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Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

Programming

Ask Slashdot: How To Handle a Colleague's Sloppy Work? 332

Posted by Soulskill
from the eat-his-lunch dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I'm working on a new product with one of the more senior guys at our company. To be blunt: his work is sloppy. It works and gets the job done, but it's far from elegant and there are numerous little (some might say trivial) mistakes everywhere. Diagrams that should be spread over five or six pages are crammed onto one, naming is totally inconsistent, arrows point the wrong way (without affecting functionality) and so forth. Much of this is because he is so busy and just wants to get everything out the door. What is the best way to handle this? I spent a lot of time refactoring some of it, but as soon as he makes any changes it needs doing again, and I have my own work to be getting on with. I submit bug reports and feature requests, but they are ignored. I don't want to create bad feelings, as I have to work with him. Am I obsessing over small stuff, or is this kind of internal quality worth worrying about?"
Bitcoin

Ask Slashdot: Would You Accept 'Bitcoin-Ware' Apps? 232

Posted by timothy
from the better-than-nagware dept.
After the E-Sports Entertainment Association admitted to sneaking Bitcoin-mining code into its client software, an anonymous reader writes "I thought that could have been a pretty clever idea, if it was made clear to the users that they could get the app and run it for free as long as, let's say, they accept that it would be run for Bitcoin mining for five hours a week, when their computer is idle. That could make a lot of profit for the developers if their app is truly successful, and without the users having to pay much (only a limited number of hours per week, and if the user is no longer running the app then it won't try to mine anymore). What do you think about this?"
Power

Ask Slashdot: What If We Don't Run Out of Oil? 663

Posted by Soulskill
from the humvees-for-everyone dept.
symbolset writes "The Atlantic recently ran an in-depth article about energy resources. The premise is that there remain incalculable and little-understood carbon fuel assets which far outweigh all the fossil fuels ever discovered. The article lists them and discusses their potentials and consequences, both fiscal and environmental. 'The clash occurs when renewables are ready for prime time—and natural gas is still hanging around like an old and dirty but reliable car, still cheap to produce and use, after shale fracking is replaced globally by undersea mining of methane hydrate. Revamping the electrical grid from conventionals like coal and oil to accommodate unconventionals like natural gas and solar power will be enormously difficult, economically and technically.' Along these lines, yesterday the U.S. Geological Survey more than doubled their estimate of Bakken shale oil reserve in North Dakota and Montana to 7.4-11 billion barrels. Part of the push for renewables over the past few decades was the idea that old methods just weren't going to last. What happens to that push if fossil fuels remain plentiful?"
Entertainment

How To Promote Stage Comedy In a Geeky Way? 123

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the tragedy-for-the-masses dept.
shaitand writes "I recently went to a renaissance festival where a man (Arthur Greenleaf Holmes) performed some of the most obscene NSFW and hilarious comedy I've seen in a long while. The show was free and he had CDs and DVDs in his bag and accepted donations. I certainly gave one. But why is this guy doing niche fairs and not HBO specials? I contacted him and he said that he would love to break out and because of his costume he has trouble and the nature of his act he has trouble getting on to traditional stages. How would you promote such an act? On further conversation he said he is an avid supporter of free flow of information and strongly encourages pirating his work far and wide. Since he is primarily interested in making money with live performance and not media sales I thought if he took this to the next level and released a DVD under a creative commons license the exposure and interest generated might help him break into new forums with his act?"
Programming

Ask Slashdot: Best OSS Embedded Development Platform 128

Posted by samzenpus
from the a-little-help-from-my-friends dept.
AchilleTalon writes "As many of you may know, there are two main competitors on the Windows platform for embedded software development, namely IAR and Keil. By embedded development, I mean development for microprocessors like the well known 8051 and the likes, not mobile platforms which include a complete OS in first place. I am seeking for alternatives to IAR and Keil in the OSS world. Even if I can find pieces of code here and there, I haven't found yet a fully integrated development platform. Does it exist? What do you use?"
DRM

Ask Slashdot: Are There Any Good Reasons For DRM? 684

Posted by Soulskill
from the keeps-you-from-accidentally-playing-bad-games dept.
centre21 writes "Having been on Slashdot for several years, I've seen a lot of articles concerning DRM. What's most interesting to me are the number of comments condemning DRM outright and calling for the abolishing DRM with all due prejudice. The question I have for the community: is there ever a time when DRM is justified? My focus here is the aspect of how DRM protects the rights of content creators (aka, artists) and helps to prevent people freely distributing their works and with no compensation. How would those who are opposed to DRM ensure that artists will get just compensation for their works if there are no mechanisms to prevent someone from simply digitally copying a work (be it music, movie or book) and giving it away to anyone who wants it? Because, in my eyes, when people stop getting paid for what they do, they'll stop doing it. Many of my friends and family are in the arts, and let me assure you, one of the things they fear most isn't censorship, it's (in their words), 'Some kid freely distributing my stuff and eliminating my source of income.' And I can see their point. So I reiterate, to those who vehemently oppose DRM, is there ever a time where DRM can be a force for good, or can they offer an alternative that would prevent the above from happening?"
Open Source

