blackbearnh (637683) writes "There's been a lot of hubbub over the last week about the fact that some German hackers were able to lift a fingerprint off an iPhone 5s and use it to unlock the phone. Security experts are decrying the new feature, claiming that fingerprints aren't secure. But O'Reilly blogger James Turner thinks it's all bull turds. He argues that since most people don't even lock their phones with a simple four digit pin, much less one of those monstrosities that the experts tell us we should be using, any level of additional security is good. In his opinion, the goal isn't to create a phone that the NSA couldn't break into, but to make it just hard enough so that a thief will choose another one instead." top
blackbearnh (637683) writes "Most commencement speeches are long on platitudes and short on practical advice. O'Reilly blogger James Turner has tailored a speech aimed specifically at the current batch of graduating CS majors. Among the advice that the 35 year industry veteran offers are to find a small company for your first job, but not one that is going to burn you out. Also, keep learning new things, but don't fall into the trap of learning the flavor of the day technology." top
blackbearnh (637683) writes "There's a long history of media fandoms organizing fundraising campaigns, donating blood, and doing other charitable activities. However, even large and well-established groups such as Trekkies/ers and Star Wars fans usually work with established non-fannish charities like the Red Cross or Toys for Tots. Some may see them as a plague on the Internet, the Brony community has taken their charitable endeavors to the next level by going to the trouble of creating a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt public charity. The Brony Thank You Fund received word from the IRS last week that, after nearly a year of work, they had been granted tax-exempt status. The Fund is currently raising donations to endow a permanent animation scholarship at CalArts, and is the same group that made news last year when they became the first fan group to purchase commercial time on national TV, for a 30 second spot praising My Little Pony and encouraging donations to Toys for Tots." top
blackbearnh (637683) writes "Fans can be passionate about their favorite TV programs, but the Bronies (adult My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic) fans have taken it to the next level. In an effort to support the show, they have purchased commercial air time on The HUB, the network that airs My Little Pony.
The ad thanks the makers of the show for doing such a good job, and encourages viewers to donate to Toys for Tots to show their appreciation. As far as can be determined, this is the first time (Star Trek included!) that fans of a show have ever purchased advertising time. The group that produced the ad, The Brony Thank You Fund, is also in the middle of fundraising to endow an animation scholarship at CalArts." Link to Original Source top
The Cost of Crappy Security in Software Infrastructure
blackbearnh (637683) writes "Everyone these days knows that you have to double and triple check your code for security vulnerabilities, and make sure that your servers are locked down as tight as you can. But why? Because our underlying operating systems, languages, and platforms do such a crappy job protecting us from ourselves. A new article suggests that the inevitable result of clamoring for new features, rather than demanding rock-solid infrastructure, is that the developer community wastes huge amounts of time protecting their applications from exploits that should never be possible in the first place. TFA: The next time you hear about a site that gets pwned by a buffer overrun exploit, don't think "stupid developers!", think "stupid industry!"" Link to Original Source top
blackbearnh (637683) writes "Forums and chat groups are letting fans organize and discuss their favorite shows with increasing ease, but what happens when the writers and producers of TV shows start paying attention? An article in today's Christian Science Monitor takes a look at how the production staff of recent shows has interacted with their fan base, and how the fans are having an increasing influence on not only the popularity, but also the plot and characters." Link to Original Source top
But just who are these Bronies? One fan set out to get a demographic picture of the "herd", and gathered over 9,000 responses to a census he created. The numbers have been crunched and the "2012 State of the Herd Report" is now available, with some surprising results. Among other things, there are 58 PhDs out there who take time out to watch My Little Ponies." Link to Original Source top
blackbearnh (637683) writes "Sites like Slashdot, reddit, and especially Cheezburger Network sites such as Fail Blog depend on crowdsourcing for most of their content. But what are the ethical considerations that need to be taken into account when accepting material from (sometimes anonymous) third parties? In particular, Fail Blog is vulnerable to being used for cyber bullying.
