Along with the rest of the mix that makes this site work, Slashdot has nearly two decades now of spotting and showing off interesting projects, inventions, technologies, and hobbies. Some of them are strictly personal, some are frankly commercial, and some are the fruits of ambitious organizations (or tiny teams) motivated by curiosity and passion (or even politics, or just plain fun). As outlined earlier, we've been gathering a lot of these into our new Build section; read on to learn a bit more about what that includes. (And watch out later today for the first part of our conversation with technology-inspiring Rennaisance Man Tim O'Reilly, and later in the week for answers to the questions you asked Bunnie Huang.)
Slashdot stories can be listened to in audio form via an RSS feed, as read by our own robotic overlord.
We've had only a few major redesigns since 1997; we think it's time for another. But we really do take to heart the comments you've made about the look and functionality of the beta site that houses Slashdot's future look. So let's all slow down. Right now, we're directing 25 percent of non-logged-in users to the beta; it's a significant number, but it's the best way for us to test drive this new design, to have you show us what pieces need to be fixed, and how. If you want to move back to Classic Slashdot, that path is available: from the Slashdot Beta page, you just need to select the "Slashdot Classic" link from the footer (or this link). We're committed to keep you informed of the plans as changes are implemented; we can't promise that every user will like every change, but we don't want anything to come as a surprise. Most importantly, we want you to know that Classic Slashdot isn't going away until we're confident that the new site is ready. And — okay, we've got it — it's not ready. We have work to do on four big areas: feature parity (especially for commenting); the overall UI, especially in terms of information density and headline scanning; plain old bugs; and, lastly, the need for a better framework for communicating about the How and the Why of this process. Some of you have suggested we're not listening; on the contrary, some of us are 'listening' pretty much full-time. We're keeping you informed of this process, because we're a community and we want to take everyone with us. But, yes, we're trying something new. Why? We want to take our current content and all the stuff that matters to this community and deliver it on a site that still speaks to the interests and habits of our current audience, but that is, at the same time, more accessible and shareable by a wider audience. We want to give our current audience the space where they are comfortable. And we want a platform where we can experiment with different views of both comments and stories. It's not an either/or. It's going to be both. If we haven't communicated that well enough, consider this post a first step to fixing that. And in the meantime, we're not sorry to have received a flood of feedback, most of it specific, constructive and substantive. Please keep it coming. We will be adding more specific info here in the days to come.
Slashdot's biggest redesign effort ever is now in beta and you're invited to help guide it. This redesign has been shaped by feedback from community members over the past few months (a big thanks to those of you who participated in our alpha testing phase!), and we'd like your thoughts on it, too. This new design is meant to be richer but also simpler to use, while maintaining the spirit of what Slashdot is all about: News for Nerds. Stuff that matters. Read on for the details of what's included, or read this blog post. Update: 10/02 19:16 GMT by T : Since this post went live, we've been reading through the comments below as well as your (hundreds!) of emails. These are all valuable, as we continue to implement our current features into the Beta. Keep 'em coming; we love the feedback. Please keep in mind that this is called Beta for a reason; we've still folding in lots of improvements. One important thing to bear in mind is that the images are optional: check out the Classic mode by clicking on the view selection widget (just above the stories) on the Beta page.
We appreciate all the support we've gotten over the years from Slashdot's logged-in users. They take part actively in discussions, and in exchange for their active interest in the site, we like to give a few perks over and above what our beloved anonymous readers get. But we never want to deprive anonymous readers of the actual features of the site — whether you're a logged-in account holder, anonymous, a subscriber, or have a username but are browsing anonymously at any given moment, Slashdot has always been freely available to read for anyone with a browser and an uncensored Internet connection. It's a balance we try to maintain, too, Sure, we'd like you to login, and we think it has some worthwhile benefits (like tracking comment responses, building karma, and using the Zoo system to keep track of your friends and foes), but we'll never force you to. Today, we're building on this approach, by introducing a feature that benefits every logged-in user, but still leaves the page free to read for all. We'll be phasing in over the next few days a button that logged-in users and subscribers can click to decrypt the text of each Slashdot posting with the trivial transform known as Rot13. Read more, below!
