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Video Firefox OS Phone on Display at LinuxFest NorthWest (Video) Screenshot-sm 96

Jakob Perry organized the first LinuxFest Northwest when he was still a student. He got off to a good start: now LFNW has been running for 14 years, and has retained its flavor as a low-key, friendly conference. Exhibitors from Linux distributions from tiny (CrunchBang) to huge (Red Hat) were on hand for 2013, and enough speakers and topics to fill about 80 different sessions over the two days of the conference. Not all of it's about Linux per se, either: the EFF and FSF were represented, along with a BSD table, and a local astronomy group with a great name. At this year's event I ran into the first Firefox OS phone that I've had a chance to play with in person. Firefox OS integrates Linux by way of the Android kernel, but is otherwise its own beast. Ubuntu and Mozilla contributor Benjamin Kerensa was on hand to talk about what makes it tick, and to give a demo of the all-HTML5 interface.

Video Hillsborough County (FL) Hackathon is a Sign of Increasing Tech Awareness (Video Screenshot-sm 30

The idea of the Hackathon was to develop either Web or mobile applications that would dovetail with county services and be useful for county workers, county residents or both. The winners got cash prizes, but many people on the nine competing teams weren't aware of them until the closing awards ceremony when the three winners were announced. But then, this is a helpful part of the country where, if an old person falls down on the sidewalk, strangers will rush to her side, whip out cell phones in case a 911 call is needed, and help her to her feet. A hackathon to benefit your neighbors is nothing but an extension of that spirit. One note: Several county employees said this was the first-ever government-organized hackathon around here, but there was a Tampa Mayor's Hackathon last June, and Tampa is the biggest city in Hillsborough County. But this is all good, and Hillsborough hopes to hold a bigger (and hopefully better-publicized) hackathon next year. Meanwhile, there are more home-grown tech events around here every year. April 25 saw the 3rd annual Ignite Tampa event, which brought together people involved in "technology, arts, communications, education, non-profits, the government sector and more" to meet with "the community" -- and local venture capitalists. And the inaugural Sarasota-Bradenton BarCamp is scheduled for May 2 - 5. And so on. Lots of events, many of which combine technology and the arts, which is always a delightful mix -- and one we look forward to seeing even more of in coming years, not only in Florida but everywhere in the world.

Video Recovering Data From Broken Hard Drives and SSDs (Video) 173

Russell Chozick owns a small company in Austin. TX, called Flashback Data that recovers data from messed-up hard drives. And SSDs and Flash memory, too. How badly damaged does a drive have to be to defeat Russell and his crew? Apparently, smashed to bits. Not long aqo we did a video about a company that destroys data on hard drives, and we've had at least one Ask Slashdot where the question was, "What's the Best Way To Destroy Hard Drives?" In today's video, Russell is talking about the opposite of destruction -- except that he destroys data upon request, too. Obviously, checking the wrong box on a customer order form could cause big problems at Flashback Data, couldn't it? Let's hope they never do that -- and let's hope we all back up all of our data so we never need to use a data recovery service. You do back up all your data, don't you?

Video Building Sumo Robots With the Brain Monkeys Crew (Video) Screenshot-sm 15

Ann Arbor based Brain Monkeys is an education company that teaches kids about robots and technology. With the help of her staff, founder Katie Tilton teaches a wide variety of after school classes, workshops, and summer school programs designed to let kids learn through hands-on activities. Recently, I was lucky enough to visit for one of their "Speed Sumo" nights. Kids get a NXT LEGO kit and 90 mins to build a robot that can push another robot out of a small sumo ring. Students get a basic tutorial on what makes a good sumo robot, then are free to come up with designs that they think will work best. Some of the more interesting features I saw included claws, a wedged shaped nose, and a flail-like tail (shout out to The Hammer!). Once the 90 minute build time is up the kids battle it out in the ring with the winner getting a high-five and bragging rights for building the most awesome robot of the night. Katie says: "Every day of the week I teach somewhere. I'm basically a teacher with art on a cart, but I'm robots in a car."
Linux Business

