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Ask Slashdot: What Inspired You To Start Hacking?

Soulskill posted about a month ago | from the that-stupid-turtle dept.

Hardware Hacking 153

An anonymous reader writes "What got you into hacking? This is a question that Jennifer Steffen, IOActive CEO, often asks hackers she meets on conferences around the world. More often than not, the answer is movies: War Games, Hackers, The Matrix, and so on. But today, it is the real life hacking that is inspiring the movies of tomorrow. 'Hackers are doing epic stuff,' she says, and they are now inspiring movies and comics. So, what got you started? And what makes a good hacker today?"

Perl 5.20 Released, and Mojolicious 5.0: the Very Modern Perl Web Framework

Soulskill posted about a month ago | from the also-ready-for-prime-time dept.

Perl 126

Kvorg writes: "Back in 2012 Slashdot noticed how at the time of Perl 5.16, the modern Perl projects, including Mojolicious, formed a new and expanding movement of a Perl Renaissance. With the release of Perl 5.20 and Mojolicious 5.0, the Modern Perl Renaissance is ever more striking. Faster, neater, sharper with its asynchronous APIs, Mojolicious is extremely flexible with its advanced request routing, plugin system, perl templating and hook API. Its adherence to the modern interfaces and standards and its implementation of advanced features in support tools, DOM and CSS selectors makes it easy to program with.

Mojolicious, with its philosophy of optimized code-generation (think metaprogramming), enabled-by-default support for encodings and UTF-8, zero dependency deployment with wide support for existing CPAN packages, zero downtime restarts and fully tested implementations, reminds us of how fun and flexible programming in scripting languages used to be. Of course, integrated documentation and a very supportive bundled development server don't hurt, either. The new Perl release with new postfix dereference syntax, subroutine signatures, new slice syntax and numerous optimizations makes it all even more fun."

OpenSSL To Undergo Security Audit, Gets Cash For 2 Developers

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the can-we-send-them-snacks? dept.

Encryption 132

Trailrunner7 (1100399) writes "Scarcely a month after announcing the formation of a group designed to help fund open source projects, the Core Infrastructure Initiative has decided to provide the OpenSSL Project with enough money to hire two full-time developers and also will fund an audit of OpenSSL by the Open Crypto Audit Project. The CII is backed by a who's who of tech companies, including Google, Microsoft, IBM, the Linux Foundation, Facebook and Amazon, and the group added a number of new members this week, as well. Adobe, Bloomberg, HP Huawei and Salesforce.com have joined the CII and will provide financial backing. Now, the OCAP team, which includes Johns Hopkins professor and cryptographer Matthew Green, will have the money to fund an audit of OpenSSL, as well. OpenSSL took a major hit earlier this year with the revelation of the Heartbleed vulnerability, which sent the Internet into a panic, as the software runs on more than 60 percent of SSL-protected sites."

Next IE Version Will Feature Web Audio, Media Capture, ES6 Promises, and HTTP/2

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the loyal-opposition dept.

Internet Explorer 173

An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft [Wednesday] announced it is developing at least four new features for the next release of Internet Explorer (IE): Web Audio API, Media Capture and Streams, ES6 Promises, and HTTP/2. The company says this is not an exhaustive list of what to expect in the next version, but merely what it is currently confident that it will be able to deliver. For those who don't know, HTTP/2 is a faster protocol for transporting Web content. It is based on Google's SPDY open networking protocol and is currently being standardized by the IETF. Web Audio is a JavaScript API for processing and synthesizing audio in Web applications while Media Capture provides access to the user's local audio and video input/output devices. Promises is meant to help developers write cleaner asynchronous code."

No, HealthCare.gov Doesn't Require 500 Million Lines of Code

Soulskill posted about 2 months ago | from the but-somebody-on-the-teevee-said-so dept.

Government 142

itwbennett writes: "Half a billion lines of code for a transactional website — more than five times as much code as that behind OS X — just didn't pass the sniff test. But just how many lines of code does it take to generate HealthCare.gov? This question came up on Reddit again last week and it appears that we may now have an answer. One commenter who claimed to have worked on HealthCare.gov as part of the post launch clean-up crew at the end of 2013, provided counts of the lines of code behind HealthCare.gov, broken down by programming/markup language."

