acer123 writes "Lately I have replaced several home wireless routers because the signal strength has been found to be degraded. These devices, when new (2+ years ago) would cover an entire house. Over the years, the strength seems to decrease to a point where it might only cover one or two rooms. Of the three that I have replaced for friends, I have not found a common brand, age, etc. It just seems that after time, the signal strength decreases. I know that routers are cheap and easy to replace but I'm curious what actually causes this. I would have assumed that the components would either work or not work; we would either have a full signal or have no signal. I am not an electrical engineer and I can't find the answer online so I'm reaching out to you. Can someone explain how a transmitter can slowly go bad?"
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madsdyd writes "I am a long-time user of Linux (since 1997) and have not been using Windows since 1998. All PCs at home (mine, wife's, kids') run Linux. I work professionally as a software developer with Linux, but the Windows installs at my workplace are quite limited, so my current/working knowledge of Windows is almost nil. At home we have all been happy with this arrangement, and the kids have been using their Nintendos, PS2/3's and mobile phones up until now. However, my oldest kid (12) now wants to play World of Warcraft and League of Legends with his friends. I have spent more hours than I like to admit getting this to work with Wine, with limited success — seems to always fail at the last moment. I considered an Apple machine, but they seem to be quite expensive. So, I am going to bite the bullet, and install Windows 7 on a spare Lenovo T400 laptop, which I estimate will be able to run both Windows 7 and the games in question." Read on for more about the questions this raises, for someone who wants to ensure that a game-focused machine stays secure.
kc600 writes "Say you're a freelancer, using mainly open source solutions. You notice that customers, although they don't object to the whole open source idea, don't see the point in paying you for the time it costs you to properly open source your code. As a result, code is not released, because it would take too much time to factor out the customer-specific stuff, to debate architecture with the other developers, look at bug reports, et cetera. You feel there's something to contribute that many might benefit from. The code would also be better maintained if more people would use it, so the customer's project would also benefit. But you're not going to do it in your free time; you have enough on your mind and the bill is paid, right? What useful tricks can you think of to encourage yourself — and your customers — to properly share code, to the benefit of all, and get paid for it?"
First time accepted submitter kfsone writes "I've experienced, first-hand, some of the ways in which spindle disks die, but either I've yet to see an SSD die or I'm not looking in the right places. Most of my admin-type friends have theories on how an SSD dies but admit none of them has actually seen commercial grade drives die or deteriorate. In particular, the failure process seems like it should be more clinical than spindle drives. If you have X many of the same SSD drive and none of them suffer manufacturing defects, if you repeat the same series of operations on them they should all die around the same time. If that's correct, then what happens to SSDs in RAID? Either all your drives will start to fail together or at some point, your drives will become out of sync in-terms of volume sizing. So, have you had to deliberately EOL corporate grade SSDs? Do they die with dignity or go out with a bang?"
New submitter connorblack writes "My very gifted nephew is about to turn nine this month and I would love to get him some sort of fun, engaging book or game to introduce him to the basic concepts of programming. I have a feeling if approached correctly he would absolutely devour the subject (he is already working through mathematics at an 8th grade level). What I first was looking at were the Lego Mindstorm programmable robots- which would have been perfect, if only they weren't around 300 dollars... So if there's anything similar (or completely new!) you've either heard praise about or used yourself with your kids, it would be great to get a recommendation. Also if possible I would want to stick to an under 100 dollar budget." Would a nine year old be able to follow The Little Schemer?
First time accepted submitter The_Buse writes "This week I lost my grandmother and after returning to work (as a web developer) I find myself looking for some way to dedicate something to her memory. Unfortunately, I'm no author so I can't dedicate a book to her, and I can't carry a tune so penning a song in her honor is out of the question. What I can do is write one hell of a web app, and after nearly a year of development my (small) team and I are nearing the release date of our next product. My question is, have you ever dedicated a project/app/code in honor of someone? What's the best way to do it: comment blocks in the header, tongue-in-cheek file names, Easter eggs? Or is this a horrible idea all together?"
gspec writes "A little background about me: 36-year-old computer engineer working in the Bay Area. While I bring in a comfortable salary, I consider myself an underachiever, and my career is stagnant (I have only been promoted four times in my 12-year career). I have led a couple projects, but I am not in any sort of leadership/management position. I realize I need to do something to enhance my career, and unfortunately, going back to school is not an option. One thing I can do is to read more quality books. My question: which books, of any type or genre, have had a significant impact on your life?"
