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The Internet

Ask Slashdot: What Should a Non-Profit Look For In a Web Host? 100

Posted by Soulskill
from the low-latency-for-your-quake-3-servers dept.
An anonymous reader writes "We are a large (multi-national) non-profit and currently deal with 503s on a near daily basis. We've worked on this for over a year and the host hasn't been able to figure out how to fix it. We're paying for a managed host and need to evaluate other options. My boss has tasked me with evaluating a new one. I'm the most geeky of the group, so I know the terms, but don't have a sense of what's actually needed to suit our needs. We sometimes have upwards of 1,000 people browsing the site at the same time, so my sense is that we shouldn't need massive amounts of power or bandwidth... but, somehow that's not working on our current host. Can anyone help me get a sense of what types of hosting will best suit the needs of a 'large' non-profit? We're not Facebook, but we're not a mom-and-pop shop. Any help or tips would be fantastic, particularly if you've also selected a new hosting provider in the past year or so. I don't necessarily need actual names (though those would be nice, too) but at least some tips on what makes a huge difference when suddenly a whole bunch of people around the world read an email and want to help out."
Displays

Ask Slashdot: Does LED Backlight PWM Drive You Crazy? 532

Posted by timothy
from the it's-how-they-send-messages dept.
jones_supa writes "I would like to raise some discussion about a hardware issue that has increasingly started to bug me: backlight flicker, from which many LED-backlit monitors suffer. As you might know, the backlight and its dimming is driven by a pulse width modulated square wave, essentially flicking the LEDs on and off rapidly. Back in the CRT days a 100Hz picture was deluxe, due to the long afterglow of the display phosphor. LEDs, however, shut off immediately and my watering eyes and headache tell that we should be using frequencies in multiple kHz there. Unfortunately we too often fall behind that. As one spark of hope, the display review site PRAD has already started to include backlight signal captures to help assessing the problem. However with laptops and various mobile gadgets, finding this kind of information is practically impossible. This issue sort of lingers in the background but likely impacts the well-being of many, and certainly deserves more attention." So do LEDs bother your eyes? I think CRTs gave me headaches far more often than has any form of flat panel display, at least partly because of the whining noise that CRTs emit.
Open Source

Ask Slashdot: How To Start Reading Other's Code? 254

Posted by timothy
from the first-hire-some-polish-mathematicians dept.
BorgeStrand writes "I'm reviving an open source project and need to read up on a lot of existing code written by others. What are your tricks for quickly getting to grips with code written by others? The project is written in C++ using several APIs which are unknown to me. I know embedded C pretty well, so both the syntax, the APIs and the general functionality are things I wish to explore before I can contribute to the project."
Technology

Ask Slashdot: Neurofeedback At Home, Is It Possible? 68

Posted by Soulskill
from the what-could-possibly-go-wrong dept.
New submitter sker writes "Mind hackers, self-help junkies, even regular people have heard wild promises of the power of neurofeedback — namely the process of watching a visual representation of your own brain's activity to influence what your brain is doing. Folks are using it to cure ADHD, PTSD, or even to supposedly improve mindfulness meditation. Previously the sole domain of costly hospital and research equipment, the necessary EEG equipment is making its way into the home. From newagey Deepak Chopra-endorsed kits to the for-engineers-only OpenEEG project, the options are rapidly getting unwieldy for curious bystanders to make sense of. Have you had experience with EEG or neurofeedback at home? Do you have advice?"
Programming

Ask Slashdot: Self-Hosting Git Repositories? 165

Posted by timothy
from the that-sounds-recursive dept.
mpol writes "We're all aware of PRISM and the NSA deals with software houses. Just today it was in the news that even Microsoft gives zero-day exploits to the NSA, who use them to prepare themselves, but also use the exploits to break into other systems. At my company we use Git with some private repositories. It's easy to draw the conclusion that git-hosting in the cloud, like Github or Bitbucket, will lead to sharing the sourcecode with the NSA. Self-hosting our Git repositories seems like a good and safe idea then. The question then becomes which software to use. It should be Open Source and under a Free License, that's for sure. Software like GitLab and GNU Savane seem good candidates. What other options are there, and how do they stack up against each other? What experience do people have with them?"
IT

