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DRM

Ask Slashdot: Are There Any Good Reasons For DRM? 684

Posted by Soulskill
from the keeps-you-from-accidentally-playing-bad-games dept.
centre21 writes "Having been on Slashdot for several years, I've seen a lot of articles concerning DRM. What's most interesting to me are the number of comments condemning DRM outright and calling for the abolishing DRM with all due prejudice. The question I have for the community: is there ever a time when DRM is justified? My focus here is the aspect of how DRM protects the rights of content creators (aka, artists) and helps to prevent people freely distributing their works and with no compensation. How would those who are opposed to DRM ensure that artists will get just compensation for their works if there are no mechanisms to prevent someone from simply digitally copying a work (be it music, movie or book) and giving it away to anyone who wants it? Because, in my eyes, when people stop getting paid for what they do, they'll stop doing it. Many of my friends and family are in the arts, and let me assure you, one of the things they fear most isn't censorship, it's (in their words), 'Some kid freely distributing my stuff and eliminating my source of income.' And I can see their point. So I reiterate, to those who vehemently oppose DRM, is there ever a time where DRM can be a force for good, or can they offer an alternative that would prevent the above from happening?"
Open Source

Ask Slashdot: How Do You Assess the Status of an Open Source Project? 110

Posted by Soulskill
from the say-its-name-three-times-in-front-of-a-mirror-site dept.
Chrisq writes: "Our software landscape includes a number of open source components, and we currently assume that these components will follow the same life-cycle as commercial products: they will have a beta or test phase, a supported phase, and finally reach the end of life. In fact, a clear statement that support is ended is unusual. The statement by Apache that Struts 1 has reached end of life is almost unique. What we usually find is:
  • Projects that appear to be obviously inactive, having had no updates for years
  • Projects that are obviously not going to be used in any new deployments because the standard language, library, or platform now has the capability built in
  • Projects that are rapidly losing developers to some more-trendy alternative project
  • Projects whose status is unclear, with some releases and statements in the forums that they are 'definitely alive,' but which seem to have lost direction or momentum.
  • Projects that have had no updates but are highly stable and do what is necessary, but are risky because they may not interoperate with future upgrades to other components.

By the treating Open Source in the same way as commercial software we only start registering risks when there is an official announcement. We have no metric we can use to accurately gauge the state of an open source component — but there are a number of components that we have a 'bad feeling' about. Are there any standard ways of assessing the status of an open source project? Do you use the same stages for open source as commercial components? How do you incorporate these in a software landscape to indicate at-risk components and dependencies?"

Hardware

Ask Slashdot: Setting Up a System Integration Room At VAR? 70

Posted by timothy
from the don't-forget-all-the-little-screwdrivers dept.
o2binbuzios writes "Due to an office move, I have a chance to do a clean-sheet design for an integration room at a fairly large VAR ($100M+ ). I'm looking for some ideas or best practice to support 100-120 square meters (~50 x 30 ft). I'm particularly interested in ideas around efficient workflow, ways to manage cabling and electrical, and 'environmental' solutions that make it a pleasant place to work. There will be a central bench with 6-8 stations (3-4 per side) with engineers and techs who may be configuring stacks of up to 10 devices at a time that could range from servers, to network elements, to SAN & NAS devices and more. I've been looking for a paper that seems like it must exist — but I'm happy to gather good ideas one at a time or in bunches here on Slashdot."
The Internet

Ask Slashdot: Do You Move Legal Data With Torrents? 302

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-seed-randomly-generated-text-files dept.
An anonymous reader writes "We've recently seen a number of interesting projects come from bittorrent.com, including Sync and SoShare. I sometimes use torrents to move several GB of data, especially when pushing large bundles to multiple destinations. It's mostly a hodgepodge of open source tools, though. Apart from anecdotes and info from bittorrent.com, details are thin on the ground (e.g. the Blizzard Downloader). I have two questions for the Slashdot community. 1) Do you use BitTorrent to move data? If so, how? i.e. What kind of data and what's the implementation? 2) If you've looked at torrent clients/tools, what's missing in the open source ecosystem that would make it more useful for moving around large blobs of data?"
Books

Ask Slashdot: Science Books For Middle School Enrichment? 203

Posted by timothy
from the summer-reading-time-approaches dept.
new submitter heybiff writes "It is the time of year where students are scrambling for extra credit assignments to boost grades. As a middle school science teacher, I want to accommodate them, while still keeping science involved; and book reports are a popular activity in my school. Unfortunately, I have only been able to come up with a short list of science related books that a 11-14 year old would or could read in their free time: Ender's Game, Hitchhiker's Guide. What books would you recommend as a good read for an extra credit book report, that would still involve a strong science twist or inspire a student's interest in science? The book must be in print, science related, fiction or non-fiction, and not be overtly objectionable or outright banned. I look forward to the submissions." "Outright banned" actually seems a rich vein on which to draw; note that not even Ender's Game is safe.
Crime

