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Hackers' Shutdown of 'The Interview' Confirms Coding Is a Superpower

Soulskill posted yesterday | from the better-figure-out-an-alter-ego-quick dept.

Programming 209

theodp writes: The idea of programming as a superpower was touched upon by CS teacher Alfred Thompson back in 2010, but it became a rallying call of sorts for the Hour of Code after Dropbox CEO Drew Houston described coding as "the closest thing we have to a superpower" in a Code.org video that went viral. And if the kids who learned to code with the President last week were dubious about the power of coding, this week's decision by Sony to scrap the release of the satirical film The Interview after a massive hack attack should put aside any doubts, especially after new revelations that Sony had reached out to the White House for help and screened the film for administration officials back in June. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Thursday that the Obama Administration is viewing the Sony attack as a "serious national security matter" and is considering a range of possible options as a response, which could turn things into a contest of U.S. Superpower vs. Coding Superpower. In case it wasn't mentioned last week, remember to always use your coding superpower for good, kids!

New AP Course, "Computer Science Principles," Aims To Make CS More Accessible

Soulskill posted 2 days ago | from the broadening-the-base dept.

Programming 208

theodp writes: "CS Principles," explains the intro to a Microsoft Research talk on a new Computer Science Toolkit and Gaming Course, "is a new AP course being piloted across the country and by making it more accessible to students we can help increase diversity in computing." Towards this end, Microsoft has developed "a middle school computing toolkit, and a high school CS Principles & Games course." These two projects were "developed specifically for girls," explains Microsoft, and are part of the corporation's Big Dream Movement for girls, which is partnering with the UN, White House, NSF, EU Commission, and others. One of Microsoft's particular goals is to "reach every individual girl in her house." According to a document on its website, Microsoft Research's other plans for Bridging the Gender Gap in computing include a partnership with the University of Wisconsin "to create a girls-only computer science Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)."

Google Suggests Separating Students With 'Some CS Knowledge' From Novices

timothy posted 5 days ago | from the go-to-the-head-of-the-other-class dept.

Education 307

theodp writes To address the challenge of rapidly increasing CS enrollments and increasing diversity, reports the Computing Education Blog, Google in November put out an RFP to universities for its invite-only 3X in 3 Years: CS Capacity Award program, which aims "to support faculty in finding innovative ways to address the capacity problem in their CS courses." In the linked-to RFP document, Google suggests that "students that have some CS background" should not be allowed to attend in-person intro CS courses where they "may be more likely to create a non-welcoming environment," and recommends that they instead be relegated to online courses. According to a recent NSF press release, this recommendation would largely exclude Asian and White boys from classrooms, which seems to be consistent with a Google-CodeCademy award program that offers $1,000 bonuses to teachers who get 10 or more high school kids to take a JavaScript course, but only counts students from "groups traditionally underrepresented in computer science (girls, or boys who identify as African American, Latino, American Indian or Alaska Native)." The project suggested in the Google RFP — which could be worth $1.5 million over 3 years to a large CS department — seems to embrace-and-extend a practice implemented at Harvey Mudd College years ago under President Maria Klawe, which divided the intro CS offering into separate sections based upon prior programming experience to — as the NY Times put it — reduce the intimidation factor of young men, already seasoned programmers, who dominated the class. Google Director of Education and University Relations Maggie Johnson, whose name appears on the CS Capacity RFP, is also on the Board of Code.org (where Klawe is coincidentally an Advisory Board member), the K-12 learn-to-code nonprofit that has received $3+ million from Google and many millions more from other tech giants and their execs. Earlier this week, Code.org received the blessing of the White House and NSF to train 25,000 teachers to teach CS, stirring unease among some educators concerned about the growing influence of corporations in public schools.

How Relevant is C in 2014?

Soulskill posted about two weeks ago | from the don't-ask-netcraft dept.

Programming 641

Nerval's Lobster writes: Many programming languages have come and gone since Dennis Ritchie devised C in 1972, and yet C has not only survived three major revisions, but continues to thrive. But aside from this incredible legacy, what keeps C atop the Tiobe Index? The number of jobs available for C programmers is not huge, and many of those also include C++ and Objective-C. On Reddit, the C community, while one of the ten most popular programming communities, is half the size of the C++ group. In a new column, David Bolton argues that C remains extremely relevant due to a number of factors including newer C compiler support, the Internet ("basically driven by C applications"), an immense amount of active software written in C that's still used, and its ease in learning. "Knowing C provides a handy insight into higher-level languages — C++, Objective-C, Perl, Python, Java, PHP, C#, D and Go all have block syntax that's derived from C." Do you agree?

