This is an interview with Graham Morrison, who is one of four people behind the shiny-new Linux Voice magazine, which is printed on (gasp) paper. Yes, paper, even though it's 2014 and a lot of people believe the idea of publishing a physical newspaper or magazine is dead. But, Graham says, when you have a tight community (like Linux users and developers) you have an opportunity to make a successful magazine for that community. This is a crowdfunded venture, through Indiegogo, where they hoped to raise £90,000 -- but ended up with £127,603, which is approximately $214,288 as of this video's publishing date. So they have a little capital to work with. Also note: these are not publishing neophytes. All four of the main people behind Linux Voice used to work on the well-regarded Linux Format magazine. Graham says they're getting subscribers and newsstand sales at a healthy rate, so they're happily optimistic about their magazine's future. (Here's an alternate video link)
Bennett Haselton writes "If you read no further, use either the BestParking or ParkMe app to search
all nearby parking garages for the cheapest spot, based on the time you're
arriving and leaving. I'm interested in the question of why so few
people know about these apps, how is it that they've been partially crowded
out by other 'parking apps' that are much less useful, and why our marketplace
for ideas and intellectual properly is still so inefficient." Read below to see what Bennett has to say.
Phil Shapiro often loans his Chromebook to patrons of the public library where he works. He says people he loans it to are happily suprised at how fast it is. He wrote an article earlier this month titled Teachers unite to influence computer manufacturing that was a call to action; he says that if 20,000 teachers demand a simple, low-cost Chromebook appliance -- something like a Chrome-powered Mac mini with a small SSD instead of a hard drive, and of course without the high Mac mini price -- some computer manufacturer will bite on the idea. Monitors? There are plenty of used ones available. Ditto speakers and keyboards, not that they cost much new. The bottom line is that Phil believes Chromebooks, both in their current form factor and in a simpler one, could be "the" computer for schools and students. Maybe so, not that Android tablets are expensive or hard to use. And wait! Isn't there already a Chromebox? And even a Chromebase all-in-one Chrome-based desktop? In any case, Chrome-based computers look pretty good for schools and libraries, especially if and when prices for the simplest members of the family get down to where Phil thinks they should be. (Alternate video link)
As co-founder and CEO of MakerBot Industries, Bre Pettis is a driving force in the Maker and 3-D printing world. He's done a number of podcasts for Make, and even worked as an assistant at Jim Henson's Creature Shop in London after college. Makerbot's design community, Thingiverse, boasts over 100,000 3D models, and inspires countless artists and designers by allowing them to share their designs. Bre has agreed to set aside some time from printing in order to type answer to your questions. Normal Slashdot interview rules apply.
We recently had the chance to talk with internet rock star and former code monkey Jonathan Coulton. We asked him a number of your questions and a few of our own about music, technology, and copyright issues. Read below to see what he had to say.
You've probably heard Jono Bacon speak at a Linux or Open Source conference. Or maybe you've heard one of his podcasts or read something he's written in his job as Ubuntu's community manager or even, perhaps, read The Art of Community, which is Jono's well-regarded book about building online communities. Jono also wrote and performed the heavy metal version of Richard M. Stallman's infamous composition, The Free Software Song. An excerpt from the Jono version kicks off our interview, and the complete piece (about two minutes long) closes the video. Please note that this video is a casual talk with Jono Bacon, the person, rather than a talk with the "official" Ubuntu Jono Bacon. So please, pull up a chair, lean back, and join us. (Alternate Video Link)
A while ago you had a chance to ask John McAfee about his past, politics, and what he has planned for the future. As usual, John answered with extreme frankness, with some interesting advice for anyone stuck at a checkpoint in the third world. Below you can read all his answers to your questions.
Bennett Haselton writes "What advice would you give someone who just bought a new laptop? What would you tell someone about how to secure their webserver against attacks? For that matter, how would you tell someone
to prepare for their first year at Burning Man? I submit that the metric by which we usually
judge tech advice, and advice in general, is fundamentally flawed, and has bred much of
the unhelpful tech advice out there." Read below to see what Bennett has to say.
Obviously, the first performance enhancement you do on any computer you own is max out the RAM. RAM has gotten cheap, and adding more of it to almost any computer will make it faster without requiring any other modification (or any great skill). The next thing you need to do, says Larry O'Connor, the founder and CEO of Other World Computing (OWC), is move from a "platter" hard drive to a Solid State Drive (SSD). Larry's horse in this race is that his company sells SSDs, mostly for Macs. But he's a real evangelist about SSDs and computer mods in general, even if you buy them from NewEgg, Amazon or another vendor.
