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Media

Ask Slashdot: What To Do After Digitizing VHS Tapes? 240

Posted by samzenpus
from the now-what? dept.
An anonymous reader writes Now that I've spent close to a month digitizing a desk drawer's worth of VHS tapes, deinterlacing and postprocessing the originals to minimize years of tape decay, and compressing everything down to H.264, I've found myself with a hard drive full of loosely organized videos. They'll get picked up by my existing monthly backup, but I feel like I haven't gained much in the way of redundancy, as I thought I would. Instead of having tapes slowly degrade, I'm now open to losing entire movies at once, should both of my drives go bad. Does anyone maintain a library, and if so, what would they recommend? Is having them duplicated on two drives (one of which is spun down for all but one day of the month) a good-enough long term strategy? Should I look into additionally backing up to optical discs or flash drives, building out a better (RAIDed) backup machine, or even keeping the original tapes around despite them having been digitized?
Networking

Ask Slashdot: Advice On Building a Firewall With VPN Capabilities? 233

Posted by timothy
from the thick-pipes-and-sturdy-valves dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I currently connect to the internet via a standard router, but I'm looking at bulking up security. Could people provide their experiences with setting up a dedicated firewall machine with VPN capabilities? I am a novice at Linux/BSD, so would appreciate pointers at solutions that require relatively little tweaking. Hardware-wise, I have built PC's, so I'm comfortable with sourcing components and assembling into a case. The setup would reside in my living room, so a quiet solution is required. The firewall would handle home browsing and torrenting traffic. Some of the questions knocking around in my head: 1. Pros and cons of buying an off-the-shelf solution versus building a quiet PC-based solution? 2. Software- versus hardware-based encryption — pros and cons? 3. What are minimum requirements to run a VPN? 4. Which OS to go for? 5. What other security software should I include for maximum protection? I am thinking of anti-virus solutions."
Software

Ask Slashdot: What Smartwatch Apps Could You See Yourself Using? 471

Posted by Soulskill
from the an-app-that-gives-it-infinite-battery-life dept.
An anonymous reader writes: It's official: the smartwatch wars have begun. Apple's announcement of the Apple Watch added a contender to the race already shaping up between the Pebble watch, the Moto 360, and others. Personally, my doubts about wanting one were put to rest when I learned of the health-related features. Smartwatches will be able to track your movements and pulse rate, calculate how many calories you burn, and coach you continuously to improve your fitness.

If you have one or plan on buying one, what apps or functions do you see yourself getting the most use from? If you're still skeptical, what would it take? (If an app developer sees your requirements here on Slashdot, your wish might come true.)
Education

Ask Slashdot: Robotics or Electronic Kits For Wounded Veterans? 115

Posted by timothy
from the least-we-could-do dept.
An anonymous reader writes I am currently a combat veteran in the care of the VA Hospital. A lot of veterans here suffer from PTSD and other injuries related to combat and trauma. As part of the healing process, the VA finds it good that we take up hobbies such as art or music, and they supply us kits and stuff to put together and paint. This is great, but many of us younger veterans have an interest in robotics and electronics. Do you know of some good and basic robotic and electronic kits that can be ordered or donated to Veterans out there? Any information would be appreciated.
Media

Ask Slashdot: Best Service To Digitize VHS Home Movies? 130

Posted by timothy
from the nod-is-as-good-as-a-wink dept.
An anonymous reader writes Could someone recommend a service to convert old VHS home movies to a lossless archival format such as FFV1? The file format needs to be lossless so I can edit and convert the files with less generation loss, it needs 4:1:1 or better chroma subsampling in order to get the full color resolution from the source tapes, and preferably it should have more than 8 bits per channel of color in order to avoid banding while correcting things like color, brightness, and contrast.

So far, the best VHS archival services I've found use either the DV codec or QuickTime Pro-Res, both of which are lossy.
Software

Ask Slashdot: Remote Server Support and Monitoring Solution? 137

Posted by timothy
from the how-would-you-do-it? dept.
New submitter Crizzam writes I have about 500 clients which have my servers installed in their data centers as a hosted solution for time & attendance (employee attendance / vacation / etc). I want to actively monitor all the client servers from my desktop, so know when a server failure has occurred. I am thinking I need to trap SNMP data and collect it in a dashboard. I'd also like to have each client connect to my server via HTTP tunnel using something like OpenVPN. In this way I maintain a site-site tunnel open so if I need to access my server remotely, I can. Any suggestions as to the technology stack I should put together to pull off this task? I was looking at Zabbix / Nagios for SNMP monitoring and OpenVPN for the other part. What else should I include? How does one put together a good remote monitoring / access solution that clients can live with and will still allow me to offer great proactive service to my servers located on-site?
Programming

