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Communications

Ask Slashdot: Could We Build A Global Wireless Mesh Network? 135

An anonymous reader wants to start a grassroots effort to build a self-organizing global radio mesh network where every device can communicate with every other device -- and without any central authority. There is nothing in the rules of mathematics or laws of physics that prevents such a system. But how would you break the problem up so it could be crowdfunded and sourced? How would you build the radios? And what about government spectrum rules... How would you persuade governments to allow for the use of say, 1%, of the spectrum for an unlicensed mesh experiment? In the U.S. it would probably take an Act of Congress to overrule the FCC but a grassroots effort with potential for major technology advances backed by celebrity scientists might be enough to tilt the issue but would there be enough motivation?
Is this feasible? Would it amass enough volunteers, advocates, and enthusiastic users? Would it become a glorious example of geeks uniting the world -- or a doomed fantasy with no practical applications. Leave your best thoughts in the comments. Could we build a global wireless mesh network?
The Almighty Buck

Slashdot Asks: Should an Employee Be Fired For Working On Personal Side Projects During Office Hours? (quora.com) 387

An anonymous reader writes: I found this article that talks about whether an engineer should be fired if s/he is working on a side project. Several people who have commented in the thread say that the employer should first talk to the person and understand why they are working on personal projects during the office hours. One reason, as many suggested, could be that the employee might not have been fairly compensated despite being exceptionally good at the job. In which case, the problem resides somewhere in the management who has failed to live up to the expectations. What do you folks think? Let's not just focus on engineers, per se. It could be an IT guy (who might have a lot of free time in hand), or a programmer.
Books

Ask Slashdot: What Are Your Favorite Books On Entrepreneurship? 86

An anonymous reader writes: There are excellent well-known books like Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson and Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, but I find some of the lesser-known books about tech entrepreneurship very interesting, like A Triumph of Genius about Edwin Land of Polaroid or Riding the Runaway Horse about An Wang of Wang Laboratories. Also, there's Fast Forward by Lardner about VHS/Betamax. What books regarding entrepreneurship would Slashdotters recommend?
Software

Ask Slashdot: Are Accurate Software Development Time Predictions a Myth? (medium.com) 220

New submitter DuroSoft writes: For myself and the vast majority of people I have talked to, this is the case. Any attempts we make to estimate the amount of time software development tasks will take inevitably end in folly. Do you find you can make accurate estimates, or is it really the case, as the author, DuroSoft Technologies' CTO/Co-CEO Sam Johnson, suggests via Hacker Noon, that "writing and maintaining code can be seen as a fundamentally chaotic activity, subject to sudden, unpredictable gotchas that take up an inordinate amount of time" and that therefore attempting to make predictions in the first place is itself a waste of our valuable time?
Java

Ask Slashdot: Do You Like Functional Programming? (slashdot.org) 417

An anonymous reader writes: Functional programming seems to be all the rage these days. Efforts are being made to highlight its use in Java, JavaScript, C# and elsewhere. Lots of claims are being made about it's virtues that seem relatively easy to prove or disprove such as "Its use will reduce your debugging time." Or "It will clarify your code." My co-workers are resorting to arm-wrestling matches over this style choice. Half of my co-workers have drunk the Kool-Aid and are evangelizing its benefits. The other half are unconvinced of its virtues over Object Oriented Design patterns, etc.

What is your take on functional programming and related technologies (i.e. lambdas and streams)? Is it our salvation? Is it merely another useful design pattern? Or is it a technological dead-end?

Python creator Guido van Rossum has said most programmers aren't used to functional languages, and when he answered Slashdot reader questions in 2013 said the only functional language he knew much about was Haskell, and "any language less popular than Haskell surely has very little practical value." He even added "I also don't think that the current crop of functional languages is ready for mainstream."

Leave your own opinions in the comments. Do you like functional programming?
Software

Ask Slashdot: How Do You Explain 'Don't Improve My Software Syndrome' Or DIMSS? 388

dryriver writes: I am someone who likes to post improvement suggestions for different software tools I use on the internet. If I see a function in a software that doesn't work well for me or could work better for everyone else, I immediately post suggestions as to how that function could be improved and made to work better for everybody. A striking phenomenon I have come across in posting such suggestions is the sheer number of "why would you want that at all" or "nobody needs that" or "the software is fine as it is" type responses from software users. What is particularly puzzling is that its not the developers of the software rejecting the suggestions -- its users of the software that often react sourly to improvement suggestions that could, if implemented well, benefit a lot of people using the software in question. I have observed this happening online for years even for really good software feature/function improvement ideas that actually wound up being implemented. My question is -- what causes this behavior of software users on the internet? Why would a software user see a suggestion that would very likely benefit many other users of the software and object loudly to that suggestion, or even pretend that "the suggestion is a bad one?"
Books

Ask Slashdot: What Are Good Books On Inventing, Innovating and Doing R&D? 102

dryriver writes: I've signed up to a project that involves inventing new ways to do things and also performing the technology R&D required to make these new ways a reality. So, dear Slashdotters, are there any good books on inventing, innovating or doing R&D? Books that describe different ways to approach inventing/R&D? Books on managing a team effort to invent, innovate and research? Or even good books about the history of past inventions -- how they were created, why they were created, how and why they succeeded or failed in the real world? Thanks!
Movies

Slashdot Asks: What's Your Favorite Sci-Fi Movie? 1222

Many say it's the golden age of science fiction cinema. And rightly so, every month, we have a couple of movies that bend the rules of science to explore possibilities that sometimes make us seriously consider if things we see on the big screen could actually be true. The advances in graphics, and thanks to ever-so-increasing video resolution, we're increasingly leaving the theaters with visually appealing memories. That said, there are plenty of movies made back in the day that are far from ever getting displaced by the reboots spree that the Hollywood is currently embarking. With readers suggesting us this question every week, we think it's time we finally asked, what's your favorite science-fiction movie? Also, what are some other sci-fi movies that you have really enjoyed but think they have not received enough praises or even much acknowledgement?