Ask Slashdot: What To Do With New Free Time? 299

Posted by timothy
from the when-you're-finished-gloating-at-least dept.
An anonymous reader writes "After 25 years of doing IT (started as a PC technician and stayed on technical of IT work through out my career) I've been moved to a position of doing only on call work (but paid as if it is a normal 9-5 job). This leaves me with a lot of free time... As someone who's used to working 12+ hours a day + the odd night/weekend on call, I'm scared I'll lose my mind with all the new free time I'll have. Any suggestions (beyond develop hobbies, spend time with family) on how to deal with all the new free time?"
The Media

Slashdot Asks: How Will You Replace Google Reader? 335

Posted by timothy
from the bifocals-espresso-and-page-ruffling-servants dept.
Despite a hue and cry from disappointed users, Google has not made any moves to reverse its decision to close down Google Reader on the first of July, just a few weeks away. Despite the name — and the functions it started out with in 2001 — Reader has become more than a simple interface to RSS feeds; Wikipedia gives a concise explanation of how it evolved from just a few features to a full-blown platform of its own, incorporating social-sharing features of the kind that have become expected in many online apps. Those features have morphed over the years along with Google's larger social strategies, along the way upsetting some readers who'd grown used to certain features. If you're a Google Reader user, will you be replacing it with another aggregator?
IT

Ask Slashdot: How Do You Prove an IT Manager Is Incompetent? 331

Posted by samzenpus
from the terrible-bosses dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I have been asked by a medium-sized business to help them come to grips with why their IT group is ineffective, loathed by all other departments, and runs at roughly twice the budget of what the CFO has deemed appropriate for the company's size and industry. After just a little scratching, it has become quite clear that the 'head of IT' has no modern technological skills, and has been parroting what his subordinates have told him without question. (This has led to countless projects that are overly complex, don't function as needed, and are incredibly expensive.) How can one objectively illustrate that a person doesn't have the knowledge sufficient to run a department? The head of IT doesn't necessarily need to know how to write code, so a coding test serves no purpose, but should be able to run a project. Are there objective methods for assessing this ability?"
Programming

Ask Slashdot: What To Do When Another Dev Steals Your Work and Adds Their Name? 480

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-due-credit dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I have had an interesting situation arise where I built some web apps for a client about 2 years ago. I have no longer been working with the client and a new developer has taken over purely for maintenance work. Currently I have been looking for new work and have used the said apps as part of my portfolio. During one interview I was informed that I not telling the truth about building the apps and I was then shown the source of a few JS files. It seems the new developer had put a copyright header on them, removed my name as the author and put his own. Now this is grey territory as it the client who owns the source, not the contracting developer. It put me on my back foot and I had to start explaining to interviewers that the developer stole the work and branded it. I feel it makes me look like a fool, having to defend my position in an interview with a possible client and I feel I had lost the chance of directing the outcome of the interview. I have cut the apps from my portfolio, however they are some of my best work and a real testament to my skills. I decided to cut my loss and move on, I am not looking for a fight or any unnecessary heartache. So what you do in my situation?"
Networking

