Compare cell phone plans using Wirefly's innovative plan comparison tool ×
Software

Slashdot Asks: What's Your Preferred Note-Taking App? 286

Earlier this week, popular note-taking app Evernote announced major changes to its service. The company announced that free users on the app will now only be able to sync across two devices. The company also raised the prices of its paid tiers by 40%. This move, as you can imagine, has resulted in Evernote facing a backlash from many of its users. To give some perspective, Evernote paid plans ($36/ $70 a year) now costs as much as Office 365's $70 Personal yearly plan. With Office 365, obviously, you get more stuff -- including access to Microsoft productivity suite, and 1TB OneDrive storage. Microsoft was quick to release a free tool for Evernote users should they want to move their data to its note-taking service OneNote. OneNote is free to use and offers 15GB free storage to all users. Google's Keep is another good option with 15GB of free storage. Which note-taking app do you use? Anyone who still prefers taking notes on a notebook with a pen?
Media

Ask Slashdot: What's Your Preferred Media Streaming Device? 226

New submitter bkr1_2k writes: Way back when, I had a PC dedicated as a media server using MythTV. That died and I didn't bother building a new one. Consumer electronics caught up and I recently bought an Apple TV (3rd Generation) to use for streaming my media library. I am, unsurprisingly, finding flaws with it. I'm looking for alternative devices that allow me to stream from my media server directly, without the need for a middleman app like iTunes for the Apple TV. I don't need a ton of streaming services (we have Netflix and Amazon Prime but don't use anything else). I primarily want to use this for streaming my own music and movie libraries over my home network, preferably with a user interface that lets me browse those in a fashion that doesn't force me to scroll through my whole library to get to the title that starts with the letter "Z" (A very poor design choice in the Apple TV). Nor do I want any voice controls since they all suck, in my experience. I would prefer an 'open' device that I can update at will with add-ons, but it's not a requirement. What are the current options out there? Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast. Anything else that might fit my needs better? Last week, we asked a similar question: "What's your preferred music streaming service?"
Digital

Slashdot Asks: What's Your Preferred Music Streaming Service? 316

Spotify announced on Monday that it has hit 100 million users on its music streaming service, with over 30 million paid subscribers. The Swedish music company's service rivals with Apple Music, Pandora, and Google's Play Music. Apple's streaming service, which was launched last year, has over 15 million paid customers as of earlier this month. Amazon also reportedly plans to launch its music streaming service later this year. YouTube is also a stop for many music listeners, and so is radio.

How do you get your music? Do you still purchase CDs and DVDs? Anyone with a turntable in the audience?
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: How Can You Manage Developers Distributed Across Multiple Projects? 112

An anonymous Slashdot reader asks whether it's possible to manage a "distributed" team of software developers in different locations who are all assigned to different projects, each with their own independent project managers: All embedded software engineers from multiple offices in different countries are now being reorganized into this new distributed team [with] better control of its own development practices, processes and tools, since everyone is working in embedded software...

While there's extensive material throughout the Internet on best practices for managing distributed teams, it seems to either take an agile perspective, the project manager's perspective or be otherwise based on the assumption that everyone in the team are working in the same project. In my case, I'd be managing a distributed team of developers all assigned to different projects. How can I build cohesion, alignment and trust for my team of embedded software developers in this new three-dimensional distributed matrix organization?

Anyone have any relevant experiences to share with distributed teams or "matrix" organizations? Leave your answers in the comments. How can you manage developers who are all distributed across multiple projects?
Security

Ask Slashdot: Should You Store Medical Details In The Cloud? (caremonkey.com) 262

"Paper forms are a security risk", warns the web site for CareMonkey, which maintains digital and up-to-date medical information in the cloud "for any organization with a duty of care". This is raising concerns for long-time Slashdot reader rolandw, who says he's being asked by his daughter's school to approve using the site to store "her full medical details". CareMonkey say that this data is stored on AWS and their security page says that it is secured by every protocol ever claimed by AWS (apparently). As a sysadmin and developer who has used AWS extensively for non-secure information my alarm bells are sounding.
Should he ignore those alarm bells and approve the storage of his daughter's medical history in the cloud? And if not, what specific reason would you give for refusing?
Crime

Ask Slashdot: Can Technology Prevent Shootings? 1144

An anonymous reader wonders if there's a technological response to mass shootings like this Sunday's attack in Orlando, Florida: We're in for a sadly obvious debate now with all of the usual scapegoats, but instead of focusing on who's to blame, it'd be better to identify some specific actions that could actually generate real increases in public safety going forward...

