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Forget 6-Minute Abs: Learn To Code In a Day 306

whyloginwhysubscribe writes "The usually excellent BBC 'Click' programme has an article on 'Why computer code is the new language to learn' — which features a company in London who offer courses on learning to code in a day. The BBC clip has an interesting interview with a marketing director who, it seems to me, is going to go back and tell his programmers to speed up because otherwise he could do it himself!'s testimonials page is particularly funny: 'I really feel like I could talk credibly to a coder, given we can now actually speak the same language.'"

How Big Data Became So Big 105

theodp writes "The NYT's Steve Lohr reports that his has been the crossover year for Big Data — as a concept, term and marketing tool. Big Data has sprung from the confines of technology circles into the mainstream, even becoming grist for Dilbert satire ('Big Data lives in The Cloud. It knows what we do.'). At first, Jim Davis, CMO at analytics software vendor SAS, viewed Big Data as part of another cycle of industry phrasemaking. 'I scoffed at it initially,' Davis recalls, noting that SAS's big corporate customers had been mining huge amounts of data for decades. But as the vague-but-catchy term for applying tools to vast troves of data beyond that captured in standard databases gained world-wide buzz and competitors like IBM pitched solutions for Taming The Big Data Tidal Wave, 'we had to hop on the bandwagon,' Davis said (SAS now has a VP of Big Data). Hey, never underestimate the power of a meme!"

Rootbeer GPU Compiler Lets Almost Any Java Code Run On the GPU 304

An anonymous reader writes "Today the source code to the Rootbeer GPU Compiler was released as open source on github. This work allows for a developer to use almost any Java code on the GPU. It is free, open source and highly tested. Rootbeer is the most full featured translator to convert Java Bytecode to CUDA. It allows arbitrary graphs of objects to be serialized to the GPU and the GPU kernel to be written in Java." Rootbeer is the work of Syracuse University instructor Phil Pratt-Szeliga.

Microsoft Picks Another Web Standards Fight 211

mikejuk writes "WebRTC is a way to allow browsers to get in touch with one another using audio or video data without the help of a server. Google has been something of a pioneer in this area, and submitted a suggested technology for the standard. Mozilla has gone along with it, making it all look good. Microsoft, on the other hand, just seemed to be standing on the sidelines, watching what was happening. However, Microsoft now has a product that needs something like WebRTC; namely, Skype. It has been working on a web-based version of Skype and this has focused the collective mind on the problems of browser-to-browser communication. It now agrees that a standard is needed, just not the one Google and Mozilla are behind. Microsoft has submitted its own proposals for CU-RTC-Web or Customizable, Ubiquitous Real Time Communication over the Web, to the W3C. It may well be that Microsoft's alternative has features that make it superior, but a single standard is preferable to a better non-standard. Given Microsoft's need to make Skype work in the browser, it seems likely that, should its proposal not be accepted as the standard, it will press on regardless, thus splitting the development environment. Both Google and Mozilla have already put a lot of work into WebRTC, and there are partial implementations in Firefox, Chrome and Opera."
The Courts

Former Goldman Sachs Programmer Arrested and Charged Again For Code Theft 176

hypnosec writes with news that Sergey Aleynikov, once a programmer for Goldman Sachs, has been arrested and charged again for stealing code from his employer in 2009. Aleynikov was originally charged for the crime in 2009. He was convicted in 2010 and sentenced to 97 months in prison, but an appeals court overturned the verdict, saying the corporate espionage laws were misapplied. Manhattan District Attorney Cryus Vance said, "This code is so highly confidential that it is known in the industry as the firm's 'secret sauce.' Employees who exploit their access to sensitive information should expect to face criminal prosecution in New York State in appropriate cases." The Fifth Amendment's "double jeopardy" clause is unlikely to stop this case because it's within a different jurisdiction — the earlier trial was in federal court, and this one is in New York State court.

Software Engineering Has Its Own Political Axis From Conservative To Liberal 283

An anonymous reader writes "Steve Yegge is back at it again. This essay is on the notion that software engineers range from conservative to liberal in their notion of software and how it should be built. He says, 'Just as in real-world politics, software conservatism and liberalism are radically different world views. Make no mistake: they are at odds. They have opposing value systems, priorities, core beliefs and motivations. These value systems clash at design time, at implementation time, at diagnostic time, at recovery time. They get along like green eggs and ham. I think it is important for us to recognize and understand the conservative/liberal distinction in our industry. It probably won't help us agree on anything, pretty much by definition. Any particular issue only makes it onto the political axis if there is a fundamental, irreconcilable difference of opinion about it. Programmers probably won't — or maybe even can't — change their core value systems. But the political-axis framework gives us a familiar set of ideas and terms for identifying areas of fundamental disagreement. This can lead to faster problem resolution.'"

