Slashdot: News for Nerds


Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Mozilla Launches Student Coding Program "Winter of Security"

samzenpus posted about 2 months ago | from the student-labor dept.

Mozilla 40

First time accepted submitter NotInHere (3654617) writes "Mozilla has introduced a new program called MWoS, or 'Mozilla Winter of Security,' to involve university students in security projects. The attending students will write code for a Mozilla security tool during (northern hemisphere) winter. Unlike GSoC, attending it involves no monetary payment, but the student's universities are expected to actively cooperate and to give the students a credit for their work. From the article: 'MWoS is a win for all. Students get a chance to work on real-world security projects, under the guidance of an experienced security engineer. Professors get to implement cutting-edge security projects into their programs. Mozilla and the community get better security tools, which that we would not have the resources to build or improve ourselves.'"

Grace Hopper, UNIVAC, and the First Programming Language

samzenpus posted about 2 months ago | from the back-in-the-day dept.

Programming 137

M-Saunders (706738) writes "It weighed 13 tons, had 5,200 vacuum tubes, and took up a whole garage, but the UNIVAC I was an incredible machine for its time. Memory was provided by tanks of liquid mercury, while the clock speed was a whopping 2.25 MHz. The UNIVAC I was one of the first commercial general-purpose computers produced, with 46 shipped, and Linux Voice has taken an in-depth look at it. Learn its fascinating instruction set, and also check out FLOW-MATIC, the first English-language data processing language created by American computing pioneer Grace Hopper."

Fixing the Pain of Programming

Soulskill posted about 2 months ago | from the advil-for-the-dependency-headaches dept.

Programming 294

An anonymous reader writes "Light Table is a Kickstarted, open source IDE that's been trying to integrate real-time feedback into code creation. Part of their process has been figuring out how to improve the practice of programming, from top to bottom. They've put up a post about the troublesome aspects of programming that we've learned to deal with and take for granted, but which need solving if programming is to be made accessible for more people. 'Surprisingly, one of the most common difficulties we have heard from beginners is just running code. Even if we were to hand [a new programmer the whole source code] they would likely still struggle to actually use it. They have to install dependencies, compile code, start servers and open ports. At each step the errors are difficult to diagnose and time-consuming to fix.' But these problems extend to experienced coders, too: 'The simplest question we could ask about our application is "what is the current state." Bizarrely, very few programming environments give you any help on this front. Many programmers get by with nothing but print statements.' It's interesting to see somebody working on these issues, instead of accepting that they're the status quo and just part of the experience of programming."

The Technical Difficulty In Porting a PS3 Game To the PS4

Soulskill posted about 2 months ago | from the more-than-you-bargained-for dept.

PlayStation (Games) 152

An anonymous reader writes "The Last of Us was one of the last major projects for the PlayStation 3. The code optimization done by development studio Naughty Dog was a real technical achievement — making graphics look modern and impressive on a 7-year-old piece of hardware. Now, they're in the process of porting it to the much more capable PS4, which will end up being a technical accomplishment in its own right. Creative director Neil Druckmann said, 'Just getting an image onscreen, even an inferior one with the shadows broken, lighting broken and with it crashing every 30 seconds that took a long time. These engineers are some of the best in the industry and they optimized the game so much for the PS3's SPUs specifically. It was optimized on a binary level, but after shifting those things over [to PS4] you have to go back to the high level, make sure the [game] systems are intact, and optimize it again. I can't describe how difficult a task that is. And once it's running well, you're running the [versions] side by side to make sure you didn't screw something up in the process, like physics being slightly off, which throws the game off, or lighting being shifted and all of a sudden it's a drastically different look. That's not 'improved' any more; that's different. We want to stay faithful while being better.'"

Programmers: It's OK To Grow Up

Soulskill posted about 2 months ago | from the Peter-Pan-need-not-apply dept.

Programming 232

Nemo the Magnificent writes: " Everybody knows software development is a young man's game, right? Here's a guy who hires and manages programmers, and he says it's not about age at all — it's about skills, period. 'It's each individual's responsibility to stay fresh in the field and maintain a modern-day skillset that gives any 28-year-old a run for his or her money. ... Although the ability to learn those skills is usually unlimited, the available time to learn often is not. "Little" things like family dinners, Little League, and home improvement projects often get in the way. As a result, we do find that we face a shortage of older, more seasoned developers. And it's not because we don't want older candidates. It's often because the older candidates haven't successfully modernized their developer skills.' A company that actively works to offer all employees the chance to learn and to engage with modern technologies is a company that good people are going to work for, and to stay at."

Finding More Than One Worm In the Apple

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the looking-deeper dept.

Bug 116

davecb (6526) writes "At Guido von Rossum's urging, Mike Bland has a look at detecting and fixing the "goto fail" bug at ACM Queue. He finds the same underlying problem in both in the Apple and Heartbleed bugs, and explains how to not suffer it again." An excerpt: "WHY DIDN'T A TEST CATCH IT? Several articles have attempted to explain why the Apple SSL vulnerability made it past whatever tests, tools, and processes Apple may have had in place, but these explanations are not sound, especially given the above demonstration to the contrary in working code. The ultimate responsibility for the failure to detect this vulnerability prior to release lies not with any individual programmer but with the culture in which the code was produced. Let's review a sample of the most prominent explanations and specify why they fall short. Adam Langley's oft-quoted blog post13 discusses the exact technical ramifications of the bug but pulls back on asserting that automated testing would have caught it: "A test case could have caught this, but it's difficult because it's so deep into the handshake. One needs to write a completely separate TLS stack, with lots of options for sending invalid handshakes.""

