Silicon Valley Is Over, Says Silicon Valley ( 304

An anonymous reader shares a New York Times report: In recent months, a growing number of tech leaders have been flirting with the idea of leaving Silicon Valley. Some cite the exorbitant cost of living in San Francisco and its suburbs, where even a million-dollar salary can feel middle class. Others complain about local criticism of the tech industry and a left-wing echo chamber that stifles opposing views. And yet others feel that better innovation is happening elsewhere. "I'm a little over San Francisco," said Patrick McKenna, the founder of High Ridge Venture Partners who was also on the bus tour. "It's so expensive, it's so congested, and frankly, you also see opportunities in other places." Mr. McKenna, who owns a house in Miami in addition to his home in San Francisco, told me that his travels outside the Bay Area had opened his eyes to a world beyond the tech bubble. "Every single person in San Francisco is talking about the same things, whether it's 'I hate Trump' or 'I'm going to do blockchain and Bitcoin,'" he said. "It's the worst part of the social network."

[...] Complaints about Silicon Valley insularity are as old as the Valley itself. Jim Clark, the co-founder of Netscape, famously decamped for Florida during the first dot-com era, complaining about high taxes and expensive real estate. Steve Case, the founder of AOL, has pledged to invest mostly in start-ups outside the Bay Area, saying that "we've probably hit peak Silicon Valley." But even among those who enjoy living in the Bay Area, and can afford to do so comfortably, there's a feeling that success has gone to the tech industry's head. "Some of the engineers in the Valley have the biggest egos known to humankind," Mr. Khanna, the Silicon Valley congressman, said during a round-table discussion with officials in Youngstown.


Why Decentralization Matters ( 93

Chris Dixon has an essay about the long-term promise of blockchain-based networks to upend web-based businesses such as Facebook and Twitter. He writes: When they hit the top of the S-curve, their relationships with network participants change from positive-sum to zero-sum. The easiest way to continue growing lies in extracting data from users and competing with complements over audiences and profits. Historical examples of this are Microsoft vs Netscape, Google vs Yelp, Facebook vs Zynga, and Twitter vs its 3rd-party clients. Operating systems like iOS and Android have behaved better, although still take a healthy 30% tax, reject apps for seemingly arbitrary reasons, and subsume the functionality of 3rd-party apps at will. For 3rd parties, this transition from cooperation to competition feels like a bait-and-switch. Over time, the best entrepreneurs, developers, and investors have become wary of building on top of centralized platforms. We now have decades of evidence that doing so will end in disappointment. In addition, users give up privacy, control of their data, and become vulnerable to security breaches. These problems with centralized platforms will likely become even more pronounced in the future.
Open Source

'How I Coined the Term Open Source' ( 117

Today is the 20th anniversary of the phrase "open source software," which this article says was coined by the executive director of the Foresight Institute, a nonprofit think tank focused on nanotech and artificial intelligence. The phrase first entered the world on February 3rd, 1998, according to Christine Peterson: Of course, there are a number of accounts of the coining of the term, for example by Eric Raymond and Richard Stallman, yet this is mine, written on January 2, 2006. It has never been published, until today. The introduction of the term "open source software" was a deliberate effort to make this field of endeavor more understandable to newcomers and to business, which was viewed as necessary to its spread to a broader community of users... Interest in free software was starting to grow outside the programming community, and it was increasingly clear that an opportunity was coming to change the world... [W]e discussed the need for a new term due to the confusion factor. The argument was as follows: those new to the term "free software" assume it is referring to the price. Oldtimers must then launch into an explanation, usually given as follows: "We mean free as in freedom, not free as in beer." At this point, a discussion on software has turned into one about the price of an alcoholic beverage...

