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Data Storage

Ask Slashdot: What's the Best Way To Preserve a "Digital Inheritance"? 191

First time accepted submitter ron-l-j writes "The last few months a digital inheritance idea has been floating around in my head, and I am sure the thought has crossed your mind as well. With Google talking about the inactive account program it made me wonder, how do I make sure my children get my iTunes, and amazon movies? I have plenty of mp4 movies on my server that will just set itself to admin with no password after I do not log in within a 6 month time frame. But what about the huge amount spent on digital content every year? What's the best way to make sure your "digital inheritance" gets passed down?"

Ask Slashdot: Building a Web App Scalable To Hundreds of Thousand of Users? 274

AleX122 writes "I have an idea for a web app. Things I know: I am not the first person with a brilliant idea. Many others 'inventors' failed and it may happen to me, but without trying the outcome will always be failure. That said, the project will be huge if successful. However, I currently do not have money needed to hire developers. I have pretty solid experience in Java, GWT, HTML, Hibernate/Eclipselink, SQL/PLSQL/Oracle. The downside is project nature. All applications I've developed to date were hosted on single server or in small cluster (2 tomcats with fail-over). The application, if I succeed, will have to serve thousands of users simultaneously. The userbase will come from all over the world. (Consider infrastructure requirements similar to a social network.) My questions: What technologies should I use now to ensure easy scaling for a future traffic increase? I need distributed processing and data storage. I would like to stick to open standards, so Google App Engine or a similar proprietary cloud solution isn't acceptable. Since I do not have the resources to hire a team of developers and I will be the first coder, it would be nice if technology used is Java related. However, when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail, so I am open to technologies unrelated to Java."

Ask Slashdot: What Should Happen To Your Data After You Die? 122

Nerval's Lobster writes "Death is Nature's way of telling you it's time to get off the Internet. But when you finally shuffle off this mortal coil, you leave something behind: all your email and other digital assets. That's a huge problem not only for the deceased — once you're on the wrong side of the Great Beyond, there's no way to delete those incriminating messages — but also any relatives who might want to access your (former) life. And it's a problem Google's seeking to solve with the new Inactive Account Manager. (In an April 11 blog posting, Google product manager Andreas Tuerk suggested that Inactive Account Manager wasn't a 'great name' for the product, but maybe the company shouldn't be so hard on itself: it's a way better name than, say, Google Death Dashboard.) Inactive Account Manager will delete your Google-related data (Gmail, etc.) after a set amount of time, or else send that data to 'trusted contacts' you set up before your untimely demise. Which raises an interesting, semi-Google-related question: What do you want to have happen to your data after you die? Give it to loved ones, or have an automated system nuke it all? Should more companies that host email and data offer plans like Inactive Account Manager?"

Should California Have Banned Checking Smartphone Maps While Driving? 433

Nerval's Lobster writes "According to an appellate court in California, checking your smartphone while driving your Volkswagen (or any other vehicle) is officially verboten. In January 2012, one Steven R. Spriggs was pulled over and cited for checking a map on his smartphone while driving. In a trial held four months later, Spriggs disputed that his action violated California's Section 23123 subdivision (a), which states that a person can't use a phone while driving unless 'that telephone is specifically designed and configured to allow hands-free driving and talking, and is used in that manner while driving.' In short, he argued that the statute was limited to those functions of listening and talking—things he insisted could have been followed to the letter of the law. But the judge ruled that operating a phone for GPS, calling, texting, or whatever else was still a distraction and allowed the conviction to stand. That leads to a big question: with everything from Google Glass to cars' own dashboard screens offering visual 'distractions' like dynamic maps, can (and should) courts take a more active role in defining what people are allowed to do with technology behind the wheel? Or are statutes like California's hopelessly outdated?"
Input Devices

