Most IT Workers Don't Have STEM (Science, Tech, Engineering, Math) Degrees
Ohh Dear Lord! No Degree at All? How do they know how to function without being taught in over priced schools by teachers that barely understood the technology that was already outdated by the time they realized it should be taught?
(Sorry, it just bugs me when people imply that not having a degree means a person is stupid, lazy, or incompetent)
Slashdot Anniversary: Ann Arbor, MI, US
I will be there.
XBMC Developers Criticize AMD's Linux Driver
The video codecs are the least of my problems with linux support from both NVidia and AMD. Neither of them off any kind of support for switchable graphics under linux. I have laptops with modern graphics cards from each of these guys, and in both cases it has been a long up hill battle getting the graphics cards to work correctly.
NewEgg: Installing Linux Breaks Laptop
This very same problem befell me about 1 year ago. I complained very loudly, including on a consumer review website. Within 24 hours of posting my detailed (and scathing) review I received a call from a newegg customer care representative, who assured me they would make it right. They did in fact allow me to exchange the laptop for a new one, and actually gave me a $100 gift card to make up for the trouble.
While I clearly can't say everyone will get that response, I personally feel that it is important that those of us who run Linux stand up and make it known that we cannot be ignored just because we are not giving our money to either Microsoft or Apple.
Quantum Randon Numbers
This is very cool. I nodded the submission in the FireHose.
Another interesting approach Ito true randomness: The guys ate SparkFun used a Geiger counter to decide when to give out prizes on their last freeday. In that implementation it was only giving random true/false, but that could be extended to produce numbers as well.
Ask Slashdot: Best Book For 11-Year-Old Who Wants To Teach Himself To Program?
Peter: "Well, lets see, we're catholic."
Sales clerk: "Ohh, then you want: 'You're a naughty child, and that's concentrated evil comming out the back of you'".
Peter: "That's the one."
AT&T On Data Throttling: Blame Yourselves
I don't think that word means what you think it means. :-)
Why the Gnome 3 hate?
Personally, I like gnome3. Knocking it seemed/seems to be the in thing to do, but I got used to it quickly, and actually have had fewer problems with it than I did with gnome2.
Perhaps my favorite thing now that I've gotten used to it is how easy it is to launch an application. I don't create "shortcuts", or need to bother remembering which category or sub menu a programs launcher is, just press the meta key and start typing the name of the program I'd like to run. Sure I could have set that up in gnome2 if I wanted to, but in gnome three that's just the default... and it works just as well with to open a document I was working in.
Best example of Moderation abuse yet... by an employee no less!
For the record, I modded you up after reading you're comments in my journal.
Slashdot Replatforming Complete
No worries. I must admit my feathers were a bit ruffled yesterday.
Thank you for the offer of support in testing. One of the initiatives we will be undertaking in the current year may open the door to leverage that type of community assisted testing of new features and upgrades, so I'll be sure to let you (and anyone else in the community who cares to) know about that when in comes.
Slashdot Replatforming Complete
Ok, I fixed it. Please do let me know of any other problems you encounter, and I will try to address them as quickly as I am able.
Slashdot Replatforming Complete
I'm sorry, I didn't realize that journal.pl was broken. I will attempt to get it fixed today. As I noted in a previous post, we don't have a QA team, nor do we have a complete list of site functionality. I tested every function of the site I have ever used, and I asked all of my fellow slashdotter's here to do the same. Everything that was tested worked, but clearly not every piece of functionality was tested. If there are other items, please do let us know and we will repair them as quickly as we can.
The changing landscape of Slashdot
Hi There Taco Cowboy,
I have been accused at times of being one of the "newcomers" you mention, and perhaps to some extent I am. The UID I use now is a seven digit, but event the first UID I had here was not in the 4 digit (or even the 5 digit) range. That having been said, I am working here now. Slashdot is changing, as indeed it must, though I hope we can steer it in a direction that is still positive. I personally hope that you would be willing to stick around, and even give us some feedback/insight that would help us steer slashdot into a bright future...
