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Businesses

Ask Slashdot: What Can Distributed Software Development Teams Learn From FLOSS? 133

Posted by Soulskill
from the don't-swear-at-people-unless-you-can-get-away-with-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes: As a long time free software proponent and leader of a small development team (10+ people) within a mid-sized company, I always try to incorporate my experiences from both worlds. Lately I was confronted with the need to accept new team members from abroad working on the same codebase and I expect to have even more telecommuting people on my team in the future (even though research suggests the failure rate of virtual teams could be as high as 70%). On the other hand, FLOSS does not seem to suffer from that problem, despite being developed in a distributed manner more often than not. What can corporations and managers learn from FLOSS to make their distributed teams more successful? Consequently, what FLOSS tools, methods, rules, and policies can and should be incorporated into the software development process within a company more often? I'm interested in hearing what you think, especially regarding technical issues like source code ownership and revision control systems, but also ways of communication, dealing with cultural differences, etc.
Programming

Prison Program Aims To Turn Criminals Into Coders 305

Posted by Soulskill
from the hello-walls dept.
Press2ToContinue writes with news that San Quentin, a notorious California prison, has started a program to teach a class of inmates to write code. The first class will last for six months, and the inmates are learning about programming for eight hours a day. The hope is to give them the skills to find a good job after they leave prison, which in turn would reduce their chances of recidivism. Since the state's Dept. of Corrections prohibits internet access, the class only "pretends" to be online — they can't use internet-based resources, and nobody on the outside can see or use the software they create. One of the class's backers said, 'Almost every week there's epiphanies. And most of the guys in here, they've never touched a computer before. They are progressing beyond our expectations."
Programming

Electrical Engineering Employment Declines Nearly 10%, But Developers Up 12% 154

Posted by samzenpus
from the end-of-the-engineer dept.
dcblogs writes The number of people working as electrical engineers declined by 29,000 last year, continuing a long-standing trend, according to government data. But the number of software developers, the largest IT occupational category, increased by nearly 12%,or a gain of 132,000 jobs. There were 1.235 million people working as software developers last year, and 271,000 electrical engineers, according U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
Programming

Algorithm Clones Facial Expressions And Pastes Them Onto Other Faces 31

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-want-that-smile dept.
KentuckyFC writes Various researchers have attempted to paste an expression from one face on to another but so far with mixed results. Problems arise because these algorithms measure the way a face distorts when it changes from a neutral expression to the one of interest. They then attempt to reproduce the same distortion on another face. That's fine if the two faces have similar features. But when the faces differ in structure, as most do, this kind of distortion looks unnatural. Now a Chinese team has solved the problem with an algorithm that divides a face into different regions for the mouth, eyes, nose, etc and measures the distortion in each area separately. It then distorts the target face in these specific regions while ensuring the overall proportions remain realistic. At the same time, it decides what muscle groups must have been used to create these distortions and calculates how this would change the topology of the target face with wrinkles, dimples and so on. It then adds the appropriate shadows to make the expression realistic. The result is a way to clone an expression and paste it onto another entirely different face. The algorithm opens the way to a new generation of communication techniques in which avatars can represent the expressions as well as the voices of humans. The film industry could also benefit from an easy way to paste the expressions of actors on to the cartoon characters they voice.
Programming

Rendering a Frame of Deus Ex: Human Revolution 81

Posted by samzenpus
from the break-it-down dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Video games are among the most computationally intensive applications. The amount of calculation achieved in a few milliseconds can sometimes be mind-blowing. This post about the breakdown of a frame rendering in Deus Ex: Human Revolution takes us through the different steps of the process. It explains in detail the rendering passes involved, the techniques as well as the algorithms processed by a computer — 60 times per second."
Programming

NTP's Fate Hinges On "Father Time" 287

Posted by samzenpus
from the time-will-tell dept.
Esther Schindler writes In April, one of the open source code movement's first and biggest success stories, the Network Time Protocol, will reach a decision point, writes Charlie Babcock. At 30 years old, will NTP continue as the preeminent time synchronization system for Macs, Windows, and Linux computers and most servers on networks? Or will this protocol go into a decline marked by drastically slowed development, fewer bug fixes, and greater security risks for the computers that use it? The question hinges to a surprising degree on the personal finances of a 59-year-old technologist in Talent, Ore., named Harlan Stenn.
Google

Google Code Disables New Project Creation, Will Shut Down On January 25, 2016 140

Posted by timothy
from the that's-a-shame dept.
An anonymous reader writes GitHub has officially won. Google has announced that Google Code project creation has been disabled today, with the ultimate plan to kill off the service next year. On August 24, 2015, the project hosting service will be set to read-only. This means you will still be able to checkout/view project source, issues, and wikis, but nobody will be able to make changes or new commits. On January 25, 2016, Google Code will be shut down. Google says you will be able to download tarballs of project source, issues, and wikis "throughout the rest of 2016." After that, Google Code will be gone for good.
Operating Systems