Ask Slashdot: How Do You Assess the Status of an Open Source Project? 110

Posted by Soulskill
from the say-its-name-three-times-in-front-of-a-mirror-site dept.
Chrisq writes: "Our software landscape includes a number of open source components, and we currently assume that these components will follow the same life-cycle as commercial products: they will have a beta or test phase, a supported phase, and finally reach the end of life. In fact, a clear statement that support is ended is unusual. The statement by Apache that Struts 1 has reached end of life is almost unique. What we usually find is:
  • Projects that appear to be obviously inactive, having had no updates for years
  • Projects that are obviously not going to be used in any new deployments because the standard language, library, or platform now has the capability built in
  • Projects that are rapidly losing developers to some more-trendy alternative project
  • Projects whose status is unclear, with some releases and statements in the forums that they are 'definitely alive,' but which seem to have lost direction or momentum.
  • Projects that have had no updates but are highly stable and do what is necessary, but are risky because they may not interoperate with future upgrades to other components.

By the treating Open Source in the same way as commercial software we only start registering risks when there is an official announcement. We have no metric we can use to accurately gauge the state of an open source component — but there are a number of components that we have a 'bad feeling' about. Are there any standard ways of assessing the status of an open source project? Do you use the same stages for open source as commercial components? How do you incorporate these in a software landscape to indicate at-risk components and dependencies?"

Hardware

Ask Slashdot: Setting Up a System Integration Room At VAR? 70

Posted by timothy
from the don't-forget-all-the-little-screwdrivers dept.
o2binbuzios writes "Due to an office move, I have a chance to do a clean-sheet design for an integration room at a fairly large VAR ($100M+ ). I'm looking for some ideas or best practice to support 100-120 square meters (~50 x 30 ft). I'm particularly interested in ideas around efficient workflow, ways to manage cabling and electrical, and 'environmental' solutions that make it a pleasant place to work. There will be a central bench with 6-8 stations (3-4 per side) with engineers and techs who may be configuring stacks of up to 10 devices at a time that could range from servers, to network elements, to SAN & NAS devices and more. I've been looking for a paper that seems like it must exist — but I'm happy to gather good ideas one at a time or in bunches here on Slashdot."
The Internet

Ask Slashdot: Do You Move Legal Data With Torrents? 302

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-seed-randomly-generated-text-files dept.
An anonymous reader writes "We've recently seen a number of interesting projects come from bittorrent.com, including Sync and SoShare. I sometimes use torrents to move several GB of data, especially when pushing large bundles to multiple destinations. It's mostly a hodgepodge of open source tools, though. Apart from anecdotes and info from bittorrent.com, details are thin on the ground (e.g. the Blizzard Downloader). I have two questions for the Slashdot community. 1) Do you use BitTorrent to move data? If so, how? i.e. What kind of data and what's the implementation? 2) If you've looked at torrent clients/tools, what's missing in the open source ecosystem that would make it more useful for moving around large blobs of data?"
Books

Ask Slashdot: Science Books For Middle School Enrichment? 203

Posted by timothy
from the summer-reading-time-approaches dept.
new submitter heybiff writes "It is the time of year where students are scrambling for extra credit assignments to boost grades. As a middle school science teacher, I want to accommodate them, while still keeping science involved; and book reports are a popular activity in my school. Unfortunately, I have only been able to come up with a short list of science related books that a 11-14 year old would or could read in their free time: Ender's Game, Hitchhiker's Guide. What books would you recommend as a good read for an extra credit book report, that would still involve a strong science twist or inspire a student's interest in science? The book must be in print, science related, fiction or non-fiction, and not be overtly objectionable or outright banned. I look forward to the submissions." "Outright banned" actually seems a rich vein on which to draw; note that not even Ender's Game is safe.
Crime

Ask Slashdot: How To Track a Skype Account Hijacker? 152

Posted by timothy
from the hi-from-indonesia dept.
An anonymous reader writes "My Skype account was hijacked, which I discovered after Skype suspended it for suspicious activity, including a number of paid calls and an attempt to debit my card. Now that I've secured the account again, I can see the call history — there are several numbers called in Senegal, Mali, Benin and Philippines. Obviously I could call them myself and create a bit of havoc in their lives, but ideally I'd like to trace the hijacker himself — perhaps with some kind of 'social engineering' approach. Or is it just a waste of time?" How would you do this, and would you bother?
Open Source

Ask Slashdot: Service-Heavy FOSS Hosting? 75

Posted by timothy
from the for-work-and-play dept.
An anonymous reader writes "For many of us our hosting providers are a way to hone our skills as well as run a business. Which provider out there gives the best bang for the buck for a FOSS developer? Virtually everybody provides Perl, PHP, Ruby, MySQL / MariaDB etc. but where can one get easy and cheap access to a stuff like NodeJS and Big Data? Companies such as Pair Networks are great but not quite on the mark with any of their service offerings for somebody looking to test out real world scenarios with these technologies from a hosted stance. Obviously hosting from home is always an option but that has the penalty of administration, backup, DR planning, bigger security footprint etc. and for those of us whose time is balanced between making money and friends / family time that's not very appealing."
Education