New PostgreSQL Guns For NoSQL Market

samzenpus posted about 2 months ago | from the coming-for-you dept.

Data Storage 162

angry tapir (1463043) writes "Embracing the widely used JSON data-exchange format, the new version of the PostgreSQL open-source database takes aim at the growing NoSQL market of nonrelational data stores, notably the popular MongoDB. The first beta version of PostgreSQL 9.4, released Thursday, includes a number of new features that address the rapidly growing market for Web applications, many of which require fast storage and retrieval of large amounts of user data."

You've Got Male: Amazon's Growth Impacting Seattle Dating Scene

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the truth-in-action dept.

Stats 315

reifman (786887) writes "San Francisco's gender imbalance is so bad that a startup recently proposed flying women in from New York City for dates. But, if you're a straight male thinking of moving to Seattle to work in technology, think again. Seattle's gender ratio is even more imbalanced and it's about to get much worse for men. Amazon is building out enough space to employ 5% of the city population and its workforce is 75 percent male. By the end of 2014, Seattle will have 130 single men for every 100 single women."

Could High Bay-Area Prices Make Sacramento the Next Big Startup Hub?

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the cost-of-living-is-important dept.

United States 190

waderoush (1271548) writes "Don't laugh. As the cost of housing spirals out of control on the San Francisco peninsula, neighboring metro regions like Sacramento are beginning to look more attractive to startup founders who prefer a Northern California lifestyle but haven't worked in the Silicon Valley gold mines long enough to become 1-percenters. Today Xconomy presents Part 1 of a two-part look at innovation in the Sacramento-Davis corridor and efforts to make the region more welcoming to high-tech entrepreneurs. In Sacramento's favor, there's a talented workforce fueled by a top-20 university (UC Davis), space for expansion, proximity to the ski mountains at Tahoe, and a far lower cost of living — the average house in Sacramento is selling for $237,000, compared to $909,000 in San Francisco. The downsides include a shortage of local investment dollars and a lower density of startups, meaning there's less opportunity for serendipitous collaboration. But locals say recent efforts to boost the local high-tech economy are working. 'I really feel like we are in a renaissance area,' says Eric Ullrich, co-founder of Hacker Lab, a Midtown Sacramento co-working space."

Ask Slashdot: Easy-To-Use Alternative To MS Access For a Charity's Database?

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the take-your-best-shot dept.

Databases 281

New submitter danzvash (447536) writes "I'm doing some volunteering for a street kids charity in Senegal, West Africa, and they need a new database to store all their information for the kids, and to help the funding organizations like UNICEF. The charity staff have a few computers running Windows 7. Being a die-hard OSS geek I'm more inclined to knock up a MySQL backend with a Django (or similar) front-end and run the whole thing from a reliable VPS. But it needs to be understandable by the non-geeks in the charity — there is no IT expertise here. Is there anything that can allow me to design and edit databases, tables, and forms but doesn't require an MS license?"

US College Students Still Aren't All That Interested In Computer Science

samzenpus posted about 2 months ago | from the you-fail-it dept.

Education 306

itwbennett (1594911) writes "Despite the hot job market and competitive salaries, the share of Computer Science degrees as a percentage of BA degrees has remained essentially unchanged since 1981, according to data from the National Center for Educational Statistics' Digest of Educational Statistics. If history is any indication, it will take a cultural phenomenon to shift the percentage higher: Blogger Phil Johnson point out that there were 'two distinct peaks, one in 1985 (4.4% of U.S. college degrees) and one in 2002 (4.42%). These would represent big increases for the classes entering school in 1981 and 1998 respectively. The former year corresponds to the beginning of computers coming into the home and the release of things like MS-DOS 1.0, all of which may have increased interest in programming. The latter year was during the dot com bubble, which, no doubt, also boosted interest.'"

Ask Slashdot: What Should Every Programmer Read?

Soulskill posted about 2 months ago | from the green-eggs-and-dereferenced-pointers dept.

Programming 352

An anonymous reader writes "There's a blog post floating around right now listing articles every programmer should read. I'm curious what articles, books, etc., Slashdot readers would add to this list. Should The Art of Computer Programming, Design Patterns, or Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs be on the list? What about The Mythical Man-Month, or similar works that are about concepts relating to programming? Is there any code that every programmer should take a look at? Obviously, the nature of this question precludes articles about the nitty-gritty of particular languages, but I'm sure a lot of people would be interested in those, too. So if you can think of a few articles that every C++ programmer (or Perl, or Haskell, or whatever) should know, post those too."

WebKit Unifies JavaScript Compilation With LLVM Optimizer

Soulskill posted about 2 months ago | from the like-peanut-butter-and-javascript dept.

