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Technology

Ask Slashdot: What Would It Take For You To Buy a Smartwatch? 427

Posted by Soulskill
from the a-third-wrist-to-carry-in-my-pocket dept.
An anonymous reader writes: I don't wear a watch. I never have. So, to me, the push for smart watches has always been a non-starter. But I was discussing with friends some of the features of Android Wear that Google demonstrated at the I/O conference today, and it got me wondering: what set of features would be required for a smartwatch to become viable? Obviously, this is different for everybody — millions of people wear regular watches even though they could easily pull out their phone and check the time there. Any smartwatch can also tell time, but it has advantages (apps that do other things), and disadvantages (needs charging). Clearly, there are some functions for which it's useful to have an object strapped to your wrist, even if that function could be served by the device in your pocket. Telling time is one, and lots of people use sundry fitness doo-dads to measure exercise. It makes sense to me that checking the weather forecast would fall into this category, and perhaps checking notifications. (Conversely, other functions do not translate at all, like taking photos or playing games.) Thus, two questions: if you already wear a watch, what would it take for a smartwatch to replace it? If you don't wear a watch, what features would motivate you to get one?
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: How Do You Ensure Creative Commons Compliance At Your Company? 64

Posted by timothy
from the can-we-see-the-chicken's-papers? dept.
An anonymous reader writes At the non-profit where I work, there isn't a lot of money for buying stock photos or licensing professional images. So, we've turned to sources of 'free' imagery, notably Creative Commons-licensed photos on Flickr. While we're not a huge organization, we do have 100+ individuals creating content in one way or another. We're now wrestling with compliance of the CC licensing, like including links for By Attribution images, etc. Our legal counsel is also scared of photographers changing their licenses and suing us after the fact. How do you document the images you find were licensed one way in the past, especially when numerous people from across the country are acquiring the images?
Programming

Ask Slashdot: Best Way to Learn C# For Game Programming? 254

Posted by timothy
from the can't-sharpen-the-sea dept.
An anonymous reader writes So I, like many people, want to make my own game. Outside of MATLAB, Visual Basic, and LabVIEW I have no real programming experience. I initially started with Ruby, but after doing my homework decided that if I ever wanted to progress to a game that required some power, I would basically need to learn some form of C anyway. Further digging has led me to C#. The other parts of game design and theory I have covered: I have ~8 years of CAD modeling experience including Maya and Blender; I have a semiprofessional sound studio, an idie album on iTunes, and am adept at creating sound effects/music in a wide variety of programs; I'm familiar with the setbacks and frustration involved with game development — I beta tested DotA for 9ish years; I already have my game idea down on paper (RTS), including growth tables, unit types, unit states, story-lines, etc. I've been planning this out for a year or two; I will be doing this on my own time, by myself, and am prepared for it to take a couple years to finish. The reason for listing that stuff out, is that I want people to understand that I know what I'm getting myself in to, and I'm not trying to put out a not-so-subtle "help me make a game for free lol" type of post. With all of that said, where is a good place to start (i.e., recommended books) for learning C# for game programming? I am familiar with object oriented programming, so that's a little bit of help. I'm not necessarily looking for the syntax (that part is just memorization), but more for the methodology involved. If anyone also has any suggestions for other books or information that deal with game development, I would love to hear that too. I know enough to understand that I really don't know anything, but have a good foundation to build on.
Encryption

Ask Slashdot: How To Bequeath Sensitive Information? 208

Posted by timothy
from the and-to-my-terrrible-son-william dept.
New submitter UrsaMajor987 (3604759) writes I recently retired after a long career in IT. I am not ready to kick the bucket quite yet, but having seen the difficulty created by people dying without a will and documenting what they have and where it is, I am busy doing just that. At the end of it all, I will have documentation on financial accounts, passwords, etc., which I will want to share with a few people who are pretty far away. I can always print a copy and have it delivered to them, but is there any way to share this sort of information electronically? There are lots of things to secure transmission of data, but once it arrives on the recipients' desktop, you run the risk of their system being compromised and exposing the data. Does anyone have any suggestions? Is paper still the most secure way to go?
Programming

