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Hardware

Ask Slashdot: Old PC File Transfer Problem 466

Posted by samzenpus
from the I'll-never-let-you-go dept.
An anonymous reader writes I have an old Compaq Contura Aero laptop from the nineties (20 Mhz, 12 Mb RAM, Windows 3.11, 16-bit, PCMCIA, COM, LPT, floppy) with 160 Mb drive that I would want to copy in full to a newer machine. The floppies are so unreliable — between Aero's PCMCIA floppy drive and USB floppy disk drive — that it is a total nightmare to try and do it; it just doesn't work. If that option is excluded, what else can I do? I have another old laptop with Windows XP (32-bit, PCMCIA, COM, LPT) that could be used; all other machines are too new and lack ports. Will be grateful for any ideas.
Education

Ask Slashdot: Terminally Ill - What Wisdom Should I Pass On To My Geek Daughter? 698

Posted by Soulskill
from the f*#&-cancer dept.
An anonymous reader writes: I am a scientist and educator who has been enjoying and learning from Slashdot since the late 90s. Now I come to you, my geek brothers and sisters, for help. I've been diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, which you will remember is what took Steve Jobs and Randy Pausch from us. My condition is incurable. Palliative chemotherapy may delay the inevitable, but a realistic assessment suggests that I have anywhere from two to six months of "quality" time left, and likely not more than a year in total.

I am slowly coming to terms with my imminent death, but what bothers me most is that I will be leaving my wife alone, and that my daughter will have to grow up without her father. She is in sixth grade, has an inquisitive and sharp mind, and is interested in science and music. She seems well on the path to becoming a "girl geek" like her mother, an outcome I'd welcome.

Since I will not be around for all of the big events in her life, I am going to create a set of video messages for her that she can watch at those important times or just when she's having a bad day. I would like to do this before my condition progresses to the point that I am visibly ill, so time is short.

In the videos I will make clear how much I treasure the time we've spent together and the wonderful qualities I see in her. What other suggestions do you have? What did you need to hear at the different stages of your life? What wisdom would have been most helpful to you? At what times did you especially need the advice of a parent? And especially for my geek sisters, how can I help her navigate the unique issues faced by girls and women in today's world?

Please note that I'm posting anonymously because I don't want this to be about me. I'd prefer that the focus be on my daughter and how I can best help her. Thank you so much for your help.
Open Source

Ask Slashdot: Parental Content Control For Free OSs? 260

Posted by timothy
from the good-idea-or-not dept.
m.alessandrini writes Children grow up, and inevitably they will start using internet and social networks, both for educational and recreational purposes. And it won't take long to them to learn to be autonomous, especially with all the smartphones and tablets around and your limited time. Unlike the years of my youth, when internet started to enter our lives gradually, now I'm afraid of the amount of inappropriate contents a child can be exposed to unprepared: porn, scammers, cyberbullies or worse, are just a click away.

For Windows many solutions claim to exist, usually in form of massive antivirus suites. What about GNU/Linux? Or Android? Several solutions rely on setting up a proxy with a whitelist of sites, or similar, but I'm afraid this approach can make internet unusable, or otherwise be easy to bypass. Have you any experiences or suggestions? Do you think software solutions are only a part of the solution, provided children can learn hacking tricks better than us, and if so, what other 'human' techniques are most effective?
The Courts

Ask Slashdot: How Can Technology Improve the Judicial System? 183

Posted by timothy
from the judicial-vs-just dept.
An anonymous reader writes One of the cornerstones of any democracy is its judicial system. Fortunately, most of us never have to deal with it. On the other hand, the fact that we so seldom interact with it also means that most of us are not constantly thinking about it. It is possible our judicial system would be much better if most of us had to spend more time thinking about it. I myself had not put much thought into it until I watched a documentary about Aaron Swartz. It is frightening to think that someone could have been left in a position like that. I also hear about so many cases were people end up pleading guilty because they do not have enough money to fight a case in court. Is this really the best we can do? The Marshal Project is also an interesting source of information regarding the shortfalls of our current system.

