Businesses

Slashdot Asks: Which IT Hiring Trends Are Hot, and Which Ones Are Going Cold? 190

snydeq writes: Recruiting and retaining tech talent remains IT's biggest challenge today, writes Paul Heltzel, in an article on what trends are heating up and what's cooling off when it comes to IT staffing. "One thing hasn't changed this year: Recruiting top talent is still difficult for most firms, and demand greatly outstrips supply," writes Heltzel. "That's influencing many of the areas we looked at, including compensation and retention. Whether you're looking to expand your team or job searching yourself, read on to see which IT hiring practices are trending and which ones are falling out of favor." What are you seeing companies favoring in the hiring market these days?
Transportation

Ask Slashdot: What Would Happen If a Hyperloop Train Failed? 736

dryriver writes: I've been following Elon Musk's Hyperloop initiative with great interest. The idea of getting from one city to another at 700 MPH without having to suffer through an airport and all that jazz is revolutionary. I'm glad that somebody is trying to innovate in the area of land travel. My question though: When conventional trains going at much slower speeds derail or crash, the result is often serious injuries or deaths. What happens if something goes wrong with a 700 MPH Hyperloop train/pod or with part of the track? Would a Hyperloop accident at that speed even be survivable?
Open Source

Ask Slashdot: What's the Best Business Model for An Open Source Developer? 87

An anonymous reader writes: I'm interested in creating really good open source software. However, unless programmers have an incentive to work on their projects for long periods, many projects are be abandoned.

There's many business models surrounding free/libre open source software: support (pay for help, or additional features), premium (pay for more advanced software), hosting (pay for using the software on someone else's servers), donation (two versions of the same app, pay because you want to be nice to the developers), etc. Not all of those business models align the interests of the developer and the customer/user in the same way: support-based models for example, benefit developers who introduce certain mistakes or delay introducing features. (In the short term. In the long run, it opens a door for competitors...) Which of those align the interests of both?

The original submission also asks if any of these models are "morally questionable" -- and if there's other business models that have proven successful for open source software. Leave your best thoughts in the comments. What's the best business model for an open source developer?
Books

Ask Slashdot: What Are You Reading This Month? 312

An anonymous reader writes: Hey folks! Could you share what are some books (or book) you're reading this month? Maybe it's the book you've already started, or you intend to begin or resume later this month? Thanks!
Cellphones

Ask Slashdot: What Can You Do With An Old Windows Phone? 169

Slashdot reader unixisc writes: While it's always been well known that Windows phones in the market have floundered, one saving grace has always been that one could at least use it for the barest minimum of apps, even if updates have stopped... Aside from a door stop or a hand me down to someone who'll use it like a dumb phone, what are your suggested uses for this phone? A music player (if the songs are on an SD card)? Games? As far as phones go, I have what I need, so for this, anything it's good for?
The original submission suggests problems connecting to wi-ifi -- something partially corroborated by complaints at Windows Central -- though Microsoft's site says they're still supporting wifi connections.

Slashdot reader thegreatbob suggested "shuffleboard puck" -- then added, "Snark aside, if you're into writing custom applications and such for them, there's probably a bootloader/root solution for you out there."

Leave your own best suggestions in the comments. What can you do with an old Windows Phone?
Privacy

Ask Slashdot: What's a Practical Response To the Equifax Breach? 217

In response to the massive Equifax cybersecurity incident impacting approximately 143 million U.S. consumer -- making it possibly the worst leak of personal info ever -- Slashdot reader AdamStarks asks: What steps can the average Joe take to protect their identity? Accepting Equifax's help forfeits your right to sue; it's the same with applying for protection at TransUnion (not sure about Experian). Extra services at those companies also cost money, but that's putting even more of your data in their hands, and it's not clear whether the protection/help they provide is worth it (leaving aside not wanting to reward bad behavior).
Firefox

AskSlashdot: How Do You See Your Life After Firefox 52 ESR? (mozilla.org) 465

Artem Tashkinov writes: Soon to be released Firefox 56 says that out of 35+ add-ons that I have installed only a single one is a proper WebExtension which means that Firefox 57 will disable over 95% of my add-ons many of which I just cannot live without and for most of them there are simply no alternatives. This number of add-ons sound like an overkill, but actually they are all pretty neat and improve your browsing abilities. That's the reason why I'm using Firefox 52 ESR, which still fully supports XUL add-ons, however after June 2018, it will stop being supported.

Let's list the most famous ones:
  • DownThemAll is still largely irreplaceable since you can download from many parts of the internet much faster if you split the downloaded files in chunks and download them simultaneously;
  • GreaseMonkey allows you to fix or extend your favourite websites using JavaScript;Lazarus: Form Recovery has saved my time and life numerous times; it regularly backups the contents of web forms and allows to restore them after browser restart or accidental page refresh;
  • NoScript: allows you to whitelist JS execution only for websites that you really trust; JS has been used as an attack and tracking tool since its inception;
  • Status-4-Ever and Classic Theme Restorer return Firefox to the time when it was a powerful tool with its own identity and looks, and not a Chrome clone;
  • UnMHT add-on allows you to save complete web pages as a single MHT file;

So what will you do less than a year from now?


Cellphones

Slashdot Asks: How Do You Navigate Your Smartphone? 66

There are many different ways to navigate a smartphone. Some devices employ capacitive touch navigation buttons in favor of on-screen navigation buttons for the back, home and overview commands. Others, such as the recently released Moto Z2 Force and Moto Z2 Play, feature a mini trackpad under the display that lets users navigate their device through a series of swipes (on-screen navigation buttons are used by default, but the option to use the "one button nav" mini trackpad can be enabled in the settings). The upcoming iPhone 8, for example, may feature a software bar in lieu of a physical/virtual home button, introducing new gesture controls for returning to the home screen and switching between apps.

