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The Almighty Buck

The Dangers of Beating Your Kickstarter Goal 168

jfruh writes "In March of 2012 legendary game designers Tim Schafer and Ron Gilbert ran a Kickstarter to design a new adventure game, asked for $400,000, and came away with more than $3.3 million. Their promised delivery date was October 2012. Now it's July 2013, and the project still needs cash, which they plan to raise by selling an 'early release' version on Steam in January 2014. One possible lesson: radically overshooting your crowdfunding goal can cause you to wildly expand your ambitions, leading to a project that can't be tamed."

Book Review: Programming PHP 3rd Edition 155

Michael Ross writes "As a hugely popular scripting language with an 18-year history, PHP has been the topic of countless computer language books. One of the most comprehensive offerings has been Programming PHP, published by O'Reilly Media. The first edition appeared in March 2002, and was written by Rasmus Lerdorf (the original developer of PHP) and Kevin Tatroe. A second edition was released in May 2006, and saw the addition of another co-author, Peter MacIntyre. With the many changes to the language during the past seven years, the book has again been updated, to cover all of the major new features made available in version 5 of PHP." Keep reading for the rest of Michael's review.

Silicon Valley In 2013 Resembles Logan's Run In 2274 432

theodp writes "The 1976 science fiction film Logan's Run depicts a dystopian future society where life must end at the age of 30. So, it's a world that kind of resembles today's Silicon Valley, where the NY Times reports that the median age of workers is 29 years old at Google and 28 years old at Facebook. The report that technology workers are young — really young — comes on the heels of other presumably-unrelated stories that Silicon Valley execs can't find enough skilled workers and no one would fund Doug Engelbart in the last four decades of his life. On the bright side, at least old techies don't die in Silicon Valley — they just can't get hired."

Modeling How Programmers Read Code 115

An anonymous reader writes "Following up on an experiment from December, Michael Hansen has recorded video of programmers of varying skill levels as the read and evaluate short programs written in Python. An eye tracker checks 300 times per second to show what they look at as they mentally digest the script. You can see some interesting differences between experts and beginners: 'First, Eric's eye movements are precise and directed from the beginning. He quickly finds the first print statement and jumps back to comprehend the between function. The novice, on the other hand, spends time skimming the whole program first before tackling the first print. This is in line with expectations, of course, but it's cool to see it come out in the data. Another thing that stands out is the pronounced effect of learning in both videos. As Eric pointed out, it appears that he "compiled" the between function in his head, since his second encounter with it doesn't require a lengthy stop back at the definition. The novice received an inline version of the same program, where the functions were not present. Nevertheless, we can see a sharp transition in reading style around 1:30 when the pattern has been recognized.'"

Oracle Quietly Switches BerkeleyDB To AGPL 219

WebMink writes "A discussion in the Debian community reveals that last month Oracle quietly disclosed a change for the embedded BerkeleyDB database from the quirky Sleepycat License to the Affero General Public License (AGPL) in future versions. AGPL is only compatible with GPLv3 and treats web deployment as a trigger to license compliance, so developers using BerkeleyDB will need to check their code is still legally licensed. Even if they had made the switch in the interests of advancing software freedom it would be questionable to force so many developers into a new license compatibility crisis. But it seems likely their only motivation is to scare more people into buying proprietary licenses. Oracle are well within their rights, but developers are likely to treat this as a betrayal. As a poster in the Debian thread says, "Oracle move just sent the Berkeley DB to oblivion" because there are some great alternatives, like OpenLDAP's LMDB."

Who Will Teach U.S. Kids To Code? Rupert Murdoch 138

theodp writes "For all of their handwaving at about U.S. kids not being taught Computer Science, tech execs from Microsoft, Google, and Facebook seem more focused lately on Plan B of their 'two-pronged' National Talent Strategy. So, who's going to teach your children CompSci? Enter friend-of-the-Gates-Foundation Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch's Amplify Education is launching an AP Computer Science MOOC this fall (Java will be covered), taught by an experienced AP CS high school teacher (video). An added option, called MOOC Local, will provide additional resources to schools with students in the CS MOOC. MOOC Local will eventually cost $200 per student, but is free for the first year."

Harlan: a Language That Simplifies GPU Programming 195

hypnosec writes "Harlan – a declarative programming language that simplifies development of applications running on GPU has been released by a researcher at Indiana University. Erik Holk released his work publicly after working on it for two years. Harlan's syntax is based on Scheme – a dialect of LISP programming language. The language aims to help developers make productive and efficient use of GPUs by enabling them to carry out their actual work while it takes care of the routine GPU programming tasks. The language has been designed to support GPU programming and it works much closer to the hardware." Also worth a mention is Haskell's GPipe interface to programmable GPUs.

