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'Twas the Week Before the Week of Black Friday 145

theodp writes: It's almost time for America's answer to the Running of the Bulls (YouTube), kids. So, if you're dreaming of a cheap tech Christmas, it's time to peruse the 2015 Black Friday ads and make your game plan. Get lucky at Best Buy this year, and you could score a $299.99 Dell 15.6" touchscreen laptop (i3, 8GB memory, 1 TB HD), a $399.99 Microsoft 10.8" Surface 3 (Atom x7, 2GB memory, 64GB storage), $899.99 MacBook Pro 13.3" laptop (i5, 4GB memory, 500MB HD), $99 Acer 11.6" Chromebook (Celeron, 2GB memory, 16GB storage), or, for those on a tight budget, a $34.99 7" Amazon Fire tablet. Fight the crowds at Walmart, and you could snag a $199 HP 15.6" laptop (Celeron, 4GB memory, 500GB drive) or $199 iPad mini 2. And for stay-at-home shoppers, Dell's Windows 10 price-breakers include a $149.99 14" laptop (Celeron, 2GB memory, 32GB storage) and a $229 15.6" laptop (i3, 4GB memory, 500MB HD). So, in your experience, has Black Friday been like a claw machine — suckering you with big prizes, but never delivering — or have you actually walked away with a great deal?

HP Is Now Two Companies. How Did It Get Here? ( 198

New submitter joshroberts3388 writes: If Hollywood wanted a script about the inexorable decline of a corporate icon, it might look to Hewlett-Packard for inspiration. Once one of Silicon Valley's most respected companies, HP officially split itself in two on Sunday, betting that the smaller parts will be nimbler and more able to reverse four years of declining sales. HP fell victim to huge shifts in the computer industry that also forced Dell to go private and have knocked IBM on its heels. Pressure from investors compelled it to act. But there are dramatic twists in HP's story, including scandals, a revolving door for CEOs and one of the most ill-fated mergers in tech history, that make HP more than a victim of changing times.

HP To Shut Down Its OpenStack Based Public Cloud ( 89

An anonymous reader writes: Hewlett-Packard, which has been backing off on ambitious public cloud plans for a year, is now calling it quits, sunsetting HP Helion Public cloud in January 2016. in a buzzword-laden blog post, the company says its building out support for interoperability with Amazon and Microsoft public cloud offerings to provide options for customers who require such functionality. "HP’s decision is the latest milestone in what has been a slow fade for the company’s public cloud ambitions. It has become increasingly clear that there are three, maybe four companies that can support (at scale) the massive shared computing, networking, and storage infrastructure necessary for a public cloud. ... HP will continue pushing its private and hybrid cloud."

Why Many CSS Colors Have Goofy Names ( 77

An anonymous reader writes: Take a look at the list of named colors within the CSS Color Module Level 4. The usual suspects are there, like 'red,' 'cyan,' and 'gold,' as well as some slightly more descriptive ones: 'lightgrey,' 'yellowgreen,' and 'darkslateblue.' But there are also some really odd names: 'burlywood,' 'dodgerblue,' 'blanchedalmond,' and more. An article at Ars walks through why these strange names became part of a CSS standard. Colors have been added to the standard piece by piece over the past 30 years — here's one anecdote: "The most substantial release, created by Paul Raveling, came in 1989 with X11R4. This update heralded a slew of light neutral tones, and it was a response to complaints from Raveling's coworkers about color fidelity. ... Raveling drew these names from an unsurprising source: the (now-defunct) paint company Sinclair Paints. It was an arbitrary move; after failing to receive sanctions from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), which issued standards for Web color properties, Raveling decided to take matters into his own hands. He calibrated the colors for his own HP monitor. 'Nuts to ANSI & "ANSI standards,"' he complained."

