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Idle

Ask Slashdot: Really Short Time Wasters? 279

Posted by samzenpus
from the time-to-widdle dept.
rueger writes "At various times during the day I need a quick break from serious work. Browsing the 'net is not a good choice because it invariably winds up consuming an hour on places like Slashdot, so right now that means my break is a game of Solitaire. Loads in seconds, takes maybe a minute to play, then back to stuff that matters. I'm wondering what other goodies could fill that role — maybe games, maybe something that actually leads to knowledge, skills, or a measurable output? Think of it as an on-screen micro-hobby. Any Ideas?"
IOS

Ask Slashdot: What Features Belong In a 'Smartwatch'? 322

Posted by Soulskill
from the anything-james-bond-had dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "If the rumors are true, and Apple is indeed hard at work on a newfangled timepiece (dubbed the 'iWatch'), what unique features could such a device offer a public already overloaded with all sorts of handheld devices? Answer that question, and you're perhaps one step closer to figuring out why Apple — again, if the rumors are true — decided to devote millions of dollars and the precious hours of some very smart people in the effort. This article suggests voice control (via Siri), biometrics, mobile payments, and other possible features, but there must be loads of others that someone could think up."
Programming

Ask Slashdot: Making Side-Money As a Programmer? 257

Posted by Soulskill
from the let-me-talk-to-you-about-fractions-of-pennies dept.
earlzdotnet writes "I've been programming for a few years now, and I have a full time job. I'm one of those lucky souls that actually enjoy programming, so I commonly work on my own open source projects on weekends. However, I wouldn't mind working on a short-term projects (i.e. not more than ~2 months) every once in a while on weekends. I've looked at freelancing before, and I could probably make more money by working at McDonald's on weekends than that. I've also looked into making web sites for small businesses, but it requires a bit too much commitment and support for me, especially since I'm terrible at graphics design. I've tried my hand at writing reusable components to sell to other programmers, but that was pretty pointless (I made one $20 sale). I've seen teaching suggested, but I'm self-taught and probably not experienced enough to responsibly teach people. Are there any other options to make a bit of cash as a programmer? Is programming just one of those things that requires complete dedication, or what?"
Sun Microsystems

Of the Love of Oldtimers - Dusting Off a Sun Fire V1280 Server 281

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the mine-bitcoins-while-heating-your-home dept.
vikingpower writes "Today, I decided to acquire a refurbished Sun Fire V1280 server, with 8 CPUs. The machine will soon or may already belong to a certain history of computing. This project is not about high-performance computing, much more about lovingly dusting off and maintaining a piece of hardware considered quirky by 2013 standards. And Now the question creeps to mind: what software would Slashdotters run on such a beast, once it is upgraded to 12 procs and, say, 24 GiB of RAM ?"
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: Best Alternative To the Canonical Computer Science Degree? 347

Posted by samzenpus
from the this-is-taking-forever dept.
connorblack writes "I want to be a web developer, and everyday I ask myself the same question: why am I wasting my time getting a computer science degree? I feel like I'm trapped- most of the courses I spend all my time on are far removed from the skills I need to succeed as a web developer. But on the other hand, I can't imagine another degree that would allow me to stay in a programming mindset. The fact is that web development has taken huge bounds in the last few years, and sadly most universities haven't caught up. Computer science is a field that overlaps with web development, but getting a computer science degree to become a web developer is like getting a zoology degree to become a veterinarian. Close, but no cigar. So here's the deal: I'm in my second year of a computer science degree, and the thought of wasting two more years, getting left in the dust, and becoming irrelevant has me horrified. I want to start my web development career now. Or at least as soon as possible. I can drop out and devote 6 months to teaching myself, but I want something more structured. Something that has the benefits of a classroom and an authority figure, but which teaches me exactly what I need to know to do what I want to do. Any suggestions?"
Bug

What To Do When an Advised BIOS Upgrade Is Bad? 467

Posted by timothy
from the wishful-thinking dept.
Bomarc writes "Twice now I've been advised to 'flash the BIOS to the latest,' once by a (major) hard drive controller maker (RAID); once by an OEM (who listed the update as 'critical,' and has removed older versions of the BIOS). Both times, the update has bricked an expensive piece of equipment. Both times, the response after the failed flash was 'It's not our problem, it's out of warranty.' Given that they recommended / advised that the unit be upgraded, shouldn't they shoulder the responsibility of BIOS upgrade failure? Also, if their design had sockets rather than soldering on parts, one could R/R the faulty part (BIOS chip), rather than going to eBay and praying. Am I the only one that has experienced this type of problem? Have you been advised to upgrade a BIOS (firmware); and the upgrade bricked the part or system? If so, what did you do? Should I name the companies?"
Firefox