How do you navigate your smartphone? Given the many different options available on the market, do you think there is one method of navigation that trumps the others, or is it a classic case of "different strokes for different folks?"
Censorship

Is Slashdot Blocked In Parts Of India? (slashdot.org) 172

Long-time Slashdot reader davesag writes: I'm a regular long-term Slashdot reader and have been living in Delhi for the last 9 months. As of last Friday 25th August the only way I can access Slashdot at all is via a VPN. It appears that Slashdot has joined the growing list of websites the Indian Government finds threatening.

The Indian Government is deeply paranoid over internet access, with many sites being blocked, jail sentences for viewing blocked URLs, and bans on open wifi networks.

In 2015 the Indian government blocked access to over 800 adult web sites, and earlier this month they reportedly blocked access to Archive.org. "A block on Slashdot is over the top," davesag writes, "and makes me wonder what it is about this news site that the government here finds so terrifying."
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: Is Leasing a Smartphone Better Than Buying One? (cnbc.com) 311

An anonymous reader writes: The biggest benefit with a lease program is you have the option of upgrading to a newer phone model, usually after just a year. You don't get that option when you buy. But with a lease program, although it may be cheaper, you have to return the phone at the end of the agreement or when you upgrade -- meaning you can't pass it off to your child or sell it. So rather than leasing, buying may be a better option. But a New York Times column makes case for why leasing is the right way to go about it. I wanted to check with Slashdot readers, what do you prefer and why?
Space

Ask Slashdot: How Did You Experience The Solar Eclipse? 211

NASA claims they set a record Monday with 40 million views of their eclipse coverage (12.1 million unique) and more than 2 million simultaneous views. Now Slashdot reader xmas2003 asks: "What did /.'ers do to experience this rare incredibly cool event and how did it turn out?" SmarterEveryDay Destin gets great geek cred for watching the ISS transit the eclipsed sun [YouTube] while we were fortunate to have an incredible experience on 40 acres of farmland watching the Total Solar Eclipse near Tryon, Nebraska -- here's a complete video of [a darkening crowd watching] the totality event from the middle of nowhere. While the pics/video are cool, the real-life experience of actually being there in person is even 100X better -- highly recommend you try to attend a future total solar eclipse!.
In my town it was cloudy all morning -- though I got a postcard from friends experiencing "the path of totality" in Idaho City. But how about you? How did you experience this week's solar eclipse?
Quake

Ask Slashdot: What Modern PC Games Would You Recommend For An Old School Gamer? 313

wjcofkc writes: The last time I was a serious gamer, I was playing Quake and Quake World. That type of first person shooter, with the qualities it offered in terms of physics, level layout, and community, produced for me some very fun times. I have long since fallen away from gaming entirely, but frequently look back to that era with great fondness. My question to the community is, are there any current games that recapture the spirit of the original Quake? Note: This is strictly for PC gaming as I do not own a console.
Television

Ask Slashdot: Best Non-Smart TV Sets? (slashdot.org) 320

williamyf writes: I have always been of the idea that my TV shall be non-smart, leaving the smarts to connected equipment (in my case my Synology NAS running Plex and a combination of Chromecasts and laptops do the trick). I think that most of my Slashdot brethren are of a similar persuasion. But, over the years finding decent non-smart TVs is becoming harder and harder, unless your are prepared to pay much higher prices for industrial/signage equipment, or are prepared to deal with slightly inferior specs and quality, or get an old (possibly second hand) set, or are prepared to do long, hard internet searches for that needle in the haystack (all slashdot readers can google, but here at least we can hear firsthand experiences from technically-minded people, and not fake-ish reviews).

In view of the recent story about Samsung TVs being bricked by a firmware update, I ask the Slashdot crowd to amass our collective knowledge and see: What TV makers make decent non-smart TV sets? Which are these sets?

Requirements: non-smart, no apps on the TV, no app on the smartphone, no nothing -- the dumber the better. OTA tuner optional. 1080p50/60 or higher (1333x768 was barely adequate in 2008, but KRAP in 2017). 16:9 or 21:9. From 35 inches (for the master bedroom) to 70 inches (for the middle class living room in an apartment complex). Real remote (not app in a phone) with at least volume up/down, input change and sleep function, plus all needed to configure the set. Lots of HDMI 2.0 (or higher) ports. A decent assortment of legacy ports (including component, composite, S-Video). HDR capable. Good build quality. Good price (Ideally slightly lower than similar smart TVs, since we are forgoing the hardware needed for the smart part, as well as the ongoing support cost for firmware updates). Good image quality. Decent warranties. Reputable manufacturers. Reputable sellers.

Privacy

Ask Slashdot: How Much of Your Online Browsing Can Advertisers See? 189

dryriver writes: We all know the phenomenon of browsing from an internet site A to a completely unrelated internet site B, and having identical ads follow you from site A to site B. Logic suggests that some kind of advertising system is following you from site A to B, and possibly onto subsequent sites C, D and E as well. Logic also suggests that this advertising system can now put together a nice long list of whatever you are looking at online. So here's the question: How much of your online browsing is "monitored" or "logged" this way by advertisers? Can there be any realistic expectation of privacy on the internet if the default behavior of advertisers is to track you as much as they can?
Software

Slashdot Asks: What Are Your Favorite Android Oreo Features? (thehackernews.com) 277