Microsoft's Mission To Reignite the PC Sector ( 267 writes: Sales of personal computers have been declining for so long — 14 consecutive quarters — that it's hard remember a time when PCs ruled the tech world. Now Nick Wingfield writes in the NY Times that Microsoft is leading the way on a mission to re-ignite the PC market by taking the once-unthinkable step of competing with its hardware partners. This week, Microsoft dived even further into the business with a laptop device, the Surface Book. The stated reason that Microsoft got into the PC hardware business three years ago, with the original Surface, was not to put PC companies out of business — but to better illustrate the capabilities of its software, providing devices that would inspire PC makers to be more innovative.

One of the most remarkable things about Microsoft's growing presence in the hardware business is that it has not led to open revolt among its partners. Initially, many of them were not happy about Microsoft's moves, complaining in private. "It's positioned as a laptop, very squarely against the MacBook Pro as an example. But that could also be extended to a Dell XPS 13, or an HP x360," says Patrick Moorhead. One reason there hasn't been more pushback from OEMs is that Microsoft's Surface business is still relatively small. Another is that the money Microsoft has poured into marketing Surface has raised the broader profile of Windows PCs. While Microsoft obviously risks alienating its partners, it's doing so with a much bigger fight in mind. "Right now Microsoft really believes that it has to have a combined hardware, software, and services play to go up against the likes of Apple," says Moorhead. "That's why it's doing this. That's why it's taking such an aggressive stance now, moving to laptops."


How Steve Jobs Outsmarted Carly Fiorina 328 writes: Carly Fiorina likes to boast about her friendship with Apple founder Steve Jobs but Fortune Magazine reports that it turns out Carly may have outfoxed of by Apple's late leader. In January 2004, Steve Jobs and Carly Fiorina cut a deal where HP could slap its name on Apple's wildly successful iPod and sell it through HP retail channels but HP still managed to botch things up. The MP3 player worked just like a regular iPod, but it had HP's logo on the back and in return HP agreed to continue pre-loading iTunes onto its PCs. According to Steven Levy soon after the deal with HP was inked, Apple upgraded the iPod, making HP's version outdated and because of Fiorina's deal HP was banned from selling its own music player until August 2006. "This was a highly strategic move to block HP/Compaq from installing Windows Media Store on their PCs," says one Apple source. "We wanted iTunes Music store to be a definitive winner. Steve only did this deal because of that."

In short, Fiorina's "good friend" Steve Jobs blithely mugged her and HP's shareholders. By getting Fiorina to adopt the iPod as HP's music player, Jobs had effectively gotten his software installed on millions of computers for free, stifled his main competitor, and gotten a company that prided itself on invention to declare that Apple was a superior inventor.

IBM Scientists Find New Way To Shrink Transistors 100

MarcAuslander writes that IBM scientists have discovered a way to replace silicon semiconductors with carbon nanotube transistors, an innovation the company hopes will dramatically improve chip performance and get the industry past the limits of Moore's law. According to the Times: In the semiconductor business, it is called the 'red brick wall' — the limit of the industry's ability to shrink transistors beyond a certain size. On Thursday, however, IBM scientists reported that they now believe they see a path around the wall. Writing in the journal Science, a team at the company's Thomas J. Watson Research Center said it has found a new way to make transistors from parallel rows of carbon nanotubes.

Carly Fiorina: I Supplied HP Servers For NSA Snooping 488

MFingS writes: According to an article at Motherboard, shortly after 9/11, NSA director Michael Hayden requested extra computing power and Carly Fiorina, then CEO of HP, responded by re-routing truckloads of servers to the agency. Fiorina acknowledged providing the servers to the NSA during an interview with Michael Isikoff in which she defended warrantless surveillance (as well as waterboarding) and framed her collaboration with the NSA in patriotic terms. Fiorina's compliance with Hayden's request for HP servers is but one episode in a long-running and close relationship between the GOP presidential hopeful and U.S. intelligence agencies.