Ask Slashdot: How Best To Disconnect Remote Network Access? 284

Posted by timothy
from the no-soup-for-you dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Is there a device to automatically disconnect network or otherwise time limit a physical connection to a network? The why? We are dealing with a production outage of large industrial equipment. The cause? The supplier, with no notice, remotely connected to the process control system and completely botched an update to their system. We are down and the vendor is inept and not likely to have us back to 100% for a few days. Obviously the main issue is that they were able to do this at all, but reality is that IT gets overridden by the Process Control department in a manufacturing business. They were warned about this and told it was a horrible idea to allow remote access all the time. They were warned many times to leave the equipment disconnected from remote access except when they were actively working with the supplier. Either they forgot to disconnect it or they ignored our warnings. The question is, is there a device that will physically disconnect a network connection after a set time? Yes, we could use a Christmas tree light timer hooked up to a switch or something like that but I want something more elegant. Something with two network jacks on it that disconnects the port after a set time, or even something IT would have to login to and enable the connection and set a disconnect timer would be better than nothing. As we know, process control workers and vendors are woefully inept/uneducated about IT systems and risks and repeatedly make blunders like connecting process control systems directly to the internet, use stock passwords for everything, don't install antivirus on windows based control computers, etc. How do others deal with controlling remote access to industrial systems?"
IT

Ask Slashdot: What Will IT Departments Look Like In 5 Years? 184

Posted by Soulskill
from the i'll-know-IT-when-i-see-IT dept.
Lucas123 writes "As consumerization of IT and self-service trends becomes part and parcel of everyone's work in the enterprise, the corporate data center may be left behind and IT departments may be given over to business units as consultants and integrators. 'The business itself will be the IT department. [Technologists] will simply be the enabler,' said Brandon Porco, chief technologist & solutions architect at Northrop Grumman. Porco was part of a four-person panel of technologists who participated at a town hall-style meeting at the CITE Conference and Expo in San Francisco this week. The panel was united on the topic of the future of IT shops. Others said they are not sure how to address a growing generation gap between young and veteran workers, each of whom are comfortable with different technologies. Nathan McBride, vice president of IT & chief cloud architect at AMAG Pharmaceuticals, said he's often forced to deal with older IT workers coming on board who expect his company to support traditional email like Outlook when it uses Google Apps.' Sooner or later, IT departments are going to change. When do you think that will happen, and how will they be different?"
Education

Ask Slashdot: Getting Exchange and SQL Experience? 293

Posted by timothy
from the limited-scope dept.
First time accepted submitter william.meaney1 writes "I'm the sole network admin at a 25 person company. I was lucky enough to get the opportunity less than a year after getting a technical degree in IT. I've had some huge opportunities here (for a first time network admin). After my schooling, I went ahead and I'm now CompTIA A+, Network+, and CCNA certified. Now, being hired out of school, I was grateful for the job, and the boss hired me for peanuts (Less than $30,000/year) I've been living at home, using that money for loan payments, car payments, and certification expenses. I've started looking for other work, and I feel more than qualified for most of the requirements I'm seeing. The big hurdle I'm coming across that EVERYONE seems to want is experience with SQL databases, and Microsoft Exchange. I was wondering if anyone had any ideas for getting usable experience on a low budget. I have some SQL experience, I deployed a source control program here that uses a SQL express backend, but what else do you need to know for database maintenance?"
Education

Ask Slashdot: With Grants Drying Up, How Is a Tech Non-Profit To Survive? 178

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the unicorns-probably dept.
helios17 writes "Non-Profits like this have traditionally gotten started from the money grants provide. Most grants award vehicles, computers, and even pay for organization rental and utility costs. The problem fledgling and even established non-profits are encountering is the dwindling number of grants allowing for Operating or General Support costs. What good is a vehicle received via grant if you can't afford to put fuel in it? With the number of Operating or General Support grants shrinking and those available funds competed for heavily, should we be looking on line for help? Can efforts like this be a better way to approach it?"
Robotics

Ask Slashdot: How To Begin Simple Robotics As a Hobby? 166

Posted by samzenpus
from the playing-in-the-lab dept.
First time accepted submitter nedko.m writes "I would describe myself as more of a 'software guy' rather than somebody who likes to play with hardware much, but I've wanted to start doing basic robotics projects as a hobby for quite a while now. However, I was never sure where to start from and what the very first steps should be in order to get more familiar with the hardware aspects of robotics. For instance, I would like to start off with a simple soccer robot. Any suggestions on what low-budget parts should I obtain, which would provide me, subsequently, extensibility to a bit more elaborate projects?"
Displays

