top Nest Protect: Trojan Horse For 'The Internet of Things'?
I'm currently having a problem with exactly that. I would really like a fitbit type device (souped up pedometer/human attached IMU that can dump it's data to a computer) that
doesn't announce my daily movements and sleep habits onto someone else's computers in a format I can't read without subscribing to their service. There is no value added for me letting it upload, I have no desire to make a social activity out of my daily movement and sleep habits, no desire to pay to let some random little for-profit rummage though my data and eventually get hacked and/or lose it (in either sense), or have a cashflow problem and sell it. I just want to be able to log it for my own edification.
As far as I can tell there isn't any such device on the market, even though it would be exactly the same hardware.
top KDE Software Compilation 4.11 Released
Nope. As nice as recent KDE is, it is still a demonstrable resource hog:
His semi-scientific experiment matches up with my experience. I have a KDE 4.10 box and a XFCE box (both on top of Arch, so I'm reasonably aware of how they are configured) that I use regularly, and KDE is incredibly more resource intensive than XFCE, even factoring in some things I have disabled in KDE and added on to XFCE.
top Slashdot Asks: How Will You Replace Google Reader?
I went to tt-rss as well and am more than happy with it. The web interface is nice, it's self hosted (more important in light of recent news), it's easy to set up (even in unsupported shared-hosting configurations), and the Android app is decent. The web interfaces is also very easily customizable, even for someone who doesn't like doing web fronted work.
Fox can be a little gruff, but considering the volume of stupid questions suddenly coming in to a one-man project with the death of google reader, I can't say I blame him.
about a year and a half ago
top Ask Slashdot: Most Underappreciated Sci-Fi Writer?
I'll argue for
Yevgeny Zamyatin, at least for authors unknown among people who otherwise appreciate Sci-Fi. We is probably my favorite of it's style of dystopian novels (Think 1984 and Brave New World) - it uses a clever mathematical symbolism as a framework for the story, it has an awesome IRL history of copies being smuggled in and out of the Soviet Union, and Zamyatin was an Old Bolshevik disenchanted with later developments in the party. This means it has a little bit different perspective than the similar pieces by western authors, and explains the nifty "There is no final revolution" mantra in the novel.
top App Developer: Android Designed For Piracy
Chiefly, he seems to assume that a monetized software ecosystem is the purpose of and natural sate for mobile devices. The fact is, the devices are for the users' (and manufacturers', which he did note) benefit.
That a few developers have started making significant profit off mobile is a recent and incidental matter (PalmOS and PocketPC never developed big paid ecosystems compared to their user base. Apple didn't even support native apps when they introduced iOS in 2007, and still treats their developers like shit whenever it suits them. The modern mobile software market is in its infancy, it is probably over-inflated, and it might not even last - especially if it continues to be a sea of shit.)
He also seems to think that the lower perceived value for software on mobile is a problem rather than the simple fact that mobile apps really aren't worth as much to users - piracy happens because either the service sucks, or the price is higher than the perceived value.
And this is all ignoring the argument that generations of developers for personal computers have done fine targeting open platforms.
It actually took me a while to get my head around the narcissistic "These platforms are made for people like me to monetize" mindset required for his argument to make sense. This idea that the purpose of businesses is "to make money" instead of "to provide goods and services" is how we tanked our fucking economy, get out of it.
top HTC One X Phone Held by Customs Due to ITC Ruling
Hello fellow MT4GS owner, allow me to introduce you the magic of community ROMs. I've been running an
unofficial CM9 build from here on mine recently, and it only has a handful of bugs. The current builds are using a 2.6 kernel because the 3.0 tree isn't playing nice with the keyboard. It is a completely open community project, so you can watch progress on the TeamDS github page.
It sucks that HTC and/or T-Mobile aren't providing us with an official ICS ROM, but when you buy a phone you are buying that phone, assuming you will be getting major updates is a sure path to disappointment. This isn't specific to Android, Apple drops iOS hardware from being supported in new versions approximately two years after release. Manufactures have a double incentive not to provide updates for devices in the cost and complexity of supporting old devices and the encouragement to buy new hardware that not providing updates brings. At least with Android you get snazzy community projects because the parts are open.
top Chief Replicant Dev On Building a Truly Free Android
It's much easier to sell vendors on "Hey, use this, you don't have to develop your own" than "Open up that code you wrote because it's the right thing to do." Good, working, open solutions trickling in upstream because they are established and convenient is the best way to make a platform open, even if the fully open versions are never quite as friendly. The strictly Free systems, like Debian and Replicant, are how the open solutions get developed, improved, and established as standard so that everyone benefits.
