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Ask Slashdot: Multimedia-Based Wiki For Learning and Business Procedures? 97

Posted by samzenpus
from the a-little-help-please dept.
kyle11 writes I'm scratching my head at how to develop a decent wiki for a large organization I work in. We support multiple technologies, across multiple locations, and have ways of doing things that become exponentially convoluted. I give IT training to many of these users for a particular technology, and other people do for other stuff as well. Now, I hate wikis because everyone who did one before failed and gave them a bad name. If it starts wrong, it is doomed to failure and irrelevance.

What I'm looking for would be something like a Wiki with YouTube built in — make a playlist of videos with embedded links for certain job based tasks. And reuse and recycle those videos in other playlists of other tasks as they may be applicable. It would go beyond the actual IT we work with and would include things like, "Welcome to working in this department. Here are 20 videos detailing stupid procedures you need to go through to request access to customers' systems/networks/databases to even think about doing your job." I tried MediaWiki and Xwiki, and maybe I'm doing it wrong, but I can't seem to find a way to tweak them to YouTube-level simplicity for anyone to contribute to without giving up on the thing because its' a pain in the butt.

My only real requirement is that it not be cloud-based because it will contain certain sensitive information and I'd like it all to live on one virtual machine if at all possible. I can't be the only one with this problem of enabling many people to contribute and sort their knowledge without knowing how an HTML tag works, or copying files into something more complicated than a web browser. What approaches have any of you out there taken to trying to solve a similar problem?

Ask Slashdot: Software Issue Tracking Transparency - Good Or Bad? 159

Posted by samzenpus
from the to-show-them-or-not-to-show-them dept.
First time accepted submitter Mike Sheen writes I'm the lead developer for an Australian ERP software outfit. For the last 10 years or so we've been using Bugzilla as our issue tracking system. I made this publicly available to the degree than anyone could search and view bugs. Our software is designed to be extensible and as such we have a number of 3rd party developers making customization and integrating with our core product.

We've been pumping out builds and publishing them as "Development Stream (Experimental / Unstable" and "Release Stream (Stable)", and this is visible on our support site to all. We had been also providing a link next to each build with the text showing the number of bugs fixed and the number of enhancements introduced, and the URL would take them to the Bugzilla list of issues for that milestone which were of type bug or enhancement.

This had been appreciated by our support and developer community, as they can readily see what issues are addressed and what new features have been introduced. Prior to us exposing our Bugzilla database publicly we produced a sanitized list of changes — which was time consuming to produce and I decided was unnecessary given we could just expose the "truth" with simple links to the Bugzilla search related to that milestone.

The sales and marketing team didn't like this. Their argument is that competitors use this against us to paint us as producers of buggy software. I argue that transparency is good, and beneficial — and whilst our competitors don't publish such information — but if we were to follow our competitors practices we simply follow them in the race to the bottom in terms of software quality and opaqueness.

In my opinion, transparency of software issues provides:

Identification of which release or build a certain issue is fixed.
Recognition that we are actively developing the software.
Incentive to improve quality controls as our "dirty laundry" is on display.
Information critical to 3rd party developers.
A projection of integrity and honesty.

I've yielded to the sales and marketing demands such that we no longer display the links next to each build for fixes and enhancements, and now publish "Development Stream (Experimental / Unstable" as simply "Development Stream") but I know what is coming next — a request to no longer make our Bugzilla database publicly accessible. I still have the Bugzilla database publicly exposed, but there is now only no longer the "click this link to see what we did in this build".

A compromise may be to make the Bugzilla database only visible to vetted resellers and developers — but I'm resistant to making a closed "exclusive" culture. I value transparency and recognize the benefits. The sales team are insistent that exposing such detail is a bad thing for sales.

I know by posting in a community like Slashdot that I'm going to get a lot of support for my views, but I'm also interested in what people think about the viewpoint that such transparency could be bad thing.

Ask Slashdot: Swift Or Objective-C As New iOS Developer's 1st Language? 316

Posted by timothy
from the two-roads-diverge-but-do-they-loop dept.
macs4all (973270) writes "I am an experienced C and Assembler Embedded Developer who is contemplating for the first time beginning an iOS App Project. Although I am well-versed in C, I have thus-far avoided C++, C# and Java, and have only briefly dabbled in Obj-C. Now that there are two possibilities for doing iOS Development, which would you suggest that I learn, at least at first? And is Swift even far-enough along to use as the basis for an entire app's development? My goal is the fastest and easiest way to market for this project; not to start a career as a mobile developer. Another thing that might influence the decision: If/when I decide to port my iOS App to Android (and/or Windows Phone), would either of the above be an easier port; or are, for example, Dalvick and the Android APIs different enough from Swift/Obj-C and CocoaTouch that any 'port' is essentially a re-write?"