Ask Slashdot: Portable High-Resolution External Displays? 141

Posted by timothy
from the just-don't-get-mugged dept.
First time accepted submitter paragonc writes "I am a software engineer who works remotely. I'm amazingly lucky to live in Austin, Texas where I have access to multiple high quality co-working facilities within biking distance. While these places are great for networking and establishing a rhythm to daily life, not having a permanent desk forces me to pack my gear in and out each day. This means i pack light. My current Go Bag includes a 13.3 inch MacBook pro, and an iPad running avatron Air Display. This has worked well, but i'm sorely missing having a real high resolution external monitor. I've looked at a few of the USB powered external displays, but the resolution seems to only hit 1366 X 768. I'd be curious if slashdotters have any tricks up their sleeves on how to implement a high resolution portable external displays."
Hardware

Ask Slashdot: Supporting "Antique" Software? 212

Posted by timothy
from the why-in-my-day dept.
First time accepted submitter wolfguru writes "As the IT Manager for a large printing firm, I often have to provide hardware to support older software which is used to configure and maintain existing systems, some of which are nearly 20 years old. Much of the software uses RS-232 serial communications to connect to the PLC devices and is often 16 bit versions. Newer systems from the PLC manufacturers supports some of the equipment, but many of the older PLC consoles are essentially unreachable without the serial communications. For any of you faced with similar challenges in keeping a manufacturing environment maintenance department working; what do you use to support them and where do you find equipment that will run the older systems that are sometimes the only means of supporting these types of devices?"
Education

Ask Slashdot: How Important Is Advanced Math In a CS Degree? 656

Posted by Soulskill
from the math-is-easy-for-most-people,-they-just-don't-know-it dept.
AvailableNickname writes "I am currently pursuing a bachelor's in CompSci and I just spent three hours working on a few differential equations for homework. It is very frustrating because I just don't grok advanced math. I can sort of understand a little bit, but I really don't grok anything beyond long division. But I love computers, and am very good at them. However, nobody in the workforce is even going to glance at my direction without a BSc. And to punish me for going into a field originally developed by mathematicians I need to learn all this crap. If I had understood what I was doing, maybe I wouldn't mind so much. But the double frustration of not understanding it and not understanding why the heck I need to do it is too much. So, how important is it?"
Education

Ask Slashdot: How Can I Make a Computer Science Club Interesting? 265

Posted by samzenpus
from the just-add-beer dept.
plutoclacks writes "I will run a computer science club at my high school next semester with two other friends. The club was newly introduced this school year, and initially saw a massive success (40+ members showed up at the first meeting). Unfortunately, participation has decreased a lot since then, down to four active members. I feel that the main reason for this decline was the inability to maintain the students' interest at the beginning of the year, as well as general disorganization, which we hope to change next semester. The leaders of the club all have fairly strong Java backgrounds, in addition to enthusiasm about computer science and programming. We have a computer lab with ~30 computers, which, though old, are still functional and available for use. What are some ways we can make the club have an impacting interest to newcomers?"
GNU is Not Unix

Ask Slashdot: Is GNU/Linux Malware a Real Threat? 252

Posted by timothy
from the send-you-this-file-in-order-to-have-your-advice dept.
New submitter m.alessandrini writes "I've been using Debian for a long time, and I'm not a novice at all; I install system updates almost daily, I avoid risky behaviors on Internet, and like all Linux users I always felt safe. Yesterday my webcam suddenly turned on, and turned off after several minutes. I'm pretty sure it was nothing serious, but I started thinking about malware. At work I use noscript and other tools, but at home I have a more relaxed browser to be used by other family members, too. Here I'm not talking about rootkits or privilege escalation (I trust Debian), I think more of normal user compromise. For example, these days much malware come from malicious scripts in sites, even in advertising banners inside trusted sites, and this is more 'cross-platform' than normal viruses. So, what about non-root user malware? How much could this be real? And how can you diagnose it?"
Programming

