Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

Programming

What Early Software Was Influential Enough To Deserve Acclaim? 704

Posted by timothy
from the cultural-literacy dept.
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?"
Microsoft

Does Microsoft Have the Best App Store For Open Source Developers? 339

Posted by timothy
from the so-how-does-that-beat-android? dept.
WebMink writes "Microsoft seems to have been in combat against the GNU GPL throughout the history of free and open source software. But that may be changing. They have recently updated the terms of use for software developers in their Windows Phone app store to allow any OSI-approved open source license — even the GPL. They include extraordinarily broad language that gives the open source license priority over their own license terms, saying: 'If your Application or In-App Product includes FOSS, your license terms may conflict with the limitations set forth in Section 3 of the Standard Application License Terms, but only to the extent required by the FOSS that you use.' Could it be that the most open source friendly app stores will be the ones run my Microsoft?"
Medicine

Clay Shirky On Hackers and Depression: Where's the Love? 319

Posted by timothy
from the suicide-hotline dept.
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."
Intel

Alan Cox Exits Intel, Linux Development 214

Posted by timothy
from the deserves-all-kinds-of-awards dept.
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."
GUI

The Mobile App Design Tail Wags the Desktop Software Design Dog 183

Posted by Soulskill
from the stop-taking-away-features dept.
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."
The Almighty Buck

Tech Firms Keep Piles of 'Foreign Cash' In US 427

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the hanging-out-on-rusty's-yacht dept.
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."
Programming

Ask Slashdot: How To Convince a Team To Write Good Code? 366

Posted by Soulskill
from the cattleprods-are-your-best-bet dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I am part of engineering team that maintains a very important component in our company. Our code quality and general engineering quality focus has been very weak: we have frequent buggy releases, our latencies are shooting up, our test coverage is nearly non-existent, and it is impossible for a newcomer in our team to get up to speed and be productive in less than a month due to unnecessary complexity. A group of 2-3 of us want to change that, and we know what needs to change technically — the better code review and release processes, better build tools, etc. But despite that, the quality of our code and design continues to suffer, and poor code continues to get released in the name of keeping the scheduled release date (product guys don't like to wait). We feel that if the right thing is done every time, we would can eliminate our issues and still release at the same pace. How do we effect the social change necessary to convince them of what is better and encourage them to take the effort to do it?"
Bug

You've Got 25 Years Until UNIX Time Overflows 492

Posted by timothy
from the start-packing dept.
CowboyRobot writes "In 25 years, an odd thing will happen to some of the no doubt very large number of computing devices in our world: an old, well-known and well-understood bug will cause their calculation of time to fail. The problem springs from the use of a 32-bit signed integer to store a time value, as a number of seconds since 00:00:00 UTC on Thursday, 1 January 1970, a practice begun in early UNIX systems with the standard C library data structure time_t. On January 19, 2038, at 03:14:08 UTC that integer will overflow. It's not difficult to come up with cases where the problem could be real today. Imagine a mortgage amortization program projecting payments out into the future for a 30-year mortgage. Or imagine those phony programs politicians use to project government expenditures, or demographic software, and so on. It's too early for panic, but those of us in the early parts of their careers will be the ones who have to deal with the problem."
Databases

Fedora 19 Nixing MySQL in Favor of MariaDB 116

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the take-that-mr-ellison dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Red Hat developers are planning to replace MySQL with MariaDB in Fedora 19. For the next Fedora update, the MariaDB fork would replace MySQL and the official MySQL package would be discontinued after some time. The reasoning for this move is the uncertainty about Oracle's support of MySQL as an open-source project and moves to make the database more closed." Update: 01/22 13:47 GMT by T : Note: "Nixing" may be a bit strong; this move has been proposed, but is not yet officially decided.
Programming

JavaScript Comes To Minecraft 149

Posted by samzenpus
from the try-it-out dept.
mikejuk writes "JavaScript is the language of the client and it is becoming the language of the server. Now it seems set to be the language of Minecraft. ScriptCraft is a Minecraft mod that can be added to the game to allow the player to use JavaScript commands. Walter Higgins ported the Rhino JVM implementation of JavaScript in a few spare weeks over Xmas. Some additional JavaScript classes allow the construction of blocks making it possible to automate construction. It also provides a 'turtle like' drone class that makes it easier to move in 3D. It makes use of a fluent API to create a domain specific language for movement. As its creator says: 'Ultimately I think the ScriptCraft mod could be used to take building in Minecraft to a whole new level. With a full-blown language at the Player's disposal, it should be possible to create not just castles and forts but entire road networks and cities.' Most importantly of all, it not only pushes the boundary of Minecraft, it also provides a way to get kids who are already hooked on Minecraft to start learning JavaScript."
Programming