Localized (Visual) Programming Language For Kids? 185

Posted by timothy
from the because-english-sometimes-sucks dept.
First time accepted submitter jimshatt writes "I want my kids to play around with programming languages. To teach them basic concepts like loops and subroutines and the likes. My 8-year-old daughter in particular. I've tried Scratch and some other visual languages, but I think she might be turned off by the English language. Having to learn English as well as a programming language at the same time might be just a little too much. I'd really like to have a programming language that is easy to learn, and localized or localizable. Preferably cross-platform, or browser-based, so she can show her work at school (Windows) as well as work on in at home (Debian Linux). By the way, she speaks Dutch and Danish, so preferably one of those languages (but if it's localizable I can translate it myself). Any suggestions?"
Politics

Ask Slashdot: What Planks Would You Want In a Platform of a Political Party? 694

Posted by Soulskill
from the mandatory-pi-day-celebration dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I am the Technology Manager of the Justice Party (sorry, no relationship to the Avengers). We are currently working on our Platform (version 2.0) and I would be interested to know what people in the science and technology field would like to see in a platform of a political party. For example, we are considering planks that relate to Open Government (data) access, science and maths promotion, space industries, promotion of open source, dealing with SOPA/ CISPA laws, improvement in user privacy and much more. Give us your comments so we can help build a more tech-savvy America."
Entertainment

Ask Slashdot: What Magazines Do You Still Read? 363

Posted by Soulskill
from the in-related-news,-magazines-apparently-still-exist dept.
AmiMoJo writes "Over on Slashdot Japan, there is a discussion about what magazines people still read (Google translation of Japanese original). Japanese people still tend to read a lot of periodicals, while in the west readership seems to be in decline. Do you read magazines regularly, or at all? Are websites a good substitute, or do print publications still offer something worth spending your cash on?"
Data Storage

Ask Slashdot: What's the Best Way To Preserve a "Digital Inheritance"? 191

Posted by samzenpus
from the won't-somebody-please-think-of-the-children? dept.
First time accepted submitter ron-l-j writes "The last few months a digital inheritance idea has been floating around in my head, and I am sure the thought has crossed your mind as well. With Google talking about the inactive account program it made me wonder, how do I make sure my children get my iTunes, and amazon movies? I have plenty of mp4 movies on my server that will just set itself to admin with no password after I do not log in within a 6 month time frame. But what about the huge amount spent on digital content every year? What's the best way to make sure your "digital inheritance" gets passed down?"
Java

Ask Slashdot: Building a Web App Scalable To Hundreds of Thousand of Users? 274

Posted by Soulskill
from the get-up-in-that-there-cloud dept.
AleX122 writes "I have an idea for a web app. Things I know: I am not the first person with a brilliant idea. Many others 'inventors' failed and it may happen to me, but without trying the outcome will always be failure. That said, the project will be huge if successful. However, I currently do not have money needed to hire developers. I have pretty solid experience in Java, GWT, HTML, Hibernate/Eclipselink, SQL/PLSQL/Oracle. The downside is project nature. All applications I've developed to date were hosted on single server or in small cluster (2 tomcats with fail-over). The application, if I succeed, will have to serve thousands of users simultaneously. The userbase will come from all over the world. (Consider infrastructure requirements similar to a social network.) My questions: What technologies should I use now to ensure easy scaling for a future traffic increase? I need distributed processing and data storage. I would like to stick to open standards, so Google App Engine or a similar proprietary cloud solution isn't acceptable. Since I do not have the resources to hire a team of developers and I will be the first coder, it would be nice if technology used is Java related. However, when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail, so I am open to technologies unrelated to Java."
Cloud

Ask Slashdot: What Should Happen To Your Data After You Die? 122

Posted by Soulskill
from the it-is-your-solemn-duty-to-clear-your-departed-best-friend's-browsing-history dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Death is Nature's way of telling you it's time to get off the Internet. But when you finally shuffle off this mortal coil, you leave something behind: all your email and other digital assets. That's a huge problem not only for the deceased — once you're on the wrong side of the Great Beyond, there's no way to delete those incriminating messages — but also any relatives who might want to access your (former) life. And it's a problem Google's seeking to solve with the new Inactive Account Manager. (In an April 11 blog posting, Google product manager Andreas Tuerk suggested that Inactive Account Manager wasn't a 'great name' for the product, but maybe the company shouldn't be so hard on itself: it's a way better name than, say, Google Death Dashboard.) Inactive Account Manager will delete your Google-related data (Gmail, etc.) after a set amount of time, or else send that data to 'trusted contacts' you set up before your untimely demise. Which raises an interesting, semi-Google-related question: What do you want to have happen to your data after you die? Give it to loved ones, or have an automated system nuke it all? Should more companies that host email and data offer plans like Inactive Account Manager?"
Government