The Failed Economics of Our Software Commons

Soulskill posted about two weeks ago | from the can-we-blame-keynes-for-this dept.

Software 205

An anonymous reader writes: Most software developers are intimately familiar with having to waste time implementing something they probably shouldn't need to implement, or spending countless hours making their code work with bad (but required) software. Developer Paul Chiusano says this is because the economic model we use for building software just doesn't work. He writes, "What's the problem? In software, everyone is solving similar problems, and software makes it trivial to share solutions to these problems (unlike physical goods), in the form of common libraries, tools, etc. This ease of sharing means it makes perfect sense for actors to cooperate on the development of solutions to common problems. ... Obviously, it would be crazy to staff such critical projects largely with a handful of unpaid volunteers working in their spare time. Er, right?? Yet that is what projects like OpenSSL do. A huge number of people and businesses ostensibly benefit from these projects, and the vast majority are freeriders that contribute nothing to their development. This problem of freeriders is something that has plagued open source software for a very long time." Chiusano has some suggestions on how we can improve the way we allocate resources to software development.

Node.js Forked By Top Contributors

Soulskill posted about two weeks ago | from the can-we-blame-this-one-on-systemd-too dept.

Open Source 254

New submitter jonhorvath writes: Several of the top contributors to Node.js, a popular open source run-time environment, have decided to fork the project, creating io.js as an alternative. The developers were unhappy with how cloud computing company Joyent was directing work on Node.js. Mikeal Rogers said, "We don't want to have just one person who's appointed by a company making decisions. We want contributors to have more control, to seek consensus." Here's the new repository, and a README file to go with it. A developer at Uber tweeted that they've already migrated to io.js on their production systems. It'll be interesting to see how many other sites follow.

Programmer Father Asks: What Gets Little Girls Interested In Science?

samzenpus posted about two weeks ago | from the what's-a-father-to-do? dept.

Programming 584

nbauman writes Programmer David Auerbach is dismayed that, at a critical developmental age, his 4-year-old daughter wants to be a princess, not a scientist or engineer, he writes in Slate. The larger society keeps forcing sexist stereotypes on her, in every book and toy store. From the article: "Getting more women into science and technology fields: Where’s the silver bullet? While I might get more hits by revealing the One Simple Trick to increase female participation in the sciences, the truth is there isn’t some key inflection point where young women’s involvement drops off. Instead, there is a series of small- to medium-sized discouraging factors that set in from a young age, ranging from unhelpful social conditioning to a lack of role models to unconscious bias to very conscious bias. Any and all of these can figure into why, for example, women tend to underrate their technical abilities relative to men. I know plenty of successful women in the sciences, but let’s not fool ourselves and say the playing field in the academic sciences or the tech world is even. My wife attributes her pursuit of programming to being a loner and pretty much ignoring wider society while growing up: 'Being left alone with a computer (with NO INTERNET TO TELL ME WHAT I COULDN’T DO) was the deciding factor,' she tells me."

Which Programming Language Pays the Best? Probably Python

Soulskill posted about two weeks ago | from the from-employer-import-dollars dept.

Python 277

Nerval's Lobster writes: What programming language will earn you the biggest salary over the long run? According to Quartz, which relied partially on data compiled by employment-analytics firm Burning Glass and a Brookings Institution economist, Ruby on Rails, Objective-C, and Python are all programming skills that will earn you more than $100,000 per year. But salary doesn't necessarily correlate with popularity. Earlier this year, for example, tech-industry analyst firm RedMonk produced its latest ranking of the most-used languages, and Java/JavaScript topped the list, followed by PHP, Python, C#, and C++/Ruby. Meanwhile, Python was the one programming language to appear on Dice's recent list of the fastest-growing tech skills, which is assembled from mentions in Dice job postings. Python is a staple language in college-level computer-science courses, and has repeatedly topped the lists of popular programming languages as compiled by TIOBE Software and others. Should someone learn a language just because it could come with a six-figure salary, or are there better reasons to learn a particular language and not others?

A Mismatch Between Wikimedia's Pledge Drive and Its Cash On Hand?

timothy posted about two weeks ago | from the beyond-useful-but-not-beyond-reproach dept.

