New submitter Guru Jim writes "Our company is currently looking at our incentives program and are wondering what is out there that helps motivate IT workers. We have engineers/sys admins as well as developers. With both teams, we have guns who are great and really engaged in looking after the customers, but some of the team struggle. Sometimes it is easy to say that there isn't too much work on and goof off and read Slashdot all day. This puts more pressure on some of the team. Management is being more proactive in making sure the work is shared equally, but we are wondering what can be out there that is more carrot than stick? We already have cake day, corporate massage day, bonuses for exams and profit share, but what is out there that is innovative and helps build a great workplace?" If you're reading this, the odds are good that you work in or around IT (or hope to); what would you most like to see your workplace implement?
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b1tbkt writes "I live at the corner of one of the busiest intersections in my city (pop. 350k). Although I've replaced all windows, insulated, and caulked every square inch of the place, the fire trucks and cars with obnoxious stereos still regularly intrude on my home office. Most of the noise comes in through the windows. I'm considering mounting an oblong parabolic reflector in the ceiling above the windows with a steady feed of white or brownian noise directed into it (e.g., via a small speaker placed within the reflector) to create a 'wall' of sound that would act as a buffer to the outside world. Active noise cancellation would be nice, too, but that's probably more than I want to take on. I don't see any products on the market for this sort of thing. Does anyone have any experiences to share with similar homebrew noise remediation efforts?"
colinneagle writes "Linux dude Bryan Lunduke blogged here about the top three approaches he thinks are the easiest for new users to pick up Linux. Lunduke's, for example, went Ubuntu -> Arch -> openSUSE. It raises a question that Slashdot could answer well in the comments: what's your distro use order from beginning to now? Maybe we could spot some trends."
New submitter billius writes "I was recently hired (along with another guy) as a web developer at a large university. Our job is to build tools to support the social science researchers on our team. When I got here the codebase was an unholy mess: the formatting was terrible, there were .bak files scattered everywhere and there was no version control system in place. We quickly went to work cleaning things up and implementing new features. My boss was so pleased with our work that she took us out to lunch. During lunch, she asked us if there were any additional tools we needed to do our job more efficiently. We both told her that version control was an invaluable tool for any kind of software development, but had a difficult time describing to her what exactly version control was. I attempted to explain that it created a log of all the changes made to the code and allowed us to make sure that multiple developers working on the same project would not step on each other's toes. I don't think we really got through to her and a few weeks passed with us hearing nothing. Today we were asked by another supervisor if we needed any additional tools and we went through the same spiel about version control. She suggested that we try to write up a brief description of what we wanted and how much it would cost, but I'm drawing a blank an how exactly to describe version control to a person who isn't very technical, let alone a developer. Does anyone out there have any tips on how to sell version control to management?"
New submitter J0n45 writes "I will soon be traveling to mainland China. While I'm only a tourist, I will still be working freelance for a company back home. I know for a fact that a large amount of the websites I need to have access to on a daily basis for business reasons are censored by the Great Firewall of China. I have been using the Tor Browser for a while now for personal purposes. However Tor has been blocked by China. I was wondering if a personal proxy (connected to a computer back home) would do the trick. Would I be too easily traceable? Basically, I'm wondering if I need to try random public proxies until I find one that works or if there are any other options. What does Slashdot think?"
First time accepted submitter taz346 writes "I got a Bachelor's degree 30 years ago, but I recently started back to college to get an Associate's degree. Most of the core courses are already covered by my B.A. but one that I didn't take way back when was Introduction to Computing. I am taking that now but have been very disappointed to find that it is really just Introduction to Microsoft Office 2010. That's actually the name of the (very expensive) textbook. It is mindless, boring and pretty useless for someone who's used PCs for about 20 years. But beyond that, why does it have to be all about MS Office and nothing else? Couldn't they just teach people to create documents, etc., and let them use any office software, like Libre Office? It seems to me that would be more useful; students would learn how to actually create things on their computers, not just follow step-by-step commands from a dumbed-down book about one piece of increasingly expensive software. I know doing it the way they do now is easy for the college, but it's not really teaching students much about what they can do with computers. So when the class is over, I plan to write a letter to the college asking them to change the course as I suggested above. I'm not real hopeful, but what the heck. Do folks out there have any good suggestions as to what might be the most persuasive arguments I can make?"
First time accepted submitter paperclipman writes "I'm on the college student budget and want to make sure that my recent investment in an Acer laptop will last me a good long while. I like to think of myself as a reasonably competent CPU user so I'm no adventurous link-clicker, but I do download some music as a recent SoundCloud devotee. My Kaspersky antivirus will be expiring shortly and I don't particularly care to renew with that steep of a fee — any advice from fellow thrifts?"
szyzyg writes "I've created some popular science videos showing how asteroid discoveries have happened over the last few decades. However I've run into a problem with a religious organization which borrowed my video and redubbed it to promote their religious message. Ultimately I filed a DMCA takedown request via YouTube's site, it's as easy as filling in a form and the video was removed. But this organization has since submitted a counterclaim claiming 'under penalty of perjury' that they do in fact have the rights to this work, and YouTube has reinstated the video. It looks like the only way I can pursue this further is to spend the money to take the organization to court and get an injunction, but even if I did so I'd have to pay court costs up front and since they're based in another country I'd have a difficult time actually collecting any money from the other party. It feels like this other group is simply gambling that I won't spend the time and resources to take further legal action, the DMCA is supposed to provide equal protection but the more lawyer you have the more 'equal' you are. So does anyone have any suggestions for how I should proceed here?"
