Ask Slashdot: What Was Your First Home Computer?

We’ve recently seen stories about old computers and sys-ops resurrecting 1980s BBS’s, but now an anonymous reader has a question for all Slashdot readers:
Whenever I meet geeks, there’s one question that always gets a reaction: Do you remember your first home computer? This usually provokes a flood of fond memories about primitive specs — limited RAM, bad graphics, and early versions of long-since-abandoned operating systems. Now I’d like to pose the same question to Slashdot’s readers.

Use the comments to share details about your own first home computer. Was it a back-to-school present from your parents? Did it come with a modem? Did you lovingly upgrade its hardware for years to come? Was it a Commodore 64 or a BeBox?
It seems like there should be some good stories, so leave your best answers in the comments. What was your first home computer?

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Ask Slashdot: What Training Helps Older Programmers Most?

brown.dragon is an older programmer moving to Australia. He writes:

I want to start an online solution that other programmers find helpful, and right now I’m wondering if I should go with “learning new technologies” or “getting really good at the basics”. Both are targeted towards giving a career boost to older programmers…

Would you like to keep in touch with the latest technologies because that’s what makes it easy to get jobs? Or would you like to be really good at answering (Google/Facebook/Amazon) algorithmic interview questions?

He asks programmers looking for an online educational tool, “which of these (if any), would interest you?” So leave your answers in the comments. What training do you think would help older programmers most?

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Slashdot Asks: How Did You Learn How To Code?

Last week Apple’s CEO argued that computer programming should be a ‘second language’, and that it should be a required subject for all students starting in 4th grade. But a large number of professional programmers didn’t learn how to code in a formal school program, either because they’re self-taught or because they learned on the job. There’s a lot of abstract discussions about the best ways to teach coding, but if there’s any group that’s uniquely qualified to answer that question, it’s the Slashdot community. So leave your answers in the comments. How did you learn how to code?

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Ask Slashdot: What Was The Greatest Era Of Innovation?

speedplane writes: The New York Times is running a story on innovation over the past 150 years. [The story starts at the end of the American Civil War with the newly completed transcontinental railway in the 1870s. Then it highlights the profoundly different lifestyle of the 1920s, the end of ‘The Great War’ and the beginning of the Great Depression. By the 1970s, many of the transportation and communication changes from the 20s became fundamental parts of daily life. The story ends in 2016, an era in which human life has changed the most in the last 46 years.] We’re in the golden age of innovation, an era in which digital technology is transforming the underpinnings of human existence. Or so a techno-optimist might argue. We’re in a depressing era in which innovation has slowed and living standards are barely rising. That’s what some skeptical economists believe. The truth is, this isn’t a debate that can be settled objectively. What do slashdotters think is the greatest era of innovation?

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Ask Slashdot: How Can We Improve Slashdot?

Hi all. Most of you are already aware that Slashdot was sold by DHI Group last week, and I very much enjoyed answering questions and reading feedback in the comments of that announcement story. There’s no doubt that the Slashdot community is one of the most thoughtful, intelligent, and prolific communities on the web.

I wanted to use this opportunity to get a discussion going on how we can improve Slashdot moving forward. I am not talking about a full re-design that will detract from the original spirit of Slashdot, but rather: user experience, bug fixes, and feature improvements that are requested from actual /. users. We appreciated many of your suggestions in the story announcing the sale, and I have taken note of those suggestions. This story will serve as a more master list for feature requests and improvement suggestions.

We welcome any and all suggestions. Some ideas mentioned in the sale story were, in no particular order: Unicode support, direct messaging, increased cap on comment scores, put more weight on firehose voting to determine which stories make the front page, reduced time required between comments, and many more. We’d love a chance to discuss these suggestions and feature improvements and pros and cons here before we bring them back to our team for implementation.

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Ask Slashdot: Any Dishwasher Hackers Out There?

New submitter writes: I just replaced my dishwasher with a basic, inexpensive Sears model. It works fine, but only has 3 different wash cycles. I’m betting that the code to manage more cycles (as in more-expensive models) is already in the microcontroller and just needs inputs to select it. Is there any information available on this? Beyond dishwashers, have you done any useful hacks to household appliances more generally? I’d probably support a Kickstarter project that adds nice wireless notifications to my oven, clothes washer, and dishwasher.

