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Programming

GitLab Acquires Gitorious 18

Posted by Soulskill
from the git-together dept.
New submitter sckirklan writes with news that code repository GitLab has purchased rival service Gitorious. Gitorious users are now able to import their projects into GitLab. They must do so by the end of May, because Gitorious will shut down on June 1st. Rolf Bjaanes, Gitorious CEO, gives some background on the reasons for the acquisition: “At Gitorious we saw more and more organizations adopting GitLab. Due to decreased income from on-premises customers, running the free Gitorious.org was no longer sustainable. GitLab was solving the same problem that we were, but was solving it better.” “This acquisition will accelerate the growth of GitLab. With more than 100,000 organizations using it, it is already the most used on-premise solution for Git repository management, and bringing Gitorious into the fold will significantly increase that footprint.” says Sytse Sijbrandij, GitLab CEO.
Programming

Study: Refactoring Doesn't Improve Code Quality 107

Posted by Soulskill
from the just-makes-you-hate-it-a-bit-less dept.
itwbennett writes: A team of researchers in Sri Lanka set out to test whether common refactoring techniques resulted in measurable improvements in software quality, both externally (e.g., Is the code more maintainable?) and internally (e.g., Number of lines of code). Here's the short version of their findings: Refactoring doesn't make code easier to analyze or change (PDF); it doesn't make code run faster; and it doesn't result in lower resource utilization. But it may make code more maintainable.
Music

A Versatile and Rugged MIDI Mini-Keyboard (Video) 42

Posted by Roblimo
from the Willy-and-the-poor-boys-playing-that-MIDI-can't-be-beat dept.
The K-Board won a "Best in Show" award at CES 2015. Plus, as Timothy said, "I always like pour and stomp demos." And it's totally cross-platform. If your computer, tablet or smartphone has a USB port and (almost) any kind of music software, it works. In theory, you could hook a K-Board to your Android or iOS device and use it to accompany yourself while you sing for spare change on a downtown corner. Or noodle around to get a handle on a theme you'll use in your next major symphony. Or...?
Microsoft

What Would Minecraft 2 Look Like Under Microsoft? 188

Posted by timothy
from the hypthetical-or-not dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft spent billions purchasing Mojang, the studio behind the game Minecraft, and while it's unlikely to start work on a sequel anytime soon, rather than continue development of the game, it's worth considering what a Minecraft 2 will look like. After all, as a public company with revenues to justify, it doesn't seem beyond unreasonable a few years down the line, especially since a Minecraft-like game was one of the stand-out tech demos shown for the software giant's HoloLens augmented reality headset. As the author points out, Microsoft will have to tread carefully, tackling issues like whether greater graphical fidelity is actually what players will want ever — and whether to continue to support Minecraft on PlayStation."
Software

How a Kickstarter Project Can Massively Exceed Its Funding Goals and Still Fail 194

Posted by Soulskill
from the optimism-to-a-fault dept.
An anonymous reader writes: In November, 2013, a Kickstarter project for a software-defined camera trigger scored £290,386 (~$450,000) in funding after asking for a mere £50,000. After almost a year of delays, they've now announced the project is dead. Their CEO has published a lengthy article about how such a successful funding round can still turn into a failed product. In short: budgeting. To get their software into a workable state, they ended up spending 940% of the amount they'd originally allocated to software development. Their protoyping went over budget, too, and they had to spend a fair bit in legal fees to fend off a major camera manufacturer complaining about their product's name.