A big (vendor-neutral) thing Larry points out is that just because you have a Terabyte drive in your computer now doesn't mean you need a Terabyte SSD, which can easily cost $500. Rather, he says, all you need is a large enough SSD to contain your OS and software and whatever data you're working with at the moment, so you might be able to get by with a 120 GB SSD that costs well under $100. Clone your current main drive, stick in the new SSD, and if your need more storage, get another hard drive (or use your old one). Simple. Efficient. And a lot cheaper than buying a new computer, whether we're talking about home, business or even enterprise use. (Alternate video link.)
Bruce Perens is a computer programmer and one of the most important advocates for the open source community. He co-founded the Open Source Initiative with ESR and has worked towards reforms of national and international technology policies. He is an amateur radio enthusiast, and has pushed for open radio communication standards. He is also our interview guest today. As usual, ask as many questions as you'd like, but please, one per post.
Recently you had a chance to ask the writer and creator of Babylon 5, J. Michael Straczynski, about the state of sci-fi, his body of work, and collaborating with Netflix. Below you'll find his answers to those questions.
Chester Wisniewski's nakedsecurity describes Wisniewski's specialty thus: "He provides advice and insight into the latest threats for security and IT professionals with the goal of providing clear guidance on complex topics." So he's obviously someone who might know a little about preventing future Target-style security debacles. We've also interviewed tech journalist Wayne Rash about this topic, and will probably interview another security expert or two. Many Slashdot users may find all this credit card security talk boring, but for those who handle security matters for a living, especially for retailers, it's vital information. So here's Tim Lord talking with Chet, who is a recognized security expert for Sophos, one of the big dogs in the IT security field, when Chet was in Texas for the latest iteration of Security B-Sides in Austin. (Alternate video link.)
Bennett Haselton writes "The city of Seattle just imposed new limits on commercial app-based ride-sharing companies
like Uber and Lyft, effectively protecting taxi companies from low-cost
competition in the form of smartphone apps. If other cities follow suit, could a company help ridesharers
circumvent the restrictions by creating a ride-trading app, allowing drivers
to earn 'miles' by driving passengers, and redeem those miles later to get
rides for themselves?" Continue reading below to see what Bennett has to say.
This is a conversation with Frank Muscarello, CEO and co-founder of MarkiTx, a company that brokers used and rehabbed IT equipment. We're not talking about an iPhone 3 you might sell on craigslist, but enterprise-level items. Cisco. Oracle. IBM mainframes. Racks full of HP or Dell servers. That kind of thing. In 2013 IDC pegged the value of the used IT equipment market at $70 billion, so this is a substantial business. MarkiTx has three main bullet points: *Know what your gear is worth; *Sell with ease at a fair price; and *Buy reliable, refurbished gear. Pricing is the big deal, Frank says. With cars you have Cars.com and Kelley Blue Book. There are similar pricing services for commercial trucks, construction equipment, and nearly anything else a business or government agency might buy or sell used. For computers? Not so much. Worth Monkey calls itself "The blue book for used electronics and more," but it only seems to list popular consumer equipment. I tried looking up several popular Dell PowerEdge servers. No joy. An HTC Sensation phone or an Acer Aspire notebook? Sure. With price ranges based on condition, same as Kelley Blue Book does with cars. Now back to the big iron. A New York bank wants to buy new servers. Their old ones are fully depreciated in the tax sense, and their CTO can show stats saying they are going to suffer from decreasing reliability. So they send out for bids on new hardware. Meanwhile, there's a bank in Goa, India, that is building a server farm on a tight budget. If they can buy used servers from the New York bank, rehabbed and with a warranty, for one-third what they'd cost new, they are going to jump on this deal the same way a small earthmoving operation buys used dump trucks a multinational construction company no longer wants.
