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Education Microsoft Science

Bill Gates Puts Classic Feynman Lectures Online 338

Posted by Soulskill
from the surely-you're-joking dept.
theodp writes "Okay Tux fans, let's see how badly you want to see Feynman's Messenger Lectures on Physics. Bill Gates has the goods over at Microsoft Research's Project Tuva site. Also, CNET's Ina Fried has an interesting interview with Gates. He goes into why he spent his own money to make a series of classic physics lectures available free on the Web, talks about the possibility of Project Natal bringing gesture recognition to Windows, gives his thoughts on Google's Chrome OS, and discusses plans to patent 'cows that don't fart.' The last is a joke. I think."
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Bill Gates Puts Classic Feynman Lectures Online

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  • I know why. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) * on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @01:19PM (#28705333) Journal

    He goes into why he spent his own money to make a series of classic physics lectures available free on the Web

    That's easy. It's a good way to lure technically minded people into installing Silverlight. No sale here Gates, I'll wait until it's available by torrent.

  • by Ilgaz (86384) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @01:30PM (#28705511) Homepage

    You don`t have to be RMS to reject Microsoft`s "me too" technologies cloned by their clowns.

  • by CannonballHead (842625) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @01:30PM (#28705517)

    ... the interview was actually somewhat interesting. I have to say that, whatever I think about MS, Gates is a pretty interesting guy... and appears to be pretty smart and "well rounded. IMO, he made a pretty insightful (mod him +1 ;) ) comment about Google... the more vague it is, the more interesting it is.

    Meh. I didn't like Vista, and kinda like 7 so far. Some MS products are cool. Some are awful. But I do have to say that Gates doesn't usually appear to be a stupid little upstart that got lucky or something like that.

  • by dan_sdot (721837) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @01:30PM (#28705519)

    He goes into why he spent his own money to make a series of classic physics lectures available free on the Web

    Well, one reason I can say for sure is that he happens to have billions of dollars in his bank account. So the cost of doing this is amounts to a rounding error in his checking account. Let's not ascribe too much a sense of moral duty to him for doing this.

    When people sing the praises of the ultra-wealthy who donate a bit of money to this or that, it makes me annoyed a little bit. On the one hand, yes, it is good for them to give money to good causes. But on the other hand, they usually do not donate anything close to being something that they would actually feel. Some do, but most don't.

  • by DAldredge (2353) <SlashdotEmail@GMail.Com> on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @01:33PM (#28705559) Journal
    Isn't Linux "me too" tech too?
  • by nametaken (610866) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @01:33PM (#28705571)

    I don't care that it's MS Research. The irritating part is that my "browser is not compatible" because I don't use silverlight.

    Oh, and regarding Bill's comments on it being a bad idea for Google to have two OS's (Chrome and Android)... MS HAS MORE THAN ONE OS, DUMBSHIT! Is Gates so out of touch that he thinks that win mobiles run Vista?

  • by Ilgaz (86384) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @01:35PM (#28705583) Homepage

    What about some great reading in HTML instead? It tells about where the real IT World was while MS was monkeying with some clone of CP/M

    http://www.longnow.org/views/essays/articles/ArtFeynman.php [longnow.org]

    BTW, dear BillG: There is something called archive.org if you want to donate something to technical community. They offer standard MPEG and OGG files and Flash, which is current de-facto standard can stream them embedded if one is in hurry. Your attempt to kill Flash has failed, fire that team and target something else.

  • Re:I know why. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SpectreBlofeld (886224) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @01:35PM (#28705591)

    Ah well, you're missing out. I watched two lectures last night and was impressed (my first silverlight experience). I use my cell phone as a modem and thus don't get a create connection speed, and watching videos usually requires me to buffer for some time... the lectures played fine and in decent quality. What impressed me, though, were the closed captions that were displayed below the video window.

    Why the knee-jerk reactions to Silverlight? Is it because it doesn't have full Linux support yet? By that regard, by cell phone sucks, my vid card sucks, etc.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @01:37PM (#28705637)

    Isn't all tech "me too" tech of previous tech?

