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Movies

Slashdot Asks: What's Next For Netflix? (500ish.com) 187

What does the future hold for Netflix? The company first earned a name for itself over a decade ago renting DVDs via mails in an era when Blockbuster used to laugh at the mere idea of DVDs-by-mail. It then moved to offering online streaming service way before most of the companies. As VC and former journalist MG Siegler writes, Netflix was always ahead of the curve. But the market -- and the demand from the market is changing, again. To address that, the on-demand streaming service has over the past three-four years started to invest heavily in getting exclusive rights for movies and TV shows, as well as make its own original content. But this time, Netflix is facing immense competition from its rivals -- and its moves aren't that unpredictable. It's also worth pointing out just recently, the company's decision to hike prices led its stocks to tank. Siegler writes: The streaming content game is now hyper competitive. And even the streaming original content game has gotten extremely competitive. And this means it has gotten extremely expensive. The result has been great for us, the users, as we do seem to be in a golden age of television-like content, even if it's being delivered via streaming "channels" like Netflix. With 54 Emmy nominations this year, second to only HBO, Netflix is seemingly closing in on what they set out to do once again. They've become HBO faster than HBO has been able to become Netflix. Of course, HBO still has the warm blanket of cable operator fees to keep them cozy; Netflix's model has them a bit out in the cold in that regard. So, again, what's next? Is it VR? Something else? Don't tell me it's 4k. Worldwide expansion is huge, but that's really just growing into the last business. What's the next business pivot?What you, Slashdot readers, think Netflix's next move will be? Or do you think the company will soon become just another name in its respective category?
Programming

Ask Slashdot: When Do You Include 'Unnecessary' Code? (sas.com) 238

"For more than 20 years I've been putting semicolons at the end of programming statements in SAS, C/C++, and Java/Javascript," writes Rick Wicklin, a researcher in computational statistics at SAS. "But lately I've been working in a computer language that does not require semicolons. Nevertheless... I catch myself typing unnecessary semicolons out of habit," he writes, while at other times "I include optional statements in my programs for clarity, readability, or to practice defensive programming." While Wicklin's post is geared towards SAS programming, Slashdot reader theodp writes that the question is a language-agnostic one: ...when to include technically-unnecessary code -- e.g., variable declarations, superfluous punctuation, block constructs for single statements, values for optional parameters that are the defaults, debugging/validation statements, non-critical error handling, explicitly destroying objects that would otherwise be deleted on exit, labeled NEXT statements, full qualification of objects/methods, unneeded code from templates...
He's wondering if other Slashdot readers have trouble tolerating their co-workers' unnecessary codes choices (which he demonstrates with a video clip from Silicon Valley). So leave your answers in the comments. When do you do include 'unnecessary' code in your programs -- and why?
Android

Slashdot Asks: Do You Install Preview Version Of An OS On Your Primary Device? 151

On Monday, Google released a new -- and also the final -- version of the Android N Developer Preview. Android Nougat, which is the latest version of Google's mobile operating system comes with a range of new features and improvements, including a notification panel redesign and additions to Doze power saving. The fifth preview, which is releasing today offers a "near-final" look at Android 7. Interestingly, Apple also released the public beta versions of iOS 10, and macOS Sierra to users earlier this month. Microsoft continues to offer preview builds of Windows 10 OS to enthusiasts.

We were wondering how many of you choose to live on beta version of an operating system on your primary devices. Does anyone here wait for the final version of an operating system to release before making the switch? Also, what does the setup of your office/work computer look like? Anyone who is still on an older version of an operating system because of reliability and compatibility concerns?
Chrome

Slashdot Asks: What's Your Computer Set-Up Look Like? 326

I thought it'd be fun to ask Slashdot readers one of the same questions we asked Larry Wall: What's your computer set-up look like? Slashdot reader LichtSpektren had asked: Can you give us a glimpse into what your main work computer looks like? What's the hardware and OS, your preferred editor and browser, and any crucial software you want to give a shout-out to?
Larry Wall is running Linux Mint (Cinnamon edition), and he surfs the web with Firefox (and Chrome on his phone) -- "but I'm not a browser wonk. Maybe I'll have more opinions on that after our JS backend is done for Perl 6..." And for a text editor, he's currently ensconced in the vi/vim camp, though "I've used lots of them, so I have no strong religious feelings."

