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Microsoft Releases Early IE12 Preview As Part of Its New Developer Channel

Unknown Lamer posted about 4 months ago | from the now-just-gpl-the-code... dept.

Internet Explorer 105

DroidJason1 (3589319) writes "Microsoft is looking to create a more open dialog between the Internet Explorer team and the Web development community by announcing Internet Explorer Developer Channel. IE Dev Channel allows you to preview the next version of Internet Explorer (IE12) alongside and independently of IE11. Web developers can download and test drive the latest IE platform features, something developers were already able to do with Firefox and Chrome. This preview release even offers support of the emerging Gamepad API, allowing you to use your Xbox controller to play games in IE!"

Average HS Student Given Little Chance of AP CS Success

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the inopportunity-for-all dept.

Education 293

theodp (442580) writes AP Computer Science is taught in just 10% of our high schools," lamented The White House last December as President Obama kicked off CSEdWeek. "China teaches all of its students one year of computer science." And the U.S. Dept. of Education has made the AP CS exam its Poster Child for inequity in education (citing a viral-but-misinterpreted study). But ignored in all the hand-wringing over low AP CS enrollment is one huge barrier to the goal of AP-CS-for-all: College Board materials indicate that the average 11th grader's combined PSAT/NMSQT score of 96 in reading and math gives him/her only a 20%-30% probability of getting a score of '3' on the AP CS exam (a score '4' or '5' may be required for college credit). The College Board suggests schools tap a pool of students with a "60-100% likelihood of scoring 3 or higher", so it's probably no surprise that CS teachers are advised to turn to the College Board's AP Potential tool to identify students who are likely to succeed (sample Student Detail for an "average" kid) and send their parents recruitment letters — Georgia Tech even offers some gender-specific examples — to help fill class rosters.

Ask Slashdot: Best Rapid Development Language To Learn Today?

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the pronto-now-yesterday-or-else dept.

Programming 466

An anonymous reader writes "Many years ago, I was a coder—but I went through my computer science major when they were being taught in Lisp and C. These days I work in other areas, but often need to code up quick data processing solutions or interstitial applications. Doing this in C now feels archaic and overly difficult and text-based. Most of the time I now end up doing things in either Unix shell scripting (bash and grep/sed/awk/bc/etc.) or PHP. But these are showing significant age as well. I'm no longer the young hotshot that I once was—I don't think that I could pick up an entire language in a couple of hours with just a cursory reference work—yet I see lots of languages out there now that are much more popular and claim to offer various and sundry benefits I'm not looking to start a new career as a programmer—I already have a career—but I'd like to update my applied coding skills to take advantage of the best that software development now has to offer. (More, below.)

Netflix Shutters Its Public API

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the seemed-so-promising dept.

Businesses 59

esarjeant (100503) writes "I guess it shouldn't come as a total surprise, but Netflix has gone from not issuing new developer keys to announcing the entire [public API] program will be shut down. It's a real shame they are going to be taking this offline; it spurred quite a bit of innovation for the Netflix service. For major sites that have already gone live it sounds like Netflix will let them keep going, but if you're looking to build the next FeedFliks, then you better look elsewhere."

545-Person Programming War Declares a Winner

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the bring-me-the-severed-subroutine-of-your-fallen-foe dept.

Programming 57

An anonymous reader writes: A while back we discussed Code Combat, a multiplayer game that lets players program their way to victory. They recently launched a tournament called Greed, where coders had to write algorithms for competitively collecting coins. 545 programmers participated, submitting over 126,000 lines of code, which resulted in 390 billion statements being executed on a 673-core supercomputer. The winner, going by the name of "Wizard Dude," won 363 matches, tied 14, and lost none! He explains his strategy: "My coin-collecting algorithm uses a novel forces-based mechanism to control movement. Each coin on the map applies an attractive force on collectors (peasants/peons) proportional to its value over distance squared. Allied collectors and the arena edges apply a repulsive force, pushing other collectors away. The sum of these forces produces a vector indicating the direction in which the collector should move this turn. The result is that: 1) collectors naturally move towards clusters of coins that give the greatest overall payoff, 2) collectors spread out evenly to cover territory. Additionally, the value of each coin is scaled depending on its distance from the nearest enemy collector, weighting in favor of coins with an almost even distance. This encourages collectors not to chase lost coins, but to deprive the enemy of contested coins first and leave safer coins for later."