Programming 170

An anonymous reader tips this post at "Just a decade ago, JavaScript – the programming language used to drive web page interactions – was thought to be too slow for serious application development. But thanks to continuous optimization efforts, it's now possible to write sophisticated, high-performance applications – even graphics-intensive games – using portable standards-compliant JavaScript and HTML5. This post describes a new advancement in JavaScript optimization: the WebKit project has unified its existing JavaScript compilation infrastructure with the state-of-the-art LLVM optimizer. This will allow JavaScript programs to leverage sophisticated optimizations that were previously only available to native applications written in languages like C++ or Objective-C. ... I'm happy to report that our LLVM-based just-in-time (JIT) compiler, dubbed the FTL – short for Fourth Tier LLVM – has been enabled by default on the Mac and iOS ports. This post summarizes the FTL engineering that was undertaken over the past year. It first reviews how WebKit's JIT compilers worked prior to the FTL. Then it describes the FTL architecture along with how we solved some of the fundamental challenges of using LLVM as a dynamic language JIT. Finally, this post shows how the FTL enables a couple of JavaScript-specific optimizations."

Ask Slashdot: Minimum Programming Competence In Order To Get a Job?

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the anything-you-can-yourself-into dept.

Programming 466

First time accepted submitter Wisecat (3651085) writes "So we all know that computer programming jobs are hot right now. Heck, even President Obama has been urging Americans to learn the skill. But all of us in tech know that not everyone can hack it, and what's more it takes a while to learn anything, and keep up your skills as technology changes. Add to that the fact that companies (and their hiring managers) are always looking for 'the best of the best of the best' talent, and one starts to wonder: just how good does one actually have to BE to get hired? Certainly, there must be plenty of jobs where a level 7/10 programmer would be plenty good enough, and even some that a level 5/10 would be enough. And perhaps we can agree that a level 2/10 would not likely get hired anywhere. So the question is: given that we have such huge demand for programmers, can a level 5, 6, or 7 ever get past the hiring manager? Or is he doomed to sit on the sidelines while the position goes unfilled, or goes to someone willing to lie about their skill level, or perhaps to an H1-B who will work cheaper (but not necessarily better)? I'm a hardware engineer with embedded software experience, and have considered jumping over to pure software (since there are so many jobs, so much demand) but at age 40, and needing to pick a language and get good at it, I wonder whether it would even be possible to get a job (with my previous work experience not being directly related). Thoughts?"

Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, and Lately, Coding

samzenpus posted about 3 months ago | from the show-and-tell dept.

Education 125

theodp (442580) writes "The NY Times reports that the national educational movement in computer coding instruction is growing at Internet speeds. 'There's never been a move this fast in education,' said Elliot Soloway, a professor of education and computer science at the Univ. of Michigan. But, cautions the NY Times' Matt Richtel, it is not clear that teaching basic computer science in grade school will beget future jobs or foster broader creativity and logical thinking, as some champions of the movement are projecting. And particularly for younger children, the activity is more like a video game — better than simulated gunplay, but not likely to impart actual programming skills. 'Some educators worry about the industry's heavy role,' adds Richtel. 'Major tech companies and their founders, including Bill Gates and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, have put up about $10 million for,' which recently announced its CS programs will be rolled out to more than 2 million students — nearly 5% of all U.S. K-12 students — at 30 school districts this fall. Among the 20,000 teachers who says have signed on is Alana Aaron, a fifth-grade math and science teacher who, with her principal's permission, swapped a two-month earth sciences lesson she was going to teach on land masses for the curriculum. 'Computer science is big right now — in our country, the world,' she said. 'If my kids aren't exposed to things like that, they could miss out on potential opportunities and careers.'"

A 32-bit Development System For $2

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the computers-you-can-buy-with-a-$2-bill dept.

Hardware Hacking 138

An anonymous reader writes "If you are too cheap to buy a $20 Arduino or too elitist to not have at least a 32-bit processor, Dr. Dobb's shows you how to take a $2 chip, put it on a breadboard with a TTL serial (or USB) cable, and be up and running with a 32-bit C/C++ system. Even if you have to buy the breadboard and the cable, it is comparable in price to an Arduino and much more capable. The Mbed libraries (optional) make it as easy to use a 'duino, too."

Court: Oracle Entitled To Copyright Protection Over Some Parts of Java

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the cue-the-wailing-and-gnashing-of-teeth dept.

Oracle 303

An anonymous reader writes "Remember the court battle between Google and Oracle? It's the one where Oracle claimed Android violated Oracle's patents and copyright related to Java. Oracle thought they deserved $6 billion in compensation, but ended up getting nothing. Well, it's still going, and the tide is turning somewhat in Oracle's favor. An appeals court decided that Oracle can claim copyright over some parts of Java. It's a complicated ruling (PDF) — parts of it went Google's way and parts of it went Oracle's way — but here's the most important line: '[T]he declaring code and the structure, sequence, and organization of the 37 Java API packages at issue are entitled to copyright protection.' A jury's earlier finding of infringement has been reinstated, and now it's up to Google to justify its actions under fair use."

Programming Language Diversity On the Rise

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the digital-melting-pot dept.

Programming 177

jfruh writes: "As GitHub becomes an increasingly common repository of project code, the metadata for projects saved there can tell us a lot about the state of the industry. In particular, a look at the programming languages used over the past half-decade shows an increasingly fragmented landscape, in which the overall share of most major languages is on a slight decline, while less-used languages are seeing modest growth in usage."

