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Books

Book Review: Build Your Own Website: A Comic Guide to HTML, CSS, and WordPress 27

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
MassDosage writes "At the the risk of exposing my age I remember building my first website using a rudimentary Unix text editor (Joe) and carefully handcrafting the Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) while directly logged on to the web server it was being served from. Back then Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) weren't even a glint in the eyes of their creators. A lot has changed and there's now a world of fancy WYSIWYG web page editors to choose from as well as Content Management Systems that allow you to create websites without looking at the underlying code at all. While this is all very useful and allows less technical people to create websites I still feel that having at least some knowledge of how everything works under the hood is empowering — especially in situations where you want to go beyond the limits placed on you by a certain tool. This is where Build Your Own Website: A comic guide to HTML, CSS and Wordpress comes into the picture. Its aim is to enable people new to web development to learn the subject by teaching the fundamentals of HTML and CSS first and only then describing how to use a Content Management System (CMS) — in this case Wordpress. While Wordpress might not be everyone's kettle of fish it's a good choice as an example of a modern CMS that is easily accessible and very popular. The concepts presented are simple enough that it should be easy enough for a reader to apply them to a different CMS should they want to. Read below for The rest of MassDosage's review.
Programming

New AP Course, "Computer Science Principles," Aims To Make CS More Accessible 195

Posted by Soulskill
from the broadening-the-base dept.
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)."
Programming

Dr. Dobb's 38-Year Run Comes To an End 152

Posted by Soulskill
from the farewell-and-thanks dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Dr. Dobb's — long time icon of programming magazines — "sunsets" at the end of the year. Editor Andrew Binstock says despite growing traffic numbers, the decline in revenue from ads means there will be no new content posted after 2014 ends. (The site will stay up for at least a year, hopefully longer.) Younger people may not care, but for the hard core old guys, it marks the end of a world where broad knowledge of computers and being willing to create solutions instead of reuse them was valuable. Binstock might disagree; he said, "As our page views show, the need for an independent site with in-depth articles, code, algorithms, and reliable product reviews is still very much present. And I will dearly miss that content. I wish I could point you to another site that does similar work, but alas, I know of none."
Programming

Godot Engine Reaches 1.0, First Stable Release 54

Posted by timothy
from the waiting-for-godot-two-oh dept.
goruka writes "Godot, the most advanced open source (MIT licensed) game engine, which was open-sourced back in February, has reached 1.0 (stable). It sports an impressive number of features, and it's the only game engine with visual tools (code editor, scripting, debugger, 3D engine, 2D engine, physics, multi-platform deploy, etc) on a scale comparable to commercial offerings. As a plus, the user interface runs natively on Linux. Godot has amassed a healthy user community (through forums, Facebook and IRC) since it went public, and was used to publish commercial games in the Latin American and European markets such as Ultimo Carnaval with publisher Square Enix, and The Mystery Team by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe.
Open Source

Microsoft To Open Source Cloud Framework Behind Halo 4 Services 50

Posted by timothy
from the part-of-a-continuing-series dept.
angry tapir writes Microsoft plans to open-source the framework that helps developers of cloud services like those behind Halo 4. Project Orleans is a framework built by the eXtreme Computing Group at Microsoft Research using .NET, designed so developers who aren't distributed systems experts can build cloud services that scale to cope with high demand and still keep high performance. The Orleans framework was used to build several services on Azure, including services that are part of Halo 4. The code will be released under an MIT license on GitHub early next year.
Education

Google Suggests Separating Students With 'Some CS Knowledge' From Novices 304

Posted by timothy
from the go-to-the-head-of-the-other-class dept.
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.
Java

Kawa 2.0 Supports Scheme R7RS 62

Posted by timothy
from the multi-lingual dept.
First time accepted submitter Per Bothner (19354) writes "Kawa is a general-purpose Scheme-based programming language that runs on the Java platform. It combines the strengths of dynamic scripting languages (less boiler-plate, fast and easy start-up, a REPL, no required compilation step) with the strengths of traditional compiled languages (fast execution, static error detection, modularity, zero-overhead Java platform integration).

Version 2.0 was just released with many new features. Most notably is (almost) complete support for the latest Scheme specification, R7RS, which was ratified in late 2013. This LWN article contains a brief introduction to Kawa and why it is worth a look."
Cellphones

Cardboard Hits Half a Million Mark, Gets an SDK 28

Posted by timothy
from the or-you-can-make-it-yourself dept.
PC Magazine reports (citing a blog post from project manager Andrew Nartker) that Google's Cardboard -- first introduced to some laughter -- is growing up, with a small but growing collection of compatible apps and a recently announced SDK. And while Cardboard itself is pretty low-tech (cardboard, rubber band, a magnet) and consequently cheap, the resulting VR experience is pretty good, which explains why more than 500,000 of them have now shipped.
Google

Google Earth API Will Be Retired On December 12, 2015 74

Posted by timothy
from the so-be-on-that-bus-to-mars dept.
An anonymous reader writes Google [on Friday] announced it plans to retire the Google Earth API on December 12, 2015. The reason is simple: Both Chrome and Firefox are removing support for Netscape Plugin Application Programming Interface (NPAPI) plugins due to security reasons, so the API's death was inevitable. The timing makes sense. Last month, Google updated its plan for killing off NPAPI support in Chrome, saying that it would block all plugins by default in January and drop support completely in September. The company also revealed that the Google Earth plugin had dropped in usage from 9.1 percent of Chrome users in October 2013 to 0.1 percent in October 2014. Add dwindling cross-platform support (particularly on mobile devices), and we're frankly surprised the announcement didn't come sooner.
Programming