Between meetings that week, I was still focused on the need for a better name and came up with the term "open source software." While not ideal, it struck me as good enough. I ran it by at least four others: Eric Drexler, Mark Miller, and Todd Anderson liked it, while a friend in marketing and public relations felt the term "open" had been overused and abused and believed we could do better. He was right in theory; however, I didn't have a better idea... Later that week, on February 5, 1998, a group was assembled at VA Research to brainstorm on strategy. Attending -- in addition to Eric Raymond, Todd, and me -- were Larry Augustin, Sam Ockman, and attending by phone, Jon "maddog" Hall... Todd was on the ball. Instead of making an assertion that the community should use this specific new term, he did something less directive -- a smart thing to do with this community of strong-willed individuals. He simply used the term in a sentence on another topic -- just dropped it into the conversation to see what happened.... A few minutes later, one of the others used the term, evidently without noticing, still discussing a topic other than terminology. Todd and I looked at each other out of the corners of our eyes to check: yes, we had both noticed what happened...

Toward the end of the meeting, the question of terminology was brought up explicitly, probably by Todd or Eric. Maddog mentioned "freely distributable" as an earlier term, and "cooperatively developed" as a newer term. Eric listed "free software," "open source," and "sourceware" as the main options. Todd advocated the "open source" model, and Eric endorsed this... Eric Raymond was far better positioned to spread the new meme, and he did. Bruce Perens signed on to the effort immediately, helping set up and playing a key role in spreading the new term... By late February, both O'Reilly & Associates and Netscape had started to use the term. After this, there was a period during which the term was promoted by Eric Raymond to the media, by Tim O'Reilly to business, and by both to the programming community. It seemed to spread very quickly.

Peterson remembers that "These months were extremely exciting for open source," adding "Every week, it seemed, a new company announced plans to participate. Reading Slashdot became a necessity, even for those like me who were only peripherally involved. I strongly believe that the new term was helpful in enabling this rapid spread into business, which then enabled wider use by the public."

Wikipedia notes that Linus Torvalds endorsed the term the day after it was announced, that Phil Hughes backed it in Linux Journal, and that Richard Stallman "initially seemed to adopt the term, but later changed his mind."
The Media

LWN.Net Celebrates Its 20th Birthday ( 24

Free software/Linux news site just celebrated its 20th birthday, with publisher Jonathan Corbet calling the last two decades "an amazing journey." LWN published the first edition of their weekly newsletter on January 22, 1998, and Corbet (who also contributes to the Linux kernel) writes today that "It has been quite a ride. We in the free-software community set out to change the world, and we succeeded beyond our wildest expectations."

Here's how he described their second edition the next week... We were arguably helped by the lead news in that edition: Netscape's decision to open-source its "Communicator" web browser. That quickly brought the world's attention to open-source software, though that term would not be invented for a few months yet, and to Linux in particular. LWN was a shadow of what it is now, but it was evidently good enough to ride on that wave and establish itself as a part of the Linux community.
Corbet reviews the highlights. ("Companies discovered our little hobbyist system and invested billions into it, massively accelerating development at all levels of the system...") But he also adds that "Through all of this, we also got to learn some lessons about successfully running a community information source on the net." For the last 16 years the site has supported itself with $7.00-a-month subscriptions, offering early access to their Weekly Edition plus subscriber-only mailing lists, "allowing our content to quickly become part of the community record."

Plus, through events around the world, "we have met -- and become friends with -- many of our readers and many people in the community as a whole. This community is an amazing group of people; it has been a honor and a joy to be a part of it..."

"The free-software community's work is not done, and neither is ours. "

What's The Best TV Show About Working in Tech? ( 197

An anonymous reader writes: Recently Gizmodo hailed "the best show ever made about Silicon Valley", asking its readers one question: why didn't you watch it? They're talking about AMC's Halt and Catch Fire, which their Senior Reviews Editor says "discovered the fascinating, frustrating human side to the soulless monsters who built Silicon Valley." Unfortunately, "nobody watched it. The show never cracked a million live viewers after the pilot episode. It sat firmly on the bubble every season, getting greenlit only by the grace of AMC."

