Hardware Hacking

Ask Slashdot: What Is Your Most Unusual Hardware Hack? 210 210

An anonymous reader writes: Another Slashdotter recently asked what kind of things someone can power with an external USB battery. I have a followup along those lines: what kind of modifications have you made to your gadgets to do things that they were never meant to do? Consider old routers, cell phones, monitors, etc. that have absolutely no use or value anymore in their intended form. What can you do with them? Have you ever done something stupid and damaged your electronics?
The Internet

Ask Slashdot: What Is the Best Way To Hold Onto Your Domain? 108 108

An anonymous reader writes: There have been quite a few stories recently about corporations, or other people, wanting to take over a domain. This has me wondering what steps can I take to ensure that outsiders know that my domain is in use, and not up for sale. In my case, I registered a really short domain name(only 5 characters) for a word that I made up. The domain has been mine for a while, and Archive.org has snapshots going back to 2001 of my placeholder page. It could be close to other domain names by adding one more letter, so there is potential for accusations of typosquatting (none yet). I have no trademark on the word, because I saw no reason to get one. The domain is used mostly for personal email, with some old web content left out there for search engines to find. The hosting I pay for is a very basic plan, and I can't really afford to pay for a ton of new traffic. There is the option to set up a blog, but then it has to be maintained for security. What would other readers suggest to establish the domain as mine, without ramping up the amount of traffic on it?
Security

Ask Slashdot: Dealing With Passwords Transmitted As Cleartext? 251 251

An anonymous reader writes: My brother recently requested a transcript from his university and was given the option to receive the transcript electronically. When he had problems accessing the document, he called me in to help. What I found was that the transcript company had sent an e-mail with a URL (not a link) to where the document was located. What surprised me was that a second e-mail was also sent containing the password (in cleartext) to access the document.

Not too long ago I had a similar experience when applying for a job online (ironically for an entry-level IT position). I was required to setup an account with a password and an associated e-mail address. While filling out the application, I paused the process to get some information I didn't have on hand and received an e-mail from the company that said I could continue the process by logging on with my account name and password, both shown in cleartext in the message.

In my brother's case, it was an auto-generated password but still problematic. In my case, it showed that the company was storing my account information in cleartext to be able to e-mail it back to me. Needless to say, I e-mailed the head of their IT department explaining why this was unacceptable.

My questions are: How frequently have people run into companies sending sensitive information (like passwords) in cleartext via e-mail? and What would you do if this type of situation happened to you?
Java

Ask Slashdot: Getting My Wife Back Into Programming After Long Maternity Leave? 250 250

An anonymous reader writes: My wife has been on a maternity leave for three years, now. She is starting to think about refreshing her coding skills and looking for a job. Before, she worked as a Java developer for around two years doing mostly Java Enterprise stuff. However, she is not very eager to go back to coding. I think she has the right mental skills to be a developer, but she is just not very passionate about coding or IT in general. On the other hand, it's relatively easier to find a job in IT than starting a new career.

We live in Spain, and with the current economic situation, the market for software developers is not great — but it's definitely better than other jobs. I there anything else she might do, ideally Java (but could be anything IT related) that would be easier and more fun than the typical Java Enterprise stuff, while also giving her a good change to find a decent job? (I'm a Java developer myself with many years of experience but mostly doing boring Java Enterprise stuff.)
Earth

Ask Slashdot: What To Do With Empty Toner Cartridges? 189 189

New submitter MoarSauce123 writes: Over time I accumulated a number of empty toner cartridges for a Brother laser printer. Initially, I wanted to take a local office supply chain store up on their offer to give me store credit for the returned cartridge. For that credit to be issued I would have to sign up for their store card providing a bunch of personal information. The credit is so lousy that after the deduction from the sales price of a new toner cartridge the price is still much higher than from a large online retailer. And the credit only applies to one new cartridge, so I cannot keep collecting the credit and then get a cartridge 'for free' at some point.

