Slashdot Deals: Cyber Monday Sale! Courses ranging from coding to project management - all eLearning deals 25% off with coupon code "CYBERMONDAY25". ×

Ask Slashdot: What Single Change Would You Make To a Tech Product? 508

An anonymous reader writes: We live in an age of sorcery. The supercomputers in our pockets are capable of doing things it took armies of humans to accomplish even a hundred years ago. But let's face it: we're also complainers at heart. For every incredible, revolutionary device we use, we can find something that's obviously wrong with it. Something we'd instantly fix if we were suddenly put in charge of design. So, what's at the top of your list? Hardware, software, or service — don't hold back.

Here's an example: over the past several years, e-readers have standardized on 6-inch screens. For all the variety that exists in smartphone and tablet sizing, the e-reader market has decided it must copy the Kindle form factor or die trying. Having used an e-reader before all this happened, I found a 7-8" e-ink screen to be an amazingly better reading experience. Oh well, I'm out of luck. It's not the worst thing in the world, but I'd fix it immediately if I could.
XBox (Games)

Ask Slashdot: Xbox One Or PlayStation 4? 375

An anonymous reader writes: I'm looking at getting the kids a new gaming console for Christmas this year. I'm stuck trying to decide between getting an Xbox One or a PlayStation 4. I'm really wary on the PlayStation because of the 5 PS2s with broken optical drives sitting in my garage; none lasted more than two years. On the other hand, I'm also wary of buying a Microsoft product; I'm a Linux user for life after getting tired of their crappy operating system. I've also considered getting a gaming PC, whether Linux or Windows, but it's more expensive and game reviews show most are not as good as a dedicated game console. The kids want Fallout 4, and I want Star Wars Battlefront and any version of Gran Turismo. We currently have a Nintendo Wii and a crappy gaming PC with some Steam games. So, which gaming console should I get that will last a long time?

Ask Slashdot: Convincing a Team To Undertake UX Enhancements On a Large Codebase? 192

unteer writes: I work at a enterprise software company that builds an ERP system for a niche industry (i.e. not Salesforce or SAP size). Our product has been continuously developed for 10 years, and incorporates code that is even older. Our userbase is constantly expanding, and many of these users expect modern conveniences like intuitive UI and documented processes. However, convincing the development teams that undertaking projects to clean up the UI or build more self-explanatory features are often met with, "It's too big an undertaking," or, "it's not worth it." Help me out: What is your advice for how to quantify and qualify improving the user experience of an aging, fairly large,but also fairly niche, ERP product?

Slashdot Asks: Is Scrum Still Relevant? ( 371

An anonymous reader writes: In an article titled "Scrum is dead: breaking down the new open development method," Ahmad Nassri writes: "Among the most 'oversold as a cure' methodologies introduced to business development teams today is Scrum, which is one of several agile approaches to software development and introduced as a way to streamline the process. Scrum has become something of an intractable method, complete with its own holy text, the Manifesto for Agile Software Development , and daily devotions (a.k.a., Scrum meetings). Although Scrum may have made more sense when it was being developed in the early '90s, much has changed over the years. Startups and businesses have work forces spread over many countries and time zones, making sharing offices more difficult for employees. As our workforce world evolves, our software development methods should evolve, too." What do you think? Is Scrum still a viable approach to software development, or is it time to make way for a different process?

Ask Slashdot: What Terminal Emulator Do You Use? 352

An anonymous reader writes: Although I spend a considerable amount of my time at work using shell commands and other text-based applications, I've never really given much thought to what terminal emulator I use. A recent article over on rounded up their picks for their seven favorite terminals, but I'm still unsure if it really matters which one I pick. Do you have a favorite terminal emulator, and if so, what makes it your favorite? I'm interested in hearing about that "one killer feature" that really sold you on your choice.

Ask Slashdot: What's Out There For Poor Vision? 197

hackwrench writes: I like to read on my computer, but when I resize text to be comfortably big, web pages and browsers handle it badly, and some applications don't offer an option to enlarge. Some applications even are bigger than the screen, which Windows doesn't handle well. Lastly, applications consist of bright backgrounds which feels like staring into a headlight. Windows' built in options like magnifier are awkward. What tools are there for Windows to increase text size, make things fit inside the screen, and substitute colors that windows use?