What do you think about it? How can we improve our judicial system? Is there any interesting way that technology could be used to improve the system?
Sci-Fi

Ask Slashdot: How Could We Actually Detect an Alien Invasion From Outer Space? 576

Posted by samzenpus
from the blowing-up-the-mothership dept.
First time accepted submitter defiant.challenged writes As I was watching another sci-fi blockbuster about aliens wanting to harvest the life stock population on earth for their energy since we are such a robust species, I was wondering how likely and easy/difficult it would be currently to actually detect an outer space invasion (fleet). I am a firm believer that if we would be invaded, we would not stand a chance and would probably not even hit a single ship when it comes to fighting them. The aliens in the movie had the capability to space-jump right into our solar system and even very close to earth. My question is how good are we at the moment in detecting an alien ship/fleet that jumps into our solar system. Do we have radio dishes around the globe such that we can detect objects in space in all longitude and latitude degrees? I know we have dishes pointing to the skies but how far can they reach? Do we have blindspots perhaps on the poles? I also wonder if our current means, ie radio signals, are relatively easy to be compromised with our current stealth technology? To formulate it in more sci-fi terms, how large is our outer space detection grid, and what kind of time window can they give us?
Chrome

Ask Slashdot: Most Useful Browser Extensions? 353

Posted by Soulskill
from the still-waiting-on-an-extension-that-makes-me-lunch dept.
An anonymous reader writes: One of the most powerful features of modern browsers is the ability to install third-party extensions. They allow third-party developers to work on really useful niche functionality, and let users customize their browser with the tools they need. Unfortunately, this environment has the same discover-ability and security problems as standalone software. Thus, my question: what are your most useful (and safe) browser extensions? I can't live without some privacy basics like NoScript, AdBlock, and Ghostery. I also find FoxyProxy helpful for getting around geolocation requirements for media streaming. OneTab works pretty well for saving groups of browser tabs, and Pushbullet keeps getting better at managing my phone while I'm at my PC.
Software

Ask Slashdot: Version Control For Non-Developers? 343

Posted by timothy
from the devil-is-in-the-versioning dept.
occamboy writes My spouse works at a company that deals with lots of documents (Word, spreadsheets, scans, and so forth), and they have a classic version control problem that sucks up hours of her time each week. Documents are stored on a shared server in some sort of hierarchy, but there are all kinds of problems, e.g. multiple copies get saved with slightly-different names because people are afraid of overwriting the old version 'just in case' and nobody can figure out which is the latest version, or which got sent out to a client, etc.

Version control should help, and my first thought was to use SVN with TortoiseSVN, but I'm wondering if there's something even simpler that they could use? Do the Slashdotteratti have any experiences or thoughts that they could share? The ideal solution would also make it easy to text search the document tree.
Programming

Ask Slashdot: What Portion of Developers Are Bad At What They Do? 809

Posted by Soulskill
from the very-small-shell-scripts dept.
ramoneThePoolGuy writes: We are looking to fill a senior developer/architect position in our firm. I am disappointed with the applicants thus far, and quite frankly it has me worried about the quality of developers/engineers available to us. For instance, today I asked an engineer with 20+ years of experience to describe to me the basic process of public/private key encryption. This engineer had no clue. I asked another applicant a similar question: "Suppose you wanted to send me a file with very sensitive information, how would you encrypt it in such a way that I would decrypt it?" The person started off by asking me if it was an excel file, a PDF, etc. In general, I'm finding that an overwhelming number of developers I've interviewed have poor understanding of key concepts, especially when it comes to securing data. Are other firms experiencing this same dilemma in finding qualified applicants? (Quite frankly it scares me that some of these developers are building sites that need to be secure)"
Education

Autism: Are Social Skills Groups and Social Communication Therapy Worthwhile? 289

