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Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

Bug

What To Do When an Advised BIOS Upgrade Is Bad? 467

Posted by timothy
from the wishful-thinking dept.
Bomarc writes "Twice now I've been advised to 'flash the BIOS to the latest,' once by a (major) hard drive controller maker (RAID); once by an OEM (who listed the update as 'critical,' and has removed older versions of the BIOS). Both times, the update has bricked an expensive piece of equipment. Both times, the response after the failed flash was 'It's not our problem, it's out of warranty.' Given that they recommended / advised that the unit be upgraded, shouldn't they shoulder the responsibility of BIOS upgrade failure? Also, if their design had sockets rather than soldering on parts, one could R/R the faulty part (BIOS chip), rather than going to eBay and praying. Am I the only one that has experienced this type of problem? Have you been advised to upgrade a BIOS (firmware); and the upgrade bricked the part or system? If so, what did you do? Should I name the companies?"
Firefox

Ask Slashdot: Do Most Programmers Understand the English Language? 330

Posted by Soulskill
from the only-if-they've-called-the-right-libraries dept.
Shadoefax writes "I have been developing Firefox add-ons for several years and all so far submitted to AMO have been translated (localized) into several different languages. My latest add-on is geared more to the web developer as opposed to the average web browsing user. (It is a utility for examining JavaScript Objects and their methods and properties.) By my reckoning, I believe JavaScript, HTML, CSS and the DOM are all pretty much designed to be easily understood by English language readers. My question is this: Can I assume that most programmers understand the English language well enough that I may forego localizing the UI? While this will save time, effort and bloat, it may also restrict the usage of (what I hope) is a useful tool for developers."
Operating Systems

Ask Slashdot: Buying a Laptop That Doesn't Have Windows 8 570

Posted by timothy
from the craigslist-if-available dept.
First time accepted submitter Sagan's Pie writes "I'm starting to look for a laptop for college, and the only thing I seem to find are laptops or tablets that have Windows 8. I have used Windows 7 for a long time now, and would not have a problem giving it up, but not for Windows 8. After visiting many major online retail sites, I've found that finding either a Windows 7 laptop, or even a laptop without an operating system is nearly impossible. So where should I go if looking for laptops sans os, or at the very least sans Windows 8?"
Education

Summer Programming Courses Before Heading Off To College? 183

Posted by timothy
from the straight-to-the-army dept.
First time accepted submitter LiteWait writes "My son is heading off to college next year and although he is bright kid with a great background in math and science, he has indicated that he'd like learn some introductory programming skills this summer. The courses at the local universities are pretty sparse and most of the CS101-type courses I've seen offered are too general to meet his needs. Even though he is a self-starter I think he would benefit from actual courses/code camps/etc rather than just slogging through online samples and tutorials. I'd like some advice on possible options for code camps, online courses, or developer training."
Open Source

Ask Slashdot: Can Closed Source Software Transition To the GPL Successfully? 99

Posted by samzenpus
from the making-a-change dept.
colinneagle writes "Open Source guy Bryan Lunduke has experienced the difficulties of migrating a successful closed source project to an open license first-hand, but still believes — or at least wants to believe — that it can be done. He writes: 'Occasionally, someone makes a go of it, to take a good piece of closed source software and release the source code under a nice, open license. In fact, I did just that about a year ago. I tried to take a software development tool (along with some video games) that I had developed (and was earning a good living from) and migrate them to the GPL with continued development funded via donations. The results were...disastrous. Within a very short period of time of going Open Source, the total funding for the projects fell to less than 20% of what was being brought in via sales when the software was Closed Source, which almost completely impeded the ability to fund continued development. Luckily, I was able to recover and get things back on track, but it was definitely not a fun experience.'" How viable is migrating a closed source project to something open?
Spam

Ask Slashdot: How Do You Handle SPF For Spam Filtering? 187

Posted by samzenpus
from the false-positive dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Our organization had had a decent SPF record of our own for a long time. Recently, we decided to try using SPF for filtering inbound mail. On the up side, a lot of bad mail was being caught. On the down side, it seems like there is always a 'very important' message being caught in the filter because the sender has failed to consider all mail sources in writing their record. At first, I tried to assist sending parties with correcting their records out of hope that it was isolated. This quickly started to consume far too much time. I'm learning that many have set up inaccurate but syntactically valid SPF records and forgotten about them, which is probably the worst outcome for SPF as a standard. Are you using SPF? How are you handling false positives caused by inaccurate SPF records?"
Software

Ask Slashdot: Open-Source Forensic Surveillance Analysis Software? 131

Posted by Soulskill
from the my-neighbor's-dog-is-a-jerk-too dept.
McBooCZech writes "I am trying to set up a surveillance system. It is not intended to build a real-time on-line surveillance system to watch a wall of monitors on a 24/7 basis. The main scope is to record video (24/7) from the fixed cameras around our facility and when needed, get back to pre-recorded video and check it for particular event(s). Of course, it is possible to use a human to fast forward through video using a DVR-type FF function for short video sequences. Unfortunately, for long sequences (one week), it is not acceptable solution. I was searching online the whole weekend for the open source software for analysis of pre-recorded video in order to retrieve events and data from recorded video but had no luck. So I ask you, Slashdotters: Can you provide some suggestions for forensic software to analyze/find specific events in pre-recorded video? Some examples of events: 'human entering restricted zone,' 'movement in the restricted zone,' 'light in the restricted zone.'"
Programming

