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Do Alternative Software Licenses Represent Open Source's 'Midlife Crisis'?

"it is clear to me that open source -- now several decades old and fully adult -- is going through its own midlife crisis," writes Joyent CTO Bryan Cantrill. [O]pen source business models are really tough, selling software-as-a-service is one of the most natural of them, the cloud service providers are really good at it -- and their commercial appetites seem boundless. And, like a new cherry red two-seater sports car next to a minivan in a suburban driveway, some open source companies are dealing with this crisis exceptionally poorly: they are trying to restrict the way that their open source software can be used. These companies want it both ways: they want the advantages of open source -- the community, the positivity, the energy, the adoption, the downloads -- but they also want to enjoy the fruits of proprietary software companies in software lock-in and its concomitant monopolistic rents. If this were entirely transparent (that is, if some bits were merely being made explicitly proprietary), it would be fine: we could accept these companies as essentially proprietary software companies, albeit with an open source loss-leader. But instead, these companies are trying to license their way into this self-contradictory world: continuing to claim to be entirely open source, but perverting the license under which portions of that source are available. Most gallingly, they are doing this by hijacking open source nomenclature. Of these, the laughably named commons clause is the worst offender (it is plainly designed to be confused with the purely virtuous creative commons), but others...are little better... "[T]heir business model isn't their community's problem, and they should please stop trying to make it one," Cantrill writes, adding letter that "As we collectively internalize that open source is not a business model on its own, we will likely see fewer VC-funded open source companies (though I'm honestly not sure that that's a bad thing)..." He also points out that "Even though the VC that led the last round wants to puke into a trashcan whenever they hear it, business models like 'support', 'services' and 'training' are entirely viable!" Jay Kreps, Co-founder of @confluentinc, has posted a rebuttal on Medium. "How do you describe a license that lets you run, modify, fork, and redistribute the code and do virtually anything other than offer a competing SaaS offering of the product? I think Bryan's sentiment may be that it should be called the Evil Proprietary Corruption of Open Source License or something like that, but, well, we disagree."

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Study Suggests Too Much Collaboration Actually Hurts Productivity

An anonymous reader quotes Inc: Our attention in the workplace is a precious resource that often falls victim to tools like email, Slack, and so on, which bring a nonstop supply of things to read, things to respond to, things to file, things to loop others in on, things to follow up on, and in general, things to do. This "always on" dynamic has roots in a desire for increased workplace collaboration and productivity, but as is so often the case, it turns out there is a balance to be struck for optimal results. New research shows that groups who collaborate less often may be better at problem solving.... In a study titled "How Intermittent Breaks in Interaction Improve Collective Intelligence", the authors use a standardized problem-solving test to measure the contrast between time spent in collaboration mode against the quality and quantity of problem solving results. The group with no interaction predictably had the highest options for solutions, but those solutions were of lower overall quality. The group with high interaction had higher quality solutions, but less variety and a lower likelihood to find the optimal solution. The intermittent collaboration groups found the desirable middle ground to balance out the pros/cons of the no interaction and high interaction groups, leading them to become the most successful problem solvers. The article warns of a "collaboration drain", suggesting managers pay closer attention to when collaboration is (and isn't) necessary. "Once upon a time in the land of business, people primarily communicated through conversations, meetings, and internally circulated printed memos. In the absence of email, Internet, cell phones, and CRMs there was a repeating cadence of connection, then disconnection, even while in the office." "In this case, 'disconnected' really amounts to uninterrupted -- and able to focus."

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Ask Slashdot: Is There An Open Source Tool Measuring The Sharpness of Streaming Video?

dryriver asks: Is there an open source video analysis tool available that can take a folder full of video captures (e.g. news, sports, movies, music videos, TV shows), analyze the video frames in those captures, and put a hard number on how optically sharp, on average, the digital video provided by any given digital TV or streaming service is? If such a tool exists, it could be of great use in shaming paid video content delivery services that promise proper "1080 HD" or "4K UHD" quality content, but deliver video that is actually Youtube quality or worse. With such a tool, people could channel-hop across their digital TV service's various offerings for an hour or so, capture the video stream to harddisk, and then have an "average optical sharpness score" for that service calculated that can be shared with others and published online, possibly shaming the content provider -- satellite TV providers in particular -- into upping their bitrate if the score turns out to be atrociously low for that service.... People in many countries -- particularly developing countries -- cough up hard cash to sign up for various satellite TV, digital TV, streaming video and similar services, only to then find that the bitrate, compression quality and optical sharpness of the video content delivered isn't too great at all. At a time when 4K UHD content is available in some countries, many satellite TV and streaming video services in many different countries do not even deliver properly sharp and well-defined 1080 HD video to their customers, even though the content quality advertised before signing up is very much "crystal clear 1080 HD High-Definition". What's the solution? Leave your thoughts and suggestions in the comments. And is there an open source tool measuring the sharpness of streaming video?