O'Reilly Radar asked Cheezburger Network CEO Ben Huh to talk about the guidelines they use when accepting material for Fail Blog, and how he views the future of crowdsourcing as a strategy for content generation. Frequent Fail Blog readers will be happy to hear that they do, in fact, make sure that no one is seriously injured in any of the videos they post, so you can enjoy your schadenfreude with a clear conscious." Link to Original Source top
Is the Maker Movement making it cool for kids to b
blackbearnh (637683) writes "For most adults into technology, childhood was a alienating experience, pigeon-holed as a nerd and relegated to the A/V, Computer or Gaming club in high school. But according to a Christian Science Monitor article that looks at young Makers, the next generation of tech geeks are social and gaining increasing support for corporate America. Radio Shack is stocking Arduinos, Autodesk bought Instructables, and teens are flocking to local Hackerspaces to learn how to create their own gear. WIRED Geek Dad David Giancaspro, thinks that people's need to create with their own hands is responsible. "As we've moved further and further away from that, towards what people call 'knowledge work,' as opposed to producing something physical, that urge is starting to come back," he says." Link to Original Source top
blackbearnh writes "After years of having the more extreme elements of the Free Software community imply that he and his kind are akin to war criminals for writing proprietary software, O'Reilly Radar commentator James Turner has had enough.
In an essay out today, Turner argues that FOSS has it's place in the software ecosystem, and that it naturally tends to dominate it. But, equally, there are places where FOSS makes no sense at all, and it's silly to demand that all software should be free. He's especially fed up with demands that he settle for less than the best software he can get, simply to support the FOSS movement unconditionally. TFA: "In many cases, proprietary software fills niches that FOSS software does not. If individual activists want to 'wear a hair shirt' and go without functionality in the name of FOSS, that's their decision. But I like linen, thank you."" Link to Original Source top
blackbearnh (637683) writes "We all know by now that Test Driven Development is a best practice. And so is having 100% of your code reviewed. And 70% unit test coverage. And keeping your CCN complexity numbers below 20. And doing pre-sprint grooming of stories. And a hundred other industry 'best practices' that in isolation seem like a great idea. But at the end of the day, how much time does it leave for developers to be innovative and creative?
A piece on O'Reilly Radar is arguing that excessive process in software development is sucking the life out of passionate developers, all in the name of making sure that 'good code' gets written. TFA:"The underlying feedback loop making this progressively worse is that passionate programmers write great code, but process kills passion. Disaffected programmers write poor code, and poor code makes management add more process in an attempt to 'make' their programmers write good code. That just makes morale worse, and so on."" Link to Original Source top
Is Apple Playing Favorites With Their App Store Po
blackbearnh (637683) writes "Recently, Apple improved the transparency of their iOS review criteria by publishing a list of no-nos. This was an attempt to deflect criticism that they employed arbitrary standards when determining which applications to be allowed into the store. But it may turn out to be a double-edged sword, because it is now much easier to spot examples of applications that appear to break the rules. As an Christian Science Monitor story points out, the new "Atari's Greatest Hits" app seems to fall squarely into that category, by allowing the application to download code." Link to Original Source top
blackbearnh (637683) writes "The Wii is a great gaming platform, but it suffers from a range issue with the sensor bar. Specifically, it's really short. As more and more games for the Wii are sit and shoot, rather than stand and twist, being able to use your Wii from a couch across the room is becoming a useful thing, not to mention trying to use a Wii with Netflix. My son and I have decided to fix the problem of the wimpy sensor bar, and have launched a Kickstarter project to produce a really high-powered sensor bar replacement.
