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Time Warner Cable Experiences Nationwide Internet Outage

Slashdot.org - Mër, 27/08/2014 - 3:26md
Wolfrider (856) writes Reports are coming in from multiple U.S. states that TWC is having a major Internet outage since early this morning. ... TWC's customer service reps are reportedly a bit overwhelmed by call volume at the moment, and no ETA yet. According to CNET, most locations should be more-or-less back online as of 7 a.m. EDT or so (my TWC connection came back around 7:30 a.m. EDT). TWC says it's maintenance gone wrong: In response to a query by CNET, Time Warner Cable issued this statement: "At 430am ET this morning during our routine network maintenance, an issue with our Internet backbone created disruption with our Internet and On Demand services. As of 6am ET services were largely restored as updates continue to bring all customers back online."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Statistics Losing Ground To CS, Losing Image Among Students

Slashdot.org - Mër, 27/08/2014 - 2:45md
theodp (442580) writes Unless some things change, UC Davis Prof. Norman Matloff worries that the Statistician could be added to the endangered species list. "The American Statistical Association (ASA) leadership, and many in Statistics academia," writes Matloff, "have been undergoing a period of angst the last few years, They worry that the field of Statistics is headed for a future of reduced national influence and importance, with the feeling that: [1] The field is to a large extent being usurped by other disciplines, notably Computer Science (CS). [2] Efforts to make the field attractive to students have largely been unsuccessful." Matloff, who has a foot in both the Statistics and CS camps, but says, "The problem is not that CS people are doing Statistics, but rather that they are doing it poorly. Generally the quality of CS work in Stat is weak. It is not a problem of quality of the researchers themselves; indeed, many of them are very highly talented. Instead, there are a number of systemic reasons for this, structural problems with the CS research 'business model'." So, can Statistics be made more attractive to students? "Here is something that actually can be fixed reasonably simply," suggests no-fan-of-TI-83-pocket-calculators-as-a-computational-vehicle Matloff. "If I had my druthers, I would simply ban AP Stat, and actually, I am one of those people who would do away with the entire AP program. Obviously, there are too many deeply entrenched interests for this to happen, but one thing that can be done for AP Stat is to switch its computational vehicle to R."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


Statistics Losing Ground To CS, Losing Image Among Students

Slashdot.org - Mër, 27/08/2014 - 2:45md
theodp (442580) writes Unless some things change, UC Davis Prof. Norman Matloff worries that the Statistician could be added to the endangered species list. "The American Statistical Association (ASA) leadership, and many in Statistics academia," writes Matloff, "have been undergoing a period of angst the last few years, They worry that the field of Statistics is headed for a future of reduced national influence and importance, with the feeling that: [1] The field is to a large extent being usurped by other disciplines, notably Computer Science (CS). [2] Efforts to make the field attractive to students have largely been unsuccessful." Matloff, who has a foot in both the Statistics and CS camps, but says, "The problem is not that CS people are doing Statistics, but rather that they are doing it poorly. Generally the quality of CS work in Stat is weak. It is not a problem of quality of the researchers themselves; indeed, many of them are very highly talented. Instead, there are a number of systemic reasons for this, structural problems with the CS research 'business model'." So, can Statistics be made more attractive to students? "Here is something that actually can be fixed reasonably simply," suggests no-fan-of-TI-83-pocket-calculators-as-a-computational-vehicle Matloff. "If I had my druthers, I would simply ban AP Stat, and actually, I am one of those people who would do away with the entire AP program. Obviously, there are too many deeply entrenched interests for this to happen, but one thing that can be done for AP Stat is to switch its computational vehicle to R."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Fermilab Begins Testing Holographic Universe Theory