Yesterday, Android O officially became Android Oreo and started rolling out to Pixel and Nexus devices. While there are many new features available in the new OS, we thought we'd ask you: what are your favorite Android Oreo features? The Hacker News highlights eleven of the new features "that make Android even better" in their report: 1. No More 'Install From Unknown Sources' Setting: Prior to Android Oreo, third-party app installation requires users to enable just one setting by turning on "Install from unknown sources" -- doesn't matter from where the user has downloaded an APK file, i.e. from a browser, Bluetooth, transferred from a computer via USB or downloaded using another app. Android 8.0 Oreo has completely changed the way this feature works, bringing a much smarter and safer system called "Install other apps," in which a user has to manually permit 3rd-party app installation from different sources.
2. Autofill API Framework: Android 8.0 Oreo brings a built-in secure AutoFill API that allows users-chosen password manager to store different types of sensitive data, such as passwords, credit card numbers, phone numbers, and addresses -- and works throughout the entire system.
3. Picture-in-Picture: With Android Oreo, you can view a YouTube video while reading through a report in Word or be chatting on WhatsApp on your Android device -- thanks to Picture-in-Picture (PIP) feature.
4. Google Play Protect: Play Protect helps in detecting and removing harmful applications with more than 50 billion apps scanned every day.
5. Wi-Fi Aware (Neighborhood Aware Networking -- NAN): Android Oreo has added support for a new connectivity feature called Wi-Fi Aware, also known as Neighborhood Aware Networking (NAN), which allows apps and devices to automatically find, connect to, and share data with each other directly without any internet access point or cellular data.
6. Android Instant Apps: With Android 8.0 Oreo, you can now access a range of Instant Apps without downloading them.
7. Battery-Saving Background Limits: Google has blocked apps from reacting to "implicit broadcasts" and carrying out certain tasks when they are running in the background in an effort to enhance the battery life of Android device. Besides this, Android Oreo will also limit some background services and location updates when an app is not in use.
8. AI-based Smart Text Selection: Android Oreo brings the 'Smart Text Selection' feature, which uses Google's machine learning to detect when something like physical addresses, email addresses, names or phone numbers is selected, then automatically suggests the relevant information on other apps.
9. Notification Dots (Limit notifications): Oreo introduces Notification Dots that offers you to manage each app individually with "fine-grained control," allowing you to control how many notifications you see and how they come through.
10. Find my Device: Google has introduced a new feature, called Find my Device, which is a similar feature to Apple's Find my iPhone and allows people to locate, lock and wipe their Android devices in the event when they go missing or get stolen.
11. New Emoji and Downloadable Fonts: Android Oreo introduces 60 new emoji and a redesign of the current "blob" characters. The update also offers new color support to app developers and the ability to change or animate the shape of icons in their apps.

Data Storage

Ask Slashdot: What Are Some Cloud Backup Solutions That You Recommend? 241

New submitter OneHundredAndTen writes: After having used the services of CrashPlan for my backups for a few years now, I have just learned that CrashPlan is exiting the home backup business. Although this won't be happening for another 14 months, they have the chutzpah of recommending a provider (Carbonite) that does not support Linux. Looking in the net, there are not so many alternatives available -- unless you go with somebody that charges you $5/mo and up for a measly 100GB, or (occasionally) 1TB. Fine for a little phone, but not for the several TB worth of video I have shot over the years.

Anybody aware of decent cloud backup solutions that support Linux, and that offer a maximum backup capacity that is not ridiculously small?
Reader cornjones asks a similar question: My use case:
Backups for several computers, both at my house and scattered family machines
Encrypted locally by a key I set, only encrypted bits are stored offsite
I have a copy of my data onsite. I primarily want to protect against lost drives or fire (or ransomware attack)
Ideally, I would be able to point it at a NAS, which I don't have now.
The plan I was on was 10 computers, unlimited data, for 4 years @ $429. Lower is better, but I am willing to pay in that range.
Across my machines, I probably have about 1TB of bulk storage and 10 or so machines w/, say, 60GB backups each.
Education

Does the World Need Polymaths? (bbc.com) 212

Two hundred years ago, it was still possible for one person to be a leader in several different fields of inquiry. Today that is no longer the case. So is there a role in today's world for the polymath -- someone who knows a lot about a lot of things? From a report: Bobby Seagull's fist-pumping and natty dressing, and Eric Monkman's furrowed brow, flashing teeth, contorted facial expressions and vocal delivery -- like a fog horn with a hangover -- made these two young men the stars of the last University Challenge competition. [...] They're still recognised in the street. "People often ask me, do you intimidate people with your knowledge," says Monkman. "But the opposite is the case. I have wide knowledge but no deep expertise. I am intimidated by experts." Seagull, like Monkman, feels an intense pressure to specialise. They regard themselves as Jacks-of-all-Trades, without being master of one. "When I was young what I really wanted to do was know a lot about a lot," says Monkman. "Now I feel that if I want to make a novel contribution to society I need to know a great deal about one tiny thing." The belief that researchers need to specialise goes back at least two centuries. From the beginning of the 19th Century, research has primarily been the preserve of universities. Ever since, says Stefan Collini, Professor of Intellectual History and English Literature at Cambridge University, researchers have labels attached to them. "They're professor of this or that, and you get a much more self-conscious sense of the institutional divides between domains of knowledge."
Education

Ask Slashdot: How Can You Teach Programming To Schoolchildren? 353

Slashdot reader SPopulisQR writes: A new school year is approaching and I wanted to ask what are appropriate programming languages for children of various ages. Specifically, 1) what coding languages should be considered, and 2) are there are any self-guided coding websites that can be used by children to learn coding using guidance and help online? Let's say the ages are 8 and 12.
I know there's lots of opinions about CS education (and about whether or not laptops increase test scores). So leave your own best thoughts in the comments. How can you teach programming to schoolchildren?
Open Source

Ask Slashdot: What Would You Pay To See Open Sourced? 483

jbrase writes: It's in the interest of the open-source community to make open-source development as profitable as possible. One potential means of making money from open source is crowdfunding, [but] proprietary vendors aren't likely to be enthusastic about using their flagship product to try out a relatively untested business model. Crowdfunding the open source release of legacy technologies of historical significance could provide a low-risk way for vendors to experiment with making money by crowdfunding: The product has already turned them a profit.

With that, I'd like to ask Slashdot readers, what would you pay to see open sourced?

