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Communications

Ask Slashdot: Wireless Microphone For Stand-up Meetings? 92

Posted by timothy
from the pass-around-a-laptop dept.
rolandw writes We have daily stand-ups and normally there is at least one person missing from the room. We relay via on-line chat but the sound quality is rubbish. The remote person sounds great via our speaker when they use a headset but they can't hear what is happening in the room. We need a wireless mic that copes with a large echoing room and will stop feedback. Can you recommend one? We're not an over-funded start-up so don't have an unlimited budget...
Open Source

Ask Slashdot: Which Classic OOP Compiled Language: Objective-C Or C++? 387

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-as-classic-as-COBOL dept.
Qbertino writes: I've been trying to pick up a classic, object-oriented, compiled language since the early 90s, but have never gotten around to it. C++ was always on my radar, but I'm a little torn to-and-fro with Objective-C. Objective-C is the obvious choice if you also want to make money developing for Mac OS X, but for the stuff I want to do, both languages would suffice on all platforms. I do want to start out on x86 Linux, though, and also use it as my main development platform. Yes, I know quite a few other languages, but I want to get into a widespread compiled language that has good ties into FOSS. Both Objective-C and C++ fit that bill. What do you recommend? How do these two programming languages compare with each other, and how easy is cross-platform development in either? (Primarily GUI-free, "headless" applications.)
Privacy

How Do You Handle the Discovery of a Web Site Disclosing Private Data? 230

Posted by samzenpus
from the what-to-do-and-what-not-to-do dept.
An anonymous reader writes I recently discovered that a partner web site of a financial institution I do business with makes it trivially easy to view documents that do not belong to me. As in, change the document ID in a URL and view someone else's financial documents. This requires no authentication, only a document URL. (Think along the lines of an online rebate center where you upload documents including credit card statements.) I immediately called customer service and spoke with a perplexed agent who unsurprisingly didn't know what to do with my call. I asked to speak with a supervisor who took good notes and promised a follow-up internally. I asked for a return call but have not yet heard back. In the meantime, I still have private financial information I consider to be publicly available. I'm trying to be responsible and patient in my handling of this, but I am second guessing how to move forward if not quickly resolved. So, Slashdot, how would you handle this situation?
Data Storage

Ask Slashdot: How Does One Verify Hard Drive Firmware? 321

Posted by Soulskill
from the very-carefully dept.
An anonymous reader writes: In light of recent revelations from Kaspersky Labs about the Equation Group and persistent hard drive malware, I was curious about how easy it might be to verify my own system's drives to see if they were infected. I have no real reason to think they would be, but I was dismayed by the total lack of tools to independently verify such a thing. For instance, Seagate's firmware download pages provide files with no external hash, something Linux distributions do for all of their packages. Neither do they seem to provide a utility to read off the current firmware from a drive and verify its integrity.

Are there any utilities to do such a thing? Why don't these companies provide verification software to users? Has anyone compiled and posted a public list of known-good firmware hashes for the major hard drive vendors and models? This seems to be a critical hole in PC security. I did contact Seagate support asking for hashes of their latest firmware; I got a response stating, "...If you download the firmware directly from our website there is no risk on the file be tampered with." (Their phrasing, not mine.) Methinks somebody hasn't been keeping up with world events lately.
Communications

Ask Slashdot: Whiteboard Substitutes For Distributed Teams? 163

Posted by timothy
from the just-wire-your-brains-together dept.
DoofusOfDeath writes I work on a fully distributed software development team with 5-10 people. Normally it's great, but when we're doing heavy design work, we really need to all be standing in front of a whiteboard together. This is expensive and time consuming, because it involves airplanes and hotels. Conference calls, editing shared Google docs, etc. just don't seem to be the same. Have people found any good tools or practices to replace standing in front of a real whiteboard?
Hardware

Ask Slashdot: Old PC File Transfer Problem 464

Posted by samzenpus
from the I'll-never-let-you-go dept.
An anonymous reader writes I have an old Compaq Contura Aero laptop from the nineties (20 Mhz, 12 Mb RAM, Windows 3.11, 16-bit, PCMCIA, COM, LPT, floppy) with 160 Mb drive that I would want to copy in full to a newer machine. The floppies are so unreliable — between Aero's PCMCIA floppy drive and USB floppy disk drive — that it is a total nightmare to try and do it; it just doesn't work. If that option is excluded, what else can I do? I have another old laptop with Windows XP (32-bit, PCMCIA, COM, LPT) that could be used; all other machines are too new and lack ports. Will be grateful for any ideas.
Education

Ask Slashdot: Terminally Ill - What Wisdom Should I Pass On To My Geek Daughter? 698

Posted by Soulskill
from the f*#&-cancer dept.
An anonymous reader writes: I am a scientist and educator who has been enjoying and learning from Slashdot since the late 90s. Now I come to you, my geek brothers and sisters, for help. I've been diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, which you will remember is what took Steve Jobs and Randy Pausch from us. My condition is incurable. Palliative chemotherapy may delay the inevitable, but a realistic assessment suggests that I have anywhere from two to six months of "quality" time left, and likely not more than a year in total.

