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Books

Book Review: Drush For Developers, 2nd Edition 29

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
Michael Ross writes As with any content management system, building a website using Drupal typically requires extensive use of its administrative interface, as one navigates through its menus, fills out its forms, and reads the admin pages and notifications — or barely skims them, as they have likely been seen by the site builder countless times before. With the aim of avoiding this tedium, speeding up the process, and making it more programmatic, members of the Drupal community created a "shell" program, Drush, which allows one to perform most of these tasks on the command line. At this time, there is only one current print book that covers this tool, Drush for Developers, Second Edition, which is ostensibly an update of its predecessor, Drush User's Guide. Read below for the rest of Michael's review.
Graphics

Developer of 'Banished' Develops His Own Shading Language 31

Posted by timothy
from the copious-free-time dept.
jones_supa writes Luke Hodorowicz, the hard-working developer behind the townbuilding strategy computer game Banished, has
designed a novel GPU shading language and written a compiler for it. The language has been christened 'Shining Rock Shading Language' (SRSL) and it outputs the program in several other shading languages. The first goal for the language was to treat the vertex, fragment and geometry shader as a single program. The language sees the graphics pipeline as a stream of data, followed by some code, which outputs a stream of data, and then more code runs, and another stream of data is output. Body text of the shaders is very C-like and should be understood easily coming from other shading languages. SRSL has all the intrinsic functions you would expect from HLSL or GLSL. All types are HLSL-style. Loops and conditionals are available, but switch statements and global variables are seen redundant and not implemented. Luke's blog post tells more about the details of the language, complemented with examples.
Input Devices

Control Anything With Gestures: Myo Bluetooth Protocol Released 15

Posted by timothy
from the not-for-use-while-driving dept.
First time accepted submitter Legendary Teeth writes The makers of the Myo Gesture Control Armband (Thalmic Labs) have just released the specs for the Bluetooth protocol it uses. While there are already official SDKs for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android, this means that now anyone can roll their own support for other platforms like Linux or Arduino without needing to use one of the official platforms as a bridge. Anything you can write code for that that can act as a Bluetooth GATT client would now be possible, really. If you aren't familiar with the Myo armband, it's a Bluetooth Low Energy device with 8 EMG pods and an IMU that you wear on your arm. It can read your muscle activity to detect gestures you make with you hands, which you can then use to do things like fly drones, play games, or control music.
Education

No Film At 11: the Case For the Less-Video-Is-More MOOC 87

Posted by Soulskill
from the better-learning-through-animated-GIFs dept.
theodp writes: In Why My MOOC is Not Built on Video, GWU's Lorena Barba explains why the Practical Numerical Methods with Python course she and colleagues put together has but one video: "Why didn't we have more video? The short answer is budget and time: making good-quality videos is expensive & making simple yet effective educational videos is time consuming, if not necessarily costly. #NumericalMOOC was created on-the-fly, with little budget. But here's my point: expensive, high-production-value videos are not necessary to achieve a quality learning experience." When the cost of producing an MOOC can exceed $100,000 per course, Barba suggests educators pay heed to Donald Bligh's 1971 observation that "dazzling presentations do not necessarily result in learning." So what would Barba do? "We designed the central learning experience [of #NumericalMOOC] around a set of IPython Notebooks," she explains, "and meaningful yet achievable mini-projects for students. I guarantee learning results to any student that fully engages with these!"
Businesses

Why You Should Choose Boring Technology 220

Posted by Soulskill
from the predictable-headaches dept.
An anonymous reader writes Dan McKinley, a long-time Etsy engineer who now works at online payment processor Stripe, argues that the boring technology option is usually your best choice for a new project. He says, "Let's say every company gets about three innovation tokens. You can spend these however you want, but the supply is fixed for a long while. You might get a few more after you achieve a certain level of stability and maturity, but the general tendency is to overestimate the contents of your wallet. Clearly this model is approximate, but I think it helps. If you choose to write your website in NodeJS, you just spent one of your innovation tokens. If you choose to use MongoDB, you just spent one of your innovation tokens. If you choose to use service discovery tech that's existed for a year or less, you just spent one of your innovation tokens. If you choose to write your own database, oh god, you're in trouble. ... The nice thing about boringness (so constrained) is that the capabilities of these things are well understood. But more importantly, their failure modes are well understood."
Businesses

IT Jobs With the Best (and Worst) ROI 139

Posted by Soulskill
from the becoming-borg-is-at-both-the-top-and-the-bottom dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes: Over at Dice, there's a breakdown of which tech jobs have the greatest return on investment, with regard to high starting salaries and growth potential relative to how much you need to spend on degrees and certifications. Which jobs top this particular calculation? No shockers here: DBAs, software engineers, programmers, and Web developers all head up the list, with salaries that tick into six-figure territory. How about those with the worst ROI? Graphic designers, sysadmins, tech support, and software QA testers often present a less-than-great combination of relatively little money and room for advancement, even if you possess a four-year degree or higher, unless you're one of the lucky few.
Bug

MIT Debuts Integer Overflow Debugger 40

Posted by timothy
from the measure-twice-cut-once dept.
msm1267 writes Students from M.I.T. have devised a new and more efficient way to scour raw code for integer overflows, the troublesome programming bugs that serve as a popular exploit vector for attackers and often lead to the crashing of systems. Researchers from the school's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) last week debuted the platform dubbed DIODE, short for Directed Integer Overflow Detection. As part of an experiment, the researchers tested DIODE on code from five different open source applications. While the system was able to generate inputs that triggered three integer overflows that were previously known, the system also found 11 new errors. Four of the 11 overflows the team found are apparently still lingering in the wild, but the developers of those apps have been informed and CSAIL is awaiting confirmation of fixes.
Programming