Ask Slashdot: Best Rapid Development Language To Learn Today? 466

Posted by timothy
from the pronto-now-yesterday-or-else dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Many years ago, I was a coder—but I went through my computer science major when they were being taught in Lisp and C. These days I work in other areas, but often need to code up quick data processing solutions or interstitial applications. Doing this in C now feels archaic and overly difficult and text-based. Most of the time I now end up doing things in either Unix shell scripting (bash and grep/sed/awk/bc/etc.) or PHP. But these are showing significant age as well. I'm no longer the young hotshot that I once was—I don't think that I could pick up an entire language in a couple of hours with just a cursory reference work—yet I see lots of languages out there now that are much more popular and claim to offer various and sundry benefits I'm not looking to start a new career as a programmer—I already have a career—but I'd like to update my applied coding skills to take advantage of the best that software development now has to offer. (More, below.)
Music

Ask Slashdot: Resolving the Clash Between Art and Technology In Music? 121

Posted by timothy
from the all-musical-instruments-are-technology dept.
An anonymous reader writes This article in The New York Times shows the clash of purists and people who desire to experiment with "new technology" available to them. The geek in me is really curious about this concept of a digital orchestra (with the ability to change tempos, placement of speakers in an orchestra pit, possibly delaying some to line them up ...). I understand that instrumentalists feel threatened, but why not let free enterprise decide the fate of this endeavor instead of trying to kill it by using blackmail and misrepresentation? Isn't there a place for this, even if maybe it is not called opera ... maybe iOpera?
Education

Ask Slashdot: PC-Based Oscilloscopes On a Microbudget? 172

Posted by timothy
from the not-yet-part-of-every-smartphone dept.
New submitter fffdddooo (3692429) writes I know it's something that people used to ask every few years, but answers get old so quickly. I'm an electronics teacher, and I'm wondering if it's possible to find some oscilloscope (and why not spectrum analyser?) for recommending to my students, to be able to work at home. I'm thinking of something near $50-$70. Two or three years ago, I'm sure the answer was No, but nowadays? The same reader points out two options spotted on Amazon: one that's "very cheap but Khz" (it's also a kit that requires assembly), and another that aims to be capable of 20MHz, 2-channel operation. What's out there, he'd like to know, that's not junk?
Entertainment

Recommendations For Classic Superhero Comic Collections? 165

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the comic-book-nerds dept.
mvdwege (243851) writes "Due to being in a relationship with a comics geek, I have gotten interested in the history of superhero comics. I would like to get a better grounding in the Golden Age (pre-Comics Code) comics, so here's my question to the Slashdot audience: what are your recommendations for essential reading? What collections/omnibus editions of Golden Age comics would you recommend?"
Cellphones

Ask Slashdot: A 'Mavis Beacon' For Teaching Smartphone and Tablet Typing? 55

Posted by Soulskill
from the start-texting-conversations-with-a-teenager dept.
theodp writes: "Where have you gone, Mavis Beacon? A nation of smartphone and tablet typists could use your help. You've seen people type fast-and-furiously on smartphones and tablets, so you know it can be done, but how exactly do these one- and two-fingered wonders (YouTube video) manage to do so? Is it their reaction time? Technique? Both? Back in the day, touch-typing teachers showed kids the secrets to higher word-per-minute scores on their Smith Coronas. Later, typing tutor software got kids up-to-speed on PCs. So, with over 1 billion smartphones and 200 million or so tablets shipped in 2013, what are the best software and tutorials that teach mobile typing techniques? And what platform specific features — iOS, Android, WP8/Win8, BB — do you find make your mobile typing life a whole lot easier?"
Programming

Ask Slashdot: Where's the Most Unusual Place You've Written a Program From? 310

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-get-zero-points-if-you-answer-starbucks dept.
theodp writes: "Michael Raithel was polling the SAS crowd, but it'd be interesting to hear the answers to the programming questions he posed from a broader audience: 1. What is the most unusual location you have written a program from? 2. What is the most unusual circumstance under which you have written a program? 3. What is the most unusual computing platform that you wrote a program from? 4. What is the most unusual application program that you wrote?"
Cellphones

Ask Slashdot: Do 4G World Phones Exist? 259

Posted by timothy
from the multi-sim-multi-carrier dept.
First time accepted submitter Viv Savage (3679171) writes "I live in the U.S. but my daughter will be attending college overseas next year (Scotland specifically). I need to purchase a new phone for her and I'm curious what the Slashdot community would recommend. I understand that a GSM world phone supporting 850/900/1800/1900 MHz frequencies would give her the best voice support. There doesn't appear to be a solution for getting high-speed data (i.e., 4G) here and abroad with one phone. Have any worldly Slashdotters figured this out?"
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: In What Other Occupations Are IT Skills and Background Useful? 158