Ask Slashdot: Automated Verification For Uploaded Files? 74

VernonNemitz writes: There are a lot of ways for hackers to abuse a web site, but it seems to me that one of them is receiving less attention than it deserves. This is the simple uploading of a malware file, that has an innocent file-name extension. I'm looking for a simple file-type verification program that the site could automatically run, on each uploaded file, to test it to see if it is actually the type of file that its file-name extension claims it is. That way, if it ever gets double-clicked, we can be assured it won't hijack the system or worse. At the moment I'm only interested in testing .png files, but I'm sure plenty of web site operators would want to be able to test other file types. A quick Googling indicates the existence of a validator project under the OWASP umbrella, but is it the best choice, and what other choices are there?

Ask Slashdot: Open Source Back-Up Tool For Business? 118

New submitter xerkot writes: I am looking for a tool to make backups of PCs in a big company. We want to replace the one that we are using at this moment for this new one. The tool will be used to do backups of PCs (mainly Windows, and a few Linux), and we want to manage these backups centrally from a console, being able to automatize the backup process. The servers of the company are backed up with another tool, so they are out of scope. In the company we are being encouraged more and more to use open source software, so I would like to ask you, what are best open source tools to do backups of PCs? Are they mature enough for a big company?

Ask Slashdot: Tiny PCs To Drive Dozens of NOC Monitors? 197

mushero writes: We are building out a new NOC with dozens of LCD monitors and need ideas for what PCs to use to drive all those monitors. What is small and easy to stack, rack, power, manage, replace, etc.?

The room is 8m x 8m. It has a central 3x3 LCD array, as well as mixed-size and -orientation LCD monitors on the front and side walls (plus scrolling LEDs, custom desks, team tables, etc) — it's designed as a small version of the famous AT&T Ops Center. We are an MSP and this is a tour showcase center, so more is better — most have real functions for our monitor teams, DBAs, SoC, alert teams, and so on, 7x24. We'll post pics when it's done.

But what's the best way to drive all this visual stuff? The simplest approach for basic/tiny PCs is to use 35-50 of these — how do we do that effectively? Almost all visuals are browser-only, so any PC can run them (a couple will use Apple TV or Cable feeds for news). The walls are modular and 50cm thick, and we'll have a 19" rack or two, so we have room, and all professional wiring/help as needed.

Raspberry Pis are powerful enough for this, but painful to mount and wire. Chromeboxes are great and the leading candidate, as the ASUS units can drive two monitors. The Intel NUC can also do this — those and the Chromeboxes are easily stackable. My dream would be a quad-HDMI device in Chromebox form factor. Or are there special high-density PCs for this with 4-8-16 HDMI outputs?

Each unit will be hard-wired to its monitor, and via ip-KVM (need recommendations on that, too, 32+ port) for controls. Any other ideas for a cool NOC are also appreciated, as we have money and motivation to do anything that helps the team and the tours.

Ask Slashdot: Smart Electronics For a Marathoner? 169

New submitter IMightB writes: My question is basically what is the best smart watch style device for runners. Must have features GPS, bluetooth and music storage for roughly 5 hours of use during a marathon. Pretty much everything else is a nice to have. My wife has recently decided to enter her first marathon and unfortunately, the other day during a training run her 7gen iPod Mini gave up the ghost due to moisture accumulating in the armband and her Garmin Forerunner 15 only lasts about 3 hours with GPS on (despite Manufacturer claims to the contrary). She would like to consolidate devices down to something with a watch style format and start using a bluetooth headset. I currently use, and really like, a pair of aging Jaybird JF3's for a bluetooth headset and will probably recommend to her whatever Jaybirds current equivalent is in their lineup. But the watch portion is eluding me still. Based on my current research, the Sony SmartWatch 3 may be the only one that fits my wife's 'Must have Requirements' Are there other options available? Can anyone with marathon or distance running experience share their thoughts on this subject? Thanks in Advance.