Still, they had more funding than they expected, and would have been able to deal with these costs. Unfortunately, the bill of materials for their final product clocked in way higher than they expected. They would have had to sell the device at about $350 each, when they were originally targeting a $99 price point. (And that figure assumes good sales — with a smaller production run, price per unit goes even higher.) The company is now going to refund the remaining money left over from its Kickstarter campaign — about 20% of the total. They're also open sourcing the software and sharing the PCB designs and schematics.
Google

Google Wants To Rank Websites Based On Facts Not Links 371

Posted by samzenpus
from the just-the-facts dept.
wabrandsma writes about Google's new system for ranking the truthfulness of a webpage. "Google's search engine currently uses the number of incoming links to a web page as a proxy for quality, determining where it appears in search results. So pages that many other sites link to are ranked higher. This system has brought us the search engine as we know it today, but the downside is that websites full of misinformation can rise up the rankings, if enough people link to them. Google research team is adapting that model to measure the trustworthiness of a page, rather than its reputation across the web. Instead of counting incoming links, the system – which is not yet live – counts the number of incorrect facts within a page. 'A source that has few false facts is considered to be trustworthy,' says the team. The score they compute for each page is its Knowledge-Based Trust score. The software works by tapping into the Knowledge Vault, the vast store of facts that Google has pulled off the internet. Facts the web unanimously agrees on are considered a reasonable proxy for truth. Web pages that contain contradictory information are bumped down the rankings."
GUI

Xfce 4.12 Released 89

Posted by Soulskill
from the onward-and-upward dept.
motang writes: After two years of hard work (and much to the dismay of naysayers who worried the project has been abandoned), the Xfce team has announced the release of Xfce 4.12. Highlights include improvements to the window switcher dialog, intelligent hiding of the panel, new wallpaper settings, better multi-monitor support, improved power settings, additions to the file manager, and a revamped task manager. Here is a quick tour, the full changelog, and the download page. I have been running it since Xubuntu 15.04 beta 1 was released two days ago. It is much improved over 4.10, and the new additions are great.
Data Storage

Ask Slashdot: How Does One Verify Hard Drive Firmware? 310

Posted by Soulskill
from the very-carefully dept.
An anonymous reader writes: In light of recent revelations from Kaspersky Labs about the Equation Group and persistent hard drive malware, I was curious about how easy it might be to verify my own system's drives to see if they were infected. I have no real reason to think they would be, but I was dismayed by the total lack of tools to independently verify such a thing. For instance, Seagate's firmware download pages provide files with no external hash, something Linux distributions do for all of their packages. Neither do they seem to provide a utility to read off the current firmware from a drive and verify its integrity.

Are there any utilities to do such a thing? Why don't these companies provide verification software to users? Has anyone compiled and posted a public list of known-good firmware hashes for the major hard drive vendors and models? This seems to be a critical hole in PC security. I did contact Seagate support asking for hashes of their latest firmware; I got a response stating, "...If you download the firmware directly from our website there is no risk on the file be tampered with." (Their phrasing, not mine.) Methinks somebody hasn't been keeping up with world events lately.
Security

Blu-Ray Players Hackable Via Malicious Discs 107

Posted by Soulskill
from the physical-media-increasingly-sketchy dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Some Blu-Ray disc interactive features use a Java variant for UIs and applications. Stephen Tomkinson just posted a blog discussing how specially created Blu-Ray discs can be used to hack various players using exploits related to their Java usage. He hacked one Linux-based, network-connected player to get root access through vulnerabilities introduced by the vendor. He did the same thing against Windows Blu-Ray player software. Tomkinson was then able to combine both, along with detection techniques, into a single disc.
Communications

Ask Slashdot: Whiteboard Substitutes For Distributed Teams? 162

Posted by timothy
from the just-wire-your-brains-together dept.
DoofusOfDeath writes I work on a fully distributed software development team with 5-10 people. Normally it's great, but when we're doing heavy design work, we really need to all be standing in front of a whiteboard together. This is expensive and time consuming, because it involves airplanes and hotels. Conference calls, editing shared Google docs, etc. just don't seem to be the same. Have people found any good tools or practices to replace standing in front of a real whiteboard?
Windows

