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Education

Ask Slashdot: How Do I Engage 5th-8th Graders In Computing? 175

Posted by Soulskill
from the robots-with-lasers dept.
An anonymous reader writes: I volunteer at a inner-city community after school program focused K-8th grade. Right now, due to the volunteer demographic, we spend most of our activity time in arts and crafts and homework. The 5th-8th students are getting restless with those activities. I've been asked to spice it up with some electrical wizardry. What I'd like to do is introduce the students to basic jobs skills through computers. My thoughts are that I could conduct some simple hands-on experiments with circuits, and maybe some bread boards. Ultimately, we're going to take apart a computer and put it back together. How successful this project is will dictate whether or not we will go into programming. However, whatever we do, I want the kids to obtain marketable skills. Anyone know of a curriculum I can follow? What experiences have you had with various educational computing projects?
Programming

Ask Slashdot: What Makes a Great Software Developer? 214

Posted by Soulskill
from the highlander-style-combat dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes: What does it take to become a great — or even just a good — software developer? According to developer Michael O. Church's posting on Quora (later posted on LifeHacker), it's a long list: great developers are unafraid to learn on the job, manage their careers aggressively, know the politics of software development (which he refers to as 'CS666'), avoid long days when feasible, and can tell fads from technologies that actually endure... and those are just a few of his points. Over at Salsita Software's corporate blog, meanwhile, CEO and founder Matthew Gertner boils it all down to a single point: experienced programmers and developers know when to slow down. What do you think separates the great developers from the not-so-fantastic ones?
Media

Ask Slashdot: Best Medium For Personal Archive? 251

Posted by timothy
from the but-with-8-tracks-you-can-still-lose-7 dept.
An anonymous reader writes What would be the best media to store a backup of important files in a lockbox? Like a lot of people we have a lot of important information on our computers, and have a lot of files that we don't want backed up in the cloud, but want to preserve. Everything from our personally ripped media, family pictures, important documents, etc.. We are considering BluRay, HDD, and SSD but wanted to ask the Slashdot community what they would do. So, in 2015, what technology (or technologies!) would you employ to best ensure your data's long-term survival? Where would you put that lockbox?
Programming

Ask Slashdot: Is Pascal Underrated? 492

Posted by timothy
from the let's-make-a-wager dept.
An anonymous reader writes In the recent Slashdot discussion on the D programming language, I was surprised to see criticisms of Pascal that were based on old information and outdated implementations. While I'm sure that, for example, Brian Kernighan's criticisms of Pascal were valid in 1981, things have moved on since then. Current Object Pascal largely addresses Kernighan's critique and also includes language features such as anonymous methods, reflection and attributes, class helpers, generics and more (see also Marco Cantu's recent Object Pascal presentation). Cross-platform development is fairly straightforward with Pascal. Delphi targets Windows, OS X, iOS and Android. Free Pascal targets many operating systems and architectures and Lazarus provides a Delphi-like IDE for Free Pascal. So what do you think? Is Pascal underrated?
Input Devices

Ask Slashdot: Where Can You Get a Good 3-Button Mouse Today? 431

Posted by timothy
from the hiding-with-the-egg-cream dept.
guises writes Ever since mouse wheels were introduced the middle mouse button has been sidelined to an inadequate click-wheel function, or in some cases ditched altogether. This has never sat well with me, a proper middle button is invaluable for pasting, games, and navigation. More than that, my hand categorically rejects two button mice — the dangling ring finger causes me genuine physical discomfort. I have begged Logitech on multiple occasions to make just one, among their many screwy specialty mice, to replace the Mouseman which I loved so dearly. I thought for a moment that I had been answered with the g600, only to find that they had put the right mouse button in the middle.

So my question to Slashdot is: where does a person turn for a three button mouse these days? I've only found two, both ergonomic and priced accordingly. I use the Contour and like the shape and wheel position, but would love to find something wireless and with a higher DPI sensor.
Security

Ask Slashdot: Best Anti-Virus Software In 2015? Free Or Paid? 467

Posted by Soulskill
from the what-would-you-put-on-your-grandma's-computer dept.
CryoKeen writes: I got a new laptop recently after trading in my old laptop for store credit. While I was waiting to check out, the sales guy just handed me some random antivirus software (Trend Micro) that was included with the purchase. I don't think he or I realized at the time that the CD/DVD he gave me would not work because my new laptop does not have a CD/DVD player.