Hork_Monkey writes "I recently sustained a severe injury to one of my arms, and am lucky not to be an amputee. I'm an avid gamer (primarily PC, but also XBox) and looking for advice one how to adapt to the challenge now presented of enjoying one of my favorite pastimes. My google-fu has led me to some devices and tips, but I wanted to tap the collective while experimenting. I know there have to be some readers in similar positions who could provide some guidance. I'm figuring a few things out, and also hope to share what I find for others in a similar situation."
mtcups writes "I am a musician/IT guy whose hearing has suffered from VERY LOUD guitar players, (yes I do use earplugs now, but too late), and am faced with the outrageously priced hearing aids $4.5K+/pair and was appalled at their lack of integration with smart phones. It seems obvious to me that I should be able to control the hearing aids via a smart phone interface so I can shape the profile for different environments, and also control features like 'hearing loops' and Bluetooth connections. I have done some research, but my guess is that the hearing aid companies want proprietary systems and don't want a smartphone interface since they would loose control and it would allow for competition for cheaper & better programs. I am not convinced that a combination of good ear-buds, good microphone(s), and a smartphone interface couldn't totally replace these overpriced solutions."
An anonymous reader writes "I'm in the position to direct (or at least suggest the direction of) a fairly large amount of charitable donation on behalf of a foundation interested in promoting education. As a lifelong geek, I'd like to see some of this money directed toward organizations involved in things geeks-like (e.g. spreading technology in education to those without it, improving the use of technology for those who have it, etc.). If it was up to you, what charitable organizations would you support and why?"
An anonymous reader writes "I am tasked with developing a service project to teach students in a Bangladeshi village how to type. The school has about 500 students, 12 computers donated to them in 2006, and a limited electricity supply. The students will be given job placement opportunities at a local firm in the city once they reach a certain proficiency. Therefore, we are trying to teach as many of them typing skills as possible. The problem: limited electricity, limited computers, many kids. I have some additional funding collected through donations. Instead of buying more computers, I am looking for a cost effective way that does not need a steady flow of electricity. I realize that to teach typing, I do not need a computer. I could achieve the same using a keyboard connected to a display. A solar powered calculator is a perfect example of a cheap device which has a numpad for input and an LCD for display. But so far I have not come across a device that has a qwerty keyboard and an LCD to display what's typed. I know there are some gaming keyboards that have LCDs built in but they are quite expensive. I am aiming to build a device that cost below USD 50. I considered using typewriters but they are in limited supply on the market. I also considered OLPC but it is double my anticipated budget. Do you have other suggestions?" Considering that (at least in China) sub-$50 Android tablets with capacitive screens are already here, I wish the Alphasmart line was cheaper, but apparently it currently starts at $169.
First time accepted submitter nastav writes "Now that I'm eagerly awaiting the delivery of my new shiny iPhone 5, I'm faced with a dilemma — SquareTrade, Applecare Plus, or some other insurance option? I have used SquareTrade in the past for my iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 (I skipped iPhone 4S). It provided Accidental Damage Handling (ADH) for the iPhone before Apple introduced its own version of ADH. I've had the opportunity to file claims with SquareTrade multiple times, and they handled it quickly and professionally each time. Now that there is a product from Apple itself, I'm not sure which one to get. They are priced similarly (~$100 for a two-year plan, $50 deductible for each ADH incident) Apple limits the number of ADH claims to two, whereas SquareTrade (AFAIK) limits the number of claims to the 'value of the product,' which translates to approx. 600 USD in coverage (or about 4 ADH claims). I've tried reading many comparison articles on the internet without definitive answers. I'm hoping that the tech-savvy folks on Slashdot would help out with a discussion on pros and cons of each, and perhaps add other options into the mix."
An anonymous reader writes "I'm starting my Ph.D in psychology this year and plan to finance this period with IT freelance work, mostly building websites with Drupal and setting up Linux networks, servers, etc.. Now I have a little problem: Since I never studied ICT nor followed a course that resulted in a certificate, I can only prove my knowledge by actually doing stuff or showing what I've done so far. Unfortunately that isn't always sufficient to convince potential customers. So I was wondering what other slashdotters do. Are there any free or cheap alternatives to get certificates or other more convincing ways to prove your IT knowledge?"
Razgorov Prikazka writes "There is a lot of technology involved in sailing these days. EPIRB, FHV-DSC, GPS, NAVTEX, Inmarsat, fishfinders/depth sounders, different kinds of radar (with MARPA or ATA) — you name it and there are dozens of manufacturers out there willing to provide, all of them with a range of different products. Right now I am planning a 'round-the-world-trip,'' and my ship (an 18-meter Skerry Cruiser sailing yacht) is in its early construction phase, so I need to shop for some hi-tech gear and, basically, I got lost in all the possibilities. What kind of hardware would you recommend as necessary for a trip of this kind? What would you have installed in your ship in order to have a safe trip?"