If we're looking for radical changes in the way we live, does technology have a role? Is the answer smart gun technology? Mandatory metal detectors at night clubs? Better data analysis algorithms for the federal government? Bulletproof fabrics?

Share your best ideas in the comments. Could there be a technological solution to the problem of mass shootings?
Open Source

Ask Slashdot: What's The Best CMS? 222

Slashdot reader pipingguy recently inherited a 2012 installation of Joomla 1.5.26, and while performing four years worth of updates, began wondering about other content management systems. I've built more than a few static websites (I use Sublime Text 3 or Atom, not some fancy-pants WYSIWYG doohickey) and am quite familiar with CSS, but databases not so much. I've been through lots of online documentation and am a bit bewildered, but I'm following the recommendations regarding backups and the like.

What are Slashdot readers' latest opinions on the three most popular CMSes -- Drupal, Joomla and WordPress? Any tips for me before I accidentally blow away the existing site and have to rebuild everything...?

Leave your educated opinions in the comments...
Handhelds

Ask Slashdot: Why Do Most Tablet Specs Suck? 231

Slashdot reader Qbertino describes himself as a "happy tablet user," moving from an old HTC Flyer to his Yoga 2. But he notes that most other tablets "have laughable battery times," and "I've yet to find a tablet that does not give me storage or memory problems in some way or other, lasts for a day or two in power and doesn't feel chintzy and like it won't stand a month of regular everyday use and carrying around..." He asks why none of the manufacturers seem willing to offer more than one gigabyte of RAM -- and why they're so stingy with storage. "Where is the rugged 16GB RAM / 1TB Storage / 20-hour battery tablet?"

So leave your educated opinions in the comments. What are your thoughts on the current tablet market? And are they the ultimate all-purpose "convergence" device that Apple and Ubuntu seem to think they are?
Programming

Slashdot Asks: Is the App Boom Over? 278

Quartz did a story in 2014 in which, citing comScore's data, it noted that most smartphones users download zero apps per month. Two years later, the data from Nomura reveals that the top 15 app publishers saw downloads drop an average of 20% in the United States. While there are exceptions -- Uber and Snapchat continue to attract new users worldwide -- it appears that developers are finding it increasingly difficult to get new people to download and try their apps. Recode reports: But now even the very biggest app publishers are seeing their growth slow down or stop altogether. Most people have all the apps they want and/or need. They're not looking for new ones.What's your take on this?
Security

Ask Slashdot: How Do You Create A Highly-Secure Password? (securitymagazine.com) 637

An anonymous reader writes: A security lab at Carnegie Mellon performed a study on password security recently, and issued a warning about common user misconceptions. For example, 'ieatkale88' would require 4 billion more guesses than 'iloveyou', because 'iloveyou' is one of the most common strings in passwords. And the word 'pAsswOrd' would take 4,000 times more guesses than 'p@ssw0rd', simply because "In modern day password-cracking tools, replacing letters with numbers or symbols is predictable."

But then what passwords are secure in the face of these modern password-cracking tools? As professionals in the IT industry, what advice would you give?

Leave your answers in the comments. How do you create a highly-secure password?
Education

Slashdot Asks: How Did You Learn How To Code? 515

Last week Apple's CEO argued that computer programming should be a 'second language', and that it should be a required subject for all students starting in 4th grade. But a large number of professional programmers didn't learn how to code in a formal school program, either because they're self-taught or because they learned on the job. There's a lot of abstract discussions about the best ways to teach coding, but if there's any group that's uniquely qualified to answer that question, it's the Slashdot community.

