First time accepted submitter conoviator writes "The NY Times has just published a piece providing more background on the healthcare.gov software project. One interesting aspect: 'Another sore point was the Medicare agency's decision to use database software, from a company called MarkLogic, that managed the data differently from systems by companies like IBM, Microsoft and Oracle. CGI officials argued that it would slow work because it was too unfamiliar. Government officials disagreed, and its configuration remains a serious problem.'" The story does not say that MarkLogic's software is bad in itself, only that the choice meant increased complexity on the project.
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An anonymous reader writes "Working with the Raspberry Pi Foundation, effective immediately, there's a pilot release of the Wolfram Language — as well as Mathematica—that will soon be bundled as part of the standard system software for every Raspberry Pi computer. Quite soon the Wolfram Language is going to start showing up in lots of places, notably on the web and in the cloud."
shutdown -p now writes "Coming from the team that had previously brought you Python Tools for Visual Studio, Microsoft has announced Node.js Tools for Visual Studio, with the release of the first public alpha. NTVS is the official extension for Visual Studio that adds support for Node.js, including editing with Intellisense, debugging, profiling, and the ability to deploy Node.js websites to Windows Azure. An overview video showcases the features, and Scott Hanselman has a detailed walkthrough. The project is open source under Apache License 2.0. While the extension is published by Microsoft, it is a collaborative effort involving Microsoft, Red Gate (which previously had a private beta version of similar product called Visual Node), and individual contributors from the Node.js community."
Milverton Wallace (@milvy on Twitter) might seem an unlikely candidate to be setting up hackathons in the UK; his background is as a journalist, and he was born a few thousand miles away in Jamaica. Nonetheless, when I met up with him at last month’s AppsWorld in London, he was about to conduct another in a series of hackathons at Google’s London campus. He’s got some interesting things to say about the mechanics and reasons for putting a bunch of programmers (and/or kids who aren’t yet programmers per se) into a room, and giving them a good environment for creativity. He has some harsh words for the UK school system’s approach to computer education (which sounds an awful lot like the U.S. approach in far too many schools), and praise for efforts (like the Raspberry Pi Foundation) to bring programming to British classrooms, both earlier and with more depth. The same ideas should apply world-wide.
sfcrazy writes "Ubuntu developer Oliver Grawert does not prefer to do online banking with Linux Mint. In the official mailing list of the distribution, Ubuntu developers stated that the popular Ubuntu derivative is a vulnerable system and people shouldn't go for online banking on it. One of the Ubuntu developers, Oliver Grawert, originally pointed out that it is not necessary that security updates from Ubuntu get down to Linux Mint users since changes from X.Org, the kernel, Firefox, the boot-loader, and other core components are blocked from being automatically upgraded." Clement Lefebvre, the Linux Mint project founder, has since made a statement and confirmed that Oliver Grawert seems "more opinionated than knowledgeable" adding "the press blew what he said out of proportion."
jones_supa writes "When GCC 4.9 is released in 2014 it will be coming in hot on new features with a large assortment of improvements and new functionality for the open-source compiler. Phoronix provides a recap of some of the really great features of this next major compiler release from the Free Software Foundation. For a quick list: OpenMP 4.0, Intel Cilk Plus multi-threading support, Intel Bay Trail and Silvermont support, NDS32 port, Undefined Behavior Sanitizer, Address Sanitizer, ADA and Fortran updates, improved C11 / C++11 / C++14, better x86 intrinsics, refined diagnostics output. Bubbling under are still: Bulldozer 4 / Excavator support, OpenACC, JIT compiler, disabling Java by default."
jones_supa writes "One of the most important measuring sticks for the success of any software is how long a user keeps it installed after first trying it. Intel has an article about some of the most common reasons users abandon software. Quoting: 'Apps that don’t offer anything helpful or unique tend to be the ones that are uninstalled the most frequently. People cycle through apps incredibly quickly to find the one that best fits their needs. ... A lot of apps have a naturally limited lifecycle; i.e., apps that are centered around a movie release or an app that tracks a pregnancy, or an app that celebrates a holiday. In addition, apps with limited functionality, for example, “lite” games that only go so far, are uninstalled once the user has mastered all the levels.' Some of the common factors they list include: lengthy forms, asking for ratings, collecting unnecessary data, user unfriendliness, unnecessary notifications and, of course, bugs. Additionally, if people have paid even a small price for the app, they are more committed to keep it installed. So, what makes you uninstall a piece of software?"