After many months of effort, today we've brought the new mobile site out of beta. Featuring an interface optimized for touch devices, we think it's a huge improvement over the old mobile interface. You'll find comments easier to navigate, the most popular stories highlighted at the top of the page, and a surprisingly pleasant interface for navigating old polls. We've also spiffed up user profiles, resurrecting and improving the friend/foe system in the process. And that's not all: we're pleased to announce that you can login to Slashdot in general using various social media accounts, so if you use Facebook or Google+ there's no excuse not to enjoy the benefits of being a registered user, without the hassle of creating yet another account. Our weblog has a few more details. As always, if you encounter any issues let us know by mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
An anonymous reader writes "The FreeBSD Foundation has posted blog article article talking about the remarkable surge in donations they've received in the last three days following a recent Slashdot article reporting on weak fundraising this year. Deb Goodkin reports that the FreeBSD Foundation, as with many non-profits, receives more than 50% of its annual funds at the end of the US tax year, but that the Foundation has never seen this rate of donations before, and will hit a new record for unique donors this year. She comments that it was Slashdot readers that made the difference! She does, however, appeal for further donations noting that they have a long way to go on their full goal."
Gaurav Kuchhal (Head of Product, Slashdot) writes "Slashdot Mobile has finally made it out of the gates for tablets as well as phones. The Mobile site for phones launched some weeks back, but now you can take advantage of the changes we've made to read Slashdot easier to read through touch-screen devices on tablets as well as phones. That includes features we've folded in to the mobile version from the desktop-browser view of the site, so you can scan user profiles, sip from the Firehose, and keep up with notifications. See this blog post for more details, and keep the feedback coming. If you see a problem, please tell us about it!"
An anonymous reader writes "4 years ago I read about experimental targeted muscle reinnervation (TMR) surgery on Slashdot. 3 years ago I crashed my motorcycle and had my leg amputated — at which time I had TMR done. Today I climbed 103 floors of the Willis Tower in Chicago with a experimental prosthetic using TMR. Thanks, Slashdot."
A lot of people in a lot of places celebrated Slashdot's 15th anniversary by getting together with other Slashdot readers in person. In the Tampa Bay part of Florida, a small and humble meeting was sponsored by an open source company called Fextel at their St. Petersburg HQ. The catering was excellent, and it was a fun group of 12 or so who showed up, about half of whom knew each other from the Suncoast Linux Users Group (SLUG). So we had good food and good people. What else did we need? Remote control helicopter battles, of course! In retrospect, we now believe remote helicopters crashing into each other should be required at any event with a Slashdot theme. We may may just be saying this because we live someplace where the NFL won't let us watch any home games, so we are more entertainment-deprived than most Americans. Then again, maybe helicopter wars are just plain cooler than watching football, and the USA should have fewer NFL games and more Slashdot-based parties.
Over the course of October, we marked each day of our 15th anniversary month with a different reader-submitted graphic, instead of the usual Slashdot logo. (Thanks to all the artists who participated, whether or not your submission made it to the page: to keep it to one each day, we had to reluctantly cull a lot of great ones.) Now that all the selected graphics have had their day in the sun, we'd like your help in figuring out which one of the selected artists will receive a Nexus 7 tablet (in addition to one of our anniversary T-shirts). Take a look at the current poll and cast your vote. We've listed a handful of favorites as poll options, but feel free to pick the "some other" option and make a case for your favorite in the comments. As the note below all Slashdot polls warns, "This whole thing is wildly inaccurate. Rounding errors, ballot stuffers, dynamic IPs, firewalls. If you're using these numbers to do anything important, you're insane." So we'll take the results with a grain of salt ("advisory") — but as of this writing, four of the options are between 13 and 16 percent, which gives us an idea that it's working pretty well.
As tablets and computer-phones flood the market, the headlines read: "The Personal Computer is Dying." But they are only half true: an artifact of the PC is dying, but the essence of the PC revolution is closer to realization than ever before, while also being closer to loss than ever before.
It's been said that the mix of stories on Slashdot is like an omelet: linux and tech, mixed with science and Legos, and a few reviews and sci-fi folded in. It's not just the stories that are a good mix, however, it's the people behind them. Through the past 15 years, an unusual cast of characters have been responsible for keeping the site up and running and bringing you the stories you want to read. We've asked a number of them to write a few words about their time working here and to share a few memories. Below you'll find that some of our former employees don't know what "a few words" means, and a collection of what bringing you news for the past 15 years has been like.