StonyCreekBare writes "I started out programming in Z80 assembler in the 1970s. Then I programmed in Pascal. Then x86 Assembler in the early '90s. Over time I did a smattering of C, Basic, Visual C++, Visual Basic, and even played at Smalltalk. Most recently I settled on Perl, and Perl/Tk as the favorite 'Swiss army Chainsaw' tool set, and modestly consider myself reasonably competent with that. But suddenly, in this tight financial environment I need to find a way to get paid for programming, and perl seems so 'yesterday.' The two hot areas I see are iOS programming and Python, perhaps to a lesser extent, Java. I need to modernize my skill-set and make myself attractive to employers. I recently started the CS193P Stanford course on iTunesU to learn iPad programming, but am finding it tough going. I think I can crack it, but it will take some time, and I need a paycheck sooner rather than later. What does the Slashdot crowd see as the best path to fame, wealth and full employment for gray-haired old coots who love to program?"
First time accepted submitter Stiletto writes "I work for a traditional 'old school' software company that is trying to move into web services, now competing with smaller, nimbler 'Web 2.0' companies. Unfortunately our release process is still stuck in the '90s. Paperwork and forms, sign-off meetings, and documentation approvals make it impossible to do even minor deployments to production faster than once a month. Major releases go out a couple of times a year. I've heard from colleagues in Bay Area companies who release weekly or daily (or even multiple times a day), allowing them to adapt quickly. Slashdotters, how often do you push software changes into production, and what best practices allow you to maintain that deployment rate without chaos?"
bartoku writes "Slashdot, what would you put in your dream electronics hardware lab? I am putting one together, and I'm looking for suggestions on everything from equipment to furniture. My aim is for a professional-grade setup, not just a hobby lab. The goal is to be able to test and debug modern electronic device prototypes. I would love to see money-is-no-objective suggestions alongside more economically practical solutions. Links or contacts for good distributors to acquire the equipment and furniture are also welcome. I'm also interested in commentary on renting versus buying new or used higher-end equipment to be economical and keep up with equipment that will become obsolete quickly."
An anonymous reader writes "I have a cottage at the end of a long dirt road, no electricity nor internet, and recently some (insert expletive here) wads are using the area as a trash dump: countertops, sofas, metal scraps, tvs — all the stuff they don't want to pay to dump at the landfill. I can't block the road because it's a fire access. But I would really like to have a way to catch who is doing this. Are there any a) waterproof, b) self-contained, c) self-powered, and (ideally) d) inexpensive video-recording units out there? Are there any other creative ways to get the guys? I was thinking of something like a device that will cycle, so that the last week of video is recorded. It could take photos or video, and as long as it's small enough that I could camouflage it well, I suspect I'd be able to figure this out soon. And any idea of what my legal rights are to videotape or record?" Hunters have been doing this for years (with film, and now digital) to figure out prey patterns with cameras that are built for concealment; what else would you recommend?
An anonymous reader writes "What was taught to you about computers in High School? Computer use and computer science in schools are regular headlines, but what 'normal' do we compare it to? It's not a shared reference. A special class with Commodore PETs was set up just after I graduated, and I'm only starting to grey. Everybody younger has had progressive levels of exposure. What was 'normal' for our 40-, 30-, and 20-year olds here? And how well did it work for you, and your classmates?" For that matter, what's it like now — if you're in middle or high school now, or know students who are, what's the tech curriculum like?
JabrTheHut writes "I'll be packing up and moving to another continent soon. Everything I own will be packed up into boxes and loaded onto a cargo container, which in turn will be loaded onto a ship and will sail from Northern Europe, through the equator and then to its final destination. It will be in transit for up to 8 weeks. What do I need to do to ensure my stuff survives the trip? I've got anti-static bags and silica gel for graphics cards and hard disks, which won't be in the computers, mostly, when they move, and some of what I own will be crated in order to protect both against physical damage and humidity. I'll throw in a couple of packets of silica gel into each box or crate. Clothes get moth balls. But what have I missed? Will the printer ink survive? Do I have to worry about batteries? What haven't I thought of?"
Talcyon writes "I'm a 40-year-old developer, and it's become apparent that my .NET skillset is woefully out of date after five years of doing various bits of support. I tried the 'Management' thing last year, but that was a failure as I'm just not a people person, and a full-on development project this year has turned into a disaster area. I'm mainly a VB.NET person with skills from the .NET 2.0 era. Is that it? Do I give up a career in technology now? Or turn around and bury myself in a support role, sorting out issues with other people's/companies' software? I've been lurking around Slashdot for many years now, and this question occasionally comes up, but it pays to get the opinions of others. Do I retrain and get back up to speed, or am I too old?"
New submitter earthwormgaz writes "I've started at a small company and our phone system is crusty, old, and awful. We've got email hosted elsewhere on POP/IMAP, and we've got no groupware. The server here is Windows small business whatever-it-is and Exchange isn't set up, but I've put CentOS on it in a VM, and I'd like to do everything using open standards and open source where possible. I've been looking at SOGO, and these phones. What are my chances of getting all this stuff working together? What other suggestions have people got a for a small office and communications?"