FreeNAS 9.3 Released 115

Posted by samzenpus
from the check-it-out dept.
An anonymous reader writes This FreeNAS update is a significant evolutionary step from previous FreeNAS releases featuring: a simplified and reorganized Web User Interface, support for Microsoft ODX and Windows 2012 clustering, better VMWare integration, including VAAI support, a new and more secure update system with roll-back functionality, and hundreds of other technology enhancements. You can get it here and the list of changes are here. Existing 9.2.x users and 9.3 beta testers are encouraged to upgrade.
IBM

Apple, IBM Partnership Yields First Results: 10 Mobile Apps 53

Posted by samzenpus
from the big-blue-apple dept.
itwbennett writes IBM and Apple have unveiled the first results of the enterprise IT partnership they announced in July: 10 mobile applications aimed at businesses in six industries as well as government users. One of the apps, for example, allows a flight crew to personalize a passenger's in-flight experience. An app targeted at the banking industry allows a financial advisor to remotely access and manage a client's portfolio. And police officers can use iPhones to view video feeds from crime scenes with an app for law enforcement.
Programming

Seeking Coders, Tech Titans Turn To K-12 Schools 105

Posted by Soulskill
from the building-an-army dept.
theodp writes: Politico reports on how a tech PR blitz on the importance of coding in K-12 schools has won over President Obama, who's now been dubbed the "coder-in-chief" after sitting down Monday to "write" a few lines of computer code with middle school students as part of a PR campaign for the Hour of Code, which has earned bipartisan support in Washington. From the article: "The $30 million campaign to promote computer science education has been financed by the tech industry, led by Steve Ballmer, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, with corporate contributions from Microsoft, Google, Amazon and other giants. It's been a smash success: So many students opened up a free coding tutorial on Monday that the host website crashed. But the campaign has also stirred unease from some educators concerned about the growing influence of corporations in public schools. And it's raised questions about the motives of tech companies, which are sounding an alarm about the lack of computer training in American schools even as they lobby Congress for more H-1B visas to bring in foreign programmers."
Programming

How Relevant is C in 2014? 640

Posted by Soulskill
from the don't-ask-netcraft dept.
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?
Software

The Failed Economics of Our Software Commons 205

Posted by Soulskill
from the can-we-blame-keynes-for-this dept.
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.
Google

Google Releases Android Studio 1.0, the First Stable Version of Its IDE 114

Posted by samzenpus
from the check-it-out dept.
An anonymous reader writes After two years of development, Google today released Android Studio 1.0, the first stable version of its Integrated Development Environment (IDE) aimed solely at Android developers. You can download the tool right now for Windows, Mac, and Linux from the Android Developer site. Google first announced Android Studio, built on the popular IntelliJ IDEA Java IDE, at its I/O Developer conference in May 2013. The company's pitch was very simple: this is the official Android IDE.
Open Source

Microsoft Introduces .NET Core 187

Posted by Soulskill
from the how-the-sausage-is-made dept.
New submitter I will be back writes: Microsoft's Immo Landwerth has provided more details on the open source .NET Core. Taking a page from the Mono cookbook, .NET Core was built to be modular with unified Base Class Library (BCL), so you can install only the necessary packages for Core and ship it with applications using NuGet. Thus, NuGet becomes a first-class citizen and the default tool to deliver .NET Core packages.

As a smaller and cross-platform subset of the .NET Framework, it will have its own update schedule, updating multiple times a year, while .NET will be updated once a year. At the release of .NET 4.6, Core will be a clear subset of the .NET Framework. With future iterations it will be ahead of the .NET Framework. "The .NET Core platform is a new .NET stack that is optimized for open source development and agile delivery on NuGet. We're working with the Mono community to make it great on Windows, Linux and Mac, and Microsoft will support it on all three platforms."
Programming

Why Apple, Google, and FB Have Their Own Programming Languages 161

Posted by Soulskill
from the wait-until-they-have-their-own-internets dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Scott Rosenberg, author of Dreaming in Code dissects Apple's Swift, Google's Go, and other new languages — why they were created, what makes them different, and what they bring (or not) to programmers. "In very specific ways, both Go and Swift exemplify and embody the essences of the companies that built them: the server farm vs. the personal device; the open Web vs. the App Store; a cross-platform world vs. a company town. Of all the divides that distinguish programming languages—compiled or interpreted? static vs. dynamic variable typing? memory-managed/garbage-collected or not?—these might be the ones that matter most today."
Open Source

Node.js Forked By Top Contributors 254

Posted by Soulskill
from the can-we-blame-this-one-on-systemd-too dept.
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.
Businesses

Chinese CEO Says "Free" Is the Right Price For Mobile Software 133

Posted by timothy
from the sounds-like-a-plan dept.
hackingbear writes Sheng Fu, CEO of Cheetah Mobile, a public Chinese mobile software company you probably haven't heard of, but whose products are among the top downloaded products in Android markets around the world, said that the intense competition of the Chinese market leads to products that can compete globally. Many recent university graduates are working in tech, all with their startups looking to find their place in the market, he said. Chinese companies saw the impact that piracy played in the PC software era, and China's mobile companies grew up knowing they would need to make money without getting consumers to open their wallets. "Chinese companies are so good at making free but high-quality products," he said. Sounds like we have a good race to the bottom.
Programming

Programmer Father Asks: What Gets Little Girls Interested In Science? 584

Posted by samzenpus
from the what's-a-father-to-do? dept.
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."

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