Archive for the 'computers' Category

Ubuntu Core 16 for IoT released

Ubuntu Core 16 for the Internet of Things was released a few days agoa, to provide enhanced security and app store support for connected devices.

Ubuntu Core 16 uses Ubuntu’s snap packages technology to ensure that IoT applications access only necessary data. The operating system and kernel in Ubuntu Core also are delivered as snaps.

“Ubuntu Core 16 solves two critical systemic questions: how to achieve IoT security and how to address the critical focus on software,”said Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Ubuntu and Canonical.

 

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New random()

A new advance on a method known as a randomness extractor makes it easier for machines generate truly random numbers by harvesting randomness from the environment.

The new randomness extractor combines two independent sources of weakly random numbers into one set that is nearly random, with only minor deviations. Then the researchers use a “resilient function,” a method of combining information, to turn the string of numbers into one truly random bit — a 1 or 0.

Compared with the previous state-of-the-art randomness extractors, which required input that was already very close to random, the new method can mine sources that are “much, much, much, much weaker,” says computer scientist Avi Wigderson of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J. The new extractor is a “substantial improvement over the previous results, and it’s very close to the best you can hope for.”

Just a matter of time.

Multi-planet-systemThe Kepler mission has been a great success up to now.  The Kepler space telescope was created to search for solar systems with multiple planets, and the results have been astonishing so far. According to Ian o’Neil’s article on discovery.com :

“The number of known multi-planetary star systems has just tripled. What’s more, the Kepler space telescope science team has just announced that they have doubled the number of confirmed exoplanetary sightings made by the observatory.”

“Prior to the Kepler mission, we knew of perhaps 500 exoplanets across the whole sky,” said Doug Hudgins, Kepler program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. “Now, in just two years staring at a patch of sky not much bigger than your fist, Kepler has discovered more than 60 planets and more than 2,300 planet candidates. This tells us that our galaxy is positively loaded with planets of all sizes and orbits.”

It seems that it’s only a matter of time before we find the first habitable planet – like earth- in a nearby star system. This could very well be the greatest discovery of all times !

Having your way with statistics

The British government released the official figures on the level of illegal file sharing in the UK. According to them, 7m people are engaged in illegal file sharing in UK alone.

How did they come up with this number you say ? PcPro traced the number and came up with a nice story.

It all started when the music industry trade body (BPI) commisioned a private survey to Jupiter Research. Jupiter research interviewed 1,176 house holds with internet access and, 136 of them admitted that they have been engaged to illegal file sharing. This 11.6% figure was then changed to 16.3% “to reflect the assumption that fewer people admit to file sharing than actually do it.” (Just to be on the safe side).

The official figure of english people with internet access is 33.9 million but Jupiter Research chose the number 40 Million, for no reason at all (or maybe to compensate for the households that use their neighbours’ wifi connection).

So they got the number 6.52 million (40*0.163) which was rounded up to 7 million propably because their software couldn’t handle floating points.

A few months later, the Strategic Advisory Board for Intellectual Property -a Government advisory body- commissioned the research from a team of academics at University College London, who apparently got the 7m figure from this interesting study.

nice huh ?

The normal result of this study, taking the real numbers into account would be 33.9*0.116 = 3.93 million. But this is still based on a 1000-answers telephone survey, and should be further rounded *down* , for example to compensate for all the house holds that do not have a telephone line. But, hey, what can you do, it is an official number now.

The 7 sins of windows 7

Free software foundation has launched a campaign against the upcoming windows 7 operating system, listing 7 of its “sins” that should be considered before using it. Windows 7 is destined to dominate the world computing for the next years, so people should really be informed of what this will mean.

The sins listed are :

1. Poisoning education

2. Invading privacy

3. Monopoly behavior

4. Lock-in

5. Abusing standards

6. Enforcing Digital Restrictions Management (DRM)

7. Threatening user security

Quoting from the site:

“Microsoft is up to their usual tricks again — only this time, they’re also inserting artificial restrictions into the operating system itself. While not the first time they’ve done this, this is the first release of Windows that can magically remove limitations instantly upon purchasing a more expensive version from Microsoft.”

If this is true, it is crystal clear that the software industry is no longer governed by free market laws. You cannot pull tricks like that if there is a chance that you will lose money or market share. The operating system market is a Microsoft Monopoly for decades now, and rumors of such tactics have been heard before. But lately, windows have been faced with increased competition from Apple and Linux.

However, the much needed competition in the operating system market will come to a full stop if MS is allowed once more to illegaly use its monopoly power to keep users tied to their products.