farrellj (563) writes "Dovden Investments, labelled as a Patent Troll by many, got more than they bargained for when they went after Ottawa developer Larry Dunkelman. Mr. Dunkelman wrote BusBuddy, an app that takes GPS and scheduling data from OC Transpo, the local city bus service, and predicts when the bus you are waiting for will actually arrive. But when Dovden came along and asked for $10,000, as a "licensing" fee, Dunkelman got angry, and decided to fight. He hired an ace intellectual property and started chipping away at the company's claims...very successfully! And it went so good that Dovden has discontinued the suit, probably for fear of having a precedent established against them, and are now being chased by Dunkelman and his lawyer for legal costs. But Dovden has worse problems...the Canadian Urban Transit Association, representing transit agencies national wide, has filed suit to have Dovden's patents declared invalid!" Link to Original Source top
Prof crowdfunds the creation of a free college textbook
farrellj (563) writes "College professor Dr. Brendan Myers is crowdfunding the creation of a free textbook on critical thinking for the class he teaches. He is not impressed with the cost of college textbooks.
“Two years ago, a few students in my class told me they didn’t buy the textbook for my critical thinking class,” said Brendan Myers, a philosophy professor at Gatineau’s Heritage College CEGEP, “because they had to choose between the book and eating that month.”
His Kickstarter campaign has been remarkably successful so far, who would have thought such a text would be so popular! There is a huge potential for this type of initiative in creating free text books by crowdfunding their initial production. The academic textbook market is a closed one, and attempts like this and others discussed here on Slashdot can dramatically reduce the high cost of college texts." Link to Original Source top
farrellj writes "The headline ITFA is grossly misleading. One would think it was from The Onion or the National Inquirer...but it's from a supposedly reputable news source Ars Technica. You be the judge, and if you don't like it, please complain to the editors at Ars Technica:
farrellj writes "A recent decision in the Ontario Appeals court has ruled in favour of Tucows, saying that domain names are considered property, rather than being a license. This has major ramifications for a people both inside and outside Canada, doubly so since Tucows is a major domain registrar. This ruling comes from a very high court, which means that any appeal must go to the Supreme Court of Canada. So there is a good chance this ruling will stand." Link to Original Source top
Did France test a missile off the coast of Canada?
farrellj (563) writes "According to reports from the south coast of the island of Newfoundland, it looks like missiles were fired from the vicinity of French islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon which are just 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) off the Canadian coast. This would not be the first time this has happened. Two years ago, France tested missiles off the coast of Canada without getting permission from Canada before hand. This could be another case of that. The Prime Minister's Office is claiming that they were just model rockets by lauched by amateur rocketry enthusiasts. I may not be one, but I knew some, and I am sure that minus 15 degree Celsius with windy conditions are *not* suitable launching conditions for even the most hardy amateur rocketry fans!" Link to Original Source top
farrellj (563) writes "As mentioned before here on Slashdot, the London Stock Exchange (LSE) has been looking to replace it's Windows/.Net based trading system for a while now. What wasn't expected was that not only would they turn to Linux to replace it, but would actually *buy* a company and bring development in-house, rather than outsourcing! The company that the LSE has bought is a Sri Lankan developer MillenniumIT, which has developed a trading system based upon Linux and Solaris. Among the many benefits of the new system that comes from using Linux is an order of magnitude increase in trading speed from 2.7 milliseconds using Windows/.Net to 0.4 milliseconds using Linux-based system. Enjoy all of the details from the Fine Article here." Link to Original Source top
farrellj writes "Record company EMI has been notifying all of the non-Mega-Chain music stores that it wholesales to that they will no longer be able to buy EMI CDs from EMI, and will have to buy product from Mega-Chains like Walmart according to reports at Zero Paid among others. This means that if you wanted to a CD from an EMI artist you will have to go to Walmart or HMV...or if you non-Mega-Chain store has it, it will be because *they* bought it at Walmart, and paid retail prices...so it will cost that much more to buy at your local store.
Independent Record store customers are some of the most loyal music buyers around. You are not going to find the back catalog, what used to be the staple of the music business, at your local Walmart, but you probably will at your local Independent Record store. EMI's move will now mean that unless the music you want is new, or a classic album, and on the EMI label, you won't be able to find it anywhere. That will give a lot of people the justification to hit the P2P networks for EMI music that they can't get any more through legal channels. As well, it will discourage new artists from signing with EMI, since they will not get the full distribution they want.