Ask Slashdot: Is Reporting Still Relevant? 179

Posted by timothy
from the that-hansel-he's-so-hot-right-now-and-does-reports dept.
New submitter MrWHO (68268) writes A while ago we switched for monitoring our systems to the ELK (ElasticSearch, LogStash and Kibana) stack. Our management wanted to keep the reports they got — and possibly never read — flowing in at the beginning of every week with statistics like sites traffic, servers downtime, security alerts and the works. As we migrated some of our clients to the same stack they kept all asking for the same thing: reporting. There was no way for us to create and schedule reports from ElasticSearch — searches for ElasticSearch and Jasper Reports returned nothing apart from people asking how to do it — so we created our own Jasper Reports plugin to create reports from ElasticSearch data, which we released on GitHub a while ago, and we promptly moved along.

None of our clients were easily convinced that a dashboard — Kibana — was a substitute for mail delivered PDFs, even if all the information was there, with custom created panels and selectable date ranges. On the other hand, on the ElasticSearch mailing list when questions were asked about "how do I do reports?" the answer was, and I sum it up here, "Why would you want reports when you have a dashboard?" Are reports still relevant — the PDF, templated, straight in to your mail kind — or the subset of my clients — we operate mainly in Italy — is a skewed sample of what's the actual reality of access to summary data? Are dashboards — management targeted ones — the current accepted solution or — in your experience — reports are still a hot item for management?

Ask Slashdot: How To Keep Students' Passwords Secure? 191

Posted by samzenpus
from the one-password-to-rule-them-all dept.
First time accepted submitter bigal123 writes My son's school is moving more and more online and is even assigning Chromebooks or iPads to students (depending on the grade). In some cases they may have books, but the books stay home and they have user names and passwords to the various text book sites. They also have user names/passwords to several other school resources. Most all the sites are 3rd party. So each child may have many user names (various formats) and passwords. They emphasized how these elementary kids needed to keep their passwords safe and not share them with other kids. However when asked about the kids remembering all the user names and passwords the school said they are going to have the kids write them down in a notebook. This seemed like a very bad practice for a classroom and to/from home situation. Do others have good password management suggestions or suggestions for a single sign-on process (no/minimal cost) for kids in school accessing school provisioned resources?

Ask Slashdot: Finding a Job After Completing Computer Science Ph.D? 479

Posted by timothy
from the I'm-a-people-person-dammit dept.
An anonymous reader writes I recently completed my PhD in computer science and hit the job market. I did not think I would have difficulty finding a job esp. with a PhD in computer science but I have had no luck so far in the four months I have been looking. Online resume submittals get no response and there is no way to contact anybody. When I do manage to get a technical interview, it is either 'not a good match' after I do the interviews or get rejected after an overly technical question like listing all the container classes in STL from the top of my head. I had worked as a C++ software developer before my PhD but in the past 6 years, software development landscape has changed quite a bit. What am I doing wrong? Has software development changed so much in the last 6 years I was in school or is my job hunting strategy completely wrong? (The PhD was on a very technical topic that has very little practical application and so working on it does not seem to count as experience.)

Ask Slashdot: Who Should Pay Costs To Attend Conferences? 182

Posted by samzenpus
from the conference-or-else dept.
An anonymous reader writes I wanted to get your opinion on who should pay the costs associated with attending conferences. In the past, I've covered costs associated with attending some local (in town) conferences, but despite claims to be willing to cover some costs associated with conferences, training, and certifications, my requests have been denied. The short version is I would like to attend a national conference, hosted in Las Vegas, and that while specific to a technology, it is what 90% of my day is related to so its directly work related. My employer has declined to pay some of the costs associated with the conference, but has said if I pay my way, they will pay for the training associated with it. Since this is a pretty hot technology, I'm very interested in getting certified and appreciate their offer.