P.S. In response to your unanswered question: Android is an operating system unto itself... It is based on linux, though highly specialized (originally for phones, though version 3.0 was/is intended for tablet, and 4.0 seeks to re-unite the two branches). I would not expect that android apps will run on linux without significant effort, and the same would also be true in reverse.
Lenovo Ordered To Refund 'Microsoft Tax'
Cool, thanks for the tip.
Lenovo Ordered To Refund 'Microsoft Tax'
Personally I never buy desktop's pre-made speicifically because I don't want to be forced to pay for a windows license I don't want, and am not going to use. Sadly, however, I don't get that luxury when it comes to a laptop. When I buy a laptop I am forced to pay for a windows license, even though the very first thing I do with the laptop is install linux on it. It makes me sad to know that no matter how much I dislike Windows (and Microsoft), my hard earned money still ends up in their pockets everytime I by a laptop. Add to that what they've done to makers of android phones, it becomes very difficult to use technology without forking over money to Microsoft.
Really the only way to get on the internet or carry a smart phone without giving money to Microsoft is to use all Apple products, and frankly that is not high on my list of things to do either.
Slashdot Replatforming Complete
Let me explain this to you like you are a two year old, because apparently that's about how smart you are:
Everything else on the site that needs to search for content uses a search engine, and that is working correctly.
For some reason search.pl does not use a that search engine, and is now broken.
Instead search.pl uses the the "match against" functionality of mysql to search
We recently upgrade to a new version of MySQL
In case you weren't aware, we have no QA team, we only have three engineers, and one web designer. There is virtually no documentation of the system, and what little there is is out of date, and in some cases just plain wrong. We are doing the best we can with the resources we have, and the entire team has worked very very hard over the past few weeks to make changes to the infrastructure without which keeping this site running would have been a nightmare. So yes, I got annoyed by some jerk telling me that I suck, and that all of my hard work was a waste... So you can whine and complain about how slashdot used to be great, and how you miss the old days, or you could try to actually help out by reporting issues that you find. You could try to contribute to the community rather than just whining about how we must miss all the good engineers that used to work here. Or you could just fuck off.
what is going on
I believe I have tracked down and corrected the root cause of this issue. If you continue to experience issues, please let me know, or send an email to feedback at slashdot and I'll try to resolve it as quickly as I can.
Slashdot Replatforming Complete
The biggest thing I would say is a positive in this move is that we are on regularly supported and maintained versions of the software. Apache 1.3 (what we were on before) is no longer supported by the Apache foundation, and it is no longer getting regular security patches. In fact, we were using a binary which was compiled from source in house, rather than installed via a package manager. Most sysadmins I know squirm a bit (with good reason) thinking about trying to offer long term operational support to systems that rely on third party software that cannot be managed via a package manager, and must be compiled by hand for any updates or patches.
The upgrade to MySQL 5.5 is/was a similar situation. We were running on out-of-date version of mysql, that was compiled in house. We were actually running it on 6 servers, and those servers were having trouble keeping up. The new set up is running on two new servers, backed by RAID arrays of SSD. This setup is having no trouble keeping up with traffic, and has horse power to spare. One of our limitations with the old system was that we were unable to modify several of the larger tables in the database, so when we wanted to build a feature that required an extra column for one of those tables, we have to put the new column in a separate table and use a join. Since we went live on the new setup, I have modified columns on more than one of the tables that has more than 1 million records, the the update completed in minutes, without causing queries to lock up and bring the site to a stand still.
Slashdot Replatforming Complete
Yes, search is broken, and we have a ticket open to fix it.
You want to know why its broken? Because some genius decided not to use the search engine to run searches, but rather to use plain SQL to run searches. The index page uses a query to a search engine, but for some reason search uses plain SQL. And what brilliant mind made that module? Pudge.
Slashdot Replatforming Complete
This was me, by the way... I just didn't notice I wasn't logged in.
Slashdot Replatforming Complete
Test entry - More testing on Apache2.2 with MySql 5.5
Long Week - Small delay in launch
Hello Apache 2.2 and Mod Perl 2.0
Slashdot is now running on upgrade database backend software, and new hardware. Anecdotal evidence suggests improved performance. Was anybody worried? I wasn't. Next week, updated front end web servers!