The #NoEstimates Debate: An Unbiased Look At Origins, Arguments, and Leaders 299

New submitter MikeTechDude writes: Estimates have always been an integral part of the software development process. In recent years, however, developers, including Woody Zuill and Vasco Duarte, have begun to question the efficacy, and even the purpose, of using estimates to predict a project's cost and time line. A fierce debate has sprung up on Twitter, between those calling for an end to estimates and those who continue to champion their use in a professional setting. On the surface, it would appear that the debate is black and white. Proponents of the #NoEstimates Twitter hashtag are promoting a hard stop to all estimates industry-wide, and critics of the movement are insisting on a conservative approach that leaves little room for innovation. However, the reality of the debate has unfolded in far more complex, nuanced shades of gray. HP's Malcolm Isaacs digs deep and pinpoints where the debate started, where it now stands, and what its implications are for the future of software development. Meanwhile, Martin Heller offers his less unbiased approach with his post, #NoEstimates? Not so fast.

Startups Push 3D Printers As Industry Leaders Falter 101

gthuang88 writes: Given the hype around 3D printing, you'd never guess that established leaders like 3D Systems and Stratasys have seen their stock fall by 75 percent in the last year. Big companies like HP, Amazon, and Boeing are getting into the field, too, but startups are still where a lot of the action is. Now Formlabs, a Boston-area startup, has released a new 3D printer that is supposed to be more reliable and higher quality than its predecessors. The device uses stereolithography and is aimed at professional designers and engineers. The question is whether Formlabs---and other startups like MarkForged, Voxel8, and Desktop Metal---can find enough of a market to survive until 3D printing becomes a more mainstream form of manufacturing.

Michigan Sues HP Over Decade Long, $49 Million Incomplete Project 203

itwbennett writes: On Friday, embattled HP was hit with a new lawsuit filed by the state of Michigan over a 10-year-old, $49 million project that called for HP to replace a legacy mainframe-based system built in the 1960s. Through the suit filed in Kent County Circuit Court, the state seeks $11 million in damages along with attorney's fees and the funds needed to rebid and re-procure the contract.

Ask Slashdot: Recommendations For a Reliable Linux Laptop? 237

An anonymous reader writes: I will be looking for a new laptop soon and I'm mostly interested in high reliability and Linux friendliness. I have been using an MSI laptop (with Windows 7) for the last five years as my main workhorse and did not have a single, even minor problem with the hardware nor the OS. It turned out to be a slam-dunk, although I didn't do any particular research before buying it, so I was just lucky. I would like to be more careful this time around, so this is a hardware question: What laptop do you recommend for high reliability with Linux? I will also appreciate any advice on what to avoid and any unfortunate horror stories; I guess we can all learn from those. Anti-recommendations are probably just as valuable, a lesson I learned when an HP laptop I bought (low-end, I admit) turned out to be notoriously fickle when it comes to Linux support. Since our anonymous submitter doesn't specify his budget, it would be good if you specify the price for any specific laptops you recommend.

HP To Jettison Up To 30,000 Jobs As Part of Spinoff 273

An anonymous reader writes: Hewlett-Packard says its upcoming spinoff of its technology divisions focused on software, consulting and data analysis will eliminate up to 30,000 jobs. The cuts announced Tuesday will be within the newly formed Hewlett Packard Enterprise, which is splitting from the Palo Alto, California company's personal computer and printing operation. "The new reductions amount to about 10 percent of the new company's workforce, and will save about $2.7 billion in annual operating costs." The split is scheduled to be completed by the end of next month. "The head of the group, Mike Nefkens, outlined a plan under which it is cutting jobs in what he called 'high-cost countries' and moving them to low-cost countries. He said that by the end of HP Enterprise’s fiscal year 2018, only 40 percent of the group’s work force will be located in high-cost countries."

Vietnam's Tech Boom: a Look Inside Southeast Asia's Silicon Valley 40

rjmarvin writes: Vietnam is in the midst of a tech boom. The country's education system is graduating thousands of well-educated software engineers and IT professionals each year, recruited by international tech companies like Cisco, Fujitsu, HP, IBM, Intel, LG, Samsung, Sony, Toshiba and others setting up shop in the southern tech hub of Ho Chi Minh City and the central coastal city of Da Nang. Young Vietnamese coders and entrepreneurs are also launching more and more startups, encouraged by government economic policies encouraging small businesses and a growing culture around innovation in the country.