Video Building a Small IT Consulting Business Based on Linux (Video) Screenshot-sm 138

When you call your business Penguin Computer & Telephone Solutions, it's obvious that Linux is your favorite operating system. Company owner Frank Sflanga, Jr. happily works on Windows, Mac and whatever else you want or have around, but he is a Linux person at heart; in fact, he's a founder and leading member of The Southwest Florida GNU/Linux Users Group. But the point of this interview, which some will want to label an ad (although it's not), is to show how Frank started his one-man consulting business and made it successful so that other Slashdot readers can follow in his footsteps and become self-employed -- if they are so inclined. You might want to note that most of Frank's clients were not familiar with Linux when he first started working with them, and most are not particularly interested in software licensing matters as long as Frank keeps their stuff working. You might also want to note that Ft. Myers, FL, where Frank is located, is not exactly famous as a hotbed of leading-edge technology, which means that even if you live someplace similar, where business owners ask "What's a Linux?" you might be able to make a decent living running a Linux-based IT consulting business.

Interviews: Ask Freeman Dyson What You Will 181

Famous for his work in math, astronomy, nuclear engineering, and theoretical physics, Freeman Dyson has left his mark on almost every scientific discipline. He's won countless awards, and written numerous books on a wide range of topics both scientific and philosophical. One of his biggest contributions to science was the unification of the three versions of quantum electrodynamics invented by Feynman, Schwinger and Tomonaga. 10 years after moving to the U.S. he started working on the Orion Project, which sought to create a spacecraft with a nuclear propulsion system. STNG exposed the idea of a Dyson sphere to the masses, and his hypothetical plan for making a comet habitable with the help of genetically-engineered plants is a personal favorite. Mr. Dyson has graciously agreed give us a bit of his time in order to answer your questions. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.

Video KEI Works to Make the World a Better Place in Many Ways (Video) 39

Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) director Jamie Love -- formally James Packard Love -- is the brain behind the "$1 a day" HIV drugs that have saved millions of lives in Africa and other poor parts of the world. Basically, he went around asking, "How much would it cost to make this HIV medication if the patent cost was removed?" At first, no one could answer. After a while, the answer came: Less than $1 a day. At that price, the Bush administration set up a massive program to deliver generic anti-HIV drugs to Africa. Jamie also works on copyright issues, boosts free software (he's a Linux user/evangelist and had more than a little to do with the Microsoft antitrust suit), and generally tries to make the international knowledge ecology more accessible and more useful for everyone, especially those who aren't rich. Or necessarily even prosperous. He's a smart guy (read the Wikipedia entry linked above), but more than that he's bullheaded. Jamie has worked on some of his initiatives for years, even decades. In many cases you can't say, "He hasn't succeeded," without adding "yet" on the end. (You'll understand that statement better after you watch the video, which we broke into two parts because it is far longer than our typical video interview.)

Interviews: Ask David Gallo About Ocean Exploration 35

David Gallo is an oceanographer and Director of Special Projects at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He has participated in expeditions to all of the world’s oceans and was one of the first scientists to use a combination of robots and submarines to explore the deep seafloor. As a member of James Cameron’s Deep Ocean Task Force and the XPrize Ocean Advisory Board, David actively encourages the development of new technologies for ocean exploration. With more than 8 million views, his TED presentation entitled Underwater Astonishments is the 4th most viewed TED Talk to date. David has agreed to come up for air and answer any questions you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.

Video Small Company Wants to Make Encryption Key Management Into a Commodity (Video) Screenshot-sm 63

StrongAuth helps protect data with strong encryption, so that even if a company's network infrastructure is breached, its critical data -- including customers' credit card numbers, for example -- is still safe. Their software is open source, and their objective is to "become like the Toyota Camry of encryption key management," says StrongAuth CTO Arshad Noor. "Everybody should be able to afford it." These are big words from a company that only has 12 employees, all in Silicon Valley, but it's a company that not only has a strong reputation among its small and medium-sized business clients, but is starting to get acceptance from Fortune 500 behemoths, too. In this video interview (and in the transcript), Arshad not only talks about data security, but about how his company makes money while developing and relying purely on open source software. And did somebody ask about Linux? Yes, their software is all based on Linux. CentOS, to be exact.

