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Ask Slashdot: How To Run a Small Business With Open Source Software?

Mr.Ziggy Trying to for small business (195 comments)

I have a small business and going all FOSS seems very difficult.

Linux on the desktop + Openoffice + GIMP has made life a lot better. Less Windows issues, less viruses. Particularly when an employee plugs in a USB device 'just to charge it'.

Zoneminder (newest version) on Ubuntu desktop works well for our needs (with AXIS cameras). Zoneminder is really a cost issue-- I've installed some of the commercial software for managing 40+ cameras on windows servers. Software was very expensive. But also a LOT easier to use, and easier to search and view. Using zoneminder takes probably twice as much time as good commercial software.

Wine: use it to run a very old windows application a vendor uses for ordering. Not perfect in implementation.

Windows: I have windows on an old laptop. Sometimes someone sends me a tricked out excel spreadsheet and nothing in FOSS works with it right. The application to talk to my Sharp cash register only works on windows.

I would love to use a linux based full POS system, but can't find one that makes sense. May go MerchantOS next year.

Accounting: I absolutely hate Quickbooks on the desktop. Constant data corruption issues when you have multiple users. That being said, we use Quickbooks Online. Not that expensive to do our own payroll and can write checks at work/home easily. Constant warnings "does not support Linux" but it's fine.

more than 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: A Cheap, DIY Home Security and Surveillance System?

Mr.Ziggy Dogs Guns Zoneminder and Liberty (508 comments)

Zoneminder: I use Zoneminder on Ubuntu desktop with Axis IP cameras in a couple of installs (retail location too). New version is good. It's FSF. Downside is very good cameras are expensive, and Zoneminder is a CPU/memory hog with megapixel IP cameras. (Not a project you could Rasberry Pi) So while the software is free, some of the good Axis cameras are over $600 each. IMHO, if you are not interested in spending that much on cameras, just get a Costco system bundle for the time/cost savings. FYI: You MUST have motion capture/detection. There is simply too much data to go through otherwise.

Camera location: It's tempting to put cameras high to 'see more', but you need to have at least one closer to eye level to get a natural looking face picture. Too many people only have high cameras, and you can never clearly see the whole face. I choose a choke point like a doorway or hallway.

Dogs: Effective. But expensive over the long term and time consuming.

Guns: I'm a proponent, but it takes time to be able to shoot effectively. Chance you'll shoot a robber is low.

Safes: Get a better safe. If they ran off with your safe, it was certainly too cheap and small. Floor safes are fantastic when surrounded by concrete. And cheap.

Neighbors: Get to know your neighbors. Coffee and donuts are cheap.

about 2 years ago

Santa Cruz Tests Predictive Policing Program

Mr.Ziggy Re:My prediction (228 comments)

Self fulfilling prophesy?

The presence of police looking for crime in a neighborhood may lead naturally to more arrests. It's not uncommon for police patrolling a neighborhood to have a "quota" for contacts: pulling over vehicles with expired registration, traffic stops, loitering, etc. On any given street corner, in 30 minutes a police officer can almost always perform a couple traffic stops.

more than 3 years ago

Ask Slashdot: Best Connect Scheme For a 2-ISP Household?

Mr.Ziggy Re:RV042 (206 comments)

I thought the RV042 was going to be the godsend product: relatively cheap for dual-wan support in small offices. Turns out it just sucks.

My *personal* suspicion is it is part of the constant Cisco screwups of everything Linksys, but that's a different conversation.

RV042's run HOT, break, don't auto-switch or auto-detect a network outage like they are supposed to. Installed a bunch in some offices and had to replace all of them.

DO NOT buy the RV042.

Peplink makes a good but expensive dual-wan router which does everything you want and more. It is a larger, more robust office size product with pricing to match. But very good.

Otherwise you are looking at a BSD/Linux roll your own solution. I haven't seen anything good and small with 3 ethernet ports embedded in.

more than 3 years ago

The Life of a South Korean Pro Gamer

Mr.Ziggy Re:I still remember the days I had 95% win vs Kore (133 comments)

There's just not any infrastructure for pro games in the states like Korea has.

I think the problem your running into is culture. There's nothing physical preventing American's from forming pro-gaming leagues, but in fact we are saturated with all sorts of entertainment competing for every available time-slice available in our daily lives. I'm not so sure entertainment is so diverse in Korea (compared to America), which why such dedicated leagues are able to form.

Mod DigiShaman -1

Korea has *many* entertainment options, just like the USA or Japan. It exports movies, tv shows and music.

Korea's pro gaming leagues don't exist because of poor options! Korea has:

1. Initial strong results in international gaming--and gained a lot of headlines. Whenever a small country can beat Japan and the USA at something, people notice.

2. The PC Bang (computer game room) culture. Most games are played in competitive social gaming situations. It was the norm in Korea for a long time, and you could have consistent results planing on a LAN than laggy Battle.net

3. A youth with less chances for economic opportunity than the USA.

4. Some serious fast twitch gamer kids.

more than 4 years ago

For Non-Profits, Common Ground vs. Raiser's Edge?

