We've talked in the past about what kind of questions should be asked of potential developer hires, and how being honest in exit interviews probably isn't worth the potential damage to your career. We're also familiar with the tricky questions some interviewers like to throw at people to test their thinking skills, and the questionable merits of gauging somebody's skillset through a pointlessly obtuse math problem. But there are also shady employers who conduct interviews to try to mine your knowledge and experience to find free solutions to their current problems. An actual job may or may not be on the table, but if they can get what they need from you before hiring, then at the very least your bargaining position will have gotten worse. Have you dealt with situations like this in the past? Since you can't know for sure the interviewer's intentions, it's tough to provide an answer demonstrating your abilities without solving their problem. "Before asking about the fixes they’ve tried, start by acknowledging the depth of the problem and find out whether the manager has the resources to solve it. Then, just like a consultant, use their answers to highlight your experience and explain the approach you’d take." You could also try explaining how you've solved similar problems, which won't necessarily help them, but will demonstrate your value. Of course, one of the biggest challenges is determining when somebody is getting a little too specific with their interview questions. What red flags should people keep an eye out for?
12_West writes "I seek opinions from the Slashdot community about entry level job opportunities as programmers (or other I.T. Staff) for seniors who want to switch careers and continue to work full time. I do not want to retire, nor go part time, as long as I can get up and drive myself in to work. I'm currently 58 years old, working as an industrial electrician in a maintenance department setting for a building products manufacturer. I like the work, but it is becoming hard on my aging body, so, I would like to begin gradually retraining and hope to switch careers in about four years. A lower paying, less physical job would be just fine as there will be pension money coming in. I'm not currently a programmer, but have done some hobbyist level coding in Qbasic and MS-DOS batch files 'back in the days.' I also have some exposure to the Rockwell Automation RSLogix programming tools that are now going obsolete. So, I will be retraining whether I switch careers or not."
First time accepted submitter jsmyth writes "MySQL 5.6.10 has been released, marking the General Availability of version 5.6 for production." Here's more on the features of 5.6. Of possible interest to MySQL users, too, is this look at how MySQL spinoff MariaDB (from Monty, one of the three creators of MySQL) is making inroads into the MySQL market, including (as we've mentioned before) as default database system in some Linux distributions.
Esther Schindler writes "There was a time when programs were written in text editors. And when competition between C++ vendors was actually fierce. Step into the time travel machine as Andy Patrizio revisits the evolution and impact of the visual development metaphor. 'Visual development in its earliest stages was limited by what the PC could do. But for the IBM PC in the early 1980s, with its single-tasking operating system and 8- or 16-bit hardware, the previous software development process was text edit, compile, write down the errors, and debug with your eyes.' Where do you start? 'While TurboPascal launched the idea of an integrated development environment, [Jeff] Duntemann credits Microsoft's Visual Basic (VB), launched in 1991, with being the first real IDE.'... And yes, there's plenty more." A comment attached to the story lists two IDEs that preceded VB; can you name others?
An anonymous reader writes in with news of the continuing saga of Java patches and exploits. "If you're a Mac user who suddenly can't access websites or run applications that rely on Java, you're not alone. For the second time in a month, Apple has silently blocked the latest version of Java 7 from running on OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard or higher via its XProtect anti-malware tool. Apple hasn't issued any official statements advising users of the change or its reasons, but it's a safe bet that the company has deemed Oracle's most recent update to Java insecure. That's why the company stealthily disabled Java on Macs back on Jan. 10, the same day a Java vulnerability was being exploited in the wild."
JerkyBoy writes "RunRev maintains the proprietary LiveCode programming environment. Those familiar with HyperCard on the Mac would feel quite at home using the environment to produce simple applications, and possibly more, although the programming language it incorporates has a few significant shortcomings (e.g., true object orientation). But it is a very versatile environment, currently claiming support for Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, and server-side scripting. For us NOOBs who could never find the time to learn C++ and something like the wxWidgets or QT toolkits, it seems like a pretty good deal. Recently RunRev has done something interesting, however, and that is to create a Kickstarter campaign to move the environment to open source (~500K lines of code, ~700 files). The way that they describe it, it sounds like there will be a commercial version and an open-source version of the environment (hopefully not cripple-ware), and they are asking for money to do this. But I want to know: what are their chances of success with this model? How in the world can they make enough money to maintain their programmers and overhead while giving the environment away? In other words, if a company like RunRev announces that they are moving to an open-source model, should you become more interested or less interested in their product?"
darthcamaro writes "Oracle has been slammed a lot in recent months about its lackluster handling of Java security. Now Oracle is responding as strongly as it can with one of the largest Java security updates in history. 50 flaws in total with the vast majority carrying the highest-possible CVSS score of 10."
chicksdaddy writes "Veracode's blog has an interesting piece that looks at whether 'brogramming' — the testosterone- and booze-fueled coding culture depicted in movies like The Social Network — spells death for the 'engineering' part of 'software engineering.' From the post: 'The Social Network is a great movie. But, let's face it, the kind of "coding" you're doing when you're "wired in"... or drunk... isn't likely to be very careful or – need we say – secure. Whatever else it may have done, [brogramming's] focus on flashy, testosterone-fueled "competitive" coding divorces "writing software" – free form, creative, inspirational – from "software engineering," its older, more thoughtful and reliable cousin.' The article picks up on Leslie Lamport's recent piece in Wired: 'Why we should build software like we build houses' — also worth reading!"
Qedward writes "As the UK prepares to shake up the way computer science is taught in schools, Redmond is warning that the UK risks falling behind other countries in the race to develop and nurture computing talent, if 'we don't ensure that all children learn about computer science in primary schools.' With 100,000 unfilled IT jobs but only 30,500 computer science graduates in the UK last year, MS believes: 'By formally introducing children to computer science basics at primary school, we stand a far greater chance of increasing the numbers taking the subject through to degree level and ultimately the world of work.'"