The MegaBar has not one, not two, but 9 IR emitters on each 'end' of the bar, and is visible from 10' away on the lowest Wiimote setting. If we can get 100 like-minded souls to come in on the project, the project will fund." Link to Original Source top
blackbearnh (637683) writes "In the developing world, the integration of medical records that we take for granted is a rare thing. But a project in Zambia is trying to improve healthcare in rural areas by keeping volunteer works in rural villages in contact with clinics and supervisors. A big component of making this work is the NoSQL database called CouchDB, because it provides reliable synching of medical records over slow and sometimes unreliable connections. In an interview over on O'Reilly Radar, one of the principal architects of the system talks about the project, and why CouchDB was such a good fit." Link to Original Source top
blackbearnh (637683) writes "O'Reilly usually is where you go to learn about APIs, but now they're turning the tables by opening up their data and asking third parties to create interesting APIs to access it. They're using the FluidInfo writable API technology, and the person who creates the best API will win a free trip to OSCON, including hotel and airfare. Runners-up can win iPads (or a Xoom) and books" Link to Original Source top
blackbearnh (637683) writes "Search engines have gotten pretty good at indexing the semi-static web, but new information sources such as Twitter and Facebook are starting to change the game. How do you find the meaningful tweets about protests in Egypt, when they're being drowned out by a thousand times as many retweets, not to mention stuff about Justin Bieber.
Social Media guru Charlene Li thinks that finding search value in 140 character tweets requires an entirely new approach to ranking the value of information, and in a new interview, she talks about why PageRank doesn't work for this kind of real-time information, as well as how the increasing searchability of social media is changing how people use it. "With PageRank, the more links that came into a piece of content the more meaningful and important it was. That works in a static web, and it tends to lean toward things that have better longevity. When things are coming in real-time, how do you determine whether content is important or relevant to a particular search query? How do you understand the social signal and all of the metadata that surrounds it? There's very little metadata associated with a 140-character tweet."" Link to Original Source top
blackbearnh (637683) writes "An article over on O'Reilly Radar makes the argument that, just as inexpensive or free software development environments has led to a cornucopia of amazing web and mobile applications, the plummeting cost of 3D fabrication equipment could usher in myriad new physical inventions. The article was prompted by a new Kickstarter project, which if funded, will attempt to produce a DIY CNC milling system for under $400. TFA: "We're already seeing the cool things that people have started doing with 3D fab at the higher-entry-level cost. Many of them are ending up on Kickstarter themselves, such as an iPhone 4 camera mount that was first prototyped using a 3D printer. Now I'm dying to see what we'll get when anyone can create the ideas stuck in their heads."" Link to Original Source top
blackbearnh (637683) writes "There's been a lot of noise recently about which mobile devices will support what development environments, and whether the iPhone's lockout of Flash hurts Apple more, or Adobe. But Jim Balsillie, co-CEO of Research in Motion (you know, the Blackberry guys...) is betting the house that HTML5 and the mobile web is really where the future lies. In an interview promoting the Web 2.0 Summit, Balsillie talks about RIM's new emphasis on the web, what the reemergence of Microsoft in the mobile market might mean, and if cell phones and tablets need to converge. "You start asking the question: If you're carrying around a tablet, how much performance do you want in the smartphone? Because you want to do a certain set of tasks really well, but you don't want the smartphone to be a proxy for a tablet-type job because now you've got the tablet. The interplay is uncertain."" Link to Original Source top
blackbearnh (637683) writes "Anyone who's ever seen a LARP (Live Action Role Playing) run at a science fiction convention know that you can take the real world and add a game on top of it. Kevin Slavin has been doing the same thing, but one a much bigger scale. He has spent the last decade designing "big games", games that are played out over entire cities using the existing landscape as part of the story. In an interview running today, he talks about the attraction of big games, why seemingly 'mindless' games like FarmVille have value, and why virtual realities like Second Life are going about it wrong. "One thing that Second Life and the movement toward augmented reality have in common is that they both believe the pleasure of a game and the meaning of a game and the experience of a game rest primarily in the optics. But I think that there's a fundamental misunderstanding about what makes games fun. Chess wouldn't be more fun if you had perfectly rendered kings and actual castles. I think one of the best examples of this is Tamagotchi. The creature itself was maybe eight pixels by eight pixels and black and white. What made it feel real wasn't that it looked real; it was that it acted real. It could articulate demands upon you that your eye itself couldn't do. In Tamagotchi versus Second Life, I'll go with Tamagotchi."" Link to Original Source