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Ask Slashdot: Has the Time Passed For Coding Website from Scratch?

Wrexs0ul That's WordPress in a nutshell (300 comments)

WordPress is the store-bought bread solution. Does what most people need, is advanced enough that most work can be done through the admin GUI, and plugins are easy enough to build that a fellow by-hand person can figure them out without too much difficulty.

The only caveat I'd put on using WordPress is that you need to treat updates like you would on Windows: make sure your WordPress core and plugins are always up to date. Its huge user-base means there's a lot more hackers running automated exploits that'll bog-down a web hosting server if you get compromised, and that might get your account suspended. On our shared hosting we're now recommending clients install WordPress via Installatron (a cPanel addon) and have it automatically patch everything by default.

Simpler sites, but more OS-level issues from going mainstream.

about a week ago

Box Office 2014: Moviegoing Hits Two-Decade Low

Wrexs0ul Re: Are people sick of the MPAA? (400 comments)

Cirque starts with something like this in Vegas at the beginning of Ka. Some "guy" is talking on the phone and the cast deals with him hilariously. Coincidentally it's also a great show if you haven't seen it.

It's still something I think about when someone can't find the off button on their tech during a movie.

about three weeks ago

Ask Slashdot: Best Wireless LED Light Setup for 2015?

Wrexs0ul Best starter system I've used (68 comments)

I started down the fancy Christmas lights path last year after seeing a 12-string CCR tree based-on LOR (light-o-rama) that this guy made:


LOR Technology is pretty simple and your IT knowledge will translate pretty well to get it setup. The gist is you're using a LOR network protocol over RS-485 (long-range serial) that itself is using CAT5/6 cable to work. This network needs a control node that's either a hardware device or (like most people) a computer running the LOR software package, both of which can work with an audio component.

The neat part about starting here is that there's translation hardware between LOR and the more widely used DMX protocol when you're ready to step-up to fancier shows. DMX gears tends to be cheaper because there's more of it (and more things you can control), but it'll also need a fair bit of comfort with stuff you can start-off learning by point-and-click in LOR. I've been playing with some DMX stuff this year that'll be in the show for December 2015, but didn't have the time to get it perfect on this go.

One thing to keep in mind: more fancy = more bandwidth. Single flashing strands don't use much traffic, but when you start looking at 150 LED strands where each pixel has RGB+intensity I'd recommend against going wireless.

Happy learning, and post a video!

about a month ago

Slashdot Asks: What's In Your Home Datacenter?

Wrexs0ul Don't give-up the rack (287 comments)

Only one proper server running ESXi, but the rest is all rack-mountable:

- Unraid server (bought their premade)
- Dell 2950 that's been decommissioned from the DC
- 24 port Gig switch
- 24 port Gig PoE switch for our phones
- TV streaming head-end. 3 Cable boxes on shelves
- Control4 main server and amp, which seemed like a good idea at the time. Would just get the amp and an open source streaming box in the future
- Modem and router

Only addition will be UPS at some point. It's only half a rack, but being able to lock it and run cables through the top means the kids have zero ability to go after what's inside. I do some software development from home so it's a nice setup for days when sweat pants trumps suits :)

about 4 months ago

Misogyny, Entitlement, and Nerds

Wrexs0ul Re:Yeah, but.... (1198 comments)

Not all nerds are Canadian, you insensitive clod! ...I'm sorry.

<- Canadian

about 8 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Beginner To Intermediate Programming Projects?

Wrexs0ul Learn a framework well (172 comments)

You'll learn a ton, many of them no longer suck, and it can definitely speed-up the development time of future projects.

On the web I work primarily with PHP and for a long time the frameworks weren't any better than reusing my own class libraries. These days there's some very comprehensive ones that do things faster and simpler than I do already, and have been well worth my time to get better at.

A quick Google search shows there's some mature ones for different use cases of Python as well. Research a few and give them a try. You might just find their automating of the less fun parts of programming to be a huge boost to your development work.

about 9 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Joining a Startup As an Older Programmer?

Wrexs0ul This. (274 comments)

You're not going to out party these guys, and they don't expect you to. Instead, you will bring life experience balancing a career in software with family, which I guarantee they'll be asking you questions about. Most of them are working to be like you with a family and kids they want to go home to.