PHP Next Generation

Soulskill posted about 2 months ago | from the looking-forward-to-php-deep-space-nine dept.

PHP 213

An anonymous reader writes "The PHP Group has put up a post about the future of PHP. They say, 'Over the last year, some research into the possibility of introducing JIT compilation capabilities to PHP has been conducted. During this research, the realization was made that in order to achieve optimal performance from PHP, some internal API's should be changed. This necessitated the birth of the phpng branch, initially authored by Dmitry Stogov, Xinchen Hui, and Nikita Popov. This branch does not include JIT capabilities, but rather seeks to solve those problems that prohibit the current, and any future implementation of a JIT capable executor achieving optimal performance by improving memory usage and cleaning up some core API's. By making these improvements, the phpng branch gives us a considerable performance gain in real world applications, for example a 20% increase in throughput for Wordpress. The door may well now be open for a JIT capable compiler that can perform as we expect, but it's necessary to say that these changes stand strong on their own, without requiring a JIT capable compiler in the future to validate them.'"

Why You Shouldn't Use Spreadsheets For Important Work

Soulskill posted about 2 months ago | from the they'll-throw-you-in-a-cell dept.

Math 422

An anonymous reader writes "Computer science professor Daniel Lemire explains why spreadsheets shouldn't be used for important work, especially where dedicated software could do a better job. His post comes in response to evaluations of a new economics tome by Thomas Piketty, a book that is likely to be influential for years to come. Lemire writes, 'Unfortunately, like too many people, Piketty used spreadsheets instead of writing sane software. On the plus side, he published his code ... on the negative side, it appears that Piketty's code contains mistakes, fudging and other problems. ... Simply put, spreadsheets are good for quick and dirty work, but they are not designed for serious and reliable work. ... Spreadsheets make code review difficult. The code is hidden away in dozens if not hundreds of little cells If you are not reviewing your code carefully and if you make it difficult for others to review it, how do expect it to be reliable?'"

Become a Linux Kernel Hacker and Write Your Own Module

Soulskill posted about 2 months ago | from the or-else dept.

Programming 143

M-Saunders (706738) writes "It might sound daunting, but kernel hacking isn't a mysterious black art reserved for the geekiest of programmers. With a bit of background knowledge, anyone with a grounding in C can implement a new kernel module and understand how the kernel works internally. Linux Voice explains how to write a module that creates a new device node, /dev/reverse, that reverses a string when it's written to it. Sure, it's not the most practical example in the world, but it's a good starting point for your own projects, and gives you an insight into how it all fits together."

Chelsea Clinton At NCWIT: More PE, Less Zuckerberg

Unknown Lamer posted about 2 months ago | from the pizza-and-mountain-dew-considered-harmful dept.

Education 255

theodp (442580) writes "Among the speakers at last week's National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) Summit was Chelsea Clinton, who spoke fondly of the Commodore she received as a kid on Christmas Day in 1987. During the Q&A, Clinton was asked (Vimeo), 'What do you see as some of the right policies that could help put Computer Science — which is undeniably the most important 21st Century skill — into our classrooms?' To which the former First Daughter responded, 'I won't quibble with the fact that I think it's very important. I also think other things admittedly are important.' Such as? Aligning Computer Science with Common Core, for one thing ('Ensure that Computer Science is part of the definition of science'). Using state budget surpluses to hire additional physical education teachers for elementary and middle school students, for another ('For Computer Science, as any subject, kids that are well-fed with healthy food and who have been activated in their bodies will able to learn and retain information in any subject better than if they're not'). And, last but not least, 'continuing to tell stories of people that are not...people who don't look like Mark Zuckerberg as successful in Computer Science and technology.' NCWIT, by the way, was listed as a "major partner" on last December's Hour of Code, which arguably made Mark Zuckerberg the face of Computer Science for K-12 students in the nationwide campaign embraced by President Obama during CSEdWeek."

Ph.Ds From MIT, Berkeley, and a Few Others Dominate Top School's CS Faculties

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the not-all-colleges-are-created-equal dept.

