An anonymous reader writes "I'm one of the original founders of an open source company which offers a popular open source product (millions of downloads) targeted primarily to small businesses. We have been doing this for 10 years now and we fund the development of the open source product with the usual paid support services, custom development and addons, but over the last few years, we've noticed a troubling trend. Companies that have downloaded our product from one of the many free download sites have a question they want answered, so they call our support line. Once we politely explain the situation and that telephone support has a reasonable fee associated with it, more and more of them are becoming seriously irate, to the point of yelling, accusing us of fraud and/or scamming them. For some reason, they think a free product should have free telephone support as well, and if we don't offer free telephone support then it's not really a free product. These same people are then resorting to social media in an attempt to 'spread the word' with the same false accusations, which is starting to take its toll on our reviews, ratings, and in turn our bottom line. Does the Slashdot community have any suggestions on how we can reverse this trend? How do other open source companies handle similar situations?"
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kfogel writes "Two thumbs up, and maybe a tentacle too, on Version Control with Git, 2nd Edition by Jon Loeliger and Matthew McCullough. If you are a working programmer who wants to learn more about Git, particularly a programmer familiar with a Unix-based development environment, then this is the book for you, hands down (tentacles down too, please)." Read below for the rest of Karl's review.
sturgeon writes "A report out this morning pegs Amazon with a whopping 14% share of all daily Internet users — almost twice the nearest competitor (Ebay). And this number does not include all shopping sites absorbed by the growing Amazon empire. The original report has interesting graphics comparing Amazon to other retailers like Best Buy."
In addition to founding Canonical Ltd., the Ubuntu Foundation, and funding the Freedom Toaster, Mark Shuttleworth is a space enthusiast. In April 2002 Mark became the second self-funded space tourist and the first African in space. He spent eight days participating in experiments on the International Space Station as part of his $20 million trip. Now he's ready to answer your questions. Ask him anything you like, but please limit yourself to one question per post.
Nerval's Lobster writes "This is the story of the comparison that just wasn't meant to be. It's a story of everything that can go wrong in the customer end of the software world, and some thoughts on what needs to be done, especially in an area known as Installers. I'm a software engineer with 25 years of experience, and for years I've wanted to point out some of the shortcomings of my own industry to help make it better for everyone involved—not only for the end-users, but also for the IT people who have to support the products; the salespeople who have to sell and later, possibly, apologize for the software; for the executives whose hands are tied because they don't have the technical knowledge to roll up their sleeves and help fix problems in the code; and for the programmers themselves who might get stuck with what some consider the absolute worst position for a programmer: maintenance of crappy code written by programmers who have long since left the organization."
destinyland writes "O'Reilly and Associates just announced that they're offering a 50% discount on every ebook they publish for Cyber Monday. Use the code CYBERDAY when checking out to claim the discount (which expires at midnight). Amazon has also discounted their Kindle Fire tablets to just $129. Due to a production snafu, they've already sold out of the new Kindle Paperwhite, and won't be able to ship any more until December 21"
Barence writes "When it comes to programming, the classroom is moving online. A new wave of start-ups has burst onto the scene over the last year, bringing interactive lessons and gamification techniques to the subject to make coding trendy again. From Codecademy — and its incredibly successful Code Year initiative — to Khan Academy, Code School and Udacity, online learning is now sophisticated and high-tech — but is it good enough to replace the classroom? 'We are the first five or six chapters in a book,' says Code School's Gregg Pollack in this exploration of online code classes, but with the number of sites and lessons growing by the week that might not be the case for long."