Ask Slashdot: Do Most Programmers Understand the English Language? 330

Posted by Soulskill
from the only-if-they've-called-the-right-libraries dept.
Shadoefax writes "I have been developing Firefox add-ons for several years and all so far submitted to AMO have been translated (localized) into several different languages. My latest add-on is geared more to the web developer as opposed to the average web browsing user. (It is a utility for examining JavaScript Objects and their methods and properties.) By my reckoning, I believe JavaScript, HTML, CSS and the DOM are all pretty much designed to be easily understood by English language readers. My question is this: Can I assume that most programmers understand the English language well enough that I may forego localizing the UI? While this will save time, effort and bloat, it may also restrict the usage of (what I hope) is a useful tool for developers."
Operating Systems

Ask Slashdot: Buying a Laptop That Doesn't Have Windows 8 570

Posted by timothy
from the craigslist-if-available dept.
First time accepted submitter Sagan's Pie writes "I'm starting to look for a laptop for college, and the only thing I seem to find are laptops or tablets that have Windows 8. I have used Windows 7 for a long time now, and would not have a problem giving it up, but not for Windows 8. After visiting many major online retail sites, I've found that finding either a Windows 7 laptop, or even a laptop without an operating system is nearly impossible. So where should I go if looking for laptops sans os, or at the very least sans Windows 8?"
Education

Summer Programming Courses Before Heading Off To College? 183

Posted by timothy
from the straight-to-the-army dept.
First time accepted submitter LiteWait writes "My son is heading off to college next year and although he is bright kid with a great background in math and science, he has indicated that he'd like learn some introductory programming skills this summer. The courses at the local universities are pretty sparse and most of the CS101-type courses I've seen offered are too general to meet his needs. Even though he is a self-starter I think he would benefit from actual courses/code camps/etc rather than just slogging through online samples and tutorials. I'd like some advice on possible options for code camps, online courses, or developer training."
Open Source

Ask Slashdot: Can Closed Source Software Transition To the GPL Successfully? 99

Posted by samzenpus
from the making-a-change dept.
colinneagle writes "Open Source guy Bryan Lunduke has experienced the difficulties of migrating a successful closed source project to an open license first-hand, but still believes — or at least wants to believe — that it can be done. He writes: 'Occasionally, someone makes a go of it, to take a good piece of closed source software and release the source code under a nice, open license. In fact, I did just that about a year ago. I tried to take a software development tool (along with some video games) that I had developed (and was earning a good living from) and migrate them to the GPL with continued development funded via donations. The results were...disastrous. Within a very short period of time of going Open Source, the total funding for the projects fell to less than 20% of what was being brought in via sales when the software was Closed Source, which almost completely impeded the ability to fund continued development. Luckily, I was able to recover and get things back on track, but it was definitely not a fun experience.'" How viable is migrating a closed source project to something open?
Spam

Ask Slashdot: How Do You Handle SPF For Spam Filtering? 187

Posted by samzenpus
from the false-positive dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Our organization had had a decent SPF record of our own for a long time. Recently, we decided to try using SPF for filtering inbound mail. On the up side, a lot of bad mail was being caught. On the down side, it seems like there is always a 'very important' message being caught in the filter because the sender has failed to consider all mail sources in writing their record. At first, I tried to assist sending parties with correcting their records out of hope that it was isolated. This quickly started to consume far too much time. I'm learning that many have set up inaccurate but syntactically valid SPF records and forgotten about them, which is probably the worst outcome for SPF as a standard. Are you using SPF? How are you handling false positives caused by inaccurate SPF records?"
Software

Ask Slashdot: Open-Source Forensic Surveillance Analysis Software? 131

Posted by Soulskill
from the my-neighbor's-dog-is-a-jerk-too dept.
McBooCZech writes "I am trying to set up a surveillance system. It is not intended to build a real-time on-line surveillance system to watch a wall of monitors on a 24/7 basis. The main scope is to record video (24/7) from the fixed cameras around our facility and when needed, get back to pre-recorded video and check it for particular event(s). Of course, it is possible to use a human to fast forward through video using a DVR-type FF function for short video sequences. Unfortunately, for long sequences (one week), it is not acceptable solution. I was searching online the whole weekend for the open source software for analysis of pre-recorded video in order to retrieve events and data from recorded video but had no luck. So I ask you, Slashdotters: Can you provide some suggestions for forensic software to analyze/find specific events in pre-recorded video? Some examples of events: 'human entering restricted zone,' 'movement in the restricted zone,' 'light in the restricted zone.'"
Programming