Wall Street and the Mismanagement of Software 267

CowboyRobot writes "Last week, a bug in high-frequency trading software from Knight Capital Group resulted in erroneous trades costing almost a half-billion dollars. So, what went wrong and how can they, or any other software developer, prevent something similar from happening again? In hindsight, it's clear that the developers did not verify the code under enough conditions. But the real issue is how these high-frequency trades work in the first place. Robert Dewar at Dr. Dobb's suggests the financial industry needs to take a page from the avionics rulebook, which has very strict guidelines about what code can be implemented due to the high cost of failure in that field. 'High-frequency automated trading is not avionics flight control, but the aviation industry has demonstrated that safe, reliable real-time software is possible, practical, and necessary. It requires appropriate development technology and processes as well as a culture that thinks in terms of safety (or reliability) first. That is the real lesson to be learned from last week's incident. It doesn't come for free, but it certainly costs less than $440M.'"

Scrum/Agile Now Used To Manage Non-Tech Projects 136

jfruh writes "Agile and, in particular, Scrum, have been popular project management methods for software development for more than a decade, and now its use is spreading well beyond software. For example, NPR is using Agile for faster, cheaper development of new radio programs. 'I was looking for some inspiration and found it one floor up inside our building (where Digital Media sits),' says NPR vice president of programming Eric Nuzum. NPR has used this 'Agile-inspired' approach to create several new programs, including TED Radio Hour, Ask Me Another, and Cabinet of Wonders."

Custom Android ROM Developers Get OTA Update Capabilities Like Carriers 50

hypnosec writes "A new service dubbed OTA Update Center has been launched that enables Android ROM developers to provide over-the-air (OTA) updates of their ROMs in a centralized and easy fashion. Custom ROM developers had very little at their disposal when it came to providing updates and when any user with such a ROM did want to apply an update, he/she was required to reinstall the new ROM from scratch, which often involved deletion of the backup, installation of the new ROM, and restoration of data. This was a lengthy process and often a deterrent when it came to updating the ROM. Also, the developers were required to have their own infrastructure whereby they would be required to host their own servers and have the required bandwidth to serve scores of downloads. The OTA Update Center changes this and provides a free-to-use service that is easy and noob-friendly to use."

In Hacker Highschool, Students Learn To Redesign the Future 85

caseyb89 writes "Hacker Highschool is an after school program that teaches students the best practices of responsible hacking. The program is open source, and high schools across the country have begun offering the free program to students. Hacker Highschool recognized that teens are constantly taught that hacking is bad, and they realized that teens' amateur understanding of hacking was the cause of the biggest issues. The program aims to reverse this negative stereotype of hacking by encouraging teens to embrace ethical, responsible hacking."
Open Source

TextMate 2 Released As Open Source 193

First time accepted submitter DaBombDotCom writes "Allan Odgaard, the author of the popular text editor for Mac OS X, TextMate, has posted on his blog: 'Today I am happy to announce that you can find the source for TextMate 2 on GitHub. I've always wanted to allow end-users to tinker with their environment, my ability to do this is what got me excited about programming in the first place, and it is why I created the bundles concept, but there are limits to how much a bundle can do, and with the still growing user base, I think the best move forward is to open source the program. The choice of license is GPL 3. This is partly to avoid a closed source fork and partly because the hacker in me wants all software to be free (as in speech), so in a time where our platform vendor is taking steps to limit our freedom, this is my small attempt of countering such trend.'"

Ask Slashdot: How Many of You Actually Use Math? 1086

An anonymous reader writes with a question that makes a good follow-on to the claim that mathematics requirements in U.S. schools unnecessarily limit students' educational choices: "I'm a high school student who is interested in a career in a computer science or game development related position. I've been told by teachers and parents that math classes are a must for any technology related career. I've been dabbling around Unity3D and OGRE for about two years now and have been programming for longer than that, but I've never had to use any math beyond trigonometry (which I took as a Freshman). This makes me wonder: will I actually use calculus and above, or is it just a popular idea that you need to be a mathematician in order to program? What are your experiences?"

Will Online Learning Disrupt Programming Language Adoption? 193

theodp writes "Back in the day, getting traction for a new programming language was next to impossible. First, one needed a textbook publishing deal. Then, one needed a critical mass of CS profs across the country to convince their departments that your language was worth teaching at the university level. And after that, one still needed a critical mass of students to agree it was worth spending their time and tuition to learn your language. Which probably meant that one needed a critical mass of corporations to agree they wanted their employees to use your language. It was a tall order that took years if one was lucky, and only some languages — FORTRAN, PL/I, C, Java, and Python come to mind — managed to succeed on all of these fronts. But that was then, this is now. Whip up some online materials, and you can kiss your textbook publishing worries goodbye. Manage to convince just one of the new Super Profs at Udacity or Coursera to teach your programming language, and they can reach 160,000 students with just one free, not-for-credit course. And even if the elite Profs turn up their nose at your creation, upstarts like Khan Academy or Code Academy can also deliver staggering numbers of students in a short time. In theory, widespread adoption of a new programming language could be achieved in weeks instead of years or decades, piquing employers' interest. So, could we be on the verge of a programming language renaissance? Or will the status quo somehow manage to triumph?"