Slashdot.org - Mër, 27/08/2014 - 2:03md
Back in 2009, researchers theorized that space could be a hologram. Four years ago, Fermilab proposed testing the theory, and the experiment is finally going online. Jason Koebler writes Operating with cutting-edge technology out of a trailer in rural Illinois, government researchers started today on a set of experiments that they say will help them determine whether or not you and me and everything that exists are living in a two-dimensional holographic universe. In a paper explaining the theory, Craig Hogan, director of the Department of Energy's Fermilab Center for Particle Astrophysics writes that "some properties of space and time that seem fundamental, including localization [where things are], may actually emerge only as a macroscopic approximation from the flow of information in a quantum system." In other words, the location of places in space may constantly fluctuate ever so slightly, which would suggest we're living in a hologram.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Emmanuele Bassi: GDK and threads

Planet GNOME - Mër, 27/08/2014 - 1:01md

a programmer has a problem. “I know,” he said, “I will use threads!” now has he problems two. — old Romulan proverb

we all know that using GTK+ and threads is a fan favourite question; I routinely answered it on IRC, mailing lists, Stack Overflow, and even in person multiple times. some time ago, we actually fixed the documentation to provide an authoritative answer as to how you should do your long-running, blocking operations on a thread, and then update the UI from within the main thread at various synchronization points.

sadly, both the API and the documentation that came before the tenet above became well-known, were lacking. the wording was ambiguous, and the examples were far from clear in showing the idiomatic way of initializing and using GTK+ in a multi-threaded application.

if I asked ten random developers using GTK+ for their applications what is the correct way of initializing threading support, I’d probably get the answer “call gdk_threads_init() before you call gtk_init()” from at least half of them — and their answer would be wrong, but most likely they never noticed it.

the correct answer for the question of how to initialize thread safety support in GTK+ is actually this idiomatic code snippet:

int main (int argc, char *argv[]) { // initialize GDK thread support gdk_threads_init (); // acquire the GDK lock gdk_threads_enter (); // initialize GTK+ gtk_init (&argc, &argv); // build your UI ... // start the main loop gtk_main (); // tear down your UI... // release the GDK lock gdk_threads_leave (); // exit return 0; }

as you can see, we acquire the GDK lock before calling the GTK+ API, like the documentation says:

As always, you must also surround any calls to GTK+ not made within a signal handler with a gdk_threads_enter() / gdk_threads_leave() pair.

why is this needed? because the gtk_main() call will try to release the GDK lock before entering the main loop, and re-acquire it before returning the control flow to you. this is needed to avoid deadlocks from within GDK itself, since the GDK frame processing is going to acquire the GDK lock whenever it’s needed inside its own critical sections.

if you don’t acquire the lock, gtk_main() will try to release an unlocked mutex, and if you carefully read the g_mutex_unlock() documentation you will notice that doing that results in undefined behaviour. what does undefined behaviour means? in GLib and GTK+, we use the term in the same sense as the ISO C standard uses it.

in this specific instance, if you’re on Linux, undefined behaviour does not mean much: by default, the GNU libc implementation of pthreads is permissive, so it will simply ignore the double unlock. if you’re running on an operating system from the *BSD family, however, your application will uncerimoniously abort. hence, why so far very few people actually noticed this.

starting from GLib 2.42 (the next stable release), the GMutex implementation on Linux has been switched from a pure pthread wrapper to be futex-based. given that we don’t pay any penalty for it, we decided to ensure consistent behaviour, and proper usage of the API. this means that GLib 2.42 will abort if you try to clear an uninitialized or locked GMutex, as well as if you try to unlock an already unlocked one. this ensures that your code will actually be portable, and you’ll catch errors much more quickly.

this also means that non-idiomatic GTK+ code will start breaking on Linux as well, just like it would on non-Linux platforms.

since our documentation was not really good enough for people to use, and since we could not enforce proper idiomatic code at the toolkit level, GDK will try to compensate.

it’s important to not that this does not absolve you from fixing your code: you are doing something wrong. it will allow, though, existing code to continue working even in the face of undefined behaviour. take this as a chance to rework your code not to use the GDK API to mark critical sections, and instead use the proper approach of worker threads notifying the UI through idle and timeout callbacks executed from within the main thread.