Ask Slashdot: Programming / IT Jobs For Older, Retrained Workers? 215

Posted by timothy
from the over-22-not-interested-next dept.
12_West writes "I seek opinions from the Slashdot community about entry level job opportunities as programmers (or other I.T. Staff) for seniors who want to switch careers and continue to work full time. I do not want to retire, nor go part time, as long as I can get up and drive myself in to work. I'm currently 58 years old, working as an industrial electrician in a maintenance department setting for a building products manufacturer. I like the work, but it is becoming hard on my aging body, so, I would like to begin gradually retraining and hope to switch careers in about four years. A lower paying, less physical job would be just fine as there will be pension money coming in. I'm not currently a programmer, but have done some hobbyist level coding in Qbasic and MS-DOS batch files 'back in the days.' I also have some exposure to the Rockwell Automation RSLogix programming tools that are now going obsolete. So, I will be retraining whether I switch careers or not."
The Courts

Piriform Asks BleachBit To Remove Winapp2.ini Importer 305

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the you-always-need-a-lawyer dept.
ahziem writes "As author of the BleachBit system cleaner, I received a polite but firm request from Piriform, makers of the similar application CCleaner, to remove a two-year-old feature from BleachBit that allows individual BleachBit users to import winapp2.ini data files created by the community that define which files to delete for applications. Does Piriform's request have merit? Do I need a lawyer? What is a good response to avoid any ugly situation?"
The Almighty Buck

Ask Slashdot: What To Do About Patent Trolls Seeking Wi-fi License Fees? 347

Posted by samzenpus
from the send-us-your-money dept.
An anonymous reader writes "My company has been contacted by certified letter by Delaware law firm. They are seeking license fees for a Wi-fi patent. I believe this is a patent troll (not that this matters in relation to dealing with this issue). This is a newly formed law firm less than 4 months old. This patent is U.S. Patent No. 5,506,866. This patent covers equipment and method related to the transmission of information involving the multiplexing information into a stream of signal points (and demultiplexing the same), and related technology. They have 'offered' to license this patent with no amounts specified. Unfortunately we are a small free software company. The company is setup as a sole proprietorship. I'm not asking for legal advise from the Slashdot community. The question is where might one look for 'legal counsel' with the expertise to answer these types of legal questions as it relates to this inquiry. I would prefer to avoid legal fees, court cases, or license fees running the company into the ground. The company is registered in New Jersey."
The Internet

Ask Slashdot: How Long Do We Give an Online Service To Fix Issues? 113

Posted by Soulskill
from the as-long-as-it-takes-to-write-an-angry-email dept.
ncc189 writes "The Funimation Roku channel has been basically unusable during primetime for about a month now. With very little feedback from the company and no improvements to the service at all, I canceled my account. My question to Slashdot users is: how long do you give a service to fix issues before you cancel the service, and how much leeway do you give the service's representatives in communicating issue with us? It seems to me that a few days is more than enough in the internet age; 3+ weeks is beyond reason. How long do you think is fair for services like this?"
Communications

Ask Slashdot: Name Conflicts In Automatically Generated Email Addresses? 383

Posted by timothy
from the hash-of-full-name-plus-birthday dept.
New submitter matteocorti writes "I work at medium-sized university and we are considering reducing the number of domains used for email addresses (now around 350): the goal is to have all the 30K personal addresses in a single domain. This will increase the clashes for the local part of the address for people with the same first and last name (1.6%). We are considering several options: one of them is to use 'username@domain.tld' and the other is to use 'first.last@domain.tld.' The first case will avoid any conflict in the addresses (usernames are unique) but the second is fancier. Which approach does your organization use? How are name conflicts (homonyms) solved? Manually or automatically (e.g., by adding a number)?"
GUI

Ask Slashdot: Open Source Remote Application Access? 113

Posted by timothy
from the over-there-but-over-here dept.
First time accepted submitter taikedz writes "Citrix Xenapp with Receiver/Metaframe allows publishing individual applications installed on a Windows server to users on remote machines. These applications open in their own windows, along side others as if they were installed locally. I am looking to do the same at home, with free software, publishing applications from Mac, Linux, and Windows machines (and yes, I've verified the license agreements for the apps I am going to do this with!). Up until now, the only alternatives I have found are full-on remote desktop login, not seamlessly-integrated. Can you recommend any tools that can achieve the goal of remote individual application access across platforms for free or at low-cost?"
Hardware Hacking

Ask Slashdot: Best Electronics Prototyping Platform? 228

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the arduino-attack-bot dept.
crankyspice writes "Having recently picked up the Erector set I've wanted since I was a kid, I quickly found myself wanting to plunge deeper into makerspace by adding more sophisticated electronics to moving devices (rovers, maybe eventually flying bots). My first instinct was Arduino (maybe because of brand recognition?), but that got me thinking — what's the 'best' platform out there (most flexible)? Arduino with its myriad options (Nano, Mega, Uno, Mini)? PICAXE? BASIC Stamp? Raspberry Pi? (The latter seems like it would easily be the most flexible, but at greater cost in terms of weight and complexity.) I'm a hobbyist programmer, having learned C and C++ in college and recently re-learning Java (took and passed the Oracle Certified Professional exam, FWIW)..."
Communications