Ask Slashdot: How Can My Code Help? 47

An anonymous reader writes: The story will probably be familiar. My non-profit organization had a particular need (we want to communicate with government officials by offering anecdotes and stories of how we help their constituents), and while I created a solution, the time constraints and lack of experience, training and natural ability show. I'd like to do more with the code, both in terms of letting others have it for their needs and also because I'm sure talented coders could more quickly and efficiently solve some of the existing problems with my code. But how do I make that happen? What do I do with it?

I have every intention of continuing to work on it. I enjoyed the learning opportunity, and I've already identified a number of things I want to improve upon, but I recognize that even as crude as my code is, if it solved my issue it might help others too.

Do I just put it on Github or SourceForge and hope that someone else will have that magic formula of my use case and skill level (because someone more talented would probably make their own code easily enough, while someone less talented may not realize how doable the solution can be)? Do I try to find an existing project and see if I can shoe-horn my efforts in somewhere? Do I keep it to myself until some unspecified point in time that I realize it's right for sharing?
Read on for further background information on this question.
Operating Systems

Ask Slashdot: Innovative Operating Systems/Distros In 2015? 206

iamacat writes: Back in 90s, we used Linux not only because of open source, but also for innovative features not found in commercial operating systems — better multitasking, network power features like slirp and masquerading, free developer tools for many languages. Nowadays OSX and Windows caught up in these areas and mainstream distros like Ubuntu dumbed down in default configuration. So where to go for active innovation like 3D/VR desktop, artificial intelligence, drag and drop ability to mash up UI of multiple apps or just drastically better performance? Something maybe rough around the edges but usable and exciting enough to use as daily desktop?

Ask Slashdot: An 'Ex Libris' For My Books In a Digital Age? 149

New submitter smalgin writes: While I cannot boast an extensive library, it keeps growing every week. I share the books I like the most with my friends and acquaintances. Unfortunately, some of them are sloppy and forget to return my books, so to speak. I would like to put some mark, sticker or a stamp (Ex Libris) on my books to make them recognizable later. However, living in a digital age (blah blah yada yada) I cannot help but wonder how I could improve the ex libris beyond an ink stamp on a title page or a glued-on postcard-sized monstrosity some libraries use. Has anyone tried using RFIDs to identify his books? Please share your experience.
Open Source

Ask Slashdot: Open Tools For Logbooks and Note-taking? 227

New submitter leonstr writes: I'm a sysadmin and I like to record my daily work in a logbook: technical notes, work progress, actions from meetings, etc. I started with the word processor on the venerable Psion Series 3a but for about 10 years I've been using Amaya. It's FLOSS, cross-platform and uses an open file format (XHTML). Amaya has its quirks but I really like it; unfortunately it's no longer being updated and I feel it's time to change. So I wonder: what do other people use for recording their work? What works well and meets your requirements?

Ask Slashdot: Worthwhile Security Training Courses? 70

ageoffri writes: I'm going to be able to take one, or maybe two, training courses next year and starting to figure out what would be a good course to take. While I'm not 100% sold on the concept of certs as the be-all and end-all of demonstrating knowledge and more importantly application of that knowledge, if someone else is going to pay for them I figure, Why not? Right now I'm leaning towards classes that have certs associated with them since HR drones look for letters. I also wouldn't mind a class that is just fun and interesting even if it isn't directly applicable to what I do currently. My short list is: CCSP by Training Camp (SEC503); Intrusion Detection In-Depth by SANS (GPPA cert); SEC504: Hacker Tools, Techniques, Exploits and Incident Handling (GCIH cert); and SEC550: Active Defense, Offensive Countermeasures and Cyber Deception (no cert). The first two directly apply to my day to day job. The third one just looks like fun, while the last one is also fun sounding, but I doubt I'd have much opportunity to put the skills to use. I'm curious what others here are thinking about for future training and other options to consider. I already have my CISSP, along with an MS in Information Assurance, so the two obvious choices are finished.