Wikipedia 274

Andreas Kolbe writes The latest financial statements for the Wikimedia Foundation, the charity behind Wikipedia, show it has assets of $60 million, including $27 million in cash and cash equivalents, and $23 million in investments. Yet its aggressive banner ads suggest disaster may be imminent if people don't donate and imply that Wikipedia may be forced to run commercial advertising to survive. Jimmy Wales counters complaints by saying the Foundation are merely prudent in ensuring they always have a reserve equal to one year's spending, but the fact is that Wikimedia spending has increased by 1,000 percent in the course of a few years. And by a process of circular logic, as spending increases, so the reserve has to increase, meaning that donors are asked to donate millions more each year. Unlike the suggestion made by the fundraising banners, most of these budget increases have nothing to do with keeping Wikipedia online and ad-free, and nothing to do with generating and curating Wikipedia content, a task that is handled entirely by the unpaid volunteer base. The skyrocketing budget increases are instead the result of a massive expansion of paid software engineering staff at the Foundation – whose work in recent years has been heavily criticised by the unpaid volunteer base. The aggressive fundraising banners too are controversial within the Wikimedia community itself.

Google, National Parks Partner To Let Girls Program White House Xmas Tree Lights

samzenpus posted about three weeks ago | from the how-lovely-are-your-branches dept.

United States 333

theodp writes The Washington Post reports the White House holiday decor is going digital this year, with dog-bots and crowdsourced tree lights. "Thanks to Google's Made with Code initiative," reports a National Park Foundation press release, "girls across the country will experience the beauty of code by lighting up holiday trees in President's Park, one of America's 401 national parks and home to the White House." Beginning on December 2, explains the press release, girls can head over to Google's madewithcode.com (launched last June by U.S. CTO Megan Smith, then a Google X VP), to code a design for one of the 56 state and territory trees. Girls can select the shape, size, and color of the lights, and animate different patterns using introductory programming language and their designs will appear live on the trees. "Made with Code is a fun and easy way for millions of girls to try introductory code and see Computer Science as a foundation for their futures. We're thrilled that this holiday season families across the country will be able to try their hands at a fun programming project," said former Rep. Susan Molinari, who now heads Google's lobbying and policy office in Washington, DC.

Ask Slashdot: IT Career Path After 35?

timothy posted about three weeks ago | from the your-cane-is-in-the-mail dept.

Businesses 376

An anonymous reader writes "All my friends seem to be moving towards a managerial role, and I'm concerned about my increasing age in a business where, according to some, 30 might as well be 50. But I still feel young, and feel like I have so much to learn. So many interesting technical challenges cross my path, as I manage to move towards larger and more complex projects. I am in higher demand than ever, often with multiple headhunters contacting me in the same day. But will it last? Is age discrimination a myth? Are there statistics on how many IT people move into management? I know some older programmers who got bored with management and successfully resumed a tech-only career. Others started their own small business. What has been your experience? Do you/have you assumed a managerial role? Did you enjoy it? Have you managed to stay current and marketable long after 35?"

In UK Study, Girls Best Boys At Making Computer Games

timothy posted about three weeks ago | from the distaff-side dept.

United Kingdom 312

New submitter Esteanil writes Researchers in the University of Sussex's Informatics department asked pupils at a secondary school to design and program their own computer game using a new visual programming language. The young people, aged 12-13, spent eight weeks developing their own 3D role-playing games. The girls in the classroom wrote more complex programs in their games than the boys and also learnt more about coding. The girls used seven different triggers – almost twice as many as the boys – and were much more successful at creating complex scripts with two or more parts and conditional clauses. Boys nearly always chose to trigger their scripts on when a character says something, which is the first and easiest trigger to learn.

Ask Slashdot: Objective C Vs. Swift For a New iOS Developer?

Soulskill posted about three weeks ago | from the past-vs-future dept.

IOS 211

RegularDave writes: I'm a recent grad from a master's program in a potentially worthless social science field, and I've considered getting into iOS development. Several of my friends who were in similar situations after grad school have done so and are making a healthy living getting contract work. Although they had CS and Physics degrees going into iOS, neither had worked in objective C and both essentially went through a crash courses (either self-taught or through intensive classes) in order to get their first gigs. I have two questions. First, am I an idiot for thinking I can teach myself either objective C or Swift on my own without any academic CS background (I've tinkered in HTML, CSS, and C classes online with some success)? Second, if I'm not an idiot for attempting to learn either language, which should I concentrate on?

Debian Forked Over Systemd

Soulskill posted about three weeks ago | from the a-house-divided dept.

Debian 647

jaromil writes: The so called "Veteran Unix Admin" collective has announced that the fork of Debian will proceed as a result of the recent systemd controversy. The reasons put forward are not just technical; included is a letter of endorsement by Debian Developer Roger Leigh mentioning that "people rely on Debian for their jobs and businesses, their research and their hobbies. It's not a playground for such radical experimentation." The fork is called "Devuan," pronounced "DevOne." The official website has more information.