Today Netflix is making that show's fourth (and final) season available -- but is it the best show about working in tech? What about Mr. Robot, Silicon Valley, or The IT Crowd -- or that short-lived X-Files spin-off, The Lone Gunmen?

Has there ever been a good show about geeks -- besides those various PBS documentaries? Leave your own answers in the comments.

What's the best TV show about working in tech?

After 19 Years, DMOZ Will Close, Announces AOL 60

Its volunteer-edited web directory formed the basis for early search offerings from Netscape, AOL, and Google. But 19 years later, there's some bad news. koavf writes: As posted on the DMOZ homepage, the Open Directory Project's web listing will go offline on March 14, 2017. Founded in 1998 as "Gnuhoo", the human-curated directory once powered Google and served as a model for Wikipedia.
A 1998 Slashdot editorial prompted Richard Stallman and the Free Software Foundation to complain about how "Gnu" was used in the site's name. "We renamed GnuHoo to NewHoo," a blog post later explained, "but then Yahoo objected to the 'Hoo' (and our red letters, exclamation point, and 'comical font')." After being acquired for Netscape's "Open Directory Project," their URL became, which was shortened to DMOZ. Search Engine Land predicts the memory of the Open Directory Project will still be kept alive by the NOODP meta tag.

The site was so old that its hierarchical categories were originally based on the hierarchy of Usenet newsgroups. As it nears its expiration date, do any Slashdot readers have thoughts or memories to share about DMOZ?

Mozilla To Drop Support For All NPAPI Plugins In Firefox 52 Except Flash ( 163

The Netscape Plugins API is "an ancient plugins infrastructure inherited from the old Netscape browser on which Mozilla built Firefox," according to Bleeping Computer. But now an anonymous reader writes: Starting March 7, when Mozilla is scheduled to release Firefox 52, all plugins built on the old NPAPI technology will stop working in Firefox, except for Flash, which Mozilla plans to support for a few more versions. This means technologies such as Java, Silverlight, and various audio and video codecs won't work on Firefox.

These plugins once helped the web move forward, but as time advanced, the Internet's standards groups developed standalone Web APIs and alternative technologies to support most of these features without the need of special plugins. The old NPAPI plugins will continue to work in the Firefox ESR (Extended Support Release) 52, but will eventually be deprecated in ESR 53. A series of hacks are available that will allow Firefox users to continue using old NPAPI plugins past Firefox 52, by switching the update channel from Firefox Stable to Firefox ESR.


HPE Acquires SGI For $275 Million ( 100

An anonymous reader writes: Hewlett Packard Enterprise has announced today that it has acquired SGI for $275 million in cash and debt. VentureBeat provides some backstory on the company that makes servers, storage, and software for high-end computing: "SGI (originally known as Silicon Graphics) was cofounded in 1981 by Jim Clark, who later cofounded Netscape with Marc Andreessen. It filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2009 after being de-listed from the New York Stock Exchange. In 2009 it was acquired by Rackable Systems, which later adopted the SGI branding. SGI's former campus in Mountain View, California, is now the site of the Googleplex. SGI, which is now based in Milpitas, California, brought in $533 million in revenue in its 2016 fiscal year and has 1,100 employees, according to the statement. HPE thinks buying SGI will be neutral in terms of its financial impact in the year after the deal is closed, which should happen in the first quarter of HPE's 2017 fiscal year, and later a catalyst for growth." HP split into two separate companies last year, betting that the smaller parts will be nimbler and more able to reverse four years of declining sales.