Should California Have Banned Checking Smartphone Maps While Driving? 433

Posted by samzenpus
from the driving-in-circles dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "According to an appellate court in California, checking your smartphone while driving your Volkswagen (or any other vehicle) is officially verboten. In January 2012, one Steven R. Spriggs was pulled over and cited for checking a map on his smartphone while driving. In a trial held four months later, Spriggs disputed that his action violated California's Section 23123 subdivision (a), which states that a person can't use a phone while driving unless 'that telephone is specifically designed and configured to allow hands-free driving and talking, and is used in that manner while driving.' In short, he argued that the statute was limited to those functions of listening and talking—things he insisted could have been followed to the letter of the law. But the judge ruled that operating a phone for GPS, calling, texting, or whatever else was still a distraction and allowed the conviction to stand. That leads to a big question: with everything from Google Glass to cars' own dashboard screens offering visual 'distractions' like dynamic maps, can (and should) courts take a more active role in defining what people are allowed to do with technology behind the wheel? Or are statutes like California's hopelessly outdated?"
Input Devices

Ask Slashdot: How Can a Blind Singer 'See' the Choirmaster's Baton? 189

Posted by timothy
from the vinz-clortho-the-choirmaster dept.
New submitter krid4 writes "Question from a blind friend: 'My ears replace my eyes. However, when it comes to the very moment of starting, or the change of tempi, my start will always come too late. Neither tuning in with the voices around me, nor listening to the moment of their breathing-in helps to solve this problem. Fancy that it might be possible to produce tactile pressure or even lines at the top of my right hand, head or body. Even pulses would do, because what finally counts is the moment of the 'beat' produced by the choirmasters baton.' What simple, possibly DIY solutions are possible? It would help many blind chorus singers."
Data Storage

Ask Slashdot: Open Source For Bill and Document Management? 187

Posted by timothy
from the seasonally-appropriate dept.
Rinisari writes "Since striking out on my own nearly a decade ago, I've been collecting bills and important documents in a briefcase and small filing box. Since buying a house more than a year ago, the amount of paper that I receive and need to keep has increased to deluge amounts and is overflowing what space I want to dedicate. I would like to scan everything, and only retain the papers for things that don't require the original copies. I'd archive the scans in my heavily backed up NAS. What free and/or open source software is out there that can handle this task of document management? Being able to scan to PDF and associate a date and series of labels to a document would be great, as well as some other metadata such as bill amount. My target OS is OS X, but Linux and Windows would be OK."
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: Dealing With Unwanted But Official Security Probes? 238

Posted by timothy
from the surely-you-have-nothing-to-hide dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I manage a few computers for an independent private medical practice connected to a hospital network. Recently I discovered repeated attempts to access these computers. After adjusting the firewall to drop connections from the attacking computers, I reported the presumed hacker IP to hospital IT. I was told that the activity was conducted by the hospital corporation for security purposes. The activity continues. It has included attempted fuzzing of a web server, buffer overrun attacks, attempts to access a protected database, attempts to get the password file, etc. The doctors want to maintain a relationship with the hospital and are worried that involving law enforcement would destroy the relationship. What would you advise the doctors to do next?"
Media

Ask Slashdot: Linux Friendly Video Streaming? 147

Posted by timothy
from the chromebox-works-with-netflix-at-least dept.
earthwormgaz writes "I've set up a Linux XBMC + MythTV with FreeView machine for the lounge at home. It works pretty well for Linux, although things crash here and there. The Mrs wants LoveFilm or Netflix, but it seems they're Silverlight and not Linux friendly. Is there anyone doing streaming film and TV with Flash or something else that works on Linux? Failing that, is there anyway to download a film for £4-6 say, as just an AVI file or something, legally?"
Government

Ask Slashdot: Is Making Government More Open and Connected a Good Idea? 73

Posted by Soulskill
from the depends-on-the-kernel-maintainers dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "For quite some time, there's been a theory drifting around that government can be made more open and efficient via the same crowdsourcing and social-networking tools that created such successes out of Facebook, Twitter and Kickstarter. In that spirit, numerous pundits and analysts have advocated the development of 'e-government' or 'government 2.0.' But what if the idea isn't as great as it seems? That's the angle embraced by Evgeny Morozov in a recent essay for The Baffler. Structured as a lengthy takedown of open-source advocate and O'Reilly Media founder Tim O'Reilly, the piece veers off to fire a few torpedoes at the idea of making government more responsive and transparent through technology (the latter being something O'Reilly readily advocates). 'One of the main reasons why governments choose not to offload certain services to the private sector is not because they think they can do a better job at innovation or efficiency,' Morozov writes, 'but because other considerations — like fairness and equity of access — come into play.' If O'Reilly himself argues that a government should be 'stripped down to its core' into a form more transparent and collaboration-friendly, Morozov counters with the idea that the 'participation' envisioned by most government 2.0 scenarios is limited, little better in practice than the comments section at the bottom of a corporate blog posting."
Security

Ask Slashdot: Protecting Home Computers From Guests? 572

Posted by timothy
from the quick-name-an-os-that's-never-been-compromised dept.
An anonymous reader writes "We frequently have guests in our home who ask to use our computer for various reasons such as checking their email or showing us websites. We are happy to oblige, but the problem is many of these guests have high risk computing habits and have more than once infested one of our computers with malware, despite having antivirus and the usual computer security precautions. We have tried using a Linux boot CD but usually get funny looks or confused users. We've thought about buying an iPad for guests to use, but decided it wasn't right to knowingly let others use a computing platform that may have been compromised. What tips do you have to overcome this problem, technologically or otherwise?"
Software