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One Year After Net Neutrality Repeal, America's Democrats Warn 'The Fight Continues'

CNET just published a fierce pro-net neutrality editorial co-authored by Nancy Pelosi, the soon-to-be Majority leader in the U.S. House of Representatives, with Mike Doyle, the expected Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, and Frank Pallone, Jr. the expected Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The three representatives argue that "the Trump FCC ignored millions of comments from Americans pleading to keep strong net neutrality rules in place." The FCC's net neutrality repeal left the market for broadband internet access virtually lawless, giving ISPs an opening to control peoples' online activities at their discretion. Gone are rules that required ISPs to treat all internet traffic equally. Gone are rules that prevented ISPs from speeding up traffic of some websites for a fee or punishing others by slowing their traffic down.... Without the FCC acting as sheriff, it is unfortunately not surprising that big corporations have started exploring ways to change how consumers access the Internet in order to benefit their bottom line.... Research from independent analysts shows that nearly every mobile ISP is throttling at least one streaming video service or using discriminatory boosting practices. Wireless providers are openly throttling video traffic and charging consumers extra for watching high-definition streams. ISPs have rolled out internet plans that favor companies they are affiliated with, despite full-page ads swearing they value net neutrality. And most concerning, an ISP was found throttling so-called "unlimited" plans for a fire department during wildfires in California. Make no mistake, these new practices are just ISPs sticking a toe in the water. Without an agency with the authority to investigate and punish unfair or discriminatory practices, ISPs will continue taking bolder and more blatantly anti-consumer steps. That is why we have fought over the past year to restore net neutrality rules and put a cop back on the ISP beat. In May, the U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan bill restoring net neutrality rules. Despite the support of a bipartisan majority of Americans, the Republican leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives refused our efforts to bring the bill to the floor for a vote. Fortunately, the time is fast coming when the people's voices will be heard. The editorial closes by arguing that "Large corporations will no longer be able to block progress on this important consumer protection issue."

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Was Commodore's Amiga 'A Computer Ahead of Its Time'?

Long-time Slashdot reader Mike Bouma quotes Gizmodo: Despite being ahead of its time when it was unveiled in 1985, the Commodore Amiga didn't survive past 1996. The machine, which went up against with the likes of the IBM PC and the Macintosh, offered far superior hardware than its competitors. But it just wasn't enough, as this video from Ahoy's Stuart Brown explains. While the Amiga had other 16-bit computers beat on technology, it didn't really have anything compelling to do with that hardware. "With 4096 colours, 4 channels of digital audio, and preemptive multitasking, [the Amiga] was capable of incredible things for the time...." [U]nfortunately, internal struggles within Commodore would signal the beginning of the end. I'll always remember Joel Hodgson's Amiga joke on a 1991 episode of Mystery Science Theatre 3000. But in 2015 Geek.com reported on an Amiga which had been running a school's heating system for the last 30 years. A local high school student had originally set it up, and "he's the only one who knows how to fix software glitches. Luckily, he still lives in the area." Leave your own thoughts in the comments. Does anyone else have their own stories about Commodore's Amiga? And was the Amiga a computer ahead of its time?

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Doctor Who Won't Return Until 2020

AmiMoJo quotes the BBC: The next series of Doctor Who won't start until 2020, it's been confirmed. Series 11 ended on Sunday night, but after the festive special on New Year's Day, Jodie Whittaker won't be seen in the Tardis again next year. Showrunner Chris Chibnall said work on the new series had already begun... The first episode of the series, the first to feature a female Doctor, drew a record audience. It saw the highest launch viewing figures for the sci-fi stalwart in a decade, with 10.9 million people tuning in. The series has been considered a ratings success, with viewing figures above those of the last two series when Peter Capaldi starred in the title role.

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Screen Time Changes Structure of Kids' Brains, NIH Study Shows

schwit1 shared this article from Bloomberg: Brain scans of adolescents who are heavy users of smartphones, tablets and video games look different from those of less active screen users, preliminary results from an ongoing study funded by the National Institutes of Health show, according to a report on Sunday by "60 Minutes." That's the finding of the first batch of scans of 4,500 nine- to 10-year-olds. Scientists will follow those children and thousands more for a decade to see how childhood experiences, including the use of digital devices, affect their brains, emotional development and mental health. In the first round of testing, the scans of children who reported daily screen usage of more than seven hours showed premature thinning of the brain cortex, the outermost layer that processes information from the physical world.... Early results from the $300 million study, called Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD), have determined that children who spend more than two hours of daily screen time score lower on thinking and language tests. A major data release is scheduled for early 2019. The study's director cautions that "It won't be until we follow them over time that we will see if there are outcomes that are associated with the differences that we're seeing in this single snapshot." The study will ultimately follow over 11,000 nine- to 10-year-olds for a decade.