Nikhar Agrawal: GUADEC

Planet GNOME - Mër, 27/08/2014 - 12:23md

Hi everyone,

Here’s another post about a summer intern’s GUADEC experience. Kindly accept my apologies for posting this so late. I’m afraid the delay is a bit too much even by IST (Indian Student Time) standards. :P

I had two reasons to be very excited about the conference. This was my first ever conference and my first ever international tour.

Until as late as beginning of this year, I was a casual GNOME user. Only once I got in touch with my mentors during the GSoC period did I actually begin doing dev stuff. And even then, I’ve mostly confined myself to GNOME games.  Attending the conference was thus a very enriching experience for me with regards to getting to know the rest of the GNOME community.

The talks were mostly very fascinating. The tech talks helped me better understand the features GNOME has to offer and the non tech ones allowed me to better appreciate the struggles the community faces today. The sessions that I enjoyed the most though were the lightning talks.

The first lightning talks were given by the summer interns. I was a little nervous before going on the stage but the community is so supporting and encouraging that you forget all your fears. I’m sure that at one point I even managed to elicit laughter from the crowd (or at least a couple of people). :D

One of the reasons I liked the lightening talks so much is that the talks given by my fellow interns and other senior members of the community served as a quick, yet detailed introduction to other GNOME modules. It’s always good to hear about things from people who are passionate about them and it makes for much more interesting information digest than reading a non-personalized version of it on the internet somewhere.

I also learned a very important thing about myself during the conference. I have a hard time starting conversations with new people. I wish I would get better at it and soon. I regret now having talked so less to fellow GNOME enthusiasts. There was so much more to learn. But from the little conversations I did manage to make, I learned a lot about the very exciting things others have been doing in the community. Many a times I was simply awestruck at the sheer genius of the people around me.

Apart from the conference, there’s still a lot to write about the joys and disappointments of exploring a new country. But that would probably be a blog post of its own.

Before I sign off though, I would like to take this opportunity to thank GNOME and particularly the travel committee for partially sponsoring my GUADEC trip.

 


HP Recalls 6 Million Power Cables Over Fire Hazard

Slashdot.org - Mër, 27/08/2014 - 11:07pd
Via the Consumerist comes news that HP is recalling power cables after about 30 reports that they were melting from regular use. From the article: Hewlett-Packard received 29 reports of the melting or charring power cords, two that included claims of minor burns and 13 claims of minor property damage. The black power cords were distributed with HP and Compaq notebook and mini notebook computers and with AC adapter-powered accessories such as docking stations and have an "LS-15" molded mark on the AC adapter. About 5.6 million power cords were sold in the United States, while 446,700 were sold in Canada from September 2010 to June 2012 at electronic stores and hp.com.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Andy Wingo: a wingolog user's manual

Planet GNOME - Mër, 27/08/2014 - 10:37pd

Greetings, dear readers!

Welcome to my little corner of the internet. This is my place to share and write about things that are important to me. I'm delighted that you stopped by.

Unlike a number of other personal sites on the tubes, I have comments enabled on most of these blog posts. It's gratifying to me to hear when people enjoy an article. I also really appreciate it when people bring new information or links or things I hadn't thought of.

Of course, this isn't like some professional peer-reviewed journal; it's above all a place for me to write about my wanderings and explorations. Most of the things I find on my way have already been found by others, but they are no less new to me. As Goethe said, quoted in the introduction to The Joy of Cooking: "That which thy forbears have bequeathed to thee, earn it anew if thou wouldst possess it."

In that spirit I would enjoin my more knowledgeable correspondents to offer their insights with the joy of earning-anew, and particularly to recognize and banish the spectre of that moldy, soul-killing "well-actually" response that is present on so many other parts of the internet.

