Ask Slashdot: What's the Most Often-Run Piece of Code -- Ever?
I'd say anything related to reading from a binary tree. This is used as part of a Huffman style decoding for MPEG/JPEG/ZIP/etc. Most media we consume today (DVD, MP3's, M4V's, HDTV, etc.) relies on this kind of logic.
The majority of US homes (75%) have an HDTV, DVD and one or more portable media devices. Most of these homes have at least 3 hrs of HDTV decoding per day, which given the current population might be 1.5 billion hours of decoding per day in the US. Factor in music and multiple TV's you might be closer to 3-5 billion hours per day.
PC Shipments In 2013 See the Worst Yearly Decline In History
It depends how you look at your PC. If it's an "appliance" (fridge, microwave, hot water heater, etc.) ask yourself when was the last time you made an impulse buy to replace one of those? We had to buy a new fridge a few years back when after 10+ years our old one stopped working - it was cheaper to replace it than try to fix it.
Of course, if you're a fridge enthusiast, you would take it apart and fix it yourself. Most people aren't.
Same thing with PC's - most people could care less, it's an appliance they use when they have to do certain things. As long as it doesn't stop working they'll just keep using it.
What Developers Can Learn From Healthcare.gov
I haven't seen this site work yet - every request is either "we have a lot of visitors" or "we are down". I figured by the end of the week things would get better but evidently that's not the case.
Honestly, at this rate, they would be smart to put this off for a year. Iron out whatever glitches they've got and go live for required coverage starting in 2015.
Google Asks Government For More Transparency, Other Groups Push Back Against NSA
I honestly don't even see where the news is here -- we have a national spy agency that is spying on people. That's why it exists. What did we think they would do?
Ubuntu Phone OS Unveiled
This seems to have gotten buried in the press release, but Canonical has already done some demos in this regard. Basically, when you get into the office you dock your quad-core cell phone and get a full Ubuntu desktop.
They have been shopping this with their Ubuntu for Android solution, but a full mobile OS might enable them to get a "superphone" to market faster. Too bad it's >1 year out...
Ask Slashdot: How Would You Fix the Linux Desktop?
Ditch X11 and start over. This should be something that is assumed to only run local and will have direct access to hardware. while compositing window managers take a step in this direction, jump in all the way.
While it is impressive that you can direct an application to use a remote display, even an underpowered PC can host a native GUI that runs locally and is accessed remotely via VNC or RDP.
Combine it with a standard UI widget toolkit that is constant and don't waver. Do not allow co-mingling of various widget technologies, the current state of X11 allows such a diverse assortment of UI toolkits (KDE / GTK / etc.) that you are destined to get apps that look and behave differently.
Users don't need to theme their desktop, it is usually more important to them that it looks and behaves the same on every computer it gets installed to. The last thing a user wants is to sit down in front of an app and find that it looks completely different.
Finally, build a killer visual IDE that is as easy to use as VB.NET and use this to construct all of the apps your new desktop. That should just about do it... It wouldn't hurt to OEM bundle it with a few large PC vendors.
Thoughts On the iPad Mini
What if you have a purse? It's a lot easier to get that into one of those than the current iPad tablet.
Microsoft Posts First Quarterly Loss Ever
I think this is an excellent observation, while it really won't hurt MS to go after the mobile phone market since Windows Mobile wasn't going anywhere - they are about to plunge into a new battle where they are going to sacrifice one of their cash-cows (Windows/Office) to compete with iOS and Android.
They should focus on the enterprise market, and find ways to compete on iOS/Android without writing another tablet OS.
Don't Forget: "Six Strikes" Starts This Weekend
I can't blame them for trying, but I'm not sure how durable any of this is going to be. Copyright holders are going to claim infringement at every opportunity, but it's all going to be contingent on the ability for the ISP to map an IP address back to a customer.
I'm envisioning this process to be a little less reliable than one might think. What if by early afternoon you have been switched to an infringers IP address? Are you now guilty of infringement assuming the other user infringed earlier the same day? Even worse. What if the infringers figure out they can arp flood the network and spoof other IP's on the same network? Now anyone connected to the same physical switch could be considered an "infringer" by virtue of their IP getting hijacked for downloading.