Ask Slashdot: What's Your Media Setup? 236

An anonymous reader writes: There's no dearth of media technology today. Not only do modern console emulate set-top boxes, but there are dozens of tiny appliances that bring TV shows and movies to your screens with varying levels of convenience and cost. So, what setup do you use? I'm curious about the hardware you use to collect, transmit, and display the media, in addition to the software running it, and the services you use or subscribe to that provide the media. I imagine there are a lot of cord-cutters in this crowd — if that's the case, how do you acquire the shows you want to watch? What problems still need to be solved in this area?

Ask Slashdot: Good Subscription-Based Solution For PC Tech Support? 193

New submitter byrddtrader writes: My parents are getting close to the their 70s and neither one of them is particularly tech savvy. Since my teenage years I have been tech support for the family, but now that I am older I can not be at their beck and call every time they inadvertently download something they should not, or the printer stops working. Given the amount of time that I have worked with them I don't feel that it is realistic that I will be able to convey the information they need to become self-sufficient. What I am looking for is a service that will be able to assist with any software PC related issues, viruses, printers and the like. Currently they are using a tech firm out of India (iYogi) that does unlimited support for a few hundred per year per machine -- which is fine, though they are big on the up-sell. They tend to push their own virus protection software, and attempted to sell my Dad, who has 500Mb of documents, a 3Tb external hard drive because they said he needed it. Currently the computers they use are ones I have built. Maybe the best solution would be store-bought PCs that offer additional tech support at a price. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Ask Slashdot: Local Navigation Assistance For the Elderly? 161

An anonymous reader writes: I have an older (90+) relative who is experiencing mental decline. He's still fairly functional (you can have a decent conversation with him, and he's amazingly positive for someone in his condition), but his memory of anything recent is terrible. He's in an assisted living center, but he's having serious trouble for example finding his way to the dining hall and back to his room. He has visitors daily and the staff are supportive but 24/7 oversight is not an option. I am looking for a navigation system suitable for use indoors that will help him move around. The distances involved are short, and his schedule is pretty regular so it would be OK to have a schedule of where he usually is at a given time (lounge, dining hall, room) and a big green arrow that always points out which way he should go to get there (so it would need to accommodate doors and hallways etc, not just the straight line direction). Is anyone here aware of such a system? I've thought of trying to write an app for a smartphone but I'm not sure if GPS is really the way to go, seeing as it's indoors. Also, battery life would be an issue — he would have trouble remembering what to do if it stopped working and I'm not sure if he'd remember (or be able) to connect a charger. For the same reason it would need to be pretty bomb-proof — he's not in position to troubleshoot if it fails.

Ask Slashdot: Is it Practical To Replace C With Rust? 437

interval1066 writes: I've heard of rust from various sources around the net for a few years and never paid it much mind, there are so many new languages out now since my early days doing C programming, which what I've stuck to and made me my career. Now I'm heading a project that uses a RoR application to control a large series of sensors and controls in a manufacturing process. Naturally I want to talk to the hardware using a GEM extension written in C, as I've done before.

But another engineer who is not a fan of C (seems few younger engineers are) said he could write the extensions needed easily in Rust. Seems like this is a thing. I took a closer look at rust and it looks to me like another attempt at "C" without pointers, except rust does have a kind of pointer, it appears. I like its ranking on a list of fastest languages, and it seems pretty simple with an initial tool footprint that is quite small.

But what are the trade offs? Another language, and one that few engineers know (much like Vala, which I like very much but has the same small user base). What if I need another engineer to work on the code? I pretty much know what I can expect from C/C++, rust is a huge unknown, what if I run onto a roadblock? The engineer pushing for rust is emphatic, should I bulldoze him or take the plunge?
Open Source

Ask Slashdot: Is There Space For Open Hardware In Networking? 121

New submitter beda writes: Open hardware has got much attention with the advent of Raspberry Pi, Arduino and their respective clones. But most of the devices are focused either on tinkerers (Arduino) or most notably multimedia (Raspberry Pi). However, there is not much happening in other areas such as home routers where openness might help improve security and drive progress. Our company (non-profit) is trying to change this with Turris Omnia but we still wander if there is in fact demand for such devices. Is the market large enough and the area cool enough? Are there enough people who would value open hardware running open software even with a higher price tag? Any feedback would be most valued.