An anonymous reader writes "With Firefox OS version 1.0 out the door, Mozilla has decided that it's time to unveil its strategy for new versions. The company is planning to make feature releases available to partners every quarter and push out security updates for the previous two feature releases every six weeks. 'As far as I know, that's the most aggressive mobile OS release strategy out there,' Alex Keybl, Mozilla's Manager of Release Management, said in a statement. 'This sort of alignment across multiple browser products, and now an OS, is unprecedented at the pace we're moving.'"
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dryriver writes "I am an intermediate-level programmer who works mostly in C# NET. I have a couple of image/video processing algorithms that are highly parallelizable — running them on a GPU instead of a CPU should result in a considerable speedup (anywhere from 10x times to perhaps 30x or 40x times speedup, depending on the quality of the implementation). Now here is my question: What, currently, is the most painless way to start playing with GPU programming? Do I have to learn CUDA/OpenCL — which seems a daunting task to me — or is there a simpler way? Perhaps a Visual Programming Language or 'VPL' that lets you connect boxes/nodes and access the GPU very simply? I should mention that I am on Windows, and that the GPU computing prototypes I want to build should be able to run on Windows. Surely there must a be a 'relatively painless' way out there, with which one can begin to learn how to harness the GPU?"
New submitter LFSim writes "It's not the Turing test just yet, but in one more domain, AI is becoming increasingly competitive with humans. This time around, it's in interplanetary trajectory optimization. From the European Space Agency comes the news that researchers from its Advanced Concepts Team have recently won the Gold 'Humies' award for their use of Evolutionary Algorithms to design a spacecraft's trajectory for exploring the Galilean moons of Jupiter (Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto). The problem addressed in the awarded article (PDF) was put forward by NASA/JPL in the latest edition of the Global Trajectory Optimization Competition. The team from ESA was able to automatically evolve a solution that outperforms all the entries submitted to the competition by human experts from across the world. Interestingly, as noted in the presentation to the award's jury (PDF), the team conducted their work on top of open-source tools (PaGMO / PyGMO and PyKEP)."
theodp writes " The lack of education in computer science is an example of an area of particularly acute concern,' Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith told Congress (PDF) as he sold lawmakers on the need to improve 'America's access to high skilled foreign talent'. Smith added that Microsoft also wants to 'help American students and workers gain the skills needed for the jobs that will fuel the innovation economy.' Towards that end, Microsoft will award $100,000 worth of donations to five technology education nonprofits 'who teach programming and provide technical resources to those who might not otherwise get the chance.' So, how will Microsoft determine who's most worthy? With a popularity contest, of course! At the end of October, the top five vote-getting nonprofits — only Windows AzureDev Community members are eligible to vote — will split the Microsoft Money. By the way, currently in second place but trying harder is Code.org, the seemingly dual-missioned organization advised by Microsoft's Smith which has reached out to its 140,000 Facebook fans, and 17,000 Twitter followers in its quest for the $50,000 first prize."
super_rancid writes "In a 7,000 word interview with Raspberry Pi's founder posted on TuxRadar.com, Eben Upton talks about the challenges of managing such a successful project, what may be in the Raspberry Pi mark 2, and why he wishes he'd backed the Parallela Kickstarter." On interesting answer: "We were thinking of booting into Python or booting into Scratch. For younger kids, boot into Scratch. Have an environment where it’s Linux underneath, boots into Scratch and hold down a key at a particular point during boot and it doesn’t boot into Scratch it just drops into the prompt. So you can play with Scratch for six months, once you’re happy with Scratch you turn over the page and 'Hold down F1 during boot,' and it’s like 'Oh look - it’s a PC!' So I think that’s something we’d really like to do."