Slashdot reader jonwil left a comment suggesting old games ("where the game is no longer being developed/worked on and where the engine/tech is no longer being used for anything"). But the sky's the limit here, so leave your own best answers in the comments. What would you pay to see open sourced?
Google

Ask Slashdot: Female Engineers, Could You Please Share Your Thoughts On the Google Memo 694

Reader joshtops writes: The widely circulated memo written by software engineer James Damore has become the talking point across companies in Silicon Valley, and elsewhere. In an interesting take, The Economist on Tuesday argued with the scientific or otherwise assumptions made by Damore. I was wondering what female engineers -- or females in other STEM beats -- think of the memo.
Games

Ask Slashdot: Are Interactive Computing Devices Addictive? 98

This question came from two things noticed by Slashdot reader dryriver:

"Myself and just about every other kid I was friends with in the 1980s were definitely addicted to computers when we were young, and stayed that way until we reached college."

"There is increasing concern about everybody from young kids to people 60+ staring into smartphone, tablet computer and laptop screens for hours and hours every day and not partaking in other activities they used to before the "glowing screen" hooked them."

His question: Are interactive computing devices, whether networked or not, addictive in nature? What kind of applications appear to be the most addictive? (AAA games? Casual games? Social media? Texting?) And could the addiction have something to do with "Neuroplasticity", the fact that doing an activity over and over again each day that you place great importance in, and pay great attention to, can actually rewire the neurons in your brain?
Nicholas Carr once argued that "We're training ourselves, through repetition, to be facile skimmers, scanners, and message-processors -- important skills, to be sure -- but, perpetually distracted and interrupted, we're not training ourselves in the quieter, more attentive modes of thought." Slashdot readers seem uniquely qualified to address this, so leave your own attentive thoughts in the comments. Are interactive computing devices addictive?
Science

Slashdot Asks: Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? (theatlantic.com) 330

Teens today are more likely to be lonely, depressed and immature than any previous generation, according to analysis published in The Atlantic. According to the professor of psychology who did the analysis, who also has been researching generational differences for 25 years, the culprit is the smartphone. From the article: The advent of the smartphone and its cousin the tablet was followed quickly by hand-wringing about the deleterious effects of "screen time." But the impact of these devices has not been fully appreciated, and goes far beyond the usual concerns about curtailed attention spans. The arrival of the smartphone has radically changed every aspect of teenagers' lives, from the nature of their social interactions to their mental health. These changes have affected young people in every corner of the nation and in every type of household. The trends appear among teens poor and rich; of every ethnic background; in cities, suburbs, and small towns. Where there are cell towers, there are teens living their lives on their smartphone. What do you folks think?
Communications

Ask Slashdot: What Can You Do With Old Coaxial Cable? 384

Long-time Slashdot reader Theaetetus writes: I recently bought a house and the previous owner left some coax (mostly RG59) running between rooms for cable distribution. I'm a cord cutter and don't need cable, and I've already run CAT6e everywhere. But before I pull the RG59 out and try to seal the various holes he left, I figured I'd pick Slashdot's brain: can anyone think of a good non-cable use for spare coax lines?
Leave your best answers in the comments. What can you do with old coaxial cable?
Security

Ask Slashdot: Should Average Consumers Install More Than One Antivirus Program On Their System? 159

Even though you would assume that people would know better, an anonymous reader writes, in my experience, I have found many who think installing more than one antivirus program on their computer is the right way to go about it. Some have installed as many as three third-party security suites, which among other things, takes a toll on the performance. This week the New York Times' tech tip section addresses the matter. From the article, which could be paywalled, but you don't have to read it in entirety anyway: Installing more than one program to constantly scan and monitor your PC for viruses and other security threats can create problems, because the two applications will likely interfere with each other's work. Clashing antivirus programs can cause the computer to behave erratically and run more slowly as the applications battle for system resources. Microsoft advises against running its Windows Defender security software on the same system with another installed third-party antivirus program. Likewise, antivirus software companies also warn against using other system security products when you are using theirs; Bitdefender, Kaspersky Lab and Symantec all have articles on their sites explaining the potential problems in detail. Programs that do not constantly patrol your operating system, like mail scanners, may not be an issue. What do you folks recommend to people who are not as tech-savvy?
Network

Ask Slashdot: Best Option For a Touring Band With Mobile Data? 203

New submitter SEMLogistics writes: I'm working with a well-known rock band, that is not based in the U.S., and has an upcoming U.S. tour this fall. The issue they always run into, however, is when renting a tour bus and traveling with 12 to 14 people, they consistently blow through data allowances set by the bus company. This leads to tremendously expensive overages, and greatly throttled data. "When chartering a Nightliner tour bus, travel companies only typically allow for 10GB data a month. With 12 people, downloading music and streaming movies, we can easily exceed 12GB a day! This leads to thousands of dollars every month in overages!"

Slashdot, help! Are there any good mobile hotspot options with unlimited data, and monthly contracts (I haven't found any), or other alternatives than to simply be held a data-hostage?
Wireless Networking

Ask Slashdot: How Can You Avoid Routers With Locked Firmware? 320

thejynxed writes: Awhile ago the FCC in the USA implemented a rule that required manufacturers to restrict end-users from tampering with the radio outputs on wi-fi routers. It was predicted that manufacturers would take the lazy way out by locking down the firmware/bootloaders of the routers entirely instead of partitioning off access to the radio transmit power and channel ranges. This has apparently proven to be the case, as even now routers that were previously marketed as "Open Source Ready" or "DD-WRT Compatible" are coming with locked firmware.

In my case, having noticed this trend, I purchased three routers from Belkin, Buffalo, and Netgear in Canada, the UK, and Germany respectively, instead of the USA, and the results: All three routers had locked firmware/bootloaders, with no downgrade rights and no way to install Tomato, DD-WRT, OpenWRT, etc. It seems the FCC rule is an example of the wide-reaching effect of US law on the products sold in other nations, etc. So, does anyone know a good source of unlocked routers or other technical information on how to bypass this ridiculous outcome of FCC over-reach and manufacturer laziness?