Ultimately it conflicts with the ISP's other intent - which is to ensure your IP address changes enough that you cannot easily host anything from your home. I'm thinking it's going to take a few years to shake out, but soon enough we will all be paying an Internet media tax to cover the losses that media companies are experiencing from illegal downloads. The real solution is much easier -- make it possible for us to purchase the media in the first place.
Google To Pay $0 To Oracle In Copyright Case
I'm a little confused on this one. There were quite a few articles outlining the original claims, including Groklaw, and exhibits showed source code had clearly been copied and pasted. In one example (PolicyNodeImpl.java), the private member variable names were the same!
Is this going to open the floodgates for the commercial software establishment to start copying & pasting open source code into their projects? This could really be a game changer for FOSS, commercial projects will start to copy this source code and GPL will be powerless to stop it. The legal arguments can simply point back to Google v Oracle and say that it's really not a problem to have a line-by-line source code match.
While I think Oracle was seeking an unreasonable amount in damages, it would have been better if Google had been forced to pay something to license these API's and to compensate for the source code they copied.
NewEgg: Installing Linux Breaks Laptop
People can't admit to themselves that they are risking their money by using non-aproved software with hardware they buy.
Interesting - so how do you in fact get "approval" to run software on your computer? I wonder where this control would stop, would you need to get OEM permission to install a text editor, word processor or graphics program?
The car analogy doesn't really work here, it's more like a VHS recorder where you can put in tape rentals, tapes that you've made from TV or tapes that you might borrow from a neighbor. Does Zenith need to give you permission every time you want to play a tape? That's ludicrous and it sets a dangerous precedent. You don't void your DVD player warrenty if you try to play a home made movie in it - do you?
It looks like Newegg ended up doing the right thing here ultimately, although I will say that for most PC hardware I've stopped shopping there as they generally don't have the best prices.
Ask Slashdot: Tips For Designing a Modern Web Application?
As far as database goes, if your requirements are fairly basic then you may want to look at Hibernate, this is going to give you an ORM that will eliminate a lot of standard CRUD work.
Microsoft Wins US Import Ban On Motorola's Android Devices
Agreed. It looks like something a grade school student could have written - not a multi-national corporation with billions of dollars in assets. Unfortunately, it's a criteria businesses use to measure the viability of a software company.
During the .com bubble, I was asked more than once to develop a description of a software system and/or methodology that could be submitted for a patent. Fortunately, I took the time to prove this work was not something entirely new and that these were designs I had already used at previous companies.
Investors are looking for protection. If they pour millions of dollars into something they don't want it to get "stolen". In the world of software, this kind of protection is unreasonable. The best you can do is protect yourself from someone copying your work exactly - which is a copyright -- otherwise its called competition.
Phony Web Certs Issued For Google, Yahoo, Skype
This kind of scheme makes perfect sense to me. Then individual companies would become their own certificate authority and could self-sign as needed. As a consumer, the only decision I need to make is if I trust the destination and after doing this once I shouldn't need to do it again. Of course, as a company I won't have to keep shelling out pointless cash to a CA that doesn't really do anything for me.
If my next visit to https://visa.com/ turns out to be a phishing site (don't bother following the link, it appears Visa's site is SSL challenged), then I'll likely get a prompt that says something like https://visa4scam.com/ has a certificate that you don't already trust - do you want to trust it? Smart browsers could say stuff like did you know that you already trust a certificate from visa.com and it has a different domain or IP address, and even indicate that this may not in fact really be Visa.
Honestly, I'm not sure the identity checks associated with EV really mean anything either. It's entirely for encryption purposes, and as a hacker unless I can hijack the actual domain there isn't much I can do with it.
Should Employees Buy Their Own Computers?
I've been at the other end of the Bob and Bill argument. What happens when Bob actually needs a new laptop (RAM to run a VM in this case) and the fastest laptop in the company has both insufficient memory (which cannot be upgraded) and a processor which is completely inappropriate for virtualization.
The catch here is the company has a spending freeze for the rest of the year and the customer wants it delivered in 3 months. The argument that Bill needs a new laptop as well goes out the window at his point, there isn't any money in the budget to do that.