Posted by samzenpus
from the using-your-skills dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Here on Slashdot we sometimes see questions about how to get IT jobs while having little experience, changing from one specialty to another, or being (gasp) middle aged. And, we see comments that bemoan various aspects of IT work and express a desire to do something entirely different. This is what I'm wondering about, and I thought I'd put my questions to Ask Slashdot. Has anyone successfully applied their years of IT experience to other lines of work? Is the field that you moved on to entirely unrelated, or is there a more substantial link to your new (but clearly not IT) role?"
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: Taking a New Tack On Net Neutrality? 185

Posted by timothy
from the bad-idea-is-putting-it-lightly dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I am the IT director for a large rental property company that owns approximately 15,000 apartments in college towns across America. The board of directors has tasked me with exploring whether we can 'privatize' our network (we provide network access as part of rent in all of our properties) and charge certain commercial entities for access to our residents. Right now the network is more or less open, except that we block access (by court order) to certain sites at the request of various copyright holders. Specifically, they are interested in targeting commercial providers of services directed at college students, such as textbook rental firms, online booksellers, and so on. With approximately 35,000 residents, I guess they are thinking there is a substantial profit to be made here. Personally I don't like it one bit, but I thought I would ping Slashdot for thoughtful opinions. I imagine the phones will start ringing off the hook if students suddenly lose access to places like Amazon.com. I think it has 'bad idea' written all over it. What do you think?"
Hardware Hacking

Ask Slashdot: What Inspired You To Start Hacking? 153

Posted by Soulskill
from the that-stupid-turtle dept.
An anonymous reader writes "What got you into hacking? This is a question that Jennifer Steffen, IOActive CEO, often asks hackers she meets on conferences around the world. More often than not, the answer is movies: War Games, Hackers, The Matrix, and so on. But today, it is the real life hacking that is inspiring the movies of tomorrow. 'Hackers are doing epic stuff,' she says, and they are now inspiring movies and comics. So, what got you started? And what makes a good hacker today?"
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: Tech Customers Forced Into Supporting Each Other? 253

Posted by timothy
from the left-as-an-excercise-for-the-reader dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Has anyone else noticed the trend towards 'community forums' where customers are basically being recruited to solve the issues of other customers while the companies selling the products causing the issues sit back and take a passive role in the process? Granted, sometimes the companies' employees play an active part in the forums and provide some value-add by contributing crucial, and often undocumented, knowledge that solves the problem in a timely fashion. Unfortunately, that isn't always the case, and this leaves customers with no visibility into whether or not their problems are being addressed, and, if they are, when they might expect to receive assistance. This is bad enough when dealing with consumer electronics that cost up to a couple of hundred of dollars, but it's completely unacceptable when dealing with proprietary design tool vendors that are charging several thousand dollars for software licenses for tools that are the only option if a customer doesn't want to drop an order of magnitude more money to go with 3rd party tools (e.g., Synopsys). Who do you think are the worst offenders of this downloading of support onto the backs of the customers themselves, and what can be done about it?"
Communications

Ask Slashdot: Communication With Locked-in Syndrome Patient? 552

Posted by Soulskill
from the our-thoughts-are-with-you dept.
cablepokerface writes "We've had a significant family catastrophe last weekend. My sister-in-law (my wife's sister) is 28 years old and was 30 weeks pregnant till last Saturday. She also had a tumor — it was a benign, slow growing tumor close to her brain-stem. Naturally we were very worried about that condition, but several neurologists assessed the situation earlier and found the tumor to be a problem, but not big enough for her to require immediate surgery, so we decided to give the baby more time. She was symptomatic, but it was primarily pain in her neck area and that was controlled with acceptable levels of morphine.

Then, last Saturday, our lives changed. Probably forever. In the hospital, where she was admitted earlier that week to keep an eye on the baby, the tumor ruptured a small vessel and started leaking blood into the tumor, which swelled up to twice its size. Then she, effectively, had a stroke from the excess blood in the brain stem. In a hurry, the baby was born through C-section (30 weeks and it's a boy — he's doing fine). Saturday night she had complex brain surgery, which lasted nine hours. They removed the blood and tumor that was pressing on the brain.

