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Comments

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Ubuntu Linux 14.04 LTS Trusty Tahr Released

billstewart Upgrading Lots of Machines from a Cache? (172 comments)

So is there any way to cache Ubuntu upgrades, which would let my large collection of virtual and physical lab machines all fetch them from the LAN instead of the each one having to drag them across its WAN? Might as well fetch the official copy just once, and have everything else update at gigabit speeds.

yesterday
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Ubuntu Linux 14.04 LTS Trusty Tahr Released

billstewart Re:Not a fan of Ubuntu anymore (172 comments)

So if you're still around, and not just drive-by trolling, what do you recommend other than Ubuntu or Mint? (I'm not counting Mint because there's already a thread about that.)

yesterday
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Ubuntu Linux 14.04 LTS Trusty Tahr Released

billstewart Which OpenSSL? (172 comments)

I assume Tahr had to go retest everything with OpenSSL updated to avoid the Heartbleed bug?

2 days ago
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Ubuntu Linux 14.04 LTS Trusty Tahr Released

billstewart What's the closest JEOS equivalent? (172 comments)

JEOS (Just Enough Operating System) used to be a sub-version of Ubuntu, with a minimal server edition; anything else you wanted was an apt-get install away. But there hasn't been a real JEOS version since about 8.04 or so, and with virtual machines these days I have a need for a lot of small-disk-footprint VMs. Is there something that's relatively similar, with basic networking and maybe a LAMP stack?

It would be nice to have a basic X windows environment, but I don't need big piles of Gnome or KDE, and I definitely don't need OpenOffice or lots of the other fun tools. Thanks!

2 days ago
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All Packages Needed For FreedomBox Now In Debian

billstewart Will this migrate to Ubuntu soon? (53 comments)

Ubuntu's Debian-based - how much work will it take to migrate this to Ubuntu?

3 days ago
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All Packages Needed For FreedomBox Now In Debian

billstewart Yeah, what AC said about Open Source docs (53 comments)

In this case I know it's some kind of privacy software, but typically "FooBatz Release 5.4c is out!!!" is some gaming application or whatever. A half-sentence or more in the Slashdot summary would help, and so would a FAQ that starts with a section of "What is FooBatz?" rather than with "Why won't Ver 5.4b build on Slackware?"

3 days ago
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Slashdot Asks: How Do You Pay Your Taxes?

billstewart TurboTax on Windows, Paper Returns (385 comments)

Am I trusting my tax data to online services? Fat chance. Too many people have my data already.

More precisely, my wife runs TurboTax, I run errands and fetch papers and caffeine.
Back in the 80s, we went to H&R Block because of the complexity of moving expenses from my first post-college job, and my wife said "that looks easy", took the H&R Block tax prep course and did a year of working there, then a couple years at another tax/accounting company, then started her own tax business, using TurboTax and a laptop. It was a bit difficult to keep everything working, because TurboTax assumed you had a desktop PC with a real disk drive instead of floppies, but after a couple years of using RAMdoubler and disk compression, she was able to upgrade to a laptop that resembled what TurboTax needed. Eventually she went back to doing computer businesses and was able to get rid of most of her tax clients (and eventually all of them), but she's been doing the taxes in the years since then.

I think we're finally using the personal version of TurboTax by now; we used the tax-preparer version for many years because there were things the personal one just couldn't do or didn't do well (including importing previous years' data from the tax-preparer version, which kept us on that for a couple years after we would have switched.)

4 days ago
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Heartbleed OpenSSL Vulnerability: A Technical Remediation

billstewart Download new OpenSSL, not just recompile (239 comments)

No, you actually have to fix the code to add bounds checking, or download a new version of OpenSSL (which probably gets you other fixes as well, unless you were already running the latest version.)