As for the start-up side, make sure you and your employer have clearly understood work expectations. You don't want to be the bottle-neck on a critical release cycle because of family commitments, so sharing your schedule and setting fair expectations on when you can work is important. That doesn't make you ineligible for a start-up job, it just means that like the Tahoe trip you need to make sure the plans are known beforehand.

Hope this helps,

about 9 months ago

The Next Keurig Will Make Your Coffee With a Dash of "DRM"

Wrexs0ul Re:Horrible coffee (769 comments)

Unless you created the creator of the pocket universe...

It's watchmakers all the way down, friend :)

about a year ago

Mathematician: Is Our Universe a Simulation?

Wrexs0ul Worse yet (745 comments)

Looping or restarting is one thing, the fact that someone's running us in the background while playing a galactic edition of their favourite strategy game raises a whole other set of existential questions.

Zug-zug, brother.

about a year ago

New Home Automation?

Wrexs0ul Just went through this (336 comments)

Went through this exercise and moved-in to our new place in May. My goals were: good future proofing, multi room audio, iPhone airplay for my wife, surround for the main tv, a home office for a guy who sometimes pokes around data projects, and as few exposed cables as possible.

What we ended up with was pretty good, but there's a couple lessons learned and things I'd do differently. First, what we did:

- dual cat6 and coax runs wherever a tv would be. 4xcat6 for bonus room/main tv
- quad cat6 to home office
- cat6/coax/power to outside CCTV. No plans to use it, but it's there.
- conduit to bonus room/main tv
- replaced all phone jacks with cat6/rj45
- pair of good speakers in main rooms and deck, wired to basement
- surround, in-wall speakers in bonus room/main tv
- Control4 system for automation and audio
- separate receiver for the main tv
- cubox-i's for xbmc. These are new, but working really well
- couple control4 light switches to play around with
- control4 module for the security system
- Nest for thermostat
- couple wemo power switches for Christmas lights
- iPhone for remote, but any phone would work
- good 24port managed gigabit switch. It's worth the extra few hundred bucks
- 2 ASUS dark knight routers with after-market range extenders. Full bars anywhere on the block :)
- rack in the basement. Keeps son out of the cabling and they're cheap secondhand
- unraid NAS for media. Cheap, reliable solution $/GB
- good power management

No regrets about any of this. The iPhone makes for a good universal remote and Control4 (audio/lights), the nest, our receiver, and xbmc all work great. If you wanted better integration you could probably buy a module from Control4, but I found the single controller offered a lot less than purpose-built apps.

No shortage on networking. I see fiber to the rooms being recommended, but they're already testing 10Gbit over cat6 so I was content to settle on copper. I figured it's a risk either way, there's always the potential for a new standard of cable in a couple years so conduit where it counts and practical for the rest. We don't use all the jacks right now, but they're cheaper at build than fishing cables after the fact.

The audio is also very good for a closed system like Control4. It'll read your library and has modules for services like Rhapsody which my wife uses regularly. I opted for a separate Yamaha for the main tv for better sound, plus I'm not spending a bunch of money on a Control4 locked-in video switcher in the basement. XBMC does a fine job sharing media and it's easy enough for non-techies like babysitting grandparents to figure out.

I'm not pleased with the two Control4 light switches. They use a Zigbee wireless system that has range issues unless you wire enough switches in your house for coverage, and are ridiculously expensive (almost $200 pretty switch!). It's neat being able to turn on the lights on my iPhone, but definitely not worth the price. MyUbe.co is promising sub-$60 light switches this spring that are rip and replace with app and an open API, so I'm keeping an eye on this as a future solution.

Two things I'd definitely have done differently knowing what I now do:

1) get more power. We've filled the breaker box and have been told will need another line from the city if we ever need more power. For a guy familiar with servers and power consumption this was pretty dumb on my part. Calculate your power needs before they trench your utility lines, or have them run one before the house is built. Our options for more power in the future are looking expensive, and a little planning could have saved that.