Ask Slashdot: Preparing For the 'App Bubble' To Pop? 240

Posted by Soulskill
from the covering-all-your-bases dept.
Niris writes "I am currently a senior in computer science, and am expecting to graduate in December. I have an internship lined up in Android development with medium sized company that builds apps for much larger corporations, and I have recently begun a foray into iOS development. So far my experience with Android ranges from a small mobile game (basically Asteroids), a Japanese language study aid, and a fairly large mobile app for a local non-profit that uses RSS feeds, Google Cloud Messaging and various APIs. I have also recently started working with some machine learning algorithms and sensors/the ADK to start putting together a prototype for a mobile business application for mobile inspectors. My question: is my background diverse enough that I don't have to worry about finding a job if all the predictions that the 'app bubble' will pop soon come true? Is there another, similar area of programming that I should look into in order to have some contingencies in place if things go south? My general interests and experience have so far been in mobile app development with Java and C++ (using the NDK), and some web development on both the client and server side. Thank you!"
Science

Ask Slashdot: How Do I Explain That Humans Didn't Ride Dinosaurs? 278

Posted by samzenpus
from the but-they-probably-did dept.
p00kiethebear writes "I have a wonderful and beautiful girlfriend who treats me right in every way. We've been together for almost a year now and everything seemed to be going perfectly until this morning. Over breakfast we were discussing dinosaurs and she told me a story about how her grandfather, fifty years ago, dated footprints of a dinosaurs and a man that were right next to each other to be within the same epoch of history. I laughed when she said this and then realized that she wasn't joking. She believes dinosaurs and humans walked at the same time together. The odd thing is that she's not religious, it's just what her archaeologist grandfather taught her. More important than just backing up evidence to the contrary, how do I explain this to her without crushing her childhood dreams? Is it even worth discussing it further with her?"
Bitcoin

Ask Slashdot: Should Bitcoin Be Regulated? 385

Posted by Soulskill
from the and-what-about-monopoly-money dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Federal regulators are starting to make noise about Bitcoin, the digital currency that's gained in recognition and value over the past few years: the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) is offering up 'guidance' for digital currency and those who use it as part of commerce. But the Bitcoin Foundation, which is devoted to standardizing and promoting the currency, doesn't like that idea; as Patric Murck, the organization's general counsel, wrote in a March 19 blog posting: 'If FinCEN would like to expand its statutory authority over "money transmitters" to include brand new categories such as "administrators" and "exchangers" of digital currency it must do so through proper rulemaking proceedings and not by fiat.' If Bitcoin continues to gain in value, it could spark a rise in virtual currencies—and force some very interesting discussions over regulation. But here's the question: would regulation actually be good for Bitcoin, if it made organizations and businesses more comfortable with using it as a currency?"
Communications

Ask Slashdot: Best Way To Archive and Access Ancient Emails? 282

Posted by timothy
from the learn-them-like-the-ancient-memory-singers dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I started using email in the early 90s and have lost most of that first decade due to ignorance, botched backups, and so on. But since about 2000, I've got most — if not all — of my email in some form or other. I run Linux, so this has mainly been in a mix of various programs: Kmail, Evolution, Thunderbird. The past 2-3 years are still on the IMAP servers. My problem is that I only rarely NEED to look back to email of 5 years ago. But sometimes it's nice. Or I just want to reminisce about something...or find an old attachment that I was sent. But I do not want to be clogging my current email client of choice with vast backups and even more, I don't know if it will even easily convert. The file structures are different, some are mbox, others maildir, etc., and I would ideally like a way to 1) store and archive these emails, 2) access them, and 3) search by Sender, Subject, Date, Attachments. Is there anything I can do or do I just have to keep legacy applications on hand for this? Should I keep trying to upgrade and pull old files into the new applications? Any help or suggestions about what YOU do would be great."
Encryption

Ask Slashdot: Encrypted Digital Camera/Recording Devices? 285

Posted by Soulskill
from the where-are-you-planning-on-driving-exactly dept.
Ransak writes "As we hear more and more about dashboard cameras catching unplanned events, I've thought of equipping my vehicles with them just in case that 'one in a billion' moment happens. But given the level of overreach law enforcement has shown, I'd only consider one if I could be assured that the data was secure from prying eyes (e.g., a camera that writes to encrypted SD memory). Are there any solutions for the niche market of the paranoid photographer/videographer?"
Bitcoin

Ask Slashdot: Enterprise Bitcoin Mining For Go-Green Initiatives? 312

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the idle-cycles dept.
Supp0rtLinux writes "Bitcoins are currently trading around $75. I work for a very large organization. We have a fairly large HPC that is usually about 50% idle, as well as about 18K desktops on 4 campuses connected with dark fiber. All stay on 24x7 for after-hours AV scans (weekly) and backups (2-3x a week). All are leases that refresh every 2 years so all have fairly good CPU & RAM specs. As part of a go-green initiative a proposal has come up to use all the PCs for bitcoin in our own mining group; sort of like SETI-at-home style, but with a real dollar value return to us. Additionally, we would setup a queue in our HPC that dedicates 30% to BC mining when in use and up to 99.5% when no other jobs are running. The thought is that all the PCs are on 24x7 anyway and consuming resources so why not allow them to be useful 24x7 as well and generate bitcoins which can then be sold to offset the electrical costs of the running equipment and/or possibly even make a little profit. The guy with the idea says its a no-lose situation as if the price of bitcoins drops to below a certain level and is no longer a financially viable option, we simply stop the mining process. I'm curious what the Slashdot community thinks of this? " Read on for a few more details.
Security