Editor's note: the story has been moved up on the front page due its popularity.
Programming

Ask Slashdot: How Would You Stop The Deployment Of Unapproved Code Changes? 316

Over a million lines of code -- in existence for over 10 years -- gets updates in six-week "sprints" using source control and bug-tracking systems. But now an anonymous reader writes: In theory users report bugs, the developers "fix" the bugs, the users test and accept the fix, and finally the "fix" gets released to production as part of a larger change-set. In practice, the bug is reported, the developers implement "a fix", no one else tests it (except for the developer(s) ), and the "fix" gets released with the larger code change set, to production.

We (the developers) don't want to release "fixes" that users haven't accepted, but the code changes often include changes at all levels of the stack (database, DOAs, Business Rules, Webservices and multiple front-ends). Multiple code changes could be occurring in the same areas of code by different developers at the same time, making merges of branches very complex and error prone. Many fingers are in the same pie. Our team size, structure and locations prevent having a single gatekeeper for code check-ins... What tools and procedures do you use to prevent un-approved fixes from being deployed to production as part of the larger code change sets?

Fixes are included in a test build for users to test and accept -- but what if they never do? Leave your best answers in the comments. How woud you stop un-approved code changes from being deployed?
Hardware

Ask Slashdot: What Was Your First Home Computer? 857

We've recently seen stories about old computers and sys-ops resurrecting 1980s BBS's, but now an anonymous reader has a question for all Slashdot readers: Whenever I meet geeks, there's one question that always gets a reaction: Do you remember your first home computer? This usually provokes a flood of fond memories about primitive specs -- limited RAM, bad graphics, and early versions of long-since-abandoned operating systems. Now I'd like to pose the same question to Slashdot's readers.

Use the comments to share details about your own first home computer. Was it a back-to-school present from your parents? Did it come with a modem? Did you lovingly upgrade its hardware for years to come? Was it a Commodore 64 or a BeBox?

It seems like there should be some good stories, so leave your best answers in the comments. What was your first home computer?
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: How Should You Launch A Software Startup? (theguardian.com) 140

Slashdot reader ben-hnb is a developer who loves the idea of running a startup, or being one of the ones who got in early. But how exactly does he get there? I've got no "business" experience. Everyone seems to want to get on the startup incubator train -- the latest U.K. model I've seen, Launchpad, would even train (MA!) and support me financially for a year while developing the initial product. This just one in a long list of different models, from the famous Y-Combinator three-month model to the 500 Startups four-month seed program and simple co-working spaces with a bit of help, like Launch 22.

If you wanted to get a startup going, where would you go to first and why? Or would you just strike out in your bedroom/garage?

Leave your best answers in the comments. How would you launch a software startup?
Java

Ask Slashdot: Should I Move From Java To Scala? 245

"Scala is one of the JVM languages that manages to maintain a hip and professional vibe at the same time," writes long-time Slashdot reader Qbertino -- building up to a big question: One reason for this probably being that Scala was built by people who knew what they were doing. It has been around for a few years now in a mature form and I got curious about it a few years back. My question to the Slashdot community: Is getting into Scala worthwhile from a practical/industry standpoint or is it better to just stick with Java? Have you done larger, continuous multi-year, multi-man and mission-critical applications in Scala and what are your experiences?
The original submission asks two related questions. First, "Do you have to be a CS/math genius to make sense of Scala and use it correctly?" But more importantly, "Is Scala there to stay wherever it is deployed and used in real-world scenarios, or are there pitfalls and cracks showing up that would deter you from using Scala once again?" So share your experiences and answers in the comments. Would you recommend moving from Java to Scala?
Books

Slashdot Asks: What Books Are You Reading This Month? 259

An anonymous reader writes: Hey fellow Slashdot readers, what are some books you're reading right now, and intend to pick up later this month? Also if you would be so kind, what are some good new-ish novels (fiction / non-fiction) you recommend? Thanks!
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: How Do You Deal With a Terrible Tech Manager? 140

snydeq writes: From the Know It All to the Overwhelmer, succeeding beneath a bad manager takes strategy and finesse, writes Paul Heltzel in his round-up of bad IT bosses and how to keep them from derailing your career. "While there are truly great leaders in IT, not all inspire confidence. Worse, you can't always choose who will lead your team. But you can always map out new paths in your career. With that in mind, here is a look at some prototypically bad managers you may have already encountered in your engineering departments, with tips on how to deal with each of them." The six "terrible tech managers" mentioned by Heltzel include: "The Know It All," "The Pushover," "The Micromanager," "The Unexpected Boss," "The Fearful Manager," and "The Overwhelmer." Have you ever worked for any of these managers? If so, how did you deal with them?
Emulation (Games)

Ask Slashdot: Can Linux Run a GPU-Computing Application Written For Windows? 117

dryriver writes: I have been told that Linux can run Windows software using Wine or perhaps a VM. What happens if that Windows software is a GPU-computing application -- accessing the GPU through HLSL/GLSL/CUDA/OpenCL or similar interfaces? Can Wine or other solutions run that software at a decent speed under Linux? Or is GPU-computing software written for the Windows platform unsuitable for use -- emulated or otherwise -- under Linux? This sounds like one of those cases where there's a theoretical answer and then your own real-world experiences. So leave your best answers in the comments. Can Linux run a GPU-computing application that's written for Windows?

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