Technology

Ask Slashdot: Predictions For 2016? (slashdot.org) 239

An anonymous reader writes: Ok folks, it's been ten years since we've done this. What are your tech/science/nerd/misc predictions for 2016? Is VR going to be the bombshell it's being hyped as? Are wearables going to come into their own? Which tech companies are going to implode, and which are going to blossom? What discoveries are we going to make this year? Will people ever shut up about Donald Trump? Which new movies, books, games, and TV shows are going to be awesome? Which are going to suck? How will our privacy and security erode in 2016? And anything else you'd care to forecast.
AI

Ask Slashdot: How To Get Into Machine Learning? 123

An anonymous reader writes: I know this is a vague question, but hoping to get some useful feedback anyway. I'm an experienced SW Engineer/Developer who is looking to get into the Machine Learning arena. I have an MS in CS and a solid 15 years of experience in a variety of areas, but no experience in Machine Learning.With that as background, my question is: What is the most time-efficient (and reasonable cost) way to:
(1) Decide whether Machine Learning is for me and
(2) Make myself employable in the field.
An additional constraint is that I can't afford to quit my full-time day job. Thanks.
Hardware Hacking

Ask Slashdot: Any Dishwasher Hackers Out There? 481

New submitter writes: I just replaced my dishwasher with a basic, inexpensive Sears model. It works fine, but only has 3 different wash cycles. I'm betting that the code to manage more cycles (as in more-expensive models) is already in the microcontroller and just needs inputs to select it. Is there any information available on this? Beyond dishwashers, have you done any useful hacks to household appliances more generally? I'd probably support a Kickstarter project that adds nice wireless notifications to my oven, clothes washer, and dishwasher.
Politics

Ask Slashdot: We've Had Online Voting; Why Not Continuous Voting? (iamnotanumber.org) 490

periegetes writes: This idea has been bugging me for a while. It takes months to organize a physical election, and several days to count the results, so it makes sense that we don't organize elections every day. However, with the computing resources at our disposal, it would be child's play to setup a site where every citizen could vote for (or against) proposed laws themselves, and could even change their vote at all times, cutting out the middle man and restoring true democracy to the world. That last part may be a stretch, but I, for one, would feel more involved in my government if I didn't have to watch it screw up for years before getting another say in it. I've found precious few articles discussing the matter, which usually means I'm missing an obvious problem. Why, in the age of Big Data and petaflops, don't we consider continuous voting?
Social Networks

Ask Slashdot: Best Practices For Using a Reputation Engine To Rate Information? 100

GrantRobertson writes: For my graduate project, I am considering developing a web engine designed around sharing and organizing actual information in a way that people would actually like to and easily be able to use it. Unlike a wiki, the information will be much more granular with lots more metadata and organization. Unlike a web forum, the information will be be organized rather than dispersed throughout thousands of random posts, with little room for dominant personalities to take over. While I like Stack Overflow, I am planning far more structure. While I enjoy the entertaining tangents on Slashdot, I don't want those to take over sites created using my engine. Naturally, there must be some way to prevent armies of bots or just legions of jerks from derailing web sites created using this engine. Given that, what would you say are some good rules to include in the reputation engine for such a site. What kinds of algorithms have you found to be most beneficial to the propagation and spread of actual knowledge. What would you like to see and what have you found to be dismal failures?
Networking

Ask Slashdot: How To Deal With a Persistent and Incessant Port Scanner? 265

jetkins writes: What would you do if your firewall was being persistently targeted by port scans from a specific group of machines from one particular company? I run a Sophos UTM9 software firewall appliance on my home network. Works great, and the free Home Use license provides a bunch of really nice features normally only found on commercial-grade gear. One of those is the ability to detect, block, and report port scans, and under normal circumstances I only get the occasional alert when some script kiddie comes a-knocking at my door.