Well I got through the problems with Apache2::Module::get_config. Aparently the object which comes as the first argument to the method for the custom config directive is not where the config parameters should be stored. Looking back at the documentation http://perl.apache.org/docs/2.0/api/Apache2/Module.html, I can see that it is clearly shown that $srv_config is being fetched via a call to get_config from within the custom directive subroutine, and that apparently is where the config should be stored... but it does seem kind of counter intuitive to me. But no use second guessing that now, at least I got it.
On a positive note: before I discovered my mistake with get_config, I thought perhaps it was getting mangled by Apache2::compat, so I spent much of the day finding and jumping through hoops to get everything to run without that. Though that effort didn't fix the problem I was chasing, it will be better in the long run to not need Apache2::compat, as that would drag down response times.
In my ongoing efforts to port slashdot onto modern revisions of Apache and ModPerl, I've made significant strides. This weekend I put in a few extras hours of work, just because it was on my mind.
Currently I am banging my head against Apache2::Module::get_config. I thought I had appropriately adjusted the code to use the new simplified mechanism for defining and handling custom apache config directives. Having added plenty of "print STDERR" debuging into my modules, I can see that the new directives are being read, and the associated sub routines to handle them are being called at server start time. However, calls to get_config from inside a request handler are always returning either 1 or undef. As far as I can tell from reading the documentation, it should be working. As I type this, it occurs to me that it could be getting fubared by Apache2::compat...
Off to test that theory!
Comment Families (Threads)
As my colleagues are working to improve the comment system, I'm thinking about it. I had an idea today, and I'd love to hear what anybody reading my journal thinks about it:
Would it be useful to have a control that would either expand or collapse all of a comments ancestors, descendants, or siblings?
So, what do you think?
Every little bit counts
I am continuing forward with the re-platforming effort to move to Apache2.2 and ModPerl2. I have in the last few months be doing little bits here and there where I could squeeze it in between other projects, but today I got a good half day put into it. Before today I had updated the Makefile.PL's where appropriate to move away from Apache::ExtUtils, and instead use ModPerl::MM. I spent much of today finding all the CPAN modules that we rely on, and getting them built under the proper version of perl. After that I spent an hour or so tweaking config files where needed for the newer version of apache. Before heading home for the day I was actually to the point of trying to start Apache. It almost started, but I apparently missed something in updating the system to use Apache2::Module::add to handle the custom Apache config directives. But that will have to wait for tomorrow.
In comment system news: my colleagues are currently working on mock-ups for a few new controls to allow greater control over how many comments get loaded on an article page. Also trying to brainstorm around an easier/more intuitive way to handle setting thresholds for comment visibility (the current implementation is the "slider" widget with the two handles at the right side of the comment section header).
Let there be comments
And there were, and it was good, for a while.
The comment system, and the discussions that take place in it, are a very important part of what makes slashdot what it is. I think it is a very powerful system, into which lots of time, thought, tests, trial and error, blood, sweat, unicorn meat, and tears have been put over the years. It is currently very complicated, somewhat fragmented and not well understood my a large number of readers. As I mentioned in a reply in one of my previous journal entries, the comment system is due to receive some much needed attention in the coming weeks. To that end, I am pleased to note that a release will be coming out today to address an issue we've found in the dispersal of moderation points. More than one or two readers have asked if there was something broken, or if they had somehow lost "moderation privilege", and I do believe that starting tomorrow, that issue should be resolved (thanks to the hard work of my friend/colleague vroom.)
Stay tuned for news of more love to come. (And feel free to let me know if you have special requests or concerns about the comment system)
Can you /.
Well the Hall of fame seems to be working for the few features it offered initially, and a few people have given me some good feedback and suggestions for features it could/should have. Once its been live as is for some period, I'll put my focus back on it, and hopefully implement some of the suggestions I've gotten.
In the mean time, I will be spending some time on back end work. While I may not be able to point to any "shinny new" stuff, I hope readers will see the results of this work in the form of stability, speed, and reliability. I am also looking for a contractor to help me out for a few months with the platform migration to Apache 2 and mod_perl 2... hence the title of this post. If you have a strong background with LAMP stack applications, and think you have what it takes to help us improve slashdot, I am accepting resume's. The position would be short term (2-3 months), but it is a chance to get into slashdot, and show us what you've got.
