Open Source

GitHub Service Outage (github.com) 117

New submitter thebigjeff writes: Beginning at around 7:30pm EST on 1/27/2016, GitHub's core services have been offline. Most repositories and other functionality is inaccessible. The status page is calling it a "significant network disruption." More from The Register: GitHub falls offline, devs worldwide declare today a snow day.
Programming

Ask Slashdot: How To Work On Source Code Without Having the Source Code? 233

occamboy writes: Perhaps the ultimate conundrum!

I've taken over a software project in an extremely specialized area that needs remediation in months, so it'll be tough to build an internal team quickly enough. The good news is that there are outside software engineering groups that have exactly the right experience and good reputations. The bad news is that my management is worried about letting source code out of the building. Seems to me that unless I convince the suits otherwise, my options are to:

1) have all contractors work on our premises — a pain for everyone, and they might not want to do it at all

2) have them remote in to virtual desktops running on our premises — much of our software is sub-millisecond-response real-time systems on headless hardware, so they'll need to at least run executables locally, and giving access to executables but not sources seems like it will have challenges. And if the desktop environment goes down, more than a dozen people are frozen waiting for a fix. Also, I'd imagine that if a remote person really wanted the sources, they could video the sources as they scrolls by.

I'll bet there are n better ways to do this, and I'm hoping that there are some smart Slashdotters who'll let me know what they are; please help!
Programming

GOTO Jail: FBI Investigated Bizarre BASIC Program Sent To Johnny Cash (muckrock.com) 62

v3rgEz writes: Who has time to write out all the vaguely threatening conspiracies that need to be sent to celebrities these days? Turns out, that can be automated too: In 1979, the FBI investigated a bizarre, threatening Christmas message sent to Johnny Cash on the eve of his 62nd album's release. The threat included the source and output of a BASIC program, which the FBI dutifully dusted for clues. Newly released documents show what would become the FBI's CyberCrime division.
Stats

Tech Salaries Had Biggest Year-Over-Year Leap In 2015 (dice.com) 125

Nerval's Lobster writes: Average technology salaries in the U.S. saw the biggest year-over-year leap ever, up 7.7 percent to $96,370 annually, according to Dice's new survey data. Bonuses and contract rates also rose from 2014, and tech salaries in seven metro areas reached six-figures for the first time since the survey began more than a decade ago. Contract workers saw a rise (5%) in hourly compensation, with contractors earning $70.26 per hour. Other Websites have shown similarly high salaries for tech professionals; Glassdoor, for example, called data scientist the best job in America, with an average salary of $116,840 and bountiful job prospects. But while everything might seem great on a macro level, that doesn't mean tech workers don't face their share of stagnant salaries, brutal workplaces, and annoying managers.
Cloud

Ask Slashdot: What Are Your Experiences With Online IDEs For Web Development? 168

Qbertino writes: I'm toying with the thought of moving my web development (PHP, HTML, CSS, JavaScript with perhaps a little Python and Ruby thrown in) into the cloud. The upsides I expect would be: 1) No syncing hassles across machines. 2) No installation of toolchains to get working or back to work — a browser and a connection is all that would be required. 3) Easy teamwork. 4) Easy deployment. 5) A move to Chrome OS for ultra-cheap laptop goodness would become realistic.

Is this doable/feasible? What are your experiences? Note, this would be for professional web development, not hobbyist stuff. Serious interactive JS, non-trivial PHP/LAMP development, etc. Has anyone have real world experience doing something like this? Maybe even experience with moving to a completely web-centric environment with Chrome OS? What have you learned? What would you recommend? How has it impacted your productivity and what do you miss from the native pipelines? What keeps you in the cloud, and enables you to stay there? Are you working "totally cloud" with a team and if so, how does it work out/feel? Does it make sense? As for concrete solutions, I'm eyeing Cloud9, CodeAnywhere, CodeEnvy but also semi-FOSS stuff like NeutronDrive. Anything you would recommend for real world productivity? Have you tried this and moved back? If so, what are your experiences and what would need to be improved to make it worthwhile? Thanks for any insights.
Programming