Crytek Open-Sources Their 'Renderdoc' 3D Debugger

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the more-tools-more-power dept.

Graphics 20

An anonymous reader writes "Game studios now seem to be forming a habit out of opening up their debugger / development utilities. After Valve's notable VOGL debugger, Crytek has now decided to open source their Renderdoc debugger. Renderdoc had been available for free use since earlier in the year but now they have posted an MIT-licensed version of the code to GitHub. Renderdoc builds on both Windows and Linux but for now just targets the Direct3D 11 graphics API while OpenGL support is being expected later."

GitHub Open Sources Atom, Their Text Editor Based On Chromium

Unknown Lamer posted about 3 months ago | from the emacs-does-it-better dept.

Programming 121

First time accepted submitter aojensen (1503269) writes "GitHub has made good on promises to open source Atom, a programmer's text editor based on Chromium. Atom is released under the MIT license (source repository). GitHub announced the following on their blog: 'Because we spend most of our day in a text editor, the single most important feature we wanted in an editor was extensibility. Atom is built with the same open source technologies used by modern web browsers. ... But more importantly, extending Atom is as simple as writing JavaScript and CSS, two languages used by millions of developers each day.'

Apart from being extensible via HTML, JavaScript, and CSS, Atom also offers out-of-the-box Node.js integration, a modular design with a built-in package manager (apm), and extensive features such as file system browser, themes, project-wide search and replace, panes, snippets, code folding, and more. Launched only 10 weeks ago, Atom seems to have a well-established ecosystem of packages and extensions already."
The editor is based on atom-shell, a more general framework for building desktop apps using JavaScript/HTML. Beware: according to the FAQ, by default it sends "usage data" to Google Analytics (which can be disabled at least).

Autonomous Car Ethics: If a Crash Is Unavoidable, What Does It Hit?

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the i'm-sorry-dave,-that-volvo-looked-at-me-funny dept.

Transportation 800

An anonymous reader writes "Patrick Lin of California Polytechnic State University explores one of the ethical problems autonomous car developers are going to have to solve: crash prioritization. He posits this scenario: suppose an autonomous car determines a crash is unavoidable, but has the option of swerving right into a small car with few safety features or swerving left into a heavier car that's more structurally sound. Do the people programming the car have it intentionally crash into the vehicle less likely to crumple? It might make more sense, and lead to fewer fatalities — but it sure wouldn't feel that way to the people in the car that got hit. He says, '[W]hile human drivers may be forgiven for making a poor split-second reaction – for instance, crashing into a Pinto that's prone to explode, instead of a more stable object – robot cars won't enjoy that freedom. Programmers have all the time in the world to get it right. It's the difference between premeditated murder and involuntary manslaughter.' We could somewhat randomize outcomes, but that would lead to generate just as much trouble. Lin adds, 'The larger challenge, though, isn't thinking through ethical dilemmas. It's also about setting accurate expectations with users and the general public who might find themselves surprised in bad ways by autonomous cars. Whatever answer to an ethical dilemma the car industry might lean towards will not be satisfying to everyone.'"

Job Postings For Python, NoSQL, Apache Hadoop Way Up This Year

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the year-of-the-accidental-dba dept.

Databases 52

Nerval's Lobster writes: "Dice [note: our corporate overlord] collects a ton of data from job postings. Its latest findings? The number of jobs posted for NoSQL experts has risen 54 percent year-over-year, ahead of postings for professionals skilled in so-called 'Big Data' (up 46 percent), Apache Hadoop (43 percent), and Python (16 percent). Employers are also seeking those with expertise in Software-as-a-Service platforms, to the tune of 20 percent more job postings over the past twelve months; in a similar vein, postings for tech professionals with some cloud experience have leapt 27 percent in the same period. Nothing earth-shattering here, but it's perhaps interesting to note that, for all the hype surrounding some of these things, there's actually significant demand behind them."

Ask Slashdot: Beginner To Intermediate Programming Projects?

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the port-quake-3-to-my-microwave dept.

Programming 172

An anonymous reader writes "I've been teaching myself to code recently. I've made good progress so far, and I've written a bunch of little scripts to make my life easier. Here's the problem: most project ideas I come up with now either seem pretty easy or pretty impossible. I'm having trouble thinking of a project that'll stretch my skills without overloading them. I've tried finding open source projects to read through, but I run into the same thing: either it's straight-forward, or it requires reading a half-dozen dependencies, each of which has dependencies of their own. Anyone have suggestions on some intermediate-skill projects to undertake? Or some project files in an online repo that go beyond the basics without getting overwhelming? My language of choice is Python, but other languages are welcome."

Ask Slashdot: Joining a Startup As an Older Programmer?

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the ask-slashtot dept.

Programming 274

First time accepted submitter bdrasin (17319) writes "I've had a series of interviews with a late-term startup (approx. 300 employees) and I think there is a good chance they will make me an offer. The technology is great, my skills and interests are a good fit for the position, I think the company has a promising future, and I like they team. Frankly I'm damn excited about it, more so than for any job in my career. However, I'm worried about what could euphemistically be called 'cultural' issues. I'm a few years over 40, with a wife and kids, and all of the engineers at the company seem to be at least 10 years younger than I am. Being at the company's office gives me a distinct old guy at the club feeling. I don't think the overall number of hours the team works is more than I could handle, but the team does a lot of young-single-guy-at-a-startup group activities (rent-a-limo-and-go-clubbing night, weekends in Tahoe, Burning Man, in-office happy hour) that I wouldn't want or be able to participate in; I need to be home with my family for dinner most nights and weekends and so on. I'm wondering if anyone else has had the experience of working at a startup with, or as, an older programmer, and how it worked out?"