  • Re:I know why. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by jack2000 (1178961) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @01:40PM (#28705661)
    Astroturf much? Yes they do suck, as any tech literate person can tell you even an 8bit microcontroller can run linux. Now take your closedsource software and go away!
  • by Ilgaz (86384) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @01:40PM (#28705671) Homepage

    Funny is Tuva is really close to word Truva in Turkish which is basically the city of Troy. Installing some silverlight clone to be able to watch them really reminds "trojan". :)

  • by mcgrew (92797) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @01:45PM (#28705729) Homepage Journal

    Either way it's pretty childish

    No more childish than requiring Silverlight to read some lectures. No more childish than Windows. No more childish than Microsoft's advertising. No more childish than Ballmer's chair throwing and his "DEVELOPERS! DEVELOPERS! DEVELOPERS!"

    "Childish" is par for the course with Microsoft.

  • Re:I know why. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) * on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @01:45PM (#28705731) Journal

    Why the knee-jerk reactions to Silverlight?

    It's yet another attack vector. I already have a video player on my system, and Silverlight offers me nothing that I can't do without it. It does however potentially contain vulnerabilities that could compromise my system.

  • Re:I know why. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mr crypto (229724) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @01:46PM (#28705761)

    Because requiring Silverlight (and therefore Windows) severely dilutes the notion that Gate's action is altruistic. The content is only kinda free.

  • by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @01:50PM (#28705823) Journal

    ...but this guy still makes me facepalm.

    "It just shows the word browser has become a truly meaningless word," Gates said. "What's a browser? What's not a browser? If you're playing a movie, is that a browser or not a browser? If you're doing annotations, is that a browser? If you're editing text, is that a browser or not a browser? In large part, it's more an abuse of terminology than a real change."

    Editing text has been part of browsing ever since HTML forms were introduced. Playing movies has been part of browsers since QuickTime and RealPlayer -- so, could easily be 10 years.

    And of course, he's playing dumb about the real difference here. It seems like he's trying to suggest that it shouldn't be called a "browser", but rather, we should be talking about text editors and movie players.

    No, see, the difference is whether I can just watch stuff on YouTube, edit text on Google Docs, pretty much do whatever I want on the Internet, without downloading anything other than a browser update. It means I get a fat client to some very cool services -- one that auto-updates the next time I refresh, yet one that's sufficiently sandboxed as not to be able to touch anything else in my OS.

    It also means that when developing such applications, not only are they automatically cross-platform, but I can develop most of the logic as part of the server, and on the server side, I can use whatever technologies and languages I want.

    And this reality is something Microsoft has been fighting since day 1, with the bastardization of web technology that is IE, so I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that Gates doesn't get it. I guess I gave him the benefit of the doubt...

    Ballmer and Gates also stressed the fact that Google now has two operating systems--Chrome OS and Android. Ballmer noted that Microsoft learned with the separate Windows 95 for consumers and Windows NT for businesses that having two operating systems isn't necessarily a positive thing.

    *facepalm*

    Ok, leaving aside the fact that you've got, what, five or six versions of Vista, and it looks as though there will be even more versions of Win7 -- just what does Gates think runs on Windows Mobile? It's not Vista, and it's not Win7.

    Sure, Chrome OS and Android are closer to each other than Windows Mobile and Vista, but they're still directed at different markets -- Chrome OS is meant for netbooks, while Android was meant for mobile phones. Android runs on netbooks, but serves an entirely different purpose -- while NT and Win95 look exactly the same -- oh, and as he pointed out, Android has a browser, meaning anything Chrome OS can do, Android can do -- meaning it's more like comparing Vista Starter with Vista Ultimate, whereas NT and Win95 actually had mutually incompatible software.

  • by avandesande (143899) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @01:51PM (#28705831) Journal

    //It's the Linux kernel with a new UI.//

    You seem to be suggesting that a new interface for linux is passe- but look at what Apple did with BSD.

  • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @01:53PM (#28705869)
    Actually, no, it isn't. There was no GPL'd kernel for GNU before Linux came.
  • by metageek (466836) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @01:59PM (#28705961)

    however much we dislike Gates and M$, we must recognize that he is a serious philantropist and has a record on donations to charity, particularly towards serious world problems like malaria, measles, etc. That is something good I can say about him. Silverlight, on the other hand, is not :(

  • by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @01:59PM (#28705965) Homepage Journal

    The site need Silverlight to view the lectures, so one has to wonder whether Microsoft was looking for a 'killer application' to make people want to install the plug-in.