Is Ruby On Rails Losing Steam?

Soulskill posted about three weeks ago | from the only-among-left-handed-geriatric-haberdashers dept.

Ruby 291

itwbennett writes: In a post last week, Quartz ranked the most valuable programming skills, based on job listing data from Burning Glass and the Brookings Institution. Ruby on Rails came out on top, with an average salary of $109,460. And that may have been true in the first quarter of 2013 when the data was collected, but "before you run out and buy Ruby on Rails for Dummies, you might want to consider some other data which indicate that Rails (and Ruby) usage is not trending upwards," writes Phil Johnson. He looked at recent trends in the usage of Ruby (as a proxy for Rails usage) across MS Gooroo, the TIOBE index, the PYPL index, Redmonk's language rankings, and GitHut and found that "demand by U.S. employers for engineers with Rails skills has been on the decline, at least for the last year."

As Amazon Grows In Seattle, Pay Equity For Women Declines

timothy posted about a month ago | from the gee-that's-a-lot-of-cash-on-the-table dept.

Businesses 496

reifman writes Amazon's hiring so quickly in Seattle that it's on pace to employ 45,000 people or seven percent of the city. But, 75% of these hires are male. While Seattle women earned 86 cents per dollar earned by men in 2012, today, they make only 78 cents per dollar. In "Amageddon: Seattle's Increasingly Obvious Future", I review these and other surprising facts about Amazon's growing impact on the city: we're the fastest growing — now larger than Boston, we have the fastest rising rents, the fourth worst traffic, we're only twelfth in public transit, we're the fifth whitest and getting whiter, we're experiencing record levels of property crime and the amount of office space under construction has nearly doubled to 3.2 million square feet in the past year.

"Barbie: I Can Be a Computer Engineer" Pulled From Amazon

timothy posted about a month ago | from the made-it-past-the-drawing-board dept.

Education 561

New submitter clcto writes Back in 2010, Computer Engineer Barbie was released. Now, with the attention brought to the Frozen themed programming game from Disney and Code.org, unwanted attention has been given to the surprisingly real book "Barbie: I Can Be a Computer Engineer". So much so, that Mattel has pulled the book from Amazon. The book shows Barbie attempting to write a computer game. However, instead of writing the code, she enlists two boys to write the code as she just does the design. She then proceeds to infect her computer and her sister's computer with a virus and must enlist the boys to fix that for her as well. In the end she takes all the credit, and proclaims "I guess I can be a computer engineer!" A blog post commenting on the book (as well as giving pictures of the book and its text) has been moved to Gizmodo due to high demand.

Do Good Programmers Need Agents?

Soulskill posted about a month ago | from the agents-sure-think-so dept.

Programming 215

braindrainbahrain writes: A rock star needs an agent, so maybe a rock star programmer needs one, too. As described in The New Yorker, a talent agency called 10x, which got started in the music business, is not your typical head hunter/recruiter agency. "The company's name comes from the idea, well established in the tech world, that the very best programmers are superstars, capable of achieving ten times the productivity of their merely competent colleagues." The writer talks with a number of programmers using agents to find work, who generally seem pleased with it, though the article has viewpoints from skeptics as well.

World's Youngest Microsoft Certificated Professional Is Five Years Old

timothy posted about a month ago | from the so-long-as-he-likes-it dept.

United Kingdom 276

HughPickens.com writes Gurvinder Gill writes at BBC that Ayan Qureshi is the world's youngest Microsoft Certified Professional after passing the tech giant's exam when he was just five years old. Qureshi's father introduced his son to computers when he was three years old. He let him play with his old computers, so he could understand hard drives and motherboards. "I found whatever I was telling him, the next day he'd remember everything I said, so I started to feed him more information," Qureshi explained. "Too much computing at this age can cause a negative effect, but in Ayan's case he has cached this opportunity." Ayan has his own computer lab at his home in Coventry, containing a computer network which he built and spends around two hours a day learning about the operating system, how to install programs, and has his own web site.

Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) is a certification that validates IT professional and developer technical expertise through rigorous, industry-proven, and industry-recognized exams. MCP exams cover a wide range of Microsoft products, technologies, and solutions. When the boy arrived to take the Microsoft exam, the invigilators were concerned that he was too young to be a candidate. His father reassured them that Ayan would be all right on his own. "There were multiple choice questions, drag and drop questions, hotspot questions and scenario-based questions," Ayan's father told the BBC Asian Network. "The hardest challenge was explaining the language of the test to a five-year-old. But he seemed to pick it up and has a very good memory."

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