An anonymous reader writes "I recently (within the past couple years) graduated from college with a bachelor's degree in Computer Science and currently work as a programmer for a large software consulting firm. However, I've become gradually disillusioned with the financial-obsession of the business world and would like to work for the overall betterment of humanity instead. With that in mind, I'm looking to shift my career more toward the scientific research side of things. My interest in computer science always stemmed more from a desire to use it toward a fascinating end — such as modeling or analyzing scientific data — than from a love of business or programming itself. My background is mostly Java, with some experience in C++ and a little C. I have worked extensively with software analyzing big data for clients. My sole research experience comes from developing data analysis software for a geologic research project for a group of grad students; I was a volunteer but have co-authorship on their paper, which is pending publication. Is it realistic to be looking for a position as a programmer at a research institution with my current skills and experiences? Do such jobs even exist for non-graduate students? I'm willing to go to grad school (probably for geology) if necessary. Grad school aside, what specific technologies should I learn in order to gain an edge? Although if I went back to school I'd focus on geology, I'm otherwise open to working as a programmer for any researchers in the natural sciences who will take me."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Developer and editor Jeff Cogswell is back with a comparison of Eclipse and Visual Studio, picking through some common complaints about both platforms and comparing their respective features. 'First, let's talk about usability,' he writes, 'and let's be frank: Neither Eclipse nor Visual Studio is a model for sound usability.' That being said, as an open-source project, Eclipse wins some points for its customizability and compatibility with languages; it's more difficult to modify Visual Studio to meet some programmer needs, which has led to any number of abandoned projects over the years. Microsoft choosing to eliminate macros in recent versions of Visual Studio has also led to some programmer frustrations (and a need for external tools)."
WebMink writes "After strong criticism last year, Github has finally accepted the view that public repositories with no open source license are a bad thing. Self-described as the 'world's largest open source community,' a significant number of GitHub projects come with no rights whatsoever for you to use their code in an open source project. But from now on, creators of new repositories will have to pick from a small selection of OSI-approved licenses or explicitly opt for 'no license'. In Github's words, 'please note that opting out of open source licenses doesn't mean you're opting out of copyright law.'" A quick scan of their new choose a license site reveals at least a few flaws: they present simplicity, caring about patents, and sharing improvements with others as mutually exclusive points when they clearly are not (e.g. the Apache license and the GPLv3 both help with patent concerns, but only Apache is mentioned; and the MIT/X license is listed as the simple license when BSD-style is more prevalent). They also imply it is entirely optional to actually note your copyright in your files, when it is really bad practice not to unless you really want to make it impossible for people to understand the copyright history when e.g. merging your code into another project. Their list of licenses does provide a nice overview of the features of each, but regrettably encourages the use of the GPLv2 (without the "or later version" clause), listing the GPLv3 and all versions of the LGPL in league with seldom used licenses like the Perl Artistic license.
darthcamaro writes "The Linux Kernel Development Mailing List can be a hostile place for anyone. Now Intel developer Sarah Sharp is taking a stand and she wants the LKML to become a more civil place. Quoting her first message: 'Seriously, guys? Is this what we need in order to get improve -stable? Linus Torvalds is advocating for physical intimidation and violence. Ingo Molnar and Linus are advocating for verbal abuse. ... Violence, whether it be physical intimidation, verbal threats or verbal abuse is not acceptable. Keep it professional on the mailing lists.'" The entire thread is worth a read, but Linus isn't buying it: "Because if you want me to 'act professional', I can tell you that I'm not interested. I'm sitting in my home office wearing a bathrobe. The same way I'm not going to start wearing ties, I'm *also* not going to buy into the fake politeness, the lying, the office politics and backstabbing, the passive aggressiveness, and the buzzwords. Because THAT is what 'acting professionally' results in: people resort to all kinds of really nasty things because they are forced to act out their normal urges in unnatural ways.' He also offered cookies in exchange for joining the dark side. An earlier reply by Linus further explains why he thinks it is OK to be mean: most of the time, he's only yelling at people who should know better (cultivating a crew of lead developers bound to him by Stockholm Syndrome?).
hypnosec writes "Oracle will soon be announcing its decision to stop development of Sun virtualization technologies including Sun Ray Software and Hardware, Oracle Virtual Desktop Client, and Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) product lines. In an update to its support policies [Oracle support login required] for virtualization software and hardware, the database company has revealed that this decision is a result of its efforts to 'tightly align Oracle's future desktop virtualization portfolio investments with Oracle Corporation's overall core business strategy.'"
First time accepted submitter faffod writes "Coming from a background of console development, where memory management is a daily concern, I found it interesting that there was any doubt that memory management on a constrained system, like a mobile device, would be a concern. Drew Crawford took the time to document his thoughts, and though there is room for some bikesheding, overall it is spot on. Plus it taught me what bikeshedding means."
