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Is Code.org Too Soulless To Make an Impact? 384

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the whatever-works dept.
theodp writes "By trotting out politicians (Bill Clinton, Mike Bloomberg, Marco Rubio, Al Gore) and celebrities (Chris Bosh, will.i.am, Ashton Kutcher), Tuesday's Code.org launch certainly was a home run with the media. But will it actually strike a chord with kids and inspire them to code? Dave Winer has his doubts, and explains why — as someone who truly loves programming — code.org rubbed him the wrong way. 'I don't like who is doing the pitching,' says Winer, 'and who isn't. Out of the 83 people they quote, I doubt if many of them have written code recently, and most of them have never done it, and have no idea what they're talking about.' Code.org's because-you-can-make-a-lot of-money-doing-it pitch also leaves Dave cold. So, why should one code, Dave? 'Primarily you should do it because you love it, because it's fun — because it's wonderful to create machines with your mind. Hugely empowering. Emotionally gratifying. Software is math-in-motion. It's a miracle of the mind. And if you can do it, really well, there's absolutely nothing like it.' Nice. So, could Code.org use less soulless prattle from 'leaders and trendsetters' and more genuine passion from programmers?" Just force all ninth graders to learn Scheme instead of Microsoft Word.
Databases

A New Approach To Database-Aided Data Processing 45

Posted by Soulskill
from the think-of-the-database-as-free-child-labor dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Parallel Universe blog has a post about parallel data processing. They start off by talking about how Moore's Law still holds, but the shift from clock frequency to multiple cores has stifled the rate at which hardware allows software to scale. (Basically, Amdahl's Law.) The simplest approach to dealing with this is sharding, but that introduces its own difficulties. The more you shard a data set, the more work you need to do to separate out the data elements that can't interact. Optimizing for 2n cores takes more than twice the work of optimizing for n cores. The article says, 'If we want to continue writing compellingly complex applications at an ever-increasing scale we must come to terms with the new Moore's law and build our software on top of solid infrastructure designed specifically for this new reality; sharding just won't cut it.' Their solution is to transfer some of the processing work to the database. 'This because the database is in a unique position to know which transactions may contend for the same data items, and how to schedule them with respect to one another for the best possible performance. The database can and should be smart.' They demonstrate how SpaceBase does this by simulating a 10,000-spaceship battle on different sets of hardware (code available here). Going from a dual-core system to a quad-core system at the same clock speed actually doubles performance without sharding."
Businesses

How Paid Apps On Firefox OS Will Work 74

Posted by Soulskill
from the garden-without-walls dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Mozilla has put up a blog post about how building a paid app will work for Firefox OS. The Firefox Marketplace will host web apps, and Mozilla is quick to point out that the apps won't lock you into Firefox OS. They will use the receipt protocol, which other devices can support. If they end up doing so, users could buy the app just once and run it anywhere. 'There is, of course, a chicken vs. egg problem here so Mozilla hopes to be the egg that helps prove out the decentralized receipt concept and iterate on the protocol. Mozilla invites other vendors to help us work on getting receipts right so that paid apps are as portable and "webby" as possible.' Mozilla has a JavaScript API for exposing device receipts, and a client-side library can then contact a verification service URL from the receipt." Somewhat related: a recent panel at Mobile World Congress consisted of representatives for Firefox OS, Ubuntu for Phones, and Sailfish OS. They spoke about the need for alternatives to Android and iOS, and how manufacturers and carriers actually seem eager to use these new operating systems to differentiate their products
Media

Xiph Episode 2: Digital Show & Tell 50

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the very-complicated-beeps dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Continuing a firehose tradition of maximum information density, Xiph.Org's second video on digital media explores multiple facets of digital audio signals and how they really behave in the real world. Demonstrations of sampling, quantization, bit-depth, and dither explore digital audio behavior on real audio equipment using both modern digital analysis and vintage analog bench equipment... just in case we can't trust those newfangled digital gizmos. You can also download the source code for each demo and try it all for yourself!" Plus you get to look at Monty's beard and hear his soothing voice. There's a handy wiki page with further information and a summary of the video if text is your thing.
Ubuntu

