Ask Slashdot: Best Tablet In 2015? 283

An anonymous reader writes: My 2012 Nexus 7 tablet is showing its age. The battery drains quickly, the storage problem that plagued all the Nexus 7s persists even after rooting and re-imaging, and the CPU/RAM can't keep up with the later Android versions. When it came out, it was fantastic — good specs, solid build quality, Nexus line, and a good size. Is there anything on the market today that stands out as much as the Nexus 7 did? I tend to prefer the smaller tablets over the bigger ones, but I'm not entirely averse to an 8" or 9" device. There seem to be some really nice devices in the $3-400 range, but I'm not sure if there's a huge benefit to those over the ~$200 models. I don't do any serious gaming on my tablet, but I also want the apps I do use to be snappy. Those of you who have bought or used tablets made in the past year or so, what has your experience been? Any brands or models that stand out from the crowd? Any to avoid?
Data Storage

Ask Slashdot: Storing Family Videos and Pictures For Posterity? 174

New submitter jalvarez13 writes: I'm in my early 40's and I will become a dad in less than a month. Until now I've been quite happy with a Canon Powershot S110 for taking pictures and video, but now I'm thinking in longer terms. If some of you have already thought or done something about this, what did you consider when buying photo/video equipment? What about a plan to store the files you generate? I guess there are important decisions you made about to image quality, file formats, storage type, organizing and labelling software, etc.

I'm also wondering if there are any other technologies (stereoscopic cameras?) that I haven't thought about and may be interesting to look at.

Ask Slashdot: Can Any Wireless Tech Challenge Fiber To the Home? 190

New submitter danielmorrison writes: In Holland, MI (birthplace of Slashdot) we're working toward fiber to the home. A handful of people have asked why not go wireless instead? I know my reasons (speed, privacy, and we have an existing fiber loop) but are any wireless technologies good enough that cities should consider them? If so, what technologies and what cities have had success stories?
The Almighty Buck

Ask Slashdot: What Would You Do If You Were Suddenly Wealthy? 842

An anonymous reader writes: There are a few articles floating around today about comments from Markus Persson, aka "Notch," the creator of Minecraft. He sold his game studio to Microsoft last year for $2.5 billion, but he seems to be having a hard time adjusting to his newfound fame and wealth. He wrote, "The problem with getting everything is you run out of reasons to keep trying, and human interaction becomes impossible due to imbalance. ... Found a great girl, but she's afraid of me and my life style and went with a normal person instead. I would Musk and try to save the world, but that just exposes me to the same type of a$#@%&*s that made me sell minecraft again." While he later suggests he was just having a bad day, he does seem to be dealing with some isolation issues. Granted, it can be hard to feel sorry for a billionaire, but I've wondered at times how I'd handle sudden wealth like that, and I long ago decided it would make the human relationships I'm accustomed to rather difficult. So, how would you deal with Notch's problem? It seems like one the tech industry should at least be aware of, given the focus on startup culture.

Ask Slashdot: Suggestions For Taking a Business Out Into the Forest? 146

An anonymous reader writes: I'm a huge fan of primitive survival reality TV. I am also self-employed in web troubleshooting and hosting services. I have to be available 24/7, but a lot of my work is just being online for a few minutes at a time. I often think about taking my business 'outdoors', camping, 3-7 days or so at a time — but staying online. Has anyone had experience with this? How did you do it, in terms of internet connectivity and portable power? Satellite internet or long distance Wi-Fi antennaes and a very tall pole? I've looked at some portable power stations with solar attachments, but the idea of hand-cranking to recharge if it's overcast isn't fun, after all, the point is to relax. But I'm willing to manually recharge if it's realistic (would prefer pedaling though!) I happen to have a Toughbook CF-52 (I just thought it was cool) but I may need to replace that with a more eco-friendly laptop as well. Thanks!

Ask Slashdot: Advice On Enterprise Architect Position 198

dave562 writes: I could use some advice from the community. I have almost 20 years of IT experience, 5 of it with the company I am currently working for. In my current position, the infrastructure and applications that I am responsible for account for nearly 80% of the entire IT infrastructure of the company. In broad strokes our footprint is roughly 60 physical hosts that run close to 1500 VMs and a SAN that hosts almost 4PB of data. The organization is a moderate sized (~3000 employees), publicly traded company with a nearly $1 billion market value (recent fluctuations not withstanding).

I have been involved in a constant struggle with the core IT group over how to best run the operations. They are a traditional, internal facing IT shop. They have stumbled through a private cloud initiative that is only about 30% realized. I have had to drag them kicking and screaming into the world of automated provisioning, IaaS, application performance monitoring, and all of the other IT "must haves" that a reasonable person would expect from a company of our size. All the while, I have never had full access to the infrastructure. I do not have access to the storage. I do not have access to the virtualization layer. I do not have Domain Admin rights. I cannot see the network.

