Privacy

Ask Slashdot: Can You Disable Windows 10's Privacy-Invading Features? 428 428

An anonymous reader writes: I really want to upgrade to Windows 10, but have begun seeing stories come out about the new Terms and how they affect your privacy. It looks like the default Windows 10 system puts copies of your data out on the "cloud", gives your passwords out, and targets advertising to you. The main reason I am looking to upgrade is that Bitlocker is not available on Windows 7 Pro, but is on Windows 10 Pro, and Microsoft no longer offers Anytime Upgrades to Windows 7 Ultimate. However, I don't want to give away my privacy for security. The other option is to wait until October to see what the Windows 10 Enterprise version offers, but it may not be available through retail. Are the privacy minded Slashdot readers not going with Windows 10?

For reference, I am referring to these articles.
(Not to mention claims that it steals your bandwidth.)
Input Devices

Ask Slashdot: Why Is the Caps Lock Key Still So Prominent On Keyboards? 687 687

Esther Schindler writes: The developers at .io are into tracking things, I guess. In any case, a few weeks back they decided to track team performance in terms of keyboard and mouse activity during the working day. They installed a simple Chrome plugin on every Macbook and collected some statistics. For instance, developers have fewer keypresses than editors and managers—around 4k every day. Managers type more than 23k characters per day. And so on. Some pretty neat statistics.

But the piece that jumped out at me was this: "What's curious—the least popular keys are Capslock and Right Mouse Button. Somewhere around 0.1% of all keypresses together. It's time to make some changes to keyboards." I've been whining about this for years. Why is it that the least-used key on my keyboard is not just in a prominent position, but also bigger than most other keys? I can I invest in a real alternate keyboard with a different layout (my husband's a big fan of the Kinesis keyboards, initially to cope with carpal tunnel). But surely it's time to re-visit the standard key layout? What keys would you eliminate or re-arrange?
Programming

Ask Slashdot: Everyone Building Software -- Is This the Future We Need? 352 352

An anonymous reader writes: I recently stumbled upon Apple's headline for version 2 of its Swift programming language: "Now everyone can build amazing apps." My question: is this what we really need? Tech giants (not just Apple, but Microsoft, Facebook, and more) are encouraging kids and adults to become developers, adding to an already-troubled IT landscape. While many software engineering positions are focused only on a business's internal concerns, many others can dramatically affect other people's lives. People write software for the cars we drive; our finances are in the hands of software, and even the medical industry is replete with new software these days. Poor code here can legitimately mess up somebody's life. Compare this to other high-influence professions: can you become surgeon just because you bought a state-of-art turbo laser knife? Of course not. Back to Swift: the app ecosystem is already chaotic, without solid quality control and responsibility from most developers. If you want simple to-do app, you'll get never-ending list of software artifacts that will drain your battery, eat memory, freeze the OS and disappoint you in every possible way. So, should we really be focusing on quantity, rather than quality?
Open Source

Ask Slashdot: Building an Open Source Community For a Proprietary Software Product? 85 85

An anonymous reader writes: I run a company that develops scientific computing software. Our core product is a traditional proprietary application — we develop the software and deliver the "binaries" to our customers. We're considering changing our deployment to include all of the source code and giving our customers some additional rights to explore and extend it. The codebase is HTML/JavaScript/Python/SQL, so a lot of the code is available in some form already, albeit minified or byte compiled.

Because we are in a scientific domain, most of our customers use Open Source software alongside our product. We also maintain Open Source projects and directly support others. We're strong supporters of Open Source and understand the value of having access to the source code.

We also support a free (as in beer) version of the software with a smaller feature set (production and enterprise elements that individual users don't need are removed). We'd like that version to use the same model as well to give users that don't need the full commercial version the ability to extend the software and submit patches back to us for inclusion in future releases.

Overall, we'd really like to find a model that allows our core product to work more like an Open Source product while maintaining control over the distribution rights. We'd like to foster a community around the product but still generate revenue to fund it. In our space, the "give the product away but pay for support" model has never really worked. The market is too small and, importantly, most customers understand our value proposition and have no problem with our annual license model.

We've looked at traditional dual licensing approaches, but don't think they're really right fit, either. A single license that gives users access to the code but limits the ability to redistribute the code and distribute patches to the "core" is what we'd prefer. My questions for the Slashdot community: Does anyone have direct experience with models like this? Are there existing licenses that we should look at? What companies have succeeded doing this? Who has failed?
Technology

Ask Slashdot: Are There Any Open and Affordable IPCams? 134 134

New submitter criticalmess writes: I'm about to give up on any decent hardware to be found to roll my own web-based camera setup around the house and office — and thought that the nerds and experts at /. would be my last resource I could pull out. Having bought multiple IPCamera (DLink, Abus, Axis, Foscam, TP-Link, ...) and always getting the 'requires DirectX' treatment, I'm wondering if there are any open and affordable IPCams out there? I've been looking at BlueCherry and their kickstarter campaign to create a complete opensource hardware solution, I've been looking at Zavio as they seem to offer the streams in an open enough format while not breaking the bank on the hardware. Anything else I should be looking at? I can't for the love of it understand why most of these hardware companies require you to run DirectX — anybody care to enlighten the crowd? Should be simple enough really: hardware captures images, a small embedded webserver transforms this into an RTSP stream or HTTP stream, maybe on h264 or similar — done.
Cellphones