Linux Might Need To Claim Only ACPI 2.0 Support For BIOS 129

Posted by timothy
from the and-you-can-taqiya-that-to-the-bank dept.
jones_supa writes Some of us remember the story of why Linux kernel responds "False" when ACPI BIOS asks if the operating system is Linux. We have found yet another case where mimicking the Windows behavior instead of writing to the spec is the right choice if you just want your machine to work properly. The ACPI spec defines the _REV object as evaluating to the revision of the ACPI specification that the OS implements. Linux returns 5 for this, because Linux actually tries to implement ACPI 5.0, but Windows returns 2 (ACPI 2.0), possibly due to legacy reasons. Linux kernel expert Matthew Garrett discovered that still a fair amount of brokenness appears when 5 is returned as the revision, including a Dell machine which left the sound hardware in a misconfigured state. He is proposing a kernel patch which simply reports _REV as 2 on all x86 hardware.
KDE

The Role of a Nonprofit In Open Source Development 49

Posted by timothy
from the gentle-guidance dept.
jrepin writes KDE is among the biggest open source projects which continues to innovate and evolve with the changing times. Often we have seen this particular community create technologies ahead of its time which were later adopted by other projects. The Linux Foundation talked to Lydia Pintscher, the president of the KDE e.V., the nonprofit organization that oversees the legal and financial aspects of the KDE project, to understand the relationship between the community and the organization. We also discussed the challenge of recruiting more women to open source projects and women in the KDE community.
Education

BBC Returns To Making Computers For Schools 106

Posted by timothy
from the as-it-ever-was dept.
Raging Bool writes According to the BBC News website, the BBC is returning to producing comparatively inexpensive computers for schools. Readers of sufficient age will remember the BBC Model B with great affection. But won't this be in competition with other pre-existing devices such as Arduino and Raspberry Pi? The BBC says not: "The BBC does not see Micro Bit as a rival to similar devices such as Raspberry Pi, Arduino, Galileo and Kano, but rather hopes it will act as a 'springboard' to these more complex machines." I hope they're at least consulting with Eben Upton.
Google

Google's Angular 2 Being Built With Microsoft's TypeScript 91

Posted by samzenpus
from the if-you-build-it-they-will-type dept.
itwbennett writes Big news for fans of static typing! Google and Microsoft have partnered to both enhance TypeScript and rebuild Angular in the TypeScript language. TypeScript, Microsoft's attempt at improving on JavaScript development, has been out there for a while without a notable use case. Likewise, Dart, Google's attempt at a language which accomplishes many of the same goals, hasn't seen a lot of traction outside of Google. With Google creating the next version of its popular framework Angular 2 using TypeScript, some weight is being thrown behind a single effort. Of course, Angular has its fair share of haters, and a complete re-write in version 2 that breaks compatibility with previous versions isn't going to help matters.
Open Source

Linux Kernel Adopts 'Code of Conflict' 93

Posted by Soulskill
from the be-excellent-to-each-other dept.
Motor was one of several readers to note that a small patch recently added to the Linux kernel contains guidelines for discourse and dispute resolution within the community. It's called the "Code of Conflict." Quoting: Your code and ideas behind it will be carefully reviewed, often resulting in critique and criticism. The review will almost always require improvements to the code before it can be included in the kernel. Know that this happens because everyone involved wants to see the best possible solution for the overall success of Linux. .... If however, anyone feels personally abused, threatened, or otherwise uncomfortable due to this process, that is not acceptable. ... As a reviewer of code, please strive to keep things civil and focused on the technical issues involved.
Open Source

On Firing Open Source Community Members 255

Posted by Soulskill
from the can't-we-all-just-get-along dept.
An anonymous reader writes: As open source started booming, more people joined. Opinionated people. People who listened to the "we welcome everyone!" message and felt that their opinion could be their primary contribution. For some, they felt showing up at the gig gave them the right to dictate what the band played. From a leadership perspective, this was a tough spot to be in. On one hand, you want to foster an open, welcoming, and empowered community. You want that diversity of skills, but you also want value and quality. Low-quality contributors don't bring much other than noise: they are a net drain on resources because other good contributors have to take time away to support them.