I've had a good experience with comments on this site, and I'm a bit lazy, so I take an optimistic approach to moderation. By default, comments are posted immediately. Every so often -- more often after a recent post, less often in between -- I unpublish comments that I don't feel contribute to the piece, or which I don't like for whatever reason. It's somewhat arbitrary, but hey, welcome to my corner of the internet.

This has the disadvantage that some unwanted comments end up published, then they go away. If you notice this happening to someone else's post, it's best to just ignore it, and in particular to not "go meta" and ask in the comments why a previous comment isn't there any more. If it happens to you, I'd ask you to re-read this post and refrain from unwelcome comments in the future. If you think I made an error -- it can happen -- let me know privately.

Finally, and it really shouldn't have to be said, but racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and ableism are not welcome here. If you see such a comment that I should delete and have missed, let me know privately. However even among well-meaning people, and that includes me, there are ways of behaving that reinforce subtle bias. Please do point out such instances in articles or comments, either publicly or privately. Working on ableist language is a particular challenge of mine.

You can contact me via comments (anonymous or not), via email (wingo@pobox.com), twitter (@andywingo), or IRC (wingo on freenode). Thanks for reading, and happy hacking :)

Sebastian Dröge: Concatenate multiple streams gaplessly with GStreamer

Planet GNOME - Mër, 27/08/2014 - 10:22pd

Earlier this month I wrote a new GStreamer element that is now integrated into core and will be part of the 1.6 release. It solves yet another commonly asked question on the mailing lists and IRC: How to concatenate multiple streams without gaps between them as if they were a single stream. This is solved by the concat element now.

Here are some examples about how it can be used:

# 100 frames of the SMPTE test pattern, then the ball pattern gst-launch-1.0 concat name=c ! autovideosink videotestsrc num-buffers=100 ! c. videotestsrc num-buffers=100 pattern=ball ! c. # Basically: $ cat file1 file2 > both gst-launch-1.0 concat name=c ! filesink location=both filesrc location=file1 ! c. filesrc location=file2 ! c. # Demuxing two MP4 files with h264 and passing them through the same decoder instance # Note: this works better if both streams have the same h264 configuration gst-launch-1.0 concat name=c ! queue ! avdec_h264 ! queue ! autovideosink filesrc location=1.mp4 ! qtdemux ! h264parse ! c. filesrc location=2.mp4 ! qtdemux ! h264parse ! c.

If you run this in an application that also reports time and duration you will see that concat preserves the stream time, i.e. the position reporting goes back to 0 when switching to the next stream and the duration is always the one of the current stream. However the running time will be continuously increasing from stream to stream.

Also as you can notice, this only works for a single stream (i.e. one video stream or one audio stream, not a container stream with audio and video). To gaplessly concatenate multiple streams that contain multiple streams (e.g. one audio and one video track) one after another a more complex pipeline involving multiple concat elements and the streamsynchronizer element will be necessary to keep everything synchronized.

Details

The concat element has request sinkpads, and it concatenates streams in the order in which those sinkpads were requested. All streams except for the currently playing one are blocked until the currently playing one sends an EOS event, and then the next stream will be unblocked. You can request and release sinkpads at any time, and releasing the currently playing sinkpad will cause concat to switch to the next one immediately.

Currently concat only works with segments in GST_FORMAT_TIME and GST_FORMAT_BYTES format, and requires all streams to have the same segment format.

From an application side you could implement the same behaviour as concat implements by using pad probes (waiting for EOS) and using pad offsets (gst_pad_set_offset()) to adjust the running times. But by using the concat element this should be a lot easier to implement.