Posted by timothy
from the let's-all-count-and-sort-batteries dept.
vortex2.71 (802986) writes I imagine that enough of us on Slashdot are on the Autism Spectrum or were once diagnosed as having Aspergers that this might be the right venue for this question. My son is on the spectrum, but is in a mainstream classroom at a private school. We have spent thousands of dollars on a bunch of different social skills groups, speech communication therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy. We've found that the specific skills and intuition that the therapists possess is much more important than their credentials and are frequently disappointed by the overwhelming mediocrity of special education teachers, speech therapists, and OT/PT therapists. We are at the point where we wonder if our time is better spent with playdates with peers that are facilitated by us than continuing with the groups. I'm curious if there are adult Slashdoters who are on the spectrum who participated in these therapies as children who can weigh in on this? What was your experience with social skills groups and social communication therapy? Did they help?
Displays

Ask Slashdot: Affordable Large HD/UHD/4K "Stupid" Screens? 330

Posted by timothy
from the sorry-dave-can't-let-you-do-that dept.
New submitter LOGINS SUC (713291) writes Truly in the first-world problems category, I've been looking for large format (>55") HD/UHD screens for home entertainment. In light of the recent Samsung big-brother monitoring and advertisement injection concerns, does any reputable manufacturer still make "stupid" TVs? I don't want to pay for all the WiFi, apps, cameras, or microphones. I don't need it to have speakers. And at this point, I don't even care if it has the TV receiver functionality. All this stuff leads to vendor lock-in or is well on the path to obsolescence by the time I purchase the device. I prefer all of this non-visual functionality be handled by devices better suited to the purpose and I don't want to pay for screens including these widgets I have no intention of ever using, at all.

I've searched all the normal retail outlets. If I find anything, they are wildly expensive. "Computer monitors" fit the bill but are almost all 55") LCDs in the sub-$3,000 range anymore? Are projectors the last bastion of visual purity for home entertainment?
Medicine

Ask Slashdot: Panic Button a Very Young Child Can Use 327

Posted by samzenpus
from the shiny-red-button dept.
First time accepted submitter Zotonian writes My wife is epileptic. Her seizures have been well controlled by medication until recently. My concern is that we have a toddler and infant at home. I've set up cameras so I can monitor the house, but I'm looking for a solution that my 2 year old daughter can hit a button to tell me to look at them if necessary. Most of the options I'm finding off the shelf notify first responders and I'm concerned of the number of false positives a toddler might initiate. Other solutions like cellphones or wearables for kids are too overloaded with unnecessary options like GPS, phone, games, etc. I'd rather have a simple 'push button' solution I can wire into my router that would send me a text or chat message that alerts me to check the cameras. Then if there is an actually emergency I can take the steps from there. I'm looking for cheap and simple. Any suggestions from the Slashdot community?
Communications

Ask Slashdot: What Will It Take To End Mass Surveillance? 239

Posted by Soulskill
from the encrypt-all-the-things dept.
Nicola Hahn writes: Both the White House and the U.S. Intelligence Community have recently announced reforms to surveillance programs sanctioned under Section 215 of the Patriot Act and Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. But do these reforms represent significant restructuring or are they just bureaucratic gestures intended to create the perception that officials are responding to public pressure?

The Executive's own Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board has written up an assessment (PDF) of reform measures implemented by the government. For those who want a quick summary the Board published a fact sheet (PDF) which includes a table listing recommendations made by the board almost a year ago and corresponding reforms. The fact sheet reveals that the Board's mandate to "end the NSA's bulk telephone records program" has not been implemented.