Ask Slashdot: What's the Best Way To Work On Projects While Traveling? 273

Posted by Soulskill
from the build-an-office-inside-a-rental-truck dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I really want to go travel the world with the money I've saved up at my day job, but I also want to grow as a developer in the process. This is a long-term engagement: 2-3 years or more depending on whether my software is successful. I'll probably be hopping from hostel to hostel at first, with a few weeks at each. How do I find a good work environment in these conditions? Do hostels generally have quiet areas where work could be done? Is it OK to get out your laptop and spend the day in a cafe in Europe, assuming you keep buying drinks? What about hackerspaces — are those common on the other side of the globe? (Apartments are an option for later on, but I'm concerned about losing the social atmosphere that's built in with the hostel lifestyle.) I've never done anything like this before, but I'm really excited about the idea! Any advice would be greatly appreciated."
Virtualization

Ask Slashdot: Safe Learning Environment For VMs? 212

Posted by timothy
from the first-do-no-harm dept.
First time accepted submitter rarkian writes "I am the teacher in this story. I teach Python and C++ to high school students: grades 9-12. I use CentOS 6 with DRBL to run my computer lab. Some of my students have become Linux experts. Next year I'm planning on allowing students to create and run their own VMs in a segregated LAN. Any advice on which virtualization technology to use and security concerns with allowing students to be root in a VM?"
Technology

Ask slashdot: Which 100+ User Virtualization Solution Should I Use? 191

Posted by samzenpus
from the best-of-virtual-class dept.
Gonzalez_S writes "Let's say you need to give access to 100+ users to create their own virtual machines and devices (eg. switches, .., ms windows or linux family) in a manageable and secure way. Which virtualization solution would you choose? There are vmware, xen, kvm, .. based solutions, but which one would you prefer and why? The solution should be stable, manageable, scriptable and preferably have ldap integration. In this case I also need to setup a playground for IT students, next to hosting production servers on the same system."
Software

Ask Slashdot: When Is the User Experience Too Good? 397

Posted by Soulskill
from the thought-process-behind-drm dept.
gadzook33 writes "I had an interesting experience at work recently. A colleague suggested during a meeting that we were building something that would make it far too easy for the customer to perform a certain task; a task that my colleague felt was deleterious. Without going into specifics, I believe an apt analogy would be giving everyone in the country a flying car. While this would no doubt be enjoyable, without proper training and regulation it would also be tremendously dangerous (also assume training and regulating is not practical in this case). I retorted that ours is not to reason why, and that we had the responsibility to develop the best possible solution, end of story. However, in the following days I have begun to doubt my position and wonder if we don't have some responsibility to artificially 'cripple' the solution and in doing so protect the user from themselves (build a car that stays on the ground). I do not for a second imagine that I am playing the part of Oppenheimer; this is a much more practical issue and less of an ethical one. But is there something to this?"
Canada

Ask Slashdot: How To Determine If a Video Has Been Faked? 237

Posted by timothy
from the justice-for-marion-barry dept.
BStorm writes "The Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has been making headlines around the world, for allegedly smoking crack. This story was first broken by gawker.com, which is now crowd-funding $200,000 to buy the video in question. What do you look for to determine if a video has been faked? Of course I am only interested in the technical details and not the tawdry details related to this case ;) I live in Toronto, so the video still frame posted on Gawker certainly does look like Rob Ford."
Programming

Ask Slashdot: What Makes a Great Hackathon? 79

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the free-pizza dept.
beaverdownunder writes "I recently attended a 'hackathon' that was really just another pitching contest, and out of frustration am tempted to organize an event myself that is better suited to developers and far less entrepreneur-centric than some of the latest offerings. What I'd like to know from the /. community is, what would you like to see in a hackathon? What are some good hackathons you've attended that weren't just thinly-veiled pitch-development workshops? I have an idea around assigning attendees to quasi-random teams based on their skill sets, then giving them 48 hours to complete a serious coding / engineering challenge (probably in the not-for-profit space) — but maybe you've got some better ideas?"
Bug

