Last week you had the chance to ask ESR about books, guns, and open source software. Below you'll find his answers to those questions.
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It's not just graphics app Krita: user KDE Community writes "The Calligra team is proud and pleased to announce the release of version 2.8 of the Calligra Suite, Calligra Active and the Calligra Office Engine. Major new features in this release are comments support in Author and Words, improved Pivot tables in Sheets, improved stability and the ability to open hyperlinks in Kexi. Flow introduces SVG based stencils and as usual there are many new features in Krita including touch screens support and a wraparound painting mode for the creation of textures and tiles." KDE has also just announced the first beta of its Applications and Platform 4.13.
sciencehabit writes "Researchers have found that between 1 and 3% of people don't like music of any kind. These people aren't tone deaf or incapable of grasping the emotional meaning of a song—their brains simply didn’t find listening to music rewarding. While some psychiatric disorders are associated with the loss of the ability to feel pleasure, called anhedonia, the music-haters represent the first evidence for not feeling pleasure from only one specific pleasing stimulant, a condition that has been dubbed music-specific anhedonia. Curious where you fall on the music reward spectrum? The researchers have an online quiz." I know I actively prefer silence to most music, but what I like, I like intensely. Update: 03/06 21:48 GMT by T : Sorry for the garbled submission; now fixed.
An anonymous reader writes "The Fedora Project is now going to enforce a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy for contributors. What the project's engineering committee is asking their members to conceal is a contributor's nationality, country of origin, or area of residence. There's growing concern about software development contributions coming from export restricted countries by the US (Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria) with Red Hat being based out of North Carolina, but should these governmental restrictions apply to an open-source software project?"
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from Help-Net Security (based on the linked Trend Micro report): "Every country's cybercriminal underground market has distinct characteristics, and with 500 million national mobile Internet users and the number continuously rising, the Chinese underground market is awash with cyber crooks buying and selling services and devices aimed at taking advantage of them. Trend Micro's senior threat researchers Lion Gu has been scouring forums, online shops and QQ chats to give us a sense of what is actually going on on this burgeoning mobile underground. Mobile apps that stealthily subscribe users to premium services are, naturally, very popular with cyber crooks in China as in the rest of the world. Premium service numbers can also be bought on underground markets. Network carriers usually assign premium service numbers to qualified service providers, but obviously some of them are not [averse to] selling them on to criminals."
An anonymous reader writes "In a Q&A session on Reddit last night with Valve's Gabe Newell, the founder confirmed that the company is in the process of getting the highly anticipated Source 2 game engine 'working well with VR.' Valve's Alex Vlachos, Senior Graphics Programmer, is apparently leading the charge. Still no word on when the engine may ship. Valve, who is openly collaborating with Oculus VR, demonstrated a VR headset prototype in January at Steam Dev Days. The company also launched a beta version of SteamVR which offers Steam's 'Big Picture' mode in a format compatible with the Oculus Rift VR headset. A developer who got to experiment with Valve's VR prototype says it's very impressive, even more so than the original Oculus VR dev kit."
An anonymous reader writes "Months after Intel ported the Chromium open-source web browser to Wayland, Chromium is now running on Ubuntu's Mir. The Mir display server port ended up being based on Wayland's Chromium code for interfacing with Google's Ozone abstraction framework. The Ubuntu developer responsible for this work makes claims that they will be trying to better collaborate with Wayland developers over this code." Grab the code hot off the press.
An anonymous reader writes "This article at O'Reilly Programming suggests that PHP, a language known as much for its weaknesses as its strengths, has made steady progress over the past few years in fixing its problems. From the article: 'A few years ago, PHP had several large frameworks (e.g. CakePHP, CodeIgniter, and so on). Each framework was an island and provided its own implementation of features commonly found in other frameworks. Unfortunately, these insular implementations were likely not compatible with each other and forced developers to lock themselves in with a specific framework for a given project. Today the story is different. The new PHP community uses package management and component libraries to mix and match the best available tools. ... There are also exciting things happening with PHP under the hood, too. The PHP Zend Engine recently introduced memory usage optimizations. The memory usage in PHP 5.5 is far less than earlier versions.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Citing 'code we consider to be permanently "experimental" or "beta,"' Google Chrome engineers have no plans on enabling video acceleration in the Chrome/Chromium web browser. Code has been written but is permanently disabled by default because 'supporting GPU features on Linux is a nightmare' due to the reported sub-par quality of Linux GPU drivers and many different Linux distributions. Even coming up with a Linux GPU video acceleration white-list has been shot down over fear of the Linux video acceleration code causing stability issues and problems for Chrome developers. What have been your recent experiences with Linux GPU drivers?"