Ask Slashdot: Do-It-Yourself Security Auditing Tools? 116

Posted by timothy
from the like-soapy-water-for-your-inner-tube dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I'm a 'prosumer' website builder, have a few sites that are mainly hobbies, but I would like to know that they're at least fairly robust. I'm thinking of the equivalent of a 'dental clinic' — where someone interested in the white hat security field might be willing to take on an audit for the experience and to build a resume. Or, tools such as websites that let you put in a password and see how long it takes to crack it. Or sites where you can put in a URL and it gets poked and prodded by a number of different cracker tools and a 'score' is given. Ideally with suggestions on how to improve. Does anything like that exist? I'm not talking FBI/CIA level security, but just common-sense basics. I've tried to use techniques that improve security, but I don't know how well they work. And I've realized that in the ever growing, fast changing field of computers I'm not going to ever get the knowledge I need to do this myself. I know there are software suites that allow you to sniff and test things on your own, but I'm afraid it's overwhelmingly foreign to me and I just feel like I can't reliably do this myself. Any ideas?"
Technology

Ask Slashdot: Why Buy a Raspberry Pi When I Have a Perfectly Good Cellphone? 273

Posted by samzenpus
from the expensive-knock-off dept.
scorp1us writes "I've been looking into getting a Raspberry Pi, but I end up needing a case, a display, and some way to power it, and wanting some degree of portability. It seems to me that even the most outdated cellphone has far superior features (screen, touch screen, Wifi, 3g/4g camera(s), battery etc) in a much better form factor. The only thing that is missing are the digital/analog in/out pins. So why not flip it around and make a USB or bluetooth peripheral board with just the pins? I've been looking for this and can't find any, but does anyone know of any in the corners of the internet? I don't care what phone platform."
Operating Systems

Ask Slashdot: New To Linux; Which Distro? 573

Posted by timothy
from the pick-and-choose dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I'm a very new user to Linux looking for a distro that allows me to control and customize, but I'm not sure where to start. I had a friend install Ubuntu 12.04 on my computer, with the E17 window manager and somehow I managed to crash it during the copying of some non-important files and now my computer won't boot (the hardware's fine though). I've found descriptions of Arch Linux to be spot on to what I'm looking for and want (Slashdot user serviscope_minor mentioned Arch a couple weeks ago and it caught my attention), but my experience in the terminal is literally about an hour. That said, I really want to learn more, don't mind hard work, enjoy challenges, and am perfectly willing to spend hours and hours for months on end to learn command line. Any suggestions, projects to start with, books to read, or tutorials to do to try would be appreciated."
Encryption

Ask Slashdot: Simplifying Encryption and Backup? 148

Posted by timothy
from the write-everything-backwards-but-twice dept.
New submitter FuzzNugget writes "A recent catastrophic hard drive failure has caused me to ponder whether the trade-off between security and convenience with software-based OTFE is worthwhile. My setup involves an encrypted Windows installation with TrueCrypt's pre-boot authentication, in addition to having data stored in a number of TrueCrypt file containers. While it is nice to have some amount of confidence that my data is safe from prying eyes in the case of loss or theft of my laptop, this setup poses a number of significant inconveniences." Read on below; FuzzNugget lists some problems with this set-up, and seeks advice on a simpler system for backing up while keeping things locked down.
Technology

Ask Slashdot: Dealing With Electrostatic Contamination? 197

Posted by timothy
from the oh-is-that-what-the-kids-are-calling-it-now dept.
interval1066 writes "I've generally made it a practice to blow the dust out of my devices 1) when I remember to do so 2) after about 3 or so years of use 3) when I can get inside the case. My monitor is very thin and difficult to open. When I did finally crack it open I didn't really notice a whole lot of dust, but I blew the thing out anyway and put it back together, and it's doing ok, as far as I can tell. I'd be interested in knowing other Slashdotters' experiences with maintaining their devices in this way and where possible. And I actually extending the life of my devices, or am I just wasting my time?"
DRM

Ask Slashdot: What Is a Reasonable Way To Deter Piracy? 687

Posted by Soulskill
from the go-to-their-house-and-verify-them-personally dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I'm an indie developer about to release a small ($5 — $10 range) utility for graphic designers. I'd like to employ at least a basic deterrent to pirates, but with the recent SimCity disaster, I'm wondering: what is a reasonable way to deter piracy without ruining things for legitimate users? A simple serial number? Online activation? Encrypted binaries? Please share your thoughts."
IT