Ask Slashdot: Moving From Contract Developers To Hiring One In-House? 524

Posted by Soulskill
from the wipe-his-brain-and-download-stack-overflow-into-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I run a small software consulting company who outsources most of its work to contractors. I market myself as being able to handle any technical project, but only really take the fun ones, then shop it around to developers who are interested. I write excellent product specs, provide bug tracking & source control and in general am a programming project manager with empathy for developers. I don't ask them to work weekends and I provide detailed, reproducible bug reports and I pay on time. The only 'rule' (if you can call it that) is: I do not pay for bugs. Developers can make more work for themselves by causing bugs, and with the specifications I write there is no excuse for not testing their code. Developers are always fine with it until we get toward the end of a project and the customer is complaining about bugs. Then all of a sudden I am asking my contractors to work for 'free' and they can make more money elsewhere. Ugh. Every project ends up being a battle, so, I think the solution is to finally hire someone full-time and pay for everything (bugs or not) and just keep them busy. But how can I make that transition? The guy I'd need to hire would have to know a lot of languages and be proficient in all of them. Plus, I can't afford to pay someone $100k/year right now. Ideas?"
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: Can Yahoo Actually Stage a Comeback? 260

Posted by Soulskill
from the titans-versus-dinosaurs dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Fresh off purchasing Tumblr for $1.1 billion, Yahoo has moved to the next stage of what's becoming a company-wide reboot: fixing Flickr, the photo-sharing service that it acquired in 2005 and subsequently allowed to languish. Yahoo boosted Flickr accounts' individual storage capacity to one free terabyte, revamped the Website's overall look, and launched a new Flickr app for Google Android, among other tweaks. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer clearly wants her company to fight toe-to-toe on features with Google and Facebook, but she faces a long road ahead of her: not only does she need to streamline Yahoo's cumbersome corporate structure and product portfolio into something that resembles fighting shape, but she needs to reverse the general perception that Yahoo is teetering on the edge of history's trash-bin, with an aging customer base and unexciting features. The question is, could anyone actually pull it off? Is Yahoo capable of an Apple-style turnaround, or are its current actions merely delaying the inevitable?"
Hardware Hacking

Ask Slashdot: Wiring Home Furniture? 235

Posted by timothy
from the for-a-couch-that-seats-1 dept.
b1tbkt writes "So it seems that furniture manufacturers have not yet acknowledged the realities of modern life. Kitchen tables could benefit greatly from built-in concealable receptacles. Even more obvious is the need for electrical wiring in couches and coffee tables. I realize that there are safety (fire) concerns but as it stands most families that I know already have power cords for laptops, tables and phones draped over, under and through their couches at any given point. If someone wanted to wire their furniture with AC or some type of standardized LV DC system, what are some dangers to watch for and what, if any, specialized hardware exists for the purpose?"
Security

Ask Slashdot: Why Do Firms Leak Personal Details In Plain Text? 252

Posted by timothy
from the more-exciting-that-way dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Having entered my personal details (full real name, home address) to websites with an 'https://' prefix in order to purchase goods, I am still being sent emails from companies (or their agents) which include, in plain text, those same details I have entered over a secure connection. These are often companies which are very keen to tell you how much they value your privacy and how they will not pass your details on to third parties. What recourse does one have to tell them to desist from such behaviour whilst still doing business with them if their products are otherwise desirable? I email the relevant IT team as a matter of course to tell them it's not appropriate (mostly to no avail), but is there any legislation — in any territory — which addresses this?"
Unix

Ask Slashdot: Dealing With a Fear of Technological Change? 429

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the xterm-is-all-you-need dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Despite the fact that I am fairly young at twenty-four years old, people see me as rather 'old school.' I regularly use Lynx, IRC, Pine, have many consoles open, and am currently typing this on an older plain black laptop that has a matte 4:3 display and no chiclet keys. As the days progress, I am coming to the realization that the 'old school' computing world that I grew up in is slowly fading away and a new world of Windows 8, Web 3.0, tablets, smart televisions, and social networking is starting to become fairly common. If there is anything I have learned, it is that most humans have a desire to throw out the old and accept the new without any sort of hesitation. Like many Slashdot users (I am sure you know who you are), I do not accept the new as easily as I probably should. How have you learned to adapt and accept things that are new and different in the world of technology and computers? If not, what are some effective strategies to utilize to keep these kids off my lawn?"
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: Do You Trust When a Vendor Tells You To Buy New Parts? 156