Bad Software Runs the World 349

whitroth tips a story at The Atlantic by James Kwak, who bemoans the poor quality of software underpinning so many important industries. He points out that while user-facing software is often well-polished, the code running supply chains, production lines, and financial markets is rarely so refined. From the article: "The underlying problem here is that most software is not very good. Writing good software is hard. There are thousands of opportunities to make mistakes. More importantly, it's difficult if not impossible to anticipate all the situations that a software program will be faced with, especially when — as was the case for both UBS and Knight — it is interacting with other software programs that are not under your control. It's difficult to test software properly if you don't know all the use cases that it's going to have to support. There are solutions to these problems, but they are neither easy nor cheap. You need to start with very good, very motivated developers. You need to have development processes that are oriented toward quality, not some arbitrary measure of output."

Paid Media Must Be Disclosed In Oracle v. Google 165

jfruh writes "One of the odder moments during the Oracle v. Google trial over Java patents came when patent blogger Florian Mueller disclosed that he had a 'consulting relationship' with Oracle. Now it looks like we're going to find out which other tech bloggers and journalists were on the payroll of one of the two sides in this epic fight. Judge William Alsup has ordered (PDF) that both parties disclose 'all authors, journalists, commentators or bloggers who have reported or commented on any issues in this case and who have received money (other than normal subscription fees) from the party or its counsel during the pendency of this action.'"

The World's Greatest Competitive Programmer 202

An anonymous reader writes "Technology Review profiles Petr Mitrichev, who has since 2005 dominated the world of competitive programming, a little known sport where competitors furiously code for five hours in pursuit of glory and cash prizes worth tens of thousands of dollars. Mitrichev now works for Google, and competes only for leisure, but is still ranked number one. Many large tech companies, such as Facebook and Google, now sponsor and pay close attention to competitive coding contests, seeing them as a place to recruit new talent."

How Haiku Is Building a Better BeOS 137

angry tapir writes "BeOS may be dead, but over a decade after its lamentable demise the open source Haiku project keeps its legacy alive. Haiku is an attempt to build a drop-in, binary compatible replacement for BeOS, as well as extending the defunct OS's functionality and support for modern hardware. At least, that's the short-term goal — eventually, Haiku is intended significantly enhance BeOS while maintaining the same philosophy of simplicity and transparency, and without being weighed down with the legacy code of many other contemporary operating systems. I recently caught up with Stephan Aßmus, who has been a key contributor to the project for seven years to talk about BeOS, the current state of Haiku and the project's future plans."

Microsoft Releases Attack Surface Analyzer Tool 40

wiredmikey writes "Microsoft has released the public version of Attack Surface Analyzer, a tool designed to help software developers and independent software vendors assess the attack surface of an application or software platform. The tool was pushed out of beta with Version 1.0 released on Thursday. Since ASA doesn't require the original source code, managers and executives can also use the tool to determine how a new application or software being considered would affect the organization's overall security before deploying it. The tool takes snapshots of the system before and after an application was installed, and compares them to identify changes made when new applications were installed. A stand-alone wizard guides users through the scanning and analysis process and a command-line version is available for use with automated tools. Attack Surface Analyzer 1.0 can be downloaded from Microsoft here."

Ask Slashdot: Best Way To Jump Back Into Programming? 247

First time accepted submitter FractalFear writes "15 years ago I was programming in BASIC, and doing some C++, after a serious car accident barely making it out alive, my memory went to crud. I have no recollection of how to do anything in either of those languages any more. I've suffered some damage, and my memory isn't all that great. However if I do repetitive work it sticks to me. I've been in IT for 17 years as desktop support, and I fear I won't ever get much further in life due to my handicap. I am hard working and dedicated, I have been reading slashdot regularly for many years now, and I have faith in the Slashdot community advice. I recently bought Head First C#: 2nd Edition(A friend of mine that programs for a living suggested C# as an easier alternative to C++) the first 4 chapters were great, but after that everything just didn't make any sense. My question(s) to you guys is: What was the best way for you to get back into programming? School? Self taught? And what would be the best language for someone like me to get into? My goal is to make games as a hobby for now, but would like to enter into the market of XBOX Arcade, Steam, mobile etc, particularly 2D TBSRPG games like Shining Force. If you prefer self taught what are some really good books you suggest?"