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Is a Computer Science Degree Worth Getting Anymore? 630

snydeq writes "Self-taught technologists are almost always better hires than those with a bachelor's degree in computer science and a huge student loan, writes Andrew Oliver. 'A recruiter recently asked me why employers are so picky. I explained that of the people who earned a computer science degree, most don't know any theory and can't code. Instead, they succeed at putting things on their resume that match keywords. Plus, companies don't consider it their responsibility to provide training or mentoring. In fairness, that's because the scarcity of talent has created a mercenary culture: "Now that my employer paid me to learn a new skill, let me check to see if there's an ad for it on Dice or Craigslist with a higher rate of pay." When searching for talent, I've stopped relying on computer science degrees as an indicator of anything except a general interest in the field. Most schools suck at teaching theory and aren't great at Java instruction, either. Granted, they're not much better with any other language, but most of them teach Java.'"

Converting RSS Feeds To a Dynamic 3D Scene In 120 Lines of Code 73

descubes writes "Tao Presentations is a 3D presentation tool based on a 3D dynamic document description language. This makes it very easy for developers to create their own 3D shows, illustrate talks in an innovative way, even build small interactive 3D applications. An example included in the latest release grabs RSS feeds from a variety of sources (including Slashdot) and turns them into a 3D scene, all in real-time and in about 120 lines of code. It fetches the pictures directly from the web site and maps them on 3D shapes. And this is only a starting point. Tao Presentations can display 3D objects, drive the majority of 3D displays (including glasses-free 3D displays from Alioscopy, Philips or Tridelity), use GLSL shaders for advanced effects, and much more. Tao Presentations is free (as in beer), and the document description language is based on the free (as in speech) XL programming language."
Operating Systems

Why Are Operating System Version Names So Absurd? 460

jfruh writes "Apple's spent more than a decade on version 10 — or, rather, X — of its flagship operating system, with .x versions named after big cats (and many of them, it turns out, after the same big cats). Ubuntu Linux is scrambling to find ever more obscure animals to alliteratively name its versions after. And let's not even talk about Windows, whose current shipping OS is sold as Windows 7 but is really Windows NT 6.1. Why is this area of software marketing so ridiculous?"

Intel Encodes Data In Flickering LEDs (and Shows Off Other Bright Ideas) 65

darien writes "On the day before the Intel Developer Forum opens in San Francisco, Intel has been showing off some of its current research projects, including a system for encoding data in apparently steady light sources, a Kinect-based projected 'touch interface' that works on any surface and an ambitious signage concept that could revolutionise your weekly shop." My favorite thing about light-based networking is that it's the basis of a certain strain of (all too plausible, all too often) conspiracy theory. ("The modern LED 'eco-friendly' light bulb is also a two-way communications device." — easy to believe, since many of them can be. )
Open Source

Torque 3D To Be Released On Github Under the MIT License 54

New submitter iamnothing writes "Eric Preisz, CEO of GarageGames, announces, 'Eleven years ago, The GarageGames founders did an incredibly innovative thing when they sold a full source game engine for $100. We are excited to continue in their footsteps by announcing that we will be releasing Torque 3D as the best open source game technology in the world. Once again, GarageGames will be changing game development.'"

PostgreSQL 9.2 Out with Greatly Improved Scalability 146

The PostgreSQL project announced the release of PostgreSQL 9.2 today. The headliner: "With the addition of linear scalability to 64 cores, index-only scans and reductions in CPU power consumption, PostgreSQL 9.2 has significantly improved scalability and developer flexibility for the most demanding workloads. ... Up to 350,000 read queries per second (more than 4X faster) ... Index-only scans for data warehousing queries (2–20X faster) ... Up to 14,000 data writes per second (5X faster)" Additionally, there's now a JSON type (including the ability to retrieve row results in JSON directly from the database) ala the XML type (although lacking a broad set of utility functions). Minor, but probably a welcome relief to those who need them, 9.2 adds range restricted types. For the gory details, see the what's new page, or the full release notes.
Open Source

4chan Undergoing Major Revision, Getting Public API 166

AdmiralXyz writes "Even the darkest corners of the internet aren't immune to the Web 2.0 boom: BoingBoing reports that 4chan is working on the largest codebase update in its history. The new 4chan will include as standard the functionality of popular browser plugins for using the site, as well as a JSON API so- hooray?- anyone can have immediate access to the contents of 4chan for any purpose they like. This represents a significant update to the heretofore haphazard development process of 4chan, and opens up the possibility of third-party 4chan apps... though probably not on the App Store."

The Struggles of Developing StarCraft 135

An anonymous reader writes "Patrick Wyatt led production efforts for several of Blizzard Entertainment's early games, including Warcraft 1 & 2 and StarCraft. Wyatt has just published an in-depth look at the development of StarCraft, highlighting many of the problems the team encountered, and several of the hacks they came to later regret. Quoting: 'Given all the issues working against the team, you might think it was hard to identify a single large source of bugs, but based on my experiences the biggest problems in StarCraft related to the use of doubly-linked linked lists. Linked lists were used extensively in the engine to track units with shared behavior. With twice the number of units of its predecessor — StarCraft had a maximum of 1600, up from 800 in Warcraft 2 — it became essential to optimize the search for units of specific types by keeping them linked together in lists. ... All of these lists were doubly-linked to make it possible to add and remove elements from the list in constant time — O(1) — without the necessity to traverse the list looking for the element to remove — O(N). Unfortunately, each list was 'hand-maintained' — there were no shared functions to link and unlink elements from these lists; programmers just manually inlined the link and unlink behavior anywhere it was required. And hand-rolled code is far more error-prone than simply using a routine that's already been debugged. ... So the game would blow up all the time. All the time.'" Wyatt also has a couple interesting posts about the making of Warcraft 1.

