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Government

Ask Slashdot: Should I Fight Against Online Voting In Our Municipality? 190

Posted by Soulskill
from the let's-have-an-online-vote-to-find-out dept.
RobinH writes: Our small-ish municipality (between 10,000 to 15,000 in population) has recently decided to switch to online voting. I should note that they were previously doing voting-by-mail. I have significant reservations about online voting, particularly the possibility of vote-selling and the general lack of voter secrecy, not to mention the possible lack of computer security. However, it's only a municipal election, and apparently a lot of municipalities around here are already doing online voting. I'm not sure if the rank-and-file citizens care, or if they would listen to my concerns. Should I bother speaking up, or should I ignore it since municipal elections are not that important anyway?
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: When Is It Better To Modify the ERP vs. Interfacing It? 209

Posted by timothy
from the which-point-in-the-chain dept.
New submitter yeshuawatso writes I work for one of the largest HVAC manufacturers in the world. We've currently spent millions of dollars investing in an ERP system from Oracle (via a third-party implementor and distributor) that handles most of our global operations, but it's been a great ordeal getting the thing to work for us across SBUs and even departments without having to constantly go back to the third-party, whom have their hands out asking for more money. What we've also discovered is that the ERP system is being used for inputting and retrieving data but not for managing the data. Managing the data is being handled by systems of spreadsheets and access databases wrought with macros to turn them into functional applications. I'm asking you wise and experienced readers on your take if it's a better idea to continue to hire our third-party to convert these applications into the ERP system or hire internal developers to convert these applications to more scalable and practical applications that interface with the ERP (via API of choice)? We have a ton of spare capacity in data centers that formerly housed mainframes and local servers that now mostly run local Exchange and domain servers. We've consolidated these data centers into our co-location in Atlanta but the old data centers are still running, just empty. We definitely have the space to run commodity servers for an OpenStack, Eucalyptus, or some other private/hybrid cloud solution, but would this be counter productive to the goal of standardizing processes. Our CIO wants to dump everything into the ERP (creating a single point of failure to me) but our accountants are having a tough time chewing the additional costs of re-doing every departmental application. What are your experiences with such implementations?
Networking

Ask Slashdot: Is Running Mission-Critical Servers Without a Firewall Common? 348

Posted by Soulskill
from the common-enough-to-make-you-sad dept.
An anonymous reader writes: I do some contract work on the side, and am helping a client set up a new point-of-sale system. For the time being, it's pretty simple: selling products, keeping track of employee time, managing inventory and the like. However, it requires a small network because there are two clients, and one of the clients feeds off of a small SQL Express database from the first. During the setup, the vendor disabled the local firewall, and in a number of emails back and forth since (with me getting more and more aggravated) they went from suggesting that there's no need for a firewall, to outright telling me that's just how they do it and the contract dictates that's how we need to run it. This isn't a tremendous deal today, but with how things are going, odds are there will be e-Commerce worked into it, and probably credit card transactions... which worries the bejesus out of me.

So my question to the Slashdot masses: is this common? In my admittedly limited networking experience, it's been drilled into my head fairly well that not running a firewall is lazy (if not simply negligent), and to open the appropriate ports and call it a day. However, I've seen forum posts here and there with people admitting they run their clients without firewalls, believing that the firewall on their incoming internet connection is good enough, and that their client security will pick up the pieces. I'm curious how many real professionals do this, or if the forum posts I'm seeing (along with the vendor in question) are just a bunch of clowns.
Security

Ask Slashdot: Open Hardware/Software-Based Security Token? 113

Posted by timothy
from the you-could-use-postcards-scanned-by-an-arduino dept.
Qbertino (265505) writes I've been musing about a security setup to allow my coworkers/users access to files from the outside. I want security to be a little safer than pure key- or password-based SSH access, and some super-expensive RSA Token setup is out of question. I've been wondering whether there are any feasible and working FOSS and open hardware-based security token generator projects out there. It'd be best with ready-made server-side scripts/daemons. Perhaps something Arduino or Raspberry Pi based? Has anybody tried something like this? What are your experiences? What do you use? How would you attempt an open hardware FOSS solution to this problem?
Portables

Ask Slashdot: Where Can I Find Resources On Programming For Palm OS 5? 170

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the civilized-pda-for-a-civilized-business-climate dept.
First time accepted submitter baka_toroi (1194359) writes I got a Tungsten E2 from a friend and I wanted to give it some life by programming for it a little bit. The main problem I'm bumping up against is that HP thought it would be awesome to just shut down every single thing related to Palm OS development. After Googling a lot I found out CodeWarrior was the de facto IDE for Palm OS development... but I was soon disappointed as I learned that Palm moved from the 68K architecture to ARM, and of course, CodeWarrior was just focused on Palm OS 4 development.