I am slowly coming to terms with my imminent death, but what bothers me most is that I will be leaving my wife alone, and that my daughter will have to grow up without her father. She is in sixth grade, has an inquisitive and sharp mind, and is interested in science and music. She seems well on the path to becoming a "girl geek" like her mother, an outcome I'd welcome.

Since I will not be around for all of the big events in her life, I am going to create a set of video messages for her that she can watch at those important times or just when she's having a bad day. I would like to do this before my condition progresses to the point that I am visibly ill, so time is short.

In the videos I will make clear how much I treasure the time we've spent together and the wonderful qualities I see in her. What other suggestions do you have? What did you need to hear at the different stages of your life? What wisdom would have been most helpful to you? At what times did you especially need the advice of a parent? And especially for my geek sisters, how can I help her navigate the unique issues faced by girls and women in today's world?

Please note that I'm posting anonymously because I don't want this to be about me. I'd prefer that the focus be on my daughter and how I can best help her. Thank you so much for your help.
Open Source

Ask Slashdot: Parental Content Control For Free OSs? 257

Posted by timothy
from the good-idea-or-not dept.
m.alessandrini writes Children grow up, and inevitably they will start using internet and social networks, both for educational and recreational purposes. And it won't take long to them to learn to be autonomous, especially with all the smartphones and tablets around and your limited time. Unlike the years of my youth, when internet started to enter our lives gradually, now I'm afraid of the amount of inappropriate contents a child can be exposed to unprepared: porn, scammers, cyberbullies or worse, are just a click away.

For Windows many solutions claim to exist, usually in form of massive antivirus suites. What about GNU/Linux? Or Android? Several solutions rely on setting up a proxy with a whitelist of sites, or similar, but I'm afraid this approach can make internet unusable, or otherwise be easy to bypass. Have you any experiences or suggestions? Do you think software solutions are only a part of the solution, provided children can learn hacking tricks better than us, and if so, what other 'human' techniques are most effective?
The Courts

Ask Slashdot: How Can Technology Improve the Judicial System? 183

Posted by timothy
from the judicial-vs-just dept.
An anonymous reader writes One of the cornerstones of any democracy is its judicial system. Fortunately, most of us never have to deal with it. On the other hand, the fact that we so seldom interact with it also means that most of us are not constantly thinking about it. It is possible our judicial system would be much better if most of us had to spend more time thinking about it. I myself had not put much thought into it until I watched a documentary about Aaron Swartz. It is frightening to think that someone could have been left in a position like that. I also hear about so many cases were people end up pleading guilty because they do not have enough money to fight a case in court. Is this really the best we can do? The Marshal Project is also an interesting source of information regarding the shortfalls of our current system.

What do you think about it? How can we improve our judicial system? Is there any interesting way that technology could be used to improve the system?
Sci-Fi

Ask Slashdot: How Could We Actually Detect an Alien Invasion From Outer Space? 576

Posted by samzenpus
from the blowing-up-the-mothership dept.
First time accepted submitter defiant.challenged writes As I was watching another sci-fi blockbuster about aliens wanting to harvest the life stock population on earth for their energy since we are such a robust species, I was wondering how likely and easy/difficult it would be currently to actually detect an outer space invasion (fleet). I am a firm believer that if we would be invaded, we would not stand a chance and would probably not even hit a single ship when it comes to fighting them. The aliens in the movie had the capability to space-jump right into our solar system and even very close to earth. My question is how good are we at the moment in detecting an alien ship/fleet that jumps into our solar system. Do we have radio dishes around the globe such that we can detect objects in space in all longitude and latitude degrees? I know we have dishes pointing to the skies but how far can they reach? Do we have blindspots perhaps on the poles? I also wonder if our current means, ie radio signals, are relatively easy to be compromised with our current stealth technology? To formulate it in more sci-fi terms, how large is our outer space detection grid, and what kind of time window can they give us?
Chrome