Anyway, it got me wondering whether I should use it or not. Would I be better off downloading something like Avast or Malwarebytes? Is there one piece of antivirus software that's significantly better than the others? Are any of the paid options worthwhile, or should I just stick to the free versions? What security software would you recommend in addition to anti-virus?
Programming

Ask Slashdot: Has the Time Passed For Coding Website from Scratch? 302

Posted by samzenpus
from the best-tools-for-the-job dept.
First time accepted submitter thomawack writes As a designer I always do webdesign from scratch and put them into CMSMS. Frameworks are too complicated to work into, their code is usually bloated and adaptable online solutions are/were limited in options. I know my way around html/css, but I am not a programmer. My problem is, always starting from scratch has become too expensive for most customers. I see more and more online adaptive solutions that seem to be more flexible, but I am a bit overwhelmed because there are so many solutions around. Is there something you can recommend?
Android

Ask Slashdot: Can I Trust Android Rooting Tools? 186

Posted by timothy
from the spider-sense dept.
Qbertino writes After a long period of evaluation and weighing cons and pros I've gotten myself a brand new Android tablet (10" Lenovo Yoga 2, Android Version) destined to be my prime mobile computing device in the future. As any respectable freedom-loving geek/computer-expert I want to root it to be able to install API spoofing libraries and security tools to give me owners power over the machine and prevent services like Google and others spying on me, my files, photos, calendar and contacts. I also want to install an ad-blocking proxy (desperately needed — I forgot how much the normal web sucks!). I've searched for some rooting advice and tools, and so far have only stumbled on shady looking sites that offer various Windows-based rooting kits for android devices.

What's the gist on all this? How much of this stuff is potential malware? What are your experiences? Can I usually trust rooting strategies to be malware-free? Is there a rule-of-thumb for this? Is there perhaps a more generic way for a FOSS/Linux expert who isn't afraid of the CLI to root any Android 4.4 (Kitkat) device? Advice and own experiences, please.
Input Devices

Ask Slashdot: What Tablet and Software For a Partially Sighted Person? 63

Posted by timothy
from the real-world-stories-welcome dept.
RobHart (70431) writes My friend has had both retinas detach, twice. He is legally blind but partially sighted. He has a number of devices that help him read (either by magnifying the text or as text to speech) — but none are really portable. What do Slashdotters recommend (if anything) in terms of a tablet and software that will make it possible for him to do email and read at least some web sites?
Networking

Ask Slashdot: Migrating a Router From Linux To *BSD? 403

Posted by timothy
from the hiring-a-new-traffic-cop dept.
An anonymous reader writes I'm in the camp that doesn't trust systemd. You can discuss the technical merits of all init solutions all you want, but if I wanted to run Windows NT I'd run Windows NT, not Linux. So I've decided to migrate my homebrew router/firewall/samba server to one of the BSDs. Question one is: which BSD? Question two: where's some good documentation regarding setting up a home router/firewall on your favorite BSD?
It's fine if the documentation is highly technical, I've written linux kernel drivers before :)
Databases

Ask Slashdot: Linux Database GUI Application Development? 264

Posted by timothy
from the now-make-yours-look-like-mine dept.
New submitter msubieta writes I have been developing some applications to use in small businesses using Windows and SQL Server. I would like to move on and start doing the same thing in Linux. I have looked at several Frameworks/Databases/Development environments and I really don't know what is the best/simplest/fastest to learn approach. I use VS and C# mostly, although I could easily go back to C++. I found Qt and GTK+ are the most common frameworks, but they seem to lack controls that deal with datasets and stuff (sorry, spoiled by the .net form controls), but I also know that I could use Mono in order to make the jump. I would have no problem on moving to MySQL, as I have done quite a lot of work on that side, and I would like to stick with the traditional client server application, as I find it easier to maintain, and a whole lot more robust when it comes to user interaction (web apps for POS applications don't seem to be the right way to go in my view). Any suggestions/comments/recommendations?
Technology