So in this case Bob happened to have a personal laptop with the memory and processor needed for this work. Ironically, Bill's old laptop broken halfway through this project and he ended up with Bob's old laptop until after the project... at which point Bob had been issued an even older laptop and decided to just keep bringing his personal laptop to work until the company can afford to buy something appropriate for his software development work.
btw, this wasn't a startup or a mom & pop company. At the time they were nearly 1000 employees with 10 offices -- and while today they are a very different company it shows that there is plenty of gray area on this topic. I think companies that prohibit employees from bringing personal computer equipment to work are doing themselves a disservice, but on the flipside of that if employees were entirely responsible for a PC then that would be equally problematic.
Oracle Claims Google 'Directly Copied' Our Java Code
Microsoft is leading the way with frivolous IP lawsuits against Motorola and HTC, and potentially now Acer and Asustek. Apple has been busy too, they attacked HTC for stealing iPhone technology and Sanho for making replacement cables for your Mac. Meanwhile, Oracle appears to be looking for victims in the Java camp and is now leading the way with a suit against Google. Heck, even Paul Allen got into the fray with his lawsuit against just about everybody -- from Apple to YouTube.
I think more than anything, this is an artifact of a bad economy. Companies are looking for ways to make money in a climate where consumers still aren't buying things. You don't have to take my word for it, according to Google the volume of news articles referencing "lawsuit" has steadily been on the increase since around mid-2008.
Desktop Linux Is Dead
I've been seeing this trend in our local LUG as well, and while I certainly don't think desktop Linux is dead there are a good percentage of users who are considering a Mac at the same time they look at new Linux alternatives.
Honestly, RedHat did a disservice with Fedora, not only did they leave corporate users in the lurch but they also ballooned the OS in the process -- which was frustrating. I think Ubuntu has been doing great things to commercialize the desktop Linux market but they have taken a UI approach that is alienating for many users. The added quandary of ubuntu-restricted-extras tends to confuse newbies, it's just not something they are use to...
I think Apple is going to continue to cannibalize the PC market by taking away sales for Linux/Solaris workstations, and of course every so often a Windows PC will get poached. Linux definitely has demonstrated how capable it is in a server environment and I don't think it will be going away anytime soon, getting to the desktop is going to require a PC vendor who is able (willing) to sell it.
Microsoft Unveils Windows Phone 7 Lineup
I think the development tools are going to help win or lose this platform. For anyone who has developed on the competition (particularly BlackBerry and iPhone) you'll know that there is plenty of room in this regard. If MS can improve the state of the art as it relates to mobile app development, then they may just be able to carve a slice out of the mobile device market.
With that said, they have an uphill battle since since the entrenched mobile market has such a strong majority (BlackBerry / iPhone / Android) and at least two of these vendors have a compelling app marketplace. I've played with a few of the Phone 7 devices and I think the UI might need some work, but this is something that can be improved on. Assuming the development environment has a flexible and robust separation to the presentation tier, this should be rather seamless.
Java's Backup Plan If Oracle Fumbles
Give Sun's Java a different name and abandon it. Start promoting the new Oracle Java (closed source) as Java(TM), maybe using the pre-existing Oracle Java together with JRocket as the basis for a new Java engine. Charge a modest licensing fee for the developer engine and then wait for corporate clients to start lining up.
Honestly, I can't think of any large production Java shop that would just "wing it" with the open source Java "clone" -- they would want the commercially supported version.
With that said, there is one sticking point -- the JCP. Oracle is already in talks to "streamline" the JCP methodologies, they would have to play this card very carefully if they really wanted a change like this to stick. Otherwise, you're right - a free fork would take over and the JCP would adopt that Java sans Oracle but with a different name...
Java's Backup Plan If Oracle Fumbles
What about the prospect of having to pay for Oracle Java? The client would continue to be free (JRE) but if you want to compile code it will cost you. How would Java fair if there was a $100 developers license?
Certainly the open source Java compilers would gain a significant foothold, but with Oracle steering the JCP it seems likely they would eventually corner the market...