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Ask Slashdot: We’ve Had Online Voting; Why Not Continuous Voting?

periegetes writes: This idea has been bugging me for a while. It takes months to organize a physical election, and several days to count the results, so it makes sense that we don’t organize elections every day. However, with the computing resources at our disposal, it would be child’s play to setup a site where every citizen could vote for (or against) proposed laws themselves, and could even change their vote at all times, cutting out the middle man and restoring true democracy to the world. That last part may be a stretch, but I, for one, would feel more involved in my government if I didn’t have to watch it screw up for years before getting another say in it. I’ve found precious few articles discussing the matter, which usually means I’m missing an obvious problem. Why, in the age of Big Data and petaflops, don’t we consider continuous voting?

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Slashdot

Ask Slashdot: Best Practices For Using a Reputation Engine To Rate Information?

GrantRobertson writes: For my graduate project, I am considering developing a web engine designed around sharing and organizing actual information in a way that people would actually like to and easily be able to use it. Unlike a wiki, the information will be much more granular with lots more metadata and organization. Unlike a web forum, the information will be be organized rather than dispersed throughout thousands of random posts, with little room for dominant personalities to take over. While I like Stack Overflow, I am planning far more structure. While I enjoy the entertaining tangents on Slashdot, I don’t want those to take over sites created using my engine. Naturally, there must be some way to prevent armies of bots or just legions of jerks from derailing web sites created using this engine. Given that, what would you say are some good rules to include in the reputation engine for such a site. What kinds of algorithms have you found to be most beneficial to the propagation and spread of actual knowledge. What would you like to see and what have you found to be dismal failures?

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Ask Slashdot: How To Deal With a Persistent and Incessant Port Scanner?

jetkins writes: What would you do if your firewall was being persistently targeted by port scans from a specific group of machines from one particular company? I run a Sophos UTM9 software firewall appliance on my home network. Works great, and the free Home Use license provides a bunch of really nice features normally only found on commercial-grade gear. One of those is the ability to detect, block, and report port scans, and under normal circumstances I only get the occasional alert when some script kiddie comes a-knocking at my door. But in recent months I have been getting flooded with alerts of scans from one particular company. I initially reported it to my own ISP’s (RoadRunner’s) abuse desk, on the assumption that if they’re scanning me then they’re probably scanning a bunch of my neighbors as well, and any responsible ISP would probably want to block this BS, but all I ever got back was an automated acknowledgment and zero action. So I used DNS lookup and WHOIS to find their phone number, and spoke with someone there; it appears that they’re a small outfit, and I was assured that they had a good idea where it was coming from and that they would make it stop. Indeed, it did stop a few days later but then it was back again, unabated, after another week or so. So last week I called them again, and was once again assured of a resolution. No dice, the scans continue to pour in. I’ve already blocked their subnet at my firewall, but the UTM apparently does attack detection before filtering, so that didn’t stop the alerts. And although I *could* disable port scan alerts, it’s an all-or-nothing thing and I’m not prepared to turn them off completely. This afternoon I forwarded the twenty-something alerts that I’ve received so far today, to their abuse@ address with an appeal for a Christmas Miracle, but frankly I’m not holding out much hope that it will have any effect. So, Slashdotters, what should I do if this continues into the new year? Start automatically bouncing every report to their abuse address? Sic Anonymous on them? Start calling them every time? I’m open to suggestions.

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Ask Slashdot: Best Tablet In 2015?

An anonymous reader writes: My 2012 Nexus 7 tablet is showing its age. The battery drains quickly, the storage problem that plagued all the Nexus 7s persists even after rooting and re-imaging, and the CPU/RAM can’t keep up with the later Android versions. When it came out, it was fantastic — good specs, solid build quality, Nexus line, and a good size. Is there anything on the market today that stands out as much as the Nexus 7 did? I tend to prefer the smaller tablets over the bigger ones, but I’m not entirely averse to an 8″ or 9″ device. There seem to be some really nice devices in the $ 3-400 range, but I’m not sure if there’s a huge benefit to those over the ~$ 200 models. I don’t do any serious gaming on my tablet, but I also want the apps I do use to be snappy. Those of you who have bought or used tablets made in the past year or so, what has your experience been? Any brands or models that stand out from the crowd? Any to avoid?

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