Ask Slashdot: How Can a Blind Singer 'See' the Choirmaster's Baton? 189

New submitter krid4 writes "Question from a blind friend: 'My ears replace my eyes. However, when it comes to the very moment of starting, or the change of tempi, my start will always come too late. Neither tuning in with the voices around me, nor listening to the moment of their breathing-in helps to solve this problem. Fancy that it might be possible to produce tactile pressure or even lines at the top of my right hand, head or body. Even pulses would do, because what finally counts is the moment of the 'beat' produced by the choirmasters baton.' What simple, possibly DIY solutions are possible? It would help many blind chorus singers."
Data Storage

Ask Slashdot: Open Source For Bill and Document Management? 187

Rinisari writes "Since striking out on my own nearly a decade ago, I've been collecting bills and important documents in a briefcase and small filing box. Since buying a house more than a year ago, the amount of paper that I receive and need to keep has increased to deluge amounts and is overflowing what space I want to dedicate. I would like to scan everything, and only retain the papers for things that don't require the original copies. I'd archive the scans in my heavily backed up NAS. What free and/or open source software is out there that can handle this task of document management? Being able to scan to PDF and associate a date and series of labels to a document would be great, as well as some other metadata such as bill amount. My target OS is OS X, but Linux and Windows would be OK."

Ask Slashdot: Dealing With Unwanted But Official Security Probes? 238

An anonymous reader writes "I manage a few computers for an independent private medical practice connected to a hospital network. Recently I discovered repeated attempts to access these computers. After adjusting the firewall to drop connections from the attacking computers, I reported the presumed hacker IP to hospital IT. I was told that the activity was conducted by the hospital corporation for security purposes. The activity continues. It has included attempted fuzzing of a web server, buffer overrun attacks, attempts to access a protected database, attempts to get the password file, etc. The doctors want to maintain a relationship with the hospital and are worried that involving law enforcement would destroy the relationship. What would you advise the doctors to do next?"

Ask Slashdot: Linux Friendly Video Streaming? 147

earthwormgaz writes "I've set up a Linux XBMC + MythTV with FreeView machine for the lounge at home. It works pretty well for Linux, although things crash here and there. The Mrs wants LoveFilm or Netflix, but it seems they're Silverlight and not Linux friendly. Is there anyone doing streaming film and TV with Flash or something else that works on Linux? Failing that, is there anyway to download a film for £4-6 say, as just an AVI file or something, legally?"

Ask Slashdot: Is Making Government More Open and Connected a Good Idea? 73

Nerval's Lobster writes "For quite some time, there's been a theory drifting around that government can be made more open and efficient via the same crowdsourcing and social-networking tools that created such successes out of Facebook, Twitter and Kickstarter. In that spirit, numerous pundits and analysts have advocated the development of 'e-government' or 'government 2.0.' But what if the idea isn't as great as it seems? That's the angle embraced by Evgeny Morozov in a recent essay for The Baffler. Structured as a lengthy takedown of open-source advocate and O'Reilly Media founder Tim O'Reilly, the piece veers off to fire a few torpedoes at the idea of making government more responsive and transparent through technology (the latter being something O'Reilly readily advocates). 'One of the main reasons why governments choose not to offload certain services to the private sector is not because they think they can do a better job at innovation or efficiency,' Morozov writes, 'but because other considerations — like fairness and equity of access — come into play.' If O'Reilly himself argues that a government should be 'stripped down to its core' into a form more transparent and collaboration-friendly, Morozov counters with the idea that the 'participation' envisioned by most government 2.0 scenarios is limited, little better in practice than the comments section at the bottom of a corporate blog posting."

Ask Slashdot: Protecting Home Computers From Guests? 572

An anonymous reader writes "We frequently have guests in our home who ask to use our computer for various reasons such as checking their email or showing us websites. We are happy to oblige, but the problem is many of these guests have high risk computing habits and have more than once infested one of our computers with malware, despite having antivirus and the usual computer security precautions. We have tried using a Linux boot CD but usually get funny looks or confused users. We've thought about buying an iPad for guests to use, but decided it wasn't right to knowingly let others use a computing platform that may have been compromised. What tips do you have to overcome this problem, technologically or otherwise?"