The FCC later specified that they were not trying to block Open Source firmware modifications -- so leave your best suggestions in the comments. How can you avoid routers with locked firmware?
Communications

Ask Slashdot: Someone Else Is Using My Email Address 565

periklisv writes: I daily receive emails from adult dating sites, loan services, government agencies, online retailers etc, all of them either asking me to verify my account, or, even worse, having signed me up to their service (especially dating sites), which makes me really uncomfortable, my being a married man with children... I was one of the early lucky people that registered a gmail address using my lastname@gmail.com. This has proven pretty convenient over the years, as it's simple and short, which makes it easy to communicate over the phone, write down on applications etc. However, over the past six months, some dude in Australia (I live in the EU) who happens to have the same last name as myself is using it to sign up to all sorts of services...

I tried to locate the person on Facebook, Twitter etc and contacted a few that seemed to match, but I never got a response. So the question is, how do you cope with such a case, especially nowadays that sites seem to ignore the email verification for signups?

Leave your best answers in the comments. What would you do if someone else started giving out your email address?
Ubuntu

Ask Slashdot: Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Desktop Default Application Survey 298

Dustin Kirkland, Ubuntu Product and Strategy at Canonical, writes: Howdy all- Back in March, we asked the HackerNews community, "What do you want to see in Ubuntu 17.10?": https://ubu.one/AskHN. A passionate discussion ensued, the results of which are distilled into this post: http://ubu.one/thankHN. In fact, you can check that link, http://bit.ly/thankHN and see our progress so far this cycle. We already have a beta code in 17.10 available for your testing for several of those:

- GNOME replaced Unity
- Bluetooth improvements with a new BlueZ
- Switched to libinput
- 4K/Multimonitor/HiDPI improvements
- Upgraded to Network Manager 1.8
- New Subiquity server installer
- Minimal images (36MB, 18% smaller)

And several others have excellent work in progress, and will be complete by 17.10:

- Autoremove old kernels from /boot
- EXT4 encryption with fscrypt
- Better GPU/CUDA support

In summary -- your feedback matters! There are hundreds of engineers and designers working for *you* to continue making Ubuntu amazing! Along with the switch from Unity to GNOME, we're also reviewing some of the desktop applications we package and ship in Ubuntu. We're looking to crowdsource input on your favorite Linux applications across a broad set of classic desktop functionality. We invite you to contribute by listing the applications you find most useful in Linux in order of preference.


Click through for info on how to contribute.
Privacy

Ask Slashdot: Is Password Masking On Its Way Out? 234

New submitter thegreatbob writes: Perhaps you've noticed in the last 5 years or so, progressively more entities have been providing the ability to reveal the contents of a password field. While this ability is, in many cases (especially on devices with lousy keyboards), legitimately useful, it does seem to be a reasonable source of concern. Fast forward to today; I was setting up a new router (cheapest dual-band router money can, from Tenda) and I was almost horrified to discover that it does not mask any of its passwords by default. So I ask Slashdot: is password masking really on its way out, and does password masking do anything beyond preventing the casual shoulder-surfer?
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: What Are Some Developer Secrets That Could Sink Your Business? 243

snydeq writes: In today's tech world, the developer is king -- and we know it. But if you're letting us reign over your app dev strategy, you might be in for some surprises, thanks to what we aren't saying, writes an anonymous developer in a roundup of developer secrets that could sink the business. "The truth is, we developers aren't always straight with you. We have a few secrets we like to keep for ourselves. The fact that we don't tell you everything is understandable. You're the boss, after all. Do you tell your boss everything? If you're the CEO, do you loop in the board on every decision? So don't be so surprised when we do it." What possible damaging programming dirt are you keeping the lid on? Some of the points the developer mentions in his/her report include: "Your technical debt is a lot bigger than you think," "We're infatuated with our own code," and "We'd rather build than maintain." If you can think of any others not mentioned in the report, we're all ears! This may be a good time to check the "Post Anonymously" box before you submit your comment.
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: What Are The Lesser-Known Roles Of The IT Department? 355

chadenright writes: On the same day that I was hired into a new IT position, my new employer also bought a pair of $1,500 conference phones from a third-party vendor, which turned out to be defective; I've spent a chunk of the last two weeks arguing with the vendor. During the process I've learned that, as the IT guy, I'm also the antibody of the corporation and my job is to prevent not just malware and viruses but also junk hardware from entering my business's system. As a software engineer who is new to the IT side of things, I have to ask, what else have you learned about IT?
What fresh hell has this software engineer gotten themselves into? Leave your best answers in the comments. What are the lesser-known roles of the IT department?
Windows

Ask Slashdot: What Software (Or Hardware) Glitch Makes You Angry? 484

This question was inspired when Slashdot reader TheRealHocusLocus found their laptop "in the throes of a Windows 10 Update," where "progress has rolled past 100% several times and started over." I pushed the re-schedule dialogue to the rear and left it waiting. But my application did not count as activity and I left for a few moments, so Windows decided to answer its own question and restart (breaking a persistent Internet connection)... I've had it. Upon due consideration I now conclude I have been personally f*ck'd with. Driver availability, my apps and WINE permitting, this machine is getting Linux or pre-Windows-8...

That's mine, now let's hear about the things that are pushing you over the edge this very minute. Phones, software, power windows, anything.

There's a longer version of this story in the original submission -- but what's bugging you today? Leave your best answers in the comments. What software (or hardware glitch) makes you angry?
The Almighty Buck

Ask Slashdot: Why Do So Many of You Think Carrying Cash Is 'Dangerous'? 660

An anonymous reader writes: Recently, I asked Slashdot what you thought about paying for things online using plastic, and the security of using plastic in general; thank you all for your many and varied responses, they're all much appreciated and gave me things to consider.