Recompiling OpenSSL with the proper flag isn't enough to do the job - there are people who've done that and had problems keeping OpenSSL stable on their platforms, and more importantly, that still doesn't stop the Heartbleed attack from causing trouble. You need to get the code not to try to fetch memory beyond the appropriate object's array bounds, though OpenSSL should also default to using malloc()/free() instead of rolling its own badly.

about two weeks ago
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Ties of the Matrix: An Exercise in Combinatorics

billstewart Re:WHO (51 comments)

Back in the 90s and early 2000s I was consulting, so whether I wore a tie or not depended on the customer. The sales guy I worked with brought me along to one Japanese company in the late 90s, so I guessed conservative and wore a tie. They asked me not to do it again; they'd convinced their management that nobody in Silicon Valley wears ties, and didn't want anybody to mess that up :-)

I did wear a tie to a New Year's party recently, and I wore one to a trade show a year or so ago just because I hadn't had any excuse to wear a tie in ages.

about two weeks ago
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Ties of the Matrix: An Exercise in Combinatorics

billstewart Re:WHO (51 comments)

Yes, Dr. Who wears ties any more. (Or at least, David Tennant and Matt Smith did; haven't seen the latest Doctor yet. Bow ties are cool, right?)

about two weeks ago
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Ties of the Matrix: An Exercise in Combinatorics

billstewart It's about language theory, not just ties (51 comments)

There's a whole lot of deep security and programming thought that goes into most of Meredith and Dan's papers (I don't know the other two authors), so while I haven't read this one yet, I'm expecting good things from it. Go check out the whole "weird machines" security discussion.

Also, I've got a closet full of ties, most of which I haven't worn this millennium, so hey, why not :-)

about two weeks ago
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Intel Upgrades MinnowBoard: Baytrail CPU, Nearly Halves Price To $99

billstewart MOD PARENT UP PLEASE! (92 comments)

Yeah, that's becoming really annoying for a lot of newer systems. One of the good things about the RPi and Beaglebone Black is that both of them have HDMI connectors for the video, uSDHC storage, and USB for other I/O (SATA would be nice as well, but USB gets the job done.)

about three weeks ago
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Intel Upgrades MinnowBoard: Baytrail CPU, Nearly Halves Price To $99

billstewart RPi GPU is still a major selling point (92 comments)

The RPi's GPU may not be the top gaming rig out there, but it's fast enough to play 1080p television. For me, that's fast enough that sometime soon I'm going to get around to getting one and hooking it up to my TV, probably to run XBMC as well as using it as a home file server. The interesting alternative would have been the Beaglebone Black, but it looks like the BBB's GPU is more limited, and can only do 1080 at a really low frame rate. (And of course now the BBB seems to be sold out and backordered - it does have a better CPU.)

about three weeks ago
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Contact Lenses With Infrared Vision?

billstewart Peril-Sensitive Bifocals! (99 comments)

Bifocals would let you see either IR or regular colors. Add photo-sensitive gray to the regular part....

about three weeks ago
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Senate Report Says CIA Misled Government About Interrogation Methods

billstewart WaPo still won't use word "torture" (207 comments)

Cowards. They're not willing to call it what it is, because they're still the Establishment Media, and don't want to lose access to the government people who are their big information sources.

At least National Public Radio has the excuse that they're directly funded by the government (and "viewers like you", and grants from Exxon, Archer Daniels Midland, some recent movie, etc.) - it was 10 years after Gitmo before I first heard them use the T-word in a news story; before that it had only been guests on Terry Gross's interview shows (and Terry herself.)

Don't let the right-wingers tell you that either of these are "liberal" media.

about three weeks ago
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Ancient Virus DNA Discovery Could Be a Breakthrough In How Diseases Are Treated

billstewart RTFA: 20 Million Years, Great Apes+Humans only (53 comments)

Technically, "humans and other great apes" :-) But not other primates, even the lesser apes. This stuff is really recent, which makes its activities especially strange.

about three weeks ago
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The Inside Story of Gmail On Its Tenth Anniversary

billstewart Audio Clip? What Audio Clip? (142 comments)

Yes, there's a Javascript slider widget moving itself next to the article. I don't have speakers connected to my office computer, and since it's April 1 I assume that if I do turn on the sound, I'll find that Slashdot is just playing a short audio clip of Rick Astley....

about three weeks ago
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The Connected Home's Battle of the Bulbs

billstewart Re: intelligence in the bulb vs. light fixture (176 comments)