Ask Slashdot: Best Pay-as-You-Go Plan For Text and Voice Only? 246

Posted by timothy
from the sticking-things-places dept.
sconeu writes "My wife uses an assistive communication device. She wants to use it for SMS texting... We currently have Verizon, so we don't have a SIM. The computer will take a SIM. I'm looking for a pay-as-you-go plan where I can take the SIM from a cheap phone and put it in her computer. Any suggestions?" It would be interesting to hear how this question would be best answered both in the U.S. and around the world.
Displays

Ask Slashdot: Where Are the E-Ink Dashboards? 242

Posted by timothy
from the it's-called-chalkboard-learn-it dept.
fsck! writes "My office recently installed a pair of huge plasma TVs to display some metrics and graphs. They only update every 15 minutes or so, and I couldn't help but wonder, why can't this be E-Ink? I searched all over the place but couldn't find anything bigger than 9.5" (Amazon's Kindle DX). I want a >30" E-Ink picture frame with USB or WiFi. Can the Slashdot community find anything greener than these energy sucking plasma TVs that seem to be everywhere?"
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: Job Search Or More Education? 182

Posted by Soulskill
from the can't-it-be-both dept.
Matt Steelblade writes "I've been in love with computers since my early teens. I took out books from the library and just started messing around until I had learned QBasic, then Visual Basic 5, and how to take apart a computer. Fast forward 10 years. I'm a very recent college graduate with a BA in philosophy (because of seminary, which I recently left). I want to get into IT work, but am not sure where to start. I have about four years experience working at a grade/high school (about 350 computers) in which I did a lot of desktop maintenance and some work on their AD and website. At college (Loyola University Chicago) I tried to get my hands on whatever computer courses I could. I ended up taking a python course, a C# course, and data structures (with python). I received either perfect scores or higher in these courses. I feel comfortable in what I know about computers, and know all too well what I don't. I think my greatest strength is in troubleshooting. With that being said, do I need more schooling? If so, should I try for an associate degree (I have easy access to a Gateway technical college) or should I go for an undergraduate degree (I think my best bet there would be UW-Madison)? If not, should I try to get certified with CompTIA, or someone else? Or, would the best bet be to try to find a job or an internship?"
Programming

Ask Slashdot: How To Convince a Team To Write Good Code? 366

Posted by Soulskill
from the cattleprods-are-your-best-bet dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I am part of engineering team that maintains a very important component in our company. Our code quality and general engineering quality focus has been very weak: we have frequent buggy releases, our latencies are shooting up, our test coverage is nearly non-existent, and it is impossible for a newcomer in our team to get up to speed and be productive in less than a month due to unnecessary complexity. A group of 2-3 of us want to change that, and we know what needs to change technically — the better code review and release processes, better build tools, etc. But despite that, the quality of our code and design continues to suffer, and poor code continues to get released in the name of keeping the scheduled release date (product guys don't like to wait). We feel that if the right thing is done every time, we would can eliminate our issues and still release at the same pace. How do we effect the social change necessary to convince them of what is better and encourage them to take the effort to do it?"
Input Devices

Ask Slashdot: Best Webcam To Augment Impaired Vision? 63

Posted by timothy
from the tickle-me-elmo-via-usb dept.
mynamestolen writes "In order to read paper-based books many visually impaired people want to attach a webcam to a computer and attach the computer to a TV. Some Electronic Magnifiers are purpose-built to provide a similar solution. Different organisations around the world (such as in the UK) have help pages. But I have not been able to find a guide to set up my own system. So I'm asking Slashdot readers how to go about it. What is the best camera to use if I want to hold the camera in my hand and point it at book or magazine? What parameters should I adjust, either in the software or on the camera? Depth of view, refresh rates, contrast, color balance and resolution might be key problems. My system is Linux and getting drivers for a good camera might also be a problem."
Games