Marc Andreessen Describes Vision of 'Ambient Computing' ( 106

An anonymous reader writes: Marc Andreessen, co-founder of Netscape, is one of the biggest investors in technology. In an interview with The Telegraph, he spoke about how he envisions the future of computing. It's essentially an extension on the idea of the "Internet of Things." He thinks mobile phones will begin to be replaced in just 10 years. "The idea that we have a single piece of glowing display is too limiting. By then, every table, every wall, every surface will have a screen or can project." Within 20 years, he expects most new physical objects to have some sort of chip implanted within them. "The end state is fairly obvious — every light, every doorknob will be connected to the internet." The term for this is "ambient computing." There will obviously be a transition period — perhaps the so-called internet of things is just an early phase of that transition. But with powerful chips and sensors becoming incredibly cheap, Andreessen's scenario seems possible. I guess it's time to get cracking on those security and privacy concerns.

Replacement For Mozilla Thunderbird? 388

maxcelcat writes: I've used Thunderbird for about a decade, and Netscape Mail before that (I have an email from 1998 from Marc Andreessen, welcoming me to Netscape Email, telling me different fonts can add impact to my emails). Thunderbird has served me well, but it's getting long in the tooth. Given the lack of development and the possibility that it's going End of Life, what should I use instead? I have multiple email accounts and an archive of sixteen years of email. I could get a copy of Outlook, but I don't like it.

Things I like about Thunderbird: Supports multiple email accounts; simple interface; storage structure is not one monolithic file; plain text email editor; filtering. Things I don't like: HTML email editor; folders are hard to change and re-arrange.

Google Earth API Will Be Retired On December 12, 2015 75

An anonymous reader writes Google [on Friday] announced it plans to retire the Google Earth API on December 12, 2015. The reason is simple: Both Chrome and Firefox are removing support for Netscape Plugin Application Programming Interface (NPAPI) plugins due to security reasons, so the API's death was inevitable. The timing makes sense. Last month, Google updated its plan for killing off NPAPI support in Chrome, saying that it would block all plugins by default in January and drop support completely in September. The company also revealed that the Google Earth plugin had dropped in usage from 9.1 percent of Chrome users in October 2013 to 0.1 percent in October 2014. Add dwindling cross-platform support (particularly on mobile devices), and we're frankly surprised the announcement didn't come sooner.

Google Chrome Will Block All NPAPI Plugins By Default In January 107

An anonymous reader writes Google today provided an update on its plan to remove Netscape Plugin Application Programming Interface (NPAPI) from Chrome, which the company says will improve the browser's security, speed, and stability, as well as reduce complexity in the code base. In short, the latest timeline is as follows: Block all plugins by default in January 2015, disable support in April 2015, and remove support completely in September 2015. For context, Google first announced in September 2013 that it was planning to drop NPAPI. At the time, Google said anonymous Chrome usage data showed just six NPAPI plugins were used by more than 5 percent of users, and the company was hoping to remove support from Chrome "before the end of 2014, but the exact timing will depend on usage and user feedback."
The Internet

CSS Proposed 20 Years Ago Today 180

An anonymous reader writes: On 10 October 1994, Opera CTO Hakon Lie posted a proposal for Cascading HTML style sheets. Now, two decades on, CSS has become one of the modern web's most important building blocks. The Opera dev blog just posted an interview with Lie about how CSS came to be, and what he thinks of it now. He says that if these standards were not made, "the web would have become a giant fax machine where pictures of text would be passed along." He also talks about competing proposals around the same time period, and mentions his biggest mistake: not producing a test suite along with the CSS1 spec. He thinks this would have gotten the early browsers to support it more quickly and more accurately. Lie also thinks CSS has a strong future: "New ideas will come along, but they will extend CSS rather than replace it. I believe that the CSS code we write today will be readable by computers 500 years from now."

JavaScript Inventor Brendan Eich Named New CEO of Mozilla 112

darthcamaro (735685) writes "Mozilla today announcedthat Brendan Eich would be its new CEO . Eich had been serving as Mozilla's CTO and has been with Mozilla since day one — literally day one. Eich was a Netscape engineer when AOL decided to create the open-source Mozilla project in 1998. The choice of Eich as CEO seems obvious to some, after a string of recent short-tenured CEOs at Mozilla's helm."

