Slashdot's Glorious 15th Anniversary (link to bad fireworks video) is coming up in October, so Jeff 'Soulskill' Boehm and Rob 'samzenpus' Rozeboom decided to have a chat with Rob Malda. Back in 1997 Rob founded a website named Chips & Dips that later morphed into something called Slashdot, which has been (as the saying goes) "often imitated but never duplicated." Since leaving Slashdot, Rob has been doing this, that, and the other, but we'll let him tell you what he's doing in his own words. Note: This is an audio interview with some semi-interesting photos laid over it as a slide show, so you might want to listen to it rather than watch it. Parts Two and Three of the interview will be along in the next few days.
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
hypnosec writes "Researchers have managed to generate ultra-large high resolution electron microscopic maps of cells by developing new tools that can combine thousands of images taken from an electron microscope thus enabling them to view a cell in its entirety. Use of electron microscopes reveals intricate structures of cells, but with a limitation that only a tiny portion of the cell is captured, which misses the bigger picture. If low-res images are captured to view a greater part of the biological structure, intricate details are missed. A team of scientists over at Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands has come up with a technique called 'virtual nanoscopy' that enabled them to ultrastructurally map regions of cells and tissue as large as 1 mm^2 at nanometer resolution."
david.emery writes "In a document from the ongoing Samsung/Apple trial, provided in both English translation and Korean original, Samsung engineers provided a detailed comparison of user interface features in their phone against the iPhone. In almost all cases, the recommendation was to adopt the iPhone's approach. Among other observations, this shows how much work goes into defining the Apple iPhone user experience." Ars has an article on the evidence offered by Apple so far.
twoheadedboy writes "After being hit by a '72-hour' DDoS in May, WikiLeaks is claiming to be under attack yet again. All its sites appear to be down and fingers have already been pointed at government entities. WikiLeaks, posting on Twitter, said it had its suspicions of why it was being targeted. It was either because of its ongoing releases related to Stratfor and Syria, or because of an upcoming release, Julian Assange's organization speculated. The fact that everyone is currently engrossed in the Olympics may have given attackers good reason to target the websites right now, WikiLeaks said."
Hugh Pickens writes writes "In 2008, as The Washington Post wrote at the time, 'just hours before [Sen. John] McCain declared his veep choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, her Wiki page saw a flurry of activity, with editors adding details about Palin's approval rating and husband's employment. ... Palin's entry was updated at least 68 times, with at least an additional 54 changes made to her entry over the preceding five days.' The obvious — in hindsight — implications of the Wiki activity: Aides were going into the entries to tune them up and clean out any material that was either embarrassing or erroneous. Now Mark Memmott writes on NPR that today's Wikipedia activity may lend a clue to Mitt Romney's vice presidential pick, expected to be announced within a few days. So what's going on now with some of those said to be among the leading possibilities to be joining Mitt Romney on the Republican ticket? On August 7, Rob Portman's Wikipedia page was revised 100 times, the Wikipedia page for Marco Rubio was revised 22 times, and the page for Tim Pawlenty was revised only 5 times. Of course, Memmott adds, somebody who knows about the 2008 Wiki tea leaves may just be messing with our minds."
New submitter JG0LD writes "The team behind open-source media platform XBMC announced yesterday that it would be working with the developers of Ouya to make sure that XBMC works on the still-developing but widely hyped Android gaming console." From XBMC: "Regardless, we are delighted to announce that XBMC will be working with Ouya to ensure that XBMC works well on the Ouya platform. Ouya's Android underpinnings and XBMC's work on Android (soon to be merged into master, pending final sign-offs!) will dramatically speed up that effort, as will early XBMC dev access to Ouya prototypes."
From the H: "Allan Day has written a blog post on the concrete plans for 'GNOME OS' and provided background on the ideas that have motivated those plans ... Day starts by emphasizing that GNOME OS is not an attempt to replace existing distributions. Although the creation of a standalone GNOME OS is part of the plans, the idea is to make that a testing and development platform, and any improvements that come from GNOME OS should 'directly improve what the GNOME project is able to offer distributions.' Many of the drivers for GNOME OS are, Day says, old ideas to improve the development experience, such as automated testing and sandboxed applications, and while the developers could have separate initiatives for each feature, the idea is to work on them as a 'holistic plan' under the moniker 'GNOME OS.'" A few slides provide more context. In the works are stabilizing the platform APIs, improving deployment of applications, making everything automatically testable, and probably the most controversial: "The increasing popularity of mobile and touch devices represents a challenge to existing desktop solutions. This situation is complicated by the emergence of new hybrid devices that combine keyboards, touchpads and touchscreens. During our discussions last week we talked about how existing types of devices – primarily laptops and desktops – have to remain the primary focus for GNOME ... At the same time, we also want to ensure that GNOME remains compatible with new hardware. ... We have set the goal of having a touch-compatible GNOME 3 within a maximum of 18 months." The drive toward touch may seem obnoxious to desktop users, but spreading Free Software to a hardware ecosystem that is currently locked down and proprietary seems like a good goal to have.
theodp writes "It's not that Chunka Mui isn't impressed by the smarts of Instagram CEO and Forbes cover boy Kevin Systrom. Still, Mui can't help but ask, 'How Long Before Facebook Writes Off Its $1B Purchase of Instagram?' While pundits and analysts have almost universally praised Facebook's acquisition of Instagram, Mui is less-than-impressed by Instagram's 80 million unmonetized mobile users. 'My prediction,' writes Mui, 'is that we'll look back on the acquisition as a bust — much in the same way we now view News Corp.'s purchase of Myspace, AOL's purchase of Bebo, and Excite@Home's purchase of Blue Mountain Arts.' Ouch. Mui notes that according to a recent SEC filing, Facebook could ditch the deal by paying a $200 million fee if regulators block the merger or if Facebook terminates the agreement after Dec. 10, 2012."