So leave your answers in the comments. How did you learn how to code?
Television

Ask Slashdot: Why Do You Want a 'Smart TV'? 507

Reader kheldan questions the need for a Smart TV (edited for clarity): Yesterday we read about how Samsung is planning on 'upgrading' the firmware in its smart TVs so that it could inject ads into your video streams. This raises the question yet again: Why do you even need a 'smart TV' in the first place? We live in an age where media-center computers and DVRs are ubiquitous, and all your TV really needs to be is a high-def monitor to connect to these devices. Even many smartphones have HDMI connectivity, and a Raspberry Pi is inexpensive and can play 1080 content at full framerate. None of these devices are terribly expensive anymore, and the price jump from a non-smart TV to a smart TV makes it difficult to justify the expense. Also, remember previous articles posted on the subject of surveillance many of these smart TVs have been found guilty of. So I put it to you, denizens of Slashdot: Why does anyone really want a 'smart TV'?
Books

Ask Slashdot: What Books Should An Aspiring Coder Read? 178

Earlier this month Bill Gates released his summer reading list, which included Seveneves, by Neal Stephenson and mathematician Jordan Ellenberg's book How Not to be Wrong. Now an anonymous Slashdot reader asks for your book recommendations. I've been trying to learn more about coding, but I need a break sometimes from technical documentation and O'Reilly books. Are there any good books that can provide some good general context and maybe teach me about our place in the history of technology or the state of the programming profession today?
In the U.S., Memorial Day is considered the "unofficial" first weekend of summer -- so what should be on this geek's summer reading list? Cracking the Coding Interview? Godel, Escher, Bach? This year's Nebula award winners? George Takei's The Internet Strikes Back? Leave your suggestions in the comments. What books should an aspiring coder be reading?
Android

Slashdot Asks: Would You Pay For Android Updates? (theverge.com) 257

It's no secret that most Android OEMs could do better when it comes to seeding out updates for their existing devices. A report on Bloomberg earlier this week claimed that Google plans to publicly name and shame the OEMs who are too slow at updating their devices. An HTC executive who didn't want to be identified told Slashdot on Thursday that it is not the right way to approach the problem. But that's only one part of the problem. The other issue is that almost every Android OEM partner -- including Google itself -- only provides support to their devices for 18-24 months. Vlad Savov of The Verge in a column today urges Android OEMs to perhaps charge its users if that is what it takes for them to offer support to their devices for a longer period of time and in a timely manner. He writes: I've been one of the many people dissatisfied with the state of Android software updates, however I can't in good conscience direct my wrath at the people manufacturing the devices. Price and spec competition is so intense right now that there's literally no option to disengage: everyone's been sucked into the whirlpool of razor-thin profit margins, and nobody can afford the luxury of dedicating too many resources to after-sales care. The question that's been bugging me lately is, if we value Android updates as highly as we say we do, why don't we pay for them? The situation can't be fixed by manufacturers -- most of them are barely breaking even -- or by Google, which is doing its best to improve things but ultimately relies on carriers and device makers to get the job done. Carriers will most certainly not be the solution, given how they presently constitute most of the problem (just ask AT&T Galaxy S6 owners) -- so like it or not, the best chance for substantial change comes from us, the users. What I'm proposing is a simple crowdfunding operation. I'm skeptical about this, because I don't think it is in an OEM's best interest to serve its existing users for long -- how else they will convince customers to purchase their new devices? A newer software version is after all one of the ultimate selling points of a new phone. So I don't think an OEM will take up on such an offer. What do you folks think?
Books

Slashdot Asks: Should It Be Legal To Resell E-Books, Software, and Other Digital Goods? (arstechnica.co.uk) 380

There's no one stopping you from selling the CDs and DVDs that you buy, so why can't you do the same with e-books, music albums, movies, and other things you've downloaded? Ars Technica reports about a Dutch second-hand e-book platform called Tom Kabinet which has been "at a war" with Dutch Publishers Association (NUV) over this issue. This is seen as a threat to the entire book industry. German courts have suggested that the practice of reselling e-books should be stopped, whereas Dutch courts don't necessarily see it as an issue. What's your view on this?
Open Source

Ask Slashdot: Have You Migrated To Node.js? 341

A developer maintaining his company's "half-assed LAMP / WordPress stack pipeline for web and web application development" is considering something more scalable that could eventually be migrated into the cloud. Qbertino asks Slashdot: Have you moved from LAMP (PHP) to Node.js for custom product development and if so, what's your advice? What downsides of JS on the server and in Node.js have a real-world effect? Is callback hell really a thing? And what is the state of free and open-source Node products...? Is there any trend inside the Node.js camp on building a platform and CMS product that competes with the PHP camp whilst maintaining a sane architecture, or is it all just a ball of hype with a huge mess of its own growing in the background, Rails-style?
Condensing Qbertino's original submission: he wants to be able to quickly deliver "pretty, working, and half-way reliable products that make us money" -- and to build a durable pipeline. So leave your educated opinions in the comments. What did you experience moving to Node.js?
AI