Brown Dwarf With Water Clouds Tentatively Detected Just 7 Light-Years From Earth

Slashdot.org - Mër, 27/08/2014 - 9:01pd
sciencehabit (1205606) writes Astronomers have found signs of water ice clouds on an object just 7.3 light-years from Earth — less than twice the distance of Alpha Centauri. If confirmed, the discovery is the first sighting of water clouds beyond our solar system. The clouds shroud a Jupiter-sized object known as a brown dwarf and should yield insight into the nature of cool giant planets orbiting other suns.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








UK Prisons Ministry Fined For Lack of Encryption At Prisons

Slashdot.org - Mër, 27/08/2014 - 6:06pd
Bruce66423 (1678196) writes The Guardian reports that the UK Information Commissioner has levied a fine of £180,000 on the Ministry of Justice for their failure to encrypt data held on external hard drives at prisons. The fine is nominal — one part of government fining another is rather pointless, but it does show that there's a little bit of accountability. Of course it's interesting to consider the dangers of this hopefully old way of storing backups; but the question of whether we do a lot better now is quite pointed. To make matters worse, one of the unencrypted backup hard drives walked away.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Seagate Ships First 8 Terabyte Hard Drive

Slashdot.org - Mër, 27/08/2014 - 4:01pd
MojoKid (1002251) writes Seagate announced today that it has begun shipping the world's first 8 Terabyte hard drive. The 8TB hard drive comes only five months after Western Digital released the first ever 6TB HDD. Up until then, Seagate's high capacity HDDs had been shipping only to select enterprise clients. The 8TB HDD comes in the 3.5-inch form factor and, according to the manufacturer, features a SATA 6Gbps interface and multi-drive RV tolerance which makes it suitable for data centers. It's unclear what technology the drive is based on, or if PMR (Perpendicular Magnetic Recording) or low-resistance helium technology was employed.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Comcast Tells Government That Its Data Caps Aren't Actually "Data Caps"

Slashdot.org - Mër, 27/08/2014 - 2:08pd
mpicpp (3454017) writes with this excerpt from Ars Technica about Comcast's data caps that aren't data caps:Customers must pay more if they exceed limits — but it's not a cap, Comcast says. For the past couple of years, Comcast has been trying to convince journalists and the general public that it doesn't impose any "data caps" on its Internet service. ... That's despite the fact that Comcast in some cities enforces limits on the amount of data customers can use and issues financial penalties for using more than the allotment. Comcast has said this type of billing will probably roll out to its entire national footprint within five years, perhaps alongside a pricier option to buy unlimited data. ... Comcast's then-new approach was touted to "effectively offer unlimited usage of our services because customers will have the ability to buy as much data as they want."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Project Zero Exploits 'Unexploitable' Glibc Bug

Slashdot.org - Mër, 27/08/2014 - 1:29pd
NotInHere (3654617) writes with news that Google's Project Zero has been busy at work. A month ago they reported an off-by-one error in glibc that would overwrite a word on the heap with NUL and were met with skepticism at its ability to be used in an attack. Google's 'Project Zero' devised an exploit of the out-of-bounds NUL write in glibc to gain root access using the setuid binary pkexec in order to convince skeptical glibc developers. 44 days after being reported, the bug has been fixed. They even managed to defeat address space randomization on 32-bit platforms by tweaking ulimits. 64-bit systems should remain safe if they are using address space randomization.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Project Zero Explots 'Unexploitable' Glibc Bug

Slashdot.org - Mër, 27/08/2014 - 1:29pd
NotInHere (3654617) writes with news that Google's Project Zero has been busy at work. A month ago they reported an off-by-one error in glibc that would overwrite a word on the heap with NUL and were met with skepticism at its ability to be used in an attack. Google's 'Project Zero' devised an exploit of the out-of-bounds NUL write in glibc to gain root access using the setuid binary pkexec in order to convince skeptical glibc developers. 44 days after being reported, the bug has been fixed. They even managed to defeat address space randomization on 32-bit platforms by tweaking ulimits. 64-bit systems should remain safe if they are using address space randomization.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Exomoon Detection Technique Could Greatly Expand Potential Habitable Systems

