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Ask Slashdot: Re-Entering the Job Market As a Software Engineer? 435

First time accepted submitter martypantsROK writes "It's been over 15 years since my main job was a software engineer. Since then I have held positions as a Sales Engineer, then spent a few years actually doing sales as a sales rep (and found I hated it) and then got into teaching. I am still a teacher but I want to really get back into writing code for a living. In the past couple of years I've done a great deal of Javascript, PHP, Ajax, and Java, including some Android apps. So here's the question: How likely would I be to actually get a job writing code? Is continual experience in the field a must, or can a job candidate demonstrate enough current relevance and experience (minus an actual job) with a multi-year hiatus from software development jobs? I'll add, if you haven't already done the math, that I'm over 50 years old."

Best Software For Putting Lectures Online? 126

An anonymous reader writes "I'm trying to help a school put their classes online in the way most minimally invasive to the teachers. A few environmental considerations: They don't always have live internet in the classroom, or I'd just run to Skype. I'm hoping to make it as much one-touch start/stop as possible to start recording, stop recording, and upload to a server. I'd like to believe others here have already done something similar, so if a package or process worked for you, that would be great to hear. Not sure what if it's all PowerPoint lectures, or if they actually use a whiteboard, and if so what the best camera would be to use (on a school budget!)."

Ask Slashdot: Changing Passwords For the New Year? 339

New submitter windcask asks "Every New Year's Day, I assemble and memorize a random collection of seven to ten mixed-case alphanumeric characters and proceed to change every password I have on the interwebs to these characters (plus a few extra characters unique to the site). The problem is I only change them on the sites I visit. Once in a while, I'll come across a site I haven't visited for a few years, and I may end up not being able to guess the password before the try-lockout takes effect. What are your password-changing rituals, and how do they deal with situations like mine? I do use Keepass for work, but it is sometimes impractical for times I'm at other computers."

Ask Slashdot: Best Android Tablet For Travel? 356

PerlJedi writes "I am planing a long trip (to Ireland), and want to buy an Android tablet to take along for the trip. I am a software engineer (I actually work for Slashdot), a Linux geek, and an Android fan. I would like to get a tablet primarily to use for entertainment (when I'm not working or building robots in my workshop, I'm usually playing with my phone), but something I could get some work done from in a pinch would be a major plus (all I need to be able to work is a Web browser, and an ssh terminal, preferably with a keyboard). My current cell phone is the Samsung Charge, rooted and running GummyCharge 2.1, and it is a good bet I'll want to root whatever tablet I get, if not right away, soon after getting it. From an entertainment standpoint I want something that is large enough to watch high definition videos on, with a battery life that will make it practical for use on a long flight. Having a decent camera would be a nice plus, but is not an absolute necessity. Having a forward facing camera for video chat would also be good, but is also not a necessity." PerlJedi's got a few options in mind; read on for the details of his reasoning and help him fulfill his quest.

Justifications For Creating an IT Department? 214

jjoelc writes "This may sound like an odd request, so first some background. I work at a broadcast television station, and I have found it to be very common for IT to be lumped in with the engineering department at many stations. I believe this is mainly because the engineers were the first people in the business to have and use computers in any real capacity, and as the industry moved to file-based workflows it has simply stayed that way. I believe there is a need for IT to be its own department with its own goals, budgets, etc. But I am having a bit of a rough time putting together the official proposal to justify this change, likely because it seems so obviously the way it should be and is done everywhere else. So I am asking for some pointers on the best ways to present this idea to a general manager. What are the business justifications for having a standalone IT department in a small business? How would you go about convincing upper management of those needs? There are approximately 100 employees at the station I am currently at, but we do own another 4 stations in two states (each of these other stations are in the 75-100 employee range). The long term goal would be to have a unified IT department across all 5 stations."

Ask Slashdot: Handing Over Personal Work Without Compensation? 848

rsmith84 writes "I'm the Senior Systems administrator for a small trade college. When I was hired on, it was strictly for L3 related tasks such as advanced server administration, Exchange design and implementation, etc. They have no in-house programmers, no help desk software, and no budget to purchase one. I'm a moderate PHP and MySQL programmer on the side and am easily capable of writing something to meet their needs, but do not believe I should be A) asked to or B) required to, as my job description and employment terms are not based upon this skill set. I like a challenge, and since all of my goals outlined since my hire date have been met and exceeded, I have a lot of down time. So I wrote the application. It streamlines several critical processes, allows for a central repository of FAQ, and provides end users with access to multiple systems all in one place. I've kept a detailed time log of my work and feel I should be remunerated for the work before just handing over the code. The entire source was developed on personal equipment off company hours. My question is: what should I do? If they are willing to compensate me, I will gladly hand it over. However, it's been mentioned that, if I do the project, it is all but guaranteed that I will see no compensation. The application would streamline a lot of processes and take a lot of the burden off my team, freeing them up to handle what I deem to be more challenging items on their respective punch lists and a better utilization of their time and respective skills. I'm a firm believer in not getting 'something for nothing,' especially when the skills are above my pay grade."

Ask Slashdot: Tools For Teaching High School Kids How To Make Games? 237

First time accepted submitter nzyank writes "The other day I bravely (foolishly?) volunteered to conduct a video game development workshop at my boys' HS. This in Smallsville, Vermont with an average graduating class size of about 20. The idea is to meet once a week and actually create a game, start to finish. It will be open to would-be programmers, designers, artists, etc. I worked on a bunch of AAA titles back in the '90s, but I'm pretty much out of touch nowadays and I'm trying to figure out the best approach. The requirements are that it has to be one of either Windows/XBox or Android, since those are the platforms that I am current on. It has to be relatively simple for the kids to get up and running quickly, and it needs to be as close to free as possible. Teaching them to use stuff like Blender, C#, C++, Java, XNA, OpenGL and the Android SDK is probably a bit much. I was thinking of something like the Torque Engine, but they want $1000 for an academic license, which is never going to happen. I simply don't know what's out there nowadays and could really use some suggestions."