In other words, the physical infrastructure of the NSA's global panopticon is still in place. In fact, it's growing larger (PDF). So despite all of the press statements and associated media buzz very little has changed. There are people who view this as an unsettling indication of where society is headed. Ed Snowden claimed that he wanted to "trigger" a debate, but is that really enough? What will it take to tear down Big Brother?
Programming

Ask Slashdot: Is There a Web Development Linux Distro? 136

Posted by timothy
from the best-of-brood dept.
Qbertino writes I've been a linux user for more than 15 years now and in the last ten I've done basically all my non-trivial web development on Linux. SuSE in the early days, after that either Debian or, more recently, Ubuntu, if I want something to click on. What really bugs me is, that every time I make a new setup, either as a virtual machine, on concrete hardware or a remote host, I go through 1-2 hours of getting the basics of a web-centric system up and running. That includes setting PHP config options to usable things, setting up vhosts on Apache (always an adventure), configging mod_rewrite, installing extra CLI stuff like Emacs (yeah, I'm from that camp) walking through the basic 10-15 steps of setting up MySQL or some other DB, etc. ... You get the picture.

What has me wondering is this: Since Linux is deeply entrenched in the field of server-side web, with LAMP being it's powerhouse, I was wondering if there aren't any distros that cover exactly this sort of thing. You know, automatic allocation of memory in the runtime settings, ready-made Apache http/https/sftp/ftp setup, PHP all ready to go, etc. What are your experiences and is there something that covers this? Would you think there's a need for this sort of thing and would you base it of Debian or something else? If you do web-dev, how do you do it? Prepareted scripts for setup? Anything else? ... Ideas, unkown LAMP distros and opinions please."
Classic Games (Games)

Ask Slashdot: Automated Tool To OCR CCGs Like Magic: the Gathering? 96

Posted by timothy
from the very-specific-requirements dept.
An anonymous reader writes I buy massive collections of trading card games, Magic:The Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Pokemon, Weiss Schwarts, Cardfight Vanguard, etc, etc. And I've gotten the process fairly streamlined as far as price checking, grading, sorting, etc. Part of my process involves using higher-quality web cams positioned over the top of the cards which are in a stack. I keep a cam window on the screen to show a larger, brighter version of the card. What I'm wondering: Is there is an OCR solution out there that will look at the same spot on the screen, capture, ocr, dump to clipboard, etc.? I've tried several open source solutions but none of them quite fit my needs. What I'd really like is to be able to hit a hotkey, and have my clipboard populated with the textual data of the graphics in a pre-set x,y window range. All this should be done via a hotkey. I may be asking for a lot, but then again, I'm sure someone out there has had need of this type of set-up before. Anyone have any recommendations?
Cloud

Ask Slashdot: With Whom Do You Entrust Your Long Term Data? 178

Posted by Soulskill
from the in-cloud-we-trust dept.
jppiiroinen writes: F-Secure, a company based in Finland, has sold its cloud storage business to a U.S. company (Synchronoss Technologies, Inc) speculated to have ties to the NSA. In previous, public announcements, they used arguments equivalent to, "trust us, your data will be safe." Now, it's likely F-Secure simply realized that competing against the big players, such as Google and Dropbox, didn't make much sense.

But it makes me wonder: Whom do you trust with your data? And who really owns it? What about in 3-6 years from now? How should I make sure that I retain access to today's data 20 years from now? Is storing things locally even a reasonable option for most people? I have a lot of floppies and old IDE disks from the 90s around here, but no means to access them, and some of the CDs and DVDs has gone bad as well.
Programming

Ask Slashdot: What Tools To Clean Up a Large C/C++ Project? 233

Posted by timothy
from the windex-is-a-start dept.
An anonymous reader writes I find myself in the uncomfortable position of having to clean up a relatively large C/C++ project. We are talking ~200 files, 11MB of source code, 220K lines of code. A superficial glance shows that there are a lot of functions that seem to be doing the same things, a lot of 'unused' stuff, and a lot of inconsistency between what is declared in .h files and what is implemented in the corresponding .cpp files. Are there any tools that will help me catalog this mess and make it easier for me to locate/erase unused things, clean up .h files, and find functions with similar names?
Advertising