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OpenJDK Bug Report Complains Source Code 'Has Too Many Swear Words'

Thursday a bug report complained that the source code for OpenJDK, the free and open-source implementation of Java, "has too many swear words." An anonymous reader writes: "There are many instances of swear words inside OpenJDK jdk/jdk source, scattered all over the place," reads the bug report. "As OpenJDK is used in a professional context, it seems inappropriate to leave these 12 instances in there, so here's a changeset to remove them." IBM software developer (and OpenJDK team member and contributor) Adam Farley responded that "after discussion with the community, three determinations were reached": "Damn" and "Crap" are not swear words. Three of the four f-bombs are located in jszip.js, which should be corrected upstream (will follow up). The f-bomb in BitArray.java, as well as the rude typo in SoftChannel.java, *are* swear words and should be removed to resolve this work item. He promised a new webrev would be uploaded to reflect these determinations, and the bug has been marked as "resolved."

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Could You Live Without a Smartphone For a Year?

shanen writes about Vitaminwater's latest "publicity stunt," where they will pay $100,000 to one select contestant who can live without their smartphone for a year: All you have to do is come up with the most amusing entry [about how you will spend 365 days without the device] and have sufficient willpower to give up your smartphone for a year. They obviously have to pick a power user to make it interesting, but that's not the reason I'm disqualified. I would just read more books, which is boring from their perspective. So maybe you want to share your idea here? If it's really good, you don't have to worry about someone stealing it. After all, you'd have the evidence that it was your idea first, but you might be able to refine your entry while amusing the mob. The company will reportedly give you a 1996 cellphone to use in times of emergencies. Also, they will reward you with $10,000 if you are able to get through 6 months. According to Tech Times, contestants can use computers or desktops, "but not smartphones or tablets, even those owned by other people, or anything which the candidate can scroll or swipe on." Always-listening smart speakers, like the Amazon Echo and Google Home, are permitted. To make sure the candidate doesn't cheat, Vitaminwater will subject them to a lie-detector test at the end of the year.

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Tesla Model 3 Modded To Run Ubuntu

140Mandak262Jamuna writes: CleanTechnica is reporting that someone hacked the infotainment system of a Tesla Model 3 and got root access and installed Linux distribution Ubuntu. Redditor trsohmers is able to show an Ubuntu command shell running alongside the Tesla OS. Since Tesla supports a browser that allows you to visit any site, could this be leveraged into remote hacks? It could also mean that if Tesla sells a long-range version of the Model 3, but limits it via software, people might try to remove the block. One could potentially get a 15-day trial of full self-driving for free and extend that 15-day window forever. At least he had some guts messing with $50,000 hardware that phones home all the time. Will Tesla brick his car to attempt to disprove the security issue?

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NASA's Hubble Telescope Discovers An 'Evaporating' Planet

Researchers at the University of Geneva Switzerland have used NASA's Hubble telescope to find an exoplanet that's evaporating. The exoplanet, GJ 3470b, shows signs of losing hydrogen in its atmosphere, causing it to shrink. USA Today reports: The study is part of exploration into "hot Neptunes," planets that are the size of Neptune, sit very close to their star, and have atmospheres as hot at 1,700 degrees Fahrenheit, says NASA. Finding a "hot Neptune" is rare because they sit so close to their star and tend to evaporate more quickly. In the case of GJ 3470b, scientists classify it as a "warmer" Neptune because it sits farther away from its star. The exoplanet discovered by astronauts is losing its atmosphere at a rate 100 times faster than a previous "warmer" Neptune planet discovered a few years before, according to a study published Thursday in the journal "Astronomy & Astrophysics." The planet sits 3.7 million miles from its star. For comparison, Earth is 92.9 million miles from the sun. Researchers say these "hot Neptune" planets shrink in size and morph into "Super Earths," versions of our planet that are massive and more rocky.

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Experts Urge US To Continue Support For Nuclear Fusion Research

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Scientific American: A panel of 19 scientists drawn from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine recommended yesterday that the Department of Energy should continue an international experiment on nuclear fusion energy and then develop its own plan for a "compact power plant." A panel of 19 scientists drawn from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine recommended yesterday that the Department of Energy should continue an international experiment on nuclear fusion energy and then develop its own plan for a "compact power plant." But as the National Academies' report noted, major challenges must be overcome to reach these goals, beginning with how to contain and control a burning "plasma" of extremely hot gas, ranging from 100 million to 200 million degrees Celsius, that can produce more heat than it consumes. The report calls the resulting plasma "a miniature sun confined inside a vessel." The world's biggest experiment intended to create and draw energy from burning plasma is under construction at Cadarache, France. It's called the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project, and its centerpiece is a large, doughnut-shaped, Russian-inspired reactor called a tokamak. Several member nations have already developed their own national programs, and the assembled National Academies experts concluded that the United States should eventually follow, once the ITER experiment shows there are ways to contain and manipulate a sustained fusion reaction. "It is the next critical step in the development of fusion energy," says the report.