Interviews: Ask J. Michael Straczynski What You Will 215

He has written for many different comic book titles including Superman and The Amazing Spider-Man, and wrote the screenplay for the Academy Award-nominated movie Changeling, but J. Michael Straczynski (jms) is probably best known as being the creator, writer, and producer of Babylon 5. Recently, jms has teamed up with the Wachowskis and Netflix to create a new original sci-fi series, Sense8, coming out in late 2014. Straczynski has agreed to take a few minutes from writing sci-fi epics in order to answer any questions you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.

Video G2 Crowd Wants to Crowdsource Enterprise Software Reviews (Video) 26

All reviews are opinions. In theory, they are based on a reviewer's careful test of the product. But what about enterprise software? How can a reviewer do a real-world test of a CRM program designed to run on dozens or hundreds of workstations and to be used by dozens or hundreds of people? The idea behind G2 Crowd is crowdsourcing. Not just any old crowd, but people who use or administer enterprise software as part of their jobs. In other words, experts -- who get rewards if they supply detailed reviews. Logins require a LinkedIn identity in order to prevent bogus reviews. Will G2 Crowd work? It's still in beta, and this Slashdot interview is one of the first times it has been shown to the public, in part because our interviewee, co-founder Matt Gorniak, is a long-time Slashdot reader. So what do you think? Is this a good idea? Is their business model viable? Matt sounds nervous in this interview not only because he's not a PR pro, but also because he's anxiously waiting to see what you (yes, you) think of G2 Crowd, a business he and the rest of the company's management team hope is not only viable but really takes off.

Video 400 Pinball Machines and Counting at the Texas Pinball Festival (Video) 36

Yes, folks. Step right up. It's the 2013 Texas Pinball Festival, except... Whoops! You missed it. But don't despair, because Tim Lord was there with his camcorder to interview organizer Paul McKinney and to point his lens lovingly at pinball machines new and old, complete with whistles and bells, oh my! It was a riotous time, with players of all ages. Pinball machines were played, bought, and sold. There were plenty of exhibitors, including some with shiny-new machines. The most interesting of these may have been Multimorphic, which is making "the world's first modular, multi-game, pinball platform." In other words, one machine that can become many games, sort of like a video game console. There's a separate, short, "bonus video" about Multimorphic (with no transcript), for anyone who is interested in their open source, "open platform" pinball machine concept -- and that may not be just old fogies trying to recapture their youth, when they had the high score on the Evel Knievel machine at a local pool hall, because McKinney says the people coming to the Texas Pinball Festival are younger every year.

Video Digital Bolex Gives You a Classic Film Look in a Digital Package (Video) Screenshot-sm 112

Once upon a time, people shot a kind of video called "film." And one of the most popular film camera makers was Bolex. Their 16 mm and Super 16 mm cameras were the favored tools for indie film makers, low budget TV news operations, and film schools. Sure, there were 8mm and Super 8, but they didn't give you the stunning clarity you could get with 16 mm. Besides that, carrying a Bolex was kind of like telling everyone, "Look at me! I'm a professional moviemaker!" And with the cost of processing 16 mm film back in the late 1960s and early 1970s you pretty much had to be a pro -- or at least have access to a TV station or college film lab if you wanted to do any serious movie experimentation. Obviously, times have changed. You can now buy a fairly serious camcorder at a consumer-level price. Or a DSLR that can do video -- and do depth of field tricks hardly any camcorder can match. Even so, if you are a film junkie, you just might want a Digital Bolex. Thanks to a highly successful Kickstarter campaign, it looks like you might be able to buy one before long. Too bad you can't still get Kodachrome film, which was the perfect film for your Bolex. Ah, well. RAW format digital is more or less the 21st Century equivalent of Kodachrome, so it will have to do.