Ask Slashdot: Sounds We Don't Hear Any More? 790

Posted by Soulskill
from the satisfying-click-of-the-turbo-button dept.
J. L. Tympanum writes: While discussing music with my 24-year old son, the Typewriter Song (Leroy Anderson) came up. Within 10 seconds he had it playing on his laptop, but he didn't really get the joke because he had never seen a typewriter, nor heard the characteristics sounds — the clack of the keys, the end-of-line bell, the zip of the carriage return — that the typewriter makes. What other sounds do we not hear any more? More points for the longer they lasted (typewriters were around for over a century).
Hardware Hacking

Ask Slashdot: Options For Cheap Home Automation? 189

Posted by timothy
from the fan-blows-out-the-candles dept.
New submitter goose-incarnated writes I'm looking at cheap and simple home automation. Unfortunately I'm not too clued up on what my options are. There are such a wide array of choices, none of which seem (to me) to be either cheap or simple. I'd like to: Turn switches on/off (lights, wall sockets, general relays, etc); Read the status of on/off switches; Read analog samples (for example, temperature sensors); 'Program' switches based on analog samples/existing switches (for example, program a relay to come on at 30C and go off at 25C, thereby controlling the temperature); Similarly, program switches to go on/off at certain times; Record the samples of analog or digital inputs for a given time . I'd like to do the above using smartphone+bluetooth (for when I'm in the vicinity of the room), or smartdevice+WiFi (for when I'm in the house, somewhere), or even in a pinch, using HTTP to access a server at home from 600km away (which is what I'm willing to do). I'm definitely not willing to stream all my requests/data/responses through a third-party so third party cloud subscription solutions, even if free, are out of the question. Finally (because I know the Slashdot crowd likes a challenge :-)), I'd like something that is easily reprogrammable without having to compile code, then reflash a device, etc. What languages for embedded devices exist for home automation programming, if any. A quick google search reveals nothing specially made for end-users to reprogram their devices, but, like I said above, I'm clueless about options.
Portables

Ask Slashdot: High-Performance Laptop That Doesn't Overheat? 325

Posted by Soulskill
from the chestnut-roasters dept.
AqD writes: Last year we started to replace business/multimedia-grade laptops with gaming laptops at work, after several years of frustration with overheating and throttling issues that plagued our laptops from Acer, ASUS, Dell, Lenovo, and basically every brand you can find on market, making it impossible to write code and run db/test environment all on the same laptop.

The first new batch comes from Clevo because their gaming laptops don't look like gaming laptops, and they offer 3-6 disk slots which we badly need. The result is acceptable, however, not quite as good as I had expected. Mine has i7-4700mq CPU which is more or less equivalent to an older i7 on the desktop, but its temperature is raised to 70-80C while turbo boost is on, even with the best thermal paste. My friend's i7-4801mq is worse — it could never stay at the advertised 3.6GHz for more than a few seconds before it burns up over 90 and starts to throttle. Its benchmark result is nearly identical to the 4700mq because of heat problems. And it's only 3.6GHz! The best i7 CPU on a desktop could easily run closer to 5GHz with 6 cores / 12 threads running!

So what should we choose next time? We're not looking for something cool or slim or light. We need real laptops which can at least run prime calculation at advertised turbo boost speed, full cores/threads for an entire day. A nice bonus would be manual fan control plus easy access to the fan for cleaning.
Input Devices

Ask Slashdot: Linux Distro For Hybrid Laptop? 210

Posted by Soulskill
from the half-man-half-penguin dept.
Steve Parrish writes: I needed a new laptop and found a great deal on an Asus Transformer TP500L. It's one of the laptops where you can flip the screen back and use it as a tablet. I'd like to replace Windows 8.1, and I'm having a difficult time finding a Linux distro that will work on it. I'm familiar with Mint, SolydX, and older Ubuntu versions. I tried the latest Ubuntu with Unity and didn't like it, but the OS installed with only a few minor issues. Has anyone tried any other distros on a hybrid laptop with a touchscreen? I've used Linux for several years, but I'm no guru -- I'm not comfortable with the command line or other advanced workings. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Programming