Ask Slashdot: What Are the Strangest Features of Various Programming Languages? 725

Posted by Soulskill
from the object-disoriented-programming dept.
itwbennett writes: Every programming language has its own unique quirks, such as weird syntax, unusual functionality or non-standard implementations -- things that can cause developers new to the language, or even seasoned pros, to scratch their heads in wonder (or throw their hands up in despair). Phil Johnson has rounded up some of the strangest — from the + operator in JavaScript to the trigraphs in C and C++ and indentation level in Python. What programming language oddities cause you the most grief?"
Graphics

Ask Slashdot: the State of Free Video Editing Tools? 163

Posted by timothy
from the what-are-you-happy-with? dept.
New submitter Shadow99_1 writes I used to do a lot of video editing (a few years ago, at an earlier job) and at that time I used Adobe Premiere. Now a few years later I'm looking to start doing some video editing for my own personal use, but I have a limited budget that pretty well excludes even thinking about buying a copy of Adobe Premiere. So I ask slashdot: What is the state of free (as in beer or as in open source) video editing tools? In my case... I support a windows environment at work and so it's primarily what I use at home. I am also using a camcorder that uses flash cards to record onto, so for me I need a platform that supports reading flash cards. So that is my focus but feel free to discuss video editing on all platforms. I've been looking forward to the Kickstarted upgrade to OpenShot; based on the project's latest update, early versions of an installer should start appearing soon. Video editing is a big endeavor, though, and ambitious announcements and slipped schedules both seem to be the norm: an open-source version of Lightworks was announced back in 2010. Some lighter open-source options include Pitivi (raising funds to get to version 1.0) and Kdenlive, also in active development (most recent release was in mid-May). Pitiviti's site links to a sobering illustration about many of the shorter- and longer-lived projects in this area.
Operating Systems

Ask Slashdot: Linux-Friendly Desktop x86 Motherboard Manufacturers? 294

Posted by Soulskill
from the roll-your-own dept.
storkus writes: The release of Haswell-E and a price drop on Devil's Canyon has made me itch for a PC upgrade. However, looking around I discovered a pair of horror stories on Phoronix about the difficulties of using Linux on a multitude of motherboards. My question: if MSI, Gigabyte, Asus (and by extension Asrock) are out, who's left and are they any good? I'd like to build a (probably dual-boot, but don't know for sure) gaming and 'other' high-end machine with one of the above chips, so we're talking Z97 or X99; however, these stories seem to point to the problems being Windows-isms in the BIOS/UEFI structures rather than actual hardware incompatibility, combined with a lousy attitude (despite the Steam Linux distro being under development).
Cellphones

Ask Slashdot: Best Phone Apps? 167

Posted by Soulskill
from the there's-an-app-for-picking-apps-that-pick-apps dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The phone app ecosystem has matured nicely over the past several years. There are apps for just about everything I need to do on my phone. But I've noticed that once an app fills a particular need, I don't tend to look for newer or potentially better apps that would replace it. In a lot of areas, I'm two or three years out of date — maybe there's something better, maybe not. Since few people relish the thought of installing, testing, and uninstalling literally hundreds of apps, I thought I'd put the question to the Slashdot community: what interesting, useful new(ish) apps are you aware of? This can be anything from incredibly slick, well-designed single purpose apps to powerful multi-function apps to entertainment-oriented apps.
Technology

Ask Slashdot: What Old Technology Can't You Give Up? 635

Posted by Soulskill
from the don't-touch-that-dial dept.
An anonymous reader writes: It's the year 2014, and I still have a floppy drive installed on my computer. I don't know why; I don't own any floppy disks, and I haven't used one in probably a decade. But every time I put together a PC, it feels incomplete if I don't have one. I also have a Laserdisc player collecting dust at the bottom of my entertainment center, and I still use IRC to talk to a few friends. Software, hardware, or otherwise, what technology have you had a hard time letting go? (I don't want to put a hard limit on age, so you folks using flip-phones or playing on Dreamcasts or still inexplicably coding in Perl 4, feel free to contribute.)
Classic Games (Games)

Ask Slashdot: What Are the Best Games To Have In Your Collection? 382

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-have-died-of-dysentery dept.
SternisheFan writes: I am not a "gamer," per se. I grew up on "old school" arcade/Atari-type games. My question is: What are the very best games to own? Let's assume platform is irrelevant — any console, any computer, any operating system, any mobile device. I'd just like to know what you think are the most indispensable games to have in your collection. Let's expand this to include board games and other tabletop games as well. What games do you make sure to always have on hand for get-togethers?
AT&T

