Education

Why Coding Is Not the New Literacy 84

Posted by Soulskill
from the pants-are-the-new-shirts dept.
An anonymous reader writes: There has been a furious effort over the past few years to bring the teaching of programming into the core academic curricula. Enthusiasts have been quick to take up the motto: "Coding is the new literacy!" But long-time developer Chris Granger argues that this is not the case: "When we say that coding is the new literacy, we're arguing that wielding a pencil and paper is the old one. Coding, like writing, is a mechanical act. All we've done is upgrade the storage medium. ... Reading and writing gave us external and distributable storage. Coding gives us external and distributable computation. It allows us to offload the thinking we have to do in order to execute some process. To achieve this, it seems like all we need is to show people how to give the computer instructions, but that's teaching people how to put words on the page. We need the equivalent of composition, the skill that allows us to think about how things are computed."

He further suggests that if anything, the "new" literacy should be modeling — the ability to create a representation of a system that can be explored or used. "Defining a system or process requires breaking it down into pieces and defining those, which can then be broken down further. It is a process that helps acknowledge and remove ambiguity and it is the most important aspect of teaching people to model. In breaking parts down we can take something overwhelmingly complex and frame it in terms that we understand and actions we know how to do."
Programming

Ask Slashdot: Is Pascal Underrated? 461

Posted by timothy
from the let's-make-a-wager dept.
An anonymous reader writes In the recent Slashdot discussion on the D programming language, I was surprised to see criticisms of Pascal that were based on old information and outdated implementations. While I'm sure that, for example, Brian Kernighan's criticisms of Pascal were valid in 1981, things have moved on since then. Current Object Pascal largely addresses Kernighan's critique and also includes language features such as anonymous methods, reflection and attributes, class helpers, generics and more (see also Marco Cantu's recent Object Pascal presentation). Cross-platform development is fairly straightforward with Pascal. Delphi targets Windows, OS X, iOS and Android. Free Pascal targets many operating systems and architectures and Lazarus provides a Delphi-like IDE for Free Pascal. So what do you think? Is Pascal underrated?
Education

Brought To You By the Letter R: Microsoft Acquiring Revolution Analytics 103

Posted by timothy
from the interesting-choice-of-letter dept.
theodp writes Maybe Bill Gates' Summer Reading this year will include The Art of R Programming. Pushing further into Big Data, Microsoft on Friday announced it's buying Revolution Analytics, the top commercial provider of software and services for the open-source R programming language for statistical computing and predictive analytics. "By leveraging Revolution Analytics technology and services," blogged Microsoft's Joseph Sirosh, "we will empower enterprises, R developers and data scientists to more easily and cost effectively build applications and analytics solutions at scale." Revolution Analytics' David Smith added, "Now, Microsoft might seem like a strange bedfellow for an open-source company [RedHat:Linux as Revolution Analytics:R], but the company continues to make great strides in the open-source arena recently." Now that it has Microsoft's blessing, is it finally time for AP Statistics to switch its computational vehicle to R?
Programming

Bjarne Stroustrup Awarded 2015 Dahl-Nygaard Prize 181

Posted by timothy
from the took-a-while-to-get-the-spelling dept.
mikejuk writes Bjarne Stroustrup, the creator of C++, is the 2015 recipient of the Senior Dahl-Nygaard Prize, considered the most prestigious prize in object-oriented computer science. Established in 2005 it honors the pioneering work on object-orientation of Ole-Johan Dahl and Kristen Nygaard, who designed Simula, the original object-oriented language and are remembered as "colorful characters." To be eligible for the senior prize an individual must have made a "significant long-term contribution to the field of Object-Orientation," and this year it goes to Bjarne Stoustrup for the design, implementation and evolution of the C++ programming language. You can't argue with that.
Programming

By the Numbers: The Highest-Paying States For Tech Professionals 135

Posted by timothy
from the where-are-you-now? dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes The average technology professional made $89,450 in 2014, according to Dice's latest salary survey. When it comes to salaries, however, not all states and cities are created equal. Those tech pros living and working in Silicon Valley are the highest-paid in the country, with an average annual salary of $112,610—but that salary grew only 4 percent year-over-year, lagging behind cities such as Portland and Seattle. Dice has built an interactive map that shows where people are making the most (and least). As you click around, note how salary growth is particularly strong in parts of the West, the Northeast, and the South, while remaining stagnant (and even regressing) in some middle states. If anything, the map reinforces what many tech pros have known for years: that more cities and regions are becoming hubs of innovation.
Blackberry