Microsoft, Dell Aim To Sell Surfaces To Businesses 74

jfruh writes: Microsoft became an OS and PC behemoth in part by relentless focus on business sales, and is partnering with old friend Dell to try to recreate that success, trying to woo companies into buying Surface Pros loaded with Windows 10. It may seem topsy-turvey that Dell would be selling someone else's hardware, but Dell is offering ancillary services, including warranties, on the Microsoft hardware.

Facebook's Solution To 'One of Education's Biggest Problems' Is a Dashboard 63

theodp writes: Gushing in July that Facebook engineers had solved one of education's biggest problems, Melinda Gates perhaps set up Segway-like expectations for Facebook's education software. And while The Verge sings the praises of what appears to be progress-tracking dashboards that connect students to mostly free 3rd-party lessons — not unlike Khan Academy or even the 50-year-old PLATO system — it's hard to get jazzed based on the screenshots (1, 2, 3) that Facebook provided in a .zip file accompanying its announcement. The "personalized learning plan" dashboards are a joint effort of Facebook and the Meg Whitman-led and backed Summit charter schools. In a nice circle-of-tech-CEO-education-reform-life twist, the first Summit high school opened in a building in Redwood City after students attending the Bill Gates-touted and backed Silicon Valley High Tech High charter there were evicted to make way, and the Gates Foundation is now spending $8M to bring HP CEO Whitman's Summit charter schools — and presumably Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's personalized learning plans — to Seattle children.

Ubuntu Is the Dominant Cloud OS 167

An anonymous reader writes: According to a new report by Cloud Market, Ubuntu is more than twice as popular on Amazon EC2 as all other operating systems combined. Given that Amazon Web Services has 57% of the public cloud market, Ubuntu is clearly the most popular OS for cloud systems. This is further bolstered by a recent OpenStack survey, which found that more than half of respondents used Ubuntu for cloud-based production environments. Centos was a distant second at 29%, and RHEL came in third at 11%. "In addition to AWS, Ubuntu has been available on HP Cloud, and Microsoft Azure since 2013. It's also now available on Google Cloud Platform, Fujitsu, and Joyent." The article concludes, "People still see Ubuntu as primarily a desktop operating system. It's not — and hasn't been for some time."
Data Storage

Oakland Changes License Plate Reader Policy After Filling 80GB Hard Drive 275

An anonymous reader writes: License plate scanners are a contentious subject, generating lots of debate over what information the government should have, how long they should have it, and what they should do with it. However, it seems policy changes are driven more by practical matters than privacy concerns. Earlier this year, Ars Technica reported that the Oakland Police Department retained millions of records going back to 2010. Now, the department has implemented a six-month retention window, with older data being thrown out. Why the change? They filled up the 80GB hard drive on the Windows XP desktop that hosted the data, and it kept crashing.

Why not just buy a cheap drive with an order of magnitude more storage space? Sgt. Dave Burke said, "We don't just buy stuff from Amazon as you suggested. You have to go to a source, i.e., HP or any reputable source where the city has a contract. And there's a purchase order that has to be submitted, and there has to be money in the budget. Whatever we put on the system, has to be certified. You don't just put anything. I think in the beginning of the program, a desktop was appropriate, but now you start increasing the volume of the camera and vehicles, you have to change, otherwise you're going to drown in the amount of data that's being stored."
Desktops (Apple)

Could the Best Windows 10 Laptop Be a Mac? 435

dkatana writes: Now that Windows 10 is finally out there many people are looking for the best laptop with the power to make the new OS shine. The sweet spot appears to be in $900-$1500 machines from Dell, Asus and HP. But Apple, the company that has been fighting Windows for ever, has other options for Windows 10: the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. According to InformationWeek there are many reasons to consider purchasing a MacBook as the next Windows machine, including design, reliability, performance, battery life, display quality and better keyboard. Also MacBooks have a higher resell value, retaining up to 50% of their price after five years.