Ask Slashdot: What To Do About Repeated Internet Overbilling? 355

Posted by timothy
from the hey-these-guys-did-it-to-me-too dept.
An anonymous reader writes "AT&T has been overbilling my account based on overcounting DSL internet usage (they charge in 50 gigabyte units after the first 150). I have been using a Buffalo NFinity Airstation as a managed switch to count all traffic. As you may know, this device runs firmware based on dd-wrt and has hidden telnet functionality, so I am able to load a script to count traffic directly onto the device. I have an auto-scraper that collects the data and saves it on my computer's hard disk every two minutes while the computer is running. While it is not running, the 2 minute counters accumulate in RAM on the device. Power problems are not normally an issue here; and even when they are I can tell it has happened. The upshot of all this is I can measure the exact amount of download bandwidth and a guaranteed overestimate of upload bandwidth in bytes reliably. I have tested this by transferring known amounts of data and can account for every byte counted, including ethernet frame headers. AT&T's billing reporting reports usage by day only, lags two days, and uses some time basis other than midnight. It is also reading in my testing a fairly consistent 14% higher whenever the basis doesn't disturb the test by using too much bandwidth too close to midnight.

AT&T has already refused to attempt to fix the billing meter, and asserts they have tested it and found it correct. Yet they refuse to provide a realtime readout of the counter that would make independent testing trivial. I've been through the agencies (CPUC, FCC, and Weights & Measures) and can't find one that is interested, AT&T will not provide any means for reasonable independent testing of the meter. It is my understanding that if there is a meter and its calibration cannot be checked, there is a violation of the law, yet I can't find an agency that can even accept such a claim (I'm not getting "your claim is meritless", but "we don't handle that"). If indeed they are not overbilling, my claim of no way to verify the meter still stands. My options are running thin here. So that my account can be identified by someone who recognizes the case: 7a6c74964fafd56c61e06abf6c820845cbcd4fc0 (bit commitment).
Earth

Slashdot Asks: How Prepared Are You For an Earthquake? 191

Posted by timothy
from the hey-man-what's-the-exoskeleton-for? dept.
With three earthquakes of some significance in the news this weekend (Chile, California, and Iceland), it seems a good time to ask: If you live in an area of seismic danger, how are you prepared for an earthquake (or tsunami, mudslide, or other associated danger) and how prepared are you? Do you have a stash of emergency supplies, and if so, how did you formulate it? In the U.S. alone, it's surprising how many areas there are with some reasonable chance of earthquakes, though only a few of them are actually famous for it — and those areas are the ones where everything from building codes to cultural awareness helps mitigate the risks. I'm not sure I'd want to be in a skyscraper in Memphis or St. Louis during a replay of the New Madrid quakes of 1811-1812, which is probably worth worrying about for those in the region. Beyond personal safety, do you have a plan for your electronics and data if the earth starts shaking?
Space

Slashdot Asks: Cheap But Reasonable Telescopes for Kids? 187

Posted by timothy
from the will-take-credit-for-the-nobel-prize dept.
I am interested in a telescope for the use of some elementary and middle school aged relatives. Older and younger siblings, and parents, would no doubt get some scope time, too. Telescopes certainly come in a range of prices, from cheap to out of this world, and I am purely a duffer myself. But I enjoy looking at the moon and stars with magnification, and think they would, too. What I'm trying to find might be phrased like this: "the lowest priced scope that's reasonably robust, reasonably accurate, and reasonably usable for kids" -- meaning absolute precision is less important than a focus that is easy to set and doesn't drift. Simplicity in design beats tiny, ill-labeled parts or an incomprehensible manual, even if the complicated one might be slightly better when perfectly tuned. I'd be pleased if some of these kids decide to take up astronomy as a hobby, but don't have any strong expectation that will happen -- besides, if they really get into it, the research for a better one would be another fun project. That said, while I'm price sensitive, I'm not looking *only* at the price tag so much as seeking insight about the cluster of perceived sweet spots when it come to price / performance / personality. By "personality" I mean whether it's friendly, well documented, whether it comes intelligently packaged, whether it's a crapshoot as to whether a scope with the same model name will arrive in good shape, etc -- looking at online reviews, it seems many low-end scopes have a huge variance in reviews. What scopes would you would consider giving to an intelligent 3rd or 4th grader? As a starting point, Google has helped me find some interesting guides that list some scopes that sound reasonable, including a few under or near $100. (Here's one such set of suggestions.) What would you advise buying, from that list or otherwise? (There are some ideas that sound pretty good in this similar question from 2000, but I figure the state of the art has moved on.) I'm more interested in avoiding awful junk than I am expecting treasure: getting reasonable views of the moon is a good start, and getting at least some blurry rings around Saturn would be nice, too. Simply because they are so cheap, I'd like to know if anyone has impressions (worth it? pure junk?) of the Celestron FirstScope models, which are awfully tempting for under $50.

You have a tendency to feel you are superior to most computers.

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