Kids To Get the Best CS Teachers $15/Hr Can Buy

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the what-about-great-volunteers dept.

The Almighty Buck 157

theodp (442580) writes "Billionaire-backed, enthusiastically tweets U.S. Dept. of Education Chief Arne Duncan, is 'providing tremendous leadership in bringing coding & computer science to our nation's schools.' Including bringing kids in Broward County Public Schools the best computer science teachers $15.00-an-hour can buy, according to a document on the school district's website. One wonders how the Broward teachers feel about apparently coughing up $38.33-an-hour for Chicago teachers who attend the required professional development, which ironically covers equity issues. Duncan's shout-out comes days after claimed in its Senate testimony that 'our students have voted with their actions [participating in an hour-long, Angry Birds-themed Blockly tutorial starring Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates]: that learning computer science is this generation's Sputnik moment, that it's part of the new American Dream, and that it should be available to every student, in every school, as part of the standard curriculum.'"

ESA Taking Applications for Summer of Code in Space

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the still-need-working-holodeck-code dept.

Programming 21

phyr writes: "ESA Summer of Code in Space (SOCIS) is a program run by the European Space Agency. It aims at offering student developers stipends to write code for various space-related open source software projects. Through SOCIS, accepted student applicants are paired with a mentor or mentors from the participating projects, thus gaining exposure to real-world software development scenarios. In turn, the participating projects are able to more easily identify and bring in new developers. Applicants must be attending a European or Canadian university and will receive 4000 Euros for supporting one of the accepted open source projects. Applicants have until May 15th to submit their proposals and resumes. I'm particularly interested to have exceptional proposals for the NEST project."

Coding Bootcamps Already 1/8th the Size of CS Undergraduates

samzenpus posted about 3 months ago | from the everybody-code dept.

Programming 92

First time accepted submitter Valejo (689967) writes "According to a study released today by Course Report, programming bootcamps are expected to grow by 2.8x in 2014, meaning that bootcamps will graduate a student for every 8 CS undergraduates. The survey (PDF) also found that 57% of the schools teach in Ruby and that the average tuition is $9,900. The authors collected responses from 95% of US schools, including General Assembly, Dev Bootcamp, and Flatiron School."

One-a-Day-Compiles: Good Enough For Government Work In 1983

Unknown Lamer posted about 3 months ago | from the could-have-had-a-lisp-machine dept.

Government 230

theodp (442580) writes "Simon Allardice takes a stroll down coding memory lane, recalling that when he got started in programming in 1983, hand-writing one's programs with pencil on IBM coding sheets was still considered good enough for British government work (COBOL, Assembler forms). Allardice writes, 'And when you were finished handwriting a section of code — perhaps a full program, perhaps a subroutine — you'd gather these sheets together (carefully numbered in sequence, of course) and send them along to the folks in the data entry department. They'd type it in. And the next day you'd get a report to find out if it compiled or not. Let me say that again: the next day you could find out if your code compiled or not.' So, does anyone have 'fond' memories of computer programming in the punched card era? And for you young'uns, what do you suppose your C++ or Java development times would be like if you got one compile a day?" The other way you could program in 1983.

C++ and the STL 12 Years Later: What Do You Think Now?

Unknown Lamer posted about 3 months ago | from the bringing-c-programmers-halfway-to-haskell dept.

Programming 435

profBill (98315) writes "Way back in 2002, Slashdot ran a story asking what people thought about C++ and the STL. Well, it's 2014 and C++11 is well out there with C++14 on its way.

I teach a second programming course in C++ with a heavy emphasis on the STL (containers and generic algorithms). I just wondered what people think about the situation today. Personally, I think C++11 has cleaned up a lot of problems, making it easier to use, but given all those who work with C++ for a living, I wondered what they thought today compared to then. Are people using C++11? Does it matter at all? I'd love to share the responses with my students! They are always curious about what practitioners are doing these days."

The Ways Programming Is Hard

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the or-annoying-or-frustrating-or-etc dept.

Programming 278

An anonymous reader writes "Those of us who spend our days sitting in front of a screen trying to make computers do our bidding know how difficult programming can be. But from an outside perspective, there's not much to indicate difficulty. Most of us have heard somebody compare our job to digging ditches, or some other manual labor, meant to contrast easy (sitting around and typing) versus hard (muscle-wearying work). Now, Peter Welch has written an amusing essay to help combat that point of view, titled Programming Sucks. He compares bridge building to a big software project. Here's a small part of it:

'You start by meeting Mary, project leader for a bridge in a major metropolitan area. Mary introduces you to Fred, after you get through the fifteen security checks installed by Dave because Dave had his sweater stolen off his desk once and Never Again. Fred only works with wood, so you ask why he's involved because this bridge is supposed to allow rush-hour traffic full of cars full of mortal humans to cross a 200-foot drop over rapids. Don't worry, says Mary, Fred's going to handle the walkways. What walkways? Well Fred made a good case for walkways and they're going to add to the bridge's appeal. Of course, they'll have to be built without railings, because there's a strict no railings rule enforced by Phil, who's not an engineer. ... Would you drive across this bridge? No. If it somehow got built, everybody involved would be executed. Yet some version of this dynamic wrote every single program you have ever used, banking software, websites, and a ubiquitously used program that was supposed to protect information on the internet but didn't.' Welch goes on to gripe about all the ways in which programming is almost awesome, but ends up being annoying."

