theodp writes "With all of the content that can be delivered electronically — e-books, music, apps, movies, e-gift cards, tickets — the percentage of Christmas gift giving that's digital is growing each year. However, the e-gift unwrapping user experience on Christmas morning leaves much to be desired. In addition to providing old-school mail delivery of gift cards, Amazon offers a variety of other options, including e-mailing a gift card on a specific day with or without a suggested gift, posting it on someone's Facebook Wall, or allowing you to print one for personal delivery. Another suggestion — using USB drives — harkens back to the days of burning CDs with custom playlists for last-minute gifts, but you'll be thwarted by DRM issues for lots of content. So, until Facebook introduces The Tree to save our e-gifts under until they're 'unwrapped' on Christmas morning with the other physical gifts, how do you plan on handling e-gift giving and getting?"
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
An anonymous reader writes "In fifth grade, I amazed my fellow classmates when I demonstrated what 132 words per minute looked like. Recently, an acquaintance of mine saw me typing out a word document for graduate school and was impressed by my typing abilities. He suggested that I seriously contemplate attempting a Guinness World Record with such abilities. At the moment, I can manage an average of about 155-160 words per minute, with bursts around 180-185 words per minute (in the typing world, five characters defines a word, in case you were wondering). That aside, I have a few questions to pose to Slashdot readers (whom I am sure have been typing much longer than I have): What are some tips to fully maximize one's ability to type at the fastest possible rate? Do you have any specific keyboard recommendations that will improve my speed? Has anybody here ever competed in a typing event or thought about going for the world record? Is it worth learning Dvorak for the sole purpose of attempting such a record? How difficult would it be to improve my typing abilities from where they are now to where they need to be to acquire such a record?"
An anonymous reader writes "Any Slashdot thread about drive failure is loaded with good advice about EOL — but what about the beginning? Do you normally test your new purchases as thoroughly as you test old, suspect drives? Has your testing followed the proverbial 'bathtub' curve of a lot of early failures, but with those that survive the first month surviving for years? And have you had any return problems with new failed drives, because you re-partitioned it, or 'ran Linux,' or used stress-test apps?"
New submitter miserly_content writes "I work in a large, hierarchical technology company. I have been developing technical specs for a new strategic and challenging software project, and the project is slowly gathering steam and support. This is already a career building success for me, and everyone acknowledges my technical capabilities. But the program manager is an MBA-type, and wants to bring in new multiple team leaders and consultants. This is not really a surprise, but I feel we are sliding towards a too-many-chiefs-too-few-indians scenario, especially at this early stage. How can I pitch upper management about this issue, without appearing selfish or disruptive? What positive approach can I try with the PM, with whom I have a good working relationship?"
An anonymous reader writes "Every shop I've ever worked in has had a 'Coding Style' document that dictates things like camelCase vs underscored_names, placement of curly braces, tabs vs spaces, etc. As a result, I've lost hundreds of hours in code reviews because some pedant was more interested in picking nits over whitespace than actually reviewing my algorithms. Are there any documents or studies that show a net productivity gain for having these sorts of standards? If not, why do we have them? We live in the future, why don't our tools enforce these standards automagically?"
First time accepted submitter Bearhouse writes "My Dad amazes me with (a) his longevity & energy, and (b) his continued ability to mess around with electronics stuff. Since he already has things ranging from valve amps made from war-surplus, via an original IBM PC kit to an Android tablet, I was going to buy him a Raspberry Pi for Christmas. Turns out he's already got one. I saw nothing that really got me excited here, so your ideas would be appreciated."
Dishwasha writes "A fellow co-worker of mine turned me on to CubeSat; apparently there are commercial space companies that will launch CubeSat systems from their payload for a modest fee. Is anybody in the /. community involved in amateur microsatellite systems? How would I go about getting involved at an amateur level? Are there any amateur user groups and meetups I can join? I have limited background in all the prerequisites but am eager to learn even if it takes a lifetime. Any links to design and engineering of satellites would be appreciated."
ichimunki writes "I am a mid-career software developer. I am from the Midwestern U.S. and my native language is English. I've studied a few languages over the years, both human and computer. Lately I've begun to wonder what is the best second (human) language for someone in this field to have. Or is there even any practical value in working to become fluent in a non-English language? I am not planning to travel or move/work abroad. But if I knew a second language, would I be able to participate in a larger programming community worldwide? Would I be able to work with those folks in some useful capacity? Perhaps building products for foreign markets?"
