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Software

Ask Slashdot: It's World Backup Day; How Do You Back Up? 304

MrSeb writes "Today is World Backup Day! The premise is that you back up your computers on March 31, so that you're not an April Fool if your hard drive crashes tomorrow. How do Slashdot users back up? RAID? Multiple RAIDs? If you're in LA, on a fault line, do you keep a redundant copy of your data in another geographic region?"
Security

Ask Slashdot: A Cheap, DIY Home Security and Surveillance System? 508

scubamage writes "Six weeks ago, my home was broken into while my fiance and I were at work. Two laptops were stolen, an iPad, a power brick, a safe (complete with several years worth of taxes, my birth certificate, and old copies of my driver's license), a digital SLR, and several other costly items. We are now dealing with an attorney because the homeowner's insurance is fighting us on a number of items and we're not backing down. It has been a nightmare. However, we've now noticed that someone has been visiting our house during the day. There has been garbage left sitting on our back porch table, so its unlikely to have blown there. We've also seen footprints in our garden that are not there in the morning. Our neighborhood is essentially empty during the day, and we want to know who is on our property while we're not. If we're really lucky, reporting it to the police could recover some of our property. My fiance has asked me to assemble a home security system that is motion activated, and both notifies us of an entry, as well as records video or rapid HD stillframes when sensing motion. The goal is to do this cheaply and more effectively than going with a private security company like ADT (who, consequently, our police department told us to ignore due to the incredibly high rate of false alarms). We've already gotten the dog and the gun, so we have those bases covered. What suggestions do you have on setting up home security systems, and what have you done to build one in the past?"
Power

Ask Slashdot: Home Testing For Solar Roof Coverage? 85

DudeTheMath writes "Here in the Sunshine State (Florida), solar should be a no-brainer. However, large oaks that require permits to trim partially shade my roof. I'd like to (inexpensively) 'pre-qualify' my roof for effective panel area. Googling for 'home solar testing' gets me equipment for checking the efficiency of an existing PV installation. Do any makers know what I can do on my own in terms of placing a few individual cells and, over a year, measuring and recording their output, so I can get an idea whether solar would be cost-effective for me?"
Medicine

Ask Slashdot: Store Umbilical Cord Blood — and If So, Where? 321

gambit3 writes "My wife and I are expecting our first child in 3 months, and one of the decisions we still have to make is whether to store our baby's cord blood. Even if we decide the upfront cost is worth it, there is still the question of using a public bank or a private one (and which one to trust), and whether to also store umbilical cord tissue for stem cells. Does you have any experience or suggestions?"
Science

Ask Slashdot: How To Feed Africa? 592

gbrumfiel writes "Africa has some of the poorest soil of anywhere on the earth, and over farming is only making matters worse. As the population grows, governments and NGOs must decide whether to subsidize chemical fertilizers like those used in the west or promote more sustainable agricultural practices. In Malawi, the government has decided to subsidize fertilizers, with impressive results. Corn yields have tripled since the subsidies were introduced. More sustainable practices, such as fertilizer trees can't deliver those kind of results in just a few years. The question is simple: does Africa follow the same, unsustainable road as the rest of the world? Or do they become a testing ground for potentially game-changing new techniques? OR is there a third path? Discuss."
Networking

Linux 3.3: Making a Dent In Bufferbloat? 105

mtaht writes "Has anyone, besides those that worked on byte queue limits, and sfqred, had a chance to benchmark networking using these tools on the Linux 3.3 kernel in the real world? A dent, at least theoretically, seems to be have made in bufferbloat, and now that the new kernel and new iproute2 are out, should be easy to apply in general (e.g. server/desktop) situations." Dear readers: Have any of you had problems with bufferbloat that were alleviated by the new kernel version?
Input Devices

Slashdot Asks: How To Best Record Remote Video Interviews? 96

You've probably noticed that Slashdot's been running some video lately. There are a lot of interesting people and projects in the world we'd like to present in video form, but some of them are too far away for the corporate overlords to sponsor travel to shoot footage in person. (Another reason my dream of parachuting to McMurdo Station will probably never manifest.) We've been playing around with several things on both the software and hardware side, but in truth, all of them have some flaws — whether it's flaky sound (my experience with the otherwise pleasing RecordMyDesktop on Linux), sometimes garbled picture (Skype, even on seemingly fast network connections), or video quality in general. (Google Hangouts hasn't looked as good as Skype, for instance. And of the webcams built into any of the laptops we've tried, only Apple's were much worth looking at. Logitech's HD webcams seem to be a decent bargain for their quality.) We've got a motley bunch of Linux, OS X, and Windows systems, and can only control what's on our side of the connection: interviewees may have anything from a low-end laptop with a built-in webcam to elaborate conferencing tools — which means the more universal the tools, the better. (There may not be any free, open source, high-quality, cross-platform video conferencing tools with built-in capture and a great UI, but the closer we can get, the better.) With all that in mind, what tools and workflow would you suggest for capturing internet conversations (with video and sound), and why? Approaches that minimize annoyance to the person on the other end of the connection (like the annoyance of signing up for an obscure conferencing system) are especially valuable. We'd like to hear both sides, so please chime in if you've had especially good or bad experiences with capturing remote video like this.
Open Source