Nerval's Lobster writes "Stephen Wolfram, the chief designer of the Mathematica software platform and the Wolfram Alpha 'computation knowledge engine,' has another massive project in the works—although he's remaining somewhat vague about details for the time being. In simplest terms, the project is a new programming language—which he's dubbing the 'Wolfram Language'—which will allow developers and software engineers to program a wide variety of complex functions in a streamlined fashion, for pretty much every single type of hardware from PCs and smartphones all the way up to datacenters and embedded systems. The Language will leverage automation to cut out much of the nitpicking complexity that dominates current programming. 'The Wolfram Language does things automatically whenever you want it to,' he wrote in a recent blog posting. 'Whether it's selecting an optimal algorithm for something. Or picking the most aesthetic layout. Or parallelizing a computation efficiently. Or figuring out the semantic meaning of a piece of data. Or, for that matter, predicting what you might want to do next. Or understanding input you've given in natural language.' In other words, he's proposing a general-purpose programming language with a mind-boggling amount of functions built right in. At this year's SXSW, Wolfram alluded to his decades of work coming together in 'a very nice way,' and this is clearly what he meant. And while it's tempting to dismiss anyone who makes sweeping statements about radically changing the existing paradigm, he does have a record of launching very big projects (Wolfram Alpha contains more than 10 trillion pieces of data cultivated from primary sources, along with tens of thousands of algorithms and equations) that function reliably. At many points over the past few years, he's also expressed a belief that simple equations and programming can converge to create and support enormously complicated systems. Combine all those factors together, and it's clear that Wolfram's pronouncements—no matter how grandiose—can't simply be dismissed. But it remains to be seen how much of an impact he actually has on programming as an art and science."
Last week, we mentioned that the GIMP project had elected to leave SourceForge as its host, citing SourceForge's advertising policies. SourceForge (which shares a parent company with Slashdot) has released a statement about those policies, addressing in particular both ads that are confusing in themselves and their revenue-sharing system called DevShare, based on the provision of third-party software along with users' downloads. Among other things, the SF team is appealing to users to help them find and block misleading ads, and has this to say about the additional downloads: "The DevShare program has been designed to be fully transparent. The installation flow has no deceptive steps, all offers are fully disclosed, and the clear option to completely decline the offer is always available. All uninstallation procedures are exhaustively documented, and all third party offers go through a comprehensive compliance process to make sure they are virus and malware free."
rjmarvin writes "Microsoft today announced a web-based development environment for app creation to complement Visual Studio 2013, called Visual Studio Online. Microsoft Senior V.P. S. Somasegar says the new web-based IDE is designed for quick tasks related to building Windows Azure websites and services. Microsoft will be releasing the Visual Studio Online Application Insights service in a limited preview to show developers how to deploy and perform in conjunction with Visual Studio 2013's new features."
gbooch writes "The Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, is not just a museum of hardware, but also of software. The Museum has made public such gems as the source code for MacPaint, Photoshop, and APL, and now code from the Apple II. As their site reports: 'With thanks to Paul Laughton, in collaboration with Dr. Bruce Damer, founder and curator of the Digibarn Computer Museum, and with the permission of Apple Inc., we are pleased to make available the 1978 source code of Apple II DOS for non-commercial use. This material is Copyright © 1978 Apple Inc., and may not be reproduced without permission from Apple.'"