Posted by timothy
from the don't-clench dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Roughly 85 percent of IT managers polled by Forrester said they would hold onto networking infrastructure longer, but vendors retire products prematurely in an effort to force customers to upgrade. In a response that may seem familiar to anyone who's ever been pressured into buying a maintenance contract—either by an enterprise vendor or a major electronics retailer—over 80 percent of the 304 respondents said they don't like the misrepresented cost savings, new fees, and inflexible pricing models—but buy the products anyway. One of the survey's interesting points is that IT decision makers aren't willing to contradict the vendor. The uncertainty seems to come from the fact that the vendor may in fact be right—and a customer who contradicts what they're saying may end up shouldering the blame if the equipment goes south. It's the 'you never got fired for buying IBM' argument, applied to the networking space. The problem, of course, is that the vendor often works for its own agenda. Do you upgrade when the vendor (or reseller) suggests you do so? Or do you stick to your own way of doing things?"
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: How Do You Deal With Programmers Who Have Not Stayed Current? 509

Posted by Soulskill
from the twinkie-on-a-stick dept.
skaffen42 writes "The recent Ask Slashdot about becoming a programmer later in life got me thinking about a related question. How do you deal with programmers who have not stayed current with new technologies? In the hiring process, this is easy; you simply don't hire them. However, at most companies where I've worked, there are usually a few programmers who have been employed long enough that the skill-set they were originally hired for has become irrelevant. At the same time, they have not bothered to stay current with newer technologies. They usually have enough business knowledge that they provide some value to the company, but from a technical perspective they are a slowly-increasing liability. As an example: I work with a developer who is 10 years my senior, but still doesn't understand how to write concurrent code and cannot be trusted to use a revision control system without causing a mess that somebody else will have to clean up. On top of that, he is really resistant to the idea of code reviews; I suspect he dislikes people he considers junior to him making suggestions about how to improve his code. So, how do my fellow Slashdotters handle situations like this? How do you help somebody like this to improve their skill-sets? And, most importantly, how do you do so without stepping on anybody's feelings?"
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: What Is the Best Email Encryption Gateway For a Small Business? 155

Posted by Soulskill
from the randomize-all-outbound-communications dept.
Attila Dimedici writes "I am in the process of implementing an Email Encryption Gateway for my company. I checked with my various contacts in the industry and came away with Voltage as the best solution. However, as I have been working with them to implement a solution, I have been sadly disappointed by their lack of professionalism. Every time I think I am one question away from being ready to pull the trigger, I discover something that my contact with them had not mentioned before that has to be ironed out by the various stakeholders on my end. So, my question for Slashdot readers is this: what is your experience with implementing an Email Encryption Gateway for your company and what solution would you recommend?"
Programming

Ask Slashdot: Becoming a Programmer At 40? 314

Posted by timothy
from the late-bloomer dept.
New submitter fjsalcedo writes "I've read many times, here at Slashdot and elsewhere, that programming, especially learning how to program professionally, is a matter for young people. That programmers after 35 or so begin to decline and even lose their jobs, or at least part of their wages. Well, my story is quite the contrary. I've never made it after undergraduate level in Computer Science because I had to begin working. I've always worked 24x4 in IT environments, but all that stopped abruptly one and a half years ago when I was diagnosed with a form of epilepsy and my neurologist forbade me from working shifts and, above all, nights. Fortunately enough, my company didn't fire me; instead they gave me the opportunity to learn and work as a web programmer. Since then, in less than a year, I've had to learn Java, JavaScript, JSTL, EL, JSP, regular expressions, Spring, Hibernate, SQL, etc. And, you know what? I did. I'm not an expert, of course, but I'm really interested in continuing to learn. Is my new-born career a dead end, or do I have a chance of becoming good at programming?"
Medicine