theodp writes "The LA Times reports that Google will fund free bus passes for low- and middle-income kids in a move to quiet the controversy surrounding tech-driven gentrification in San Francisco. In a statement, Google said, 'San Francisco residents are rightly frustrated that we don't pay more to use city bus stops. So we'll continue to work with the city on these fees, and in the meantime will fund MUNI passes for low income students [an existing program] for the next two years.' SF Mayor Ed Lee said, 'I want to thank Google for this enormous gift to the SFMTA, and I look forward to continuing to work with this great San Francisco employer towards improving our City for everyone.' But not all were impressed. 'It's a last-minute PR move on their part, and they're trying to use youth unfairly to create a better brand image in the city,' said Erin McElroy of the SF Anti-Eviction Mapping Project."
Now that Russia has sent troops to seize the Crimean Peninsula, international politics are tense and frantic. An anonymous reader notes an article from Joshua Keating at Slate, which points out that some of the diplomatic cables on WikiLeaks illustrate how this situation is not at all unexpected. Quoting a cable from October, 2009: "... pro-Russian forces in Crimea, acting with funding and direction from Moscow, have systematically attempted to increase communal tensions in Crimea in the two years since the Orange Revolution. They have done so by cynically fanning ethnic Russian chauvinism towards Crimean Tatars and ethnic Ukrainians, through manipulation of issues like the status of the Russian language, NATO, and an alleged Tatar threat to 'Slavs,' in a deliberate effort to destabilize Crimea, weaken Ukraine, and prevent Ukraine's movement west into institutions like NATO and the EU." The article points out another cable from a few days later, which was titled, "Ukraine-Russia: Is Military Conflict No Longer Unthinkable?"
An anonymous reader writes "Scientists at NASA and JPL have found evidence of past water movement throughout a Martian meteorite, reviving debate over life on Mars. 'In this new study, Gibson and his colleagues focused on structures deep within a 30-pound (13.7-kilogram) Martian meteorite known as Yamato 000593 (Y000593). The team reports that newly discovered different structures and compositional features within the larger Yamato meteorite suggest biological processes might have been at work on Mars hundreds of millions of years ago. ... Analyses found that the rock was formed about 1.3 billion years ago from a lava flow on Mars. Around 12 million years ago, an impact occurred on Mars which ejected the meteorite from the surface of Mars. The meteorite traveled through space until it fell in Antarctica about 50,000 years ago.'"
An anonymous reader writes "GNOME 3.12 was going to have official Wayland support as one of its main features for the upcoming desktop release. The developers have now decided to delay the official Wayland support until at least GNOME 3.14 while the support found there will be shipped as a preview. Missing features like drag 'n' drop and clipboard support are still missing from GNOME's Wayland code, which made them decide another six months of development work is needed. Other GNOME 3.12 features are mentioned on the GNOME Wiki."
KentuckyFC writes "Aerial flocking has been a long-standing goal for roboticists, but the technical demands for autonomous outdoor flocking have always been too great. Now a European team has successfully demonstrated autonomous outdoor flocking for the first time, with up to 10 flyers in the air simultaneously for up to 20 minutes. The flyer of choice is the MK Basicset L4-ME made by the German company MikroKopter. They modified this by attaching an extension board carrying a variety of navigational devices such as a gyroscope, accelerometer, and GPS receiver, as well as a wireless communications unit and a minicomputer to calculate trajectories. To simplify these calculations, all the quadcopters fly at the same altitude to make the flocking problem two-dimensional. The team say the quadcopters can fly autonomously in lines and circles, and even demonstrate self-organizing behavior when confined to specific volumes of space. Crucially, the flock does not rely on any centralized control for its behavior. The researchers imagine using them for large-scale, redundant observations over wide areas, perhaps for farming, traffic monitoring and, of course, military purposes. They might even put on aerial displays for entertainment purposes."