Ubuntu Developer Summits Shifting Online, Increasing Frequency 49

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the also-called-irc dept.
hypnosec writes "Ubuntu Developer Summits Community Manager Jono Bacon has announced that the bi-annual Ubuntu Developer Summits, which were held at different locations like Brussels, Oakland, Copenhagen will be replaced by online events by moving to the cloud. Bacon revealed that the event has been successful, but in a bid to bring about improvements and refinement in the openness and accessibility of the event, it is going to transition into an online event." They are also going to be held every three months instead of every six.
Databases

Intel Launches Its Own Apache Hadoop Distribution 18

Posted by Soulskill
from the if-you-want-something-done-right-do-it-yourself dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "The Apache Hadoop open-source framework specializes in running data applications on large hardware clusters, making it a particular favorite among firms such as Facebook and IBM with a lot of backend infrastructure (and a whole ton of data) to manage. So it'd be hard to blame Intel for jumping into this particular arena. The chipmaker has produced its own distribution for Apache Hadoop, apparently built 'from the silicon up' to efficiently access and crunch massive datasets. The distribution takes advantage of Intel's work in hardware, backed by the Intel Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) Instructions (Intel AES-NI) in the Intel Xeon processor. Intel also claims that a specialized Hadoop distribution riding on its hardware can analyze data at superior speeds—namely, one terabyte of data can be processed in seven minutes, versus hours for some other systems. The company faces a lot of competition in an arena crowded with other Hadoop players, but that won't stop it from trying to throw its muscle around."
Education

Tech Leaders Encourage Teaching Schoolkids How To Code 265

Posted by Soulskill
from the we-need-more-apps dept.
rtoz writes "Code.org has released infographics and a video to explain why students should be taught to code in school. They've gathered support from leaders in politics and the tech industry. Mark Zuckerberg says, 'Our policy at Facebook is literally to hire as many talented engineers as we can find. There just aren't enough people who are trained and have these skills today.' Former U.S. President Bill Clinton adds, 'At a time when people are saying, "I want a good job – I got out of college and I couldn't find one," every single year in America, there is a standing demand for 120,000 people who are training in computer science.' Bill Gates said, 'Learning to write programs stretches your mind, and helps you think better, creates a way of thinking about things that I think is helpful in all domains.' Google's Eric Schmidt is looking beyond first-world countries: 'For most people on Earth, the digital revolution hasn't even started yet. Within the next 10 years, all that will change. Let's get the whole world coding!'" Part of the standing demand for computer science jobs may be influenced by bad policies from tech companies, like Yahoo's ban on working from home.
Programming

Ruby 2.0.0 Released 121

Posted by Soulskill
from the onward-and-upward dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Today version 2.0.0 of Ruby has been released. This is a stable release, and the Ruby team has done their best to make it compatible with 1.9, making it easier to migrate than it was to switch from 1.8 to 1.9. New core language features include: 'Keyword arguments, which give flexibility to API design; Module#prepend, which is a new way to extend a class; A literal %i, which creates an array of symbols easily; __dir__, which returns the dirname of the file currently being executed; and UTF-8 default encoding, which make many magic comments omissible.' There are also new built-in libraries for lazy stream and for an asynchronous exception handling API. The release includes a number of performance improvements and debug support for DTrace."
Databases