Ask Slashdot: Preparing For the 'App Bubble' To Pop? 240

Niris writes "I am currently a senior in computer science, and am expecting to graduate in December. I have an internship lined up in Android development with medium sized company that builds apps for much larger corporations, and I have recently begun a foray into iOS development. So far my experience with Android ranges from a small mobile game (basically Asteroids), a Japanese language study aid, and a fairly large mobile app for a local non-profit that uses RSS feeds, Google Cloud Messaging and various APIs. I have also recently started working with some machine learning algorithms and sensors/the ADK to start putting together a prototype for a mobile business application for mobile inspectors. My question: is my background diverse enough that I don't have to worry about finding a job if all the predictions that the 'app bubble' will pop soon come true? Is there another, similar area of programming that I should look into in order to have some contingencies in place if things go south? My general interests and experience have so far been in mobile app development with Java and C++ (using the NDK), and some web development on both the client and server side. Thank you!"

Ask Slashdot: How Do I Explain That Humans Didn't Ride Dinosaurs? 278

p00kiethebear writes "I have a wonderful and beautiful girlfriend who treats me right in every way. We've been together for almost a year now and everything seemed to be going perfectly until this morning. Over breakfast we were discussing dinosaurs and she told me a story about how her grandfather, fifty years ago, dated footprints of a dinosaurs and a man that were right next to each other to be within the same epoch of history. I laughed when she said this and then realized that she wasn't joking. She believes dinosaurs and humans walked at the same time together. The odd thing is that she's not religious, it's just what her archaeologist grandfather taught her. More important than just backing up evidence to the contrary, how do I explain this to her without crushing her childhood dreams? Is it even worth discussing it further with her?"

Ask Slashdot: Should Bitcoin Be Regulated? 385

Nerval's Lobster writes "Federal regulators are starting to make noise about Bitcoin, the digital currency that's gained in recognition and value over the past few years: the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) is offering up 'guidance' for digital currency and those who use it as part of commerce. But the Bitcoin Foundation, which is devoted to standardizing and promoting the currency, doesn't like that idea; as Patric Murck, the organization's general counsel, wrote in a March 19 blog posting: 'If FinCEN would like to expand its statutory authority over "money transmitters" to include brand new categories such as "administrators" and "exchangers" of digital currency it must do so through proper rulemaking proceedings and not by fiat.' If Bitcoin continues to gain in value, it could spark a rise in virtual currencies—and force some very interesting discussions over regulation. But here's the question: would regulation actually be good for Bitcoin, if it made organizations and businesses more comfortable with using it as a currency?"

Ask Slashdot: Best Way To Archive and Access Ancient Emails? 282

An anonymous reader writes "I started using email in the early 90s and have lost most of that first decade due to ignorance, botched backups, and so on. But since about 2000, I've got most — if not all — of my email in some form or other. I run Linux, so this has mainly been in a mix of various programs: Kmail, Evolution, Thunderbird. The past 2-3 years are still on the IMAP servers. My problem is that I only rarely NEED to look back to email of 5 years ago. But sometimes it's nice. Or I just want to reminisce about something...or find an old attachment that I was sent. But I do not want to be clogging my current email client of choice with vast backups and even more, I don't know if it will even easily convert. The file structures are different, some are mbox, others maildir, etc., and I would ideally like a way to 1) store and archive these emails, 2) access them, and 3) search by Sender, Subject, Date, Attachments. Is there anything I can do or do I just have to keep legacy applications on hand for this? Should I keep trying to upgrade and pull old files into the new applications? Any help or suggestions about what YOU do would be great."

Ask Slashdot: Encrypted Digital Camera/Recording Devices? 285

Ransak writes "As we hear more and more about dashboard cameras catching unplanned events, I've thought of equipping my vehicles with them just in case that 'one in a billion' moment happens. But given the level of overreach law enforcement has shown, I'd only consider one if I could be assured that the data was secure from prying eyes (e.g., a camera that writes to encrypted SD memory). Are there any solutions for the niche market of the paranoid photographer/videographer?"