I should add that I work for a public entity and due to some fairly public issues, we have enjoyed record levels of funding the past couple of years. We know that they cannot afford to continue so we're about to start a multi-year decrease in our budget. My current thoughts are: First, I was working for a company where we faced potential layoffs, getting as close as to within 24 hours of one. Even just having some job security is extremely appreciated. Second, I work in a WONDERFUL environment. They aren't clock punchers, its about getting the job done. We're not micromanaged and have freedom to try new things. For the public sector, I know those are rare things and I appreciate them. Third, I work on a very talented team. I am probably the weakest member, so for me its a perfect learning/growth opportunity. Finally, its not my employer saying the conference isn't important, its looking at the bottom line and that we are a public entity so its not like we can easily raise more money. Tough decisions must be made.

For this particular conference, I decided to try and save up my own money. Unfortunately, my personal life has gotten in the way, so I've resorted to begging. My problem with this is I hate begging, but what am I going to do for future conferences? So should I re-think my acceptance of my employers policy and start looking for a new job? Obviously, it is a personal decision, but I don't have a mentor or close friends to act as sounding boards, so I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Ask Slashdot: Is iOS 8 a Pig? 504

Posted by timothy
from the not-intended-to-denigrate-pigs dept.
kyjellyfish writes I've been using iOS 8 for several days and aside from a few gimmicks and add-ons that attempt to achieve parity with Android, my experience has been overwhelmingly unsatisfactory. My chief complaint is that the vast majority of my apps are slow to boot and noticeably sluggish in operation. I want to point out that all of these apps have been "upgraded" specifically for iOS 8 compatibility. Previous operating system upgrades have been relatively seamless, so I'm asking whether other slashdotters have experienced this degraded performance.

Ask Slashdot: How To Avoid Becoming a Complacent Software Developer? 275

Posted by Soulskill
from the become-a-complacent-manager-instead dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Next year will be the start of my 10th year as a software developer. For the last nice years I've worked for a variety of companies, large and small, on projects of varying sizes. During my career, I have noticed that many of the older software developers are burnt out. They would rather do their 9-5, get paid, and go home. They have little, if any, passion left, and I constantly wonder how they became this way. This contradicts my way of thinking; I consider myself to have some level of passion for what I do, and I enjoy going home knowing I made some kind of difference.

Needless to say, I think I am starting to see the effects of complacency. In my current job, I have a development manager who is difficult to deal with on a technical level. He possesses little technical knowledge of basic JavaEE concepts, nor has kept up on any programming in the last 10 years. There is a push from the upper echelon of the business to develop a new, more scalable system, but they don't realize that my manager is the bottleneck. Our team is constantly trying to get him to agree on software industry standards/best practices, but he doesn't get it and often times won't budge. I'm starting to feel the effects of becoming complacent. What is your advice?
Data Storage

Slashdot Asks: What's In Your Home Datacenter? 287

Posted by samzenpus
from the show-and-tell dept.
First time accepted submitter jvschwarz writes There was a time when I had rack-mount systems at home, preferring old Unix boxes, Sun-3 and early SPARC machines, but have moved to low-power machines, Raspberry Pi systems, small NAS boxes, etc. Looks like some are taking it to another level. What do other slashdotters have in their Home Datacenter?

Ask Slashdot: How To Pick Up Astronomy and Physics As an Adult? 234

Posted by timothy
from the productive-member-of-socety dept.
First time accepted submitter samalex01 (1290786) writes "I'm 38, married, two young kids, and I have a nice job in the IT industry, but since I was a kid I've had this deep love and passion for astronomy and astrophysics. This love and passion though never evolved into any formal education or anything beyond just a distant fascination as I got out of high school, into college, and started going through life on more of an IT career path. So my question, now that I'm 38 is there any hope that I could start learning more about astronomy or physics to make it more than just a hobby? I don't expect to be a Carl Sagan or Neil deGrasse Tyson, but I'd love to have enough knowledge in these subjects to research and experiment to the point where I could possibly start contributing back to the field. MIT Open Courseware has some online courses for free that cover these topics, but given I can only spend maybe 10 hours a week on this would it be a pointless venture? Not to mention my mind isn't as sharp now as it was 20 years ago when I graduated high school. Thanks for any advice or suggestions."

