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Submission Summary: 0 pending, 5 declined, 1 accepted (6 total, 16.67% accepted)

+ - Subscription billing for a small business

Submitted by cptdondo
cptdondo (59460) writes "I'm working on a small startup that will need to bill for a subscription service. I've spent a lot of time trying to figure out what is needed to get a small subscription service going. The startup has simple needs — people sign up, commit to pay a monthly fee, and they get a service. If they quit paying, their account is suspended. And if they try to use the service, they're told why.

Seems that most services out there are designed for large, complex businesses and few have a simple interface for connecting the billing system to service. I have not found any that will put account status into an ldap database, which could be used for user authentication. Where is the equivalent of the Amazon or E-Bay storefront for a small subscription service?"

+ - How to track a complex project?

Submitted by cptdondo
cptdondo (59460) writes "I'm working on a complex project that has many different facets. I've flowcharted the process but my management is asking for a Gantt chart to show the time element. Traditional Gantt charts lose the if-then-else constructs that are essential for tracking this project. I have multiple ways of achieving a specific milestone, depending on availability of external resources, grant funding, bond issues subject to political votes, and so on. I can't represent this complexity in a Gantt chart; at the same time a flow chart loses the time elemnt that's so central to Gantt charts (and to my management).

So, fellow slashdotters, how do you manage a complex project with many mutually exlusive paths? How do you present this structure to non-techinical management? And how do you track it when it changes almost daily and certainly weekly?"
Linux

+ - Installing linux on old hardware 6

Submitted by cptdondo
cptdondo (59460) writes "I've got an old laptop that I've been trying to resurrect. It has a 486 CPU, 28 MB RAM, 720 MB HD, a 1.44MB floppy drive, and 640x480 VESA video. It does not have a CD, USB, or a network port. It has PCMCIA and i have a network card for that.

My goal is to get a minimal GUI that lets me run a basic browser like Dillo and open a couple of xterms.

I've spent the last few days trying to find a linux distro that will work on that machine. I've done a lot of work on OpenWRT, so naturally I though that would work, but X appears to be broken in the recent builds — I can't get the keyboard to work. (OK, not surprising; OpenWRT is made to run on wifi Access Point hardware which doesn't have a keyboard...)

All of the "mini" distros come as a live CD; useless on a machine without a CD-ROM. Ditto for the USB images.

I'm also finding that the definition of a "mini" distro has gotten to the point of "It fits on a 3GB partition and needs 128 MB RAM to run."

Has linux really become that bloated? Do we really need 2.2 GB of cruft to bring up a simple X session? Is there a distro that provides direct ext2 images instead of live CDs?"
Government

+ - From Cathedral to a Bazaar in government?

Submitted by
cptdondo
cptdondo writes "I work for a mid-size municipal government. While we are fairly progressive for a government, many of our managers are Cathedral builders. They've been there for a long time, they hold sacred the belief that if they stop cranking the world will come to a screeching halt, and they believe that the unwashed masses must not know too much of the inner sacred workings of City Hall.

Some of us are bazaar goers. We believe that there is a great opportunity to apply the lessons of open source to local government. We think we can co-opt our citizens' group to be members of the process rather than adversaries. We believe that the tools developed by the open source community can be applied, to some measure, to the workings of government.

It's been suggested by some of the more subversive members of our management staff that we put together a presentation on how this could be done. So of course we begin with prior art:

Has this ever been done? Has anyone co-opted citizens' groups to solve the problems of local government using the tools and concepts of open source? Does anyone know of a local government where the internal workings were freely available to the public? What tools were used? What was the reaction? Was it accepted or rejected?"
Toys

+ - Solar clls for daily use

Submitted by
cptdondo
cptdondo writes "My brother-in-law asked me about the latest in solar cells. He's got a good-size sailboat and wants to put in a solar charger. As the resident family geek I should have the answers, but I had to admin total ignorance. So what's the latest consumer technology in solar cells? Any cool mobile solar installations out there? Any power management schemes people are using to power stuff on boats and in RVs?"
Announcements

+ - The hunt for Jim Gray

Submitted by
cptdondo
cptdondo writes "It looked like a fine day for a sail. On Sunday, January 28, 2007, Microsoft researcher Jim Gray woke up on his boat, a red 40-foot fiberglass cruiser called Tenacious. The water in Gashouse Cove, a cozy marina in San Francisco Bay, was nearly flat. The 63-year-old programmer phoned his wife, Donna Carnes, who was on an annual vacation with friends in Wisconsin. He said he was heading out to the Farallon Islands, a wildlife refuge 27 miles offshore, to scatter the ashes of his mother, Ann, who died in October. more...."

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