So leave your answers in the comments. What's your OS, hardware, preferred editor, browser, "and any crucial software you want to give a shout-out to?" What does your computer set-up look like?
Graphics

Ask Slashdot: Why Don't Graphics Cards For VR Use Real-Time Motion Compensation? 159

dryriver writes: Graphics cards manufacturers like Nvidia and AMD have gone to great pains recently to point out that in order to experience virtual reality with a VR headset properly, you need a GPU capable of pushing at least a steady 90 FPS per eye, or a total of at least 180 FPS for both eyes, and at high resolutions to boot. This of course requires the purchase of the latest, greatest high-end GPUs made by these manufacturers, alongside the money you are already plonking down for your new VR headset, and a good, fast gaming-class PC. This raises an interesting question: virtually every LCD/LED TV manufactured in the last 5 or 6 years has a 'Real-Time Motion Compensation' feature built in. This is the not-so-new-at-all technique of taking, say, a football match broadcast live at 30 FPS or Hz, and algorithmically generating extra in-between frames in real time, thus giving you a hyper-smooth 200-400 FPS/Hz image on the TV set with no visible stutter or strobing whatsoever. This technology is not new. It is cheap enough to include in virtually every TV set at every price level (thus the hardware that performs the real-time motion compensating cannot cost more than a few dollars total). And the technique should, in theory, work just fine with the output of a GPU trying to drive a VR headset. Now suppose you have an entry level or mid-range GPU capable of pushing only 40-60 FPS in a VR application (or a measly 20-30 FPS per eye, making for a truly terrible VR experience). You could, in theory, add some cheap motion compensation circuitry to that GPU and get 100-200 FPS or more per eye. Heck, you might even be able to program a few GPU cores to run the motion compensation as a real-time GPU shader as the rest of the GPU is rendering a game or VR experience.

So my question: Why don't GPUs for VR use real-time motion compensation techniques to increase the FPS pushed into the VR headset? Would this not make far more financial sense for the average VR user than having to buy a monstrously powerful GPU to experience VR at all?
Android

Ask Slashdot: How Often Do You Switch Programming Languages? 331

An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: I always see a lot of different opinions about programming languages, but how much choice do you really get to have over which language to use? If you want to develop for Android, then you're probably using Java...and if you're developing for iOS, then you've probably been using Swift or Objective-C. Even when looking for a job, all your most recent job experience is usually tied up in whatever language your current employer insisted on using. (Unless people are routinely getting hired to work on projects in an entirely different language than the one that they're using now...)

Maybe the question I really want to ask is how often do you really get to choose your programming languages... Does it happen when you're swayed by the available development environment or intrigued by the community's stellar reputation, or that buzz of excitement that keeps building up around one particular language? Or are programming languages just something that you eventually just fall into by default?

Leave your answers in the comments. How often do you switch programming languages?
Operating Systems

Ask Slashdot: Should You Upgrade To Windows 10 For Accessibility Features? 110

BarbaraHudson writes: Non-Visual Desktop Access (NVDA) is a free screen reader that is only available for Windows and comes with lots of features for people with visual handicaps. NVDA recommends to delay moving to Windows 10 because of problems with the Edge browser, PDF reading, Cortana, and applications designed for the Windows Store. There's only a few weeks to "upgrade" to Windows 10. My question is, does Windows 10 have compelling reasons for the visually handicapped to switch to it that are worth putting up with these (hopefully temporary) problems? Please note that NVDA doesn't require an internet connection to work; any Windows 10 assistive technologies that require one are a minus because they can leave the user high and dry with no notice. By the way, I've tried the KNOPPIX Adriane Audio Desktop and unfortunately it's really not there yet in comparison. Microsoft did highlight several accessibility features in the Windows 10 Anniversary update. Some of the features include faster text to speech, improved keyboard navigation, verbosity, AutoSuggest results, and support for more languages. In many of the core Windows 10 apps, Microsoft has made changes to Microsoft Edge, Mail, Cortana, and Groove to provide various features like modern web accessibility standards, improved account setup experience when using a screen reader, more reliable search and navigation functionality when using a keyboard, and better support for high DPI scaling and high contrast. There are also new accessibility resources available to developers, including an updated Visual Studio App Analysis tool to make it easier to find and fix accessibility errors, and support for Mnemonics in the Universal Windows Platform to help developers more easily provide Access Key customizations.
Software

Slashdot Asks: What's Your Preferred Note-Taking App? 286

Earlier this week, popular note-taking app Evernote announced major changes to its service. The company announced that free users on the app will now only be able to sync across two devices. The company also raised the prices of its paid tiers by 40%. This move, as you can imagine, has resulted in Evernote facing a backlash from many of its users. To give some perspective, Evernote paid plans ($36/ $70 a year) now costs as much as Office 365's $70 Personal yearly plan. With Office 365, obviously, you get more stuff -- including access to Microsoft productivity suite, and 1TB OneDrive storage. Microsoft was quick to release a free tool for Evernote users should they want to move their data to its note-taking service OneNote. OneNote is free to use and offers 15GB free storage to all users. Google's Keep is another good option with 15GB of free storage. Which note-taking app do you use? Anyone who still prefers taking notes on a notebook with a pen?
Media