Blackberry CEO: Net Neutrality Means Mandating Cross-Platform Apps 307

Posted by timothy
from the fantasy-world-of-atlas-shrugged dept.
DW100 writes In a bizarre public blog post the CEO of BlackBerry, John Chen, has claimed that net neutrality laws should include forcing app developers to make their services available on all operating systems. Chen even goes as far as citing Apple's iMessage tool as a service that should be made available for BlackBerry, because at present the lack of an iMessage BlackBerry app is holding the firm back. Some excerpts from Chen's plea: Netflix, which has forcefully advocated carrier neutrality, has discriminated against BlackBerry customers by refusing to make its streaming movie service available to them. Many other applications providers similarly offer service only to iPhone and Android users. ... Neutrality must be mandated at the application and content layer if we truly want a free, open and non-discriminatory internet. All wireless broadband customers must have the ability to access any lawful applications and content they choose, and applications/content providers must be prohibited from discriminating based on the customer’s mobile operating system. Since "content providers" are writing code they think makes sense for one reason or another (expected returns financial or psychic), a mandate to write more code seems like a good way to re-learn why contract law frowns on specific performance.
Open Source

User Plea Means EISA Support Not Removed From Linux 188

Posted by timothy
from the otherwise-the-city-will-be-destroyed dept.
jones_supa writes A patch was proposed to the Linux Kernel Mailing List to drop support for the old EISA bus. However a user chimed in: "Well, I'd like to keep my x86 box up and alive, to support EISA FDDI equipment I maintain if nothing else — which in particular means the current head version of Linux, not some ancient branch." Linus Torvalds was friendly about the case: "So if we actually have a user, and it works, then no, we're not removing EISA support. It's not like it hurts us or is in some way fundamentally broken, like the old i386 code was (i386 kernel page fault semantics really were broken, and the lack of some instructions made it more painful to maintain than needed — not like EISA at all, which is just a pure add-on on the side)." In addition to Intel 80386, recent years have also seen MCA bus support being removed from the kernel. Linux generally strives to keep support even for crusty hardware if there provably is still user(s) of the particular gear.
Programming

Ask Slashdot: Has the Time Passed For Coding Website from Scratch? 299

Posted by samzenpus
from the best-tools-for-the-job dept.
First time accepted submitter thomawack writes As a designer I always do webdesign from scratch and put them into CMSMS. Frameworks are too complicated to work into, their code is usually bloated and adaptable online solutions are/were limited in options. I know my way around html/css, but I am not a programmer. My problem is, always starting from scratch has become too expensive for most customers. I see more and more online adaptive solutions that seem to be more flexible, but I am a bit overwhelmed because there are so many solutions around. Is there something you can recommend?
Bitcoin

Jim Blasko Explains 'Unbreakable Coin' (Video 2 of 2) 39

Posted by timothy
from the is-it-cryptocurrency-or-cryptic-currency? dept.
Today, the conclusion of my talk with Jim Blasko (here's part 1), who encourages you to go start your own crypto currency, because it's a fun exercise and because every entrant adds new ideas to the mix. As you'd expect, he's bullish about both his own Unbreakable Coin and cryptocurrencies more generally; how any given given currency performs, though, is an open question: U.S. dollars, Euros, or Yen may not go experience any meteoric rises, but their stability, even with inflation, is a nice feature, and so is their worldwide convertibility.

Regulation, speculation, fraud, and cultural fashions all play a role in making new currencies risky; reader mbkennel yesterday asked an insightful question: "Are you up to loaning bitcoin or something less popular for 10 years?" Confidence in any given currency can be tested with the terms current holders are willing to accept to make loans payable in that same currency. (On the other hand, if large companies will accept it in payment, they've probably got an idea that a given currency will be around next month or next year.) If you've bought any form of crypto currency, what's been your experience, and what do you expect in 10 years? (Alternate Video Link)
Oracle

Oracle Releases Massive Security Update 79

Posted by samzenpus
from the protect-ya-neck dept.
wiredmikey writes Oracle has pushed out a massive security update, including critical fixes for Java SE and the Oracle Sun Systems Products Suite. Overall, the update contains nearly 170 new security vulnerability fixes, including 36 for Oracle Fusion Middleware. Twenty-eight of these may be remotely exploitable without authentication and can possibly be exploited over a network without the need for a username and password.
Open Source

Gender and Tenure Diversity In GitHub Teams Relate To Higher Productivity 106

Posted by Soulskill
from the bad-news-for-my-clone-army dept.
New submitter Bogdan Vasilescu writes: Diversity in teams is a double-edged sword. Increased team diversity results in more varied backgrounds and ideas, providing the team with access to broader information, enhanced creativity, adaptability, and problem solving skills. However, due to greater perceived differences in values, norms, and communication styles in more diverse teams, members become more likely to engage in stereotyping, cliquishness, and conflict.