Ask Slashdot: How Do I Get My Spouse To Start Gaming With Me? 550

Posted by samzenpus
from the time-to-play dept.
x_IamSpartacus_x writes "I've been a gamer for a long time (started on Nibbles in MS-DOS) and enjoy pretty much any good game. I can enjoy side-scrolling relics (original Prince of Persia, Win 95), to modern MMORPGs (stopped playing my 85 lvl Mage on WoW just recently, read on to see why), to a good sports game (Madden series are a blast) and many more. I've been married for 4 years now and have hardly touched my games since being married and starting having kids. My wife and I are Americans but live overseas and have little access to new movies/entertainment and, from experience, I know that a good game can provide much more entertainment than a good movie. My question is, what are good ways/good games that I can use to get my wife into computer gaming? We both have good laptops that I'd love to get her interested in using to do co-op or combative games with me. Because of my long experience, gaming comes naturally to me and so even on a game I haven't played I would probably be much better than she. Is there a game or idea that would take away the embarrassing factor for her of being much worse than I am while still being enjoyable and worth spending a lot of time on with me? Do any other Slashdotters struggle getting their spouse to game with them?"
Crime

Ask Slashdot: Anti-Theft Devices For Luggage? 293

Posted by timothy
from the limberger-cheese-spray-packs dept.
New submitter SkinnyFatSmoothNeck writes "I'll be taking a long train ride in the coming month and I'm looking for ideas and recommendations on anti-theft devices to be used for carry-on luggage. The obvious precautions are always taken: never letting the bag out my sight, wrapping the bag strap around my leg while stowed and so on. But as this is a long ride, there will be a couple of nights involved. The first thing that came to my mind is a two-part device that triggers based on a specified proximity and is controlled from a remote (ie.: the device would be placed inside the bag and trigger a loud alarm if it strays outside of range). Perhaps a more advanced, albeit more expensive, device could also include GPS tracking. But beyond that, what other creative, ingenious or downright sensible solutions do you have to offer?"
GUI

Ask Slashdot: Best Tools For Dealing With Glare Sensitivity? 195

Posted by timothy
from the dirty-looks-but-bright dept.
First time accepted submitter der_pinchy writes "For many years I have used a high-contrast desktop color scheme (with green text on black background) and notice more and more software uses a forced color scheme that can make it difficult to use. For web browsing I have always used Opera and its white-on-black user style sheet, but have to constantly tweak it so that certain elements and transparent images are visible. Is there anything to be done with some of the major offenders, like Office or recent versions of Visual Studio? Even recent browsers that support user style sheets still use a forced color scheme on a lot of there dialog controls."
Cloud

Ask Slashdot: Linux Mountable Storage Pool For All the Cloud Systems? 165

Posted by samzenpus
from the one-raid-to-bind-them-all dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Many cloud systems are available on the market like: dropbox, google, sugar sync, or your local internet provider, that offer some free gigabytes of storage. Is there anything out there which can combine the storage into one usable folder (preferably linux mountable) and encrypt the data stored in the cloud? The basic idea would be to create one file per cloud used as a block device. Then combine all of them using a software raid (redundancy etc) with cryptFS on top. Have you heard of anything which can do that or what can be used to build upon?"
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: How To Stay Fit In the Office? 372

Posted by Soulskill
from the five-pushups-for-every-non-work-related-pageload dept.
Kochnekov writes "This week I started my first co-op job as a chemical engineering student. I work in an R&D lab, but in between daily tasks there is a lot of downtime, which I spend at my desk, staring at my computer. I know Slashdot is used mostly by IT professionals and desk jockeys, so chances are you've all encountered the draining effects of sedentary office life: joint and back pain, weight gain, heart health risks, etc. What are some ways to counteract the negative health effects of a desk job, both during and after work?"
Programming

Ask Slashdot: What Practices Impede Developers' Productivity? 457

Posted by Soulskill
from the mitten-mondays dept.
nossim writes "When it comes to developers' productivity, numerous controversial studies stress the differences between individuals. As a freelance web developer, I've worked for a lot of companies, and I noticed how some companies foster good practices which improve individual productivity and some others are a nightmare in that regard. In your experience, what are the worst practices or problems that impede developers' productivity at an individual or organizational level?"
Programming

Ask Slashdot: How To React To Coworker Who Says My Code Is Bad? 507

Posted by timothy
from the very-strong-lye-solution-coffee dept.
A week ago, you read the other side of the same question. Now, an anonymous reader writes "I have been with my company for 10+ years and have seen many development cycles on our projects. We have a developer intern who has not been on the team for very long. On day one he started ripping into my code on how terrible it is. We have a code base of roughly 50,000 lines of code. When he comes to me with a complaint about the code it is simply because he does not have the experience with it to actually understand what the code is doing. He is a smart guy with lots of promise, he is asking good questions, but how do I get him to look past his own self perceived greatness enough to slow down and learn what we are doing and how we have pulled it off?"
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: Are Timed Coding Tests Valuable? 776

Posted by samzenpus
from the beat-the-clock dept.
First time accepted submitter xkrebstarx writes "A buddy of mine recently applied to a large tech company. Before setting up a phone interview with him, the unnamed company issued a timed coding test to gauge his coding prowess. He was allotted 45 minutes to complete an undergraduate level coding assignment. I would like to ask the Slashdotters of the world if they find value in these speed-programming tests. Does coding quickly really indicate a better programmer? A better employee?"
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: Should Employers Ban Smartphones? 510