I also looked into a local store of a toner refill chain. Their prices are a bit better, but the closest store is about half an hour away with rather odd business hours. Still, at the end they charge more than the large online retailer asks for a brand new cartridge. For now I bring the empty cartridges to the big office supply store and tell them that I do not want their dumb store credit. I rather have big corp make some bucks on me than throw these things in the trash and have it go to a landfill. Are there any better options? Anything from donating it to charity to refilling myself is of interest.
Open Source

Ask Slashdot: Choosing the Right Open Source License 171 171

NicknamesAreStupid writes: I need to choose an open source license. I am developing an open source iOS application that use a significant number of other open source projects which, in turn, use a number of different open source licenses such as MPL/GPL, MIT, and BSD. I am also using sample code from Apple's developer site, which has their own terms of use. The code dependencies are such that my code would not be of much use without theirs. If this project is used, then it would be nice to pick a license that best fits in with this mashup. I am interested in maintaining the freedom of my code but do not want to create a catch-22 or make life hard for people who need to use this project for personal use or profit. My inclination is to use MIT's, as I have done so before. I asked an IP lawyer about this matter, and she replied (pro bono), "it probably doesn't matter." Of course, that advice was worth every penny. Moving away from legal issues and looking at this from a social perspective, which license would appeal most and offend least? I thought about no license but was warned (pro bono), "If you do not, then someone else may." Any suggestions?
Build

Ask Slashdot: For What Are You Using 3-D Printing? 266 266

An anonymous reader writes: I've been thinking about getting a 3-D printer for a while: the quality is rising, the software is better, STL files really do seem a sufficiently good standard ("sufficiently standard," that is — I'm not worried that printers are going to stop supporting it anytime soon), and prices have dropped quite a bit. Importantly to me, it also seems like less of a jumping-off-a-cliff decision, since I can get a completely assembled one from places as wild and crazy as ... the Home Depot (not that I plan to). However, even the stretchiest practical things I can think of to print can't truly actually justify the price, and that's OK — I hope not to require enough replacement knobs and chess pieces to necessarily *need* one, and playing around with it is the main likely upshot, which I'm OK with. But still, I'd like to hear what uses you have been putting your 3-D printer to, including printers that aren't yours but belong to a hackerspace, public library, eccentric neighbor, etc. What actually practical / useful tasks have you been using 3-D printing for, and with what printer technology? What playful purposes? It's OK if you just keep printing out those chess pieces and teapots, but I'm curious about less obvious reasons to have one around. (And I might just use the local Tech Shop's anyhow, but the question still applies.) If you've purchased a 3D printer, are you happy with the experience? If so, or if not, what kind did you get?
Software

Ask Slashdot: User-Friendly, Version-Preserving File Sharing For Linux? 212 212

petherfile writes: I've been a professional with Microsoft stuff for more than 10 years and I'm a bit sick of it to be honest. The one that's got me stuck is really not where I expected it to be. You can use a combination of DFS and VSS to create a file share where users can put whatever files they are working on that is both redundant and has "previous versions" of files they can recover. That is, users have a highly available network location where they can "go back" to how their file was an hour ago. How do you do that with Linux?

This is a highly desirable situation for users. I know there are nice document management things out there that make sharepoint look silly, but I just want a simple file share, not a document management utility. I've found versioning file systems for Linux that do what Microsoft does with VSS so much better (for having previous version of files available.) I've found distributed file systems for Linux that make DFS look like a bad joke. Unfortunately, they seem to be mutually exclusive. Is there something simple I have missed?
Programming

Ask Slashdot: Is C++ the Right Tool For This Project? 296 296

ranton writes: I am about to start a personal project which I believe should be done in C/C++. The main reasons I have for this are the needs to manage memory usage and disk access at a very granular level and a desire to be cross-platform. Performance is also important but I am unlikely to spend enough time optimizing to be much faster than core libraries of higher level languages.