The Profoundly Weird, Gender-Specific Roots of the Turing Test

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the i'm-sorry-dave,-these-shoes-are-half-off dept.

AI 136

malachiorion writes: Alan Turing never wrote about the Turing Test, that legendary measure of machine intelligence that researchers claimed to have passed last weekend. He proposed something much stranger — a contest between men and machines, to see who was better at pretending to be a woman. The details of the Imitation Game aren't secret, or even hard to find, and yet no one seems to reference it. This article explains why they should — in part because it's so odd, but also because it might be a better test for 'machines that think' than the chatbot-infested, seemingly useless Turing Test.

Google Engineer: We Need More Web Programming Languages

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the ok-make-it-a-1001-flowers dept.

Programming 309

itwbennett (1594911) writes Web applications may one day surpass desktop applications in function and usability — if developers have more programming languages to choose from, according to a Google engineer. 'The Web is always available, except when it is not,' said Gilad Bracha, software engineer at Google and one of the authors of Google Dart, speaking to an audience of programmers Wednesday at the QCon developer conference in New York. 'It isn't always available in a way that you can always rely on it. You may have a network that is slow or flaky or someone may want to charge you.' Therefore any Web programming language, and its associated ecosystem, must have some way of storing a program for offline use, Bracha said. The Web programming language of the future must also make it easier for the programmer to build and test applications.

Docker 1.0 Released

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the it's-done-for-arbitrary-values-of-done dept.

Software 88

Graculus writes: "Docker, the company that sponsors the Docker.org open source project, is gaining allies in making its commercially supported Linux container format a de facto standard. Linux containers are a way of packaging up applications and related software for movement over the network or Internet. Once at their destination, they launch in a standard way and enable multiple containers to run under a single host operating system. 15 months and 8,741 commits after the earliest version was made public, Docker 1.0 has been released."

Turing Test Passed

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the almost-human dept.

AI 432

schwit1 (797399) writes "Eugene Goostman, a computer program pretending to be a young Ukrainian boy, successfully duped enough humans to pass the iconic test. The Turing Test which requires that computers are indistinguishable from humans — is considered a landmark in the development of artificial intelligence, but academics have warned that the technology could be used for cybercrime. Computing pioneer Alan Turing said that a computer could be understood to be thinking if it passed the test, which requires that a computer dupes 30 per cent of human interrogators in five-minute text conversations."

Parents Mobilize Against States' Student Data Mining

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the you-can-trust-us dept.

Education 139

theodp writes 'Politico reports that parents have mobilized into an unexpected political force to fight the data mining of their children, catapulting student privacy to prominence in statehouses. Having already torpedoed the $100 million, Bill Gates-funded inBloom database project, which could have made it easier for schools to share confidential student records with private companies, the amateur activists are now rallying against another perceived threat: huge state databases being built to track children for more than two decades, from as early as infancy through the start of their careers. "The Education Department," writes Stephanie Simon, "lists hundreds of questions that it urges states to answer about each child in the public school system: Did she make friends easily as a toddler? Was he disciplined for fighting as a teen? Did he take geometry? Does she suffer from mental illness? Did he go to college? Did he graduate? How much does he earn?" Leonie Haimson, a NY mother who is organizing a national Parent Coalition for Student Privacy says, "Every parent I've talked to has been horrified. We just don't want our kids tracked from cradle to grave." For their part, ed tech entrepreneurs and school reformers are both bewildered by and anxious about the backlash — and struggling to craft a response, having assumed parents would support their vision: to mine vast quantities of data for insights into what's working, and what's not, for individual students and for the education system as a whole. "People took for granted that parents would understand [the benefits], that it was self-evident," said Michael Horn, a co-founder an education think tank."

Intel Confronts a Big Mobile Challenge: Native Compatibility

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the write-once-run-nowhere dept.