Ask Slashdot: What Would You Look For In a Prosthetic Hand? 173

Posted by Soulskill
from the swiss-army-fingers dept.
Arglebarf writes "A family member is recovering from a serious illness and, unfortunately, the medication that saved her life will probably cost her hands and feet. She is an artist by trade, so this is a pretty big deal. Replacement prostheses might restore a degree of independence, as well as enabling her to continue with her creative passions. Do any Slashdotters have experience with replacement hands? What features do you look for? Do any models allow you tweak the software for fine tuning? Beyond the day-to-day uses, she will want something that can hold small objects precisely (e.g. a paintbrush)."
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: Why Won't Companies Upgrade Old Software? 614

Posted by Soulskill
from the this-site-is-only-viewable-on-lynx dept.
An anonymous reader writes "IE6. Several governments and big companies I know use software dependent on IE6. They won't upgrade, citing the expensive cost. Do you know what's more expensive than upgrading? Downgrading to the old system they had before they upgraded! You see, before computers, companies used to have room full of people manually calculating and processing stuff. It wasn't until the computer came that they could fire all those people and save a ton of money on their collective salaries. Now, my question is: what happened to that money they saved? Even a small portion of the money saved over the years could be used to upgrade ancient systems to modern standards. However, big organizations keep citing million-dollar upgrade costs as why they won't do it. Aren't they also losing money by working with inefficient, outdated systems?"
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: How Do You Sell an Algorithm To Venture Capitalists? 205

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the wait-for-apple-to-steal-it dept.
dryriver writes "Dear Slashdotters, We are a two man crew who have spent almost three years developing a video processing algorithm that 'upgrades' the visual quality of digital video footage. We take video footage that is "of average quality" — think an amateur shooting on a cheap digital camcorder or on a smartphone camera — and use various mathematical tricks we have developed to make the footage look better — optically sharper, better lit, more vivid colours, improved contrast, enhanced sense of three-dimensionality and of 'being-there realism.' In about a month, we will be presenting our algorithm to some venture capitalists. We have the obligatory before-and-after video demos prepared for this, of course. But there will also be a short PowerPoint presentation where we explain our tech in some detail. Now here is our main question: What, in your opinion, should we — or indeed should we NOT — put in the PowerPoint presentation to impress a Venture Capitalist? Should we talk about how we developed the algorithm at all — what kind of R&D and testing was involved? Should we try to walk the VCs through how our algorithm works under the hood — simplified a bit for a 'non-engineer' audience of course? Or should we stick to talking about market potential, marketing strategy & money-related stuff only? If you were in our shoes — presenting a digital video-quality improvement technology to professional VCs — what would and would you not put in your PowerPoint? Any advice on this from Slashdotters with some experience would be most welcome!"
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: How To Teach IT To Senior Management? 159

Posted by timothy
from the first-there-were-the-dinosaurs dept.
New submitter gagol writes "I recently took a position at a small industrial equipment manufacturer. We are looking to buy a new ERM software package and my boss, who is looking forward to buy the thing, knows nothing about computers or software. I will be providing basic IT training to the senior management and I am looking for your input on the scope and content of said training. I am thinking: basic components and architecture -> networking -> software -> proprietary vs open source. What do you think?"
Advertising

Ask Slashdot: What's Your Company's Marketing-to-Engineering Ratio? 202

Posted by timothy
from the life-imitates-dilbert dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I just learned that the company I work for annually budgets ~$17,000 for non-labor engineering expenses, but budgets ~$250,000 for non-labor marketing and sales expenses. Am I just being cynical when I say that my company spends almost 15 times as much trying to convince the outside world that we make a good product, than it spends on actually making a good product? What's the marketing-to-engineering ratio at your company?"
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?

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