The entire organization has been ham strung by an "enterprise architect" who relies on consultants to get the job done, but does not have the capability to properly scope the projects. This has resulted in failure after failure and a broken trail of partially implemented projects. (VMware without SRM enabled. EMC storage hardware without automated tiering enabled. Numerous proof of concept systems that never make it into production because they were not scoped properly.)

After 5 years of succeeding in the face of all of these challenges, the organization has offered me the Enterprise Architect position. However they do not think that the position should have full access to the environment. It is an "architecture" position and not a "sysadmin" position is how they explained it to me. That seems insane. It is like asking someone to draw a map, without being able to actually visit the place that needs to be mapped.

For those of you in the community who have similar positions, what is your experience? Do you have unfettered access to the environment? Are purely architectural / advisory roles the norm at this level?

Ask Slashdot: New Employee System Access Tracking? 87

New submitter mushero writes: We are a fast-growing IT services company with dozens of systems, SaaS tools, dev tools and systems, and more that a new employee might need access to. We struggle to track this, both in terms of what systems a given set of roles will need and then has it been done, as different people manage various systems. And of course the reverse when an employee leaves. Every on-boarding or HR system we've looked at has zero support for this; they are great at getting tax info, your home address, etc. but not for getting you a computer nor access to a myriad of systems. I know in a perfect world it'd all be single-sign-on, but not realistic yet and we have many, many SaaS service that will never integrate. So what have you used for this, how do you track new employee access across dozens of systems, hundreds of employees, new hires every day, etc.?

Ask Slashdot: Tips For Getting Into Model Railroading? 149

An anonymous reader writes: A relative of mine has been hinting that he'd like me to take over his model railroad collection in the event of his death (or even before that, to make this a bit less morbid-sounding). I'm intrigued by the idea, because I've been interested in model railroads for years, but too commitment shy and too transient to actually start a collection. That's changed enough that I'd like to start planning a train system, and am looking for advice from people who have been at it for a while. A couple of parameters: 1) I'm only interested for now in HO-scale stuff, so I am not all that interested in the relative merits of the other kinds, cool as they might be. 2) Related, I am somewhat less interested in the rolling stock than I am in the construction and control of the track and surrounding landscape. Interested in learning from experienced model railroad enthusiasts what lessons you've learned over the years that would be useful for a newbie, especially if you've made some cool automation for your system, or have built extensive support structures. This includes negative lessons, too, if you've overloaded circuits or floorboards. I'd *like* to integrate some interesting sensors and control systems, and I see some interesting open source software for this. So: What advice would you give to a late-start railroader? For reference: this set-up may end up living in an unfinished suburban basement.

Ask Slashdot: Maintaining Continuity In Your Creative Works? 95

imac.usr writes: I recently rewatched the Stonecutters episode of The Simpsons and laughed as always at the scene where Homer pulls into his parking space — right next to his house. It's such a great little comic moment. This time, though, it occurred to me that someone probably wrote in to complain that the power plant was normally in a completely different part of town, no doubt adding "I really hope somebody got fired for that blunder." And that got me to wondering: how do creators of serial media — books, web comics, TV shows, even movie serials — record their various continuities? Is there a story bible with the information, or a database of people/places/things, or even something scribbled on a 3x5 card. I know Slashdot is full of artists who must deal with this issue on a regular basis, so I'd be interested in hearing any perspectives on how (or even if) you manage it.

Ask Slashdot: Buying a Car That's Safe From Hackers? 373

An anonymous reader writes: I'm in the market for a new car, and I've been going through the typical safety checklist: airbag coverage, crash test results, collision mitigation systems, etc. Unfortunately, it seems 2015 is the year we really have to add a new one to the list: hackability. Over the past several weeks we've seen security researchers remotely cut a Corvette's brakes, shut down a Tesla's computer, unlock a bunch of cars, intercept Onstar, and take over a Jeep from 10 miles away.

So, how do we go about buying a car with secure systems? An obvious answer would be to buy a car with limited or archaic computer control — but doing so probably comes with the trade-off of losing other modern safety technology. Is there a way to properly evaluate whether one car's systems are more secure than another's? Most safety standards are the result of strict regulation — is it time for the government to roll out legislation that will enforce safety standards for car computers as well?