However, I got quite a few responses that puzzled me: People claiming that paying for things with cash, and carrying any amount of cash around at all, was somehow dangerous, that I'd be "robbed," and that I shouldn't carry cash at all, only plastic. I'm Gen-Y; I've walked around my entire life, in all sorts of places, and have never been approached or robbed by anyone, so I'm more than a little puzzled by that.

So now I ask you, Slashdotters: Why do you think carrying cash is so dangerous? Where do you live/spend your time that you worry so much about being robbed? Have you been robbed before, and that's why you feel this way? I'm not going to stop carrying cash in my wallet but I'd like to understand why it is so many of you feel this way -- so please be thorough in your explanations.
Programming

Ask Slashdot: How Do You Read Code? 337

New submitter Gornkleschnitzer writes: The majority of humans read silently by rendering a simulation of the printed words as if they were being spoken. By reading that sentence, chances are you're now stuck being conscious of this, too. You're welcome.

As a programmer (and a reader of fanfiction), plenty of things I read are not valid English syntax. When I find myself reviewing class definitions, for loops, and #define macros, I rely on some interesting if inconsistent mental pronunciation rules. For instance, int i = 0; comes out as "int i equals zero," but if(i == 0) sometimes comes out as either "if i is zero" or "if i equals equals zero." The loop for(size_t i = 0; i < itemList.size(); ++i) generally translates to "for size T i equals zero, i less than item list dot size, plus-plus i." I seem to drop C++ insertion/extraction operators entirely in favor of a brief comma-like pause, with cout << str << endl; sounding like "kowt, stur, endel."

What are your code-reading quirks?
Security

Ask Slashdot: How Safe, Really, Is Paying For Things Online? 396

An anonymous reader writes: Due to the rash of intrusions into electronic payment systems lately, I've decided to go back to paying cash for everyday purchases, groceries, fuel, and anything else I pay for in person (which also has the positive effect of making balacing my checkbook every month that much easier). The question I have is: For the monthly bills it's just not practical to pay in person (utilities, for instance), how safe are those?

Five minutes of research is telling me that mailing paper checks isn't any more secure than online electronic payments and in fact may be even less secure, but short of literally showing up at the electric company, phone company, ISP, and so on, and paying them cash in person, I can't see any other way to pay them. So how safe is it right now, honestly?

I'm always interested in how Slashdot readers secure their own personal finances -- but how high is the danger that a remote malefactor will hijack and then drain your bank account? Leave your best answers in the comments. How safe, really, is paying for things online?
Technology

Ask Slashdot: Are We Living In the Golden Age of Bailing? (nytimes.com) 248

An anonymous reader shares a report that makes a case of us living in an era where bailing has become just too common: It's clear we're living in a golden age of bailing. All across America people are deciding on Monday that it would be really fantastic to go grab a drink with X on Thursday. But then when Thursday actually rolls around they realize it would actually be more fantastic to go home, flop on the bed and watch Carpool Karaoke videos. So they send the bailing text or email: "So sorry! I'm gonna have to flake on drinks tonight. Overwhelmed. My grandmother just got bubonic plague..." Bailing is one of the defining acts of the current moment because it stands at the nexus of so many larger trends: the ambiguity of modern social relationships, the fraying of commitments (paywalled), what my friend Hayley Darden calls the ethic of flexibility ushered in by smartphone apps -- not to mention the decline of civilization, the collapse of morality and the ruination of all we hold dear. [...] Technology makes it all so easy. You just pull out your phone and bailing on a rendezvous is as easy as canceling an Uber driver. There are different categories of bailing. There is canceling on friends. This seems to follow a bail curve pattern. People feel free to bail on close friends, because they will understand, and on distant friends, because they don't matter so much, but they are less inclined to bail on medium-tier or fragile friends. Then there is professional bailing. This tends to have a hierarchical structure. A high-status person will frequently bail on a lower-status colleague, but if an intern bails on a senior executive, it is a sign of serious disrespect. What do you folks think?
Transportation

Slashdot Asks: Your Favorite Ride-Sharing App? 144

There are many ride-sharing applications on the market but only two get all the media attention: Uber and Lyft. As many of you know, Uber has had a tumultuous year marked by a high-stakes legal fight with Alphabet over Google self-driving car trade secrets, a investigation by the U.S. government into the company's use of a software tool that helped its drivers avoid detection in parts of the country where the service wasn't allowed to operate in, and a sexual harassment investigation that resulted in 20 employees being fired. Uber's CEO Travis Kalanick resigned due to many of these scandals and investor pressure. Despite all of this, Uber continues to do well. Last week, the company announced it hit 5 billion rides across 6 continents, 76 countries, and 450+ cities.

Meanwhile, Lyft, which is only available in the U.S., just announced it hit one million rides a day. The company also says it's seen 48 consecutive months of ride growth and is on track to hit an annualized ride rate of 350 million. Our question to you is this: what ride-sharing app is your favorite? Have you found yourself gravitating more towards Lyft due to Uber's messes, or does that not matter much to you? Bonus: do you have a favorite ride-sharing app that's not Lyft or Uber?
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: Is Logging Long Hours a Recipe For Burnout or the Only Way To Get Ahead? (bloomberg.com) 253

An anonymous reader writes: Over the weekend, I came across this story on Bloomberg that illustrates a common dilemma that many of us face ourselves: are we sure we're working enough? From the article: "Earlier this month, venture capitalist Keith Rabois set off a Silicon Valley firestorm about what it takes to succeed. When another tech investor wrote on Twitter that working on the weekends and burning out isn't cool -- and doesn't work -- Rabois fired back. "Totally false," he said. Rabois cited icons like Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Belichick as proof that dogged dedication (usually measured by long hours) was the only way to reach the top of your field. Lots of people objected to this assessment, for reasons ranging from VC privilege to its gendered implications." I was wondering where Slashdot readers find themselves in this debate.
Network