Mr.Ziggy Raiser's Edge was a nightmare (97 comments)

What do you call a MEDIUM size nonprofit? How many individual donations a year/people in the database?

For a while, from about 1999-2007, I was doing some IT consulting almost exclusively with nonprofits, and worked extensively with Raiser's Edge. Raiser's Edge is a deeply entrenched product in a unique niche marketplace. It always seemed like most of the big nonprofits used it in some fashion, and all the really small nonprofits just get along with a weird excel spreadsheet.

(It does seem like an organization could donate to money to start a serious FOSS CRM system for small to medium nonprofits... it's a huge need)

Raiser's Edge is a resource hog and it seemed like nobody at Blackbaud cared about helping to make things faster. Back in the Sybase database versions, nobody realized you could put different database files on different HD's to speed up queries. We also once had a hefty support contract and were down over 25 days because they wouldn't/couldn't fix the database... eventually we needed to Fedex them a copy of the database, which they Fedex'd to Sybase, Sybase back to Blackbaud, and Blackbaud back to us. I asked: I drive by the Sybase headquarters in Emeryville every day, can I just drop it off to make it faster? Answer: No.

Queries and exports can be super slow: put one in at 10am... check after lunch. Make some changes and check just before going home.

Raiser's seems to be the best alternative in a very small pool of candidates, and you're most likely to hire people who have experience with it.

more than 4 years ago

What Is the State of Linux Security DVR Software?

Mr.Ziggy Used ONSSI and trying to get Zoneminder to work (112 comments)

I've used ONSSI's surveillance software for windows. About 40 cameras, all megapixel or above Axis cameras, recording on MPEG. One server on a $175 AMD cpu with a 16 channel Adaptec RAID card. (16-1TB 7200rpm SATA drives). Doing record on motion, the CPU is pegged at about 60% all the time.

I got ONSSI up and running quicker than I am using Zoneminder, although I have more windows IT experience than Linux.

Currently having some issues playing with Zoneminder/Ubuntu memory management, and I don't think the viewer interface is anywhere near as good as the ONSSI solution. ONSSI support is poor to average, and is really a windows only product that seems to break easily when malware screws with Explorer. (that's why I'm trying to move to Linux solution)\

Zoneminder is a LOT better than when I evaluated it 19 months ago. It wasn't a viable alternative then for us, but is now.

Never done more but contribute a little financially to open source, but looking for ways to help the project.

more than 5 years ago

Giant Spiders Invade Australian Outback Town

Mr.Ziggy Do they eat cane toads? or vice versa? (373 comments)

Maybe the Austrailian authorities should import something like a giant Cane Toad to eat all the spiders? What could be the harm in that? Oh wait... they already tried that. Maybe the spiders will eat the cane toads...

more than 5 years ago

Chimpanzees Exchange Meat For Sex

Mr.Ziggy NOT News . . . seen Bonobos (313 comments)

This behavior has been quite well documented in bonobos, which until recently were considered chimps or dwarf chimps. I'm not sure what makes this article newsworthy, except that we all like to read about meat and sex...

Try reading a copy of "The Hunting Ape" by Stanford... It's fascinating in covering hunting and culture in apes (including trading food for sex).

From what I've read, I'd also disagree with the article that meat is so valuable to their diet. They LOVE meat, but other research suggests that the amount of energy expended on hunting compared to what they gain in protein/food is a net negative. Hunting is also high risk and includes getting injured in the process.

more than 5 years ago

Is Cheap Video Surveillance Possible?

Mr.Ziggy Video Surveillence Options (700 comments)

I've been working on a couple of video projects and have gotten input from the local police as well. Here's what I can tell you:

There are two types of surveillance: Monitored and unmonitored. You can get away with lower quality if you have someone monitoring the cameras live (because you can go out and deal with the problem). You need higher quality if you're unmonitored.

In your case, you need to record with motion detection (less HD space, and it's easier to watch later). And you need high enough quality to have a clear face shot if you want to be able to follow up with law enforcement/neighbors to try and identify a suspect.

There's really no way around spending $500-1000 per camera if you want real quality. Otherwise, you'll end up grainy video that neither you nor the police will have any use for. For petty theft/vandalism, the police will take your video 'as-is'. Many larger departments have methods of enhancing the video, but that's only done in more serious murder/felony type cases.

Here's what we're using and what we've tried:

Cameras: Axis Power over Ethernet cameras. You NEED PoE (unless you're doing something goofy with cheap USB cameras). You'll save time, money, and hassles with PoE because the ethernet cabling is easy and familiar. I've liked the nicer Panasonic cameras.

Switches: We're using Netgear PoE switches, and often they have decent rebates. I have maybe 12 PoE devices attached to the 24-port PoE switch now.

Software: Axis comes with FREE software for their camera, but the downfall is the free license only covers ONE camera. Just because you buy two cameras doesn't mean you can record two devices on one computer. I supposed you could do some kind of VM thing to get around it. Or you could have your system just use FTP to get the images off the camera...

We're using ONSSI's software now. Downside: .Net 2.0 based server software and viewer. Expensive Upside: Good documentation and works.

more than 6 years ago


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