One wonders when the Music Business is going to run out of feet to shoot?" top
farrellj (563) writes "Since last night, I have not be able to connect to Palm's website, http://palm.com/ from Canada since around 11 pm Eastern last night (Jan 22). Am I the only person with this problem? I've tried both through my home system (Teksavvy DSL) and the system at work, which is backboned into the US, and neither will bring up http://palm.com/ I've tried both Firefox and IE. Does Palm.com hate me, or is this a more general problem." top
farrellj writes "Well, after closing it's Edmonton, Alberta call center last year, Dell announced today it will also close it's Ottawa, Ontario call center. Five hundred techs were layed off immediately, and the remainder will be let go by mid-summer. This comes after building a new Ottawa facility adjacent to the existing building and promises of hiring 1,500 last year. It all unraveled toward the end of 2007 with the decision to close the Edmonton facility, and then the cancellation of the Ottawa expansion. CBC has coverage here, and the Globe & Mail here." top
farrellj writes "The NY Times has a photo of the space shuttle Atlantis here which seems to show a Star Wars T.I.E. Fighter behind the shuttle. You can see it in the picture just above the right OMS pod. Has the Empire found our planet?!?!?"
There is a nasty piece of malware going around that has caused a number of people I know to have their Windows machines to crash and I am tired of people complaining about Windows virus/malware infections...
So let me put it mildly....Surfing the net using the Windows operating system is like having sex with multiple partners that you pick up on the street and you don't use a condom, or if you do, it always has a hole or two in it. And you do this for multiple hours of ever day.
That is surfing with Windows. Even when you use an anti-virus or anti-malware program, there are *NO* anti-virus or anti-malware programs that will stop them all. And what's more...people don't blame Windows on being insecure, they blame it on the virus and malware writers!
Or, to put it another way, it is sort of like complaining that buglers and thieves are breaking into your home, yet the only thing barring them from entering you home is turning a door knob because you have no locks or alarm systems installed. That is using Windows to surf the net.
So *PLEASE* start putting pressure Microsoft to secure their operating system, or switch to something more secure, like Mac OS, or Linux. And before you give me that BS that Linux doesn't get as many infections as Windows because it is less popular...think about this...Facebook runs on Linux, Google runs on Linux, Akamai runs on Linux, 98% of the to 500 fastest computers in the World run Linux. The fastest selling phone operating system, Android, is a version of Linux. There are easily as many Linux system out there as there are Windows system, and I am willing to bet there are actually *more* Linux system than Windows systems.
I've always been a big fan of Slackware, although I have used most of the popular Linux Distros out there, Red Hat, Debian, Ubuntu, SuSE...but I keep on coming back to Slackware. It's just a good, solid Distro. But recently, there has been a new Distro based upon Slackware. It's called Salix. Its relationship to Slackware is like Ubuntu's relationship to Debian...that is, they take the basic base distro, and dramatically enhance it for desktop use. Now I know a think or two about taking a distro and modifying it...having created MfxLinux, a Slackware based distro which was Desktop oriented. So I know how much work goes into building a distro.
Salix does a lot of the things that I would normally do with a fresh Slackware install...and much more! A fresh install gives you all of the multi-media tools you need to use it as a desktop oriented version of Linux. As Slackware is very fast, Salix does very well as a desktop operating system.
But there is one thing that it adds that really takes it head-and-shoulders above other desktop distros based upon Slackware...even mine. They have added a package management tool called Slapt-get. It is based upon the Apt-get tool that Debian has, but it uses Slackware customised tarball as a container. It uses a separate directory on the Repository site to store the dependencies. They also bundle in GSlapt, which is a graphical front end for Slapt-get.
These tools make it very easy to keep your system updated...or do, as I am doing as I write this...step onto the bleeding edge!
There are many reasons why I am doing what I am doing, but the simplest is that it is a challenge...
I am using the "Dist-upgrade" option, to upgrade my version of Salix from version 13.1, to "current". Now if you know how Slackware works, you will know that the "current" version of Slackware is the one that all of the development is happening on. It changes...fast...sometimes two or three times a day. So that means, I am testing the bleeding edge of Salix, and Slackware.
