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The Almighty Buck

Submission + - How do you get the best value building a PC?

ObiWanStevobi writes: Although I should ask before hand, I recently ordered everything I need to build a new PC. The high points of the system are a 3.2 Pentium D, ASUS ATX SLI Ready Motherboard, SLI Ready power supply, and GeForce 8500 Graphics card. I also added a DVDRW, DVDROM/CDRW combo drive, 250 Gig Seagate HD, 2 Gigs Kingston RAM, and a Wireless NIC. All of this in an ATX Mid Tower. Grand Total of ~$600. The best part is that I don't have Vista pre-installed.

Now this is not a great machine by current standards, but it is alot more bang for the buck than you can get from a manufacturer. I used TigerDirect and NewEgg to get all the hardware. Those are the sites I typically use at work and have been pretty reliable for me. But what I wonder is what everyone else is using to build their PCs. Where are you getting the most value these days?

Anyone have any particularly great machines they put together for much less than you would expect? What are your favorite discount hardware sites, or any to stay away from?
The Courts

Submission + - "Jihadist James Bond" Sentenced for Websit (guardian.co.uk)

Nadsat writes: "In London, a 23 year-old man was sentenced for 10 years for posting online suicide vest guides and videos of the killings of Nick Berg and Daniel Pearl. He went by the handle "irhabi007," which combines the Arabic word for terrorist and the code name for James Bond. The sentencing judge said he was a danger, even though "he came no closer to a bomb or a firearm than a computer keyboard.""
Input Devices

Submission + - Determining where a ball hits a target 4

thezaxis writes: I am looking for a technology or some ideas on how to go about determining (electronically) where a weighted tennis ball hits a 2 dimensional target (wall for arguments sake). The position would need to be determined within a diameter of about 50 to 100mm. This should ideally be via optical, laser or similar method rather than electromechanical sensors to eliminate wear or damage from continuous impact of the balls. The entire target area would typically be in the order of 5m x 5m.
The Internet

Submission + - Dead webmasters online?

wikinerd writes: "I'm looking to create a list of still-operational websites (or other online presences) whose webmaster has died and their content is not updated anymore. Could you help me to make a list of such dormant websites? Practically, if the server fees are paid in advance and the hardware is taken care by a datacentre sysadmin, a website can probably remain online for a few months or years after the death of its webmaster with no one to take care of the content. Sites maintained by relatives or friends obviously don't fall into this category. While in the past most content was written in books, which were preserved after the death of the author, nowadays many people publish online, but apart from Internet Archive there seems to be no guarantee that their writings will be preserved for future generations after their death. I'm looking for ways to "save" worthy content present in such websites, but I'm a bit unsure how to handle issues of intellectual property. Shall I assume that the content of a dead webmaster's site is owned by their heirs? How can one locate and contact the copyright owner of a dead person?"
Space

Submission + - Deathbed confession swears by Roswell aliens (news.com.au)

hellbreaker writes: "Lieutenant Walter Haut, the public relations officer at Roswell base in 1947, died last year; but he left behind a sworn affidavit (to be opened in the event of his death) describing a spacecraft, and little green men that he himself witnessed. Okay, maybe not green, but this just brings the whole question back: what exactly happened there?"
Software

Submission + - Estimating software development costs 1

ZigZagHerring writes: As a financial manager in charge of projecting software development costs and other costs associated with the development process, I find myself a bit lost. As the co-founder of a startup for institutional investment analysis software, I have the financial skills to deploy complex analysis but not the estimation skills to forecast costs of software development. Where would a financial whiz with a slight technical background go about finding procedures for producing ballpark software development cost figures?
The Courts

Submission + - TorrentSpy Ordered By Judge to Become MPAA Spy

PC Guy writes: TorrentSpy, one of the world's largest BitTorrent sites, has been ordered by a federal judge to monitor its users. They are asked to keep detailed logs of their activities which must then be handed over to the MPAA.

Ira Rothken, TorrentSpy's attorney responded to the news by stating:

"It is likely that TorrentSpy would turn off access to the U.S. before tracking its users. If this order were allowed to stand, it would mean that Web sites can be required by discovery judges to track what their users do even if their privacy policy says otherwise."
Patents

Submission + - Software Patents in the New York Times (nytimes.com)

Timothy B. Lee writes: "I've got an article in the New York Times in which I make the case against software patents. Expanding on a point I first made on my blog, I point out that Microsoft has had a change of heart on the patent issue. In 1991, Bill Gates worried that "some large company will patent some obvious thing" and use it to blackmail smaller companies. Now that Microsoft is a large company with a patent war-chest of their own, they don't seem so concerned about abuse of the patent system. I then point out that Verizon's efforts to shut down Vonage are a perfect illustration of Gates's fears."
Media

Submission + - High Quality Real Time Streaming Video

neomage86 writes: I work for a relatively small company that has a head office, and about half a dozen small branches dispersed throughout the country. Our CEO wishes to make make a real-time video broadcast to all our remote locations once a month, while having people ask him questions in real time via a POTS conference call.

We are relatively fortunate that our corporate headquarters (where the CEO is) has a very fat pipe (~100 mbps with approx 50ms round trip to each remote office) while each remote office has at least a T1 (so figure free bandwidth of ~900 kbps). Unfortunately, we do not have any way of multicasting out to the remote offices, so we will be stuck using multiple plain old Point-to-Point connections.

My research has lead me to believe that h.264 or mpeg4 seem like the way to go. After playing with a few things (Quick Time Broadcaster, VLC, etc), nothing really struck us as being extraordinary. Right now I'm looking into a firewire camcorder and some sort of hardware encoding, but google hasn't turned up any mpeg4/h.264 hardware encoders that have known compatibility with streaming software (I'm hoping that elgato's turbo.264 works, but no evidence yet). So, any suggestions as to what's the best way to actually encode and send out the streams in realtime (so there isn't too much lag between the conference call and video broadcast)? What's the highest quality video that I can reasonably hope to squeeze into 800kbps?

We're hoping to spend just a few hundred dollars on this, but would be willing to go up to a few thousand if that's what it takes. I'm just hoping to avoid the $10K+ that the enterprise products (like vBrick) are asking for.
Censorship

Submission + - Attorney sues website over his online rating (nwsource.com)

An anonymous reader writes: The Seattle Post-Intelligencer is reporting that a local attorney is suing legal startup Avvo.com over a rating that was algorithmically assigned. The story touches over the controversy of computers grading humans. Such practices are not new: the New York Times earlier this year reported on Google using algorithms to determine applicant suitability. But what happens when you don't like the result? Can a computer program be considered defamatory?

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