Exploring Some Lesser-Known Scripting Languages 60

Posted by Soulskill
from the it's-dangerous-to-go-alone,-import-this dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes: Scripting languages are used in everything from games and Web pages to operating-system shells and general applications, as well as standalone scripts. While many of these scripting languages are common and open to modification, there are some interesting, open-source ones that are worth a look, even if they don't have the substantial audience of some of the popular ones. Wren, Candle, Fancy, Pikt, and PPL all show what a single developer can do if they set out with enough motivation to create open-source scripting languages. The results often prove surprisingly powerful.

Ask Slashdot: Linux Database GUI Application Development? 264

Posted by timothy
from the now-make-yours-look-like-mine dept.
New submitter msubieta writes I have been developing some applications to use in small businesses using Windows and SQL Server. I would like to move on and start doing the same thing in Linux. I have looked at several Frameworks/Databases/Development environments and I really don't know what is the best/simplest/fastest to learn approach. I use VS and C# mostly, although I could easily go back to C++. I found Qt and GTK+ are the most common frameworks, but they seem to lack controls that deal with datasets and stuff (sorry, spoiled by the .net form controls), but I also know that I could use Mono in order to make the jump. I would have no problem on moving to MySQL, as I have done quite a lot of work on that side, and I would like to stick with the traditional client server application, as I find it easier to maintain, and a whole lot more robust when it comes to user interaction (web apps for POS applications don't seem to be the right way to go in my view). Any suggestions/comments/recommendations?

Meet Flink, the Apache Software Foundation's Newest Top-Level Project 34

Posted by timothy
from the name-is-self-explanitory dept.
Open source data-processing language Flink, after just nine months' incubation with the Apache Software Foundation, has been elevated to top-level status, joining other ASF projects like OpenOffice and CloudStack. An anonymous reader writes The data-processing engine, which offers APIs in Java and Scala as well as specialized APIs for graph processing, is presented as an alternative to Hadoop's MapReduce component with its own runtime. Yet the system still provides access to Hadoop's distributed file system and YARN resource manager. The open-source community around Flink has steadily grown since the project's inception at the Technical University of Berlin in 2009. Now at version 0.7.0, Flink lists more than 70 contributors and sponsors, including representatives from Hortonworks, Spotify and Data Artisans (a German startup devoted primarily to the development of Flink). (For more about ASF incubation, and what the Foundation's stewardship means, see our interview from last summer with ASF executive VP Rich Bowen.)

PHP vs. Node.js: the Battle For Developer Mind Share 245

Posted by Soulskill
from the my-script-is-scriptier-than-your-script dept.
snydeq writes: Simplicity vs. closures, speed of coding vs. raw speed — InfoWorld's Peter Wayner takes a look at how PHP and Node.js stack up against each other. "It's a classic Hollywood plot: the battle between two old friends who went separate ways. Often the friction begins when one pal sparks an interest in what had always been the other pal's unspoken domain. In the programming language version of this movie, it's the introduction of Node.js that turns the buddy flick into a grudge match: PHP and JavaScript, two partners who once ruled the Internet together but now duke it out for the mind share of developers."

AI Experts Sign Open Letter Pledging To Protect Mankind From Machines 258

Posted by Soulskill
from the i'm-sorry-dave-i-can't-sign-that dept.
hypnosec writes: Artificial intelligence experts from across the globe are signing an open letter urging that AI research should not only be done to make it more capable, but should also proceed in a direction that makes it more robust and beneficial while protecting mankind from machines. The Future of Life Institute, a volunteer-only research organization, has released an open letter imploring that AI does not grow out of control. It's an attempt to alert everyone to the dangers of a machine that could outsmart humans. The letter's concluding remarks (PDF) read: "Success in the quest for artificial intelligence has the potential to bring unprecedented benefits to humanity, and it is therefore worthwhile to research how to maximize these benefits while avoiding potential pitfalls."