Ask Slashdot: Geek-Centric Magazines Still Published On Paper? 125

QwkHyenA writes "I've recently cancelled my Linux Magazine subscription because they went paperless. I know, I'm a heartless geek and should be 'shunned,' but I enjoy the unplugged sensation of reading paper periodicals. What sort of magazines are out there that still are delivered via USPS that will scratch my Engineering, Coder, System Administrator and 3D Printer itch?"

Ask Slashdot: Is E-Learning a Viable Option? 349

An anonymous reader writes "My spouse, who is an elementary school science teacher, has had some experience in e-learning, since her school gave iPads to all the students. She found that students used these devices, not for school purposes like note taking, but for gaming, etc. It got to the point that she banned them from her classroom. Do technology aids help, or hinder, education? Is the idea that students can be home-schooled electronically realistic, or absurd?"

Ask Slashdot: Best Kit For a Home Media Server? 355

First time accepted submitter parkejr writes "I started off building a media library a few years ago with an old PC running Ubuntu. Folders for photos, ogg vorbis music from my CD collection, and x264 encoded mkv movies. I have a high spec machine for encoding, but over the years I've moved the server to a bigger case, with 8 TB of disk capacity, and reverted back to Debian, but still running with the same AMD Sempron processor and 2GB RAM. It's working well, it's also the family mail server, and the kids are starting to use it for network storage, and it runs both link and twonkyserver, but my disks are almost full, and there are no more internal slots. The obvious option to me is to add in a couple of SATA PCI cards, to give me 4 more drives, and buy an externally powered enclosure, but that doesn't feel very elegant. I'm a bit of an amateur, so I'd like some advice. Should I start looking at a rack system? Something that can accommodate, say, 10 3.5" drives (I'm thinking long term, and some redundancy)? Also, what about location — I could run some cat6 to the garage and move it out of the house, in case noise is an issue. Finally, what about file format, file system, and OS/software? I'm currently running with ext3 and Debian Squeeze. Happy with my audio encoding choice, but not sure about x264 and mkv. I'd also consider different media server software, too. Any comments appreciated."
GNU is Not Unix

Ask Slashdot: How Best To Deal With a GPLv2 License Infringement? 240

cultiv8 writes "I am a developer and released some code at one point under GPLv2. It's nothing huge — a small Drupal module that integrates a Drupal e-commerce system (i.e. Ubercart) with multiple accounts — but very useful for non-profits. Earlier today I discovered that a Drupal user was selling the module from their website for $49 and claiming it was their custom-made module. I'm no lawyer, but my perspective is this violates both the spirit and law of GPLv2, most specifically clause 2-b: 'You must cause any work that you distribute or publish, that in whole or in part contains or is derived from the Program or any part thereof, to be licensed as a whole at no charge to all third parties under the terms of this License.' Am I correct in my understanding of GPLv2? Do I have any recourse, and should I do anything about this? I don't care about money, I just don't want someone selling stuff that I released for free. How do most developers/organizations deal with licensing infringements of this type?"
Data Storage

Ask Slashdot: Best Inexpensive VPS Provider? 375

David Greene writes "After many years of waiting for my provider to upgrade DSL service from the measly 1.5 Mbps I have now, I've decided to go another route. Unfortunately, no other provider in the area (Twin Cities) offers static IPs and permission to run servers. I am looking for a VPS solution to host the public parts of my personal site. What can the Slashdot community recommend as a good, inexpensive VPS provider for personal use? This will mainly be hosting a blog and a couple of Free Software projects (wikis, git repositories, etc.). I would prefer something with KVM so I can manage my own OS install but I am open to other options. Root shell access is essential."

Ask Slashdot: Ideal High School Computer Lab? 268

First time accepted submitter dmiller1984 writes "I am a high school computer teacher and I've been put in the unique situation of designing my ideal computer lab since our high school will be undergoing a major expansion over the summer. I thought the Slashdot community might have some great ideas to help me out. I've never liked the lecture hall labs that I've seen in some schools, but I would like some way to get natural light in the room without worrying about glare on the computer screens (skylights, perhaps?). What are some of your ideas for a great computer lab for education?"

Ask Slashdot: Assembling a Linux Desktop Environment From Parts? 357

paxcoder writes "Gnome Shell ... is different. Very much so. The fallback was inadequate. I suspect that many people, like me, turned to the alternatives. My choice was LXDE, which worked ok, until (lx-)panel broke in the unstable branch of the distro that I use. Tired of using the terminal to run stuff, I replaced the standard panel with the one from Xfce. That made me realize that we really don't need a packaged desktop environment, there are pieces ready for assembly. If you customize your graphical environment, what elements do you use? Which window manager, file manager, panel(etc.) would you recommend? Do you have a panel with a hardware usage monitors, how do you switch between workspaces? Anything cool we might not know about?"

Ask Slashdot: Best Open Source License For Guitar? 102

First time accepted submitter PraxisGuitars writes "I am working on developing an open source electric guitar. I wish to make the basic structural system completely open and free, with a standardized interface allowing different body shapes and modules to be bolted on. I am having trouble figuring out the best way to release the files. There seem to be at least half a dozen open source licenses out there; The Thingiverse has some precedent for open source 3d data, but version control seems like it might be difficult. I have looked into sourceforge and github, but don't know enough to know if that would be the best choice. Are there other precedents out there? Is there a better way?"