Winner of the 2015 Underhanded C Contest Announced ( 48

Xcott Craver writes: The Underhanded C contest results have now been announced. This time the contest challenge was to cause a false match in a nuclear inspection scenario, allowing a country to remove fissile material from a warhead without being noticed. The winner receives $1000 from the Nuclear Threat Initiative.

7 Swift 2 Enhancements iOS Devs Will Love 123

snydeq writes: InfoWorld's Paul Solt outlines how Apple has made good on Swift's emphasis on performance, approachability, and ease in its latest update, offering up seven worthwhile enhancements to Swift 2, along with code samples. 'Many of the enhancements to Swift, through both the Swift 2.0 update and subsequent Swift 2.1 update, have made the language more explicit and intentional, and in turns, Swift 2 code will be safer and easier to maintain for years to come (especially now that Swift is open source). New language constructs (keywords) in Swift 2 improve the readability of control flow — the order in which lines of code are executed. Thanks to these new keywords, collaborating on Swift code will be much more productive and efficient.'
The Media

How To Build a TimesMachine ( 41

necro81 writes: The NY Times has an archive, the TimesMachine, that allows users to find any article from any issue from 1851 to the present day. Most of it is shown in the original typeset context of where an article appeared on a given page — like sifting through a microfiche archive. But when original newspaper scans are 100-MB TIFF files, how can this information be conveyed in an efficient manner to the end user? These are other computational challenges are described in this blog post on how the TimesMachine was realized.

After More Than a Decade, MSN Chat Authentication Is Documented ( 27

An anonymous reader writes: After MSN Chat closed in 2003, and then again in 2006, some guy has finally documented the authentication system used — over a decade later! Developer Joshua Davison writes by way of explanation: I think it's important to document the challenge we (users, scripters, hackers) faced connecting to MSN Chat, which is the only known 'proper' implementation of IRCX v8.1 at this time. MSN Chat introduced a GateKeeper SASL authentication protocol, which implemented 'GateKeeper' and 'GateKeeperPassport' (not dissimilar to the widely documented NTLM authentication protocol, which was also implemented as NTLM, and NTMLPassport) The GateKeeper Security Support Provider (GKSSP) functioned in two ways; allowing a user to login with a Microsoft Account (Previously known as Microsoft Passport, .NET Passport, Microsoft Passport Network, and Windows Live ID), and also allowed guest authentication for users without, or not willing to use a Microsoft Account. While most users didn't need or want to understand how the protocol worked, there were many of us who did, and many that just preferred to use MSN Chat outside of the browser.

FTDI Driver Breaks Hardware Again ( 268

janoc writes: It seems that the infamous FTDI driver that got famous by intentionally bricking counterfeit chips [NOTE: that driver was later removed] has got a new update that injects garbage data ('NON GENUINE DEVICE FOUND!') into the serial data. This was apparently going on for a while, but only now is the driver being pushed as an automatic update through Windows Update, thus many more people stand to be affected by this.

Let's hope that nobody dies in an industrial accident when a tech connects their cheap USB-to-serial cable to a piece of machinery and the controller misinterprets the garbage data.


Apple: Losing Out On Talent and In Need of a Killer New Device ( 428

mspohr writes with a link to an interesting (and rather dour) take at The Guardian on the state of Apple, which holds that: "Despite its huge value, Silicon Valley developers are turned off by [Apple's] 'secretive, controlling' culture and its engineering is no longer seen as cutting edge." From the article: "Tellingly, Apple is no longer seen as the best place for engineers to work, according to several Silicon Valley talent recruiters. It's a trend that has been happening slowly for years – and now, in this latest tech boom, has become more acute. ... Or as Elon Musk recently put the hiring situation a little more harshly: Apple is the "Tesla graveyard." "If you don't make it at Tesla, you go work at Apple," Musk recently told a German newspaper. The biggest issue for programmers seems to be a high-stress culture and cult of secrecy, which contrasts sharply with office trends toward gentler management and more playful workdays."

Obama Calls For $4B 'Computer Science For All' Program For K-12 Schools ( 246

Etherwalk writes: President Obama plans to announce a four billion dollar computer science initiative for K-12 schools, where fewer than 15 percent of American high schools offer Advanced Placement (i.e. college 101) Computer Science courses. This is still very much open to negotiation with Congress, because it is part of a budget request from the President. So write your Congressman if you support it. The $4 billion would be doled out over a period of three years to any state that applies for the funds and has a well-designed plan to expand access to computer science courses, especially for girls and minorities.

Facebook Is Shuttering the Parse Developer Platform ( 48

itwbennett writes: In a blog post yesterday, Facebook announced it is shutting down the Parse developer platform as of Jan. 28, 2017, giving developers a year to move off its hosted services. This comes as a bit of a surprise, considering that just last month, Parse launched a set of new tools to help developers work with Apple's watchOS and tvOS last, and at the time, Parse Product Manager Supratik Lahiri promised more updates in the future. Developers who don't want to rewrite their applications to work with a new back-end service provider can follow a migration guide from Parse to make their applications work with an independent MongoDB instance and a new open-source Parse Server that's running on Salesforce-owned developer platform provider Heroku.

Oracle To Drop Java Browser Plugin In JDK 9 ( 165

An anonymous reader writes: After Mozilla said in October that it would stop supporting Firefox plugins on the older NPAPI technology, Oracle had no choice now but to announce the deprecation of the Java browser plugin starting with the release of the JDK version 9, which is set for release in March 2017, and developers are urged to start using the Java Web Start pluginless technology instead. Security issues also had a big part in Java's demise.
Open Source

GitHub Service Outage ( 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.

Ask Slashdot: How To Work On Source Code Without Having the Source Code? 234

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!

GOTO Jail: FBI Investigated Bizarre BASIC Program Sent To Johnny Cash ( 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.

Tech Salaries Had Biggest Year-Over-Year Leap In 2015 ( 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.

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.

Software Hall of Fame Member Ed Yourdon Dies ( 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.

Rust 1.6 Released ( 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: 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.

Stephen Wolfram: No Need To Teach With 'Toy Programming Languages' Like Scratch ( 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."

Code Reviews vs. Pair Programming ( 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.

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.

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