So, Can you ? (leave me a comment if interested and I'll get you contact info)
P.S. there is also a full time position open for an entry level/associate engineer on my team. Go Here for details
Well, the new Hall of Fame is now live and open for business. I am trying to be patient, and to wait for it to live in the world for a bit before I jump into to look at the stats. Mostly I just hope that at least some people find it interesting, or helpful. I am moving into my next project next week, but will turn my attention back to the HoF from time to time, and hopefully add features. Please feel free to let me know if the new HoF is a disappointment, or if it is great, if you think it could be better if...
I am excited for my next project, though it will be a lot of work... Migrating Slashdot from Apache 1.3 and mod_perl 1 to Apache 2.2 and mod_perl 2. Though I have undertaken this sort of project of a few large systems, Slashdot will have some new puzzles to solve. I hope in the course of this project I will also be able to hammer out a few persistent bugs, and probably do some stream lining to get the page render times down a bit.
With the release of the new "Hall of Fame" comming later this week, I've squeezed one more feature into it for the first release. We will have a "Staff Favorites" section. Originally, I was thinking this would be only "Editors Favorites", but I thought (and my colleagues seem to agree) that it would be nice to show the "Favorites" of a larger portion of our team. That being said, I am not compelling any one (not even the editors) to share their "favorite" stories, but I will be giving the option to all of our engineers in addition to the editors. If that picks up, perhaps others will want to join in.
I wonder... if we offered the feature: would our readers like to be able to mark their own favorite stories? Maybe their favorite comments as well? This information could, if a user wanted it to, be displayed on their user page. Perhaps also, if we biuld out more of the system's "friend or foe" system, users could then browse their friends favorite stories/comments/submissions? (Must be honest: part of this htought is inspired by my friend/colleague Cogent's ideas.
Keep it short stupid.
Wow. My last journal entry really droned on to long. Feel free to tell me to shut up next time.
First round draft of the new "Periodic" Hall of Fame (as I've been calling it) should be showing up in the wild in this comming week. For the first release it is really just a sub set of the existing hall of fame, though broken down to smaller chunks of time. The really new piece here, however, will be the display of a the current users own stats next to each category. So next to "Most Active Submitters" a logged in user will see "My submissions", and next to "Most active Commenters" they will see "My comments". I hope by doing this people will be able to see that the new comers are not really that different from the grey hairs on a smaller time scale.
One other quick note: A feature we may be able to bring in V2 might be a visual representation of some of the data. For example perhaps next to "My comments" there may be a graph of # of comments a user has left per week in the last month. What do you think: Would that be cool? Usefull? Overkill? Please, share your thoughts...
Meditations on Time, Spammers, Trolls and Fame
As I've been working this week to build a supplement for our existing hall of fame, I've been making decisions (or guesses) about many things, some the I expected, and some that I didn't... We will be releasing this thing into the wild soon, and some of the decisions I've made may be reversed once we see how readers actually interact with and re-act to it. All of you that are smart/lucky/bored/crazy/unfortunate (you pick the adjective) enough to be reading and following my thoughts are invited to leave me you're thoughts here.
Our current "Hall of Fame" has two parts... "All Time" and "Past Year". "All Time" is self explanatory. "This Year" could be interpreted in two ways: during the current calendar year or during the last roughly 365 days (current hall of fame uses the latter). For the new bits of the Hall of Fame, I will be breaking it down in "Weekly", "Monthly" and "Quarterly". Each of these increments of time are open for the same interpretations as "This Year", and by nature of being smaller in scale, the differences can have a much more immediate effect, and both interpretations have both strength, and weakness as I see it.