Ask Slashdot: How To (or How NOT To) Train Your Job Replacement? 292

Posted by Soulskill
from the make-sure-he-understands-snipe-tags dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I am a contract developer from a major U.S. city. My rate has never been the lowest, but it's nonetheless very competitive considering the speed and quality of the work I have always delivered, as well as the positive feedback I've received from most clients. In the past ~3 years, I have been working on a sizable project for a major client. For the most part it has been a happy arrangement for both parties. However, for various reasons (including the still ailing economy), starting this year they hired a fresh college graduate in-house, and asked me to teach him all 'secrets' of my code, even though they have the source code by contract. The implicit (although never openly stated) goal is of course for him to take over the project and hopefully reduce cost, at least in the short-term. I say 'hopefully' because I am pretty sure that, because they are unfamiliar with the software industry, they underestimated what it takes to make quality, production-ready code. I am not afraid of losing this particular client, as I have many others, but I want to ask Slashdot: how do you handle this type of situation — training someone whom you know will eventually replace you at your job?"
Google

Ask Slashdot: Which Google Project Didn't Deserve To Die? 383

Posted by samzenpus
from the too-soon dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "When Google announced the shutdown of Google Reader, its popular RSS reader, it sparked significant outrage across the Web. While one could argue that RSS readers have declined in popularity over the past few years (in fact, that was Google's stated reason for killing it), they remain a useful tool for many people who want to collect their Web content—articles, blog postings, and the like—in one convenient place. (Fortunately for them, there exist any number of alternative RSS readers, some of which offer even more features than Google Reader.) This wasn't the first time that Google announced a project's imminent demise, and it certainly won't be the last: Google Buzz, Google Health, Google Wave, Google Labs, and other software platforms all ended up in the dustbin of tech history. So here's the question: of all those projects, which didn't deserve the axe? If you had a choice, which would you bring back?"
The Internet

Ask Slashdot: Best Way To Block Web Content? 282

Posted by samzenpus
from the what-has-been-seen-cannot-be-unseen dept.
First time accepted submitter willoughby writes "Many routers today have the capability to block web content. And you all know about browser addons like noscript & adblock. But where is the 'proper' place for such content blocking? Is it best to have the router only route packets & do the content blocking on each machine? If using the content blocking feature in the router, will performance degrade if the list of blocked content grows large? Where is the best place to filter/block web content?"
Software

Ask Slashdot: Best 3-D Design Software? 218

Posted by Soulskill
from the measured-in-fewest-steps-to-recreate-the-starship-enterprise dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I'm just getting into playing around with various maker-related tools, and I've run into a bit of a roadblock. I have access to a 3-D printer, a CNC mill, and a bunch of other fun tools, but I'm not able to make my own designs to use on them. I'd like to learn some 3-D design, but there are a ton of different software options, and I'm not sure which is the best. I've been hesitant to jump right into one, because I don't know how well it'll suit my needs compared to the others, and many of the options have a pretty steep price tag. I also don't want to spend a bunch of time learning one only to find out it's not very good for actually making things. I've played around briefly with Solidworks, Alibre, and AutoCAD, and also some free options like Blender and Sketchup. But these are complicated piece of software, and knowing nothing, it's hard for me to evaluate the differences. Makers of Slashdot, what do you recommend? Also, if you know of good online resources for learning 3-D design in general, or on any of this software in particular, I'd love to see it."
Education

Ask Slashdot: Best Way To Block Noise In a Dorm? 561

Posted by samzenpus
from the keep-it-down dept.
First time accepted submitter zmitch32 writes "I live in a dorm, and I have ADHD, so every little noise distracts me. I know this annoyance isn't limited to those with ADHD, so how does everyone else block out the noise? I can't really cover my walls in soundproof foam because I live in a dorm. I can't just listen to music because I find it too interesting and just end up getting distracted by it. I use ear plugs to block out small noises, but they don't block out human voices very well at all. What do you guys/gals recommend?"
Social Networks

What's the Best RSS Reader Not Named Google Reader? 287

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the that's-our-job dept.
Hugh Pickens writes writes "The news that that Google is killing off Google Reader in their annual spring cleaning means hordes of abandoned RSS users will need a new home to get their news fix before July 1, 2013. Sure, Google Reader may not have been the most beautifully designed product to come out of Mountain View, Calif., but it sure was convenient. And now that it's going away, it's evident just how valuable it has been. 'It's a tough question that's not unlike asking what's the best planet to live on not named Earth or the best thing to breathe not named air,' writes Casey Chan. 'Google Reader was that obvious a choice.' So what's the best RSS reader not named Google Reader? Is it Reeder? Or NetNewsWire? Maybe Feedly? Or should we all just ditch RSS and get with Twitter?" Personally, I've taken a liking to Akregator on my desktop and Sparse RSS on my phone (syncing done woefully manually by exporting the list of feeds from my desktop reader and importing into the phone reader now and then). Update: 03/14 14:43 GMT by T : Depending on your aesthetics and platform of choice, you might like one of these four options, too.
IOS

