Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?

Submission + - Amazon appears to be experiencing a major failure (

XB-70 writes: The whole buying/order system is down for everyone. It is not possible to get through to customer support. Phoning gets you: "Please hang up and try your call again."
Amazon Instant Video is not working. Posts in the seller forums confirm this.

Comment Pointers from another re-newbie (Score 1) 149

I enjoyed the hobby back when I was in my teens. Forty years later, I am picking it up again. A few pointers: design, design, design. Read, read, read. Learn, learn, learn. Make a who host of layouts using SCARM. Be prepared to build an initial layout. A second (better) layout and a third (dream) layout. Going through this process will get your skills up to speed.

Get to know some other hobbyists and ask to attend a session. This will give you great insights into whether you want to RUN a railroad or just enjoy BUILDING one.

Buy less, use the best. There is a lot of second-rate stuff out there. It will only plague you with problems - shorts, derailments etc. etc. Buy quality vs quantity.

Couplers: go with Kadee. There are others, but Kadee are the de-facto standard.

Ideal rolling stock trucks: all my research seems to point to using Kadee trucks but with Intermountain wheel-sets (Wheels and axle).

Track: want to build a really sweet layout? Use Fast Tracks hand-built switches for your layout:

Switch machines: I like to go manual for most. A lot of guys use Tortoise Switch Machines. Everyone raves about them but I think that they are huge and would love to know of better, smaller, cheaper ones - with all the same features.

Models: All sorts of kits exist out there but EVERYONE (OK a lot of guys) use Tichy for parts like windows. (I love their rolling stock and have built over 50 iron ore and other cars from them.) Exquisite detail and great customer service.

Essentials: get an NMRA standards gauge. Buy a temperature controlled soldering station. Buy a Dremel with a cut-off wheel (for cutting rail). Wayyyy better than snips. Also, buy a serving tray with high sides. When working on the hobby, ALWAYS keep all your tools in the serving tray. Makes finding them much, much easier. Buy a good air brush like Iwata.

DCC vs DC. I am migrating to DCC. Phone Tony's Trains in Vermont for DCC advice. They are fairly unbiased experts and can help you choose the best system for you.

Weight: get your rolling stock to the proper weight: 1 oz + 1/2 oz for every inch of car length. This will help your trains track better.

Open source: The whole DCC open source thing is a bit klugey at present (in my opinion). This could be an area where you may be able to contribute significantly. Meantime, you may want to buy off-the-shelf to get started and then poke around with Arduino and the like for controls (unless you are a total geek).

Lastly, go look at real trains. See them in yards. See them at crossings. Watch them beside you on the highway. Look at tracks and switchwork... Figure out what era and purpose your railroad will have: Switching? Mainline? Steam? Diesel? Commuter? Short Line? Industrial? Mining? Learn all the background about it that you can and use it to dive in and enjoy!!

Submission + - What's going on with LibreOffice Base?

XB-70 writes: I would like a true open source alternative to MS Access.

I love LibreOffice and use it all the time... with one caveat: there appears to be little or no development going on with Base.

I may be completely wrong but no features appear to have been added in ages, no code updates etc. etc.

Would LibreOffice benefit from dropping base and integrating MariaDB?

Does anyone know what's going on?

Comment LinkedIn is sleazy (Score 1) 42

LinkIn is sleazy: Jeff Weiner (CEO) et al at LinkedIn collect incredible amounts of personal information... but, when you want some of it back --- forget it. Privacy issues and potential for hacking leave me with great concern.

The whole site is dedicated to outrageous pricing for marginal return. (Even Jeff Weiner's own LinkedIn page only has seven (7) recommendations.)

The angle they use is this: What's it worth to you to get a job? Ok, then pay us exorbitant monthly amounts on the slim chance that you might get it through us.

People use LinkedIn to validate searches. Really senior execs are RARELY on there -unless it's for marketing eg Bill Gates. It's just for us dweebs who are desperate for a job or a mediocre pay raise.

To actually use LinkedIn for profit (other than head-hunting) is very complicated and time consuming. I know - I've done it and it's barely worth it.

Comment What's going on with Base? (Score 3, Interesting) 144

I love LibreOffice and use it all the time... with one caveat: there appears to be little or no development going on with Base.

I may be completely wrong but no features have been added in ages, no code updates etc. etc.

Does anyone know what's going on?

Also, would Base benefit from this GPU enhancement?

Comment Perspective (Score 2) 238

Let's put this in perspective: This is a graphic. With all respect to the good people at Spike Aerospace, their company has not built anything whatsoever prior to this.

Did Henry Ford start by building a GT 350?

This whole venture sounds like something on the front page of Popular Mechanics. I'll be a monkey's uncle if they build the thing.

Comment Not trivial (Score 1) 626

First of all, make a list of all phonemes - from easiest to hardest.

Create an alphabet that mimics each phoneme that is also simple to reproduce using seven segment displays (as a guideline).

Create a structure for nomenclature based on two things:

1. Analysis of commonality of common usage (example: words for mother/father vs duodenum)

2. Analysis of nomenclature structure: If it's a noun, how does it relate to other nouns and what it describes? Is there logic to the method of description?

Build a model of the language and test it using voice recognition. The higher the level of understanding/comprehensibility the better.

Put it out there and watch as the public completely ignores it.

Submission + - Arizona Senator Proposes Law to Require Mandatory Church Attendance

Pikoro writes: Arizona State Senator Sylvia Allen (R), during a committee meeting, put forth a proposal to submit a law requiring mandatory church attendance.

Allen explained that without a "moral rebirth" in the country, more people may feel the need to carry a weapon.
"I believe what's happening to our country is that there's a moral erosion of the soul of America," she said.

It's a sad sign of the times when Senators have forgotten that one of the founding pillars of the United States is separation of church and state.

Comment It's the clothing. (Score 3, Interesting) 326

Back in the '80s, at the Bobbin Show in Atlanta, one exhibitor hired a booth babe of ... extraordinary ... proportions.

She was clad in: a very tight-fitting (and extremely stretched) t-shirt, disco shorts, socks and roller-skates.

Competitors complained and show management advised the exhibitor that:

A) She had to stop roller-skating around the show and

B) She had to add an item of clothing.

Next day, she showed up in the identical outfit more clearly outlined by a set of suspenders!

FORTRAN is not a flower but a weed -- it is hardy, occasionally blooms, and grows in every computer. -- A.J. Perlis