2) comparison shop your automation vendors, including multiple resellers of the same product. We picked Control4 with the builder's recommended vendor because they had a mature app and most of the features we wanted at the time, with what looked like good future options. This was a poor choice. The reseller intentionally misled us to believe the main Control4 unit would support AirPlay out of the box; it doesn't, you need an addon module (surprise $$$). We're also stuck paying expensive install rates for any future work, including something a simple as adding a light switch to the network (you can't do this yourself). All in all I should have checked with other Control4 resellers before buying-in instead of relying just on personal research and the sales rep.

Make no mistake, I'm not against Control4. Their audio system is very good, and we're happy with it. I also think that value for dollar you won't get an out-of-the-box solution that's easier to use for whole-home audio or some of the other things they do. If like me you don't have a lot of time to tinker with your own system this is the way to go. They also have a fairly decent controller for installed hardware that let's you do things like program a triple-tap of a light switch to dim the lights and turn on the music.

Long story short: consider a suite like Control4 if you want a single controller for everything and are ok with the feature set they provide being all you need. If you have a little time and brain space for learning look at the new guys in town like Nest and MyUbe as a more cost effective solution. I'm going to wait on reviews for MyUbe before buying, but from what's out there it's looking pretty good.

1 year,14 days

Linksys Resurrects WRT54G In a New Router

Wrexs0ul +1 (310 comments)

I've bought over 40 of these and yet to see one die that wasn't from trying to skip steps flashing it. Even then they're recoverable.

By far the best consumer router out there IMHO.

1 year,21 days

Ask Slashdot: Mitigating DoS Attacks On Home Network?

Wrexs0ul Unlikely (319 comments)

Unless they're pounding the entire subnet for some reason, only hitting machines whose ping responds.

Most folks that'd DDOS you aren't that sophisticated, and if they are there's really nothing you can do until someone decides to focus their malice elsewhere.

The best bet for the poster is mitigation. Talk to the ISP, let them know the situation, and start feeding them a list of IPs to block at their head-end. While you as a client only have X bandwidth before it overwhelms your DSL, they have X^n and are usually amenable to blocking malicious traffic before it screws-up all the clients in an area.

But, to repeat what's already been said. If the attack's following you to new IPs your only bet is:
- Factory reset the router, then plug it (and only it) in.
- Have it get a fresh IP
- Wait 30 minutes and see if an attack starts
- Plug-in a known safe device to check the router. Fixed devices like an iPhone or Android phone should work (unlikely that's what's compromised).
- Use the device to check the router and see what kind of traffic is happening
- Slowly start reconnecting your devices, one at a time, waiting a safe amount of time in between each.

If the router starts getting hammered without anything connected you could have a compromised router. Just last year thousands of routers were compromised that had too simple a password and remote access enabled.

If it starts after a certain device is plugged-in, time to track-down the culprit or (better) format the compromised machine. You're probably safe 90% of the time, but one a machine is rooted it's a good policy to never trust it.

If the router is getting traffic and you know it's safe, then you might be seeing an attack on your network segment. Only your ISP can help.


about a year ago

Ask Slashdot: Hands-On Activity For IT Career Fair

Wrexs0ul Untrue, lots of examples (121 comments)

CS knowledge absolutely drives the real world. Sure, big data or HTML might not be sexy things for an IT booth, but there's plenty of real-world ideas:

- Make 2 groups: one to write real-world instructions, the other to enact them. Have them write down how to tie shoelaces, that's always fun and eye-opening.
- Programmable robots. Lego Mindstorms isn't expensive, and you've probably been waiting for an excuse to buy this yourself for years :)
- Any math or logic games. You've heard of the water buckets to fill X with Y water using what's on hand.

And that's only the software side. You're right that most hardware isn't easily modified these days, but if PC towers are boring there's always home and personal electronics. Taking apart, cleaning, and reassembling everything from laptops to your old xbox still needs IT experience. It might not make you more employable, but it'll give your kids a chance to think twice about what they can do to prolong the life of their digital stuff before it gets tossed.

about a year ago

Report: By 2035, Nearly 100 Million Self-Driving Cars Will Be Sold Per Year

Wrexs0ul Pretty much (325 comments)

The date is far enough out that folks will have forgotten this report by then. It's one of those hopeful dates meaning "in our lifetime", just like 2001: A Space Odyssey or Star Trek.