Now, I realize Palm OS 4 software can be run on Palm OS 5, but I'm looking to use some of the 'newer' APIs. Also, I have the Wi-fi add-on card so I wanted to create something that uses it. I thought what I needed was PODS (Palm OS Development Suite) but not only I can't find it anywhere but also it seems it was deprecated during Palm OS's lifetime. It really doesn't help the fact that I'm a beginner, but I really want to give this platform some life. Any general tip, book, working link or even anecdotes related to all this will be greatly appreciated.
Privacy

Ask Slashdot: Preparing an Android Tablet For Resale? 113

Posted by timothy
from the link-free-cloth-and-a-.45 dept.
UrsaMajor987 (3604759) writes I have a Asus Transformer tablet that I dropped on the floor. There is no obvious sign of damage but It will no longer boot. Good excuse to get a newer model. I intend to sell it for parts (it comes with an undamaged keyboard) or maybe just toss it. I want to remove all my personal data. I removed the flash memory card but what about the other storage? I know how to wipe a hard drive, but how do you wipe a tablet? If you were feeling especially paranoid, but wanted to keep the hardware intact for the next user, what would you do?
IT

Ask Slashdot: What Would You Do With Half a Rack of Server Space? 208

Posted by timothy
from the give-it-a-piece-of-my-mind dept.
New submitter Christian Gainsbrugh (3766717) writes I work at a company that is currently transitioning all our servers into the cloud. In the interim we have half a rack of server space in a great datacenter that will soon be sitting completely idle for the next few months until our lease runs out. Right now the space is occupied by around 8 HP g series servers, a watchguard xtm firewall, Cisco switch and some various other equipment. All in all there are probably around 20 or so physical XEON processors, and probably close to 10 tb of storage among all the machines. We have a dedicated 10 mbs connection that is burstable to 100mbs.

I'm curious what Slashdot readers would do if they were in a similar situation. Is there anything productive that could be done with these resources? Obviously something revenue generating is great, but even if there is something novel that could be done with these servers we would be interested in putting them to good use.
Medicine

Laser Eye Surgery, Revisited 10 Years Later 550

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the waiting-for-the-laser-vision-option dept.
gunner_von_diamond (3461783) happened upon Ask Slashdot: Experiences with Laser Eye Surgery from ten years ago, and asks: I was just reading a story on /. from 10 years ago about Lasik Eye Surgery. Personally, I've had Lasik done and loved every single part of the surgery. I went from wearing contacts/glasses every day to having 20/15 vision! In the older post, everyone seemed to be cautious about it, waiting for technical advances before having the surgery. Today, the surgery is fairly inexpensive [even for a programmer :) ], takes about 10-15 minutes, and I recovered from the surgery that same day. So my question is: what is holding everyone else back from freeing themselves from contacts and glasses?
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: How Many Employees Does Microsoft Really Need? 272

Posted by Soulskill
from the might-be-time-to-reevaluate-the-Clippy-department dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Yesterday, word came down that Microsoft was starting to lay off some 18,000 workers. As of June 5th, Microsoft reported a total employee headcount of 127,005, so they're cutting about 15% of their jobs. That's actually a pretty huge percentage, even taking into account the redundancies created by the Nokia acquisition. Obviously, there's an upper limit to how much of your workforce you can let go at one time, so I'm willing to bet Microsoft's management thinks thousands more people aren't worth keeping around. How many employees does Microsoft realistically need? The company is famous for its huge teams that don't work together well, and excessive middle management. But they also have a huge number of software projects, and some of the projects, like Windows and Office, need big teams to develop. How would we go about estimating the total workforce Microsoft needs? (Other headcounts for reference: Apple: 80,000, Amazon: 124,600, IBM: 431,212, Red Hat: 5,000+, Facebook: 6,800, Google: 52,000, Intel: 104,900.)
Programming

Ask Slashdot: Future-Proof Jobs? 509

Posted by Soulskill
from the robot-overlord-exterminator dept.
An anonymous reader writes: My niece, who is graduating from high school, has asked me for some career advice. Since I work in data processing, my first thought was to recommend a degree course in computer science or computer engineering. However, after reading books by Jeremy Rifkin (The Third Industrial Revolution) and Ray Kurzweil (How to Create a Mind), I now wonder whether a career in information technology is actually better than, say, becoming a lawyer or a construction worker. While the two authors differ in their political persuasions (Rifkin is a Green leftist and Kurzweil is a Libertarian transhumanist), both foresee an increasingly automated future where most of humanity would become either jobless or underemployed by the middle of the century. While robots take over the production of consumer hardware, Big Data algorithms like the ones used by Google and IBM appear to be displacing even white collar tech workers. How long before the only ones left on the payroll are the few "rockstar" programmers and administrators needed to maintain the system? Besides politics and drug dealing, what jobs are really future-proof? Would it be better if my niece took a course in the Arts, since creativity is looking to be one of humanity's final frontiers against the inevitable Rise of the Machines?
Hardware