KDE Frameworks 5.3 and Plasma 2.1 – First Impressions 84

Posted by timothy
from the developing-tools dept.
jones_supa writes Ken Vermette has done a write-up on his experience with the new KDE desktop encompassing Frameworks 5.3 and Plasma 2.1. For starters, some patience is still needed for apps to be ported to KF5, and most of them will be KF4-based for now. Many of the widgets you may have used don't exist yet either, but the good news is that the Plasma goodies which do make an appearance are universally improved. The new search widget is shockingly fast and the notifications tray has been reworked. Visual outlook of desktop has been simplified and things don't feel so tightly packed together anymore. The system settings application has been completely regrouped more by goal than underlying mechanics. Unfortunately the desktop stability leaves a lot to desire: there was several crashes and Plasma had at one point managed to forget colour and wallpaper settings. However the developers seem to be knowing what they are doing, and there's a real feeling that this software will reach rock-solid stability very quickly given the state of it as it stands.
Classic Games (Games)

NetHack Development Team Polls Community For Advice On Unicode 165

Posted by timothy
from the pressing-issues dept.
An anonymous reader writes After years of relative silence, the development team behind the classic roguelike game NetHack has posteda question: going forward, what internal representation should the NetHack core use for Unicode characters? UTF8? UTF32? Something else? (See also: NH4 blog, reddit. Also, yes, I have verified that the question authentically comes from the NetHack dev team.)
Open Source

Crowdfunded Linux Voice Magazine Releases Second Issue CC-BY-SA 19

Posted by Soulskill
from the coming-through-on-a-promise dept.
M-Saunders writes: As covered previously on Slashdot, Linux Voice crowdfunded its way to success in late 2013, showing how a small team can make things happen with a different business model (giving profits and content back to the community). Now, a few months after the magazine made issue 1 freely available, they've released issue 2 under the Creative Commons for everyone to share and modify. If you've ever fancied making your own Raspberry Pi-powered arcade machine, there's a full guide in the second issue.

Rust Programming Language Reaches 1.0 Alpha 161

Posted by Soulskill
from the onward-and-upward dept.
c0d3g33k writes: Rust, a new a systems programming language with a focus on safety, performance and concurrency, has released the 1.0 alpha version of the language. This means that the language and core libraries are feature-complete for the 1.0 release. In practical terms, this means that the rate of change experienced by early adopters will slow down dramatically and major breaking changes should be very rare (during the alpha cycle some major changes may still occur if considered necessary). The language will stabilize further when the beta stage is reached (planned for six weeks from now).
Hardware Hacking

Ask Slashdot: Options For Cheap Home Automation? 189

Posted by timothy
from the fan-blows-out-the-candles dept.
New submitter goose-incarnated writes I'm looking at cheap and simple home automation. Unfortunately I'm not too clued up on what my options are. There are such a wide array of choices, none of which seem (to me) to be either cheap or simple. I'd like to: Turn switches on/off (lights, wall sockets, general relays, etc); Read the status of on/off switches; Read analog samples (for example, temperature sensors); 'Program' switches based on analog samples/existing switches (for example, program a relay to come on at 30C and go off at 25C, thereby controlling the temperature); Similarly, program switches to go on/off at certain times; Record the samples of analog or digital inputs for a given time . I'd like to do the above using smartphone+bluetooth (for when I'm in the vicinity of the room), or smartdevice+WiFi (for when I'm in the house, somewhere), or even in a pinch, using HTTP to access a server at home from 600km away (which is what I'm willing to do). I'm definitely not willing to stream all my requests/data/responses through a third-party so third party cloud subscription solutions, even if free, are out of the question. Finally (because I know the Slashdot crowd likes a challenge :-)), I'd like something that is easily reprogrammable without having to compile code, then reflash a device, etc. What languages for embedded devices exist for home automation programming, if any. A quick google search reveals nothing specially made for end-users to reprogram their devices, but, like I said above, I'm clueless about options.
Electronic Frontier Foundation

EFF: Apple's Dev Agreement Means No EFF Mobile App For iOS 220

Posted by samzenpus
from the not-for-you dept.
schwit1 writes The EFF launched a new app that will make it easier for people to take action on digital rights issues using their phone. The app allows folks to connect to their action center quickly and easily, using a variety of mobile devices. Sadly, though, they had to leave out Apple devices and the folks who use them. Why? Because they could not agree to the terms in Apple's Developer Agreement and Apple's DRM requirements.