Hugh Pickens writes "Salvatore Iaconesi, a software engineer at La Sapienza University of Rome, writes that when he was recently diagnosed with brain cancer, his first idea was to seek other opinions. He immediately asked for his clinical records in digital format, converted the data into spreadsheets, databases, and metadata files, and published them on the web site called The Cure. 'The responses have been incredible. More than 200,000 people have visited the site and many have provided videos, poems, medical opinions, suggestions of alternative cures or lifestyles, personal stories of success or, sadly, failures — and simply the statement, "I am here." Among them were more than 90 doctors and researchers who offered information and support.' The geneticist and TED fellow Jimmy Lin has offered to sequence the genome of Iaconesi's tumor after surgery, and within one day Iaconesi heard from two different doctors who recommended similar kinds of 'awake surgery,' where the brain is monitored in real time as different parts are touched. A brain map is produced and used during a second surgery. 'We are creating a cure by uniting the contributions of surgeons, homeopaths, oncologists, Chinese doctors, nutritionists and spiritual healers. The active participation of everyone involved — both experts and ex-patients — is naturally filtering out any damaging suggestion which might be proposed,' writes Iaconesi. 'Send us videos, poems, images, audio or text that you see as relevant to a scenario in which art and creativity can help form a complete and ongoing cure. Or tell us, "I am here!" — alive and connected, ready to support a fellow human being.'"
The tough economic times have had a huge effect on scientific research and development funding. The looming "fiscal cliff" may be the last straw for many programs. "The American science programs that landed the first man on the moon, found cures for deadly diseases and bred crops that feed the world now face the possibility of becoming relics in the story of human progress. American scientific research and development stands to lose thousands of jobs and face a starvation diet of reduced funding if politicians fail to compromise and halt the United States' march towards the fiscal cliff's sequestration of federal funds."
If the thought of a robot apocalypse is keeping you up at night, you can relax. Scientists at Cambridge University are studying the potential problem. From the article: "A center for 'terminator studies,' where leading academics will study the threat that robots pose to humanity, is set to open at Cambridge University. Its purpose will be to study the four greatest threats to the human species - artificial intelligence, climate change, nuclear war and rogue biotechnology."
First time accepted submitter ASDFnz writes "The reward for successfully completing a block (also called mining) is about to halve from 50 bitcoins to 25. From the article: 'Bitcoin is built so that this reward is halved every 210,000 blocks solved. The idea is as bitcoin grows the transaction fees become the main part of the reward and the introduction of new bitcoins slows down to a trickle. This also means that there will only ever be 21,000,000 bitcoins in circulation.' You can watch the countdown here."
A study has found that a decreased pH level in the antarctic is damaging the shells of native wildlife. "Marine snails in seas around Antarctica are being affected by ocean acidification, scientists have found. An international team of researchers found that the snails' shells are being corroded. Experts says the findings are significant for predicting the future impact of ocean acidification on marine life. The results of the study are published in the journal Nature Geoscience (abstract). The marine snails, called "pteropods", are an important link in the oceanic food chain as well as a good indicator of ecosystem health. 'They are a major grazer of phytoplankton and... a key prey item of a number of higher predators - larger plankton, fish, seabirds, whales,' said Dr Geraint Tarling, Head of Ocean Ecosystems at the British Antarctic Survey and co-author of the report."
An anonymous reader writes "We've heard this one before, over and over again: pirates are the biggest spenders. It therefore shouldn't surprise too many people to learn that shutting down Megaupload earlier this year had a negative effect on box office revenues. The latest finding comes from a paper titled: 'Piracy and Movie Revenues: Evidence from Megaupload.'"
An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from The Hill: "The past week's violence in Gaza has rekindled calls for Twitter to shutter the accounts of U.S.-labeled terror groups such as Hamas. Seven House Republicans asked the FBI in September to demand that Twitter take down the accounts of U.S.-designated terrorist groups, such as Hamas, Hezbollah and Somalia's al Shabaab. The letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller was spearheaded by Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas), who said Wednesday that the recent events vindicated the request. 'Allowing foreign terrorist organizations like Hamas to operate on Twitter is enabling the enemy,' [Poe said] 'Failure to block access arms them with the ability to freely spread their violent propaganda and mobilize in their War on Israel.'"
An anonymous reader writes "The amusing 'but does it run Crysis?' question has a cousin: 'but does it run Minecraft?' The makers of Raspberry Pi can now officially say that yes, yes it does. Called Minecraft: Pi Edition, the latest flavor of the popular game carries 'a revised feature set' and 'support for several programming languages,' so you can code directly into Minecraft before or after you start playing. That means you can build structures in the traditional Minecraft way, but you can also break open the code and use a programming language to manipulate things in the game world."