    On a more optimistic note, does anyone have these lectures in MKV or MPEG4 format, or at least something using a more open format?

  • by Ilgaz (86384) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @02:04PM (#28706023) Homepage

    If your bank requires Silverlight while 98% of Planet has Flash installed, they are desperate for MS money or donation of servers which is not a good thing for banks. It also means there is some MS technology involved in process as opposed to AIX/UNIX/zOS which are "rolls royce" of servers and chosen by banks who prefers reliability to price.

    Same goes for anyone "subscribing" to media outlets for a long time which requires Silverlight . It probably means they are easily bought out.

  • Re:I know why. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jejones (115979) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @02:09PM (#28706065) Journal

    Um, wait. Mono is said to be a free as in speech implementation of C#, but aren't the codecs, which are what really matters for watching video, still proprietary? (Not a rhetorical question; I'd really like to know.)

  • I think that it's great that Gates made Feynman's lectures available for free online. Now, I don't know a lot about physics, but I do know that his lectures were some of the best sources out there to learn it. In addition, there are several outlets available for people to expand their knowledge base, with MIT OpenCourseWare being one of the more popular ones. Heck, people could even use YouTube to gain a better understanding of any one topic. It could even be argued that a source like YouTube is better, since the educational videos I've seen were explained in very simple terms (which are always the best terms).

    That all goes to show that the sources are there, and are very easy to access. You don't even need an account to access nearly the same material as MIT students do! However, Gates was absolutely right in that motivation is a really strong factor in wanting to find that stuff. I think that a source of that waning motivation comes from the desire to find a job, especially "in this economy."

    So many people see school solely as a "means to an end," and many schools set themselves up to be precisely this. When one's goal is simply to graduate, there's "no time" to bother with learning the extra stuff; it's all about the grade in that paradigm.

    I don't want to make this longer than it already is, but what I think would be awesome is to let students "create a major" at the college level. Some schools, like RPI and RIT, already practice this, but it should be practiced much more heavily, especially in the sciences and engineering. As a finishing Computer Engineering student, I'll be the first to say that it kind of sucks that I have to take a ton of classes that will have no practical OR educational use for me, just so that I can graduate under the guidelines of a program. However, that rant is for another time.
  • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @02:17PM (#28706169) Homepage

    But I do have to say that Gates doesn't usually appear to be a stupid little upstart that got lucky or something like that.

    I don't think many people believe that Gates is stupid and merely got lucky. The criticism more likely to be leveled at him is that he got where he is more through business acumen than through producing high-quality products.

  • It's on YouTube (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Latinhypercube (935707) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @02:18PM (#28706173)
    Here :- 1964 Messenger Lecture 1 Character of Physical Law 1 of 7 [youtube.com] I have been loving discovering Feynman. As much as he reveals and explains interesting physics, he also maps the limits of our current understanding. Questions like, how does gravity and matter work, why does light refract, simple aspects of physics that we still don't understand.
  • Re:I know why. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Elektroschock (659467) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @02:18PM (#28706175)

    The problem with Microsoft is that they gave a 50% community promise, expect the next 50% to come soon. In three years Intellectual Ventures, their patent troll could sent you a letter...

  • by rhizome (115711) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @02:21PM (#28706217) Homepage Journal

    Looks like Bill couldn't give something to the world without including a self-serving requirement.

  • by John Hasler (414242) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @02:25PM (#28706257) Homepage

    > It installs and plays on XP in a virtual machine.

    Only if one has a copy of XP.

  • Re:I know why. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @02:29PM (#28706303)

    Why the knee-jerk reactions to Silverlight?

    It might have something to do with the knee-jerk reactions to Linux from Microsoft's CEO. When one starts rattling sabers, it's not entirely unfair to think that there might be a willingness to follow through.

  • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @02:30PM (#28706315) Homepage

    But on the other hand, they usually do not donate anything close to being something that they would actually feel. Some do, but most don't.

    Well I think Bill Gates, when you add up a lot of the things he's done, has donated more than what would be a rounding error. Still, you can look at all these things in the sense that it's no more generous for Gates to give away a few billion dollars than it is courageous for Superman to jump in front of a bullet. The hurt isn't large. It's not as though Gates is going to cease to live an extremely comfortable lifestyle. What's more, you could argue that something like this is just robbing Peter to pay Paul. Gates is screwing society out of billions of dollars through underhanded business tactics, only to give back a portion of the money through charitable donations.

