First time accepted submitter its a trappist! writes "When I started my career back in the early 1990s, everyone had a 'business phone' phone on their desk. The phone was how your co-workers, customers, friends and family got in touch with you during the business day. It had a few features that everyone used — basic calling, transfer, hold, mute, three-way calling (if you could figure it out). This was before personal mobile phones or corporate IM, so the phone was basically the one and only means of real-time communication in the office. Flash forward 20 years. Today I have a smart phone, corporate IM, several flavors of personal IM, the Skype client and several flavors of collaboration software including Google Apps/Docs, GoToMeeting. My wife and daughter call me or text me on the cell phone. My co-workers who are too lazy or passive aggressive to wander into my office use IM. My brother in Iraq uses Skype. I use GoToMeeting and its built-in VoIP with customers. The big black phone sits there gathering dust. I use it for conference calls a few times each month. I'm sure that there are sales people out there who would rather give up a body part than their trusty office phone, but do any of the rest of us need them? Around here, the younger engineers frequently unplug them and stick them in a cabinet to free up desk space. Are the days of the office phone (and the office phone system) at an end?"
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I recently retired my ancient AthlonMP rig for something a bit more modern, and in the upgrade got a new DVD±RW drive. Since I have the new rig and a lot more disk space, the time has come to re-rip my ~450 disc CD collection into FLAC (I trust active storage more than optical discs that may or may not last another twenty years). The optical drive I had in my old rig was one recommended by Hydrogen Audio or somewhere similar for ripping CDs, and can grab an hour long album in about five minutes. My new drive, unfortunately, takes about fifteen to do the same. With the number of discs I have to churn through and the near-instaneous encoding, it's somewhat annoying. After searching the Internet high and low for advice I came up empty handed, and so I ask Slashdot: are there any SATA DVD burners that don't suck at ripping CDs? Read on for more details if you wish.
An anonymous reader writes "When I was younger, engineering and science offices didn't have computers yet. It was the tradition: Piled Higher and Deeper desks, and overloaded bookcases. I ended up doing other things, and haven't been in a regular office for a couple of decades. Now I'm older, spending a lot more time with the screen, and finding my aging butt and back aren't as pliable for the long hours of reading papers. And while looking at rather expensive chairs, etc for a solution, what I'm remembering is we used to be able to lean back, feet up, while reading the stapled print-outs — makes a change from hunched-over writing and typing. So I'm what wondering is this: Are We There Yet with tablets? You guys would know — What makes a good tablet for reading, sorting, annotating, and searching PDFs, etc? Hardware and software — what tablets have gotten this really right?"
bellwould writes "In teaching information tech to a 13-year-old with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), I've found she's wildly interested in the details of data transmission but not programming. We've had limited success with command-line tools like traceroute and tcpdump, but now I'm seeking tips/advice on software that may help her explore and visualize things like transmission protocols." What would you recommend?
Volanin writes "I have been using Linux for the last 15 years both at home and at work (mostly GNOME and now Unity). Recently, I gave in to temptation and bought myself a Macbook retina 15". As you can read around, Linux still has no good support for this hardware, so I am running it inside a virtual machine. Running in scaled 1440x900 makes the Linux fonts look absolutely terrible, and running in true 2880x1800 makes them beautiful, but every UI element becomes so tiny, it's unworkable. Is there a desktop environment that handles resolution independence better? Linux has had support for SVG for a long time, but GNOME/Unity seems adamant in defining small icon sizes and UI elements without the possibility to resize them."
eldavojohn writes "This holiday season I will return to the land of my childhood. It is flat and desolate with the nearest major city being a three hour car drive away. Although being able to hear the blood pulse through your ears and enjoying the full milky way is nice, I have finally convinced my parents to get "the internet." It's basically a Verizon Jetpack that receives 4G connected to a router. My mom says it works great but she has complained of it cutting in and out. I know where the tower is, this land is so flat and so devoid of light pollution that the tower and all windmills are supernovas on the horizon at night. Usually I use my rooted Galaxy Nexus to read Slashdot, reply to work e-mails, etc. I would like to build an antenna for her 4G device so they can finally enjoy information the way I have. I have access to tons of scrap copper, wood, steel, etc and could probably hit a scrap yard if something else were needed. As a kid, I would build various quad antennas in an attempt to get better radio and TV reception (is the new digital television antenna design any different?) but I have no experience with building 4G antennas. I assume the sizes and lengths would be much different? After shopping around any 4G antenna costs way too much money. So, Slashdot, do you have any resources, suggestions, books, ideas or otherwise about building something to connect to a Jetpack antenna port? I've got a Masters of Science but it's in Computer Science so if you do explain complicated circuits it helps to explain it like I'm five. I've used baluns before in antenna design but after pulling up unidirectional and reflector antenna designs, I realize I might be in a little over my head. Is there an industry standard book on building antennas for any spectrum?"