Ask Slashdot: Best Way To Isolate a Network And Allow Data Transfer? 237

Futurepower(R) writes: What is the best way to isolate a network from the internet and prevent intrusion of malware, while allowing carefully examined data transfer from internet-facing computers? An example of complete network isolation could be that each user would have two computers with a KVM switch and a monitor and keyboard, or two monitors and two keyboards. An internet-facing computer could run a very secure version of Linux. Any data to be transferred to that user's computer on the network would perhaps go through several Raspberry Pi computers running Linux; the computers could each use a different method of checking for malware. Windows computers on the isolated network could be updated using Autopatcher, so that there would never be a direct connection with the internet. Why not use virtualization? Virtualization does not provide enough separation; there is the possibility of vulnerabilities. Do you have any ideas about improving the example above?
Privacy

Ask Slashdot: How Do You Prepare For The Theft Of Your PC? 262

A security-conscious Slashdot reader has theft insurance -- but worries whether it covers PC theft. And besides the hassles of recreating every customization after restoring from backups, there's also the issue of keeping personal data private. I currently keep important information on a hidden, encrypted partition so an ordinary thief won't get much off of it, but that is about the extent of my preparation... What would you do? Some sort of beacon to let you know where your stuff is? Remote wipe? Online backup?
There's a couple of issues here -- including privacy, data recovery, deterrence, compensation -- each leading to different ways to answer the question: what can you actually do to prepare for the possibility? So use the comments to share your own experiences. How have you prepared for the theft of your PC?
Yahoo!

Ask Slashdot: Advice For a Yahoo Mail Refugee 322

New submitter ma1wrbu5tr writes: Very shortly after the announcement of Verizon's acquisition of Yahoo, two things happened that caught my attention. First, I was sent an email that basically said "these are our new Terms of Service and if you don't agree to them, you have until June 8th to close your account". Subsequently, I noticed that when working in my mailbox via the browser, I kept seeing messages in the status bar saying "uploading..." and "upload complete". I understand that Y! has started advertising heavily in the webmail app but I find these "uploads" disturbing. I've since broken out a pop client and have downloaded 15 years worth of mail and am going through to ensure there are no other online accounts tied to that address. My question to slashdotters is this: "What paid or free secure email service do you recommend as a replacement and why?" I'm on the hunt for an email service that supports encryption, has a good Privacy Policy, and doesn't have a history of breaches or allowing snooping.
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: What Are Some 'Best Practices' IT Should Avoid At All Costs? (cio.com) 348

snydeq writes: From telling everyone they're your customer to establishing a cloud strategy, Bob Lewis outlines 12 "industry best practices" that are sure to sink your company's chances of IT success: "What makes IT organizations fail? Often, it's the adoption of what's described as 'industry best practices' by people who ought to know better but don't, probably because they've never had to do the job. From establishing internal customers to instituting charge-backs to insisting on ROI, a lot of this advice looks plausible when viewed from 50,000 feet or more. Scratch the surface, however, and you begin to find these surefire recipes for IT success are often formulas for failure." What "best practices" would you add?
Hardware

Ask Slashdot: What Would Happen If You Were To Put a Computer Inside a Fridge? 181

dryriver writes: This is not asking what would happen if you were to place your iMac inside your kitchen fridge. Rather, what if a computer casing for a high-powered graphics workstation with multiple CPUs and GPUs, lets say, worked just like a small fridge or freezer, cooling your hardware down without using any CPU fans or liquid cooling and similar. How much would such a fridge-casing cost to make and buy, how much electricity would it consume, how much bigger would it be than a normal PC casing, and would it be a practical solution to the problem of keeping high-powered computer hardware cool for extended periods of time? Bonus question: Is such a thing as a fridge-casing or "Fridgeputer" sold anywhere on the world market right now? Linus Tech Tips tackled this question in a video a couple of years ago, titled "PC Build in a Fridge - Does it Work?"
Python

Ask Slashdot: Will Python Become The Dominant Programming Language? 808

An anonymous reader shares their thoughts on language popuarity: In the PYPL index, which is based on Google searches and is supposed to be forward looking, the trend is unmistakable. Python is rising fast and Java and others are declining. Combine this with the fact that Python is now the most widely taught language in the universities. In fields such as data science and machine learning, Python is already dominating. "Python where you can, C++ where you must" enterprises are following suit too, especially in data science but for everything else from web development to general purpose computing...

People who complain that you can't build large scale systems without a compiler likely over-rely on the latter and are slaves to IDEs. If you write good unit tests and enforce Test Driven Development, the compiler becomes un-necessary and gets in the way. You are forced to provide too much information to it (also known as boilerplate) and can't quickly refactor code, which is necessary for quick iterations.

The original submission ends with a question: "Is Python going to dominate in the future?" Slashdot readers should have some interesting opinions on this. So leave your own thoughts in the comments. Will Python become the dominant programming language?
AI

Ask Slashdot: How Can Programmers Move Into AI Jobs? 121

"I have the seriously growing suspicion that AI is coming for us programmers and IT experts faster than we might want to admit," writes long-time Slashdot reader Qbertino. So he's contemplating a career change -- and wondering what AI work is out there now, and how can he move into it? Is anything popping up in the industry and AI hype? (And what are these positions called, what do they precisely do, and what are the skills needed to do them?) I suspect something like an "AI Architect", planning AI setups and clearly defining the boundaries of what the AI is supposed to do and explore.

Then I presume the requirements for something like an "AI Maintainer" and/or "AI Trainer" which would probably resemble something like an admin of a big data storage, looking at statistics and making educated decisions on which "AI Training Paths" the AI should continue to explore to gain the skill required and deciding when the "AI" is ready to be let go on to the task... And what about Tensor Flow? Should I toy around with it or are we past that stage already and will others do AI setup and installation better than me before I know how this thing really works...?

