nations like Chile, India, Brazil etc are looking to subsidize/build district level (regions the size of counties in USA) wi-fi broadband. Contrast this with what the telcos are doing to rural America. They are arm-twisting the State governments to prohibit (slashdot) municipalities and rural counties from building WiFi networks to serve their communities.

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MSN search default on Lenovo.

140Mandak262Jamuna 140Mandak262Jamuna writes  |  more than 7 years ago Lenovo has agreed to install MSN search toolbar as default search engine. The article also says more "Microsoft plans to announce more such partnerships in the coming months and has several in the works, Osmer said, declining to specify. Microsoft also may start packaging its search tool bar with some of its software downloads, he said."

Interestingly, compared to the last time when rammed Internet Explorer down the throat of all customers and vendors, this time the vendors seem to understand the real benefit of being "default browser" or "default search engine." The article says that Dell demanded its pound of flesh to install MSN as the default search engine.

I think the landscape (should have made a creative pun with netscape here) has changed a lot since the last browser war. Vendors know the deal. Customers seem to be more informed. Atleast in some circles people are noticing the deletrious effects of vendor lock. It is real or it is just an illusion created by the herd moving from one vendor lock to a different vendor lock? In this case from MSFT to GOOG?

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DOT bans Microsoft?

140Mandak262Jamuna 140Mandak262Jamuna writes  |  more than 7 years ago Citing the cost and compatibility issues, US Dept of Transportation has banned or racheted back the installation of Office 2007, IE7 and Vista.

Schmidt says the Transportation Department hasn't ruled out upgrading its computers to Windows Vista if all of its concerns about the new operating system -- the business version of which was launched late last year -- can be resolved. "We have more confidence in Microsoft than we would have 10 years ago," says Schmidt. "But it always makes sense to look at the security implications, the value back to the customer, and those kind of issues."

To me it looks like a ploy to wangle a better price from Microsoft than a serious attempt to get truly interoperable system for them.

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Google Moves into Microsoft terriotry, at last.

140Mandak262Jamuna 140Mandak262Jamuna writes  |  more than 7 years ago As expected Google announced that it is going to sell Office suite as a subscription service.

The link

I expected them to sell "application server in a box" with maintenance contracts. That will assure the companies that their data never leaves their control. Big companies would not allow their data to be saved in a third party server with independant logs of files subject to discovery and subpoena etc. But what google offers seems to be the higher level service than the free service but the data is stored in Google servers. May be this is a move by Google to pick the low hanging fruits, establish a large user base documents in the ODF format and capture the market of "I want my data anywhere, I dont care if you store it" people.

But in the long term, Google must sell "all-your-applications-in-this-box" server to companies. What Google is peeling away will not make a dent in the revenue picture of Microsoft in the near future. These users might have used MS applications, but either they are using old obsolete versions without upgrading or using bootleg versions. But if millions of users move to this application and move to ODF, MS wont be able to play the game of ever changing file formats and macro-api changes to keep the competition out. Once a standard that is really neutral and not controlled by any one company takes hold, free market will make sure there are some competition. Still MS will end up with a substantial market share but there will be alternatives for the users.

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World is going to end in 2036

140Mandak262Jamuna 140Mandak262Jamuna writes  |  more than 7 years ago UN urged to take action to avert asteroid collision in 2036. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/story.cfm?c_id=5&objectid=10424822

The collision could wipe out a country the size of England the article says.

Things like hitting them with a bomb or flying a spacecraft into them - you just do not know what the results of that are going to be." Scientists now favour deploying so-called 'Gravity Tractors', small spacecrafts that would travel close to a speeding asteroid and, with their own gravitational pull, try to drag it onto a different path.

It is just 2007, less than 29 years. There is simply not enough time for UN to make a decision.

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Microsoft getting taste of its own medicine.

140Mandak262Jamuna 140Mandak262Jamuna writes  |  more than 7 years ago Apple is claiming that Vista is corrupting iPods and advising people to wait for the new release of iTunes.

Microsoft used to play such tactics to sabotage competing software vendors. Everyone remembers the slogan, "DOS is not done till DR-DOS wont run". It created the impression that competing software is buggy and not backward compatible while MS products are guaranteed to work smoothly. Those were the days when it could kill companies and startups by merely issuing a press release, "Microsoft is considering a project to do XYZ" and all the venture capital for companies planning to that particular XYZ would instantly vanish. Even established companies would spend so much of their resource keeping upto date with the ever changing GUI and API of MS, and MS would laugh at them and keep changing it and spend its resources to create new features and make it more and more incompatible with the rest.

Now, there may be nothing to the story that iPods are corrupted by Vista. It could be intentional idea deep inside Microsoft skunk works nostalgic about those days. Or may be there is nothing wrong and those who are complaining of Vista corrupting their iPods did something stupid. Or it could be an unintentional bug. It could even be true that MS's update will fix the issues and make iPod really secure. But Apple is doing to MS what MS did to others. By creating the FUD that Vista is deliberately corrupting the beloved iPod, with its 90 million installations, it could put a damper on the speed of adoptation of Vista. All it takes is one top CEO saying, "Dont buy any new laptops for my (fortune 500) company till it is guranteed that my iPod will work flawlessly." Such things will cascade and PC vendors will feel the pressure.

I think Apple is just a Microsoft wannabe. It uses heavy doses of DRM to keep it incompatible with the rest of the world. Microsoft is doing it in the corporate office software market. Apple is doing it in the music business. Both companies engage in FUD. Let us just hope these two battle each other while some other standard complying nice companies emerge to take over computing. Yeah. I must be dreaming.

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Astronaut charged with kidnapping

140Mandak262Jamuna 140Mandak262Jamuna writes  |  more than 7 years ago Well, here is the bizarre story of an astronaut, a married mother of three no less, getting a crush on fellow astronaut and doing crazy things. But what caught my eye was that "emails" were discovered along with some physical artefacts. Are emails and their print outs one and the same? Do we need a course on Eastern Relgions to understand when the emails and their physical representations coalesce to become "one with the universe"?

Link: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070206/ap_on_re_us/astronaut_arrested;_ylt=As4pWcVg1TafjIgo_EjaMkas0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTA2Z2szazkxBHNlYwN0bQ--

Relevant passage Inside Nowak's vehicle, which was parked at a nearby motel, authorities uncovered a pepper spray package, an unused BB-gun cartridge, latex gloves and e-mails between Shipman and Oefelein. They also found a letter "that indicated how much Mrs. Nowak loved Mr. Oefelein," an opened package for a buck knife, Shipman's home address and hand written directions to the address, the arrest affidavit said.

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