But in recent months I have been getting flooded with alerts of scans from one particular company. I initially reported it to my own ISP's (RoadRunner's) abuse desk, on the assumption that if they're scanning me then they're probably scanning a bunch of my neighbors as well, and any responsible ISP would probably want to block this BS, but all I ever got back was an automated acknowledgment and zero action. So I used DNS lookup and WHOIS to find their phone number, and spoke with someone there; it appears that they're a small outfit, and I was assured that they had a good idea where it was coming from and that they would make it stop. Indeed, it did stop a few days later but then it was back again, unabated, after another week or so. So last week I called them again, and was once again assured of a resolution. No dice, the scans continue to pour in.

I've already blocked their subnet at my firewall, but the UTM apparently does attack detection before filtering, so that didn't stop the alerts. And although I *could* disable port scan alerts, it's an all-or-nothing thing and I'm not prepared to turn them off completely. This afternoon I forwarded the twenty-something alerts that I've received so far today, to their abuse@ address with an appeal for a Christmas Miracle, but frankly I'm not holding out much hope that it will have any effect. So, Slashdotters, what should I do if this continues into the new year? Start automatically bouncing every report to their abuse address? Sic Anonymous on them? Start calling them every time? I'm open to suggestions.
Education

Ask Slashdot: Resources For Explaining Statistics For the Very First Time? (thejuliagroup.com) 90

theodp writes: Teaching multivariate statistics to college students, writes AnnMaria De Mars, was a piece of cake compared to her current project — making a game to teach statistics to middle school students who have never been exposed to the idea. In the interest of making a better game, De Mars asks, "Here's my question to you, oh reader people, what resources have you found useful for teaching statistics? I mean, resources you have really watched or used and thought, 'Hey, this would be great for teaching?' There is a lot of mediocre, boring stuff on the interwebz and if any of you could point me to what you think rises above the rest, I'd be super appreciative." Larry Gonick's The Cartoon Guide to Statistics is pretty amazing, but is it a little too advanced for this age group? Anyone have experience with the Khan Academy Data and Statistics offerings? Any other ideas?
Communications

Ask Slashdot: Keeping My Data Mine? (2015 Edition) 132

New submitter schklerg writes: Like many, I am tired of being the product of the corporate "cloud" overlords. To that end, I've got my own Linux server running Tiny Tiny RSS (RSS — Feedly replacement), OwnCloud (Storage / phone backup / Keepass sync / notes — Google Drive replacement), Coppermine Gallery (picture library), Dokuwiki (quick reference), and Shaarli (bookmarks manager — Foxmarks / Sync replacement). Crashplan lets me pick the keys for my backups, and the only thing Google Drive ever sees is a pgp encrypted file of various items. Next up is moving from gmail with iRedMail. Yes, the NSA may have it all anyway, but being under less corporate control is a nice feeling. What have you done to maintain control of your own data?
Open Source

Ask Slashdot: What's the Biggest Open Source Project of 2015? 113

An anonymous reader writes: Several major tech and open source sites—including Opensource.com and Infoworld—have published lists of the top open source projects of the year. What's your pick for the biggest, best, or most important open source project of 2015? Are there any projects that made big leaps this year that aren't getting the recognition they deserve?
Communications

Ask Slashdot: Best (or Better) Ways To Archive Email? 177

An anonymous reader writes: I've been using email since the early '90s and have probably half a million emails in various places and accounts. Some of them are currently in .tar files, others in the original folders from obsolete or I-don't-use-them-anymore mail clients. Some IMAP, some POP3. You get the picture. I don't often need to access emails older than a year or two, but when I do, I have found that my only hope for the truly archived ones is to guess what Grep combo might find the right text in the file ... and then pick through the often unformatted, unwrapped, super ugly text until I find the email address or info that I'm searching for. Because of this, I tend to at-all-costs leave emails on servers or at least in the clients so that I can more easily search and find.