Last Sunday/Monday they slowly tried to wake her up. The CT scan shows all higher brain functions to work, but a small part of the brain stem shows no activity. She is locked-in, which is a terrible thing to witness since she has virtually no control of any part of her body. She can't breathe on her own, and the only things she can move, ever so slightly, are her lips, eyelids and eyes. And even that's not very steady. Blinking her eyes to answer questions tires her out enormously, as she seems to have to work hard to control those. The crowd on Slashdot is a group of people who have in-depth knowledge of a wide range of topics. I'm certainly not asking for pity here, but maybe you can help me with the following questions: Does anyone have any ideas on how to communicate better with her? Is there technology that could help? Like brain-wave readers or something? Does anyone have any ideas I haven't thought of regarding communication with her, or maybe even experience with it?"
Crime

Ask Slashdot: Anti-Theft Products For the Over-Equipped Household? 408

Posted by timothy
from the exploding-dye-packs dept.
First time accepted submitter Dufflepod (3656815) writes "After yet another hardware purchase last week, I realized with some alarm just how drastically an enterprising burglar could increase the crapulence quotient of my life if they ever made off with my hardware. The house is alarmed, but much to my annoyance it isn't always set when people go out for any length of time. Ideally I want to 'alarm' the expensive items among my various PCs, UPS, NAS box, test equipment, and some of the sundry other gadgets & gizmos I require to stroke my inner geek. Over the past few days I have spent hours Googling for every combination of "anti-theft perimeter alarm radius motion detector vibration wireless" etc etc.. I have found various possible solutions, though the cost of some of them does make my eyes water (eg SonicShock @ €150/box). Has anyone out there decided to bite-the-bullet and protect their kit with decent alarms, and do you have any suggested 'do's & don'ts'?" So how would you secure valuable items, as opposed to securing the entire place?
Databases

Ask Slashdot: Easy-To-Use Alternative To MS Access For a Charity's Database? 281

Posted by timothy
from the take-your-best-shot dept.
New submitter danzvash (447536) writes "I'm doing some volunteering for a street kids charity in Senegal, West Africa, and they need a new database to store all their information for the kids, and to help the funding organizations like UNICEF. The charity staff have a few computers running Windows 7. Being a die-hard OSS geek I'm more inclined to knock up a MySQL backend with a Django (or similar) front-end and run the whole thing from a reliable VPS. But it needs to be understandable by the non-geeks in the charity — there is no IT expertise here. Is there anything that can allow me to design and edit databases, tables, and forms but doesn't require an MS license?"
Programming

Ask Slashdot: What Should Every Programmer Read? 352

Posted by Soulskill
from the green-eggs-and-dereferenced-pointers dept.
An anonymous reader writes "There's a blog post floating around right now listing articles every programmer should read. I'm curious what articles, books, etc., Slashdot readers would add to this list. Should The Art of Computer Programming, Design Patterns, or Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs be on the list? What about The Mythical Man-Month, or similar works that are about concepts relating to programming? Is there any code that every programmer should take a look at? Obviously, the nature of this question precludes articles about the nitty-gritty of particular languages, but I'm sure a lot of people would be interested in those, too. So if you can think of a few articles that every C++ programmer (or Perl, or Haskell, or whatever) should know, post those too."
Programming

Ask Slashdot: Minimum Programming Competence In Order To Get a Job? 466

Posted by timothy
from the anything-you-can-yourself-into dept.
First time accepted submitter Wisecat (3651085) writes "So we all know that computer programming jobs are hot right now. Heck, even President Obama has been urging Americans to learn the skill. But all of us in tech know that not everyone can hack it, and what's more it takes a while to learn anything, and keep up your skills as technology changes. Add to that the fact that companies (and their hiring managers) are always looking for 'the best of the best of the best' talent, and one starts to wonder: just how good does one actually have to BE to get hired? Certainly, there must be plenty of jobs where a level 7/10 programmer would be plenty good enough, and even some that a level 5/10 would be enough. And perhaps we can agree that a level 2/10 would not likely get hired anywhere. So the question is: given that we have such huge demand for programmers, can a level 5, 6, or 7 ever get past the hiring manager? Or is he doomed to sit on the sidelines while the position goes unfilled, or goes to someone willing to lie about their skill level, or perhaps to an H1-B who will work cheaper (but not necessarily better)? I'm a hardware engineer with embedded software experience, and have considered jumping over to pure software (since there are so many jobs, so much demand) but at age 40, and needing to pick a language and get good at it, I wonder whether it would even be possible to get a job (with my previous work experience not being directly related). Thoughts?"

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