Ask Slashdot: Gaining Control of My Mobile Browser? 223

Posted by Soulskill
from the lagging-utility dept.
An anonymous reader writes: I run Firefox with NoScript and FlashBlock at home. Browsing is easy, and I only have to enable scripts on a few sites. If they have 20+ scripts, I just surf somewhere else. Fast forward to the mobile experience. I had an Android device, but now I have an iPhone. In addition to the popup problem, and the fake "X" on ads, the iPhone browsers (Safari, Chrome, Opera) will start to show a site, then they will lock up for 10-30 seconds before finally becoming responsive. If I switch back to another app and then return to the browser, Safari and Chrome have a little delay, but Opera delays 20+ seconds before becoming responsive again.

Firefox is not available on the iPhone, so I can't simply run NoScript. Chrome does not appear to have a NoScript equivalent for mobile. What solutions are you using to make mobile browsing work?
Education

Ask Slashdot: Pros and Cons of Homeschooling? 700

Posted by Soulskill
from the parent-teacher-conferences-are-a-cinch dept.
VorpalRodent writes: I went to a private school for about 6 years, then completed my education at the local public school, going on to get a couple undergraduate degrees and a postgraduate degree. My wife dropped out of high school and got her equivalency many years later. Now, she wants to homeschool our son.

There is a significant body of literature which indicates that homeschoolers outperform their traditionally schooled counterparts academically, regardless of the level of education of the parent, and she certainly cares more now that she's older. I don't like anecdotes, but I certainly haven't seen the research borne out in any of the people that I know who were homeschooled. More importantly, it seems like the only reason my wife wants to homeschool is because she doesn't want to let go.

Our son would be going into Kindergarten this coming year. I'm interested in some rational discussion on this, since it seems like the only viewpoints I've ever seen on the matter are "Better academics" vs. "Social interaction," both of which are gross oversimplifications. It doesn't help that I can't find any statistical information on post-schooling outcomes.
Communications

If a Financial Institution Mishandles My Data, What Recourse Do I Have? 224

Posted by Soulskill
from the scream-into-the-abyss dept.
grahamsaa writes: My sister recently consolidated her student loans, and the bank e-mailed the paperwork, which included her name, address, date of birth, social security number, drivers license number and bank account information to the wrong e-mail address. The address (a gmail address) is associated with a real person (not her), so someone now has all of her personal details. My sister claims that she read her e-mail address to the bank representative over the phone twice, but that it was transcribed incorrectly.

The real issue is that the bank was willing to use unencrypted e-mail at all to send sensitive information, and I told my sister that at a minimum the bank should cover electronic credit monitoring for her for a minimum of a year, but I feel like that alone probably isn't enough. While my sister should have insisted that they use a more secure means of sending this information, I think it should be the bank's responsibility to ensure that this kind of thing doesn't happen. What kind of recourse does a person in my sister's position have? Did the bank violate any laws (she lives in Connecticut in the United States)? Is there a standard penalty for this kind of thing? I'm not a lawyer, but I know some of you are. What are her options in this case?
Technology

Ask Slashdot: Is There a Modern IP Webcam That Lets the User Control the Output? 263

Posted by samzenpus
from the a-picture-is-worth-a-thousand-words dept.
First time accepted submitter Tronster writes Owners of a local shop have a menu that changes daily and wanted an IP webcam to update an image on their web-site. After a frustrating 2 hours of a "Hikvision" refusing to behave, I threw in the towel and looked for a better camera to recommend. The biggest issue today is that the new webcams that come out don't support FTP, they all support sending images/video direct to a "private cloud" (e.g., Simplicam, Dropcam, etc...). Google has been no help; all the sites are either outdated in terms of ranking or the most recent ones recommend a Foscam. They previously tried one of these and it's image quality was too poor. While security systems and home automation has been discussed recently, I haven't found any recent discussions on webcams that give a user control of where the content is sent. Does anyone in the Slashdot community have recommendations, reputable sites that are up-to-date in rankings, and/or hacks to have control over some of these newer cameras?