On the other hand, network access is also a critical part of the project and I am worried about the effort it takes to make cross platform code for both network and disk access. I have been working in the Java / C# world for the past decade and things like TCP/IP and SSL have just been done for me by core libraries. Do libraries like Boost or Asio do a good job of abstracting these aspects away? Or are there other options for doing granular memory and disk management with more high level languages that have better cross-platform library support? I am willing to brush up on my C/C++ skills if necessary but want to spend as much time as possible developing the unique and potentially innovative parts of my project. Thanks for any advice you can provide.
Encryption

Ask Slashdot: Keeping Cloud Data Encrypted Without Cross-Platform Pain? 107 107

bromoseltzer writes: I use cloud storage to hold many gigs of personal files that I'd just as soon were not targets for casual data mining. (Google: I'm thinking of you.) I want to access them from Linux, Windows, and Android devices. I have been using encfs, which does the job for Linux fairly well (despite some well-known issues), but Windows and Android don't seem to have working clients. I really want to map a file system of encrypted files and encrypted names to a local unencrypted filesystem — the way encfs works. What solutions do Slashdot readers recommend? Ideal would be a competitive cloud storage service like Dropbox or Google Drive that provides trustworthy encryption with suitable clients. Is there anything like that?
The Almighty Buck

Ask Slashdot: Making Donations Count 268 268

An anonymous reader writes: As a recent college graduate I now have a job and enough money to actually buy things and donate to causes. Up until now I really haven't been paying attention to which groups are best to donate and which are scams. For example, Goodwill seems like a great organization until you dig deeper and discover they hire under privileged and disabled people only to exploit the related government handouts instead of doing it to benefit those people. What are some quality organizations to donate to? Who do you donate to and why? I'm looking for improving the poor, supporting constitutional rights, and supporting issues many Slashdotters can agree on such as net neutrality and anything against the media companies. I don't care what political group the money ends up going to. The specific case is more important than some arbitrary label. I'm also in the USA, so foreign recommendations are probably less helpful.
Spam

Ask Slashdot: How Effective Is Your ISP's Spam Filter? 269 269

An anonymous reader writes with the question in the title: does your ISP do a decent job culling spam? The reason I'm asking is that my ISP is Verizon and the Verizon spam filter is next to useless. It only blocks 15% of spam while also blocking 5% of legitimate emails. I've tried calling Verizon support a couple of times and the experience is about as pleasant and productive as banging my head on a wall. At this point I think my best move is to change ISP, but before I go around changing my email address at probably dozens of web sites I'd like to be sure that a new ISP would actually be better.
Programming

Ask Slashdot: Best Setups For Navigating a Programming-Focused MOOC? 39 39

theodp writes: As one works his or her way through EdX's free The Analytics Edge, one finds oneself going back-and-forth between videos and R to complete the programming exercises associated with the lectures. While this can certainly be done on a cheap-o 13" laptop with a 6mbps connection by jumping around from the web-based videos to the client-based programming environment and to the web for help (god bless Stack Overflow), have you found (or do you dream of) a better setup for the MOOC programming courses offered by the likes of EdX, Udacity, and Coursera? Are you using multiple screens, split screens, touch screens, laptops/desktops/tablets, speakers, headphones, higher-speed connections? Anything else? Do you rely solely on the class materials and web-based resources, or do you purchase complementary books? Any thoughts on how to make the experience work best for those learning at home, in a classroom setting, on the road for business/travel, or during lengthy train commutes? Do you playback videos at faster speeds (e.g., 1.5x)? Any other tips?
Programming

Ask Slashdot: What's the Harm In a Default Setting For Div By Zero? 1067 1067

New submitter CodeInspired writes: After 20 years of programming, I've decided I'm tired of checking for div by zero. Would there be any serious harm in allowing a system wide setting that said div by zero simply equals zero? Maybe it exists already, not sure. But I run into it all the time in every language I've worked with. Does anyone want their div by zero errors to result in anything other than zero?
Google

Ask Slashdot: Are There Any Search Engines Left That Don't Try To Think For Me? 424 424

An anonymous reader writes: As a programmer especially, I'm becoming increasingly unhappy with Google searches. They try very hard to present me with what they think I'm searching for instead of what I'm actually searching for. This issue mostly shows up when searching error messages, obscure type and function names and stuff like that. What I think though, is that I only notice the issue when searching for stuff I know a lot about, namely programming, but my queries get distorted when I'm searching for just about anything, I just don't know enough about the subject to notice. Are there any alternative search engines left that don't think they know better than me what I'm looking for and just search for my phrase, like in the 2000s? Searching for exact strings is an option with Google, but what search engines are the most hands-off to start with?