If you sell light bulbs, you'd rather make your profit on the part people are likely to replace soon than the part they don't change very often. People are much more willing to replace a light bulb themselves than a light fixture mounted on a wall (which might require an electrician in some places, might only get replaced during a decorating change such as repainting the bathroom, and which probably still works fine, as opposed to the old incandescent bulb that burned out.)

about three weeks ago
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The Connected Home's Battle of the Bulbs

billstewart Why an Internet of Things? "Because We Can". (176 comments)

Yes, this adds a lot of complex control circuitry to your lightbulb - a microcontroller ($0.50 will get you 8-bit and 16-bit CPUs, and there are probably ARM CPUs for under $1 by now), and some kind of radio or sound or light sensor for signalling (also no more than a few bucks), and a 1/N share of the cost of the remote control (which only needs to cost more than $5 because a $200 home automation system needs a fancy GUI and lots of user interface development.)

I might very well want to set different light bulbs in different rooms to different colors, to coordinate with the paint colors and the lighting needs of the various activities we use those rooms for. I'm not in their target market demographic, but having recently had to pick paint colors for my living room and seen how radically any color we tried changed depending on the lighting (direct/indirect sunlight, different kinds of incandescents, compact fluorescents, and cheap LEDs) and even depending on the color of adjacent walls/furniture - human color vision is an amazingly weird and twisty system - I can see that some people might very well want to have their lighting change its behaviour based on time of day.

On the other hand, I'm definitely in the target market for a cheap LED replacement for 150-watt incandescents, and for that matter for 100-watt; most of the cheap LED market is still for the 40-to-60-watt incandescent replacement.

about three weeks ago

Submissions

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US Senate passes Patent Overhaul Bill

billstewart billstewart writes  |  more than 3 years ago

billstewart writes "The US Senate passed a patent-reform bill, S.23 aka "America Invents", which changes US patents from First-to-Invent to First-to-File. (thomas.loc.gov Status Query, Computerworld Article, National Journal with comments pro and con, SF Chron). Patrick Leahy sponsored it. Passed 95-5, House expecting to introduce similar bill Real Soon. Silicon Valley businesses large and small were mostly against it, IBM was for it. Dianne Feinstein attempted an amendment to remove the First-to-File part, but voted for it anyway after that failed. Barbara Boxer voted against.

The US patent system has been first-to-invent for a long time, while Europe has been first-to-file. There's lots of other detail, largely intended to reduce the amount of patent litigation, improve the coordination with non-US patents, potentially improve the problems with patents on things with prior art and obviousness, and affect some tax issues."

Link to Original Source
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Pirate Bay is now Officially Notorious

billstewart billstewart writes  |  more than 3 years ago

billstewart writes "The U.S. Trade Representative's first global "Review of Notorious Markets" named Pirate Bay and Chinese search engine Baidu on a list of "notorious" sites for pirated goods and software. Most of the sites on the list were in China, and Pirate Bay's in Sweden, more or less, but other sites were in Mexico City, Buenos Aires, New Delhi, Kiev, Jakarta, Hong Kong and Manila."
Link to Original Source
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Elonex announces £99 Linux laptop

billstewart billstewart writes  |  more than 6 years ago

billstewart (78916) writes "Elonex is announcing a £99 Linux-based laptop for the UK education market. PDF Press Release. The debut will be at the Feb 28th Education Show and they won't actually be shipping until summerish. It weighs less than a kilo, has a 7" screen (no indication what resolution it is...), full qwerty keyboard, 1GB flash, 3 hour battery, speakers and headphone jack for playing MP3s. They're co-marketing it along with USB bracelets for kids who want to store more content (presumably supports regular USB sticks as well), and say that that will let kids use whatever laptop happens to be available. It doesn't say what Linux distro they're using, but they've got an online site for downloading more content.

While it's targeted for the education market (and part of a National Laptop Initiative), if they were selling it in the US I'd buy one — it sounds like a reasonable competitor to the Asus Eee, and closer to my toy budget.