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Number of Streaming Shows Overtakes Basic Cable, Broadcast For First Time

schwit1 shares a report from Variety: Streaming services snatched their biggest piece of the TV pie ever in 2018. According to FX's annual report on the number of scripted originals on TV, the number of streaming shows has surpassed the number of basic cable and broadcast shows for the first time ever. Out of 495 scripted originals that aired in 2018, 160 of them did so on a streaming platform. That is compared to 146 on broadcast and 144 on basic cable. Pay cable accounted for the remaining 45 shows. Streaming shows also saw the biggest increase year-to-year, growing from 117 last year. Broadcast dipped slightly, dropping from 153 in 2017. Basic cable saw a more sharp decline, compared to the 175 shows that aired on basic cable the previous year. Pay cable was up slightly from 42. On a percentage basis, streaming shows now account for approximately one third of all scripted originals, with approximately 32%. Broadcast made up 30% and basic cable 29%, with pay cable making up 9%. The total number of shows across all of TV was up again as well, rising from 487 in 2017. The year-to-year growth was less than that of previous years, however. For example, the number of shows grew from 455 to 487 between 2016 and 2017. The 495 scripted originals this year was also off from FX Networks CEO John Landgraf's prediction that 520 such shows would air this year.

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Cloudflare Under Fire For Allegedly Providing DDoS Protection For Terrorist Websites

Cloudflare is facing accusations that it's providing cybersecurity protection for at least seven terrorist organizations. "On Friday, HuffPost reported that it has reviewed numerous websites run by terrorist organizations and confirmed with four national security and counter-extremism experts that the sites are under the protection of Cloudflare's cybersecurity services," reports Gizmodo. "Among Cloudflare's millions of customers are several groups that are on the State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations, including al-Shabab, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, al-Quds Brigades, the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and Hamas -- as well as the Taliban, which, like the other groups, is sanctioned by the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)," reports HuffPost. "In the United States, it's a crime to knowingly provide tangible or intangible 'material support -- including communications equipment -- to a designated foreign terrorist organization or to provide service to an OFAC-sanctioned entity without special permission," the report continues. "Cloudflare, which is not authorized by the OFAC to do business with such organizations, has been informed on multiple occasions, dating back to at least 2012, that it is shielding terrorist groups behind its network, and it continues to do so." Gizmodo reports: The issue that HuffPost raises is whether Cloudflare is providing "material support" to sanctioned organizations. Some attorneys told HuffPost that it may be in violation of the law. Others, like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, argue that "material support" can and has been abused to silence speech. Cloudflare's general counsel, Doug Kramer, told Gizmodo over the phone that the company works closely with the U.S. government to ensure that it meets all of its legal obligations. He said that it is "proactive to screen for sanctioned groups and reactive to respond when its made aware of a sanctioned group" to which it may be providing services. HuffPost spoke with representatives from the Counter Extremism Project, who expressed frustration that they've sent four letters to Cloudflare over the last two years identifying seven terrorist-operated sites without receiving a reply. Kramer would not address any specific customers or situations when speaking with Gizmodo. He said that's simply company policy for reasons of protecting privacy.

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Porn Sites Collect More User Data Than Netflix Or Hulu

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Quartz: The biggest and perhaps best source of data about what people like to watch on the internet and what they would pay for doesn't come from streaming giants like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, or Hulu. It comes from porn. While consuming porn is typically a private and personal affair, porn sites still track your every move: What content you choose, which moments you pause, which parts you repeat. By mining this data to a deeper degree than other streaming services, many porn sites are able to give internet users exactly what they want -- and they want a lot of it. [...] MindGeek is the world's biggest porn company -- more specifically, it's a holding company that owns numerous adult entertainment sites and production companies, including the Pornhub Network. Like other streaming giants, MindGeek's sites analyze user data, but the company has an edge when it comes to producing tailor-made content in-house. With at least 125 million daily visits, MindGeek has a massive range of users to draw data from and create content for. The average user can watch as much porn as they'd like without so much as making an account, let alone paying, but in exchange for meeting desires that can't always be met elsewhere, companies like MindGeek access user data because the user more willingly lets them. And it eventually pays off, when users decide to pay for premium content and the habits of paying subscribers become even clearer. What's more, Pornhub, in particular, operates one of the most sophisticated digital data analysis operations that caters primarily to users and not advertisers. Pornhub Insights provides transparency into its data collection -- on the most intimate of subjects -- by making research and analysis from billions of data points about viewership patterns, often tied to events from politics to pop culture, available to the public. It offers more than many other tech giants do.

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