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Programming

Toward Better Programming 391

Posted by Soulskill
from the forest-for-the-binary-trees dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Chris Granger, creator of the flexible, open source LightTable IDE, has written a thoughtful article about the nature of programming. For years, he's been trying to answer the question: What's wrong with programming? After working on his own IDE and discussing it with hundreds of other developers, here are his thoughts: 'If you look at much of the advances that have made it to the mainstream over the past 50 years, it turns out they largely increased our efficiency without really changing the act of programming. I think the reason why is something I hinted at in the very beginning of this post: it's all been reactionary and as a result we tend to only apply tactical fixes. As a matter of fact, almost every step we've taken fits cleanly into one of these buckets. We've made things better but we keep reaching local maxima because we assume that these things can somehow be addressed independently. ... The other day, I came to the conclusion that the act of writing software is actually antagonistic all on its own. Arcane languages, cryptic errors, mostly missing (or at best, scattered) documentation — it's like someone is deliberately trying to screw with you, sitting in some Truman Show-like control room pointing and laughing behind the scenes. At some level, it's masochistic, but we do it because it gives us an incredible opportunity to shape our world.'"
Google

MIT Researchers Bring JavaScript To Google Glass 70

Posted by samzenpus
from the nice-glasses dept.
colinneagle (2544914) writes "Earlier this week, Brandyn White, a PhD candidate at the University of Maryland, and Scott Greenberg, a PhD candidate at MIT, led a workshop at the MIT Media Lab to showcase an open source project called WearScript, a JavaScript environment that runs on Google Glass. White demonstrated how Glass's UI extends beyond its touchpad, winks, and head movements by adding a homemade eye tracker to Glass as an input device. The camera and controller were dissected from a $25 PC video camera and attached to the Glass frame with a 3D-printed mount. A few modifications were made, such as replacing the obtrusively bright LEDs with infrared LEDs, and a cable was added with a little soldering. The whole process takes about 15 minutes for someone with component soldering skills. With this eye tracker and a few lines of WearScript, the researchers demonstrated a new interface by playing Super Mario on Google Glass with just eye movements."
Open Source

Latest Humble Bundle Supports Open Source GameDev Tools 29

Posted by timothy
from the good-to-see dept.
lars_doucet (2853771) writes "The latest Humble Weekly Bundle is titled 'Celebrating Open Source,' and features eight indie games, with charity going to the open source tools used to develop them. The open-source programming language Haxe is strongly represented: three of the charities include the Haxe Foundation, itself OpenFL (recently featured on Slashdot), and FlashDevelop, the most popular open-source Haxe/ActionScript IDE. The fourth is Ren'Py, the Python-based visual novel engine used in award-winning games like Long Live the Queen and Analogue: A Hate Story.

The games themselves are Magical Diary, NEO Scavenger, Offspring Fling!, Planet Stronghold, and for those who pay $6 or more, Anodyne, Defender's Quest, Evoland, and Incredipede, as well as 6 soundtracks. 7 of the 8 games are cross-platform across Mac/Win/Linux, and all are DRM-free."
Crime

TSA Missed Boston Bomber Because His Name Was Misspelled In a Database 275

Posted by Soulskill
from the let's-blame-technology dept.
schwit1 sends this news from The Verge: "Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the primary conspirator in the Boston Marathon bombing that killed three people, slipped through airport security because his name was misspelled in a database, according to a new Congressional report. The Russian intelligence agency warned U.S. authorities twice that Tsarnaev was a radical Islamist and potentially dangerous. As a result, Tsarnaev was entered into two U.S. government databases: the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment and the Treasury Enforcement Communications System (TECS), an interagency border inspection database.