I'd love it if the SoC vendors were on board, but that would require a very large external disruption. Making open (preferably GPL-style so it stays open) code the standard will win out by attrition.
top AT&T Threatening To Raise Rates After Merger Failure
Now that you have $6 billion of our cash and spectrum allocation, why don't you take our customers too?
top US Congressmen: Facebook Evading Privacy Questions
The best thing you can do about all this as an individual? TURN OFF THIRD-PARTY COOKIES. I've been browsing with third-party cookies disabled for the last six months, and am yet to find something I care about that doesn't work because I have them disabled. It protects your privacy and security, it eliminates various irritating bits of targeted advertising and the like, and most browsers have a "block third-party cookies" setting built in.
top Google Buzz Buzzing Away
I'm not surprised, because it is eminently clear that Google wants to concentrate their social features on Plus (in effect, to compete with Facebook by cloning Facebook), but I am still disappointed.
I genuinely like Buzz; it aggregates activity from a whole range of services that I don't care to deal with (personal blogs, google reader, twitter, tumblr, etc.) for easy reading, instead of being another one of those services (Hi Plus!). It was even better because it used an open standard mechanism for identity management to do what it did.
Apparently the APIs for re-posting into Plus from external sites are starting to come together, so I guess that is the migration plan, even though it isn't as open or convenient. It would be nice if Google would set up rel=me peering behavior for plus to replace the functionality.
top 3D Printer For Your Kids
The implications of individuals, especially kids, having access to 3D printing is a pretty well-explored scifi trope. Cory Doctrow's
Makers, and Bruce Sterling's Kiosk are both based on the concept, reasonably good, and make a solid starting point for implications.
top Ask Slashdot: Best Use For a New Supercomputing Cluster?
I assume this is an epic troll, but am going to give an honest answer anyway, because there are some legitimate questions buried in there.
I work with a aggregate.org a university research group which has a decent claim to having built the very first Linux PC Cluster, set some records with them (KLAT2 and KASY0 were both ours), and still operates a number of Linux clusters, including some containing GPUs, so I feel like I have some idea of the lay of cluster technology. It is *way* overdue for an update (and one is in progress, we swear!), but we also maintain TLDP's widely circulated Parallel Processing HOWTO, which was the goto resource for this kind of question for some time.
In a cluster of any size, you do _not_ want to be handling nodes individually. There are several popular provisioning and administration systems for avoiding doing so, because every organization with a large number of machines needs such a tool. The clusters I deal with are mostly provisioned with Perceus with a few ROCKS holdovers, and I'm aware of a number of other solutions ( xCat is the most popular that I've never tinkered with). Perceus can pass out pretty much any correctly-configured Linux image to the machines, although It is specifically tailored to work with Caos NSA (Redhat-like), or GravityOS (a Debian derivative) payloads. Infiscale, the company that supports Perceus, releases the basic tools and some sample modifiable OS images for free, and makes their money off support and custom images, so it is pretty flexible option in terms of required financial and/or personnel commitment. The various provisioning and administration tools are generally designed to interact with various monitoring tools (ex. Warewulf or Ganglia) and job management systems (see next paragraph).
Accounting and billing users is largely about your job management system. Our clusters aren't billed this way, so I can't claim to have be closely familiar with the tools, but most of the established job management systems like Slurm, and GridEngine (to name two of many) have accounting systems built in.
The "standard" images or image-building tools provided with the provisioning systems generally provide for a few nicely integrated combinations of tools, which make it remarkably easy to throw a functioning cluster stack together.
As for GPUs... be aware that the claimed performance for GPUs, especially in clusters, is virtually unattainable. You have to write code in their nasty domain-specific languages (CUDA or OpenCL for Nvidia, just OpenCL for AMD) and there isn't really any concept of IPC baked in to the tools to allow for distributed operations. Furthermore, GPUs are also generally extroridnarly memory and memory bandwidth starved (remember, the speed comes from there being hundreds of processing elements on the card, all sharing the same memory and interface), so simply keeping them fed with data is challenging.
GPGPU is also an unstable area in both relevant senses: the GPGPU software itself has a nasty tendency to hang the host when something goes wrong (which is extra fun in clusters without BMCs), and the platforms are changing at an alarming clip. AMD is somewhat worse in the "moving target" regard - they recently deprecated all 4000 series cards from being supported by GPGPU tools, and have abandoned their CTM, CAL, and Brook+ environments before settling on OpenCL, and only OpenCL. Nvidia still supports both their CUDA environment and OpenCL environments, and (with some caveats) all the cards they have ever claimed to work for compute can still be used. Offsetting the somewhat easier and more flexible software situation on the Nvidia side, the AMD cards tend to offer peak FLOPS/dollar numbers something like 4x what the Nvidia cards can provide, which makes the various parts surprisingly well matched. Note that the difference between the special compute hardware ("Tesla" and "Firestream") and consumer cards tends to be that they have a little more memory, and are enormously more expensive , so the consumer cards are way ahead in terms of FLOPS per dollar. We're currently speccing out a 64-node cluster hosting Radeon HD5770s that will (in theory) peak a little above 85TeraFLOPS of GPU performance for less than $10k in GPUs. To head off a common "oops" moment, it sounds as though your machines will be "server style" (ie. rackmount, high reliability PSUs, etc.), which can be a challenge, since that kind of system is generally not designed for hosting physically enormous, power hungry PCIE cards like GPUs.