One feature I'd really like to see on laptops these days is mechanical — it's having a USB jack that's set in some kind of indented docking space, so you can plug in a USB memory stick without having it stick out where it can get banged. There are some that have slots for compact flash or various SD cards, which can be a reasonable alternative, but memory sticks have become pretty universal."
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Microsoft to unveil virtualization strategy Tues

billstewart billstewart writes  |  more than 6 years ago

billstewart (78916) writes "The San Jose Mercury News reports that Microsoft will be announcing a virtualization strategy on Tuesday, including
  • an alliance with Citrix Systems (owners of XenSource),
  • acquisition of privately held Calista Technologies of San Jose, which has software that speeds up the performance of applications running in a virtualized environment, and
  • lower price for Windows Vista used on virtualized computers. (More at Bloomberg.)
The company confirmed its plans to deliver its Hyper-V hypervisor within six months of the launch of Windows Server 2008 (betas available now), which is expected this quarter. And of course there's hype about competing with VMware."
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XenSource releases product, gets bought by Citrix

billstewart billstewart writes  |  more than 6 years ago

billstewart (78916) writes "XenSource has been in the news twice this week — Monday they release a product, then Tuesday they get bought for $500m by Citrix. Here's Network World's take on the buyout and on the product. It looks like the product is packaging new releases of several of their components — there's a 64-bit hypervisor version 3.1 that uses the Intel and AMD hardware tricks, APIs, management tools, and XenMotion, which lets you move running virtual machines around. According to Xen's product page, the free-beer XenExpress version gets the hypervisor, APIs, and some of the management tools, but not the fancier management or XenMotion, and it's somewhat crippled in terms of capacity (max 4 VMs, 2 CPUs, 4GB RAM, while the commercial versions support 128GB total RAM, larger VMs, and unlimited VMs and CPUs.)

(But will it run Linux?) It will run Linux — one of the data sheets implies that Linux only runs in 32-bit mode, while Windows can run 64-bit. Perhaps there's more documentation that provides more details."

Link to Original Source
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billstewart billstewart writes  |  more than 7 years ago

billstewart writes "Network World has an article on networks of pneumatic tubes, which are still around in some cities, and also used in places like hospitals. As the article says, "Try delivering bottles of pills over Ethernet." There have been a number of proposals to take unused city pneumatic networks and run fiber optic telecom lines through them. Unfortunately, according to the article, most of them haven't actually worked out — 9/11/2001 interfered with the plans to do that around Wall Street, and city governments haven't always been cooperative, especially when their water&sewer departments want to run fiber through their own tubes. One company has some patents on doing it — the business model may be obvious, but getting the fiber actually blown through the tubes without damaging it apparently has some non-obvious techniques to it."

Journals

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billstewart billstewart writes  |  more than 9 years ago

I usually give positive moderations lots of slack - I may think a joke or an article is lame, but if somebody wants to moderate it Insightful or Funny, fine - I'll mark those moderations as Unfair/Unfunny if they're promoting obvious trolls or whatever, but that's not common.

Negative moderations are usually obvious also, but the one that I don't give much slack is "Redundant". If an article really was duplicating existing content at the time it was written, or is just adding a content-free me-too, then it's redundant, but if it's a +1 article written two minutes after the main slashdot article, and somebody posts something similar but much more insightful an hour later that makes it up to +5, the first one is still Not Redundant. Maybe it's Overrated, maybe it's Flamebait, and I'd let those moderations through, but I'll call a "Redundant" as "Unfair" if it wasn't redundant enough.

"Flamebait" gets a lot more slack - sometimes there are articles that I strongly agree with (even if I've written them myself :-) that are aggressive enough that they get Flamebait, and I'll usually let those stand - but I try to ding any moderations where the moderator's calling something Flamebait just because they disagree with it.

The one meta-moderation I have trouble with is when somebody rates something as "Funny" that looks like it was intended to be serious, not funny (and wasn't accidentally funny either.) Does marking the moderation Unfair undo the moderation, decreasing the posting's status? Or does it just ding the moderator's karma, which is fine...?

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Wow! A Journal! It's like Blogging! :-)

billstewart billstewart writes  |  more than 11 years ago Wow! This says it will go down on my permanent record - that's pretty scary, given the recent Congressional activity....

Blogging is lame enough - it's a way of nagging people who don't write their own HTML into at least writing text and links. Guess I can't flame them too much, given that I've done almost no edits to my web page in years :-) So here *I* am, not even getting my own Blogging software for my web pages, much less writing it myself - I'm just using /.s.

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