Software Hall of Fame Member Ed Yourdon Dies (wikipedia.org) 67

New submitter andyjl writes: The software industry lost one of its pioneers on Tuesday, January 20, 2016 when Ed Yourdon died from post-operative complications. Ed was a pioneer of Structured Programming methodologies, and was a prodigious author of software-related books, including topics such as "death march" projects, and the problems of Y2K. He was also a personal friend and fellow forensic software analyst specializing in the analysis of failed software development projects and the lack of software development disciplines. He once told me that he read a item on the Internet (which I cannot find) that said, "whenever a programmer writes a GOTO statement, somewhere a Yourdon dies." I am forced to conclude that one of you programmers out there did indeed write a GOTO statement on Tuesday and I want to know who it was. Look at what you did! Did you really have to use a GOTO? Adds reader theodp: Yourdon was a successful author, whose Slashdot-reviewed books included Rise and Resurrection of the American Programmer, Death March: The Complete Software Developer's Guide to Surviving "Mission Impossible" Projects, Byte Wars: The Impact of September 11 on Information Technology, and Outsourcing: Competing in the Global Productivity Race. Yourdon's Time Bomb 2000!: What the Year 2000 Computer Crisis Means to You!, written with daughter Jennifer, was a Y2K best-seller.
Programming

Rust 1.6 Released (rust-lang.org) 75

An anonymous reader writes: The Rust team has announced the release of version 1.6 of their programming language. The biggest new feature is that libcore — the Rust core library — is now stable. "Rust's standard library is two-tiered: there's a small core library, libcore, and the full standard library, libstd, that builds on top of it. libcore is completely platform agnostic, and requires only a handful of external symbols to be defined. Rust's libstd builds on top of libcore, adding support for memory allocation, I/O, and concurrency. Applications using Rust in the embedded space, as well as those writing operating systems, often eschew libstd, using only libcore." Other features worth noting: Crates.io disallows wildcards for dependencies, there are a ton of stabilized APIs, timer functions that use milliseconds have been deprecated, and the parser will warn you if a failure was caused by Unicode characters that look similar but are interpreted differently.
Programming

Stephen Wolfram: No Need To Teach With 'Toy Programming Languages' Like Scratch (wolfram.com) 214

theodp writes: From Stephen Wolfram's blog post announcing the Wolfram Programming Lab: "It's a very important — and in fact transformative — moment for programming education. In the past one could use a 'toy programming language' like Scratch, or one could use a professional low-level programming language like C++ or Java. Scratch is easy to use, but is very limited. C++ or Java can ultimately do much more (though they don't have built-in knowledge), but you need to put in significant time—and get deep into the engineering details—to make programs that get beyond a toy level of functionality. With the Wolfram Language, though, it's a completely different story. Because now even beginners can write programs that do really interesting things. And the programs don't have to just be 'computer science exercises': they can be programs that immediately connect to the real world, and to what students study across the whole curriculum. Wolfram Programming Lab gives people a broad way to learn modern programming — and to acquire an incredibly valuable career-building practical skill. But it also helps develop the kind of computational thinking that's increasingly central to today's world." So, when it comes to programming education, are schools hitchIng their cart to the wrong horse?
Open Source

Developers Frustrated with GitHub Prod For Changes In Bug Reports, Transparency 99

DeveloperTech reports that a group of GitHub developers have posted an open letter, with nearly 1300 signatures, expressing dissatisfaction with GitHub's processes and policies, and in particular the site's level of transparency. A slice of the letter: "Those of us who run some of the most popular projects on GitHub feel completely ignored by you. We’ve gone through the only support channel that you have given us either to receive an empty response or even no response at all," he wrote. "We have no visibility into what has happened with our requests, or whether GitHub is working on them. Since our own work is usually done in the open and everyone has input into the process, it seems strange for us to be in the dark about one of our most important project dependencies."
Programming