Ask Slashdot: Can You Have A Smart Home That's Not 'In The Cloud'? 183

With the announcement of Google Home on Wednesday, one anonymous Slashdot reader asks a timely question about cloud-based "remote control" services that feed information on your activities into someone else's advertising system: In principle, this should not be the case, but it is in practice. So how hard is it, really, to do 'home automation' without sending all your data to Google, Samsung, or whoever -- just keep it to yourself and share only what you want to share?

How hard would it be, for instance, to hack a Nest thermostat so it talks to a home server rather than Google? Or is there something already out there that would do the same thing as a Nest but without 'the cloud' as part of the requirement? Yes, a standard programmable thermostat does 90% of what a Nest does, but there are certain things that it won't do like respond to your comings and goings at odd hours, or be remotely switchable to a different mode (VPN to your own server from your phone and deal with it locally, perhaps?) Fundamentally, is there a way to get the convenience and not expose my entire life and home to unknown actors who by definition (read the terms of service) do not have my best interest in mind?

Yesterday one tech company asked its readers, "What company do you trust most to always be listening inside your home?" The winner was "nobody", with 63% of the votes -- followed by Google with 16%, and Apple with 13%. (Microsoft scored just 3%, while Amazon scored 2%.) So share your alternatives in the comments. What's the best way to set up home automation without sending data into the cloud?
First Person Shooters (Games)

Slashdot Asks: What's Your Favorite Doom Story? 351

I remember loading Doom for the first time from a 3.5-inch disk back in 1994. In 1997 the source code for Doom's Linux version was released just before Christmas. A hidden Doom level appeared in Microsoft Excel, and a Doom video was also used to promote Windows 95. By 2004 a drummer from Nine Inch Nails was recording the theme song for Doom 3...

There was that weird movie with The Rock and Karl Urban. Last year Doom was inducted into the World Video Game Hall of Fame. This January John Romero created a new level, and this weekend's release of a new Doom also featured a mod with one of the the original Doom II levels from 1994.

After a storied history, millions of frags, and thousands of hours of in-world gameplay, Doom holds a unique place in both the history of gaming and geeks. So share your favorite stories in the comments. What's your personal best-loved story about Doom?
Communications

Ask Slashdot: What Was The Greatest Era Of Innovation? (nytimes.com) 177

speedplane writes: The New York Times is running a story on innovation over the past 150 years. [The story starts at the end of the American Civil War with the newly completed transcontinental railway in the 1870s. Then it highlights the profoundly different lifestyle of the 1920s, the end of 'The Great War' and the beginning of the Great Depression. By the 1970s, many of the transportation and communication changes from the 20s became fundamental parts of daily life. The story ends in 2016, an era in which human life has changed the most in the last 46 years.]

We're in the golden age of innovation, an era in which digital technology is transforming the underpinnings of human existence. Or so a techno-optimist might argue. We're in a depressing era in which innovation has slowed and living standards are barely rising. That's what some skeptical economists believe. The truth is, this isn't a debate that can be settled objectively.

What do slashdotters think is the greatest era of innovation?


Transportation

Slashdot Asks: How Long Before Self-Driving Cars Become Mainstream? 381

Here's the thing, regardless of one's stand on self-driving cars, they are no longer a futuristic idea. Major car companies such as Tesla, BMW, and Mercedes have already released an autonomous vehicle or plan to release one soon. Sergio Marchionne, an Italian-Canadian executive who is currently the CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, recently said: It isn't pie in the sky. People are talking about 20 years. I think we will have it in five years. ZDNet has published its interview of Jim McBride, technical leader in Ford's autonomous vehicles team, who thinks self-driving cars are five years away from changing the world. At the same time, we must acknowledge the talks about these smart vehicles killing many jobs, and the security vulnerabilities we read every once in a while. What's your take on this?

Slashdot Top Deals