A special note was added to TECS in October of 2011 requiring a mandatory search and detention of Tsarnaev if he left the country. 'Detain isolated and immediately call the lookout duty officer,' the note reportedly said. 'Call is mandatory whether or not the officer believes there is an exact match.' 'Detain isolated and immediately call the lookout duty officer.' Unfortunately, Tsarnaev's name was not an exact match: it was misspelled by one letter. Whoever entered it in the database spelled it as 'Tsarnayev.' When Tsarnaev flew to Russia in January of 2012 on his way to terrorist training, the system was alerted but the mandatory detention was not triggered. Because officers did not realize Tsarnaev was a high-priority target, he was allowed to travel without questioning."
Programming

Ask Slashdot: What Do You Consider Elegant Code? 373

Posted by Soulskill
from the link-it-if-you've-got-it dept.
lxrslh writes: "Since the dawn of computing, we have read about massive failed projects, bugs that are never fixed, security leaks, spaghetti code, and other flaws in the programs we use every day to operate the devices and systems upon which we depend. It would be interesting to read the code of a well-engineered, perfectly coded, intellectually challenging program. I would love to see the code running in handheld GPS units that first find a variable number of satellites and then calculate the latitude, longitude, and elevation of the unit. Do you have an example of a compact and elegant program for which the code is publicly available?"
KDE

KDE and Canonical Developers Disagree Over Display Server 202

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-meeting-of-the-minds dept.
sfcrazy (1542989) writes "Robert Ancell, a Canonical software engineer, wrote a blog titled 'Why the display server doesn't matter', arguing that: 'Display servers are the component in the display stack that seems to hog a lot of the limelight. I think this is a bit of a mistake, as it’s actually probably the least important component, at least to a user.' KDE developers, who do have long experience with Qt (something Canonical is moving towards for its mobile ambitions), have refuted Bob's claims and said that display server does matter."
Programming

Ask Slashdot: Moving From Tech Support To Development? 133

Posted by timothy
from the which-flavor-of-ice-cream? dept.
An anonymous reader writes "My eastern European tech-support job will be outsourced in 6 months to a nearby country. I do not wish to move, having relationship and roots here, and as such I stand at a crossroads. I could take my current hobby more seriously and focus on Java development. I have no degree, no professional experience in the field, and as such, I do not hold much market value for an employer. However, I find joy in the creative problem solving that programming provides. Seeing the cogs finally turn after hours invested gives me pleasures my mundane work could never do. The second option is Linux system administration with a specialization in VMware virtualisation. I have no certificates, but I have been around enterprise environments (with limited support of VMware) for 21 months now, so at the end of my contract with 27 months under my belt, I could convince a company to hire me based on willingness to learn and improve. All the literature is freely available, and I've been playing with VDIs in Debian already.

My situation is as follows: all living expenses except food, luxuries and entertainment is covered by the wage of my girlfriend. That would leave me in a situation where we would be financially alright, but not well off, if I were to earn significantly less than I do now. I am convinced that I would be able to make it in system administration, however, that is not my passion. I am at an age where children are not a concern, and risks seem to be, at first sight, easier to take. I would like to hear the opinion and experience of fellow readers who might have been in a similar situation."
Graphics

Final Fantasy XIV Failed Due To Overly Detailed Flowerpots 195

Posted by timothy
from the discretion-is-the-better-part-of-computation dept.
_xeno_ (155264) writes "You might not remember Final Fantasy XIV, the Square Enix MMORPG that flopped so badly that Square Enix fired the original developers. But Square Enix certainly does, and at a recent GDC panel, producer Naoki Yoshida explained his views on what caused its failure. One reason? The focus on graphical quality over game play, leading to flower pots that required the same rendering power as player characters, but without the same focus on making the game fun to play. Along with severe server instability and a world made up of maze-like maps, he also cited the game being stuck in past, trying to stick with a formula that worked with Square Enix's first MMO, Final Fantasy XI, without looking at newer MMOs to see what had worked there."
AMD