Code Reviews vs. Pair Programming (mavenhive.in) 186

An anonymous reader writes: I've spent nine years working in teams which religiously follow pair programming. I'm used to working that way and appreciate the benefits it brings. We didn't have the luxury of pair programming all the time in my last project. This required us to do code reviews to ensure the quality of the code we delivered. This post is an attempt to consolidate the upsides and downsides of doing code reviews instead of pair programming in my three months of experience.
Programming

Ask Slashdot: Good Introductory SW Engineering Projects? (HS Level) 140

New submitter mtapman writes: I'm looking for suggestions on introductory software engineering projects for a high school level student. Assume the student can do basic math (up through Algebra I or Statistics I) but is new to logic and computer science. Each project should take no more than four hours to complete including research, coding, and testing. The intent is to introduce the student to software engineering (and computer science) through practical and fun examples. Classic CS problems are welcome. One of the key criteria is available research/reference material to allow the student to make progress with 30-60 minutes of online research.

Some ideas that came to my mind (not necessarily good ones) are: (1) pick a sorting algorithm and sort a list of ten words alphabetically, (2) write a program to convert characters from lower to upper case, (3) write a program to divide two numbers in two different programming languages and compare the results to determine the differences between the languages.
Education

Microsoft To Release Educational Version of Minecraft (thestack.com) 57

An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft has announced that it will release an educational version of the Minecraft video game after acquiring the minecraft.edu domain and IP. The classroom version of Minecraft will be offered to schools and educators at a discount, and among other innovations will include the facility to create maps which the students can navigate throughout a lesson while recording their in-game activities. Microsoft has emphasized that it does not intend to change Minecraft into a strictly educational program.
Programming

The President Wants Every Student To Learn CS. How Would That Work? (npr.org) 317

theodp writes: The very first proposal President Obama put forth in his final State of the Union address Tuesday night for his remaining year in office was "helping students learn to write computer code." While the President wants every student to learn CS, NPR notes that getting a new, complex, technical subject onto the agendas of our public schools is a massive challenge, prompting it to ask, How Would That Work? That Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella attended the SOTU address as Michelle Obama's guest suggests the President is counting on the kindness of tech titans to help make things happen. Microsoft and Obama have worked together to try to get CS in the schools since at least 2006, when Microsoft announced a $1 million donation to NCWIT, which it indicated would facilitate "taking the discussion to a national stage" at a Washington, D.C. Innovation and Diversity Town Hall co-sponsored by the NSF and keynoted by then-Senator Barack Obama. "Most of all, what inspires me about this program [NCWIT] are the prospects of my two daughters," Obama said at the time (video). "I want them to go as far as their dreams may take them. And, unfortunately because of long historic discrimination in the areas of gender, we can't be assured of that."
Programming

Microsoft Announces R Tools For Visual Studio (technet.com) 105

theodp writes: A year after its acquisition of Revolution Analytics, Microsoft announced a slew of R-related product offerings, and noted that Revolution R Open is giving up her maiden name and will henceforth be known as Microsoft R Open. Tucked away in the announcement was the news that R is coming to Visual Studio. Microsoft has released a teaser video for R Tools for Visual Studio (RTVS) and is taking sign-ups for early access.
Programming

Use Code From Stack Overflow? You Must Provide Attribution (stackexchange.com) 303

An anonymous reader writes: Have you ever used Stack Overflow to answer a question about some code you're working on? Most people who write code on a regular basis have done so, and this sometimes involves copying code snippets. Well, starting on March 1, copying code from Stack Overflow will require you to attribute that code. Code published by contributors to SO will be covered by the MIT license. Users copying that code don't have to include the full license in their code, as it usually requires, but they do have to provide a URL as a comment in their code, or some similar level of attribution. This change applies to other sites in the Stack Exchange network, as well.

The SO community is widely criticizing the change, citing problems with the decision-making process that led to it and complications that may arise from mandating attribution. Why did SO make the change in the first place? They say "it's always been a little ambiguous how CC-BY-SA covers code. This has led to uncertainty among conscientious developers as they've struggled to understand what (if anything) the license requires of them when grabbing a few lines of code from a post on Stack Exchange. Uncertainty is a drag on productivity, for you and for us, and we feel obligated to make code use more clear."