    You can argue those things, but on the other hand, it's not always worth looking a gift horse in the mouth. He's donating more than he's required to, and doing it of his own free will. May as well be pleased about that.

  • by Macthorpe (960048) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @02:55PM (#28706647) Journal

    Yeah, that's right. It couldn't be that you're not funny - someone is being paid to not laugh at you.

    Wow.

  • by Question Mark (22135) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @02:55PM (#28706659)

    So let me get this straight: an employee of a public institution (Cal Tech) gave some speeches that were recorded by a government-funded entity (the BBC), and in order to release those recordings to the public, a private individual (Bill Gates) had to purchase the rights? And rather than release in them in a standards-based format, we instead have to to download and install proprietary software (Silverlight) that we may not want on our computers?

  • Re:I know why. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @02:56PM (#28706665) Homepage

    Why the knee-jerk reactions to Silverlight?

    What makes you think it's a knee-jerk reaction rather than a well reasoned reaction from years of experience dealing with Microsoft?

    For most users, Silverlight doesn't provide any real benefits. The whole thing was invented, not to fill a need, but to push Microsoft's vendor lock-in.

    Sure, they support OSX. For now. They also used to release IE for OSX, but they stopped updating it, letting it fall behind IE for Windows, and then killed it off. They also used to sell Outlook for OSX, before killing it and replacing it with a substandard version that didn't support Exchange servers. Their broadness of support only seems to last as long as it takes them to dominate that particular market, and then they drop support in order to drive everyone back to Windows.

    So now, tell me, except for Microsoft putting up content like this on their own site and requiring Silverlight, what reason do I have to install the thing at all? What reason did Microsoft have for using Silverlight instead of just letting people play the video files?

  • by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @03:00PM (#28706731) Homepage

    So Billy G wants to bring "...[the wonders of science to everyone]..." except for those of us not using Internet Explorer...ahhh...so refreshing!

    The site works fine in both Firefox and Safari, on my Mac.

  • Re:I know why. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AlexBirch (1137019) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @03:25PM (#28707059) Homepage

    Because requiring Silverlight (and therefore Windows) severely dilutes the notion that Gate's action is altruistic. The content is only kinda free

    Silverlight does not require Windows. It is available for Mac, also, where it runs flawlessly. Windows + Mac covers around 99% of personal computers.

    But here at Slashdot, Windows + Mac only only 50% of users.

    --
    Written from Lynx

  • Re:I know why. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) * on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @03:27PM (#28707089) Journal

    Very rarely. When I do, I use any one of a number of available tools that fetch the .flv and watch it with mplayer. A simple http:/// [http] link to a video file is superior in every imaginable way to this embedded garbage.

  • Re:I know why. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @03:30PM (#28707119)

    Why the knee-jerk reactions to Silverlight? Is it because it doesn't have full Linux support yet?

     

    maybe because of years of Microsoft taking anything gathering momentum and spinning a version tied up and into Windows and many times illegally and many times using strong arm tactics. Did you read how they flooded the International Standards Organization with Microsoft business partners to stuff the ballots so MS OOXML was accepted? They even offered to pay the admission fees and handed them speaking points. There's huge list of these things and little has to do with providing the best solution and most is about anchoring a product and therefore the customers to Windows. Silverlight is just another anchor tied to Windows and it does not matter if they have a version for the Mac, that'll only last long enough to help kill Adobe Flash. yes, that is their motivation just as IE was nothing more than to kill Navigator, MS Visual J++ to kill Java, MS DirectX to kill OpenGL, etc, etc, etc. And yes, their primary business model is to lock people into their platform. So unless you like the MS logo tatooed on your forehead, you stay away from them as a fight for choice. As funny as that sounds.
     

    Microsoft has not shown a single instance where it has changed over the years so screw MS Silverlight, screw MS .NET, and anything else they produce.

  • Re:I know why. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Fujisawa Sensei (207127) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @03:45PM (#28707297) Journal

    Because requiring Silverlight (and therefore Windows) severely dilutes the notion that Gate's action is altruistic. The content is only kinda free.