The questions posed in the OP are *very* early issues in the planning process for setting up a cluster, but enjoy your journey into the woods, this stuff is fun.
top What's Wrong With the American University System
Uh... That's why they're professors. They DO know things you don't, and you are theoretically there to learn some of those things from them.
top "Install Other OS" Feature Removed From the PS3
I wonder how the HPC community is going to respond; there is a not insubstantial
community who heard "150Gflop/$400" and "Linux" and decided to build clusters from PS3s. Those machines can probably just have updates held back, but it makes replacement a problem.
To forestall the inevitable "that isn't a serious use" argument, US Airforce owns Something like 2,500 PS3s for compute work.
Killing Linux on the PS3 also presents something of an issue for the other Cell "partners", who seem to be looking at the PS3 as a low-cost Cell development starter kit. The other Cell machines on the market are *much* more expensive (an IBM QS22 blade is $8-20k, depending on configuration, and Mercury Computer Systems doesn't even like talking about how much their Cell boards cost). Given that Cell is an enormously difficult architecture to target, having relatively inexpensive systems to test and train on is very desirable for the other vendors, especially now that so many of the HPC folks are fixated on GPGPU, which is also terrible to program for, but has a far lower cost of entry. It could be that IBM's decision not to pursue Cell in the HPC market is how it became politically tenable for Sony to kill off Linux on the PS3.
top Shuttleworth Suggests 1-Way Valve For User Experience Testing
The idea that an interface can be entirely judged by how well a user handles it in the first few minutes of exposure is, in my opinion, one of the bigger *problems* with UI design of late. A quality interface should both be immediately accessible, and SCALE WELL TO MORE ADVANCED USE CASES. In my experience, Gnome, OS X, and the bundled native applications that come with each currently fail miserably at the latter.
The former head of Apple's UI team makes a pretty good case for this being a problem
here, although the article focuses specifically on a facet of the OS X design philosophy which causes scalability issues, rather than the problem in general. To borrow a line from the article:
"The beginner today will be the expert of tomorrow. The user with 200 photos today will be the user with 2000 a year from now. The user with 10 songs today will be the user with 100 songs six months from now. The user with one or two extra apps on the iPhone will be the user with 100 apps three months from now."
top In-Depth With the Windows 7 Public Beta
I didn't have any luck with daemon tools under Windows 7 (32bit), but SlySoft Virtual Clonedrive (free,
http://www.slysoft.com/en/virtual-clonedrive.html ) works fine for me. On a more general note, Windows 7 is making it not a chore to leave my usual Linux/XFCE environment, so they must have done something right.
top Apple Updates iPhone and iPod Touch
Agreed. I picked up a N810 (and a 4gb miniSD card) a few weeks ago, and it hasn't been more than a couple meters from me since. While there aren't a whole lot of features out of the box, the collection of easily installable applications(the included package manger is a frontend for dpkg, you can use apt from the command line if you prefer) more than make up for it. I was looking pretty seriously at an iPod touch (not an iPhone, I don't like paying carriers for the privilege of using my gadgets, my simple cellphone is prepaid), and decided I'd prefer a device that I could use how I saw fit, as opposed to how apple decided I should. A few of the features that distinguish it:
I am a bit disappointed with the free GPS software (you can buy wayfinder if you really want), the useless little camera, and the quality of the PIM apps available, but as an internet widget/media player its nearly perfect. The core functionality is the same as the much cheaper (but slightly larger and keyboardless) N800 that takes a pair of full-size SD cards if your looking for more storage or a lower price.
The included microb browser uses the same version of the gecko engine as the current Firefox3 builds, and renders anything Firefox will (except for a few sites that check user agents) just like on a desktop. It even has real Flash9 support for games and flash video.
In the same vein, theres a complete port of pidgin for all your instant messaging needs
The memory mounts as mass storage when plugged into a computer via microUSB (no fussy proprietary connector, no horrible manager software)
The USB port is OTG compliant, you can connect accessories (storage devices, keyboards, etc.) with an appropriate cable.
You can set up SSH on it; both client and server. That means SFTP/SSHFS to push/pull files from the device.
For media playback, while there is a simple built-in player, I've come to love
Canola2, which has all the bells and whistles, and uses mplayer as a backend for broad format support. Theres a great owners community at
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