Intel 230

smaxp writes: "Intel has solved the problem of ARM-native incompatibility. But will developers bite? App developers now frequently bypass Android's Dalvik VM for some parts of their apps in favor of the faster native C language. According to Intel, two thirds of the top 2,000 apps in the Google Play Store use natively compiled C code, the same language in which Android, the Dalvik VM, and the Android libraries are mostly written.

The natively compiled apps run faster and more efficiently, but at the cost of compatibility. The compiled code is targeted to a particular processor core's instruction set. In the Android universe, this instruction set is almost always the ARM instruction set. This is a compatibility problem for Intel because its Atom mobile processors use its X86 instruction set."

Microsoft Confirms Disconnecting Kinect Gives Devs 10% More GPU Horsepower

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the remove-airbags-install-rollcage dept.

XBox (Games) 174

MojoKid (1002251) writes 'Microsoft confirmed a development rumor that's been swirling around its next-generation console ever since it announced Kinect would become an optional add-on rather than a mandatory boat anchor. Lifting that requirement will give game developers 10 percent additional graphics power to play with and help close the gap between the Xbox One and PS4. The story kicked off when Xbox head Phil Spencer tweeted that June's Xbox One dev kit gave devs access to more GPU bandwidth. Further, another Microsoft representative then confirmed that the performance improvement coming in the next version of the Xbox SDK was the result of making Kinect an optional accessory. No matter how Microsoft may try to spin it, cancelling Kinect isn't just a matter of giving game developers freedom, it's a tacit admission that game developers have no significant projects in play that are expected to meaningfully tap Kinect to deliver a great game experience — and they need those GPU cycles back.' Also on the Xbox capabilities front: Reader BogenDorpher (2008682) writes 'In August of last year, a Microsoft spokesman confirmed that the Xbox One controller will be compatible for PC users sometime in 2014. That time has finally come. Windows gamers can now use the Xbox One controller to play games on their computer. If a game supports a USB gamepad or the Xbox 360 controller, it will also support the Xbox One controller.'

Ask Slashdot: Where's the Most Unusual Place You've Written a Program From?

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the you-get-zero-points-if-you-answer-starbucks dept.

Programming 310

theodp writes: "Michael Raithel was polling the SAS crowd, but it'd be interesting to hear the answers to the programming questions he posed from a broader audience: 1. What is the most unusual location you have written a program from? 2. What is the most unusual circumstance under which you have written a program? 3. What is the most unusual computing platform that you wrote a program from? 4. What is the most unusual application program that you wrote?"

AMD, NVIDIA, and Developers Weigh In On GameWorks Controversy

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the there-can-be-only-one-(or-more) dept.

AMD 80

Dputiger writes: "Since NVIDIA debuted its GameWorks libraries there's been allegations that they unfairly disadvantaged AMD users or prevented developers from optimizing code. We've taken these questions to developers themselves and asked them to weigh in on how games get optimized, why NVIDIA built this program, and whether its an attempt to harm AMD customers. 'The first thing to understand about [developer/GPU manufacturer] relations is that the process of game optimization is nuanced and complex. The reason AMD and NVIDIA are taking different positions on this topic isn't because one of them is lying, it’s because AMD genuinely tends to focus more on helping developers optimize their own engines, while NVIDIA puts more effort into performing tasks in-driver. This is a difference of degree — AMD absolutely can perform its own driver-side optimization and NVIDIA's Tony Tamasi acknowledged on the phone that there are some bugs that can only be fixed by looking at the source. ... Some of this difference in approach is cultural but much of it is driven by necessity. In 2012 (the last year before AMD's graphics revenue was rolled into the console business), AMD made about $1.4 billion off the Radeon division. For the same period, NVIDIA made more than $4.2 billion. Some of that was Tegra-related and it's a testament to AMD's hardware engineering that it competes effectively with Nvidia with a much smaller revenue share, but it also means that Team Green has far more money to spend on optimizing every aspect of the driver stack.'"

Machine Learning Used For JavaScript Code De-obfuscation

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the cleaning-up-the-digital-streets dept.

Programming 31

New submitter velco writes: "ETH Zurich Software Reliability Lab announced JSNice, a statistical de-obfuscation and de-minification tool for JavaScript. The interesting thing about JSNice is that it combines program analysis with machine learning techniques to build a database of name and type regularities from large amounts of available open source code on GitHub. Then, given new JavaScript code, JSNice tries to infer the most likely names and types for that code by basing its decision on the learned regularities in the training phase."