Ask Slashdot: How To "Prove" a Work Is Public Domain? 213

New submitter eporue writes: YouTube claims that I haven't been able to prove that I have commercial rights to this video of Superman. They are asking me to submit documentation saying "We need to verify that you are authorized to commercially use all of the visual and audio elements in your video. Please confirm your material is in the public domain." I submitted a link to the Wikipedia page of the Superman cartoons from the 40s where it explains that the copyright expired, and to the Archive page from where I got it. And still is not enough to "prove" that I have the commercial rights. So, how do you "prove" public domain status ?

Ask Slashdot: Best Big Battery Phone? 208

An anonymous reader writes: Samsung's announcement today of the Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6+ was a disappointment to a lot of power users. The phones both use a 3,000 mAh, non-removable battery. This is presumably part of Samsung's quest for thinner and thinner phones, but it's bad news for those who prize function over form — particularly from a phone line that is ostensibly made for power users. So, those of you who have the pulse of the mobile industry: what's my best bet for a high end phone that doesn't compromise on battery life? Are there any devices on the horizon that are likely to have big batteries? I'm also wondering if I should just get a cheap phone to tide me over to the next generation of flagships. My current device is old and doesn't have the fast/quick-charge tech that modern ones do — does that work as advertised?

Ask Slashdot: Capacity Planning and Performance Management? 64

An anonymous reader writes: When shops mostly ran on mainframes, it was relatively easy to do capacity planning because systems and programs were mostly monolithic. But today is very different; we use a plethora of technologies and systems are more distributed. Many applications are decentralized, running on multiple servers either for redundancy or because of multi-tiering architecture. Some companies run legacy systems alongside bleeding-edge technologies. We're also seeing many innovations in storage, like compression, deduplication, clones, snapshots, etc.

Today, with many projects, the complexity make it pretty difficult to foresee resource usage. This makes it hard to budget for hardware that can fulfill capacity and performance requirements in the long term. It's even tougher when the project is still in the planning stages. My question: how do you do capacity planning and performance management for such decentralized systems with diverse technologies? Who is responsible for capacity planning in your company? Are you mostly reactive in adding resources (CPU, memory, IO, storage, etc) or are you able to plan it out well beforehand?

Ask Slashdot: How To Safely Use Older Android Phones? 133

An anonymous reader writes: Like many people reading this site, I have several older phones around as well as my newest, fanciest one; I have a minimal service plan on one of these (my next-to-most-recent), and no service plan (only WI-Fi, as available) on the others. Most of them have some reason or other that I like them, so even without service I've kept them around to act as micro-tablets. Some have a better in-built camera than my current phone, despite being older; some are nice on occasion for being small and pocketable; I like to use one as a GPS in the car without dedicating my phone to that purpose; I can let my young relatives use an older one as a camera, etc. Besides, some people have only one phone at all, and can't reasonably afford a new one -- and that probably means a phone that's not cutting edge. So: in light of the several recent Android vulnerabilities that have come to light, and no reason to think they're the last of these, what's a smart way to use older Android phones? Is CyanoGen Mod any less vulnerable? Should I be worried that old personally identifying information from online transactions is still hanging around somewhere in the phone's recesses? I don't want to toss still-useful hardware, but I know I won't be getting any OS upgrades to 3-year-old phones. How do you use older phones that are not going to get OTA updates to address every security issue?

Ask Slashdot: Can You Disable Windows 10's Privacy-Invading Features? 492

An anonymous reader writes: I really want to upgrade to Windows 10, but have begun seeing stories come out about the new Terms and how they affect your privacy. It looks like the default Windows 10 system puts copies of your data out on the "cloud", gives your passwords out, and targets advertising to you. The main reason I am looking to upgrade is that Bitlocker is not available on Windows 7 Pro, but is on Windows 10 Pro, and Microsoft no longer offers Anytime Upgrades to Windows 7 Ultimate. However, I don't want to give away my privacy for security. The other option is to wait until October to see what the Windows 10 Enterprise version offers, but it may not be available through retail. Are the privacy minded Slashdot readers not going with Windows 10?

For reference, I am referring to these articles.
(Not to mention claims that it steals your bandwidth.)
Input Devices

Ask Slashdot: Why Is the Caps Lock Key Still So Prominent On Keyboards? 698

Esther Schindler writes: The developers at .io are into tracking things, I guess. In any case, a few weeks back they decided to track team performance in terms of keyboard and mouse activity during the working day. They installed a simple Chrome plugin on every Macbook and collected some statistics. For instance, developers have fewer keypresses than editors and managers—around 4k every day. Managers type more than 23k characters per day. And so on. Some pretty neat statistics.