Learn Gate-Array Programming In Python and Software-Defined Radio 51

Posted by samzenpus
from the watch-and-learn dept.
Bruce Perens writes Chris Testa KB2BMH taught a class on gate-array programming the SmartFusion chip, a Linux system and programmable gate-array on a single chip, using MyHDL, the Python Hardware Design Language to implement a software-defined radio transceiver. Watch all 4 sessions: 1, 2, 3, 4. And get the slides and code. Chris's Whitebox hardware design implementing an FCC-legal 50-1000 MHz software-defined transceiver in Open Hardware and Open Source, will be available in a few months. Here's an Overview of Whitebox and HT of the Future. Slashdot readers funded this video and videos of the entire TAPR conference. Thanks!"

Little-Known Programming Languages That Actually Pay 242

Posted by samzenpus
from the thinking-in-esperanto dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes There is no shortage of programming languages, from the well-known ones (Java and C++) to the outright esoteric (intended just for research or even humor). While the vast majority of people learn to program the most-popular ones, the lesser-known programming languages can also secure you a good gig in a specific industry. Which languages? Client-server programming with Opa, Salesforce's APEX language, Mathematica and MATLAB, ASN.1, and even MIT's App Inventor 2 all belong on that list, according to developer Jeff Cogswell. On the other hand, none of these languages really have broad adoption; ASN.1 and SMI, for example, are primarily used in telecommunications and network management. So is it really worth taking the time to learn a new, little-used language for anything other than the thrills?

Interviews: Ask Alexander Stepanov and Daniel E. Rose a Question 80

Posted by samzenpus
from the go-ahead-and-ask dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Alexander Stepanov studied mathematics at Moscow State University and has been programming since 1972. His work on foundations of programming has been supported by GE, Brooklyn Polytechnic, AT&T, HP, SGI, and, since 2002, Adobe. In 1995 he received the Dr. Dobb's Journal Excellence in Programming Award for the design of the C++ Standard Template Library. Currently, he is the Senior Principal Engineer at Daniel E. Rose is a programmer and research scientist who has held management positions at Apple, AltaVista, Xigo, Yahoo, and is the Chief Scientist for Search at His research focuses on all aspects of search technology, ranging from low-level algorithms for index compression to human-computer interaction issues in web search. Rose led the team at Apple that created desktop search for the Macintosh. In addition to working together, the pair have recently written a book, From Mathematics to Generic Programming. Alexander and Daniel have agreed to answer any questions you may have about their book, their work, or programming in general. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post."

Tumblr Co-Founder: Apple's Software Is In a Nosedive 598

Posted by samzenpus
from the clean-up-your-act dept.
mrspoonsi writes Respected developer Marco Arment is worried about Apple's future. In a blog post, he writes, "Apple's hardware today is amazing — it has never been better. But the software quality has taken such a nosedive in the last few years that I'm deeply concerned for its future." Arment was CTO at Tumblr, before he left to start Instapaper. "Apple has completely lost the functional high ground," says Arment. "'It just works' was never completely true, but I don't think the list of qualifiers and asterisks has ever been longer." He blames Apple prioritizing marketing for the problems with Apple's software. Apple wants to have new software releases each year as a marketing hook, but the annual cycles of updating Apple's software are leading to too many bugs and problems, he says: I suspect the rapid decline of Apple's software is a sign that marketing has a bit too much power at Apple today: the marketing priority of having major new releases every year is clearly impossible for the engineering teams to keep up with while maintaining quality. Maybe it's an engineering problem, but I suspect not — I doubt that any cohesive engineering team could keep up with these demands and maintain significantly higher quality."

Better Learning Through Expensive Software? One Principal Thinks Not 169

Posted by samzenpus
from the a-better-way dept.
theodp writes "Instead of improving the instructional practices of teachers," laments Chicago public school Principal Michael Beyer, "we are throwing vast sums of money and time at software and digital solutions that are largely untested, unproven and highly questionable." Ed-Tech vendors' so-called "weapons of mass instruction," argues Beyer, may show "gains" on the high-stakes tests because they mimic the targeted test format, but the learning gains don't necessarily transfer to the real world, or last much longer than the end of the school year. But technology in the classroom is not going away, as one commenter notes. So, what to do? Well, since U.S. CTO Megan Smith is looking for bigger technological fish to fry than weaning the White House off floppy disks, why not give her a crack at Ed-Tech, including a healthy budget and some Lab Schools where she could have educators and technologists brainstorm-and-prototype to separate the Ed-Tech wheat from the chaff without undue vendor influence and short-term test score pressure?