Ask Slashdot: Enterprise Bitcoin Mining For Go-Green Initiatives? 312

Supp0rtLinux writes "Bitcoins are currently trading around $75. I work for a very large organization. We have a fairly large HPC that is usually about 50% idle, as well as about 18K desktops on 4 campuses connected with dark fiber. All stay on 24x7 for after-hours AV scans (weekly) and backups (2-3x a week). All are leases that refresh every 2 years so all have fairly good CPU & RAM specs. As part of a go-green initiative a proposal has come up to use all the PCs for bitcoin in our own mining group; sort of like SETI-at-home style, but with a real dollar value return to us. Additionally, we would setup a queue in our HPC that dedicates 30% to BC mining when in use and up to 99.5% when no other jobs are running. The thought is that all the PCs are on 24x7 anyway and consuming resources so why not allow them to be useful 24x7 as well and generate bitcoins which can then be sold to offset the electrical costs of the running equipment and/or possibly even make a little profit. The guy with the idea says its a no-lose situation as if the price of bitcoins drops to below a certain level and is no longer a financially viable option, we simply stop the mining process. I'm curious what the Slashdot community thinks of this? " Read on for a few more details.

Ask Slashdot: Do-It-Yourself Security Auditing Tools? 116

An anonymous reader writes "I'm a 'prosumer' website builder, have a few sites that are mainly hobbies, but I would like to know that they're at least fairly robust. I'm thinking of the equivalent of a 'dental clinic' — where someone interested in the white hat security field might be willing to take on an audit for the experience and to build a resume. Or, tools such as websites that let you put in a password and see how long it takes to crack it. Or sites where you can put in a URL and it gets poked and prodded by a number of different cracker tools and a 'score' is given. Ideally with suggestions on how to improve. Does anything like that exist? I'm not talking FBI/CIA level security, but just common-sense basics. I've tried to use techniques that improve security, but I don't know how well they work. And I've realized that in the ever growing, fast changing field of computers I'm not going to ever get the knowledge I need to do this myself. I know there are software suites that allow you to sniff and test things on your own, but I'm afraid it's overwhelmingly foreign to me and I just feel like I can't reliably do this myself. Any ideas?"

Ask Slashdot: Why Buy a Raspberry Pi When I Have a Perfectly Good Cellphone? 273

scorp1us writes "I've been looking into getting a Raspberry Pi, but I end up needing a case, a display, and some way to power it, and wanting some degree of portability. It seems to me that even the most outdated cellphone has far superior features (screen, touch screen, Wifi, 3g/4g camera(s), battery etc) in a much better form factor. The only thing that is missing are the digital/analog in/out pins. So why not flip it around and make a USB or bluetooth peripheral board with just the pins? I've been looking for this and can't find any, but does anyone know of any in the corners of the internet? I don't care what phone platform."
Operating Systems

Ask Slashdot: New To Linux; Which Distro? 573

An anonymous reader writes "I'm a very new user to Linux looking for a distro that allows me to control and customize, but I'm not sure where to start. I had a friend install Ubuntu 12.04 on my computer, with the E17 window manager and somehow I managed to crash it during the copying of some non-important files and now my computer won't boot (the hardware's fine though). I've found descriptions of Arch Linux to be spot on to what I'm looking for and want (Slashdot user serviscope_minor mentioned Arch a couple weeks ago and it caught my attention), but my experience in the terminal is literally about an hour. That said, I really want to learn more, don't mind hard work, enjoy challenges, and am perfectly willing to spend hours and hours for months on end to learn command line. Any suggestions, projects to start with, books to read, or tutorials to do to try would be appreciated."

Ask Slashdot: Simplifying Encryption and Backup? 148

New submitter FuzzNugget writes "A recent catastrophic hard drive failure has caused me to ponder whether the trade-off between security and convenience with software-based OTFE is worthwhile. My setup involves an encrypted Windows installation with TrueCrypt's pre-boot authentication, in addition to having data stored in a number of TrueCrypt file containers. While it is nice to have some amount of confidence that my data is safe from prying eyes in the case of loss or theft of my laptop, this setup poses a number of significant inconveniences." Read on below; FuzzNugget lists some problems with this set-up, and seeks advice on a simpler system for backing up while keeping things locked down.