Ask Slashdot: Mac To Linux Return Flow? 965

Posted by Soulskill
from the come-back-to-the-penguin's-loving-embrace dept.
jasnw writes "I'm one of apparently many people who moved to OS X from Linux in the early/mid 2000s for their desktop system, keeping Linux boxes around for the heavy lifting and server work. I may also be part of a large segment of that group now considering a return because of all the iOS-ification of OS X, despite the fact that the Linux desktop still falls short in the 'it just works' area. I'm angry enough at Apple, and wary enough of Linux, that I might just go to using Windows 7 for the desktop (not Win8, however). What is the feeling/experience of other 'traitors' who run OS X for the desktop and Linux for everything else?"
Hardware

Ask Slashdot: Building a Cheap Computing Cluster? 160

Posted by timothy
from the when-freecycle-just-doesn't-make-sense dept.
New submitter jackdotwa writes "Machines in our computer lab are periodically retired, and we have decided to recycle them and put them to work on combinatorial problems. I've spent some time trawling the web (this Beowulf cluster link proved very instructive) but have a few reservations regarding the basic design and air-flow. Our goal is to do this cheaply but also to do it in a space-conserving fashion. We have 14 E8000 Core2 Duo machines that we wish to remove from their cases and place side-by-side, along with their power supply units, on rackmount trays within a 42U (19", 1000mm deep) cabinet." Read on for more details on the project, including some helpful pictures and specific questions.
Science

Ask Slashdot: How Many Time Standards Are There? 214

Posted by timothy
from the didn't-suffer-slept-right-through-it dept.
jjoelc writes "Being one of those 'suffering' through the time change last night, the optimist in me reminded me that it could be much worse. That's when I started wondering how many different time/date standards there really are. Wikipedia is a good starting point, but is sorely lacking in the various formats used by e.g. Unix, Windows, TRS-80, etc. And that is without even getting into the various calendars that have been in and out of use throughout the ages. So how about it? How many different time/date 'standards' can we come up with? I'm betting there are more than a few horror stories of having to translate between them..."
Open Source

Ask Slashdot: Where to Host Many Small, Related Projects? 69

Posted by timothy
from the you-might-say-a-host-of-them dept.
MellowTigger writes "I work at a non-profit organization. I am looking for a site where we can register an account under our group's name, then spawn multiple projects to solicit programmer help for our organization. The current projects that we have in mind are small and probably not of interest to the wider world, although one very large project is possible. I need a site that emphasizes our non-profit as the benefactor rather than the wider world, since most projects are so specific that wider applicability seems slim. We would need help with various technologies including at least Powershell and SQL. At the moment, my available options emphasize individual projects of public interest, so we would have to spawn multiple independent projects, seeming to spam the host with 'pointless' minor tasks. We already have technical people seeking to donate time. We just need a way to coordinate skill matching, document sharing, and code submission out on the web. What do you suggest?"
DRM

Ask Slashdot: Dealing With Flagged Channels For XBMC PVR? 328

Posted by timothy
from the you-want-everything dept.
AlphaWolf_HK writes "I own an HDHomeRun Prime tuner, and unfortunately I live in an area where the cable provider (Cox) blanket flags all channels to be copy restricted. I'm tired of using Windows Media Center due to bugs and other problems, but since the channels are flagged it is the only option. Satellite is of course not an option at all (no cablecard or similar standard.) I've already begun moving most of my content watching to XBMC in the form of using sickbeard and couchpotato, both of which do an amazing job even with torrents now that Usenet has been getting hit pretty hard. To match this, I've already dropped my cable tier to the lowest possible for some basic digital channels that people in my household still watch and aren't available over torrents. But ideally I'd like to cut the cord completely as the service is otherwise useless. Are there any options for obtaining this content without physically moving to Comcast territory where they don't do this? Or perhaps any workarounds for the CCI flag? Ideally, anything that allows XBMC with digital content and no transcoding."
Education

Ask Slashdot: Advice For Summer Before Ph.D. Program? 228

Posted by samzenpus
from the work-or-play dept.
First time accepted submitter tookul03 writes "I'm a graduating senior from a small New England liberal arts college, and have secured a spot in a Biological Science Ph.D. program for the next five years. I realize this coming summer will be my last out of the lab for a long time and am not sure If I am interested in doing something related to my research interests or use it as an opportunity to find some new hobbies/interests. I figured the Slashdot community had a number of individuals who were/are in a similar position (albeit different fields) and could shed some light on things they (or others) had done. Thanks."
IT

Ask Slashdot: On the Job Certification Training? 117

Posted by Soulskill
from the make-them-pay dept.
beerdini writes "There is a debate going on within my IT department about how our continued training offerings compare to others in the industry. I'm hoping other Slashdotters can help to provide comparisons. Currently, if we are implementing a new technology or updated software we will send someone from IT for training to become a specialist; in other words, they go to formal training as a part of their job where they learn their new skills. Alternatively, for someone pursuing an industry certification, employees usually take the training on their own time and dime. On passing the certification exam, they can submit the exam fee for reimbursement. This is the most common practice that I've seen in the various places that I've worked, but I have one co-worker who insists that it is our company's responsibility to pay for the materials, allow them to study and practice while on the job, and that all attempts to take the test should be paid by the company because it should be a company investment in the employee. So, my questions to the Slashdot community: what are the ongoing training practices in your organization? Are there any places that pay for someone to get an industry certificate? Are there any rules associated with it?"

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