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-phone-for-you dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Due to a concern that smartphones (and other electronic devices) could be infected with malware and used to spy on sensitive information, my employer has recently banned all personal electronic devices from their spaces. The concern comes from articles like this one. My question to slashdot readers: How reasonable is this concern? How can this sort of malware be prevented from showing up on our devices? Is there a way to educate employees about preventing this sort of thing rather than banning the devices altogether? This current reality is that people have started to rely on having their smartphones with them at all times for things such as receiving emergency calls from day cares and schools, making personal calls during normal working hours (i.e. to make doctor's appointments), accessing password managers, and scheduling calendar events."
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: Advice For Getting Tech Career Back On Track 232

Posted by samzenpus
from the starting-over-again dept.
First time accepted submitter msamp writes "After the dotcom bubble burst so long ago,when tech jobs were so scarce, I went back to school and finished my PhD in Physics. They lied — there really is no shortage of scientists. Before the downturn I was a product manager for home networking equipment. Since getting the degree I have been program/project manager for small DoD and NASA instrumentation programs. I desperately want back into network equipment product management, but my networking tech skills aren't up to date. I find networking technology absolutely trivial and have been retraining on my own, but hiring managers see the gap and the PhD and run screaming. I'm more than willing to start over in network admin but can't even get considered for that. Suggestions?"
Handhelds

Ask Slashdot: Using a Tablet As a Sole Computing Device? 417

Posted by Soulskill
from the hard-to-play-quake-that-way dept.
cashman73 writes "My mother's six year old desktop computer finally bit the dust due to an electrical surge. It's out-of-warranty, and not really worth fixing. Plus, I'm 2,500 miles and two time zones away, so I can't exactly troubleshoot things from here. I recently got a new tablet, and even 80% of the things I do are done easier with it. Plus, she really likes the size, convenience, portability, and the screen. Virtually everything she does is simple web browsing, email, light photo sharing but no heavy editing, and other simple tasks. We're thinking that using a tablet as her sole 'computer' might be the best solution here. What are other Slashdotter's experiences using tablets without a separate desktop computer?"
Data Storage

Ask Slashdot: Keeping Your Media Library Safe From Kids? 307

Posted by timothy
from the sound-of-eyes-getting-really-big dept.
Serenissima writes "I've spent many hours building my Media Library in XBMC and scraping all the DVD Covers and Fanart. And I love it, I can pull up movies on any computer or device in the house. I played a movie for my son the other day so I could get some cleaning done without him being underfoot. I noticed shortly after that the sound coming from the other room was from a different movie than I played for him. I snuck up and watched for a few minutes and saw him use a trackpad to navigate to the stop and play buttons of different movies in his folder. I know it's only a matter of time before he realizes he can see all of the movies. I don't want him to have nightmares because he saw the T-1000 stab someone in the face. The quickest solution I can think is a screen saver with a password. It's mildly inconvenient to me, but would stop him from accessing anything. However, I remember how much more I knew about computers than my parents when I was a kid, and I have a feeling he's going to surprise me one day. There's a lot of ways out there to stop it, the way we do it now is to not let him watch anything unless we're there (but there are only so many times I can watch the same kid's movie). How do YOU guys find yourself dealing with the convenience of running your own server while keeping your media safe from prying eyes?"
Programming

Ask Slashdot: How Can I Explain To a Coworker That He Writes Bad Code? 683

Posted by timothy
from the roofies-in-his-mountain-dew dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I have a coworker who, despite being very smart, and even very knowledgeable about software, writes the most horrible code imaginable. Entire programs are stuffed into single functions, artificially stretched thanks to relentless repetition; variable and class names so uninformative as to make grown men weep; basic language features ignored, when they could make everything shorter and more readable; and OOP abuse so sick and twisted that it may be considered a war crime. Of course, being a very smart person who has been programming since before I was born makes him fairly impervious to criticism, so even a simple 'Do you see how much better this function is when written this way?' is hopeless. How can I make him see the light, realize the truth, and be able to tell good code from bad?"
The Internet

Ask Slashdot: Undoing an Internet Smear Campaign? 338

Posted by Soulskill
from the time-for-the-more-speech-defense dept.
An anonymous reader writes "My fiancee is a professional writer. She has a great industry reputation and everyone that knows her loves her. But her ex-husband has maintained a number of websites in her name (literally, the URL is her name) that are filled with insane ravings and defamatory content. Have you ever had to deal with an internet smear campaign? The results float to the top of every Google or Bing search of her name. He currently lives abroad and cannot be served with legal papers. His websites are hosted overseas as well, and do not respond to conventional letters or petitions. Because of his freedom of speech rights, few U.S. courts will assert that his websites are truly libelous, either, and it's still difficult to prove any real 'damages' are done by it. Still, we'd like to see them go away. I'm turning to the best community of geeks in the world: how do I deal with this given the limited options at my disposal?"
Data Storage