Slashdot.org - Mër, 27/08/2014 - 12:48pd
Luminary Crush (109477) writes Most of the detected exoplanets thus far have been gas giants which aren't great candidates for life as we know it. However, many of those planets are in fact in the star's habitable zone and could have moons with conditions more favorable. Until now, methods to detect the moons of such gas giants have been elusive, but researchers at the University of Texas, Arlington have discovered a way to detect the interaction of a moon's ionosphere with the parent gas giant from studies of Jupiter's moon Io. The search for 'Pandora' has begun.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Free Law Casebook Project Starts With IP Coursebook

Slashdot.org - Mër, 27/08/2014 - 12:08pd
An anonymous reader writes Duke Law School's James Boyle and Jennifer Jenkins just published a CC licensed, freely downloadable textbook called "Intellectual Property Law and the Information Society." (Which includes a discussion of whether and when the term "intellectual property" is a dangerous misnomer). The book is apparently part of an attempt to lower what the authors describe as the "obscene cost" of legal textbooks. "This is the first in a series of free digital/low cost print legal educational materials to be published by Duke's Center for the Study of the Public Domain—starting with statutory supplements aimed at the basic classes. The goal of this project... is to improve the pricing and access norms of the world of legal textbook publishing, while offering the flexibility and possibility for customization that unfettered digital access provides. We hope it will provide a pleasant, restorative, competitive pressure on the commercial publishers to lower their prices and improve their digital access norms." The book's "problems range from a video of the Napster oral argument to counseling clients about search engines and trademarks, applying the First Amendment to digital rights management and copyright or commenting on the Supreme Court's new rulings on gene patents.. [The book] includes discussions of such issues as the Redskins trademark cancelations, the Google Books case and the America Invents Act."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Uber Has a Playbook For Sabotaging Lyft, Says Report

Slashdot.org - Mar, 26/08/2014 - 11:26md
Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "The folks over at The Verge claim that 'Uber is arming teams of independent contractors with burner phones and credit cards as part of its sophisticated effort to undermine Lyft and other competitors.' Interviews and documents apparently show Uber reps ordering and canceling Lyft rides by the thousands, following a playbook with advice designed to prevent Lyft from flagging their accounts. 'Uber appears to be replicating its program across the country. One email obtained by The Verge links to an online form for requesting burner phones, credit cards, and driver kits — everything an Uber driver needs to get started, which recruiters often carry with them.' Is this an example of legal-but-hard-hitting business tactics, or is Uber overstepping its bounds? The so-called sharing economy seems just as cutthroat — if not more so — than any other industry out there."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








The Grumpy Programmer has Advice for Young Computer Workers (Video)

Slashdot.org - Mar, 26/08/2014 - 10:45md
Bob Pendleton calls his blog "The Grumpy Programmer" because he's both grumpy and a programmer. He's also over 60 years old and has been programming since he was in his teens. This pair of videos is a break from our recent spate of conference panels and corporate people. It's an old programmer sharing his career experiences with younger programmers so they (you?) can avoid making his mistakes and possibly avoid becoming as grumpy as he is -- which is kind of a joke, since Bob is not nearly as grumpy as he is light-hearted. (Transcript covers both videos. Alternate Video Link One; Alternate Video Link Two)

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








MediaGoblin 0.7.0 "Time Traveler's Delight" Released

Slashdot.org - Mar, 26/08/2014 - 10:01md
paroneayea (642895) writes "The GNU MediaGoblin folks have put out another release of their free software media hosting platform, dubbed 0.7.0: Time Traveler's Delight. The new release moves closer to federation by including a new upload API based on the Pump API, a new theme labeled "Sandy 70s Speedboat", metadata features, bulk upload, a more responsive design, and many other fixes and improvements. This is the first release since the recent crowdfunding campaign run with the FSF which was used to bring on a full time developer to focus on federation, among other things."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








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