CanadianSchism writes "I've been in the public sector for the past 6 years. I started off doing my work study in web design and a bit of support, eventually going through the interview process to fill in a data processing technician post, and getting the job. The first four years of my work life were spent in various schools, fixing computers, implementing new hardware, rolling out updates/ghosting labs, troubleshooting basic network and printer problems, etc. I was eventually asked to work on the administrative information systems with an analyst, which I've been doing for the past 2 years. That's consisted of program support, installing updates to the pay/financial/purchasing/tax/energy systems, taking backups on SQL servers, etc. I've never had the opportunity to take time for myself, and jump back into my first love: programming. I've picked up Powershell books (have two here at the office), but haven't gotten anything down yet, as there are always other projects that come up and whittle my attention to learning a language down to zilch. This new year will see a change in that, however. I'll be setting aside an hour every day to devote to learning a new language, in the eventual hope that I can leave this company (take a sabbatical) and hop into the private sector for a few years. My question to you all is, what language should I start with, to learn and get back into the principles of programming, that will help me build a personal portfolio, but will also lend to learning other languages? At this point, I'm not sure if I'd like to make/maintain custom applications, or if back-end web programming would be more interesting, or any of the other niches out there."
An anonymous reader writes "I run a small dev shop focused on web development, based in Europe. For the past six years we've had lots of successful projects with clients from CEE, Western Europe and the U.S. One of our main clients was based in the U.S. We started working for them in 2008, while they were a 'promising start-up' and everything went smoothly until they were bought by a multinational corp. We couldn't be happier to work for such a big player in the market, andwe even managed to get by with huge payment delays (3-4 months on a monthly contract), but now, after more than two years working for them, I have the feeling we're getting left out. We have six-month-old unpaid invoices and we're getting bounced between the E.U. and U.S. departments every time we try to talk to them. What can a small company do to fight a big corporation that's NASDAQ listed and has an army of lawyers? They've been getting a lot of bad press lately so I don't think that will scare them either."
First time accepted submitter veganboyjosh writes "I got an instant message from an uncle the other day, asking me what was in the link I sent him. I hadn't sent him a link so I figured that his account had been hacked and he'd received a malicious link from some bot address with my name in the 'From' box. This was confirmed when he told me the address the link had come from. When I tried explaining what the link was, that his account had been hacked, and that he should change the password to his @aol.com email account, his response was 'No, I think your account was hacked, since the email came from you.' I went over it again, with a real-life analog of someone calling him on the phone and pretending to be me, but I'm not sure if that sunk in or not. This uncle is far from tech savvy. He's in his 60s, and uses Facebook several times a week. He knows I'm online much more and kind of know my way around. After his initial response, I didn't have it in me to get into the whole 'Never click a link from an unfamiliar email address' bit; to him, this wasn't an unfamiliar email address, it was mine. How do I explain this to him, and what else should I feel responsible for telling him?"
First time accepted submitter michaelknauf writes "I'm running a large summer camp that's primarily concerned with performing arts: music, dance, circus, magic, theater, art, and I want to add some more tech into the program. We already do some iOS game design with Stencyl. We also have an extensive model railroad and remote control car program and a pretty big computer lab (about 100 Apple machines). Our program provides all materials as part of tuition, so I've stayed away from robotics as a matter of cost, but I'd love to buy a 3D printer and do classes with that and the Arduino is cheap enough to make some small electronics projects sensible... where do I find the sort of people who could teach such a program as a summer gig? What projects make sense without spending too much cash on a per project basis but would be cool fun for kids and would teach them?"
yanom writes "I'm currently a high school student using my TI-84 for mathematics courses. It has all the functionality I need (except CAS), but saying that the hardware is dated is putting it nicely. Waiting 4-5 seconds for a simple function to be graphed on its 96x64 screen just makes me want to hurl it at the wall. Recently, I've begun to notice the absurdity of doing my math homework on a 70's era microchip when I have an i7 machine with Linux within arm's reach. I've begun looking for software packages that could potentially replace the graphing calculator's functionality, including Xcas and Maxima, but both lack what I consider basic calculator functionality — xcas can't create a table of values for a function, and maxima can't use degrees, only radians. So, does anyone know of a good software package to replace my graphing calculator (and maybe provide CAS to boot)?"
cayenne8 writes "I've been a staunch advocate of NOT joining Facebook or Twitter or the other social networks to protect my privacy and to not voluntarily give all my personal information away to corporate America, or even the Government. However, I'm beginning to look into making money through various means on the side, one of them being photography/videography. With these mediums, being seen is critically important. Having a business facing site on Facebook/Google+ and even using Twitter can be great for self promotion, and can open up your business to a huge audience. If you were to open your FB and other social network accounts with business ONLY information, and keep your personal information (name, image, etc) off the Facebook account...will this keep your personal privacy still from them, or are their algorithms good enough to piece together who you are from the business only sites? Is the payoff worth the potential trade-off for generating potential customers for your business and guiding them to your primary website?"
First time accepted submitter Uzuri writes "I'm soon going to have the experience of interviewing an individual to be my direct supervisor. I have in mind several things to ask already, especially since I also have the strange position of working as a technical person in a non-technical office and want to be able to be certain that the interviewee understands exactly what that means without coming off as hostile or condescending. What sort of questions would you ask/have you asked the person who was to be your boss? What sort of tells would you look for? What's out of bounds?"