    Wrong. Choose to use it or not as you wish but dont spread incorrect information.

    Silverlight for Mac-> download [microsoft.com]

    And of course you can choose the Mono implementation if you want FOSS versions instead Mono-> download [mono-project.com]

    I'll give you 3 reasons to not use Silverlight, even the Mono implementation:

    1. embrace
    2. extend
    3. extinguish
  • Re:I know why. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by benwaggoner (513209) <<moc.tfosorcim> <ta> <renoggaw.neb>> on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @03:56PM (#28707443) Homepage

    I already have a video player on my system, and Silverlight offers me nothing that I can't do without it.

    Sure it can. Check out the player experience, and its navigation, commentary, captioning, etcetera. And it uses Smooth Streaming to provide proxy-cachable video at multiple bitrates.

    http://alexzambelli.com/blog/2009/03/27/smooth-streaming-white-paper/ [alexzambelli.com]

    It does however potentially contain vulnerabilities that could compromise my system

    FWIW, Silverlight so far has had 0 exploits over three versions. It's done well compared to other media players in the same period. One advantage of a relatively recent technology is that it was designed for security from the get-go, after the web had shifted to its current "presumed hostile" state.

  • by ciantic (626550) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @04:06PM (#28707591)
    Reading about the interview of Bill Gates, made me wonder, does he truly truly want the videos to be free and available to everybody?

    What are the licenses of the videos?

    I suspect I couldn't copy them elsewhere, for free. According to article, "Gates said that he hoped his action would serve as a model for taking great educational content and making it broadly available for free." [emphasis mine] yes, broadly available, but locked to single distributor. This does limit the free a lot! I wonder was this the intention of then relatively naive 30-year-old Bill Gates too, I suspect not. Article gave me impression that Gates truly (once) wanted them to be free.

    I'm having hard time with Tuva myself, mainly because I cannot watch them by streaming without interruptions. And I couldn't pick them with me and show them to someone not connected to Tuva.

    If the purpose of this stunt is to share the knowledge, then please, make them available as download also.
  • Re:I know why. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dolohov (114209) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @04:16PM (#28707689)

    Look at it this way: assume for a moment that he wants to be altruistic. The technologies available to him to do this the way he wants are Silverlight and Flash. He's a Microsoft fan, he naturally chooses Silverlight - or more likely, the Microsoft lackey he gives the job to chooses it out of fear of being berated for choosing something "inferior".

    So, looking from the outside, the altruistic explanation looks exactly the same as the conniving one.

  • Re:I know why. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @04:23PM (#28707781)

    FWIW, Silverlight so far has had 0 exploits over three versions. It's done well compared to other media players in the same period. One advantage of a relatively recent technology is that it was designed for security from the get-go, after the web had shifted to its current "presumed hostile" state.

    A reasonable track record so far. It makes a nice point. However, exactly when did the 'web shift to a "presumed hostile" state?

    I ask because by my count, we've been in a hostile environment for years. And throughout those years, Microsoft has either introduced some very disturbing implementations or promised secure implementations that later fall short of these grand claims.

    I don't want to completely discount Microsoft's improved attitude towards security. But there isn't an entirely solid track record there to warrent the kind of confidence you seem to think people should have in yet a new implementation of "a relatively recent technology."

  • I'll simply say (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Vadim Makarov (529622) <makarov@vad1.com> on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @05:11PM (#28708347) Homepage

    Bill Gates, thank you!

    I will watch them all.

  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland@@@yahoo...com> on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @05:43PM (#28708735) Homepage Journal

    "Perhaps not, but why reject them completely out of hand? "

    because of their business practices?

  • by Alex Belits (437) * on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @08:27PM (#28710733) Homepage

    Linux reimplemented Unix, thus joining tyhe family of the best operating systems ever created.
    Moonlight tries to reimplement Silverlight, some piece of crap from Microsoft with no technical merit whatsoever.

  • Re:I know why. (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @09:43PM (#28711333)

    Except if you had bothered to check it out, you'd know that it is significantly more than just video.

    Wait, what am I saying? Expecting someone to RTFA on slashdot? Sorry, resume ranting.

It is the quality rather than the quantity that matters. - Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4 B.C. - A.D. 65)

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