In February, 2013 Computerworld ran an article titled A new way to sell used IT equipment about MarkiTx. The main differentiator between MarkiTx and predecessor companies is that this is primarily an information company. It is not eBay, where plenty of commercial IT equipment changes hands, nor is it quite like UK-based Environmental Computer, which deals in used and scrap computer hardware. It is, rather, the vanguard of computer hardware as a commodity; as something you don't care about as long as it runs the software you need it to run, and you can buy it at a good price -- or more and more, Frank notes -- rent a little bit of its capacity in the form of a cloud service, a direction in which an increasing number of business are moving for their computing needs. Even more fun: Let's say you are (or would like to be) a local or regional computer service company and you want to buy or sell or broker a little used hardware. You could use MarkiTx's price information to set both your buy and sell prices, same as a car dealer uses Kelley Blue Book. We seem to be moving into a whole new era of computer sales and resales. MarkiTx is one company making a splash in this market. But there are others, and there are sure to be even more before long. (Alternate video link.)
This is wide-ranging interview with Dev Patel and Poulomi Damany of BitYota, an Analytics as a Service startup that works specifically with MongoDB. Open Source? Not yet. But hopefully soon, they say. And why should an IT person or programmer care about marketing-oriented analytics? Because the more you know about functions in your company besides IT (such as finance, investor relations, and -- yes -- marketing), the more valuable you are as an employee. Dev also mentions the two main things he looks for when recruiting for BitYota: "One is intellect, and the other is attitude." He points out that this is not true merely of BitYota, but of any strong startup.
This is all good information for any job-seeker hoping to land a spot with a startup -- and for anyone who is happy with where he or she works but hopes to earn promotions and raises, too.
J. Michael Straczynski has written Thor, World War Z, and Changeling among many other films. He created Babylon 5 and has worked on numerous comic book titles including Superman and The Amazing Spider-Man. Most recently, he has teamed up with the Wachowskis for an original Netflix sci-fi series, Sense8. He's agreed to take a break from his busy schedule in order to answer any questions you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
It goes up, it goes down, it goes upside down and keeps on flying. We're talking about Curtis Youngblood's latest quadcopter prototype, but as his website says, "Curtis has been flying and competing with RC Helicopters since the early 1980s and is a Multi-time World Champion and Multi-time 3D Champion." This lucky dog has managed to turn his hobby into a business; he makes and sells radio controlled helicopters -- not the $60 ones from Harbor Freight, but sophisticated aerial beasts that can carry still and video cameras and could easily be used as short-range drones, except that these are hobbyists' toys -- for hobbyists who can afford to spend hundreds and even thousands of dollars, anyway. There are plenty of quadcopter kits on the market for lots less than Youngblood's creations, along with build-it-yourself guides. But these won't fly upside down. For that, you need variable-pitch rotors and sophisticated control systems. "But what about 3-D printing?" you ask. Of *course* you can use a 3-D printer to make a quadcopter. That was an inevitable development. Here are open source instructions for building one. Enjoy the ride!
Jonathan Coulton's song Code Monkey became an anthem for many programmers (not just ones with managers named Rob) and his success is proof that you really can become an internet rock star. Since we last talked, Coulton has became the house musician for the NPR show Ask Me Another and had one of his songs copied without permission, credit, or thanks by the show Glee, much to his chagrin. Jonathan has agreed to answer all your questions about music, internet stardom, and robots. Normal Slashdot interview rules apply.
RSA holds big-time annual security conferences. The 2014 U.S. edition had 25,000 attendees, Stephen Colbert as the closing keynote speaker, and a major controversy (and some anger) from potential speakers and attendees over RSA's reputed $10 million contract with NSA to make sure the company's encryption software had back doors the secretive agency could use to spy on people and companies that use RSA software. This is part of a story that might be called The Snowden Revelations if it is made into a movie, but right now it's still controversial, and enough of a bombshell in the IT security industry that F-Secure's Mikko Hyppönen decided not to speak at this year's U.S. RSA conference, followed by Bruce Schneier, DEFCON founder Jeff Moss, Princeton professor Ed Felten, and other security luminaries.
And so, TrustyCon -- the Trustworthy Technology Conference -- was born. It was a sellout, with 400 people attending at $50 a head, and another 300 on a waiting list who couldn't get in. Slashdot's Tim Lord managed to get in, and got to speak briefly with several people there, including one of the TrustyCon organizers, Joel Wallenstrom. These were crude interviews, done on a "catch as catch can" basis, and the sound in them is poor. (Google sent a camera crew and shot over seven hours of the conference speakers, which you can watch on YouTube if you want to view TrustyCon presentations in good HD with great sound.). Will there be another TrustyCon next year? According to The Register, "The conference organizers said that, at this point, the plan is to hold another get-together next year, but that a final decision will be made closer to the time."