I recently sat down with Chris DiBona to talk about the 15th anniversary of Slashdot. In addition to discussing the joys of heading an email campaign against spamming politicians, and the perils of throwing a co-worker's phone into a bucket, even if you think that bucket is empty, we talked about the growth of Google Summer of Code. Below you'll find his story of how a conversation about trying to get kids to be more active with computers in the summer has led to the release of 55 million lines of code.
Back in 2006, we discussed Jonathan Coulton's 'Code Monkey,' a song about the plight of under-appreciated developers. In the years since, Coulton's efforts to produce geek-oriented songs have propelled him to a successful music career. To mark Slashdot's 15th anniversary, he was kind enough to do a brand new recording of 'Code Monkey' for us. The video is embedded below, and here's a description from the email he sent to CmdrTaco: "It seemed fitting to do a new version of that song. I have all these gadgets that I buy and barely learn how to play, and when I heard you guys were looking for videos and things, it inspired me to sit down and actually try to get some of them working. What you see is me doing a version of Code Monkey performed live on electric guitar and laptop. The grid with lights is a monome running Pages, Polygomé and mlrv on my mac. You’re also hearing some loops and noises from Ableton Live, controlled by footswitches, the monome, and the little keyboard, which is an OP-1. Back in 2006 I didn’t know what I was doing, and with all these gizmos, I still don’t. So that’s a relief." Thanks, Jonathan.
In the summer of 1999, Bruce Perens became our very first interview subject, answering questions about open source licensing. Almost 14 years later, Bruce is still one of the most influential programmers and advocates in the open source community. He's graciously agreed to answer all your questions about the state of things and what's changed in those 15 years. As with previous interviews, we'll send the best questions to Mr. Perens, and post his answers in a day or two. Ask as many questions as you'd like, but please keep them to one per post.
Monday you had a chance to ask Linus Torvalds any question you wanted. We sent him a dozen of the highest rated and below you'll see what he has to say about computers, programming, books, and copyrights. He also talks about what he would have done differently with Linux if he had to do it all over again. Hint: it rhymes with nothing.
Fifteen years from now, your alarm goes off at 7:30 AM, pulling you out of a dead sleep. You roll over, grumbling a command, and the alarm obediently shuts up. You drift off again, but ten minutes later the alarm returns, more insistent. It won't be so easily pacified this time; the loose sensory netting inside your pillow will keep the noise going until it detects alpha waves in drastically higher numbers than theta waves. Or until it gets the automated password from the shower. Sighing, you roll out of bed, pull your Computing ID (CID) card from the alarm unit, and stumble out of the bedroom. Pausing briefly to drop your CID into your desktop computer, you make your way to the shower and begin washing. Your alarm triggered the shower's heating unit, so the water comes out at a pleasant 108 degrees, exactly your preference. (42 degrees, you remind yourself — the transition to metric still isn't second nature, after almost two full years.) You wash quickly to avoid exceeding your water quota, and step out refreshed, ready to meet the day. (Read on for more.)
Linus Torvalds was (and still is) the primary force behind the development of the Linux kernel, and since you are reading Slashdot, you already knew that. Mr. Torvalds has agreed to answer any questions you may have about the direction of software, his thoughts on politics, winning the Millenial Technology Prize, or anything else. Ask as many questions as you'd like, but please keep them to one per post. We'll send the best to Linus, and post his answers when we get them back. Remember to keep an eye out for the rest of our upcoming special interviews this month.
15 years is a long time on the internet. Many websites have come and gone over that time, and many that stuck around haven't had any interest in preserving their older content. Fortunately, as Slashdot approaches its 2^17th story, we've managed to keep track of almost all our old postings — all but the first 2^10, or so. In addition to that, we've held onto user comments, the lifeblood of the site, from 1999 onward. As we celebrate Slashdot's 15th anniversary this month, we thought we'd take a moment to highlight a few of the notable or interesting stories and discussions that have happened here in the past decade and a half. Read on for a trip down memory lane.