Corporate Hackathons: the Fine Line Between Engaging and Exploiting 64

Posted by Soulskill
from the now-announcing-a-hackathon-to-make-me-a-sammich dept.
New submitter dasacc22 writes "Campbell is inviting developers to hack the kitchen with their recipe API. But wait — the API is private, so first you need to submit an idea. If they like the idea, you'll be given access to develop the app. If they like the app, they may give you some money. Otherwise, you can expect to have an app that connects to an API you no longer have access to. The author of this article covers his recent experiences after engaging with Campbell's Adam Kmiec to try and answer the following: '... my question to software developers out there who are thinking of devoting any real effort to a corporate hackathon like this is: "Why?"'"
Java

Latest Java Update Broken; Two New Sandbox Bypass Flaws Found 223

Posted by Soulskill
from the it-just-goes-on-and-on-my-friends dept.
msm1267 writes "Oracle's long security nightmare with Java just gets worse. A post to Full Disclosure this morning from a security researcher indicated that two new sandbox bypass vulnerabilities have been discovered and reported to Oracle, along with working exploit code. Oracle released Java 7u11 last Sunday and said it fixed a pair of vulnerabilities being exploited by all the major exploit kits. Turns out one of those two bugs wasn't completely patched. Today's bugs are apparently not related to the previous security issues."
Government

German Parliamentary Committee Pushes for Open Source Friendly Policy 44

Posted by timothy
from the wouldn't-it-be-nice? dept.
Qedward writes with this except from Computerworld UK: "Germany should change a law to enable public administrations to make their software available as free and open source, a German parliamentary committee has advised. German public administrations currently are not allowed to give away goods, including software, said Jimmy Schulz, a member of Parliament and chairman of the Interoperability, Standards and Free Software Project Group. The current law prohibits governments from being part of the development process in the free software community, he said. 'This is a clear disadvantage because it cuts off all benefits obtained from free software, such as being cost-efficient and state-of-the-art,' he said. Besides a recommendation that the government should explore whether the law can be changed for software, the group also called for the use of open standards in order to make sure that everybody can have access to important information, Schulz said. 'We also called for public administrations in general to make sure that new software is created as platform independent as possible,' he added. While the project group is not in favour of giving priority to one type of software over another, it said in its recommendation to the Parliament earlier this week that free and open source software could be a viable alternative to proprietary software." I think a fair rule is that, barring extraordinary and demonstrated need, all tax dollars for software should go only for the development of software for which source is available gratis to all taxpayers, and that secret-source software makers are free to change to fit this requirement any time they'd like to have their software considered for a bid.
Programming

GitHub Registers Its 3 Millionth User 64

Posted by timothy
from the free-hamburger dept.
hypnosec writes "Online version control system GitHub, which is based on Git — the distributed version control system developed by Linus Torvalds — now has over three million registered users, it has been revealed. Announcing the achievement, the code sharing site used by the likes of jQuery, Perl, PHP, Ruby as well as Joomla said in a blog post that the 'three millionth person signed up for a GitHub account' on Monday night."
Java

Java Vs. C#: Which Performs Better In the 'Real World'? 437

Posted by timothy
from the oh-you-tease dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Software developer Jeff Cogswell writes: 'Let's compare Java and C#, two programming languages with large numbers of ardent fans and equally virulent detractors. I'm not interested in yet another test that grindingly calculates a million digits' worth of Pi. I want to know about real-world performance: How does each language measure up when asked to dish out millions of Web pages a day? How do they compare when having to grab data from a database to construct those pages dynamically? The results were quite interesting.' Having worked as a professional C# programmer for many years, Cogswell found some long-held assumptions challenged."

As the trials of life continue to take their toll, remember that there is always a future in Computer Maintenance. -- National Lampoon, "Deteriorata"

Working...