Via Phoronix comes news that Debian has been ported to the OpenRISC architecture by Christian Svensson. Quoting his mailing list post: "Some people know that I've been working on porting Glibc and doing some toolchain work. My evil master plan was to make a Debian port, and today I'm a happy hacker indeed! ... If anyone want to try this on real hardware (would be very cool to see how this runs IRL), ping me on IRC [#openrisc on freenode] and I'll set you up with instructions how to use debootstrap - just point to a repo with the debs and you're all set, the wonders of binary distributions." For those who don't know, OpenRISC is the completely open source RISC processor intended as the crown jewel of the Opencores project. A working port of glibc and a GNU/Linux distribution is a huge step toward making use of OpenRISC practical. There's a screencast of the system in action, and source on Github (at posting time, it was a month out of date from the looks of it). Christian Svensson's Github account also has repos for the rest of the toolchain.
dcblogs writes with news that the rumored IBM layoffs have begun. "IBM is laying off U.S. employees this week as part of a $1B restructuring, and is apparently trying keep the exact number of cuts secret. The Alliance@IBM, the main source of layoff information at IBM, says the company has stopped including in its resource action documents, given to cut employees, the number of employees selected for a job cut. The union calls it a 'disturbing development.' Meanwhile, two days prior to the layoffs, NY Governor Cuomo announced that it reached a new minimum staffing level agreement with IBM to 'maintain 3,100 high-tech jobs in the Hudson Valley and surrounding areas.' The governor's office did not say how many IBM jobs are now there, but others put estimate it at around 7,000. Lee Conrad, a national coordinator for the Alliance, said the governor's announcement raises some questions for workers and the region. 'Yes, you're trying to protect 3,100 jobs but what about the other 3,900 jobs?' The Alliance estimates that anywhere from 4,000 to 6,000 U.S. workers could be impacted by the latest round of layoffs. IBM says it has more than 3,000 open positions in the U.S., and says the cuts are part of a 'rebalancing' as it shifts investments into new areas of technology, such as cognitive computing." Alliance@IBM has a page collecting reports from people terminated today.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Jorge Cham, author of the comic strip Ph.D. comics, recently found himself on a bus crossing the Israel-Jordan border sitting next to Eilam Gross, head of the Atlas Higgs Group, one of the two groups that found the famous particle. When Cham asked Gross for feedback on the Higgs Boson animation he had done last year, Gross told Cham 'It's all wrong' and noted that he had yet to see a truly correct explanation of what the the Higgs Boson is. For the next three hours Gross, also known as the 'Mick Jagger of physics,' told Cham the story of the Higgs Boson and asked him to put it into a new comic strip. The result is a new comic re-explaining the Higgs Boson. 'So how does this explain things like inertia?' 'That's another bus ride.' As an interesting side note Gross was once asked what Higgs was good for and replied that when [J.J.] Thomson discovered the electron, in 1895, he raised a glass of champagne and proposed a toast 'to the useless electron.'"
KingofGnG writes "DICE is a small emulator dedicated to recreating on a modern computer the arcade games based on discrete circuits: ancient and bizarre entertainment machines where the electronic components required for the game experience were soldered individually on the circuit board and where there was no trace of integrated circuit or CPU. It's an obscure and fascinating kind of emulation, and the offering of emulated games grows richer with each release." Released a few days ago, DICE 0.8 adds support for four new games: Atari's Crossfire and Pin Pong, and Ramtek's Clean Sweep and Wipe Out.
itwbennett writes "Writing about his career decisions, programming language choices, and regrets, Rob Conery says that as a .NET developer he became more reliant on an IDE than he would have with PHP. Blogger, and .NET developer, Matthew Mombrea picks up the thread, coming to the defense of IDEs (Visual Studio in particular). Mombrea argues that 'being a good developer isn't about memorizing the language specific calls, it's about knowing the available ways to solve a problem and solving it using the best technique or tools as you can.' Does using an IDE make you lazy with the language? Would you be better off programming with Notepad?"
An anonymous reader writes "A VP9 video decoder written for FFmpeg, FFvp9, now holds the title of being the world's fastest VP9 video decoder. FFvp9 is faster than Google's de facto VP9 decoder found in libvpx, but this doesn't come as too much of a surprise given that FFmpeg also produced a faster VP8 video decoder than Google a few years back with both single and multi-threaded performance."