Ask Slashdot: Programming / IT Jobs For Older, Retrained Workers? 215

Posted by timothy
from the over-22-not-interested-next dept.
12_West writes "I seek opinions from the Slashdot community about entry level job opportunities as programmers (or other I.T. Staff) for seniors who want to switch careers and continue to work full time. I do not want to retire, nor go part time, as long as I can get up and drive myself in to work. I'm currently 58 years old, working as an industrial electrician in a maintenance department setting for a building products manufacturer. I like the work, but it is becoming hard on my aging body, so, I would like to begin gradually retraining and hope to switch careers in about four years. A lower paying, less physical job would be just fine as there will be pension money coming in. I'm not currently a programmer, but have done some hobbyist level coding in Qbasic and MS-DOS batch files 'back in the days.' I also have some exposure to the Rockwell Automation RSLogix programming tools that are now going obsolete. So, I will be retraining whether I switch careers or not."
The Courts

Piriform Asks BleachBit To Remove Winapp2.ini Importer 305

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the you-always-need-a-lawyer dept.
ahziem writes "As author of the BleachBit system cleaner, I received a polite but firm request from Piriform, makers of the similar application CCleaner, to remove a two-year-old feature from BleachBit that allows individual BleachBit users to import winapp2.ini data files created by the community that define which files to delete for applications. Does Piriform's request have merit? Do I need a lawyer? What is a good response to avoid any ugly situation?"
The Almighty Buck

Ask Slashdot: What To Do About Patent Trolls Seeking Wi-fi License Fees? 347

Posted by samzenpus
from the send-us-your-money dept.
An anonymous reader writes "My company has been contacted by certified letter by Delaware law firm. They are seeking license fees for a Wi-fi patent. I believe this is a patent troll (not that this matters in relation to dealing with this issue). This is a newly formed law firm less than 4 months old. This patent is U.S. Patent No. 5,506,866. This patent covers equipment and method related to the transmission of information involving the multiplexing information into a stream of signal points (and demultiplexing the same), and related technology. They have 'offered' to license this patent with no amounts specified. Unfortunately we are a small free software company. The company is setup as a sole proprietorship. I'm not asking for legal advise from the Slashdot community. The question is where might one look for 'legal counsel' with the expertise to answer these types of legal questions as it relates to this inquiry. I would prefer to avoid legal fees, court cases, or license fees running the company into the ground. The company is registered in New Jersey."
The Internet

Ask Slashdot: How Long Do We Give an Online Service To Fix Issues? 113

Posted by Soulskill
from the as-long-as-it-takes-to-write-an-angry-email dept.
ncc189 writes "The Funimation Roku channel has been basically unusable during primetime for about a month now. With very little feedback from the company and no improvements to the service at all, I canceled my account. My question to Slashdot users is: how long do you give a service to fix issues before you cancel the service, and how much leeway do you give the service's representatives in communicating issue with us? It seems to me that a few days is more than enough in the internet age; 3+ weeks is beyond reason. How long do you think is fair for services like this?"
Communications

Ask Slashdot: Name Conflicts In Automatically Generated Email Addresses? 383

Posted by timothy
from the hash-of-full-name-plus-birthday dept.
New submitter matteocorti writes "I work at medium-sized university and we are considering reducing the number of domains used for email addresses (now around 350): the goal is to have all the 30K personal addresses in a single domain. This will increase the clashes for the local part of the address for people with the same first and last name (1.6%). We are considering several options: one of them is to use 'username@domain.tld' and the other is to use 'first.last@domain.tld.' The first case will avoid any conflict in the addresses (usernames are unique) but the second is fancier. Which approach does your organization use? How are name conflicts (homonyms) solved? Manually or automatically (e.g., by adding a number)?"
GUI

Ask Slashdot: Open Source Remote Application Access? 113

Posted by timothy
from the over-there-but-over-here dept.
First time accepted submitter taikedz writes "Citrix Xenapp with Receiver/Metaframe allows publishing individual applications installed on a Windows server to users on remote machines. These applications open in their own windows, along side others as if they were installed locally. I am looking to do the same at home, with free software, publishing applications from Mac, Linux, and Windows machines (and yes, I've verified the license agreements for the apps I am going to do this with!). Up until now, the only alternatives I have found are full-on remote desktop login, not seamlessly-integrated. Can you recommend any tools that can achieve the goal of remote individual application access across platforms for free or at low-cost?"
Hardware Hacking

Ask Slashdot: Best Electronics Prototyping Platform? 228

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the arduino-attack-bot dept.
crankyspice writes "Having recently picked up the Erector set I've wanted since I was a kid, I quickly found myself wanting to plunge deeper into makerspace by adding more sophisticated electronics to moving devices (rovers, maybe eventually flying bots). My first instinct was Arduino (maybe because of brand recognition?), but that got me thinking — what's the 'best' platform out there (most flexible)? Arduino with its myriad options (Nano, Mega, Uno, Mini)? PICAXE? BASIC Stamp? Raspberry Pi? (The latter seems like it would easily be the most flexible, but at greater cost in terms of weight and complexity.) I'm a hobbyist programmer, having learned C and C++ in college and recently re-learning Java (took and passed the Oracle Certified Professional exam, FWIW)..."
Communications

Ask Slashdot: Best Pay-as-You-Go Plan For Text and Voice Only? 246

Posted by timothy
from the sticking-things-places dept.
sconeu writes "My wife uses an assistive communication device. She wants to use it for SMS texting... We currently have Verizon, so we don't have a SIM. The computer will take a SIM. I'm looking for a pay-as-you-go plan where I can take the SIM from a cheap phone and put it in her computer. Any suggestions?" It would be interesting to hear how this question would be best answered both in the U.S. and around the world.

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