Ask Slashdot: Do You Use a Smartphone At Work, Contrary to Policy? 227 227

Jason McNew writes: I have been in IT since the late '90s, and began a graduate degree in Cyber Security with Penn State two years ago. I have always been interested in how and why users break policies, despite being trained carefully. I have observed the same phenomena even in highly secure government facilities — I watched people take iPhones into highly sensitive government facilities on several occasions. That led me to wonder to what extent the same problem exists in the private sector: Portable Electronic Devices (PEDs) are a huge threat to both security and intellectual property. This question has become the subject of a pilot study I am doing for grad school. So, do you use a smart phone or other PED during work hours, even though you are not supposed to? Please let me know, and I will provide the results in a subsequent submission to Slashdot.
Operating Systems

Ask Slashdot: How Often Do You Update Your OS? 319 319

An anonymous reader writes: A couple friends of mine have been having a debate recently. One is constantly updating all of his operating systems (desktop, phone, and otherwise), often as soon as a new patch is available. He tries betas and nightlies. He has a different ROM on his phone every other week. The other friend is much more conservative with his updates. Once his systems are running smoothly, he wants to leave them alone for as long as possible. He'll do some serious security updates, but he's extremely wary of anything involving major UI changes or functionality differences. What's your preference? Are you constantly tweaking? Waiting for the early adopters to work out the kinks? How does your preference change between work machines and personal machines?
Supercomputing

Ask Slashdot: Best Bang-for-the-Buck HPC Solution? 150 150

An anonymous reader writes: We are looking into procuring a FEA/CFD machine for our small company. While I know workstations well, the multi-socket rack cluster solutions are foreign to me. On one end of the spectrum, there are companies like HP and Cray that offer impressive setups for millions of dollars (out of our league). On the other end, there are quad-socket mobos from Supermicro and Intel, for 8-18 core CPUs that cost thousands of dollars apiece.

Where do we go from here? Is it even reasonable to order $50k worth of components and put together our own high-performance, reasonably-priced blade cluster? Or is this folly, best left to experts? Who are these experts if we need them?

And what is the better choice here? 16-core Opterons at 2.6 GHz, 8-core Xeons at 3.4 GHz? Are power and thermals limiting factors here? (A full rack cupboard would consume something like 25 kW, it seems?) There seems to be precious little straightforward information about this on the net.
Government

Ask Slashdot: Opinions on the State Breaking Its Own Law Against Employee Misclassification? 165 165

An anonymous reader writes: I've had the privilege of developing software as an independent contractor for various agencies of a particular state for many years. These past few, however, have seen changes: now I, and almost every other contractor I know, are being managed very differently. This state is now making a widespread practice of using the businesses it awards contracts to as staffing agencies, knowing full well that the people coming in are 1099s and receive none of the benefits or protections of regular employees. These contractors are expected to be on site full-time, are not allowed to use their own hardware or software, and are managed alongside, and perform substantially the same work as other, regular employees. This is apparently done to cut costs.

The State has no legal risk here — that rests solely on the businesses it awards contracts to. But given that this particular state takes a hard line against misclassifying employees, this strikes me as profoundly hypocritical. I am not here to ask for legal advice. Indeed, I have already retained counsel in this matter. Considering additional detail that I won't get into here, Federal law is likely being broken. Since this is also one of the states that have the strict 'three prong' test for classifying employees, the State's own law is definitely being broken.

I thought, maybe somebody should say something. But my lawyer's reaction surprised me. He said — this isn't a big deal, you could just go find another client. And you know what? He's right. I could totally do that. Maybe since we in the IT industry tend to be well paid, nobody should care, and there's no reason complain. I'm not asking for legal advice or a recommendation as to what I should do personally; I'm still forming an opinion on the larger issue here, and I'd like you to share yours.
Transportation

Ask Slashdot: If Public Transport Was Free, Would You Leave Your Car At Home? 654 654

dkatana writes: The Estonian capital launched a program of free public transport to encourage people to leave their cars at home. But they never did. When Tallinn launched the program ridership numbers did increase, but not by the 20% the city had projected. Instead, they grew by a modest 3%, and by people already using public transport. What happened is that more pedestrians and bike users started to use public transit instead of walking and cycling. But car users continue to drive to work. Do you think the same would hold true in the U.S. if a similar program was started?
Software

Ask Slashdot: How Should Devs Deal With Trademark Trolls? 99 99

An anonymous reader writes: I'll start off by admitting that trademark infringement wasn't something that was on my mind when I released my first application. Like many other developers I was concentrating on functionality, errors, and getting the thing published. I did a cursory Google search and search of the app stores to make sure no other apps were using the same name, but that's about the extent of my efforts to avoid trademark infringement. After all, I'm spending hundreds of hours of my own time to make an app that I'm giving away with the hopes to make some ad money or sell paid versions down the road. Hiring a lawyer for advice and help didn't seem like a reasonable expenditure since I'm pretty sure my income per hour of coding was under $1 for the first year or two. Besides, it's something I do on the side because I enjoy coding, not for my main source of income.