Education 155

An anonymous reader writes "A Brown University project collected the background information of over 2,000 computer science professors in 51 top universities. The data shows a skew in their doctoral degrees, "Over 20% of professors received their Ph.D. from MIT or Berkeley, while more than half of professors received their Ph.D. from the [top] 10 universities." For those professors, fewer work in theoretical computer science and there is a growing trend of recent hires in systems and applications. The original data is also publicly-editable and available to download."

R Throwdown Challenge

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the if-you-pirate-it-so-much-the-better dept.

Programming 185

theodp (442580) writes "'R beats Python!' screams the headline at Prof. Norm Matloff's Mad (Data) Scientist blog. 'R beats Julia! Anyone else wanna challenge R?' Not that he has anything against Python, Matloff adds, but he just doesn't believe that Python or Julia will become 'the new R' anytime soon, or ever. Why? 'R is written by statisticians, for statisticians,' explains Matloff. 'It matters. An Argentinian chef, say, who wants to make Japanese sushi may get all the ingredients right, but likely it just won't work out quite the same. Similarly, a Pythonista could certainly cook up some code for some statistical procedure by reading a statistics book, but it wouldn't be quite same. It would likely be missing some things of interest to the practicing statistician. And R is Statistically Correct.'"

Microsoft Office Mix: No-Teacher-Left-Behind Course Authoring

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the it's-just-respecting-their-character-class-as-gatekeepers dept.

Education 27

theodp (442580) writes "While they aim to democratize learning, the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) movement has, for the most part, oddly left K-12 teachers out of the online content creation business. ZDNet's Simon Bisson reports on Office Mix, Microsoft's new PowerPoint plug-in and associated cloud service, which Bisson says makes it easy to create and distribute compelling educational content (screenshots). GeekWire's Frank Catalano also makes an interesting case for why Office Mix's choice of PowerPoint, "the poster child for delivering boring presentations in non-interactive settings," could still be a disrupter in the online content creation space. By the way, MOOC.org, the collaboration of edX and Google which also aims to help "teachers easily build and host courses for the world to take," is slated to go live in the first half of 2014. It'll be interesting to see how MOOC.org's authoring tools differ from Google Research's Course Builder effort."

First Browser-Based Quantum Computer Simulator Released

samzenpus posted about 2 months ago | from the give-it-a-try dept.

Programming 61

greg65535 (1209048) writes "Following the trend of on-line coding playgrounds like JSFiddle or CodePen, Google researchers unveiled the first browser-based, GPU-powered Quantum Computing Playground. With a typical GPU card you can simulate up to 22 qubits, write, debug, and share your programs, visualize the quantum state in 2D and 3D, see quantum factorization and quantum search in action, and even... execute your code backwards."

LegoTechno -- Making Music With Lego Bricks, Python, OpenCV and a Groovebox

Soulskill posted about 2 months ago | from the not-compatible-with-mega-bloks dept.

Hardware Hacking 5

bauhausinteraction writes "A team from the Bauhaus-University and Native Instruments Developers built and programmed a fully functional interactive Lego Sequencer / Tangible Groove Machine that sends control data to the Maschine drum sequencer to make music. The thing was built within 24 hours as an unofficial weekend collaboration between bauhausinteraction and NI at the MidiHack 2014 in Stockholm. A standard webcam is mounted underneath the baseplate. The image is processed by a Python Script using the OpenCV Library to track the bricks. The tricky bit was to not track the user's hand, but we succeeded at that as well.

The information about brick color, position, and orientation is derived from the image and then converted into OpenSoundControl (OSC) messages. Those are sent over a network connection to a computer running Native Instruments Maschine to play back the sounds. Of course, this would work with other sound generators as well, since the whole thing simply spits out OSC-Messages and MIDI — but hey: if the guys from Native are there, you'd better use their Maschine stuff. Being real Masterbuilders, of course we used only unmodified, standard Lego Parts and no Kragle* for the construction. (*see the Lego Movie for reference.)"

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 3 months ago | from the like-peanut-butter-and-javascript dept.

Programming 170

An anonymous reader tips this post at Webkit.org: "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 3 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 Code.org,' 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 Code.org 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 Code.org 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 Code.org, 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 Code.org apparently coughing up $38.33-an-hour for Chicago teachers who attend the required Code.org professional development, which ironically covers equity issues. Duncan's shout-out comes days after Code.org 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 2 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 2 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 3 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 TIME.com, 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 .

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