Might well be accurate though, as I understand it we'll be getting self-driving technology from the Vulcans shortly after the eugenics wars.

about a year and a half ago

EFF Slams Google Fiber For Banning Servers On Its Network

Wrexs0ul Re:WEB hosting isn't expensive (301 comments)

I get your point that for the majority of people it's not worth your time to setup a web server when a thousand providers offer good service for the price of a specialty coffee. But, when I was 16 I wanted to learn about the WWW, Linux, and CGI, and a local web server with Perl let me host some friend's sites. Nowadays I still have a web server at home plus three racks in our DC for projects.

Controlling your hardware and OS is a good learning environment, plus complete control over things that might cost way more than $4/mo. I learned a lot about tweaking hardware and network security by having to do it early on. Today I use a home web server for some automation projects whose hardware needs physical access to the devices it manages.

So, in short, lots of reasons to host at home. Not even high-bandwidth-for-cheap ones.

about a year and a half ago

Book Review: The Healthy Programmer

Wrexs0ul This. (461 comments)

I came across My Fitness Pal after syncing it to a Withings scale I'd bought. As a data guy this has taken all the fuzziness and cheating out of weight loss. It's great. Calories and nutritional info is recorded, the scale syncs automatically after measuring (just stand on it, no data entry), and I'm getting their version of Fitbit, called Pulse, to help track exercise and sleep.

I think most Slashdotters who sometimes struggle with weight won't get much more out of a book they haven't scoured Google for already. Easily being able to visualize personal info seems to really help with the accountability part, which I think is way more important to the knowledge-savvy crowd.

about a year and a half ago

Study Finds Fracking Chemicals Didn't Pollute Water

Wrexs0ul Re:That's even worse! (237 comments)

Didn't you know? (Soylent) Green energy IS hippies.

about a year and a half ago

Tech Companies Looking Into Sarcasm Detection

Wrexs0ul No permanent fix (167 comments)

It's an arms race. The better the detector, the better the spammer, the better the detector...

But, can you imagine how good sarcasm would get if they started treating it the same way? Words so powerful they could melt your screen!

about a year and a half ago

Ask Slashdot: What Should a Non-Profit Look For In a Web Host?

Wrexs0ul This is putting the cart before the horse. (100 comments)

As a web host I can tell you this is coming from the wrong angle, there's no "Large Non-profit" package I could sell you that'd make you happy within your budget. $15/mo general web hosting has capacity limits by design. Ultra-redundant with a 24/7 team of on-call remote hands and the full rack of dedicated hardware that comes with it may not be a smart use of your org's money. Hopefully these will help you better flush-out your solution:

Consider your needs in three categories:
1) Infrastructure.
- What does it take to drive your site?
- What's your uptime requirement?
- What OS/Software/Hardware are you running on now?
- What does traffic look like today? 5 years from now?
- What bottlenecks/problems are you experiencing?

2) Support.
- When things break who's the first person that gets called? Who's the second?
- Who will maintain the infrastructure (security patches, hardware updates, etc.)
- How important is it that you get personal, escalated support at 3am?

3) Cost.
- What's the budget for a Large Non-profit? $3/mo, $30/mo, $30,000/mo?
- What price point can you realistically sell your board?

Typically at least two of these will drive your needs for the third. As a Large organization you're probably looking at 1 & 2, then selling 3 to the board. That can be a whole other mess, but a well designed needs document and a decsion-maker friend to bounce ideas off can work wonders. Make sure to flush out the why, "what happens if we don't", and alternate options for these points, which are by no means comprehensive for your project.

Also consider having a developer sit-in on the needs assessment. 1000 people at a time doesn't mean much with no context of the site. It's been mentioned above: is that 1000 people browsing pure html, 1000 people on a heavily-optimized PHP site, or 1000 people running data intensive operations (like multi-million row searches)? I've personally brought down big servers with crappy PHP code, and run 1000+ active vBulletin forums on 10 year old whitebox servers. It's all in how you identify and address bottlenecks, and a trusted developer can make that process easier.

Hope this helps. Good luck with your search.

about a year and a half ago


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