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Submission + - Ask Slashdot: easy alternative to MS Access for an easy-to-use DB for a charity? 5

danzvash writes: I'm doing some volunteering for a street kids charity in Senegal, West Africa, and they need a new database to store all their information for the kids, and to help the funding organisations like UNICEF. The charity staff have a few computers running Windows 7. Being a die-hard OSS geek I'm more inclined to knock up a MySQL backend with a Django (or similar) frontend and run the whole thing from a reliable VPS. But it needs to be understandable by the non-geeks in the charity — there is no IT expertise here. Is there anything that can allow me to design and edit databases, tables, and forms but doesn't require an MS license?

Comment Re:rose colored glasses, $1.00 each! (Score 1) 708

"the most employable skills on the planet" lulz

Besides hilarity, what's your point?

Do you care to give an example of a general professional discipline which is significantly more "employable" than software engineering? I'll wait while you prepare a list.

Seriously. I'm a 35 year old software engineer. After university, I worked as a permanent employee for a few years in a couple of different software companies. Then I moved onto contracting in the financial sector - greater cash reward, and the work was just as good. I've built up experience in contracting in a few different sectors, doing a mixture of development and infrastructure engineering.

I can take a break for a few months travelling, come back to town - and it takes me about 24-72 hours to find a new contract job. To actually review the market, interview for my chosen handful of positions, receive an offer and accept it. An interesting job that pays good daily cash.
And I'm a good engineer, but I know I'm not the best.

So, I say again - if you're a software engineer, and you're struggling to find work, you're not trying hard enough.

So try harder.
(Oh, and do contracting; learn new technologies like I said; and aim at senior technical roles like architecting.)

Comment Being employable is easy (Score 1) 708

Dude. You're a senior software engineer. You already have some of the most employable skills on the planet. If you're worrying about job security, you're not trying hard enough.

How to stay employable?
Keep abreast of new stuff: new language developments, new development concepts, new methodologies. (flippant examples: Groovy / Scala / NoSQL / Hadoop )
Learn Agile/Scrum if you haven't already.

Take up contracting, and get some interesting work in a different field. Try telecoms or media or something - just break away from financial for a bit.

You should be thinking of graduating to a senior architect level, which will still require technical involvement but with project management expertise.
You will have no need to worry about being jobless. Be brave!

Comment Netgear WNDR3700 (Score 2) 4

I had exactly the same requirements list, and the Netgear is the one I ended up buying about 18 months ago. It is basically faultless (though you should check forums for ddwrt and the like because certain hardware revisions or serial numbers had wireless strength issues IIRC).
It also has plenty of RAM so your routing tables are never going to get snarled up.
The WNDR4000 looks like the update to this model, is supported by the open firmwares and can be bought for well under $200.

Comment Why now? (Score 1) 352

I'm just curious - what brought Edward Teller to the interest of Slashdot all of a sudden? It's not an anniversary of anything that I'm aware of - so why are we now talking about this particular physicist?

As far as I can make out, he wasn't much of a nice guy. From the Wikipedia article on him: 'Nobel Prize winning physicist Isidor I. Rabi once suggested that "It would have been a better world without Teller."'

Also - is anybody on Slashdot going to make the connection with good ol' Bob Lazar? You know, the guy who supposedly worked at Area51 in the late 80s and supposedly worked in a facility where they were working on back-engineering alien flying saucers, stored underground? It's a great story, even if it is largely (but not totally) uncorroborated. Well, Lazar claims that Teller got him the job, after a chance meeting at Los Alamos Research Labs. Teller was interviewed about this years afterwards, and didn't seem too happy. Look on Youtube for "UFOs The Lazar Tape ... And Excerpts From The Government Bible" - it's a 40 min doc, but the Teller reference pops up at about 35m50. Worth a look, perhaps.

Comment Re:Patents? (Score 1) 115

You're way off base there, dude. makes it fairly clear. One is a US pronunciation, the other is UK. Anybody using either pronunciation is potentially equally well-informed. You're reading way too much into a situation based on your own (or others') idle supposition (or did you really question everybody that you heard saying "pay-tent" and establish clearly that they had taken the pronunciation from a misreading of the word....?)

Comment Re:One of two routes.... (Score 1) 382

The points you make are quite valid - it's just that they had nothing really to do with the topic at hand.

A Linux newbie wanted an introduction to LAMP serving with an easy-to-use distro that would let him set up a hobby project. He specifically stated that he didn't want to use much CLI. (My personal preference is to use CLI with everything - but I totally respect the inclinations of others not to do so - other people don't necessarily share my priorities, and why should they?)

He is also unlikely to be running a mission-critical service with critical security requirements: following the generally accepted set of guidelines will provide a reasonable level of security.

I'd love if you could give examples of how easily he could be compromised by trojans on his newly-minted LAMP server. I suspect you are talking about marginal cases - which again takes us out of the area of relevance.

Re the insecurity of HTTPS ... If he is concerned about possible man-in-the-middle attacks on his hobby LAMP server (though I think we're heading into paranoia-level security here) then he can generate his own certificates/have them signed/etc. Yes, the browser provides more holes .... Does this mean that you would like to lock down his new LAMP server so that no browsers can talk to it?
Or does he have to communicate exclusively to his server via SSH tunnels?

By the way, do you ever buy anything online? As in, do you occasionally use HTTPS connections to supply credit card details?
Or do you live in a concrete basement, with a tin-foil hat, and do your shopping by mailing out cheques?
HTTPS works in the real world and will serve this man's purpose fine for running a webmin console.