Ask Slashdot: Easiest Way To Consolidate Household Media? 272

Posted by timothy
from the one-way-data-transfer-is-much-simpler dept.
First time accepted submitter Lordfly writes "The wife and I have started looking to buy a house. In the spirit of that, I've been giving away books, CDs, and DVDs to 'downsize' the pile of crap I'll have to lug around when we do find the right place. That got me thinking about digital files. I'm perfectly okay with giving up (most) books, CDs, and DVD cases. The only music I buy are MP3s anyway, and we stream most everything else if we wanted to watch a show or movie. That being said, I have a desktop, my wife has an old Macbook, we both have tablets, and I also have an Android smartphone. I'd like to set up something on an extra Windows box shoved in a closet that lets me dump every digital file we have (photos, music, ebooks, movies) and then doles it out as necessary to all of our devices. Unfortunately my best computer geek days are likely behind me (photography and cooking have consumed me since), so while I CAN schlep around a command line, I've lost most of my knowledge, so go easy on the 'just apt-get FubarPackageInstaller.gzip and rd -m Arglebargle' stuff. Something easy enough for my wife to use would be a major plus. So: What's the best way to make your own personal 'cloud'?"
Education

Ask Slashdot: CS Degree While Working Full Time? 433

Posted by timothy
from the we're-working-in-shifts dept.
An anonymous reader writes "First, some quick background: I am 26 years old and I have been working for a large software development company with more than 50,000 employees for about 5 years now. My actual title is Senior Software Engineer, and I am paid well considering I have no degrees and all of the programming languages I have learned (C, C++, C#, Java) are completely self taught. The only real reason I was able to get this job is because I spent a year or so in a support position and I was able to impress the R&D Lead Developer with a handful of my projects. My job is secure for the time being, but what really concerns me is the ability to find another job in the field without 95% of companies discarding me for lack of formal education. I started looking into local community colleges and universities, and much to my dismay, they offer neither nighttime or online courses for computer science. Quitting the job to pursue a degree is not an option, especially considering they will compensate me up to $10,000/yr for going back to school. Has anyone else been in a similar situation? Does anyone know of any accredited colleges and universities that offer a CS degree through online courses? Obviously excluding the scam 'colleges' such as Univ. of Phoenix and DeVry."
Linux

Ask Slashdot: Linux-Friendly Motherboard Manufacturers? 352

Posted by Soulskill
from the soldering-iron-and-a-chunk-of-silicon dept.
dotancohen writes "I am tasked with building a few Linux machines for a small office. However, many the currently available motherboards seem to be Linux-hostile. For instance, in addition to the whole UEFI issue, my last install was a three-day affair due to the motherboard reporting a Linux-supported ethernet device (the common RTL8168) while it was actually using a GbE Ethernet device that does not work with the legacy drivers and didn't even work with a test Windows 7 install until the driver disk was installed. There are no current hardware compatibility lists for Debian or Ubuntu and I've received from Asus and Gigabyte the expected reply: No official Linux support, install Windows for best experience. I even turned to the two large local computer vendors, asking if they could provide Linux-compatible machines ready to go, but neither of them would be of any help. What globally-available motherboards or motherboard manufacturers can you recommend today?"
It's funny.  Laugh.

Ask Slashdot: What Was Your Favorite Web Comic of 2012? 321

Posted by Soulskill
from the obligatory-xkcd dept.
skade88 writes "It's time to do another year-end best-of roundup! Today's topic is web comics. What was your favorite web comic of 2012? Feel free to use the following categories, or make up your own. 1) Best overall web comic series of 2012. (Any web comic that produced content in 2012). 2) Funniest web comic of 2012. (This one represents the single funniest comic of any web comic series. Provide links!) 3) Best art in a web comic of 2012. (Web comic from 2012 with the most amazing art ever). 4) Web comic that was most relevant to you in 2012. (This one is even more subjective than the others)."
Security