AMD Develops New Linux Open-Source Driver Model 142

Posted by timothy
from the winds-of-change dept.
An anonymous reader writes "AMD privately shared with Phoronix during GDC2014 that they're developing a new Linux driver model. While there will still be an open (Gallium3D) and closed-source (Catalyst) driver, the Catalyst driver will be much smaller. AMD developers are trying to isolate the closed-source portion of the driver to just user-space while the kernel driver that's in the mainline Linux kernel would also be used by Catalyst. It's not clear if this will ultimately work but they hope it will for reducing code duplication, eliminating fragmentation with different kernels, and allowing open and closed-source driver developers to better collaborate over the AMD Radeon Linux kernel driver."
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: Re-Learning How To Interview As a Developer? 218

Posted by timothy
from the I'm-a-people-person! dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Earlier in my career, when I switched jobs every year or so, I was pretty good at interviewing. I got offers about 75% of the time if I got to a in person. But times have changed... my last 2 jobs have been, longer term gigs.. 5 and 3 years respectively, and I am way out of practice. My resume often gets me the phone interview and I am actually really good at the phone screen.. I am 12 for 12 in the last 6 months phone screen to in person interview. It is the in person interview where I am really having issues. I think I come off wrong or something.. I usually get most of the technical questions, but I am not doing something right because I don't come off very likeable or something. It is hard to get very much feedback to know exactly what I am doing wrong. I have always gotten very good performance reviews and I am well liked at work, but if there is one area for improvement on my reviews it has always been communication. So I ask, can anyone give out some advice, I have tried toastmasters a few times, but does anyone have other tips or ideas? Has anyone else had a similar experiences?"
Businesses

Startup Employees As an Organized Labor Group 107

Posted by timothy
from the crowdsource-my-pension dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Last Friday may turn out to have marked the beginning of Silicon Valley's organized labor movement--startup employees met in Palo Alto 'to share war stories and to start developing what organizers called a 'Startup Employee Equity Bill of Rights'.'" That probably should include the right to work late, for little pay, and to trade less certainty now for greater hoped-for benefits down the road. If you've been a startup employee, or started one of your own, what would you put on the wishlist?
PHP

Facebook Introduces Hack: Statically Typed PHP 230

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the sml-and-php-fall-in-love dept.
alokmenghrajani (2602135) writes with news of Facebook's new Open Source language, Hack. Quoting: "Today we're releasing Hack, a programming language we developed for HHVM that interoperates seamlessly with PHP. Hack reconciles the fast development cycle of PHP with the discipline provided by static typing, while adding many features commonly found in other modern programming languages. ... Traditionally, dynamically typed languages allow for rapid development but sacrifice the ability to catch errors early and introspect code quickly, particularly on larger codebases. Conversely, statically typed languages provide more of a safety net, but often at the cost of quick iteration. We believed there had to be a sweet spot. ... Hack has deep roots in PHP. In fact, most PHP files are already valid Hack files. ... Our principal addition is static typing. We have developed a system to annotate function signatures and class members with type information; our type checking algorithm infers the rest. Type checking is incremental, such that even within a single file some code can be converted to Hack while the rest remains dynamically typed. ... If a function parameter or class member does not have an explicit type annotation, the type checker considers its type to be dynamic, and it does not check the type of that value." In addition to static typing, they've introduced proper closures that capture the lexical environment, generics, collections, and array shapes. The Hack website has more details. There's a fairly complete language manual, tools to infer types in PHP source and annotate the code, and source available under the PHP license.
Programming

Ask Slashdot: Will Older Programmers Always Have a Harder Time Getting a Job? 379

Posted by Soulskill
from the recommendation:-stop-aging dept.
Theseuss writes "Given the strong youth culture associated with the modern day Silicon Valley startup scene, many times it falls to the 40-year-old programmer to prove that he can still use the newest up-and-coming technology. Yet the rate at which the tech sector is growing suggests that in 20 years there will be a an order of magnitude more 'old-hat' programmers in the industry. As such, do you think the cultural bias towards young programmers will change in the near future?"
Android