Re OpenBSD - while I have all the time in the world for projects such as the *BSD, they have ABSOLUTELY no relevance to the poster or what he's trying to do. Again - he wants an introduction to LAMP serving on Linux, with minimal CLI to get him up and running. How helpful is it to people like him to have answers from security freaks saying, "You should really check out OpenBSD, and learn the CLI!"

That's not the kind of message that the Linux/Open-source community should be sending out to curious newcomers: "You're a long way from achieving anything, because you have to learn this huge mountain of marginally-relevant technical information to achieve your reasonable goals".

And I have put plenty of servers up on the open web and have never been compromised. So, thanks for the polite suggestion, but it's really my business how paranoid I choose to be.

Comment Re:One of two routes.... (Score 1) 382

znerk makes a very good point. The kernel is an important difference between Ubuntu Server and Ubuntu Desktop - they use different schedulers, and the server version leaves out the "user interface" tweaks which the desktop has.

However, bearing in mind that you're a Linux newbie, and you probably want to have an easy GUI style installation, the desktop version is the way to go.
The differences in serving performance between the two kernels are unlikely to be noticeable unless the site is a high-throughput one.

But if you are concerned about performance, and you want to take on board znerks' advice, install the server kernel after installation, with a single CLI command like this:
# sudo apt-get install linux-image-server

Comment Re:One of two routes.... (Score 1) 382

Ok, I'll bite, since you responded to my response ....

I'm going to say this one more time.

That's good - I must have missed the first few times you popped out these gems!

Get an extra box for making your first mistakes in. Do not let all 2500 users play on your first efforts unless you are ready and they won't mind if you have to suddenly wipe the box and start from scratch because it is full of trojans and the like.

If you're careful in the set up, a non-critical project could be hosted on the first spin. Besides ... trojans on a LAMP server are not a big concern, are they?

And, just to emphasize what everyone is saying, go check out openbsd sometime. Don't fear the CLI, even if you choose to start with webmin

Dude. The guy asked for a "newb-friendly Linux flavor". And your considered response is to go and use OpenBSD - which is neither newb-friendly, or Linux? Really? The only reason that you would suggest that is down to your own preferences - not the poster's - and as such it appears quite irrelevant.

you want to keep webmin only accessible localhost. Even if you have to use the command line to set that up.

Again, not necessarily good advice. Webmin runs by default on HTTPS, putting the basic level of security on a par with an SSH server. No need for SSH tunnelling to the server.

So much noise in the world ....

Comment Re:One of two routes.... (Score 1) 382

The formatting got screwed on two of those commands ....

So here's the updated 3 minute Webmin install for Ubuntu, following Unix sys-admin best practices:

# sudo echo "deb sarge contrib" >> /etc/apt/sources.list
# wget -q -O- | sudo apt-key add -
# sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install webmin

Comment One of two routes.... (Score 1) 382

If you want to have a general purpose full-featured Linux server distro that will be easy to set up and maintain, and be flexible enough to adapt to any purpose, choose either Ubuntu or CentOS (the Redhat clone).
They are easy to work with, and both can do everything.
(I'm guessing you're going to be physically sat at the computer while you're working on it, or working over VNC or some such, and that therefore you'll want a GUI - in this case use the usual Ubuntu desktop installer (rather than the -server edition which contains no GUI stuff).

Otherwise, if you want a quick and easy route to LAMP web serving, then the above suggestions of XAMPP, Zend, and also possibly Bitnami are the obvious choices. (They don't necessarily involve Linux though.)

Personally, I would recommend Ubuntu. It is a cinch to install and set up, great active community support, and you're not limited in what you can do.

Here's a little demo of what setting up LAMP on Ubuntu would look like. You can get where you want to be pretty quickly:

- download and install Ubuntu to the server (installation could be 10 minutes)
- open a terminal and type:
    # sudo apt-get install apache2 mysql-server phpbb3
(this will take probably 2-3 minutes to complete)

You are now 90% set up with your LAMP server. Current versions of Apache, Mysql, PHP, phpbb3 and all their specific dependencies are now installed AND running.
Time to configure the services!

If you want to stay away from the CLI - and set up a web-based GUI to admin the server - here are four CLI commands :-) to achieve that:
# sudo echo "deb sarge contrib" >> /etc/apt/sources.list
# wget -q -O- | sudo apt-key add -
# sudo apt-get update
# sudo apt-get install webmin
(probably another 2-3 minutes for all these steps to complete)

That's it. You now you have a full-powered LAMP server, configurable via a web GUI.

Total work? About 30 minutes.

Barring security concerns (firewall rules and following guidelines on apache/phpbb3 config, passwords etc), backups, and future updates (which Ubuntu will handle almost completely automatically for you), that's about all you need.

Comment Re:what a great idea! (Score 1) 117

I presume that, behind the smug hilarity of your post, you understand (even to some very limited extent) what conditions are like in countries like Liberia, and thus why things like newspapers and trains are not viable options for the majority.

Or perhaps you hadn't actually heard of Liberia, and didn't in fact give a shit anyway. Perhaps you just wanted to make a comment that would fill you with a sense of self-satisfaction. Aren't you all big and clever now?

Seriously, it makes me sad that such a smug "joke" could be marked as insightful. WTF, Slashdot? Please, SuperTwatBanana, just sit in your own self-satisfied corner of the world and keep your cretinous fucking thoughts to yourself. Or maybe try travelling the world a bit and see what life is like in other places before unleashing that rapier-like wit of yours again.

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