Ask Slashdot: Remote Support For Disconnected, Computer-Illiterate Relatives 334

Posted by samzenpus
from the help-me-please dept.
An anonymous reader writes I use email to communicate with my folks overseas. Their ISP only allows dial-up access to their email account (there is no option of changing ISP), that can receive messages no larger than 1MB nor hold more than 15MB (no hope of changing that either). They are computer-illiterate, click on everything they receive, and take delight on sending their information to any Nigerian prince that contacts them, "just in case this one is true". Needless to say, their PC is always full of viruses and spyware. In my next yearly visit, instead of just cleaning it up, I'd like to gift them with some "hardened" PC to use for email only that would hopefully last the year before someone has to fix it. So far, these are the things I have in mind:
  • Some kind of linux distro, or maybe even mac. Most viruses over there are windows only and propagate via Autorun.inf or by email attachments, not having Windows could prevent both.
  • Some desktop environment that hides anything unrelated to connecting to the net and accessing their account (dial-up software, email client, web browser, exchanging files between their hard disk/email attachments and USB drives). By "hide", I just want the rest to be out of the way, but not entirely removed, so that if necessary, I can guide them over the phone. For this, Ubuntu's Unity seems like a particularly bad solution, but a Gnome desktop with non-removable desktop shortcuts (is this possible?) for the file manager, browser, email client and dial-up program could work. An android system is unlikely to work (they have no wifi, and they were utterly confused with Android's UI).
  • This could be a life saver: some kind of extension to the email client that executes commands on specially formatted emails (e.g., signed with my private key), so that I can do some basic diagnostics or install extra software if I have to. This las point is important: they currently rely on acquaintances who may not be competent (they can't evaluate that) if something happens between my visits. They, most likely, wont know how to deal with anything non-windows, so all tech support would fall on me. (This is the reason I haven't moved them from windows yet.)
  • Another very useful extension would be something to automatically re-assemble attachments split into several emails, to overcome the 1MB message limit.

Does any of that exist? If I have to build that system myself (or parts of it), do you have other suggestions? For the inevitable and completely reasonable suggestion of getting someone competent for tech support: I've tried that too. The competent ones don't last beyond the third visit.


Ask Slashdot: Have You Experienced Fear Driven Development? 232

Posted by Soulskill
from the sunk-cost-fallacy-is-a-thing dept.
nerdyalien writes: A few years back, I worked for a large-scale web development project in southeast Asia. Despite formally adopting Agile/Scrum, development was driven based on fear imposed by managers. Scott Hanselman defines Fear-Driven-Development as having three parts. 1) Organizational fear has "worried about making mistakes, breaking the build, or causing bugs that the organization increases focus on making paper, creating excessive process, and effectively standing in the way of writing code." 2) There's also fear of changing code, which comes from a complex, poorly-understood, or unmaintainable codebase. 3) The most common one is fear of losing your job, which can lead to developers checking in barely-functioning code and managers committing to a death march rather than admit failure. My project ran four times its initial estimation, and included horrendous 18-hour/day, 6 day/week crunches with pizza dinners. Is FDD here to stay?

Ask Slashdot: Any Place For Liberal Arts Degrees In Tech? 392

Posted by timothy
from the be-the-legacy-hire dept.
Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes A new article in Fast Company suggests tech CEOs want employees with liberal arts degrees, because those graduates have critical thinking skills. Meanwhile, a new article on Dice (yes, yes, we know) posits that STEM degrees such as data science, IT admin, and electrical engineering are what science-and-tech companies are going to want for the foreseeable future. What do you think? What place do those with liberal arts degrees have in companies such as, say, Tesla or a biomedical engineering firm?

Ask Slashdot: What To Do After Digitizing VHS Tapes? 268

Posted by samzenpus
from the now-what? dept.
An anonymous reader writes Now that I've spent close to a month digitizing a desk drawer's worth of VHS tapes, deinterlacing and postprocessing the originals to minimize years of tape decay, and compressing everything down to H.264, I've found myself with a hard drive full of loosely organized videos. They'll get picked up by my existing monthly backup, but I feel like I haven't gained much in the way of redundancy, as I thought I would. Instead of having tapes slowly degrade, I'm now open to losing entire movies at once, should both of my drives go bad. Does anyone maintain a library, and if so, what would they recommend? Is having them duplicated on two drives (one of which is spun down for all but one day of the month) a good-enough long term strategy? Should I look into additionally backing up to optical discs or flash drives, building out a better (RAIDed) backup machine, or even keeping the original tapes around despite them having been digitized?

IF I HAD A MINE SHAFT, I don't think I would just abandon it. There's got to be a better way. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.