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Hardware

Ask Slashdot: What Hardware Is In Your Primary Computer? 558 558

An anonymous reader writes: Here's something we haven't done in a while: list the specs of your main system (best one) so we can see what kinds of computers Slashdot geeks use. Context would be interesting, too — if you're up for it, explain how and why you set it up as you did, as well as the computer's primary purpose(s). Things you can list include (but are not limited to): CPU, motherboard, video card, memory, storage (SSD/HDD), exotic Controllers (RAID or caching), optical drives, displays, peripherals, etc. We can compare and contrast, see what specs are suitable for what purposes, and perhaps learn a trick or two.
IT

Ask Slashdot: How To Turn an Email Stash Into Knowledge For My Successor? 203 203

VoiceOfDoom writes: I'm leaving my current position in a few weeks and it looks unlikely that a replacement will be found in time. My job is very specialized and I'm the only person in the organization who is qualified or experienced in how to do it. I'd like to share as much of my accumulated knowledge with my successor as possible but at the moment, it mostly exists in my email archive which will be deleted after I've been gone for 90 days.

The organization doesn't have any knowledge management systems so the only way it seems I can pass on this information is by copying all the info into a series of documents, which isn't much fun to do in Outlook. Can my fellow Slashdotters can suggest a better approach? By the way, there's quite a lot of confidential stuff in there that my successor needs to know but which cannot leave the organization's existing systems.
Security

Ask Slashdot: Should We Expect Attacks When Windows 2003 Support Ends? 117 117

kooky45 writes: On July 14th 2015, Microsoft will stop supporting Windows 2003. If your company is anything like mine then they're in a panic to update Windowns 2003 systems that have been ignored for years. But what will happen to Windows 2003 systems still in use after the cut-off date? Company Security warns us that the world will end, but they said the same thing when Microsoft stopped supporting Windows XP -- and yet we survived. Did you experience an increase in successful attacks against XP shortly after its support ended, or expect to see one against Windows 2003 this time round?
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: What Asset Tracking Software Do You Recommend? 137 137

grahamsaa writes: I work for an organization that has a number of physical assets, as well as presence in multiple data centers. On the DC side, there are a number of specific things we need to track (one thing we want to be able to account for is how much power do we need for each rack). On the office side, our needs are more basic. We need to be able to tag and track laptops, workstations, monitors, etc. I would like to use a single system for all of this, but have yet to find something that will work well on the office side and the data center side. Free/open source solutions are preferred, but we're prepared to spend money on a commercial solution if it meets our needs. What would you recommend?
Chrome

Ask Slashdot: Options After Google Chrome Discontinues NPAPI Support? 208 208

An anonymous reader writes: I've been using Google Chrome almost exclusively for more than 3 years. I stopped using Mozilla Firefox because it was becoming bloated and slow, and I migrated all my bookmarks etc. to Chrome. Now Chrome plans to end NPAPI support — which means that I will not be able to access any sites that use Java, and I need this for work. I tried going back to Firefox for a couple of days but it still seems slow — starting it takes time, even the time taken to load a page seems more than Chrome. So what are my options now? Export all my bookmarks and go back to Mozilla Firefox and just learn to live with the performance drop? Or can I tweak Firefox performance in any way? FWIW, I am on a Windows 7 machine at work.
Hardware Hacking

Ask Slashdot: Your Most Unusual Hardware Hack? 258 258

An anonymous reader writes: Another Slashdotter recently asked what kind of things someone can power with an external USB battery. I have a followup along those lines: what kind of modifications have you made to your gadgets to do things that they were never meant to do? Consider old routers, cell phones, monitors, etc. that have absolutely no use or value anymore in their intended form. What can you do with them?
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: What Do You Wish You'd Known Starting Your First "Real" Job? 583 583

itwbennett writes: ITworld's Josh Fruhlinger asked seasoned (and some not-so-seasoned) tech professionals what they wished they knew back when they were newly minted graduates entering the workforce. Perhaps not surprisingly, some of the best advice has more to do with soft skills than with tech skills. To wit: 'When [managers] say they are suggesting you do something, it's not really a suggestion — it is an order disguised as a suggestion. Plain-speaking is a lost art at big companies and corporate double talk is the name of the game.' What's your best piece of advice for the newest among you?
Programming

Ask Slashdot: Best Test Case Manager Plugin For JIRA? 70 70

Bomarc writes: I've been working with software testing ... for a few years now. And there seems to be a serious lack of QA — Test Case Management (TCM) tools. The company that I'm working for needs a good test case manager. Currently JIRA is the tool of choice for other aspects of project management. I'm not asking to jump ship from JIRA, but the Atlassian TCM "Zephyr" has several problems, some of the key ones include: It does not have (any) matrix capabilities, no test case suite capabilities, if you change one test case (including assignments) the system changes all of the runs from that test case, the integration between the defect tracker and the TCM is archaic (at best), the number of actions to pass/fail a step (or test case) are annoying (way to many). Whoever designed it doesn't use it. If you watch the "Introduction" for Zephyr – it is amusing to see how the person performing he demo skips over and fumbles when dealing with the flaws I've mentioned above.