An anonymous reader writes "In what seems to be a recurring theme with Facebook as the social networking giant adds features, competing apps that use Facebook integration risk being cut off due to the terms of service surrounding the API. For example, 'Voxer CEO Tom Katis told AllThingsD that the company got an email on Thursday saying that Facebook wanted to hold a phone call to discuss possible violations of a section of the company’s terms of service. The section in question centers around the use of Facebook’s social graph by competing social networks.' Similarly, 'Within hours of Twitter launching its Vine video-sharing application on Thursday, Facebook has cut off access to Vine’s "find people" feature, which used to let Vine users find their Facebook friends using the Vine application.' You have to ask yourself: is it really worth developing an app that integrates with, or worse runs completely on Facebook's platform?"
An anonymous reader writes "Mozilla on Tuesday announced a massive change to the way it loads third-party plugins in Firefox. The company plans to enable Click to Play for all versions of all plugins, except the latest release of Flash. This essentially means Firefox will soon only load third-party plugins when users click to interact with the plugin. Currently, Firefox automatically loads any plugin requested by a website, unless Mozilla has blocked it for security reasons (such as for old versions of Java, Silverlight, and Flash)."
First time accepted submitter taikedz writes "Citrix Xenapp with Receiver/Metaframe allows publishing individual applications installed on a Windows server to users on remote machines. These applications open in their own windows, along side others as if they were installed locally. I am looking to do the same at home, with free software, publishing applications from Mac, Linux, and Windows machines (and yes, I've verified the license agreements for the apps I am going to do this with!). Up until now, the only alternatives I have found are full-on remote desktop login, not seamlessly-integrated. Can you recommend any tools that can achieve the goal of remote individual application access across platforms for free or at low-cost?"
snydeq writes "Deep End's Paul Venezia waxes philosophical about Perl stagnancy in IT. 'A massive number of tools and projects still make the most out of the language. But it's hard to see Perl regaining its former glory without a dramatic turnaround in the near term. As more time goes by, Perl will likely continue to decline in popularity and cement its growing status as a somewhat arcane and archaic language, especially as compared to newer, more lithe options. Perhaps that's OK. Perl has been an instrumental part of the innovation and technological advancements of the last two decades, and it's served as a catalyst for a significant number of other languages that have contributed heavily to the programming world in general.'"
theodp writes "That his 28-year-old whip-smart, well-educated CS grad friend could be unaware of MacWrite and MacPaint took Dave Winer by surprise. 'They don't, for some reason,' notes Winer, 'study these [types of seminal] products in computer science. They fall between the cracks of "serious" study of algorithms and data structures, and user interface and user experience (which still is not much-studied, but at least is starting). This is more the history of software. Much like the history of film, or the history of rock and roll.' So, Dave asks, what early software was influential and worthy of a Software Hall of Fame?"
giminy writes "Clay Shirky has a thought-provoking piece on depression in the hacker community. While hackers tend to be great at internet collaboration on software projects, we often fall short when it comes to helping each other with personal problems. The evidence is only anecdotal, but there seems to be a higher than average incidence of mental health issues among hackers and internet freedom fighters. It would be great to see this addressed by our community through some outreach and awareness programs."
judgecorp writes "Linux kernel developer Alan Cox has left Intel and Linux development after slamming the Fedora 18 distribution. He made the announcement on Google+ and promised that he had not fallen out with Linus Torvalds, and would finish up all outstanding work." Also at Live Mint, which calls Cox's resignation notice a "welcome change from the sterility, plain dishonesty of CEO departure statements." Cox says in that statement that he's leaving "for a bit," and "I may be back at some point in the future - who knows."
CowboyRobot writes "The metaphors and conventions of mobile apps on phones and tablets are now driving the design of desktop software. For example, dialog boxes in typical desktop software used to be complex, requiring lots of interaction. But these are now typically much simpler with far fewer options in a single pane. Drop-down menus are evolving, too. The former style of multiple cascading menus is being replaced. Drop-downs today have a smaller range of options (due to mobile screens being so small and the need to have the entries big enough that a finger touch can select it), and they never use the cascading menu. In Web-based apps, the mobile metaphors are finding greater traction as well. One need only look at the new Google Mail (GMail) interface and see how it's changed over the last year to view the effects of this new direction: All icons are monochrome, the number of buttons is very limited, and there's a More button that keeps the additional options off the main screen."
theodp writes "There's a funny thing about the estimated $1.7 trillion that American companies say they have indefinitely invested overseas,' reports the WSJ's Kate Linebaugh (reg. or the old Google trick). 'A lot of it is actually sitting right here at home.' And if tech companies like Google and Microsoft want to keep more than three-quarters of the cash owned by their foreign subsidiaries at U.S. banks, held in U.S. dollars or parked in U.S. government and corporate securities, Linebaugh explains, this money is still overseas in the eyes of the IRS and isn't taxed as long as it doesn't flow back to the U.S. parent company. Helping corporations avoid the need to tap their foreign-held cash are low interest rates at home, which have allowed U.S. companies to borrow cheaply. Oracle, for instance, raised $5 billion last year, paying an interest rate roughly two-thirds of a percentage point above the low post-crash Treasury yield, about 2.5% at the time (by contrast, grad students and parents pay 6.8%-7.9% for Federal student loans). Were the funds it manages to keep in the hands of its foreign subsidiaries brought home and subjected to U.S. income tax, Oracle estimated it could owe Uncle Sam about $6.3 billion."