The JavaScript Juggernaut Rolls On 505

JThaddeus writes "An article in TechWorld Australia summarizes the latest opinions on JavaScript from ThoughtWorks: 'There is no end in sight to the rise of JavaScript... "I think JavaScript has been seen as a serious language for the last two or three years; I think now increasingly we're seeing JavaScript as a platform," said Sam Newman, ThoughtWorks' Global Innovation Lead.' The article touches on new additions to JavaScript tools, techniques, and languages built on JavaScript. As the fuller report (PDF) says, 'The ecosystem around JavaScript as a serious application platform continues to evolve. Many interesting new tools for testing, building, and managing dependencies in both server- and client-side JavaScript applications have emerged recently.'"

Oculus Raises $75 Million To Make VR Headset 114

An anonymous reader writes "The company making the VR headset that has John Carmack and many others in the gaming industry excited has just received another $75 million in funding to make it happen. Netscape founder Marc Andreessen is joining the company's board, along with fellow investor Chris Dixon. Dixon had seen a prototype earlier this year, but it wasn't good enough to spark his interest. After recently seeing how the device has progressed since then, he was blown away, comparing it to early demos of the iPhone. 'The dimensions where you need to improve this kind of VR are latency, resolution and head tracking, and they have really nailed those things.' Now that the device is in good shape, Oculus is going to work on turning it into a product they can produce and ship for gamers."

Google Dropping Netscape Plugin API Support In Chrome/Blink 170

An anonymous reader writes "Google today announced it is dropping Netscape Plugin Application Programming Interface support in Chrome. The company will be phasing out support over the coming year, starting with blocking webpage-instantiated plugins in January 2014. Google has looked at anonymous Chrome usage data and estimates that just six NPAPI plug-ins were used by more than 5 percent of users in the last month. To 'avoid disruption' (read: attempt to minimize the confusion) for users, Google will temporarily whitelist the most popular NPAPI plugins: Silverlight, Unity, Google Earth, Google Talk, and Facebook Video." Google offers NaCl as an alternative, and "Moving forward, our goal is to evolve the standards-based web platform to cover the use cases once served by NPAPI."

Netflix Comes To Linux Web Browsers Via 'Pipelight' 303

An anonymous reader writes "With Netflix continuing to rely upon Microsoft Silverlight, the video streaming service hasn't been supported for Linux users as the Mono-based 'Moonlight' implementation goes without Silverlight 5 DRM support. However, there is now Netflix support for Linux-based web-browsers via the open source Pipelight project. Pipelight supports Netflix and other Silverlight-based web applications by having a Netscape plug-in that in turn communicates with a Windows program running under Wine. The Windows program then simulates a browser to load the Silverlight libraries. Netflix then works as the Pipelight developers implemented support for the Netflix DRM scheme within Wine."
The Internet

Apache Web Server Share Falls Below 50 Percent For First Time Since 2009 303

darthcamaro writes "Apache has always dominated the web server landscape. But in August, its share has slipped below 50 percent for the first time in years. The winner isn't nginx either — it's Microsoft IIS that has picked up share. But don't worry, this isn't likely a repeat of the Netscape/IE battle of the late 90's, Apache is here to stay (right?)" The dip is mostly the result of GoDaddy switching to IIS from Apache. Which is to say GoDaddy hosts a whole lot of sites.
The Almighty Buck

Demo Europe Hits Russia — and Start-ups Have To Beg 26

judgecorp writes "The Demo VC funding event has hit Europe (Moscow, specifically), and it is very clear that start-ups in Europe have to compete hard for any venture capital. In its 20 year history in Silicon Valley, Demo is famous for highlighting subsequent success stories such as Netscape, Skype and Demo Europe began with a venture capitalist waxing lyrical on how the shortage of funds means he gets plenty of choice where to put his money. Promising tech start-ups have a series of hoops to jump through including brief pitches. The most promising candidates so far include a Russian social VoIP network and a shared whiteboard."

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