I have used the product "TestLog" which is a well-thought-out product; has test matrix capabilities (and other good features); however it does not have any integration with JIRA. (Hint, hint: Atlassian, this is what you need!).

Is there any company that makes a "plug-in" for JIRA with a similar features to TestLog – test case management that is well thought out, not just an afterthought?
Power

Ask Slashdot: What Interesting Things Can I Power With an External USB Battery? 133 133

New submitter expert464 writes: I just purchased an external USB battery for the main purpose of charging smartphones. I've also thought of using it to power a USB lamp and charge a bluetooth speaker. What other things am I missing that would be useful and/or interesting to power when not near an electrical outlet?
Networking

Ask Slashdot: Switching Careers From Software Engineering To Networking? 227 227

An anonymous reader writes: I am a software engineer with over 10 years of experience making approx 210k a year after bonus. I've seen countless of software engineering jobs off-shored or taken by H1Bs over the past 5 years. While I am pretty safe at my current job, software engineering as a profession is beginning to look bleak, and i am not even sure if I can ask for the same money if I decide to jump ship to another company (I live in an expensive area).

A friend of mine who works as a network architect with dual CCIEs have no problem finding/landing jobs with high salary. His profession doesn't seem to be affected by outsourcing or H1bs, so I am tempted to switch from my field to networking for better stability and greener pastures.

So the question is, should I do it? The reason why I am looking for the long-term stability is because I've a family of 3 to feed. I cannot afford to be jobless for more than 3 months if I do get laid-off, and software engineering doesn't seem to be the profession after years of observation to provide long-term stability.
Earth

Ask Slashdot: What Happens If We Perfect Age Reversing? 692 692

ourlovecanlastforeve writes: With biologists getting closer and closer to reversing the aging process in human cells, the reality of greatly extended life draws closer. This brings up a very important conundrum: You can't tell people not to reproduce and you can't kill people to preserve resources and space. Even at our current growth rate there's not enough for everyone. Not enough food, not enough space, not enough medical care. If — no, when — age reversal becomes a reality, who gets to live? And if everyone gets to live, how will we provide for them?
Music

Ask Slashdot: Will Technology Disrupt the Song? 158 158

An anonymous reader writes: The music industry has gone through dramatic changes over the past thirty years. Virtually everything is different except the structure of the songs we listen to. Distribution methods have long influenced songwriting habits, from records to CDs to radio airplay. So will streaming services, through their business models, incentivize a change to song form itself? Many pop music sensations are already manufactured carefully by the studios, and the shift to digital is providing them with ever more data about what people like to listen to. And don't forget that technology is a now a central part of how such music is created, from auto-tune and electronic beats to the massive amount of processing that goes into getting the exact sound a studio wants.
Open Source

Ask Slashdot: Can SaaS Be Both Open Source and Economically Viable? 49 49

An anonymous reader writes: The CTO behind Lucidchart, an online diagramming app, recently cited the open source rbush project as an invaluable tool for helping implement an "in-memory spatial index" that "increased spatial search performance by a factor of over 1,000 for large documents." My question is this: what risks does a SaaS company like Lucidchart face in making most of their own code public, like Google's recent move with Chrome for Android, and what benefits might be gained by doing so? Wouldn't sharing the code just generate more users and interest? Even if competitors did copy it, they'd always be a step behind the latest developments.
Cellphones

Ask Slashdot: What's the Best Dumb Phone? 313 313

An anonymous reader writes: For those of us who don't need or want a smartphone, what would be the best dumb phone around? Do you have a preference over flip or candy bar ones? What about ones that have FM radio? Do any of you still use dumb phones in this smart phone era? Related question: What smart phones out now are (or can be reasonably outfitted to be) closest to a dumb phone, considering reliability, simplicity, and battery life? I don't especially want to give up a swiping keyboard, a decent camera, or podcast playback, but I do miss being able to go 5 or more days on a single charge.
Perl

Ask Slashdot: Career Advice For an Aging Perl Developer? 271 271

New submitter ukrifleman writes: I've been doing UK based perl, JS, light PHP and JQUERY dev plus Centos/Debian sys admin on a freelance basis for over a decade now. Mostly maintaining older stuff but I also undertook a big, 3 year bespoke project (all written in legacy non OO perl). The trouble is, that contract has now finished and all the legacy work has dried out and I've only got about 2 months of income left! I need to get a full time job.