A Tale of Two Databases, Revisited: DynamoDB and MongoDB 73

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the there-can-be-only-fifty-or-so dept.
Questioning his belief in relational database dogma, new submitter Travis Brown happened to evaluate Amazon's Dynamo DB and MonogDB. His situation was the opposite of Jeff Cogswell's: he started off wanting to prefer Dynamo DB, but came to the conclusion that the benefits of Amazon managing the database for him didn't outweigh the features Mongo offers. From the article: "DynamoDB technically isn't a database, it's a database service. Amazon is responsible for the availability, durability, performance, configuration, optimization and all other manner of minutia that I didn't want occupying my mind. I've never been a big fan of managing the day-to-day operations of a database, so I liked the idea of taking that task off my plate. ... DynamoDB only allows you to query against the primary key, or the primary key and range. There are ways to periodically index your data using a separate service like CloudSearch, but we are quickly losing the initial simplicity of it being a database service. ... However, it turns out MongoDB isn't quite as difficult as the nerds had me believe, at least not at our scale. MongoDB works as advertised and auto-shards and provides a very simple way to get up and running with replica sets." His weblog entry has a few code snippets illustrating how he came to his conclusions.
Displays

Carmack On VR Latency 94

Posted by Soulskill
from the harder-better-faster-stronger dept.
An anonymous reader writes "For a while now, John Carmack has been pushing to bring virtual reality technology back to the gaming world. VR was largely abandoned over a decade ago when it became apparent that the hardware just wasn't ready to support it. In 2013, things are different; cheap displays with a high pixel density and powerful processors designed for small systems are making virtual reality a... reality. One of the last obstacles to be conquered is latency — the delay between moving your head and seeing your perspective change in the virtual world. In a lengthy and highly-technical post at #AltDevBlogADay, Carmack has outlined a number of strategies for mitigating and reducing latency. With information and experience like this being shared with the game development community at large, it shouldn't be long until VR makes a permanent place for itself in our gaming lives."
Software

Microsoft, BSA and Others Push For Appeal On Oracle v. Google Ruling 191

Posted by timothy
from the poor-innocent-business-model dept.
sl4shd0rk writes "In 2012, Oracle took Google to court over the use of Java in Android. Judge William Alsup brought the ruling that the structure of APIs could not be copyrighted at all. Emerging from the proceedings, it was learned that Alsup himself had some programming background and wasn't bedazzled by Oracle's thin arguments on the range-checking function. The ruling came, programmers rejoiced and Oracle vowed Appeal. It seems that time is coming now, nearly a year later, as Microsoft, BSA, EMC, Netapp, et al. get behind Oracle to overturn Alsup's ruling citing 'destabilization' of the 'entire software industry.'"
Software

Why My Team Went With DynamoDB Over MongoDB 106

Posted by timothy
from the mostly-for-the-web-scale-of-it dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Software developer Jeff Cogswell, who matched up Java and C# and peeked under the hood of Facebook's Graph Search, is back with a new tale: why his team decided to go with Amazon's DynamoDB over MongoDB when it came to building a highly customized content system, even though his team specialized in MongoDB. While DynamoDB did offer certain advantages, it also came with some significant headaches, including issues with embedded data structures and Amazon's sometimes-confusing billing structure. He offers a walkthrough of his team's tips and tricks, with some helpful advice on avoiding pitfalls for anyone interested in considering DynamoDB. 'Although I'm not thrilled about the additional work we had to do (at times it felt like going back two decades in technology by writing indexes ourselves),' he writes, 'we did end up with some nice reusable code to help us with the serialization and indexes and such, which will make future projects easier.'"
Security

iOS Developer Site At Core of Facebook, Apple Watering Hole Attack 88

Posted by Soulskill
from the web-of-trust dept.
msm1267 writes "The missing link connecting the attacks against Apple, Facebook and possibly Twitter is a popular iOS mobile developers' forum called iphonedevsdk which was discovered hosting malware in an apparent watering hole attack that has likely snared victims at hundreds of organizations beyond the big three. It's not clear whether the site remains infected, but researcher Eric Romang dug into the situation and determined that the site was hosting malicious JavaScript that was redirecting visitors to another site, min.liveanalytics. That site had been hosting malware as of Jan. 15."
Programming