How Do YOU Establish a Secure Computing Environment? 314

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the can't-root-this dept.
sneakyimp writes "We've seen increasingly creative ways for bad guys to compromise your system like infected pen drives, computers preloaded with malware, mobile phone apps with malware, and a $300 app that can sniff out your encryption keys. On top of these obvious risks, there are lingering questions about the integrity of common operating systems and cloud computing services. Do Windows, OSX, and Linux have security holes? Does Windows supply a backdoor for the U.S. or other governments? Should you really trust your Linux multiverse repository? Do Google and Apple data mine your private mobile phone data for private information? Does Ubuntu's sharing of my data with Amazon compromise my privacy? Can the U.S. Government seize your cloud data without a warrant? Can McAfee or Kaspersky really be trusted? Naturally, the question arises of how to establish and maintain an ironclad workstation or laptop for the purpose of handling sensitive information or doing security research. DARPA has approached the problem by awarding a $21.4M contract to Invincea to create a secure version of Android. What should we do if we don't have $21.4M USD? Is it safe to buy a PC from any manufacturer? Is it even safe to buy individual computer components and assemble one's own machine? Or might the motherboard firmware be compromised? What steps can one take to ensure a truly secure computing environment? Is this even possible? Can anyone recommend a through checklist or suggest best practices?"
Android

Ask Slashdot: Android Apps For Kids Under 12 Months? 311

Posted by timothy
from the what-about-a-flight-simulator dept.
An anonymous reader writes "My kid seems incredibly interested in my Android tablet, but I'm not too comfortable with letting her play with my browser. I've been hunting the app store for apps that I could let my kid play around with, but haven't found much. It seems like most apps are targeted for slightly older kids and are trying to teach them words, math or whatnot. Has anyone found any cool apps for approximately 6-month-old children? I'm mostly looking for something that makes funny noises or where you just have to e.g. track moving objects on the screen."
Books

Ask Slashdot: How Do You "Unwrap" e-Gifts? 86

Posted by samzenpus
from the virtual-stockings dept.
theodp writes "With all of the content that can be delivered electronically — e-books, music, apps, movies, e-gift cards, tickets — the percentage of Christmas gift giving that's digital is growing each year. However, the e-gift unwrapping user experience on Christmas morning leaves much to be desired. In addition to providing old-school mail delivery of gift cards, Amazon offers a variety of other options, including e-mailing a gift card on a specific day with or without a suggested gift, posting it on someone's Facebook Wall, or allowing you to print one for personal delivery. Another suggestion — using USB drives — harkens back to the days of burning CDs with custom playlists for last-minute gifts, but you'll be thwarted by DRM issues for lots of content. So, until Facebook introduces The Tree to save our e-gifts under until they're 'unwrapped' on Christmas morning with the other physical gifts, how do you plan on handling e-gift giving and getting?"
IT

Ask Slashdot: Typing Advice For a Guinness World Record Attempt? 307

Posted by samzenpus
from the pushing-keys dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In fifth grade, I amazed my fellow classmates when I demonstrated what 132 words per minute looked like. Recently, an acquaintance of mine saw me typing out a word document for graduate school and was impressed by my typing abilities. He suggested that I seriously contemplate attempting a Guinness World Record with such abilities. At the moment, I can manage an average of about 155-160 words per minute, with bursts around 180-185 words per minute (in the typing world, five characters defines a word, in case you were wondering). That aside, I have a few questions to pose to Slashdot readers (whom I am sure have been typing much longer than I have): What are some tips to fully maximize one's ability to type at the fastest possible rate? Do you have any specific keyboard recommendations that will improve my speed? Has anybody here ever competed in a typing event or thought about going for the world record? Is it worth learning Dvorak for the sole purpose of attempting such a record? How difficult would it be to improve my typing abilities from where they are now to where they need to be to acquire such a record?"
Data Storage

Ask Slashdot: Do You Test Your New Hard Drives? 348

Posted by timothy
from the just-bite-the-corner-a-little dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Any Slashdot thread about drive failure is loaded with good advice about EOL — but what about the beginning? Do you normally test your new purchases as thoroughly as you test old, suspect drives? Has your testing followed the proverbial 'bathtub' curve of a lot of early failures, but with those that survive the first month surviving for years? And have you had any return problems with new failed drives, because you re-partitioned it, or 'ran Linux,' or used stress-test apps?"
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: How To Gently Keep Management From Wrecking a Project? 276

Posted by timothy
from the flying-car-is-easier-goal dept.
New submitter miserly_content writes "I work in a large, hierarchical technology company. I have been developing technical specs for a new strategic and challenging software project, and the project is slowly gathering steam and support. This is already a career building success for me, and everyone acknowledges my technical capabilities. But the program manager is an MBA-type, and wants to bring in new multiple team leaders and consultants. This is not really a surprise, but I feel we are sliding towards a too-many-chiefs-too-few-indians scenario, especially at this early stage. How can I pitch upper management about this issue, without appearing selfish or disruptive? What positive approach can I try with the PM, with whom I have a good working relationship?"

I am here by the will of the people and I won't leave until I get my raincoat back. - a slogan of the anarchists in Richard Kadrey's "Metrophage"

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