Ask Slashdot: Are Progressive Glasses a Mistake For Computer Users? 464

Posted by timothy
from the you-mean-socialist-glasses dept.
An anonymous reader writes I'm a daily, all-day computer user and use two 19-inch monitors for my work. I'm at the age now where I need reading glasses, and my optometrist steered me to progressive lenses. I don't need any correction for distance, only reading. I'm trying very hard to get used to them, but I hate them. The focal point seems to be about 1 inch big, with everything around that blurry. Reading books on my iPad is a struggle; I have to turn my head side to side simply to keep the line of text in focus, and when I do that, the page warps and flow in a dizzying manner. I don't think reading should be like watching a tennis match. And using my two monitors at work? Hopeless and frustrating! Has anybody here who uses either very large or multiple computer monitors figured out how to comfortably use progressive glasses? Or are they simply inappropriate for this kind of use?
Cloud

Ask Slashdot: Best Options For a Standalone Offline Printing Station? 190

Posted by timothy
from the your-baby-has-printing-pains dept.
An anonymous reader writes My father is considering a Chromebook, but there is a problem: He occasionally wants to print. Chrome OS only talks to physical printers by Google Cloud Print, so the printer has to be online one way or another. But my father wants to surf over 3G, so he has no network infrastructure. Now what are the best options for a standalone printing station that works offline? I have a Raspberry Pi and a small touch display that I could spare, how about I prepared some scripts and called that the dedicated printing computer? Then what printers have ARM drivers available? Does anybody know a consumer-grade or small-office-grade printer that can print ordinary PDF docs directly from flash drives or memory cards? I have looked, but could not find one yet. The devices I found that print PDF docs directly only do so if the docs were made by the (proprietary) printer-related software or the printer itself. There are ways to turn PDF docs into series of JPG files. A lot of ordinary printers can print JPG files directly from flash media, should my father stick with this option? Also, what are secondary options in case the offline printing station does not work out? Should he consider buying a 3G-capable WiFi router (there are enough available) and set up a home network, then use Google Cloud Print? Should I just send my father to a copy shop? Or should he simply forget about the Chromebook and get an ordinary laptop with a common OS that can talk to printers by USB?
Botnet

Ask Slashdot: What Should We Do About the DDoS Problem? 312

Posted by Soulskill
from the build-another-internet-and-don't-tell-the-hackers dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Distributed denial of service attacks have become a big problem. The internet protocol is designed to treat unlimited amounts of unsolicited traffic identically to important traffic from real users. While it's true DDoS attacks can be made harder by fixing traffic amplification exploits (including botnets), and smarter service front ends, there really doesn't seem to be any long term solution in the works. Does anyone know of any plans to actually try and fix the problem?
Technology

Ask Slashdot: What Tech Companies Won't Be Around In 10 Years? 332

Posted by Soulskill
from the those-who-fail-to-adapt dept.
An anonymous reader writes: It's interesting to look back a decade and see how the tech industry has changed. The mobile phone giants of 10 years ago have all struggled to compete with the smartphone newcomers. Meanwhile, the game console landscape is almost exactly the same. I'm sure few of us predicted Apple's rebirth over the past decade, and many of us thought Microsoft would have fallen a lot further by now. With that in mind, let's make some predictions. What companies aren't going to make it another 10 years? Are Facebook, Twitter, and the other social networking behemoths going to fade as quickly as they arose? What about the heralds of the so-called 'sharing economy,' like Uber? Are IBM and Oracle going to hang on? Along the same lines, what companies do you think will definitely stick around for another decade or more? Post your predictions for all to see. I'll buy you a beer in 10 years if you're right.
Christmas Cheer

Ask Slashdot: Best Wireless LED Light Setup for 2015? 68

Posted by timothy
from the don't-actually-jump-start-them dept.
An anonymous reader writes I want to get a jump-start on next year's Christmas by wiring up my mother's gnome garden for a Christmas light show. I need a setup that can use wireless LED lights and speakers, the lights using a custom sequence set to music, that can be controlled remotely indoors to go off on a schedule, say every hour. Do you know of an off-the-shelf setup that is cheap and works seamlessly, especially for someone with little to no coding or custom building experience?