Rhombus Tech A10 EOMA-68 CPU Card Schematics Completed 155

lkcl writes "Rhombus Tech's first CPU Card is nearing completion and availability: the schematics have been completed by Wits-Tech. Although it appears strange to be using a 1ghz Cortex A8 for the first CPU Card, the mass-volume price of the A10 was lower than other offerings. Not only does the A10 classify as 'good enough' (in combination with 1GB of RAM), Allwinner Tech is one of the very rare China-based SoC companies willing to collaborate with Software (Libre) developers without an enforced (GPL-violating) NDA in place. Overall, it's the very first step in the right direction for collaboration between Software (Libre) developers and mass-volume PRC Factories. There will be more (faster, better) EOMA-68 CPU Cards: this one is just the first."

Ask Slashdot: How Would You Fix the Linux Desktop? 1154

itwbennett writes "Slashdot readers are familiar with the Torvalds/de Icaza slugfest over 'the lack of development in Linux desktop initiatives.' The problem with the Linux desktop boils down to this: We need more applications, and that means making it easier for developers to build them, says Brian Proffitt. 'It's easy to point at solutions like the Linux Standard Base, but that dog won't hunt, possibly because it's not in the commercial vendors' interests to create true cross-distro compatibility. United Linux or a similar consortium probably won't work, for the same reasons,' says Proffitt. So, we put it to the Slashdot community: How would you fix the Linux desktop?"

Windows Phone 8 SDK — By Appointment Only 153

mikejuk writes "Developers worried about the changes that might be waiting for them in the new Windows Phone 8 API are going to have to wait even longer to find out. Microsoft has just announced that the SDK will be available soon, but only to the developers it approves. If you already have a published app, then you can apply to be part of the program. The announcement says, 'But I do want to set your expectations that program access will be limited.' The public SDK will be made available 'later this year,' which is behind the timetable that developers were led to expect. As you can imagine, the developer community, judging by the comment stream, is less than happy. What makes this whole development even stranger is that the announcement was made on the day Nokia previewed a range of WP8 devices. The Nokia launch got most of the publicity, so perhaps the idea was that a little negative news wouldn't be noticed. The real question is: why the limited availability?"

Comments On Code Comments? 472

theodp writes "It seems like comments are on programmers' minds these days. The problem with comments, as Zachary Voase sees it, is that our editors display comments in such a way as to be ignored by the programmer. And over at Scripting News, Dave Winer shares some comments on comments, noting how outlining features allow programmers to see and hide comments as desired. 'The important thing is that with elision (expand/collapse),' explains Winer, 'comments don't take up visual space so there's no penalty for fully explaining the work. Without this ability there's an impossible tradeoff between comments and the clarity of comment-free code.' Winer also makes the case for providing links in his code to external 'worknotes.' So, what are your thoughts on useful commenting practices or features, either implemented or on your wishlist?"

Recent Apple Java Update Doesn't Fix Critical Java Flaw Claims Researcher 102

hypnosec writes "Just yesterday Apple released updates to fix Java vulnerabilities, but it seems the patch doesn't actually target the recently discovered high-profile Java bug that has been the talk of the web during the last two weeks. The two updates – Java for OS X 2012-005 for OS X Lion and Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 10 for Mountain Lion, are meant to tackle the vulnerability described in CVE-2012-0547. But according to KerbsOnSecurity, it seems Cupertino hasn't addressed the recent mega-vulnerabilities in Java as described in CVE-2012-4681." Update: 09/07 12:00 GMT by S : As readers have pointed out, these updates address flaws in Java 6, which is the version Apple maintains. The recently-reported Java vulnerabilities primarily affect Java 7, the patching of which is handled solely by Oracle. Nothing to see here.

Do Tech Entrepreneurs Need To Know How To Code? 202

An anonymous reader writes "Learning to write code has become something of a trendy thing to do. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said he intends to learn code this year. Estonia has recently announced a scheme with the aim of getting every 6-year-old in the Baltic state to learn programming skills. The demand has spawned a number of start-ups offering coding lessons. General Assembly, which teaches off-line courses, has recently opened up in London and is recruiting ahead of a launch in Berlin. On-line education site Codecademy landed $10 million to expand from its home base in New York. Zach Simms, the 22-year-old co-founder, said in an earlier interview with The Wall Street Journal that not everyone has to learn to code, but everybody 'needs to learn the notions of algorithms, realizing what you can use code for.' But do they?"

Oracle To Pay Google $1 Million For Lawyer Fees In Failed Patent Case 97

eldavojohn writes "You may recall the news that Google would not be paying Oracle for Oracle's intellectual property claims against the search giant. Instead, Google requested $4.03 million for lawyer fees in the case. The judge denied some $2.9 million of those fees and instead settled on $1.13 million as an appropriate number for legal costs. Although this is relative peanuts to the two giants, Groklaw breaks the ruling down into more minute detail for anyone curious on what risks and repercussions are involved with patent trolling."