Microsoft Finally Allows Customers To Legally Download Windows 7 ISOs 132

Posted by Soulskill
from the baby-steps dept.
MojoKid writes: It's long been a pet peeve of many end users that Microsoft has made it such a challenge to procure a legitimate ISO image of its various operating systems. It seems like the company should have no problem offering them in an easy-to-find spot on its website, because after all, it's not like they can be taken utilized without a legal key. Sometimes, people simply lose the disc or ISO they had, and so it shouldn't be such a challenge to get a replacement. Fortunately, with a new feature on the Microsoft site, you are now able to get that replacement Windows 7 ISO. However, it's behind a bit of protection. You'll need to provide your legal product code, and then the language, in order to go through to the download page. If you've somehow lost your key but are still using the OS that it's tied to, you can retrieve it through a few different third party tools. However, it does seem like not all valid keys work properly just yet, since some users are reporting valid keys throwing errors or not enabling a download for some reason.
Security

Simple IT Security Tactics for Small Businesses (Video) 31

Posted by Roblimo
from the worry-more-about-criminal-attacks-than-government-intrusions dept.
Adam Kujawa is the lead person on the Malwarebytes Malware Intelligence Team, but he's not here to sell software. In fact, he says that buying this or that software package is not a magic bullet that will stop all attacks on your systems. Instead, he stresses coworker education. Repeatedly. Adam says phishing and other social engineering schemes are now the main way attackers get access to your company's information goodies. Hacking your firewall? Far less likely than it used to be, not only because firewalls are more sophisticated than ever, but also because even the least computer-hip managers know they should have one.
Portables

Lenovo Saying Goodbye To Bloatware 208

Posted by Soulskill
from the time-to-start-demanding-other-vendors-follow-suit dept.
An anonymous reader writes: "Lenovo today announced that it has had enough of bloatware. The world's largest PC vendor says that by the time Windows 10 comes out, it will get rid of bloatware from its computer lineups. The announcement comes a week after the company was caught for shipping Superfish adware with its computers. The Chinese PC manufacturer has since released a public apology, Superfish removal tool, and instructions to help out users. At the sidelines, the company also announced that it is giving away 6-month free subscription to McAfee LiveSafe for all Superfish-affected users.
Media

VLC Gets First Major Cross-Platform Release 85

Posted by Soulskill
from the now-available-on-palm-pilots-and-apple-newtons dept.
An anonymous reader writes VideoLAN today launched what is arguably the biggest release of VLC to date: an update for the desktop coordinated with new versions across all major mobile platforms. The world's most-used media player just got a massive cross-platform push. The organization says the releases are the result of more than a year of volunteer work on the VLC engine and the libVLC library. As a result, VLC has gained numerous new features, has seen more than 1,000 bugs fixed, and has significantly increased its scope of supported formats.
Patents

Patent Trolls On the Run But Not Vanquished Yet 56

Posted by samzenpus
from the don't-forget-the-fire dept.
snydeq writes Strong legislation that will weaken the ability of the trolls to shake down innovators is likely to pass Congress, but more should be done, writes InfoWorld's Bill Snyder. "The Innovation Act isn't an ideal fix for the program patent system. But provisions in the proposed law, like one that will make trolls pay legal costs if their claims are rejected, will remove a good deal of the risk that smaller companies face when they decide to resist a spurious lawsuit," Snyder writes. That said, "You'd have to be wildly optimistic to think that software patents will be abolished. Although the EFF's proposals call for the idea to be studied, [EFF attorney Daniel] Nazer doesn't expect it to happen; he instead advocates several reforms not contained in the Innovation Act."
Programming

The Programmers Who Want To Get Rid of Software Estimates 347

Posted by Soulskill
from the and-the-managers-who-want-them-dead dept.
An anonymous reader writes: This article has a look inside the #NoEstimates movement, which wants to rid the software world of time estimates for projects. Programmers argue that estimates are wrong too often and a waste of time. Other stakeholders believe they need those estimates to plan and to keep programmers accountable. Is there a middle ground? Quoting: "Software project estimates are too often wrong, and the more time we throw at making them, the more we steal from the real work of building software. Also: Managers have a habit of treating developers' back-of-the-envelope estimates as contractual deadlines, then freaking out when they're missed. And wait, there's more: Developers, terrified by that prospect, put more and more energy into obsessive trips down estimation rabbit-holes. Estimation becomes a form of "yak-shaving" — a ritual enacted to put off actual work."
Communications