This should be fun!
I know, for some of you, this is not your idea of fun....but it is for me, so don't gripe!:-)
Today, I experience what is becoming a frequent phenomenon....I will read about some excellent website to get something, in this case, Chris Anderson's New Book "Free", and I find that I can't access it. Why, because I live in Canada. Now before you get all puffed up saying "American content is for Americans"...let me tell you that I am *an* American. I've got the US Passport to prove it! As an American accessing American content, I am being denied access, simply because of my geographical location. Similarly, I try and access The Colbert Report...same thing, and I am told I have to try and access it from the CTV Broadband site, which barfs on Firefox running on Linux. So again, I am an American denied access to an American show simply because of my location, (and then a crappy website).
Now up in Canada, many people call all Americans Yankees, and going "down South" usually means going to Florida. I could access these sites using various proxy server based solutions, but that's not the point. If the US wants to be the Champion of Freedom, that should mean all freedoms, not just the ones it wants to impose upon other countries for US market's interest, or some political ideologue's. One of the US's best ways to spread freedom is through the internet, and if American Culture is the heart of that Freedom, the world is being slowly but surely cut off from that heart. And the result is laws like what Canada has, called CAN-CON.
CAN-CON is a concept that was created to promote Canadian arts in Canada. It forced TV and Radio to have a certain percentage of their broadcasts consist of Canadian produced shows and music. This has had a hugely beneficial effect for Canadian music. But a great deal of it is only heard in Canada. Now many people know some of the great Canadian acts that arose before CAN-CON came into place, bands and artists like Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, The Band, The Guess Who (listen closely to the word of "American Woman"!) and Rush. Some of the acts that have come up since CAN-CON are Feist, Sarah McLachlan, Alannah Myles, Jeff Healy, D.O.A., Voivod, I Mother Earth, Nickleback, Avril Lavigne, Sam Roberts, Nelly Furtado, Dream Warriors, Skinny Puppy, Front Line Assembly (FLA), and k-os, to name some of the top selling Canadian acts.
Now, Imagine that those acts had not been able to get across the border because of a lack of freedom of Canadian Music going across into the US. Of course, some Americans would be happy, as it would mean no Celine Dion or Bryan Adams...but there are always exceptions.:-)
Information, which is what all media is today, wants to be free. If Comedy Central really wanted to find out how many people on the internet liked show like The Colbert Report, they would allow any country to watch the show on their website...but now, they only have the US demographics...and everyone else in the World downloads the show on P2P networks. If they watch it on CTV Broadband, it is usually when they are at work, and bored.
Maybe the answer is in Chris Anderson's "Free"...I'll never know because the site it's available for previewing at a site blocks Canadian IP address.
Buffalo Technology has alwasy been Linux Friendly...but today I ran across a nice little bit of tech from them that really blows me away. A TeraByte in a Box. Basically, it is a box that has four 250Gig drives in it, and probably a small Linux computer. It supports all sorts of snazzy protocols to attach this array to your system.
About 8 years ago, I built a three quarters of a terabyte array using Linux's software RAID, 4 SCSI controllers and lots of Seagate Cheeta drives. The fact that I can now get a full terabyte that will sit on my desktop is just astounding!
Any Canadian who knows anything about our Aerospace industry will have heard about the Arrow, which in 1958 had it's first flight, but all too soon the project was shut down, some say due to cost, others due to pressure from the US since it would litterally blow the doors off anything anyone else in the world had. Don't believe me? Well, it had a top speed rating of Mach 1.98 (Maybe more, but it was never tested beyond that). Anyways, here are some specs:
It would have comparable to the F-15, but flying a full 15 years before the first flight of the F-15! True, the F-15 would outperform it, but not by much.
The Arrow was also unique because it was the first fly-by-wire aircraft with force-feedback controls using digital computers to control the avionics and fire-control. Remember, this was in 1958.
One of the big bugaboos around the cancelation of the Arrow program was that all of the prototypes were destroyed, as were all of the plans...or so they thought. It seems that a woman in New Brunswick has a some of the blueprints. You can read about it at CTV.COM.