Square, the start-up mobile payment service that aims to bring credit card transactions to anyone with a smartphone, has formed a partnership with Starbucks, a move that vastly increases Square's reach and visibility. According to the NY Times, "This fall, Square will begin processing all credit and debit card transactions at Starbucks stores in the United States and eventually customers will be able to order a grande vanilla latte and charge it to their credit cards simply by saying their names. Though smartphone payments have a long way to go before they replace wallets altogether, Starbucks’s adoption of Square will catapult the start-up’s technology onto street corners nationwide, and is the clearest sign yet that mobile payments could become mainstream. ... At first, Starbucks customers will need to show the merchant a bar code on their phones. But when Starbucks uses Square’s full GPS technology, the customer’s phone will automatically notify the store that the customer has entered, and the customer’s name and photo will pop up on the cashier’s screen. The customer will give the merchant his or her name, Starbucks will match the photo and the payment will be complete."
Billly Gates writes "Microsoft has confirmed that Internet Explorer 10 will have Do-Not-Track settings enabled by default. IE 10 comes with Windows 8, and will go release candidate for Windows 7 very soon, according to Anne Kohn in a comment in IE's blog. During Windows 8 setup, users who choose the 'Express' option will have DNT on by default, while using the 'Custom' option will give them the chance to change the setting, if they want. IE 10 already has a score of 319 in html5test.com, while MS is trying to position IE as a great browser again. Will this pressure other browsers such as Firefox and Opera to do the same?" When Microsoft began talking about this in May, it touched off quite a debate at W3C about whether browsers should have DNT turned on by default or not.
An anonymous reader writes with news that The Internet Archive has started seeding about 1,400,000 torrents. In addition to over a million books, the Archive is seeding thousands and thousands of films, music tracks, and live concerts. John Gilmore of the EFF said, "The Archive is helping people to understand that BitTorrent isn't just for ephemeral or dodgy items that disappear from view in a short time. BitTorrent is a great way to get and share large files that are permanently available from libraries like the Internet Archive." Brewster Kahle, founder of the Archive, told TorrentFreak, "I hope this is greeted by the BitTorrent community, as we are loving what they have built and are very glad we can populate the BitTorrent universe with library and archive materials. There is a great opportunity for symbiosis between the Libraries and Archives world and the BitTorrent communities."
An anonymous reader writes "The Khronos Group has released the specification for OpenGL 4.3 at the SIGGRAPH 2012 conference in Los Angeles. New functionality includes: compute shaders that harness GPU parallelism for advanced computation, shader storage buffers, improved debug message output, high quality ETC2 / EAC texture compression as a standard feature, memory security improvements, robustness improvements, texture parameter queries, and more." The Khronos Group also released the OpenGL for Embedded Systems 3.0 specification, which is backwards-compatible with version 2.0. The new specification includes enhancements to the rendering pipeline, "a new version of the GLSL ES shading language with full support for integer and 32-bit floating point operations," and improved texturing functionality, among other things.
Lucas123 writes "Over the past three years, about 21 million patients have had their unencrypted medical records exposed in data security breaches that were big enough to require they be reported to the federal government. Each of the 477 breaches that were reported to the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) involved 500 or more patients, which the government posts on what the industry calls 'The Wall of Shame.' About 55,000 other breach reports involving fewer than 500 records where also reported to the OCR. Among the largest breaches reported was TRICARE Management Activity, the Department of Defense's health care program, which reported 4.9 million records lost when backup tapes went missing. Another five breaches involved 1 million or more records each. Yet, only two of the organizations involved in the breaches have been fined by the federal government."
MrSeb writes "When solid-state drives first broke into the consumer market, there were those who predicted the new storage format would supplant hard drives in a matter of years thanks to radically improved performance. In reality, the shift from hard drives (HDDs) to SSDs has thus far been confined to the upper end of the PC market. For cost-conscious buyers and OEMs, the higher performance they offer is still too expensive and the total capacity is insufficient. SSD cache drives have emerged as a means of addressing this situation. They are small, typically containing between 20-60GB of NAND flash and are paired with a standard hard drive. Once installed, drivers monitor which applications and files are accessed most often, then cache those files on the SSD. It can take the software 1-2 runs to start caching data, but once this process is complete, future access and boot times are significantly enhanced. This article compares the effect of SSD cache solutions — Intel Smart Response Technology, and Nvelo Dataplex — on the performance of a VelociRaptor, and a slow WD Caviar drive. The results are surprisingly positive."