50 Years of BASIC, the Language That Made Computers Personal

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the goto-10*5 dept.

Programming 224

harrymcc (1641347) writes "On May 1, 1964 at 4 a.m. in a computer room at Dartmouth University, the first programs written in BASIC ran on the university's brand-new time-sharing system. With these two innovations, John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz didn't just make it easier to learn how to program a computer: They offered Dartmouth students a form of interactive, personal computing years before the invention of the PC. Over at, I chronicle BASIC's first 50 years with a feature with thoughts from Kurtz, Microsoft's Paul Allen and many others."

Programming Education Making A Comeback In Primary Schools

Unknown Lamer posted about 3 months ago | from the every-teenager-should-know-haskell dept.

Education 138

New submitter kyrsjo (2420192) writes "The Economist has an article on how information technology — the real stuff, not just button-pushing — is making its way back to schools across the world. As the article argues: 'Digital technology is now so ubiquitous that many think a rounded education requires a grounding in this subject just as much as in biology, chemistry or physics.' In today's society, teaching computer science in schools is absolutely necessary, and that means getting a real understanding of computers and how they work. That requires working with algorithms and programming, not just learning which buttons to push in the program that the school happened to use."

Erik Meijer: The Curse of the Excluded Middle

samzenpus posted about 3 months ago | from the almost-good-enough dept.

Programming 237

CowboyRobot (671517) writes "Erik Meijer, known for his contributions to Haskell, C#, Visual Basic, Hack, and LINQ, has an article at the ACM in which he argues that 'Mostly functional' programming does not work. 'The idea of "mostly functional programming" is unfeasible. It is impossible to make imperative programming languages safer by only partially removing implicit side effects. Leaving one kind of effect is often enough to simulate the very effect you just tried to remove. On the other hand, allowing effects to be "forgotten" in a pure language also causes mayhem in its own way. Unfortunately, there is no golden middle, and we are faced with a classic dichotomy: the curse of the excluded middle, which presents the choice of either (a) trying to tame effects using purity annotations, yet fully embracing the fact that your code is still fundamentally effectful; or (b) fully embracing purity by making all effects explicit in the type system and being pragmatic by introducing nonfunctions such as unsafePerformIO. The examples shown here are meant to convince language designers and developers to jump through the mirror and start looking more seriously at fundamentalist functional programming.'"

Ask Slashdot: Books for a Comp Sci Graduate Student?

Unknown Lamer posted about 3 months ago | from the suggesting-some-knowledge dept.

Books 247

peetm (781139) writes "Having visited with me and my wife recently, the girlfriend of an ex-student of mine (now taking an M.Sc. in pure CS) asked me to suggest useful books for her boyfriend: '... He recently mentioned that he would love to have a home library, like the one you have, with variety of good, useful and must-have books from different authors. ... Mostly, I was thinking your advice would be priceless when it comes to computer science related books, but .. I would appreciate any sort of advice on books from you. ...' Whilst I could scan my own library for ideas, I doubt that I'm really that 'current' with what's good, or whether my favorites would be appropriate: I've not taught on the M.Sc. course for a while, and in some cases, and just given their price, I shouldn't really recommend such books that are just pet loves of mine — especially to someone who doesn't know whether they'd even be useful.

And, before you ask: YES, we do have a reading list, but given that he'll receive this as part of this course requirement anyway, I'd like to tease readers to suggest good reads around the periphery of the subject."
I'll throw out Pierce's Types and Programming Languages (and probably Advanced Topics in Types and Programming Languages ), and Okasaki's Purely Functional Data Structures .

Microsoft, Google, Others Join To Fund Open Source Infrastructure Upgrades

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the and-moving-forward-henceforth dept.

Open Source 101

wiredmikey (1824622) writes "Technology giants including Microsoft, Google, Intel, and Cisco are banding together to support and fund open source projects that make up critical elements of global information infrastructure. The new Core Infrastructure Initiative brings technology companies together to identify and fund open source projects that are widely used in core computing and Internet functions, The Linux Foundation announced today. Formed primarily as the industry's response to the Heartbleed crisis, the OpenSSL library will be the initiative's first project. Other open source projects will follow. The funds will be administered by the Linux Foundation and a steering group comprised of the founding members, key open source developers, and other industry stakeholders. Anyone interested in joining the initiative, or donating to the fund can visit the Core Infrastructure Initiative site."

Groove Basin: Quest For the Ultimate Music Player

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the it's-dangerous-to-go-alone,-take-this-ipod dept.