To most dev firms I'm going to look like a bit of a dinosaur, 40 odd years old, knows little of OO coding OR modern languages and aproaches to projects. I can write other languages and, with a bit of practice I'll pick them up pretty quickly. I really don't know where to start. What's hot, what's worth learning, I'm self-taught so have no CS degree, just 15 years of dev and sys admin experience. I've got a bit of team and project management experience too it's quite a worry going up against young whipper snappers that know all the buzz words and modern tech!

Am I better off trying to get a junior job to start so I can catch up with some tech? Would I be better off trawling the thousands of job sites or finding a bonafide IT specialist recruitment firm? Should I take the brutally honest approach to my CV/interviews or just wing it and hope I don't bite off more than I can chew? What kind of learning curve could I expect if I took on a new language I have no experience with? Are there any qualififcations that I NEED to have before firms would be willing to take me on? I've been sitting here at this desk for 10 years typing away and only now do I realise that I've stagnated to the point where I may well be obsolete!
Networking

Ask Slashdot: Best Way To Solve a Unique Networking Issue? 384 384

New submitter petro-tech writes: I work as a service technician, maintaining and repairing gas pumps and POS equipment. In my day to day activities, one that consumes a ton of time and is relatively regular is the process of upgrading the software on pumps. This is done by connecting to the pump via direct ethernet from my laptop, then running a manufacturer-provided program that connects to the device and pushes the new software. Some sites have 8+ pumps with 2 devices in each, and at 20-30 minutes apiece this can be quite time consuming. Unfortunately the devices are not actually on a network, and as such cannot be updated remotely, also since they are not on a network, they are all configured with the same IP address. Additionally the software doesn't allow you to specify the adapter to use. I would like to be able to get to a site, connect a cable to each pump, and load them all at the same time. The only way I can figure to accomplish this with the software we've been provided is to do this: Get a 16-port powered USB hub, with a usb-ethernet adaptor in each port; Set up 16 VM's with extremely stripped down XP running on each, with only one USB-ethernet adaptor assigned to each VM; Set XP to boot the application for loading software as its shell; and load each device that way at the same time. Is there a better way to accomplish this?
Education

Ask Slashdot: What Tech Skills Do HS Students Need To Know Now? 302 302

heybiff writes: During summer months I deliver brief tech workshops to high school students as part of an enrichment program. Almost all of the students are average students pulled from non-magnet comprehensive high schools throughout our city. Make no mistake — these are not the students who have a love of technology and coding; many were coerced by excited parents or guidance counselors. After doing this for almost 10 years, I have found students have become considerably more comfortable with technology, and confident in their use, especially with smartphones and tablets being ubiquitous. Unfortunately, I also see a lot of basic knowledge and tech skills all but nonexistent. Moreover, students seem unaware that the tech they use daily even has any usefulness for academic activities. So what I put to you fellow Slashdotters is: What do students today realistically have to know to be successful in school? Which tech skills are still important and necessary, and which are gone the way of the typewriter? What misconceptions or outright lies have become so ingrained in young people's use of technology that they need to be addressed? Finally, the program puts laptops in students' hands, to give them a kickstart in being successful; what skills do they need to get the most out of the new hardware they were just given?
Technology

Ask Slashdot: What's On Your Keychain? 278 278

kuhnto writes: I was playing with my key chain and started to wonder: what does everyone on Slashdot have on their key chains? What cool things do you have that you want to share? I'll start: car key, car alarm dongle, house key, Kingston USB Drive, AAA micro flashlight, and a Swiss-tech Utili-key. To extend this a bit: what other things do you usually carry around with you, aside from the common items like phones, keyrings, and card/cash holders?
Open Source

Ask Slashdot: What Is the Best Open Document Format? 200 200

kramer2718 writes: I am working on a project that requires uploading and storing of documents. Although the application will need to allow uploading of .docx, doc, .pdf, etc, I'd like to store the documents in a standard open format that will allow easy search, compression, rendering, etc. Which open document format is the best? Since "best" can be highly driven by circumstances, please explain your reasoning, too.
Programming

Ask Slashdot: Security Certification For an Old Grad? 125 125

An anonymous reader writes: I graduated in late 2003 during the tech bubble burst with a below 2.5 GPA. I am 35 with an interest in getting a security job. What are the chances that I would be just wasting my time and money? I am pursuing business interests with a patent used in a service that will be a prime target for hackers. I have been writing client/server software in an OpenBSD virtual machine for the security and the kqueue functionality; not to mention the rest of the virtual clients crash that I have tried. I figure that trying to sell the service idea, even if I can't get a job, when they ask what qualifies me to have such ideas, I can say I have the credentials. I just got issued the patent this year. What would you do in this situation to be a viable candidate for employment?