Slashdot Asks: Do You Want a Smart Watch? 381

Posted by timothy
from the does-it-shoot-deadly-darts? dept.
Watches that do more than tell the time have been around for a long time. (And in fiction, James Bond, Dick Tracey, and Michael Knight all had notably high-tech watches.) The new smart watches from Samsung and LG, without a phone connected via Bluetooth as backhaul, can still serve to show the time and to serve as alarms (and Samsung's can measure your pulse, too), but all the magic features (like searching by voice via the watch) do require a connection. They can't play MP3s or take pictures on their own, and they don't have built-in GPS. Even so, compared to the polarizing Google Glass, the new breed of smart watches are wearables that probably are an easier sell, even if this far the trend has been to replace watches with smart phones. (Android Wear has gotten a lot of attention, but Microsoft has their own upcoming, and Apple almost certainly does, too.) Are you interested in a smart watch, and if so, what uses do you want it for? If they have no appeal to you now, are there functions that would make you change your mind on that front?
IT

Ask Slashdot: Unattended Maintenance Windows? 265

Posted by Soulskill
from the wake-me-if-there's-fire dept.
grahamsaa writes: Like many others in IT, I sometimes have to do server maintenance at unfortunate times. 6AM is the norm for us, but in some cases we're expected to do it as early as 2AM, which isn't exactly optimal. I understand that critical services can't be taken down during business hours, and most of our products are used 24 hours a day, but for some things it seems like it would be possible to automate maintenance (and downtime).

I have a maintenance window at about 5AM tomorrow. It's fairly simple — upgrade CentOS, remove a package, install a package, reboot. Downtime shouldn't be more than 5 minutes. While I don't think it would be wise to automate this window, I think with sufficient testing we might be able to automate future maintenance windows so I or someone else can sleep in. Aside from the benefit of getting a bit more sleep, automating this kind of thing means that it can be written, reviewed and tested well in advance. Of course, if something goes horribly wrong having a live body keeping watch is probably helpful. That said, we do have people on call 24/7 and they could probably respond capably in an emergency. Have any of you tried to do something like this? What's your experience been like?
Programming

Ask Slashdot: Best Dedicated Low Power Embedded Dev System Choice? 183

Posted by samzenpus
from the what-should-I-get? dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I'm a Solaris user which is not well supported by the OSS toolchains. I'd like to have a dedicated Linux based dev system which has good support for ARM, MSP430 and other MCU lines and draws very little (5-10 watts max) power. The Beaglebone Black has been suggested. Is there a better choice? This would only be used for software development and testing for embedded systems."
IT

Ask Slashdot: How Often Should You Change Jobs? 282

Posted by Soulskill
from the headhunters-can-keep-their-opinions-to-themselves dept.
An anonymous reader writes "We all know somebody who changes jobs like changing clothes. In software development and IT, it's getting increasingly hard to find people who have been at their job for more than a few years. That's partly because of tech companies' bias for a young work force, and partly because talented people can write their own ticket in this industry. Thus, I put the question to you: how often should you be switching jobs? Obviously, if you find the perfect company (full of good people, doing interesting things, paying you well), your best bet is to stay. But that's not the reality for most of the workforce. Should you always be keeping an eye out for new jobs? Is there a length of time you should stick around so you don't look like a serial job-hopper? Does there come a point in life when it's best to settle down and stick with a job long term?"
The Internet

Ask Slashdot: Hosting Services That Don't Overreact To DMCA Requests? 148

Posted by timothy
from the let's-all-just-reflect-for-a-moment-first dept.
tobiasly (524456) writes I run a few websites which are occasionally the target of bogus DMCA takedown requests. Even a cursory look at these requests would reveal that the content these requests try to have removed are not even eligible for copyright (for example, someone named "John Smith" decides he wants to have every instance of his name removed from the internet, so he claims he has a copyright on "John Smith", and the comment section of my website has that name somewhere.) I'm guessing most webmasters of sites with significant traffic face this problem, but I'm having difficulty finding information on domain registrars' and hosting providers' DMCA response policies. Most seem to over-react and require an official counter-response. I'm worried I'll miss one of these someday and find that my entire domain was suspended as a result. Both my domain registrar and hosting provider have forwarded these notices in the past. I'm also worried that they're forwarding my response (including personal details) to the original complainant. Which domain registrars and hosting providers have you found who handle these complaints in a reasonable manner, and filter out the ones that are obviously bogus? Which ones have a clearly stated policy regarding these requests, and respect the site owner's privacy? Some of these domains are .us TLD, which unfortunately will limit my choice to U.S.-based companies.

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