Ask Slashdot: What Defines Success In an Open Source Project? 88

rbowen writes "Nine years ago, Slashdot readers discussed what makes an Open Source project successful. The answers were varied, of course. An academic paper summarized the results, agreeing (albeit with more precision) that motivations for Open Source projects are varied. Has anything changed since then? In the era of mobile apps, social media, and Google Ad revenue, have the definitions of Open Source project success changed at all? Have your reasons changed for being involved in Open Source?"
Android

Ask Slashdot: Most Secure Mobile OS? 291

Lexta writes "So I'm contemplating my next smartphone purchase, and I've been a little put off by all of the security exploits posted on Slashdot over the last few months, particularly for Android. So, what's the most secure stock standard (not jailbroken) mobile OS?"
Data Storage

Ask Slashdot: How Do You Manage Your Personal Data? 414

New submitter multimediavt writes "Ok, here's my problem. I have a lot of personal data! (And, no, it's not pr0n, warez, or anything the MPAA or RIAA would be concerned about.) I am realizing that I need to keep at least one spare drive the same size as my largest drive around in case of failure, or the need to reformat a drive due to corrupt file system issues. In my particular case I have a few external drives ranging in size from 200 GB to 2 TB (none with any more than 15 available), and the 2 TB drive is giving me fits at the moment so I need to move the data off and reformat the drive to see if it's just a file system issue or a component issue. I don't have 1.6 TB of free space anywhere and came to the above realization that an empty spare drive the size of my largest drive was needed. If I had a RAID I would have the same needs should a drive fail for some reason and the file system needed rebuilding. I am hitting a wall, and I am guessing that I am not the only one reaching this conclusion. This is my personal data and it is starting to become unbelievably unruly to deal with as far as data integrity and security are concerned. This problem is only going to get worse, and I'm sorry 'The Cloud' is not an acceptable nor practical solution. Tape for an individual as a backup mechanism is economically not feasible. Blu-ray Disc only holds 50 GB at best case and takes forever to backup any large amount of data, along with a great deal of human intervention in the process. So, as an individual with a large data collection and not a large budget, what do you see as options for now (other than keeping a spare blank drive around), and what do you see down the road that might help us deal with issues like this?"
Technology

Ask Slashdot: How Would Room-Temp Superconductors Affect Us? 262

Bananatree3 writes "While we have sci-fi visions of room temperature superconductors like in the movie Avatar, the question still remains: How would the discovery of a such a material impact our everyday lives? How would the nature of warfare change? How would the global economy react? What are the cultural pros and cons of such a technological shift?" And just as important, in what contexts would you want to see it first employed?
Power

Is It Time For the US Government To Back Fusion At NIF Over ITER? 308

ananyo writes "Laser beams at the National Ignition Facility have fired a record 1.875 megajoule shot into its target chamber, surpassing their design specification. The achievement is a milepost on the way to ignition — the 'break-even' point at which the facility will finally be able to release more energy than goes into the laser shot by imploding a target pellet of hydrogen isotopes. NIF's managers think the end of their two-year campaign for break-even energy is in sight and say they should achieve ignition before the end of 2012. However, with scientists at NIF saying that a $4 billion pilot plant could be putting hundreds of megawatts into the grid by the early 2020s, some question whether the Department of Energy is backing the wrong horse with ITER — a $21-billion international fusion experiment under construction at St-Paul-lez-Durance, France. Is it time for the DoE to switch priorities and back NIF's proposals?" Perhaps a better idea, given the potential benefits of fusion research, would be for the DoE to throw their weight behind multiple projects, rather than sacrificing some to support others.
Cellphones

Ask Slashdot: Any Smart Phones Made Under Worker-Friendly Conditions? 371

New submitter unimacs writes "So Apple has been under fire recently for the conditions at the factories of their Chinese suppliers. I listened to 'This American Life's' recent retraction of the Michael Daisey piece they did a while back. Great radio for those of you who haven't heard it — rarely has dead air been used to such effect. Anyway, while his work has been discredited, Michael Daisey wasn't inaccurate in his claims that working conditions are poor in iPhone and iPad factories. Given that, are there any smart phone manufacturers whose phones are made under better conditions?"
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: What Are Your Tips For Working From Home? 480

ichard writes "In a couple of months I'm going to start working from home full-time. I've been thinking about the obvious things like workspace ergonomics, but I'm sure there are more subtle considerations involved in a zero-minute commute. What are other Slashdot readers' experiences and recommendations for working from home? How do you stay focused and motivated?"
Education

Ask Slashdot: Finding an IT Job Without a Computer-Oriented Undergraduate Degree 504

An anonymous reader writes "Contrary to what many individuals think, not everybody on Slashdot went to college for a computer-related degree. Graduating in May of this year, my undergraduate degree will be in psychology. Like many undergraduate psychology students, I applied to a multitude of graduate programs but, unfortunately, was not given admission into a single one. Many are aware that a bachelor's degree in psychology is quite limiting, so I undoubtedly have been forced into a complicated situation. Despite my degree being in psychology, I have an immense interest in computers and the typical 'hard science' fields. How can one with a degree that is not related to computers acquire a job that is centered around computers? At the moment, I am self-taught and can easily keep up in a conversation of computer science majors. I also do a decent amount of programming in C, Perl, and Python and have contributed to small open source projects. Would Slashdot users recommend receiving a formal computer science education (only about two years, since the nonsensical general education requirements are already completed) before attempting to get such a job? Anybody else in a similar situation?"

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