My first instinct is/was to use absolute measurements for these (weekly is Sunday-Saturday, Monthly is from the 1st on, Quarterly is January - March etc.). The strength I see in this would be that we have a clearly defined range of time, with a beginning and an end. I think that could encourage new comers to the site to engage more immediately (at least at the weekly level) as at the beginning of the time span everyone, old and new, quiet and reserved or loud and obnoxious, would start at 0. The other possible strength here would be that with a define beginning and end we can mark the end of a time period and record the winners. The weakness in this approach (which I also argue is a strength) is that at the beginning of a time span the "Hall of Fame" would be full of low scores and therefore not particularly useful until we are a significant portion of the way into it. The (perhaps less obvious) problem created here would be that the time when this has the most complete (and arguably) the most useful data is near the end of the period and by the time the data set is complete, we have moved into the next period and started all over again.
Currently I am leaning toward the "rolling window" approach, so "Weekly" will always have the last 7 days of data. This implementation is easier to code because I never need to worry about how far into a week, and month or a quarter I am. It will also mean that regardless of when a reader looks at it, it has useful data, even if it is on the first day of the month or week. The first drawback would be that with no beginning and no end, on race ever ends, and no one ever gets to claim victory. The second would be that new comers will always see the bottom of the "Hall of Fame" as where they would need to be at the end of a week or month, which could seem unreachable.
The other issue I find myself grappling with on this topic is one of quality. We all know that there is more to being a part of something than just showing up. Slashdot is a community created/supported site, and we depending on community contribution not only for submitting stories, but also for participating in discussions, and even helping to moderate the discussions. Sadly, we also all know that not all contributions are positive. Everyone can, and lots of people do, submit stories, and make comments. The bulk of these are good, but here, as everywhere, some are just not. When we recognize members of our community we want to recognize the quality, not just the quantity, of their contributions. So for example we want to recognize those who submit stories to us on a regular basis, but we do not want to recognize the "entities" that are flooding our inbox's with spam. Similarly we want to recognize those who participate in discussions, but probably not the clowns who spends time trying to hit the comment button the first just so they are can say "Hey! Look at me, I'm first!". This question can be answered in many ways, none of which will be perfect, and most of which will piss somebody off.
Another dilemma comes into play in this decision... we want people to contribute, and we want to recognize those who do so. It seems only fair to have a well defined set of criteria on which to select who we should recognize. The problem is deciding not only what criteria are fair, but ideally we like to prevent people from "gaming the system". I'd love to live in a world in which no one would do that, but the sad reality is that if we simply say "The person with the most comments in a week gets a gold star", some joker will decide to make all of there comments one word at time, just so they can have their shinny gold star.
The first incarnation of this new "Hall of Fame" will be our best attempt at answering these questions, but like all things, it will be a work in progress, and with help from the community, if it is not the "best" on day one we'll get it there in time.
My First Journal Entry. The title seems fitting, the day after the world lost Dennis Ritchie.
First, Let me introduce myself. I am Dave Mueller, and I am currently the Lead Software Developer for Slashdot. Though I've been a long time reader of slashdot, I first came to work here in March of 2011. I've been writing PERL for a living since 1999, building web based applications since 2001, and working entirely in a Linux/Apache environment since 2003. I consider myself a real geek, I love SciFi, computers, electronics, robotics, and all things high tech. I am an amateur maker in my free time, and have started recording my personal projects on my web-site http://perljedi.com.
In my short time here, I have inherited the some times daunting task of not only maintianing slashdot, but also of helping to keep us (or put us back) on the leading edge of technology, news, and geek culture. With the parting of our illustrious founder CmdrTaco, we look to our readers, old and new to help us find our way into the future. I will be using my journal here to share insight into our team, and the processes we are going through everyday to find how best to server our readers, and the world.
My current project is a re-examination of our Hall of Fame. I hope by highlighting our best X at a finer level of detail (where X could be anything from "Most commented on Story", to "Most active moderator", or anything else within reason) we will be able to encourage people to engage more with the site. We want slashdot to be a place that is welcoming to geek's of all kinds, and I hope to show our readers that whether you have been reading slashdot since the 1990's, or since July, you too can help us understand and shape the community, and through it, the world around us. I hope that doesn't sound to wishy-washey or corny. But I am a true believer in what we are doing here, and I am quite passionate about geeks, geek culture, and our role in shaping the world.
I'm not sure how many people will read this, but I want all slashdotter's, old and new, to engage with my team and the editorial team to help us keep slashdot great.