Video How to Get Conjurer James Randi to Give You $1 Million (Video) 219

This is the second of our two-part interview (part one ran yesterday) with Conjurer and Investigator (his words) James Randi, whose organization, the James Randi Education Foundation, has a long-standing offer: prove you have paranormal abilities and they'll give you $1 Million. They say they've recently made this award easier than ever to win. Note that, lower bar or no, Randi claims the last time a conjurer's illusion fooled him was many years ago, when he was very young. It was one done by the famous Chan Canasta -- and Randi claims that in the end he figured it out, anyway. So forget the $1 Million, relax, and enjoy James Randi. He's a great raconteur, so we can all be jealous of interviewer Rob Rozeboom (samzenpus) for having made this great video even as we enjoy watching it.

Nathan Myhrvold Live Q&A 51

Last week we announced that co-founder and CEO of Intellectual Ventures, Nathan Myhrvold, had agreed to do a live Q&A. Earlier today we posted a few of his answers, but now's your chance to hear it directly from him. Mr. Myhrvold will be answering your questions below until 12:30 PDT. Please keep it to one question per post so everyone gets a chance. Update: 04/03 19:41 GMT by S : 12:30pm PDT has come and gone, and Mr. Myhrvold has to move on. Thanks for the answers! Here's a link to his user page if you'd just like to read his responses.

Nathan Myhrvold Answers Your Questions, Live Q&A Today At 12 P.M. Pacific 54

Last week you had a chance to ask co-founder and CEO of Intellectual Ventures, Nathan Myhrvold, questions before his live Q&A. Below you'll find his answers to a few of the highest rated. Make sure you come back today from 12-12:30pm PDT (3-3:30pm ET, 19:00-19:30 GMT) to ask him whatever you like in real time. We'll have a new story for your questions at that time.

Video When Your Data Absolutely, Positively has to be Destroyed (Video) Screenshot-sm 295

Here's a corporate motto for you: "Destroying data since 1959." Timothy ran into a company called Garner Products (which doesn't use that motto as far as we know), at a security conference. While most exhibitors were busily preserving or encrypting data one way or another, Garner was not only destroying data but delighting in it. And yes, they've really been doing this since 1959; they started out degaussing broadcast cartridges so broadcasters could re-use them without worrying about old cue tones creeping into new recordings. Now, you might ask, "Instead of spending $9,000 or more to render hard drives useless, couldn't you just use a $24 sledge hammer? And have the fun of destroying something physical as a free bonus?" Yes, you could. You'd get healthy exercise as well, and if you only wanted to destroy the data on the hard drives, so what? New drives are cheap these days. But some government agencies and financial institutions require degaussing before the physical destruction (and Garner has machines that do physical destruction, too -- which is how they deal with SSDs). Garner Products President Ron Stofan says in the interview that their destruction process is more certain than shooting a hard drive with a .45. But neither he nor Tim demonstrated a shooting vs. degaussing test for us, so we remain skeptical.

Interviews: James Randi Answers Your Questions 217

A while ago you had the chance to ask James Randi, the founder of The James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF), about exposing hucksters, frauds, and fakers. Below you'll find his answers to your questions. In addition to his writings below, Randi was nice enough to sit down and talk to us about his life and his foundation. Keep an eye out for those videos coming soon.

Video The Leap Motion Controller is Sort of Like a Super Kinect (Video) 108

What the Leap Motion product (they only have one right now) does is allow you to control your computer with gestures. We're not talking about just jumping around, but "painting" on the screen with your fingers (or even chopsticks) with fine enough control that Autodesk and other drawing-orientd software vendors are working to make applications compatible with the Leap Motion Controller. And game developers? You bet! Lots of them -- and this is for a device that's not even supposed to start shipping until May 13. But, says CEO Michael Buckwald, they already have "hundreds of thousands of pre-orders," so it looks like they are developing a large market for developers (over 12,000 are in the Leap Motion developer program -- out of 50,000 who applied) so it's possible that Leap Motion could become a pretty big deal. (You can see the Leap Motion Controller in action at the end of the video.)