Ask Slashdot: What's Your Preferred Media Streaming Device? 226

New submitter bkr1_2k writes: Way back when, I had a PC dedicated as a media server using MythTV. That died and I didn't bother building a new one. Consumer electronics caught up and I recently bought an Apple TV (3rd Generation) to use for streaming my media library. I am, unsurprisingly, finding flaws with it. I'm looking for alternative devices that allow me to stream from my media server directly, without the need for a middleman app like iTunes for the Apple TV. I don't need a ton of streaming services (we have Netflix and Amazon Prime but don't use anything else). I primarily want to use this for streaming my own music and movie libraries over my home network, preferably with a user interface that lets me browse those in a fashion that doesn't force me to scroll through my whole library to get to the title that starts with the letter "Z" (A very poor design choice in the Apple TV). Nor do I want any voice controls since they all suck, in my experience. I would prefer an 'open' device that I can update at will with add-ons, but it's not a requirement. What are the current options out there? Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast. Anything else that might fit my needs better? Last week, we asked a similar question: "What's your preferred music streaming service?"
Digital

Slashdot Asks: What's Your Preferred Music Streaming Service? 316

Spotify announced on Monday that it has hit 100 million users on its music streaming service, with over 30 million paid subscribers. The Swedish music company's service rivals with Apple Music, Pandora, and Google's Play Music. Apple's streaming service, which was launched last year, has over 15 million paid customers as of earlier this month. Amazon also reportedly plans to launch its music streaming service later this year. YouTube is also a stop for many music listeners, and so is radio.

How do you get your music? Do you still purchase CDs and DVDs? Anyone with a turntable in the audience?
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: How Can You Manage Developers Distributed Across Multiple Projects? 112

An anonymous Slashdot reader asks whether it's possible to manage a "distributed" team of software developers in different locations who are all assigned to different projects, each with their own independent project managers: All embedded software engineers from multiple offices in different countries are now being reorganized into this new distributed team [with] better control of its own development practices, processes and tools, since everyone is working in embedded software...

While there's extensive material throughout the Internet on best practices for managing distributed teams, it seems to either take an agile perspective, the project manager's perspective or be otherwise based on the assumption that everyone in the team are working in the same project. In my case, I'd be managing a distributed team of developers all assigned to different projects. How can I build cohesion, alignment and trust for my team of embedded software developers in this new three-dimensional distributed matrix organization?

Anyone have any relevant experiences to share with distributed teams or "matrix" organizations? Leave your answers in the comments. How can you manage developers who are all distributed across multiple projects?
Security

Ask Slashdot: Should You Store Medical Details In The Cloud? (caremonkey.com) 262

"Paper forms are a security risk", warns the web site for CareMonkey, which maintains digital and up-to-date medical information in the cloud "for any organization with a duty of care". This is raising concerns for long-time Slashdot reader rolandw, who says he's being asked by his daughter's school to approve using the site to store "her full medical details". CareMonkey say that this data is stored on AWS and their security page says that it is secured by every protocol ever claimed by AWS (apparently). As a sysadmin and developer who has used AWS extensively for non-secure information my alarm bells are sounding.
Should he ignore those alarm bells and approve the storage of his daughter's medical history in the cloud? And if not, what specific reason would you give for refusing?
Crime

Ask Slashdot: Can Technology Prevent Shootings? 1144

An anonymous reader wonders if there's a technological response to mass shootings like this Sunday's attack in Orlando, Florida: We're in for a sadly obvious debate now with all of the usual scapegoats, but instead of focusing on who's to blame, it'd be better to identify some specific actions that could actually generate real increases in public safety going forward...

If we're looking for radical changes in the way we live, does technology have a role? Is the answer smart gun technology? Mandatory metal detectors at night clubs? Better data analysis algorithms for the federal government? Bulletproof fabrics?

Share your best ideas in the comments. Could there be a technological solution to the problem of mass shootings?
Open Source

Ask Slashdot: What's The Best CMS? 222

Slashdot reader pipingguy recently inherited a 2012 installation of Joomla 1.5.26, and while performing four years worth of updates, began wondering about other content management systems. I've built more than a few static websites (I use Sublime Text 3 or Atom, not some fancy-pants WYSIWYG doohickey) and am quite familiar with CSS, but databases not so much. I've been through lots of online documentation and am a bit bewildered, but I'm following the recommendations regarding backups and the like.

What are Slashdot readers' latest opinions on the three most popular CMSes -- Drupal, Joomla and WordPress? Any tips for me before I accidentally blow away the existing site and have to rebuild everything...?

Leave your educated opinions in the comments...
Handhelds

Ask Slashdot: Why Do Most Tablet Specs Suck? 231

Slashdot reader Qbertino describes himself as a "happy tablet user," moving from an old HTC Flyer to his Yoga 2. But he notes that most other tablets "have laughable battery times," and "I've yet to find a tablet that does not give me storage or memory problems in some way or other, lasts for a day or two in power and doesn't feel chintzy and like it won't stand a month of regular everyday use and carrying around..." He asks why none of the manufacturers seem willing to offer more than one gigabyte of RAM -- and why they're so stingy with storage. "Where is the rugged 16GB RAM / 1TB Storage / 20-hour battery tablet?"

So leave your educated opinions in the comments. What are your thoughts on the current tablet market? And are they the ultimate all-purpose "convergence" device that Apple and Ubuntu seem to think they are?

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