Matthew Miller Named New Fedora Linux Project Leader

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the congratulations-and-good-luck dept.

Red Hat Software 24

darthcamaro (735685) writes "Barely a week after Robyn Bergeron announced her intention to step down, Red Hat today announced that Matthew Miller is now the new Fedora Project Leader. Miller is the guy that came up with the whole Fedora.next proposal which is now reshaping Red Hat's community Linux project. Miller has a clear view of how his leadership will work in the cat-herding world of open source: 'As the FPL, you've got the responsibility, but no actual authority to tell anyone to do things,' Miller said. 'So you have to find people that have an interest and are aligned with the direction you want to go.'"

Apple Announces New Programming Language Called Swift

Unknown Lamer posted about 5 months ago | from the everyone's-got-one dept.

Programming 636

jmcbain (1233044) writes "At WWDC 2014 today, Apple announced Swift, a new programming language. According to a report by Ars Technica: 'Swift seems to get rid of Objective C's reliance on defined pointers; instead, the compiler infers the variable type, just as many scripting languages do. ... The new language will rely on the automatic reference counting that Apple introduced to replace its garbage-collected version of Objective C. It will also be able to leverage the compiler technologies developed in LLVM for current development, such as autovectorization. ... Apple showed off a couple of cases where implementing the same algorithm in Swift provided a speedup of about 1.3X compared to the same code implemented in Objective C.'" Language basics, and a few worthwhile comments on LtU.

A Measure of Your Team's Health: How You Treat Your "Idiot"

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the bottom-of-the-barrel dept.

Businesses 255

Esther Schindler (16185) writes "Every team has someone who at the bottom of its bell curve: an individual who has a hard time keeping up with other team members. How your team members treat that person is a significant indicator of your organization's health. That's especially true for open source projects, where you can't really reject someone's help. All you can do is encourage participation... including by the team "dummy.""

Grace Hopper Documentary Edges on Successful Crowdfunding

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the your-name-in-lights dept.

Movies 65

mikejuk (1801200) writes "Born With Curiosity is a proposed biopic about computer pioneer Grace Hopper. With a week to go before it closes on June 7, a crowdfunding campaign on Indigogo has so far raised 94% of its $45,000 target. Although there have been a couple of books devoted to Grace Hopper and she recently was the subject of a Google Doodle, her story hasn't made it to celluloid, which is something that Melissa Pierce finds anomalous, stating on the Born With Curiosity Indigogo page: 'Steve Jobs had 8 films made about him, with another in pre-production! Without Grace Hopper, Steve might have been a door to door calculator salesman! Even with that fact,there isn't one documentary about Grace and her legacy. It's time to change that.'"

Oregon vs. Oracle: the Battle of Blame Heats Up

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the named-larry-ellison dept.

Oracle 83

Rambo Tribble (1273454) writes "The ongoing efforts to assign responsibility for the disastrous attempts to create the Cover Oregon health exchange, the primary contractor for which was Oracle Corporation, have entered a new round, with Governor John Kitzhaber calling on State Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum to initiate legal action against the firm. Kitzhaber has also sought the help of Washington D.C. in sanctioning Oracle, though Oregon's own management of the project and the terms of their contract with Oracle muddy the waters, considerably. Although the AG's office hasn't committed to filing suit, yet, AG Rosenblum has said, 'I share your determination to recover every dollar to which Oregon is entitled.' Although the outcome of this is uncertain, it is likely heads, both corporate and political, will roll."

Ask Slashdot: What Inspired You To Start Hacking?

Soulskill posted about 5 months 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 5 months 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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 5 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.'"

Why Scientists Are Still Using FORTRAN in 2014

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the why-change dept.

Programming 634

New submitter InfoJunkie777 (1435969) writes "When you go to any place where 'cutting edge' scientific research is going on, strangely the computer language of choice is FORTRAN, the first computer language commonly used, invented in the 1950s. Meaning FORmula TRANslation, no language since has been able to match its speed. But three new contenders are explored here. Your thoughts?"

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