No, It's Not Always Quicker To Do Things In Memory 485

Posted by Soulskill
from the performance-that-fails-to-perform dept.
itwbennett writes: It's a commonly held belief among software developers that avoiding disk access in favor of doing as much work as possible in-memory will results in shorter runtimes. To test this assumption, researchers from the University of Calgary and the University of British Columbia compared the efficiency of alternative ways to create a 1MB string and write it to disk. The results consistently found that doing most of the work in-memory to minimize disk access was significantly slower than just writing out to disk repeatedly (PDF).
Databases

Michael Stonebraker Wins Turing Award 40

Posted by Soulskill
from the much-deserved-recognition dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Michael Stonebraker, an MIT researcher who has revolutionized the field of database management systems and founded multiple successful database companies, has won the Association for Computing Machinery's $1 million A.M. Turing Award, often referred to as "the Nobel Prize of computing." In his previous work at the University of California at Berkeley, Stonebraker developed two of his most influential systems, Ingres and Postgres (PDF), which provide the foundational ideas — and, in many cases, specific source code — that spawned several contemporary database products, including IBM's Informix and EMC's Greenplum. Ingres was one of the first relational databases, which provide a more organized way to store multiple kinds of entities – and which now serve as the industry standard for business storage. Postgres, meanwhile, integrated Ingres' ideas with object-oriented programming, enabling users to natively map objects and their attributes into databases. This new notion of "object-relational" databases could be used to represent and manipulate complex data, like computer-aided design, geospatial data, and time series.
Software

Developers and the Fear of Apple 269

Posted by Soulskill
from the think-different-except-about-us dept.
An anonymous reader writes: UI designer Eli Schiff has posted an article about the "climate of fear" surrounding Apple in the software development community. He points out how developers who express criticism in an informal setting often recant when their words are being recorded, and how even moderate public criticism is often prefaced by flattery and endorsements.

Beyond that, the industry has learned that they can't rely on Apple's walled garden to make a profit. The opaque app review process, the race to the bottom on pricing, and Apple's resistance to curation of the App Store are driving "independent app developers into larger organizations and venture-backed startups." Apple is also known to cut contact with developers if they release for Android first. The "climate of fear" even affects journalists, who face not only stonewalling from Apple after negative reporting, but also a brigade of Apple fans and even other journalists trying to paint them as anti-Apple.
Programming

A Bechdel Test For Programmers? 515

Posted by timothy
from the this-code-feels-different dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes In order for a movie or television show to pass the Bechdel Test (named after cartoonist and MacArthur genius Alison Bechdel), it must feature two female characters, have those two characters talk to one another, and have those characters talk to one another about something other than a man. A lot of movies and shows don't pass. How would programming culture fare if subjected to a similar test? One tech firm, 18F, decided to find out after seeing a tweet from Laurie Voss, CTO of npm, which explained the parameters of a modified Bechdel Test. According to Voss, a project that passes the test must feature at least one function written by a woman developer, that calls a function written by another woman developer. 'The conversation started with us quickly listing the projects that passed the Bechdel coding test, but then shifted after one of our devs then raised a good point,' read 18F's blog posting on the experiment. 'She said some of our projects had lots of female devs, but did not pass the test as defined.' For example, some custom languages don't have functions, which means a project built using those languages would fail even if written by women. Nonetheless, both startups and larger companies could find the modified Bechdel Test a useful tool for opening up a discussion about gender balance within engineering and development teams.
Networking

Facebook Engineering Tool Mimics Dodgy Network Connectivity 60

Posted by Soulskill
from the open-source-tools-for-pranks dept.
itwbennett writes: Facebook has released an open source application called Augmented Traffic Control that can simulate the connectivity of a cell phone accessing an app over a 2G, Edge, 3G, or LTE network. It can also simulate weak and erratic WiFi connections. The simulations can give engineers an estimate of how long it would take a user to download a file, for instance, given varying network connections. It can help engineers re-create problems that crop up only on very slow networks.
Windows

Microsoft Releases Windows 10 SDK 133

Posted by Soulskill
from the tools-to-build dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft today launched developer tools for the Windows 10 Technical Preview, including a software development kit (SDK). Developers can use the new tools, currently in preview, to start building universal Windows apps for Microsoft's upcoming operating system. A universal Windows app is Microsoft's verbiage for an app that can run across different form factors, including PCs, tablets, and phones. Developers can publish these apps in the Windows Store, which will be available across all types of Windows 10 devices.
Books

Modern PHP: New Features and Good Practices 179

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
Michael Ross writes In recent years, JavaScript has enjoyed a dramatic renaissance as it has been transformed from a browser scripting tool primarily used for special effects and form validation on web pages, to a substantial client-side programming language. Similarly, on the server side, after years as the target of criticism, the PHP computer programming language is seeing a revival, partly due to the addition of new capabilities, such as namespaces, traits, generators, closures, and components, among other improvements. PHP enthusiasts and detractors alike can learn more about these changes from the book Modern PHP: New Features and Good Practices, authored by Josh Lockhart. Keep reading for the rest of Michael's review.