Programming

The Best Ways To Simplify Your Code? (dice.com) 197

Nerval's Lobster writes: Technical debt arises for many reasons—whether moving goal posts, pressure to get code tested and released, high programmer turnover, and lack of documentation. Over time, it can also render code a spaghetti-like mess. But how to deal with it? In a new column on Dice, developer David Bolton offers some suggestions, ranging from refactoring to using compiler inference to increase readability and shorten declarations. While those techniques are straightforward, it's clear that a lot of developers let their code get out of control, and trying to plan beforehand doesn't necessarily prevent the work from getting overcomplicated. It seems like every developer has a go-to technique (or four) for keeping things a little more streamlined. What are yours?
Microsoft

Microsoft Open Sources Edge JavaScript Code, Plans Linux Port (windows.com) 92

colinneagle writes: One month after promising to release the JavaScript engine of its Edge browser, Microsoft has proven good for its word and then some. Not only is it releasing the code, it's planning a Linux port. The company uploaded the code to GitHub and announced its plans via a blog post by Gaurav Seth, principal PM manager for Chakra, which is what they're calling the JavaScript engine. "Today, we are excited to share with you that we've just made the sources for ChakraCore available under the MIT License at the ChakraCore GitHub repository," he wrote. "Going forward, we'll be developing the key components of Chakra in the open." With the release, you can build ChakraCore on Windows 7 SP1 or above with Visual Studio 2013 or 2015 with C++ support installed, Seth said. Of course, Edge is more than just the Chakra engine, but this could result in a back port to Windows 7. He also said Microsoft is committed to bringing it to other platforms, starting with Linux, and invited developers to "help us in the pursuit either by letting us know which other platforms they'd like to see ChakraCore supported on, or even by helping port it to the platform of their choice."
Databases

PostgreSQL 9.5 Does UPSERT Right (thenewstack.io) 105

joabj writes: For years, PostgreSQL users would ask when their favorite open source database system would get the UPSERT operator, which can either insert an entry or update it if a previous version already existed. Other RDMS have long offered this feature. Bruce Momjian, one of the chief contributors to PostgreSQL, admits to being embarrassed that it wasn't supported. Well, PostgreSQL 9.5, now generally available, finally offers a version of UPSERT and users may be glad the dev team took their time with it. Implementations of UPSERT on other database systems were "handled very badly," sometimes leading to unexpected error messages Momjian said. Turns out it is very difficult to implement on multi-user systems. "What is nice about our implementation is that it never generates an unexpected error. You can have multiple people doing this, and there is very little performance impact," Momjian said. Because it can work on multiple tables at once, it can even be used to merge one table into another.
Debian

How To Talk About Mental Illness Online? 308

An anonymous reader writes: Shortly after the death of Debian founder Ian Murdock, Bruce Perens, who succeeded Murdock as Debian Project Leader in 1996 and was also Murdock's employer for a period of time, claimed very publicly that Murdock died of mental illness, although no evidence has been provided. Without referencing Murdock or Perens, another prominent Debian Developer, Daniel Pocock, has asserted that discussion about who has or had a mental illness is a step too far. To be fair, it sure doesn't sound like Perens was trying to do other than express sympathy in light of a tragic death.
Google

Google Claims a TOS Violation On RouteBuilder For Using the Map API (medium.com) 130

New submitter acm writes: RouteBuilder has been using the Google Maps API to help people share their routes (bicycling, hiking, etc) for a decade. Last week, Google sent an email demanding Routebuilder stop using the API: "In particular,your application violates clause 10.4(c), which does not allow developers to create a wrapper — an application that re-implements or duplicates the Google Maps website or mobile app, or any of the Google Maps APIs." Why did it take the Google Maps Team 10 years to decide they don't want pedometer-type sites to use their API?

Slashdot Top Deals