Digia Releases Qt 5.1 With Preliminary Support For Android and iOS 86

An anonymous reader writes "Finnish software and services firm Digia, which bought Qt from Nokia back in August, has released version 5.1 of the cross-platform application framework. Among the changes are 'significant improvements' to Qt Quick and preliminary support for Android and iOS. The latter means Qt on Android and iOS are both considered Technology Previews, letting developers start building for the two mobile operating systems and porting apps from other platforms by reusing the same code base. Although most of the Qt functionality and tool integration is already in place to start developing mobile apps, Digia promises complete ports to Android and iOS will come with the release of Qt 5.2 'later this year.'"

BART Strike Provides Stark Contrast To Tech's Non-Union World 467

dcblogs writes "The strike by San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) workers this week is a clear and naked display of union power, something that's probably completely alien to tech professionals. Tech workers aren't organized in any significant way except through professional associations. They don't strike. But the tech industry is highly organized, and getting more so. Industry lobbying spending has been steadily rising, reaching $135 million last year, almost as much as the oil and gas industry. But in just one day of striking, BART workers have cost the local economy about $73 million in lost productivity due to delays in traffic and commuting. Software developers aren't likely to unionize. As with a lot of professionals, they view themselves as people with special skills, capable of individually bargaining for themselves, and believe they have enough power in the industry to get what they want, said Victor Devinatz, a professor of management and quantitative methods at Illinois State University College of Business. For unions to get off the ground with software workers, Devinatz said, 'They have to believe that collective action would be possible vehicle to get the kinds of things that they want and that they deserve.'"

Things That Scare the Bejeezus Out of Programmers 641

itwbennett writes "Software developers are, by and large, a cool and analytical bunch, but there are a handful of things that strike terror in their hearts. Phil Johnson scoured developer forums looking for an answer to the question: What's your biggest fear as a programmer? The answers clustered into 5 broad groups ranging from being forced to learn or use a specific technology to working for and with incompetents. What's your biggest fear?"

The Simian Army and the Antifragile Organization 66

CowboyRobot writes "ACM has an article about how Netflix conducts its resilience testing. Instead of the GameDays used by sites such as Amazon and Google, Netflix uses what they call The Simian Army, based on the philosophy that 'Resilience can be improved by increasing the frequency and variety of failure and evolving the system to deal better with each new-found failure, thereby increasing anti-fragility.' While GameDay exercises are like a fire-drill, with scheduled exercises where failure is manually introduced or simulated, the Simian Army relies on failure in the live environment induced by autonomous agents known as 'monkeys.' Chaos Monkey randomly terminates virtual instances in a production environment that are serving live customer traffic. Chaos Gorilla causes an entire Amazon Availability Zone to fail. And Chaos Kong will take down an entire region of zones. 'What doesn't kill you makes you stronger' and Netflix hopes that by constantly protecting itself from internal onslaught, they will become increasingly 'anti-fragile — growing stronger from each successive stressor, disturbance, and failure.'"

How Facial Analysis Software Could Help Struggling Students 90

moon_unit2 writes "Tech Review has a story on research showing that facial recognition software can accurately spot signs that programming students are struggling. NC State researchers tracked students learning java and used an open source facial-expression recognition engine to identify emotions such as frustration or confusion. The technique could be especially useful for Massive Open Online Courses — where many thousands of students are working remotely — but it could also help teachers identify students who need help in an ordinary classroom, experts say. That is, as long as those students don't object to being watched constantly by a camera."
The Almighty Buck

Clinkle Wants To Become Your Wallet 121

vikingpower writes "Clinkle, a new mobile payments start-up, may or may not have succeeded where so many other efforts have fizzled by inventing a practical way to replace credit cards with smartphones. It's hard to say, though, since Clinkle won't say much about how its system works. Its website is, well ... slight. But a prominent group of Silicon Valley investors who do know what Clinkle is cooking up are acting as though it has achieved a breakthrough. On Thursday, Clinkle announced that it had raised $25 million in early financing from Accel Partners; Andreessen Horowitz; Intel; Intuit; Marc Benioff, the chief executive of; Peter Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal; and a long list of other investors with technology industry pedigrees. The Huffington Post has an article on Clinkle, or rather on Stanford students putting their degree on hold to go work at Clinkle. The Wall Street Journal [paywalled] mentions Clinkle having some 30-odd employees already."

How Silicon Valley's Tech Reign Will End 395

theodp writes "Silicon Valley's stranglehold on West Coast innovation is in danger. The main problem? It's no fun to live in Silicon Valley. Technology is people, explains The Atlantic's Derek Thompson, and more people are choosing to live in cities. And Silicon Valley isn't like a city, it's like a suburb. 'What's happening now,' says author Bruce Katz, 'is workers want to be in Oakland and San Francisco.' So, how might Silicon Valley save itself? 'Silicon Valley is going to have to urbanize,' Katz said. '[There is a] migration out of Silicon Valley to places where people really want to live.'"