First time accepted submitter r3dR0v3r writes "I have the opportunity to help improve / replace the website of my small U.S. town (~6000 people). The town leaders are open to most any suggestions, and are open to the idea of having the website facilitate a more open government — by being a place at which town documents, meeting agendas, meeting minutes, legal forms, ordinances, etc. can be found in an organized way and downloaded. And of course the site should provide general info about the town, it's services, recreation opportunities, etc.. Now, we have no budget, so we'll be looking at free/open software. I've considered options such as Drupal, but I'm doing this as volunteer work so I don't want to start from scratch and spend overly much time. Thus, I'm looking for advice about any existing platforms made specifically for municipalities as a great way to get a jump start. I'm guessing there are other slashdotters that have helped their communities in this way. Your suggestions please?"
jandersen writes "I am the system manager in charge of a smallish server room (~50 servers, most in racks), and I am going to buy a set of tools; but first I want to hear what other people think would be a good idea. Certainly a range of good quality screwdrivers — slotted, Phillips, Pozidriv, Torx. But what else? Tape measure? Spirit level (for aligning the racks)? Any meters or cable testers? A wood lathe? I can probably get away with a budget of a few hundred GBP, but there ought to be some mileage in that."
DoofusOfDeath writes "I've done a good bit of SQL development / tuning in the past. After being away from the database world for a while to finish grad school, I'm about ready to get back in the game. I want to start contributing to some OSS database project, both for fun and perhaps to help my employment prospects in western Europe. My problem is choosing which OSS DB to help with. MySQL is the most popular, so getting involved with it would be most helpful to my employment prospects. But its list of fundamental design flaws (video) seems so severe that I can't respect it as a database. I'm attracted to the robust correctness requirements of PostgreSQL, but there don't seem to be many prospective employers using it. So while I'd enjoy working on it, I don't think it would be very helpful to my employment prospects. Any suggestions?"
theodp writes "President Obama and his daughters headed to an indie bookstore last Saturday to promote shopping local. The White House did not disclose which books were bought, but author Lauren Oliver tweeted her delight after a White House photo showed her books Delirium and Pandemonium were among the 15 children's books purchased by the Obama family for Christmas gift-giving. While it made for a nice Small Business Saturday photo op, do you suppose the President paid much more for the books at the small indie bookshop than he might have at an online retailer like Amazon, where the hardcopy edition of Pandemonium is $10.15 (44% off the $17.99 list price) and the hardcopy edition of Delirium can be had for $10.47 (42% off the $17.99 list price)? Kindle Editions of the books are also available for $7.99. And with both titles eligible for free Amazon Prime shipping, the President could've saved on gasoline and Secret Service costs, too! So, will you be following the President's lead and shop local this holiday season, or is the siren song of online shopping convenience and savings too hard to resist?"
An anonymous reader writes "I'm one of the original founders of an open source company which offers a popular open source product (millions of downloads) targeted primarily to small businesses. We have been doing this for 10 years now and we fund the development of the open source product with the usual paid support services, custom development and addons, but over the last few years, we've noticed a troubling trend. Companies that have downloaded our product from one of the many free download sites have a question they want answered, so they call our support line. Once we politely explain the situation and that telephone support has a reasonable fee associated with it, more and more of them are becoming seriously irate, to the point of yelling, accusing us of fraud and/or scamming them. For some reason, they think a free product should have free telephone support as well, and if we don't offer free telephone support then it's not really a free product. These same people are then resorting to social media in an attempt to 'spread the word' with the same false accusations, which is starting to take its toll on our reviews, ratings, and in turn our bottom line. Does the Slashdot community have any suggestions on how we can reverse this trend? How do other open source companies handle similar situations?"
First time accepted submitter Vorknkx writes "I work in a small ISP. Most of our customers have cable modems but some of them are using Canopy or Ubiquity products. To manage all that, we're using a number of programs and solutions not necessarily made for such a task that are kept up to date simply using copy and paste. We have an Access database for all our internet customers, an Excel document for our wireless users, The Dude to monitor every user and a custom-made web application to monitor traffic. Needless to say, we're starting to hit the limit and juggling between all these programs is a complete pain. Is there some kind of all-in-one solution that would allow us to eliminate all the copy and paste while keeping the same functionality?"
First time accepted submitter undulato writes "I've got an aging, fat PS3 with only a couple of games that I still play on it but three kids under 9 who love Skylanders, iPet, Lego whatever etc. We all watch movies on it and it has been pretty much the centre of our entertainment world for a few years now. I've already got a spare HDMI monitor we could use for a screen so my question is — should we go for a new console this Christmas? Just buy another controller or two and a new game or two for PS3 and be done? Or get the still pretty viable Xbox 360, or even plump for a cheap Wii or even a Wii U if we're feeling flush. What do you think?"
AngryDad writes "Today I received a baffling email from my hosting provider that said, 'We have a company-wide patching freeze and we will not be releasing patches to our customers who utilize the patching portal for the months of November and December.' This means that myself and all other customers of theirs who run Windows servers will have to live with several critical holes for at least two months. Is this common practice with mid-tier hosting providers? If so, may I ask Eastern-EU folks to please refrain from hacking my servers during the holiday season?"
An anonymous reader writes "The Register is reporting on how debate over diversity has managed to get a Ruby conference in the UK cancelled, as the speakers were 100% white male. The person running the conference, Chuck Hardy, said he 'was not prepared to put [himself] in the position of legal liability and cost ramifications if a sponsor were to pull out under social media strain.' He added, 'The ramifications of comments such as race and gender can have financial and legal consequences for the conference organizer. Raise these issues but allow the conference organizers the chance to highlight and act on these industry level issues. Accusation and slander is not a solution.' Should conferences embrace diversity from the start, or should they go forward even if the speakers are all of the same denomination? How far do we have to go to ensure we are diverse?"