My question is whether there's any way to safely store them in a way that I can actually use them later, offline, in a way that allows for easy date searches, email address searches, and so on. Thunderbird for example has 'Archive' as an option, but if I migrate to a different client I assume that won't work anymore. So what ways to people archive emails effectively? Or is this totally a lost cause and I should keep limping along with grep?
Encryption

Ask Slashdot: Security Monitoring Company That Accepts VPN Video Feeds? 136

mache writes: My cousin is finishing up a major remodel of his home in Houston and has installed video cameras for added security. At my suggestion, he wired up all the cameras to be on a separate VLAN that only uses wired Ethernet and has no WiFi access. Since the Houston police will only respond to security alarms if the monitoring company is viewing the crime in progress, he must arrange for the video feed to available to a security monitoring company. I told him that the feed should use VPN or some other encrypted tunneling technique as it travels the Internet to the monitoring company and we proceeded to try and find a company that supported those protocols. No one I have talked to understands the importance of securing a video feed and everyone so far blithely suggests that we just open a port on his home router. Its frustrating to see such willful ignorance about Internet security. Does anyone know of a security monitoring company that we can work with that has a clue?
Build

Ask Slashdot: Cost Effective Way To Soundproof My Home? 388

An anonymous reader writes: As more and more people live closer together in tightly packed subdivisions, the mental stress of noise becomes a serious issue. Noise nuisance complaints are on the rise, litigation increasing. We try to tune it out, yet the stress it causes is still present, and there's seemingly no way around it." Six months ago a new neighbor moved in next door who has two dogs, one of which barks incessantly with a high pitched yip that is driving my wife crazy and making it difficult for me to read or work on the computer. I've already talked to my neighbor and he will bring the dog inside but three days later it starts again. What is a cost effective technical solution to knock 10 or 20 dB off the exterior noise? soundproof windows, an interior acoustic blanket,a sound blocking fence, a sound absorbing fence, planting foliage or noise cancelling headphones, or something else. I'm sure I'm not the first slashdotter to have this problem. What has worked for you?
Education

Ask Slashdot: How Will You Be Programming In a Decade? (cheney.net) 279

An anonymous reader writes: Programmer Dave Cheney raised an interesting question today: How will you be programming in a decade? If you look back to a decade ago, you can see some huge shifts in the software industry. This includes the rise of smartphones, ubiquitous cloud infrastructure, and containers. We've also seen an explosion of special-purpose libraries and environments, many with an emphasis on networking and scaling. At the same time, we still have a ton of people writing Java and C and Python. Some programmers have jumped headfirst into new tools like Light Table, while others are still quite happy with Emacs. So, programmers of Slashdot, I ask you: How do you think your work (or play) will change in the next ten years?
Handhelds

Ask Slashdot: What Single Change Would You Make To a Tech Product? 508

An anonymous reader writes: We live in an age of sorcery. The supercomputers in our pockets are capable of doing things it took armies of humans to accomplish even a hundred years ago. But let's face it: we're also complainers at heart. For every incredible, revolutionary device we use, we can find something that's obviously wrong with it. Something we'd instantly fix if we were suddenly put in charge of design. So, what's at the top of your list? Hardware, software, or service — don't hold back.

Here's an example: over the past several years, e-readers have standardized on 6-inch screens. For all the variety that exists in smartphone and tablet sizing, the e-reader market has decided it must copy the Kindle form factor or die trying. Having used an e-reader before all this happened, I found a 7-8" e-ink screen to be an amazingly better reading experience. Oh well, I'm out of luck. It's not the worst thing in the world, but I'd fix it immediately if I could.
XBox (Games)

Ask Slashdot: Xbox One Or PlayStation 4? 375

An anonymous reader writes: I'm looking at getting the kids a new gaming console for Christmas this year. I'm stuck trying to decide between getting an Xbox One or a PlayStation 4. I'm really wary on the PlayStation because of the 5 PS2s with broken optical drives sitting in my garage; none lasted more than two years. On the other hand, I'm also wary of buying a Microsoft product; I'm a Linux user for life after getting tired of their crappy operating system. I've also considered getting a gaming PC, whether Linux or Windows, but it's more expensive and game reviews show most are not as good as a dedicated game console. The kids want Fallout 4, and I want Star Wars Battlefront and any version of Gran Turismo. We currently have a Nintendo Wii and a crappy gaming PC with some Steam games. So, which gaming console should I get that will last a long time?

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