After the cancellation of the project, many of the prime engineers went to work for NASA, where they made a huge contribution to the Gemini and Apollo programs...including the designers of the Gemini space craft, and the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM). Men landed on the moon because of the work of Canadians who worked on the Avro Arrow.
If you are interested in more information about the Avro Arrow, just do we google search, you will turn up lots of info!
Well, the latest attempt at converting Asimov's Robot stories to the screen has just been released, and it should be intersting...It will be judged against the Robin Williams' vehicle "Bicentenial Man", based upon a later Robot story. One might say that the new movie is a Will Smith vehicle as well. The fact that these stories can attract such star power is a tribute to their power. The fact that they end up having so little to do with the stories they are based upon says a lot about Hollywood.
Realistically, one should probably view this movie as a new piece of fiction based in the Robot universe...I wonder if they will ever explore the juntion of the Robot universe with the Foundation universe...
There is an excellent article discussing the new movie on the New York Times web site...registration required...you can read it here
It seems that over the past year has had their computers and networks compromised repeatedly. Now, that is not as bad as it sounds...no security is perfect, and that is why you also have to build security in depth, with Intrusion Detection Systems, and proceedures to minimise the damage when a cracker gets in. But...we don't know how much damage was done, and if ultra secure systems were compromised. Here is what part of the report says:
"They also logged five cases of "unauthorized limited access" and 35 instances of "malicious logic" -- the attempted introduction of viruses, worms or other unwanted programs into a computer system.
There were 110 cases of "poor security practice" on the part of employees, by far the most common problem last year. Of these, the majority involved concerns about the security of e-mail transmissions.
Others stemmed from use of Internet Relay Chat messaging and the popular KaZaa file-sharing service, inappropriate storage of materials, and unauthorized Web postings. Another case involved improper access to a network."
Actually, every Government on this planet lies. Comes with the territory. But what we are asking now is did the Governement lie when it said that it couldn't fufil a Freedom of Information Act request? You may have remembered a story here on Slashdot.org. But take a look at this story from NewsForge questioning if the systes are *really* that unstable, or if it is just an excuse not to give out that information. I expect this to go to the courts soon...
Well, according to this Wired article, John Kerry's site is using Red Hat Linux, and Apache. Bush, on the other hand is using Microsoft IIS 5.0. I don't know about you, but I don't trust places that use IIS, and you shouldn't either, especially if you use Internet Explorer, as outside parties can crack the IIS site, and add code that will allow them to compromise any IE user who connects an infected IIS server.
Of course, this shows that the Bush people don't have much of a clue about security, both online, and in the Big Blue Room. We really need to get Bush out of there!
Well, they have offically done it, and no, not giving Iraq their sovereignty back, although that did happen...but Real Networks has announced that popular distros will now have offical support from Real Networks! You can read about it on NY Times website, free registration required, of course...here's the link
One of the big problems with current space launch systems is the volatility of the fuels. They may be exotic chemicals, or simply kerosene and liquid Oxygen, they tend to blow up at the slightest provocation. Since there are huge amounts needed to put payloads into space, this means that launches need to have a huge safety perimeter around the lauch sites.
One of the innovations of Rutan's Spaceship is the use of what is known as a hybrid fuel that conists of basically rubber and nitrious oxide. Both are easy to obtain, don't need massive refriguration units to keep them liquid, and are pretty much know quantities in terms of their behaviour.Although the "bang for the buck" is not as good as many more exotic fuels, it makes up for it in terms of weight savings and reduced complexity. Both are important aspects to commercial space flight.
Well, it used to be that the closest Science Fiction had to a museum was Forrest J. Ackerman's house. It was chock full of books, posters, models and other "stuff" pertaining to SF and Fantasy...but now, Paul Allen has taken part of his "Experience the Music" complex and turned it into a SF Museum. New York Times has an article here, the usual blahblahblah about registration.
In reading the article, I fear it may be mostly a media oriented museum...and I guess in today's culture it can't be helped...but I certainly hope that the place has a good selection of stuff from Books, and maybe, SF Fandom. Without Fandom, SF probably would have died a long time ago.
Currently, CNN has an article on DDR up on it's website. It focuses on the health benefits of playing DDR. Some people play it just for fun. Still a good way exercize, unless you have fscked up knees like I do.