Ask Slashdot: How Will You Update Your Technical Skills Inventory This Summer? 208

Proudrooster writes "As technologists, developers, and programmers it is essential to keep moving forward as technology advances so that we do not find ourselves pigeonholed, irrelevant, or worse, unemployed. If you had to choose a new technology skill to add to your personal inventory this summer, what would it be and why? Also, where would you look for the best online training (iTunesU, The technologies that immediately jump out as useful to me are HTML5, XCODE, and AJAX. How about you?"

Larry Ellison and Marc Benioff Suddenly Playing Nice, Weirding Everyone Out 27

Nerval's Lobster writes "Once upon a time, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison took what seemed like inordinate amounts of pleasure in firing off verbal broadsides at each other. In 2011, for example, Ellison referred to Salesforce as 'the roach motel of clouds' and 'a very bad security model.' But Benioff's given as good as he's gotten, swiping at Oracle's early cloud efforts as 'cloud in a box' and 'just another server.' But oh, how things change: Ellison and Benioff have revealed that their firms would come together in a joint effort. They were on their best behavior during a conference call this week. 'The Oracle database has been a key part of Salesforce's infrastructure from the very beginning of our company 14 years ago,' Benioff told Ellison at one point, according to a transcript posted on ZDNet. 'Absolutely the best decision we ever made was to go with Oracle.' Why the sudden reversal? Simply put, after years of sticking with a hardware-and-software model, Oracle now has cloud religion. For Salesforce, the benefits are a little murkier, but some analysts think that Salesforce will be able to leverage Oracle's name to gain a heightened profile with businesses. But can Benioff and Ellison continue to play nice?"

Immigration Bill Passes the Senate, Includes More H-1B Visas 274

An anonymous reader writes "While the landmark immigration bill (full text PDF), which recently passed the U.S. Senate, is being hailed as bringing crucial reforms that will vastly improve the state of immigration in this country, there is a provision in it that is seeing relatively little discussion: section 4101, a 'market-based' increase in the amount of H-1B visas for skilled workers. 'The pitched arguments of both sides, which are likely to resurface in the House when it takes up its version of an immigration overhaul, cloud a complicated reality. There is little empirical evidence to suggest that foreign engineers displace American engineers as a whole. If anything, one recent study suggests, the growth of immigrant workers in American companies helps younger American technical workers — more of them are hired and at higher-paying jobs — but has no noticeable consequences, good or bad, on older workers.'"

Node.js and MongoDB Turning JavaScript Into a Full-Stack Language 354

Nerval's Lobster writes "For all its warts and headaches, JavaScript has emerged as the lingua franca of the modern Web, arguably second in adoption only to HTML itself, which obviously is just a markup standard rather than a full-fledged programming language. It's effectively impossible to launch a sophisticated Web project without making extensive use of JavaScript and AJAX dynamic loading. That's precisely why recent projects that move JavaScript beyond its usual boring domain of defining in-browser interactivity are so interesting — because it's already dominant, and growing even more so. Writer and software developer Vijith Assar argues that Node.js and MongoDB are turning JavaScript into a full-stack language. 'In the grand scheme, Node and Mongo are still quite new; for the most part, ace JavaScript developers who can write brilliant code on both sides of the request transaction have yet to emerge,' he suggests. 'But if and when they do, the things they build could be jaw-dropping.'"

Dr. Dobb's Calls BS On Obsession With Simple Code 381

theodp writes "Over at Dr. Dobb's, Editor-in-Chief Andrew Binstock has a nice rant on The Misplaced Obsession with Simplicity. 'Any idiot can write complex code,' goes the old maxim, 'the true art is writing simple code.' Right, Andrew? Wrong (mostly). Binstock explains, 'It's not true that any idiot can write complex code. Complex code is difficult, often very difficult, to write. It's entirely true that it's more difficult to maintain, too. But that's the nature of complexity. Some things are intensely difficult to express in code and they require complexity, simply because they're not inherently simple.' After citing the complex-but-necessarily-so code of Al Aho and sometimes-misguided reverence for cyclomatic complexity limits to help make his point, Binstock concludes, 'My view of simplicity is unemotional and free of idolatry because I define it with respect to complexity, rather than the other way around: Simplicity is the quality of code that is no more complex than required to express the underlying complexity. In this way, simple code can be intensely complex. There is no inherent good/bad dichotomy.'"

Review: Oracle Database 12c 147

snydeq writes "InfoWorld's Riyaj Shamsudeen offers an in-depth look at Oracle Database 12c, which he calls a 'true cloud database,' bringing a new level of efficiency and ease to database consolidation. 'In development for roughly four years, Oracle Database 12c introduces so many important new capabilities in so many areas — database consolidation, query optimization, performance tuning, high availability, partitioning, backup and recovery — that even a lengthy review has to cut corners. Nevertheless, in addition to covering the big ticket items, I'll give a number of the lesser enhancements their due,' writes Riyaj Shamsudeen. 'Having worked with the beta for many months, I can tell you that the quality of software is also impressive, starting with a smooth RAC cluster installation. As with any new software release, I did encounter a few minor bugs. Hopefully these have been resolved in the production release that arrived yesterday.'"