In addition to this, those entitled, special-snowflakes who felt they deserved to be listened to would invariably start whining on their blogs about what they considered to be poor decisions. This caused heat in a community, heat causes sweating, sweating causes irritability, and irritability causes more angry blog posts. Critical blog posts were not the problem; un-constructive, critical blog posts were the problem. So what's the best way to foster a welcoming environment while still being able to remove the destructive elements?
Programming

Was Linus Torvalds Right About C++ Being So Wrong? 757

Posted by Soulskill
from the harsh-language-about-a-harsh-language dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes: Perhaps the most famous rant against C++ came from none other than Linus Torvalds in 2007. "C++ is a horrible language," he wrote, for starters. "It's made more horrible by the fact that a lot of substandard programmers use it, to the point where it's much much easier to generate total and utter crap with it." He's not alone: A lot of developers dislike how much C++ can do "behind the scenes" with STL and Boost, leading to potential instability and inefficiency. And yet there's still demand for C++ out there. Over at Dice, Jeff Cogswell argues that C++ doesn't deserve the hatred. "I've witnessed a lot of 'over-engineering' in my life, wherein people would write reusable classes with several layers of inheritance, even though the reusable class wasn't actually used more than once," he wrote. "But I would argue that's the exception, not the norm; when done right, generic programming and other high-level aspects of C++ can provide enormous benefits." Was Linus going overboard?
Graphics

In the Age of Free AAA Game Engines, Where Does Our Open Source Engine Stand? 184

Posted by timothy
from the loyal-opposition dept.
New submitter erlend_sh writes The game development industry just got hit by a tidalwave of free: Unity 5, Unreal Engine 4 and Source 2 all give away their flagship product for free now. They're all different brands of 'free,' but who cares? The average game developer certainly won't. Which left us wondering: Are hobbyist-run open source game engines like jMonkeyEngine still relevant? From the linked article: This just in: Physically Based Rendering isn’t dark magic, cross platform publishing is not the thing of fairy tales, and a solid asset pipeline is not exclusive to a million dollar budget. They’re not easy; faaar from it. But as long as we can show that these things can be accomplished by a part-time hobbyist just for the heck of it, the end user gets a fair price (i.e. free!), and our fellow hardcore misfits will continue trying to solve the most difficult problems the industry has to offer. ... If this exciting new thing called “free” keeps going in the right direction, everyone still in the race gets a leg up.
Encryption

Tor Project Aims To Eclipse US Government Funding 53

Posted by timothy
from the not-the-entire-government's-funding dept.
An anonymous reader writes Developed by the U.S. Navy and the recipient of millions of dollars of government grants, the Tor Project is now aiming to ween itself off dependence of U.S. government funds "including setting a goal of 50 percent non-U.S. government funding by 2016." The initiative comes after months of discussion over what some vocal critics deemed a contradiction in funding and purpose.
KDE

KDE Accepted To Google Summer of Code 2015 53

Posted by timothy
from the making-things-better dept.
jrepin writes The KDE student programs team is happy to announce that KDE has been accepted as a mentoring organization for Google Summer of Code 2015. This will allow students from around the world to work with mentors on KDE software projects. Successful students will receive stipends from Google. Ideas on what a student entering Google Summer of Code 2015 with KDE might work on are listed on the Community Wiki.
Education

Go R, Young Man 144

Posted by timothy
from the or-certain-other-letters dept.
theodp (442580) writes " Learning to code has become a mainstream fascination," writes Brian Liou in Why are YOU learning to code?, "but all the evangelization has been misleading. The problem in our Chris-Bosh-codes-so-should-you society is that people learn to code without first asking "for what purpose do you want to use code?" What in your day-to-day work could you actually automate using code? Let's face it, your odds of creating the next hot iPhone app aren't great, but the spreadsheets you look at everyday or the strategic business decisions you or your company makes? Coding can help you with those. Coding to better understand data would help everyone." Leada co-founder Liou's advice? "So to all non-technical professionals looking to get technical: If you want to become a software engineer, by all means learn Ruby or go through the JavaScript tutorials on Codecademy. But if you're simply a business professional looking to gain an edge on your peers, trust me, you are much better off learning R." So, did Mark Zuckerberg steer 100 million K-12 coder wannabes down the wrong path with the JavaScript and Ruby preaching?"
Music

Musician Releases Album of Music To Code By 181

Posted by samzenpus
from the brian-eno dept.
itwbennett writes Music and programming go hand-in-keyboard. And now programmer/musician Carl Franklin has released an album of music he wrote specifically for use as background music when writing software. "The biggest challenge was dialing back my instinct to make real music," Franklin told ITworld's Phil Johnson. "This had to fade into the background. It couldn't distract the listener, but it couldn't be boring either. That was a particular challenge that I think most musicians would have found maddening."
Graphics

Valve Developed an Open-Source Intel Vulkan GPU Driver For Linux 52

Posted by timothy
from the good-news-for-a-change dept.
An anonymous reader writes For those wondering when the first graphics driver for the new Khronos Vulkan API will materialize and for what hardware, it looks like the first driver could very well be for Intel graphics and it might not be too far away. It turns out Valve developed an Intel Linux Vulkan driver to help ISVs bootstrap their new Vulkan code, with Valve planning to open-source this driver code. This is yet another reason to love Valve, especially as Intel graphics on Linux don't even support OpenGL 4 yet.