Developers Disclose Schematics For 50-1000 MHz Software-Defined Transceiver 131

Posted by samzenpus
from the fire-up-the-boat-anchor dept.
Bruce Perens writes Chris Testa KD2BMH and I have been working for years on a software-defined transceiver that would be FCC-legal and could communicate using essentially any mode and protocol up to 1 MHz wide on frequencies between 50 and 1000 MHz. It's been discussed here before, most recently when Chris taught gate-array programming in Python. We are about to submit the third generation of the design for PCB fabrication, and hope that this version will be salable as a "developer board" and later as a packaged walkie-talkie, mobile, and base station. This radio is unique in that it uses your smartphone for the GUI, uses apps to provide communication modes, contains an on-board FLASH-based gate-array and a ucLinux system. We intend to go for FSF "Respects Your Freedom" certification for the device. My slide show contains 20 pages of schematics and is full of ham jargon ("HT" means "handi-talkie", an old Motorola product name and the hams word for "walkie talkie") but many non-hams should be able to parse it with some help from search engines. Bruce Perens K6BP
Education

Interviews: Ask Senior Director Matt Keller About the Global Learning XPRIZE 31

Posted by samzenpus
from the go-ahead-and-ask dept.
The former Vice President of One Laptop per Child (OLPC) Matt Keller is currently the Senior Director of the $15 million Global Learning XPRIZE. The competition challenges teams from around the world to develop open source software solutions that will allow children in developing countries to teach themselves basic reading, writing and arithmetic within a 18 month competition period. After 18 months a panel of judges will evaluate the projects and announce semi-finalists. Semi-finalists will have a month to tweak their projects and/or reconfigure their teams before the judges elect the top five finalist to proceed. Each of the five teams selected will receive $1 million to field test their ideas with the eventual winners receiving the Grand Prize of $10 million. The Global Learning XPRIZE is recruiting teams now through April 30, 2015. Matt has agreed to answer any questions you might have about the competition and the future of education in general. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post.
Encryption

Moxie Marlinspike: GPG Has Run Its Course 308

Posted by Soulskill
from the end-to-end-before-the-ends-moved dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Security researcher Moxie Marlinspike has an interesting post about the state of GPG-encrypted communications. After using GPG for much of its lifetime, he says he now dreads getting a GPG-encrypted email in his inbox. "Instead of developing opinionated software with a simple interface, GPG was written to be as powerful and flexible as possible. It's up to the user whether the underlying cipher is SERPENT or IDEA or TwoFish. The GnuPG man page is over sixteen thousand words long; for comparison, the novel Fahrenheit 451 is only 40k words. Worse, it turns out that nobody else found all this stuff to be fascinating. Even though GPG has been around for almost 20 years, there are only ~50,000 keys in the "strong set," and less than 4 million keys have ever been published to the SKS keyserver pool ever. By today's standards, that's a shockingly small user base for a month of activity, much less 20 years." Marlinspike concludes, "I think of GPG as a glorious experiment that has run its course. ... GPG isn't the thing that's going to take us to ubiquitous end to end encryption, and if it were, it'd be kind of a shame to finally get there with 1990's cryptography."
Businesses

Can Tracking Employees Improve Business? 87

Posted by Soulskill
from the he-hasn't-gotten-out-of-his-chair-for-11-hours-i-think-he-might-be-dead dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The rise of wearable technologies and big-data analytics means companies can track their employees' behavior if they think it will improve the bottom line. Now an MIT Media Lab spinout called Humanyze has raised money to expand its technology pilots with big companies. The startup provides sensor badges and analytics software that tracks how and when employees communicate with customers and each other. Pilots with Bank of America and Deloitte have led to significant business improvements, but workplace privacy is a big concern going forward.