My first app was published in early 2010. I followed up with a paid version, then a couple other small apps that perform functions I wanted on my phone. I continue to maintain my apps and offer bug fixes, user support, and the occasional feature request. My income isn't tremendous, but it's steady. Nothing to brag about, but also not something I'd willingly give up.

Earlier this year I got a notice from Google that someone had submitted a takedown request for one of my applications based on a trademark infringement claim."
(Read on below for the rest of the story, and the question.)
Cellphones

Ask Slashdot: Measuring (and Constraining) Mobile Data Use? 129 129

An anonymous reader writes: I've carried a smart phone for several years, but for much of that time it's been (and I suspect this is true for anyone for whom money is an object) kept pretty dumb — at least for anything more data-intensive than Twitter and the occasional map checking. I've been using more of the smart features lately (Google Drive and Keep are seductive.) Since the data package can be expensive, though, and even though data is cheaper than it used to be, that means I don't check Facebook often, or upload pictures to friends by email, unless I'm in Wi-Fi zone (like home, or a coffee shop, etc). Even so, it seems I'm using more data than I realized, and I'd like to keep it under the 2GB allotment I'm paying for. I used to think half a gig was generous, but now I'm getting close to that 2GB I've paid for, most months.

This makes me a little paranoid, which leads to my first question: How accurate are carriers' own internal tools for measuring use, and do you recommend any third-party apps for keeping track of data use? Ideally, I'd like a detailed breakdown by app, over time: I don't think I'm at risk for data-stealing malware on my phone (the apps I use are either built-in, or plain-vanilla ones from Google's store, like Instagram, Twitter's official client, etc.), but of course really well-crafted malware would be tough to guard against or to spot. And even if they can be defeated, more and more sites (Facebook, for one) now play video just because I've rolled over a thumbnail.
Read on for second part of the question.
Crime

Ask Slashdot: Dealing With Ongoing Suspected Identity Theft? 213 213

njnnja writes: My wife receives periodic emails (about once every other month) from a cable company that is not in our service area that purport to confirm that she has made changes to her account, such as re-setting her password. Her email address is not a common one so we do not believe that it is someone accidentally using it; rather, we believe that an identity thief is subscribing to cable services intentionally using her name and email address.

Whenever we have gotten an email we have called the cable company, been forwarded to their security department, and we are assured that her social security number is not being used and that they will clear her name and email address out of their system. Yet a few weeks later we get another email. Our concern is that when the cable company goes after my wife for the unpaid balance on the account I am sure that neither they nor a collection agency will care much that it's not her social security number — it's her name and they will demand she pays.

We have a very strong password (long, completely random string of chars, nums, and symbols) and 2-factor authentication on the email account so we are fairly certain that no one is currently hacking into her email (at least, it's not worth it for however many thousands of dollars they can actually steal off this scam), But we think that the cable company should be doing more to not be complicit in an attempted identity theft. We have made it clear that we don't live in the area they cover so we should not have an account, but the fact that they keep setting up an account in her name means that they just don't care. Which is fine; I don't expect a cable company to care that they inconvenience us, but I would like to know if there is any way that we can make them care about it (liability, regulations, etc). I know YANAL but does anyone have any ideas about how to handle this? Thanks.
The Media

Ask Slashdot: Which Expert Bloggers Do You Read? 203 203

An anonymous reader writes: The crush of news sites today is almost overwhelming. For true bits of news — bare facts and alerts that something has happened — it doesn't really matter which site you read it on. Some tiny, no-name website can tell me $company1 bought $company2 just as well as Reuters, CNN, or the NY Times. When it comes to opinion pieces and analysis, though, it's a different story. One of the generalist tech bloggers at the NY Times probably isn't going to have many worthwhile posts comparing database sorting algorithms or explaining the Cassini spacecraft's orbital path or providing soldering techniques for fixing a busted monitor. An example most of us are familiar with: Bruce Schneier generally provides good advice on security and encryption. So: what expert bloggers do you keep tabs on? I'm not looking for any particular posting frequency. This type of person I'm thinking of is probably not a journalist, and may not post very often at all — posting frequency matters far less than the signal-to-noise ratio. My goal is to build a big list of smart people who write interesting things — mainly for topics you'd expect to see on Slashdot, but I'm open to other subjects, as well.
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: How Do You Find Jobs That Offer Working From Home? 318 318

jez9999 writes: I'm a software developer in the UK, and I've found that it's very rare (maybe 5% of the time) to find an employer that will even consider any working from home, let alone for the majority of the time. I see it as a win-win; you're able to work in the home environment you are most productive in, and you can use the time you would've been commuting to work a bit longer for the employer. Not only that, but you're not adding to road congestion either. Skype, etc. make communication with coworkers a snap these days. So how do you go about finding homeworking jobs? Is it better to demand it from the get-go, or wait a few months and then ask for it? Is it more common than 5% of jobs in the US (in which case I guess it's a cultural thing the UK needs to catch up with)?