Two Years of GNU Guile Scheme 2.0 107

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the better-lisp-for-a-better-tomorrow dept.
Two years ago Guile Scheme, the official extension language of the GNU project, released version 2.0, a major upgrade to the implementation. As part of the two year anniversary, the maintainers organized a challenge to hack a small project using Guile in 30 days as part of a birthday software potluck. The two coolest dishes appear to be OpenGL support using the FFI, and XCB bindings built using the XML specification for XCB: "guile-xcb is a language implemented in the Guile VM that parses the XML files used by the xcb project to specify the X protocol and compiles them into Guile modules containing all the methods and data needed to send requests to the X server and receive replies/events back. If new X extensions are added to the xcb library, guile-xcb can compile and add them with no additional work. " See the release announcement for details on the other dishes.
Python

Python Trademark Filer Ignorant of Python? 261

Posted by Soulskill
from the everybody-makes-mistakes dept.
WebMink writes "Is it possible that the CEO of the company that's trying to file a trademark on 'Python' was unaware of Python's importance as a programming technology? That's what he claims — despite running a hosting company that's trying to break into cloud computing, where Python is used extensively. Still, he also regards the Python Software Foundation as a hostile American company and thinks that getting attention from half the world's geeks is a DDoS. From the article: '[The CEO, Tim Poultney,] confirmed that he'd not involved any technical staff in the decisions he'd made about the Python product brand, and told me he regretted that as it would probably have helped him understand the likely reaction to his trademark challenge. ... He said he now understood how offended the global developer community are and told me there was obviously only one outcome that was now possible.'"
Cellphones

Tizen 2.0 Magnolia SDK and Source Code Released 37

Posted by Soulskill
from the looking-out-for-number-2.0 dept.
jrepin writes "The Tizen 2.0 source code and SDK are now available. 'This release includes an enhanced Web framework that provides state-of-the-art HTML5/W3C API support, a Web UI framework (including full-screen and multi-window support), additional Tizen device APIs, such as Bluetooth and NFC support, and access to the device's calendar, call history, and messaging subsystems are now available. Other highlights: The Web Runtime framework supports new configuration elements for specifying the required features and privileges, and provides the basic runtime environment for NPRuntime plugins; the Native framework supports full-featured application development and provides a variety of features such as background applications, IP Push, and TTS (Text-To-Speech)."
Java

Apple Hit By Hackers Who Targeted Facebook 148

Posted by Soulskill
from the getting-hacked-is-now-the-trendy-thing-to-do dept.
snydeq writes "Apple was recently attacked by hackers who infected the Macintosh computers of some employees, the company said on Tuesday in an unprecedented disclosure that described the widest known cyber attacks against Apple-made computers to date, Reuters reports. 'The same software, which infected Macs by exploiting a flaw in a version of Oracle Corp's Java software used as a plug-in on Web browsers, was used to launch attacks against Facebook, which the social network disclosed on Friday. ... A person briefed on the investigation into the attacks said that hundreds of companies, including defense contractors, had been infected with the same malicious software, or malware. The attacks mark the highest-profile cyber attacks to date on businesses running Mac computers.'"
Programming

Duke Nukem 3D Code Review 128

Posted by timothy
from the much-faster-than-the-game-itself dept.
alancronin writes "Similar to Fabien Sanglard's previous code reviews of other games such as the Quake and Doom line of games comes a review of the code base of Duke Nukem 3D (split out over 4 pages). This will be a very good read for anyone interested in understanding the mechanics of a highly addictive game or anyone that wants to learn more about game design."
Facebook

Facebook Hacks Points To Much Bigger Threat For Mobile Developers 59

Posted by samzenpus
from the protect-ya-neck dept.
DavidGilbert99 writes "Facebook admitted last weekend that it was hacked but assured everyone that no data was compromised. However following some investigation by security firm F-Secure, it seems this could be just the tip of the iceberg and that thousands of mobile app developers without the dedicated security team Facebook has in place could already be compromised. The vector for the attack was a mobile developer's website, and the malware used likely targeted Apple's Mac OS X rather than Windows."

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