Music 87

An anonymous reader writes "Andrew Kelley was a big fan of the Amarok open source music player. But a few years ago, its shortcomings were becoming more annoying and the software's development path no longer matched with the new features he wanted. So he did what any enterprising hacker would do: he started work on a replacement. Three and a half years later, his project, Groove Basin, has evolved into a solid music player, and it's still under active development. Kelley has now posted a write-up of his development process, talking about what problems he encountered, how he solved them, and how he ended up contributing code to libav."

Tech People Making $100k a Year On the Rise, Again

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the it-is-all-about-the-wilson dept.

Stats 193

Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "Last month, a report suggested that Austin has the highest salaries for tech workers (after factoring in the cost of living), followed by Atlanta, Denver, Boston, and Silicon Valley. Now, a new report (yes, from Dice, because it gathers this sort of data from tech workers) suggests that more tech people are earning six figures a year than ever. Some 32 percent of full-time tech pros took home more than $100,000 in 2013, according to the findings, up from 30 percent in 2012 and 26 percent in 2011. For contractors, the data is even better: In 2013, a staggering 54 percent of them earned more than $100,000 a year, up from 51 percent the previous year and 50 percent in 2011. How far that money goes depends on where you live, of course, but it does seem like a growing number of the world's tech workers are earning a significant amount of cash."

David Auerbach Explains the Inside Baseball of MSN Messenger vs. AIM

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the doesn't-seem-that-long-ago dept.

America Online 86

In N+1 magazine, David Auerbach explains what it was like in the "Chat Wars" of the late '90s, when he was the youngest person on the team developing Microsoft's brand-new messaging app, in the face of America Online's AIM, the 900-pound gorilla in the room. Auerbach explains how he used a network analyzer to fake out AOL's servers into letting Microsoft's client connect to AIM as well. "AOL could only block Messenger if they could figure out that the user was using Messenger and not AIM. As long as Messenger sent exactly the same protocol messages to the AOL servers, AOL wouldn’t be able to detect that Messenger was an impostor. So I took the AIM client and checked for differences in what it was sending, then changed our client to mimic it once again. They’d switch it up again; they knew their client, and they knew what it was coded to do and what obscure messages it would respond to in what ways. Every day it’d be something new. At one point they threw in a new protocol wrinkle but cleverly excepted users logging on from Microsoft headquarters, so that while all other Messenger users were getting an error message, we were sitting at Microsoft and not getting it. After an hour or two of scratching our heads, we figured it out." Eventually, though, AOL introduced x86 assembly code into the login protocol, and that not only stymied the MSM team, but led to some interesting warfare of its own. Auerbach's story sheds a lot of light on both good and bad aspects of corporate culture at the start of the 21st century, at Microsoft as well as other companies.

Not Just a Cleanup Any More: LibreSSL Project Announced

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the they'd-like-some-beer-money dept.

Security 360

An anonymous reader writes "As some of you may know, the OpenBSD team has started cleaning up the OpenSSL code base. LibreSSL is primarily developed by the OpenBSD Project, and its first inclusion into an operating system will be in OpenBSD 5.6. In the wake of Heartbleed, the OpenBSD group is creating a simpler, cleaner version of the dominant OpenSSL. Theo de Raadt, founder and leader of OpenBSD and OpenSSH, tells ZDNet that the project has already removed 90,000 lines of C code and 150,000 lines of content. The project further promises multi-OS support once they have proper funding and the right portability team in place. Please consider donating to support LibreSSL via the OpenBSD foundation."

The Ethical Dilemmas Today's Programmers Face

samzenpus posted about 3 months ago | from the do-the-right-thing dept.

Programming 183

snydeq (1272828) writes "As software takes over more of our lives, the ethical ramifications of decisions made by programmers only become greater. Unfortunately, the tech world has always been long on power and short on thinking about the long-reaching effects of this power. More troubling: While ethics courses have become a staple of physical-world engineering degrees, they remain a begrudging anomaly in computer science pedagogy. Now that our code is in refrigerators, thermostats, smoke alarms, and more, the wrong moves, a lack of foresight, or downright dubious decision-making can haunt humanity everywhere it goes. Peter Wayner offers a look at just a few of the ethical quandaries confronting developers every day. 'Consider this less of a guidebook for making your decisions and more of a starting point for the kind of ethical contemplation we should be doing as a daily part of our jobs.'"

OpenSSL Cleanup: Hundreds of Commits In a Week

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the the-good-kind-of-competition dept.

Encryption 379

New submitter CrAlt (3208) writes with this news snipped from BSD news stalwart "After the news of heartbleed broke early last week, the OpenBSD team dove in and started axing it up into shape. Leading this effort are Ted Unangst (tedu@) and Miod Vallat (miod@), who are head-to-head on a pure commit count basis with both having around 50 commits in this part of the tree in the week since Ted's first commit in this area. They are followed closely by Joel Sing (jsing@) who is systematically going through every nook and cranny and applying some basic KNF. Next in line are Theo de Raadt (deraadt@) and Bob Beck (beck@) who've been both doing a lot of cleanup, ripping out weird layers of abstraction for standard system or library calls. ... All combined, there've been over 250 commits cleaning up OpenSSL. In one week.'" You can check out the stats, in progress.

Samsung's Position On Tizen May Hurt Developer Recruitment

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the don't-change-horses dept.