Google Android Studio Vs. Eclipse: Which Fits Your Needs? 140

Posted by Soulskill
from the depends-which-pants-i'm-wearing dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Google's Android Studio is a development tool for Android based on the IntelliJ IDEA platform, one that managed to attract a lot of hype when it rolled out in mid-2013. Roughly a year later, the platform is still in 'early access preview,' and work on it is ongoing. Eclipse, on the other hand, is the granddaddy of IDEs; although it doesn't offer native Android support, it does have some nice tools to help you build Android applications—one such tool is the Google Plugin for Eclipse, made by Google. Developer and editor Jeff Cogswell compares Eclipse and its Google-made Google Plugin with Google's own Android Studio, developed with the help of the people who make IntelliJ IDEA. His verdict? Eclipse is beginning to show its age, especially when it comes to Android development, while Android Studio offers some noted benefits. 'Android Studio is still in preview mode, without an official release, even if that preview is in pretty fine shape—its status certainly shouldn't prevent you from using it, at least in my opinion,' he writes. Do you agree?"
Games

Unreal Engine 4 Launching With Full Source Code 149

Posted by Soulskill
from the see-the-man-behind-the-curtain dept.
jones_supa writes "Today Epic launched Unreal Engine 4 for game developers. Supported platforms are Windows, OS X, iOS and Android, with desktop Linux coming later. The monetization scheme is unique: anyone can get access to literally everything for a $19/month fee. Epic wants to build a business model that succeeds when UE4 developers succeed. Therefore, part of the deal is that anyone can ship a commercial product with UE4 by paying 5% of their gross revenue resulting from sales to users. This gets them the Unreal Editor in ready-to-run form, and the engine's complete C++ source code hosted on GitHub for collaborative development."
The Courts

Ex-Head of Troubled Health Insurance Site May Sue, Citing 'Cover-Up' 162

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the doomed-from-the-beginning dept.
itwbennett writes "Carolyn Lawson, the former CIO for Oregon's troubled health care insurance website, is alleging that state officials engaged in a 'substantial cover-up' meant to deflect blame away from themselves and onto herself and the project's contractor, Oracle. Lawson, who was forced to resign in December, this week filed a tort claim notice, which is a required precursor to filing a lawsuit against the state." Claims are made that the state was the typical bad client, refusing to articulate "business requirements" effectively and repeatedly increasing the scope of the project. But then again Oracle was involved.
Python

Python 3.4 Released 196

Posted by Soulskill
from the onward-and-upward dept.
New submitter gadfium writes: "Python 3.4 has been released. It adds new library features, bug fixes, and security improvements. It includes: at standardized implementation of enumeration types, a statistics module, improvements to object finalization, a more secure and interchangeable hash algorithm for strings and binary data, asynchronous I/O support, and an installer for the pip package manager."
Programming

Code Combat: Free, Open Source, Multiplayer Programming Lessons 30

Posted by Soulskill
from the ninjas-versus-rock-stars dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Looking for something to do this weekend? Code Combat recently released the first of their multi-player levels for the general public. Their goal is to enable users to learn JavaScript it a fun, game-structured way. There are a bunch of levels to teach programming basics and JavaScript syntax, showing users how to code the AI and send humans against Orcs. It ranges from simple, single-player movement problems all the way to complex, multiplayer, Warcraft-styled battles featuring multiple troop types and heroes. Best of all, the entire project is up on Github (MIT license) and it welcomes new submissions."
Java

Java 8 Officially Released 302

Posted by Soulskill
from the gluten-free,-no-trans-fats dept.
darthcamaro writes "Oracle today officially released Java 8, nearly two years after Java 7, and after much delay. The new release includes a number of critical new features, including Lambda expressions and the new Nashorn JavaScript engine. Java 8, however, is still missing at least one critical piece that Java developers have been asking for, for years. 'It's a pity that some of the features like Jigsaw were dropped as modularity, runtime dependencies and interoperability are still a huge problem in Java,' James Donelan, vice president of engineering at MuleSoft said. 'In fact this is the one area where I still think Java has a long way to go.'"

Given its constituency, the only thing I expect to be "open" about [the Open Software Foundation] is its mouth. -- John Gilmore

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