Is there a degree program, or other paths to skill and knowledge, for a programmer who's convinced that "AI is today what the web was in 1993"? And if AI of the future ends up tied to specific providers -- AI as a service -- then are there specific vendors he should be focusing on (besides Google?) Leave your best suggestions in the comments. How can programmers move into AI jobs?
AI

Ask Slashdot: What Types of Jobs Are Opening Up In the New Field of AI? 133

Qbertino writes: I'm about to move on in my career after having a "short rethink and regroup break" and was for quite some time now thinking about getting into perhaps a new programming language and technology, like NodeJS or Java/Kotlin or something. But I have the seriously growing suspicion that artificial intelligence is coming for us programmers and IT experts faster than we might want to admit. Just last weekend I heard myself saying to a friend who was a pioneer on the web, "AI is today what the web was in 1993" -- I think that to be very true. So just 20 minutes ago I started thinking and wondering about what types of jobs there are in AI. Is anything popping up in the industry from the AI hype and what are these positions called, what do they precisely do and what are the skills needed to do them? I suspect something like an "AI Architect" for planning AI setups and clearly defining the boundaries of what the AI is supposed to do and explore. Then I presume the requirements for something like an "AI Maintainer" and/or "AI Trainer," which would probably resemble something like an admin of a big data storage, looking at statistics and making educated decisions on which "AI Training Paths" the AI should continue to explore to gain the skill required and deciding when the "AI" is ready to be let go on to the task. You're seeing we -- AFAIK -- don't even have names for these positions yet, but I suspect, just as in the internet/web boom 20 years ago, that is about to change *very* fast.

And what about Tensor Flow? Should I toy around with it or are we past that stage already and will others do AI setup and installation better than me before I know how this thing really works? Because I also suspect most of the AI work for humans will closely be tied to services and providers such as Google. You know, renting "AI" as you rent webspace or subscribe to bandwidth today. Any services and industry vendors I should look into -- besides the obvious Google that is? In a nutshell, what work is there in the field of AI that can be done and how do I move into that? Like now. And what should I maybe get a degree in if I want to be on top of this AI thing? And how would you go about gaining skill and knowledge on AI today, and I mean literally, today. I know, tons of questions but insightful advice is requested from an educated slashdot crowd. And I bet I'm not the only one interested in this topic. Thanks.
Data Storage

Why Does Microsoft Still Offer a 32-bit OS? (backblaze.com) 367

Brian Wilson, a founder of cloud storage service BackBlaze, writes in a blog post: Moving over to a 64-bit OS allows your laptop to run BOTH the old compatible 32-bit processes and also the new 64-bit processes. In other words, there is zero downside (and there are gigantic upsides). Because there is zero downside, the first time it could, Apple shipped with 64-bit OS support. Apple did not give customers the option of "turning off all 64-bit programs." Apple first shipped 64-bit support in OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard in 2009. This was so successful that Apple shipped all future Operating Systems configured to support both 64-bit and 32-bit processes. All of them. But let's contrast the Apple approach with that of Microsoft. Microsoft offers a 64-bit OS in Windows 10 that runs all 64-bit and all 32-bit programs. This is a valid choice of an Operating System. The problem is Microsoft ALSO gives customers the option to install 32-bit Windows 10 which will not run 64-bit programs. That's crazy. Another advantage of the 64-bit version of Windows is security. There are a variety of security features such as ASLR (Address Space Layout Randomization) that work best in 64-bits. The 32-bit version is inherently less secure. By choosing 32-bit Windows 10 a customer is literally choosing a lower performance, LOWER SECURITY, Operating System that is artificially hobbled to not run all software. My problem is this: Backblaze, like any good technology vendor, wants to be easy to use and friendly. In this case, that means we need to quietly, invisibly, continue to support BOTH the 32-bit and the 64-bit versions of every Microsoft OS they release. And we'll probably need to do this for at least 5 years AFTER Microsoft officially retires the 32-bit only version of their operating system.
Media

Ask Slashdot: What Is Your View On Sloot Compression? (youtube.com) 418

An anonymous reader writes: A Dutch electronics engineer named Jan Sloot spent 20 years of his life trying to compress broadcast quality video down to kilobytes -- not megabytes or gigabytes (the link in this story contains an 11 minute mini-documentary on Sloot). His CODEC, finalized in the late 1990s, consisted of a massive 370Mb decoder engine that likely contained some kind of clever system for procedurally generating just about any video frame or audio sample desired -- fractals or other generative approaches may have been used by Sloot. The "instruction files" that told this decoder what kind of video frames, video motion and audio samples to generate were supposedly only kilobytes in size -- kind of like small MIDI files being able to generate hugely complex orchestral scores when they instruct a DAW software what to play. Jan Sloot died of a heart attack two days before he was due to sign a technology licensing deal with a major electronics company. The Sloot Video Compression system source code went missing after his death and was never recovered, prompting some to speculate that Jan Sloot was killed because his ultra-efficient video compression and transmission scheme threatened everyone profiting from storing, distributing and transmitting large amounts of digital video data. I found out about Sloot Compression only after watching some internet videos on "invention suppression." So the question is: is it technically possible that Sloot Compression, with its huge decoder file and tiny instruction files, actually worked? According to Reddit user PinGUY, the Sloot Digital Coding System may have been the inspiration for Pied Piper, a fictional data compression algorithm from HBO's Silicon Valley. Here's some more information about the Sloot Digital Coding System for those who are interested.
Movies

What Are Some Documentaries and TV Shows That You Recommend To Others? 278

Reader joshtops writes: Wow thanks for the overwhelming response on my previous post. I'm taking notes and intend to give all of the suggested books a go in the near future. If I may, and I hope the editors approve of this, could you also list some of your favorite TV shows and documentaries? Also, is there any show or documentary you think that changed or influenced your life, or at least your perception on any particular subject?

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