Ask Slashdot: How To Track a Skype Account Hijacker? 152

Posted by timothy
from the hi-from-indonesia dept.
An anonymous reader writes "My Skype account was hijacked, which I discovered after Skype suspended it for suspicious activity, including a number of paid calls and an attempt to debit my card. Now that I've secured the account again, I can see the call history — there are several numbers called in Senegal, Mali, Benin and Philippines. Obviously I could call them myself and create a bit of havoc in their lives, but ideally I'd like to trace the hijacker himself — perhaps with some kind of 'social engineering' approach. Or is it just a waste of time?" How would you do this, and would you bother?
Open Source

Ask Slashdot: Service-Heavy FOSS Hosting? 75

Posted by timothy
from the for-work-and-play dept.
An anonymous reader writes "For many of us our hosting providers are a way to hone our skills as well as run a business. Which provider out there gives the best bang for the buck for a FOSS developer? Virtually everybody provides Perl, PHP, Ruby, MySQL / MariaDB etc. but where can one get easy and cheap access to a stuff like NodeJS and Big Data? Companies such as Pair Networks are great but not quite on the mark with any of their service offerings for somebody looking to test out real world scenarios with these technologies from a hosted stance. Obviously hosting from home is always an option but that has the penalty of administration, backup, DR planning, bigger security footprint etc. and for those of us whose time is balanced between making money and friends / family time that's not very appealing."
Education

Localized (Visual) Programming Language For Kids? 185

Posted by timothy
from the because-english-sometimes-sucks dept.
First time accepted submitter jimshatt writes "I want my kids to play around with programming languages. To teach them basic concepts like loops and subroutines and the likes. My 8-year-old daughter in particular. I've tried Scratch and some other visual languages, but I think she might be turned off by the English language. Having to learn English as well as a programming language at the same time might be just a little too much. I'd really like to have a programming language that is easy to learn, and localized or localizable. Preferably cross-platform, or browser-based, so she can show her work at school (Windows) as well as work on in at home (Debian Linux). By the way, she speaks Dutch and Danish, so preferably one of those languages (but if it's localizable I can translate it myself). Any suggestions?"
Politics

Ask Slashdot: What Planks Would You Want In a Platform of a Political Party? 694

Posted by Soulskill
from the mandatory-pi-day-celebration dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I am the Technology Manager of the Justice Party (sorry, no relationship to the Avengers). We are currently working on our Platform (version 2.0) and I would be interested to know what people in the science and technology field would like to see in a platform of a political party. For example, we are considering planks that relate to Open Government (data) access, science and maths promotion, space industries, promotion of open source, dealing with SOPA/ CISPA laws, improvement in user privacy and much more. Give us your comments so we can help build a more tech-savvy America."
Entertainment

Ask Slashdot: What Magazines Do You Still Read? 363

Posted by Soulskill
from the in-related-news,-magazines-apparently-still-exist dept.
AmiMoJo writes "Over on Slashdot Japan, there is a discussion about what magazines people still read (Google translation of Japanese original). Japanese people still tend to read a lot of periodicals, while in the west readership seems to be in decline. Do you read magazines regularly, or at all? Are websites a good substitute, or do print publications still offer something worth spending your cash on?"
Data Storage

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

Posted by samzenpus
from the won't-somebody-please-think-of-the-children? dept.
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?"
Java

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

Posted by Soulskill
from the get-up-in-that-there-cloud dept.
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."
Cloud

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

Posted by Soulskill
from the it-is-your-solemn-duty-to-clear-your-departed-best-friend's-browsing-history dept.
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?"
Government

Should California Have Banned Checking Smartphone Maps While Driving? 433

Posted by samzenpus
from the driving-in-circles dept.
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

Posted by timothy
from the vinz-clortho-the-choirmaster dept.
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

Posted by timothy
from the seasonally-appropriate dept.
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."
Businesses

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

Posted by timothy
from the surely-you-have-nothing-to-hide dept.
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?"
Media

Ask Slashdot: Linux Friendly Video Streaming? 147

Posted by timothy
from the chromebox-works-with-netflix-at-least dept.
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?"
Government

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

Posted by Soulskill
from the depends-on-the-kernel-maintainers dept.
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."
Security

Ask Slashdot: Protecting Home Computers From Guests? 572

Posted by timothy
from the quick-name-an-os-that's-never-been-compromised dept.
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?"

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