Anthropomorphism and Object Oriented Programming 303

Posted by Soulskill
from the semi-colons-are-out-to-get-me dept.
An anonymous reader writes: We've all been warned about how anthropomorphizing animals and machines can lead us astray. But Edsger Dijkstra once cautioned (PDF) developers against thinking of their programs that way as well. "I think anthropomorphism is worst of all. I have now seen programs 'trying to do things,' 'wanting to do things,' 'believing things to be true,' 'knowing things' etc. Don't be so naive as to believe that this use of language is harmless. It invites the programmer to identify himself with the execution of the program and almost forces upon him the use of operational semantics." A new article fleshes out Dijkstra's statement, providing a good example of where an anthropomorphized analogy for Object Oriented Programming breaks down when you push it too far.

If the Programmer Won't Go To Silicon Valley, Should SV Go To the Programmer? 294

Posted by Soulskill
from the can't-always-get-what-you-want dept.
theodp writes: "If 95% of great programmers aren't in the U.S.," Matt Mullenweg advises in How Paul Graham Is Wrong (a rejoinder to Graham's Let the Other 95% of Great Programmers In), "and an even higher percentage not in the Bay Area, set up your company to take advantage of that fact as a strength, not a weakness. Use WordPress and P2, use Slack, use G+ Hangouts, use Skype, use any of the amazing technology that allows us to collaborate as effectively online as previous generations of company did offline. Let people live someplace remarkable instead of paying $2,800 a month for a mediocre one bedroom rental in San Francisco. Or don't, and let companies like Automattic and Github hire the best and brightest and let them live and work wherever they like." Microsoft and Google — which hawk the very tools to facilitate remote work that Mullenweg cites — have shuttered remote offices filled with top talent even as they cry the talent sky is falling. So, is "being stubborn on keeping a company culture that requires people to be physically co-located," as Mullenweg puts it, a big part of tech's 'talent shortage' problem?" Chris Pepper also recently posted another reasoned rebuttal to Graham's post.

Red Hat Engineer Improves Math Performance of Glibc 226

Posted by Soulskill
from the performance-enhancing-devs dept.
jones_supa writes: Siddhesh Poyarekar from Red Hat has taken a professional look into mathematical functions found in Glibc (the GNU C library). He has been able to provide an 8-times performance improvement to slowest path of pow() function. Other transcendentals got similar improvements since the fixes were mostly in the generic multiple precision code. These improvements already went into glibc-2.18 upstream. Siddhesh believes that a lot of the low hanging fruit has now been picked, but that this is definitely not the end of the road for improvements in the multiple precision performance. There are other more complicated improvements, like the limitation of worst case precision for exp() and log() functions, based on the results of the paper Worst Cases for Correct Rounding of the Elementary Functions in Double Precision (PDF). One needs to prove that those results apply to the Glibc multiple precision bits.

Ask Slashdot: Are Progressive Glasses a Mistake For Computer Users? 464

Posted by timothy
from the you-mean-socialist-glasses dept.
An anonymous reader writes I'm a daily, all-day computer user and use two 19-inch monitors for my work. I'm at the age now where I need reading glasses, and my optometrist steered me to progressive lenses. I don't need any correction for distance, only reading. I'm trying very hard to get used to them, but I hate them. The focal point seems to be about 1 inch big, with everything around that blurry. Reading books on my iPad is a struggle; I have to turn my head side to side simply to keep the line of text in focus, and when I do that, the page warps and flow in a dizzying manner. I don't think reading should be like watching a tennis match. And using my two monitors at work? Hopeless and frustrating! Has anybody here who uses either very large or multiple computer monitors figured out how to comfortably use progressive glasses? Or are they simply inappropriate for this kind of use?