Operating Systems 93

CowboyRobot sends in an article about how Samsung's constantly shifting plans for its smartwatches are making it hard for developers to commit to building apps. Quoting: "Samsung's first smartwatch, released in October last year, ran a modified version of Google's Android platform. The device had access to about 80 apps at launch, all of which were managed by a central smartphone app. Samsung offered developers an SDK for the Galaxy Gear so they could create more apps. Developers obliged. Then Samsung changed direction. Samsung announced a new series of smartwatches in February: the Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo, and Gear Fit. Unlike the first device, these three run Samsung’s Tizen platform. ... This week, Samsung made things even more interesting. Speaking to Reuters, Yoon Han-kil, senior vice president of Samsung’s product strategy team, said the company is working on a watch that will use Google’s Android Wear platform. In other words, Samsung will bring three different watches to market with three different operating systems in under a year."

Oracle Deflects Blame For Troubled Oregon Health Care Site

samzenpus posted about 3 months ago | from the who's-to-blame dept.

The Courts 163

itwbennett (1594911) writes "Oracle is gearing up for a fight with officials in Oregon over its role developing an expensive health insurance exchange website that still isn't fully operational. In a letter obtained by the Oregonian newspaper this week, Oracle co-president Safra Catz said that Oregon officials have provided the public with a 'false narrative' concerning who is to blame for Cover Oregon's woes. In the letter, Catz pointed out that Oregon's decision to act as their own systems integrator on the project, using Oracle consultants on a time-and-materials basis, was 'criticized frequently by many'. And as far as Oracle is concerned, 'Cover Oregon lacked the skills, knowledge or ability to be successful as the systems integrator on an undertaking of this scope and complexity,' she added."

Code Quality: Open Source vs. Proprietary

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the put-your-money-where-your-code-is dept.

Programming 139

just_another_sean sends this followup to yesterday's discussion about the quality of open source code compared to proprietary code. Every year, Coverity scans large quantities of code and evaluates it for defects. They've just released their latest report, and the findings were good news for open source. From the article: "The report details the analysis of 750 million lines of open source software code through the Coverity Scan service and commercial usage of the Coverity Development Testing Platform, the largest sample size that the report has studied to date. A few key points: Open source code quality surpasses proprietary code quality in C/C++ projects. Linux continues to be a benchmark for open source quality. C/C++ developers fixed more high-impact defects. Analysis found that developers contributing to open source Java projects are not fixing as many high-impact defects as developers contributing to open source C/C++ projects."

Survey: 56 Percent of US Developers Expect To Become Millionaires

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the you-totally-could-have-invented-flappy-birds dept.

Businesses 467

msmoriarty writes: "According to a recent survey of 1,000 U.S.-based software developers, 56 percent expect to become millionaires in their lifetime. 66 percent also said they expect to get raises in the next year, despite the current state of the economy. Note that some of the other findings of the study (scroll to bulleted list) seem overly positive: 84 percent said they believe they are paid what they're worth, 95 percent report they feel they are 'one of the most valued employees at their organization,' and 80 percent said that 'outsourcing has been a positive factor in the quality of work at their organization.'"

How 'DevOps' Is Killing the Developer

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the in-the-server-room-with-the-lamp-stack dept.

Programming 226

An anonymous reader writes "Python guru Jeff Knupp writes about his frustration with the so-called 'DevOps' movement, an effort to blend development jobs with operations positions. It's an artifact of startup culture, and while it might make sense when you only have a few employees and a focus on simply getting it running rather than getting it running right, Knupp feels it has no place in bigger, more established companies. He says, 'Somewhere along the way, however, we tricked ourselves into thinking that because, at any one time, a start-up developer had to take on different roles he or she should actually be all those things at once. If such people even existed, "full-stack" developers still wouldn't be used as they should. Rather than temporarily taking on a single role for a short period of time, then transitioning into the next role, they are meant to be performing all the roles, all the time. And here's what really sucks: most good developers can almost pull this off.' Knupp adds, 'The effect of all of this is to destroy the role of "developer" and replace it with a sort of "technology utility-player". Every developer I know got into programming because they actually enjoyed doing it (at one point). You do a disservice to everyone involved when you force your brightest people to take on additional roles.'"

The Security of Popular Programming Languages

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the new-ways-to-argue-about-your-favorite-language dept.

Programming 189

An anonymous reader writes "Deciding which programming language to use is often based on considerations such as what the development team is most familiar with, what will generate code the fastest, or simply what will get the job done. How secure the language might be is simply an afterthought, which is usually too late. A new WhiteHat Security report approaches application security not from the standpoint of what risks exist on sites and applications once they have been pushed into production, but rather by examining how the languages themselves perform in the field. In doing so, we hope to elevate security considerations and deepen those conversations earlier in the decision process, which will ultimately lead to more secure websites and applications."

OpenBSD Team Cleaning Up OpenSSL

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the devil-you-say dept.

Security 304

First time accepted submitter Iarwain Ben-adar (2393286) writes "The OpenBSD has started a cleanup of their in-tree OpenSSL library. Improvements include removing "exploit mitigation countermeasures", fixing bugs, removal of questionable entropy additions, and many more. If you support the effort of these guys who are responsible for the venerable OpenSSH library, consider a donation to the OpenBSD Foundation. Maybe someday we'll see a 'portable' version of this new OpenSSL fork. Or not."

Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account