But the piece that jumped out at me was this: "What's curious—the least popular keys are Capslock and Right Mouse Button. Somewhere around 0.1% of all keypresses together. It's time to make some changes to keyboards." I've been whining about this for years. Why is it that the least-used key on my keyboard is not just in a prominent position, but also bigger than most other keys? I can I invest in a real alternate keyboard with a different layout (my husband's a big fan of the Kinesis keyboards, initially to cope with carpal tunnel). But surely it's time to re-visit the standard key layout? What keys would you eliminate or re-arrange?

Ask Slashdot: Everyone Building Software -- Is This the Future We Need? 365

An anonymous reader writes: I recently stumbled upon Apple's headline for version 2 of its Swift programming language: "Now everyone can build amazing apps." My question: is this what we really need? Tech giants (not just Apple, but Microsoft, Facebook, and more) are encouraging kids and adults to become developers, adding to an already-troubled IT landscape. While many software engineering positions are focused only on a business's internal concerns, many others can dramatically affect other people's lives. People write software for the cars we drive; our finances are in the hands of software, and even the medical industry is replete with new software these days. Poor code here can legitimately mess up somebody's life. Compare this to other high-influence professions: can you become surgeon just because you bought a state-of-art turbo laser knife? Of course not. Back to Swift: the app ecosystem is already chaotic, without solid quality control and responsibility from most developers. If you want simple to-do app, you'll get never-ending list of software artifacts that will drain your battery, eat memory, freeze the OS and disappoint you in every possible way. So, should we really be focusing on quantity, rather than quality?
Open Source

Ask Slashdot: Building an Open Source Community For a Proprietary Software Product? 85

An anonymous reader writes: I run a company that develops scientific computing software. Our core product is a traditional proprietary application — we develop the software and deliver the "binaries" to our customers. We're considering changing our deployment to include all of the source code and giving our customers some additional rights to explore and extend it. The codebase is HTML/JavaScript/Python/SQL, so a lot of the code is available in some form already, albeit minified or byte compiled.

Because we are in a scientific domain, most of our customers use Open Source software alongside our product. We also maintain Open Source projects and directly support others. We're strong supporters of Open Source and understand the value of having access to the source code.

We also support a free (as in beer) version of the software with a smaller feature set (production and enterprise elements that individual users don't need are removed). We'd like that version to use the same model as well to give users that don't need the full commercial version the ability to extend the software and submit patches back to us for inclusion in future releases.

Overall, we'd really like to find a model that allows our core product to work more like an Open Source product while maintaining control over the distribution rights. We'd like to foster a community around the product but still generate revenue to fund it. In our space, the "give the product away but pay for support" model has never really worked. The market is too small and, importantly, most customers understand our value proposition and have no problem with our annual license model.

We've looked at traditional dual licensing approaches, but don't think they're really right fit, either. A single license that gives users access to the code but limits the ability to redistribute the code and distribute patches to the "core" is what we'd prefer. My questions for the Slashdot community: Does anyone have direct experience with models like this? Are there existing licenses that we should look at? What companies have succeeded doing this? Who has failed?

Ask Slashdot: Are There Any Open and Affordable IPCams? 134

New submitter criticalmess writes: I'm about to give up on any decent hardware to be found to roll my own web-based camera setup around the house and office — and thought that the nerds and experts at /. would be my last resource I could pull out. Having bought multiple IPCamera (DLink, Abus, Axis, Foscam, TP-Link, ...) and always getting the 'requires DirectX' treatment, I'm wondering if there are any open and affordable IPCams out there? I've been looking at BlueCherry and their kickstarter campaign to create a complete opensource hardware solution, I've been looking at Zavio as they seem to offer the streams in an open enough format while not breaking the bank on the hardware. Anything else I should be looking at? I can't for the love of it understand why most of these hardware companies require you to run DirectX — anybody care to enlighten the crowd? Should be simple enough really: hardware captures images, a small embedded webserver transforms this into an RTSP stream or HTTP stream, maybe on h264 or similar — done.

Ask Slashdot: Do You Use a Smartphone At Work, Contrary to Policy? 227

Jason McNew writes: I have been in IT since the late '90s, and began a graduate degree in Cyber Security with Penn State two years ago. I have always been interested in how and why users break policies, despite being trained carefully. I have observed the same phenomena even in highly secure government facilities — I watched people take iPhones into highly sensitive government facilities on several occasions. That led me to wonder to what extent the same problem exists in the private sector: Portable Electronic Devices (PEDs) are a huge threat to both security and intellectual property. This question has become the subject of a pilot study I am doing for grad school. So, do you use a smart phone or other PED during work hours, even though you are not supposed to? Please let me know, and I will provide the results in a subsequent submission to Slashdot.