Ask Slashdot: Most Useful Browser Extensions? 353

Posted by Soulskill
from the still-waiting-on-an-extension-that-makes-me-lunch dept.
An anonymous reader writes: One of the most powerful features of modern browsers is the ability to install third-party extensions. They allow third-party developers to work on really useful niche functionality, and let users customize their browser with the tools they need. Unfortunately, this environment has the same discover-ability and security problems as standalone software. Thus, my question: what are your most useful (and safe) browser extensions? I can't live without some privacy basics like NoScript, AdBlock, and Ghostery. I also find FoxyProxy helpful for getting around geolocation requirements for media streaming. OneTab works pretty well for saving groups of browser tabs, and Pushbullet keeps getting better at managing my phone while I'm at my PC.
Software

Ask Slashdot: Version Control For Non-Developers? 343

Posted by timothy
from the devil-is-in-the-versioning dept.
occamboy writes My spouse works at a company that deals with lots of documents (Word, spreadsheets, scans, and so forth), and they have a classic version control problem that sucks up hours of her time each week. Documents are stored on a shared server in some sort of hierarchy, but there are all kinds of problems, e.g. multiple copies get saved with slightly-different names because people are afraid of overwriting the old version 'just in case' and nobody can figure out which is the latest version, or which got sent out to a client, etc.

Version control should help, and my first thought was to use SVN with TortoiseSVN, but I'm wondering if there's something even simpler that they could use? Do the Slashdotteratti have any experiences or thoughts that they could share? The ideal solution would also make it easy to text search the document tree.
Programming

Ask Slashdot: What Portion of Developers Are Bad At What They Do? 809

Posted by Soulskill
from the very-small-shell-scripts dept.
ramoneThePoolGuy writes: We are looking to fill a senior developer/architect position in our firm. I am disappointed with the applicants thus far, and quite frankly it has me worried about the quality of developers/engineers available to us. For instance, today I asked an engineer with 20+ years of experience to describe to me the basic process of public/private key encryption. This engineer had no clue. I asked another applicant a similar question: "Suppose you wanted to send me a file with very sensitive information, how would you encrypt it in such a way that I would decrypt it?" The person started off by asking me if it was an excel file, a PDF, etc. In general, I'm finding that an overwhelming number of developers I've interviewed have poor understanding of key concepts, especially when it comes to securing data. Are other firms experiencing this same dilemma in finding qualified applicants? (Quite frankly it scares me that some of these developers are building sites that need to be secure)"
Education

Autism: Are Social Skills Groups and Social Communication Therapy Worthwhile? 289

Posted by timothy
from the let's-all-count-and-sort-batteries dept.
vortex2.71 (802986) writes I imagine that enough of us on Slashdot are on the Autism Spectrum or were once diagnosed as having Aspergers that this might be the right venue for this question. My son is on the spectrum, but is in a mainstream classroom at a private school. We have spent thousands of dollars on a bunch of different social skills groups, speech communication therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy. We've found that the specific skills and intuition that the therapists possess is much more important than their credentials and are frequently disappointed by the overwhelming mediocrity of special education teachers, speech therapists, and OT/PT therapists. We are at the point where we wonder if our time is better spent with playdates with peers that are facilitated by us than continuing with the groups. I'm curious if there are adult Slashdoters who are on the spectrum who participated in these therapies as children who can weigh in on this? What was your experience with social skills groups and social communication therapy? Did they help?
Displays

Ask Slashdot: Affordable Large HD/UHD/4K "Stupid" Screens? 330

Posted by timothy
from the sorry-dave-can't-let-you-do-that dept.
New submitter LOGINS SUC (713291) writes Truly in the first-world problems category, I've been looking for large format (>55") HD/UHD screens for home entertainment. In light of the recent Samsung big-brother monitoring and advertisement injection concerns, does any reputable manufacturer still make "stupid" TVs? I don't want to pay for all the WiFi, apps, cameras, or microphones. I don't need it to have speakers. And at this point, I don't even care if it has the TV receiver functionality. All this stuff leads to vendor lock-in or is well on the path to obsolescence by the time I purchase the device. I prefer all of this non-visual functionality be handled by devices better suited to the purpose and I don't want to pay for screens including these widgets I have no intention of ever using, at all.

I've searched all the normal retail outlets. If I find anything, they are wildly expensive. "Computer monitors" fit the bill but are almost all 55") LCDs in the sub-$3,000 range anymore? Are projectors the last bastion of visual purity for home entertainment?