In a recent study, researchers from University of California, Davis and Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands have analyzed the effects of gender and tenure diversity on productivity and turnover for more than 23,000 open-source projects on GitHub. Using regression modeling, they showed that after controlling for team size and other confounds (such as a project's age, development model, or amount of social activity), both gender and tenure diversity are positive and significant predictors of productivity, together explaining a small but significant fraction of the data variability. On an economic and societal scale, these findings suggest that added investments in educational and professional training efforts and outreach for female programmers will likely result in added overall value.

The paper describing the results (preprint PDF here) will be presented at the prestigious ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, in Seoul, South Korea, in April 2015.
Democrats

SOTU: Community Colleges, Employers To Train Workers For High-Paying Coding Jobs 200

Posted by Soulskill
from the union-is-still-pretty-uniony dept.
theodp writes: Coding got a couple of shout-outs from the White House in Tuesday's State of the Union Address. "Thanks to Vice President Biden's great work to update our job training system," said President Obama (YouTube), "we're connecting community colleges with local employers to train workers to fill high-paying jobs like coding, and nursing, and robotics." And among the so-called "boats" in the new "River of Content" that the White House social media folks came up with to enhance the State of the Union is a card intended to be shared on Twitter & Facebook which reads, "Let's teach more Americans to code. (Even the President is learning!)." President Obama briefly addressed human spaceflight, saying, "I want Americans to win the race for the kinds of discoveries that unleash new jobs – converting sunlight into liquid fuel; creating revolutionary prosthetics, so that a veteran who gave his arms for his country can play catch with his kid; pushing out into the Solar System not just to visit, but to stay." He also called once more for action on climate change. Politifact has an annotated version of the transcript for more background information on Obama's statements, and FiveThirtyEight has a similar cheat sheet.
Security

Silverlight Exploits Up, Java Exploits Down, Says Cisco 55

Posted by Soulskill
from the flavor-of-the-month dept.
angry tapir writes: Attempts to exploit Silverlight soared massively in late 2014 according to research from Cisco. However, the use of Silverlight in absolute terms is still low compared to the use of Java and Flash as an attack vector, according to Cisco's 2015 Annual Security Report. The report's assessment of the 2014 threat landscape also notes that researchers observed Flash-based malware that interacted with JavaScript. The Flash/JS malware was split between two files to make it easier to evade anti-malware protection. (The full report is available online, but registration is required.)
Programming

Is D an Underrated Programming Language? 382

Posted by Soulskill
from the single-letter-names dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes: While some programming languages achieved early success only to fall by the wayside (e.g., Delphi), one language that has quietly gained popularity is D, which now ranks 35 in the most recent Tiobe Index. Inspired by C++, D is a general-purpose systems and applications language that's similar to C and C++ in its syntax; it supports procedural, object-oriented, metaprogramming, concurrent and functional programming. D's syntax is simpler and more readable than C++, mainly because D creator Walter Bright developed several C and C++ compilers and is familiar with the subtleties of both languages. D's advocates argue that the language is well thought-out, avoiding many of the complexities encountered with modern C++ programming. So shouldn't it be more popular? The languages with the biggest gains this time around include JavaScript, PL/SQL, Perl, VB, and COBOL. (Yes, COBOL.) The biggest drops belonged to the six most popular languages: Objective-C, C, Java, C++, PHP, and C#.
Programming

Justified: Visual Basic Over Python For an Intro To Programming 642

Posted by timothy
from the I-know-let's-centralize-such-decisions dept.
theodp writes ICT/Computing teacher Ben Gristwood justifies his choice of Visual Basic as a programming language (as a gateway to other languages), sharing an email he sent to a parent who suggested VB was not as 'useful' as Python. "I understand the popularity at the moment of the Python," Gristwood wrote, "however this language is also based on the C language. When it comes to more complex constructs Python cannot do them and I would be forced to rely on C (which is incredibly complex for a junior developer) VB acts as the transition between the two and introduces the concepts without the difficult conventions required. Students in Python are not required to do things such as declare variables, which is something that is required for GCSE and A-Level exams." Since AP Computer Science debuted in 1984, it has transitioned from Pascal to C++ to Java. For the new AP Computer Science Principles course, which will debut in 2016, the College Board is leaving the choice of programming language(s) up to the teachers. So, if it was your call, what would be your choice for the Best Programming Language for High School?