PolygamousRanchKid writes with this except from the Economist: "Only 10% of internet entrepreneurs across the world are women, according to Startup Compass, a firm that tracks such things. Except in Amman and other Middle Eastern cities, it seems. There, the share of women entrepreneurs is said to average 35% — an estimate seemingly confirmed by the mix of the sexes at 'Mix'n'Mentor,' a recent gathering in the Jordanian capital organised by Wamda, an online publication for start-ups. Reasons abound, and they are not always positive, says Nina Curley, Wamda's editor. Although more than half of university graduates in many Middle Eastern countries (51% in Jordan) are women, the workforce is dominated by men (women provide only 21% of it overall, and a paltry 16% in Jordan). The internet, however, is a new space that is more meritocratic and not as heavily male. The technology also lets entrepreneurs work from home, making it easier to raise children."
lemur3 writes "State legislators in Colorado have not been receiving speeding tickets due to inadequacies in the implementation of a DMV database. The current system ties plates to vehicles rather than to individuals, the special plates for legislators are issued to individuals. The result is that there is no entry in the database for the special plates when the automated photo radar system is triggered, this means nobody receives a citation. In one case a Colorado resident, who had vanity plates reading '33,' received the photo radar citations intended for Senator Mike Johnston representing district 33, whose vehicle was identified by a '33' on his special plate. Lt. Matt Murray of the Denver Police, speaking of the system commented, 'Our system works, the database works. What needs to happen is the state's database need to be complete.'"
An anonymous reader writes "I have deep experience programming in many languages, and I've some exposure to SQL through PostgreSQL. My math goes so far as trig and algebra, with a little statistics. So far, I've learned enough to be dangerous: mostly via other people's code, experimenting, the PostgreSQL docs, etc. I've been successful using the DB in various ways, but I know I am missing a great deal (and probably doing it wrong, at that.) When DB articles come up on Slashdot, I don't recognize a good deal of the terminology. What is the best way for a technical person to learn SQL/DB work using PostgreSQL? Books? Tutorials? I should mention I don't have local access to a university or people with DB knowledge; have to do this on my own, so books or the Internet are pretty much my options."
First time accepted submitter jasax writes "As an Amazon frequent buyer, I rely quite a lot on reviews of the books I want. However, some caution is in order: the (bad) quality of Amazon's reviews and reviewers under the Amazon Vine program has already been news in Slashdot. Today I was shocked by a practical result of that program. This second edition (published in 2012) of a very specialized system identification book has 12 reviews: the oldest (dated 2007) certainly targets the first edition. The remaining 11 reviews are all from 'Vine Reviewers' (VRs). All seem to be ignorant of what 'System Identification in the Frequency Domain' really is. None of the reviews is tagged with a 'Verified Amazon Purchase'; most (if not all) are 'small talk reviews' peppered with technical phrases cloning the publisher's book description, and some of the reviews are ridiculous, to say the least. If this sample of reviewing by VRs really is the norm, then the bottom line is that the Vine program is totally irrelevant and unreliable — at least for technical books."
grahamsaa writes "I work at medium sized company that offers a number of products that rely fairly heavily on backend databases, some of which are hundreds of gigabytes and deal with hundreds or thousands of queries per second. Currently, we're using a mix of Postgres, Oracle, and MySQL, though we're working hard to move everything to Postgres. The products that are still on MySQL and Oracle were acquisitions, so we didn't get to choose the RDBMS at the time these products were designed. So far, we've been very happy with Postgres, but I know next to nothing about Oracle. It's expensive and has a long history of use in large enterprises, but I'm curious about what it offers that Postgres might not — I'm not saying this because I think that sticking with Oracle would be a good idea (because in our case, it probably isn't), but I'm curious as to how some companies justify the cost — especially considering that EnterpriseDB makes transitioning from Oracle to Postgres feasible (though not painless) in most cases. For those that use Oracle — is it worth the money? What's keeping you from switching?"
An anonymous reader writes "As promised, Mozilla today announced the release of Firefox OS Simulator 4.0 with a focus on developers who want to make money in the Firefox Marketplace. You can download the new version now for Windows, Mac, and Linux from Mozilla Add-Ons. First and foremost, the new simulator supports test receipts for paid apps: each app's dashboard features a drop-down menu where you can select a receipt type. Choosing one of these will have the simulator add-on downloading a test receipt from a Marketplace receipt service and reinstalling the app using it. This lets developers test receipt verification with whatever receipts types they may require (valid, invalid, and refunded)."
James Gosling is probably best known for creating the Java programming language while working at Sun Microsystems. Currently, he is the chief software architect at Liquid Robotics. Among other projects, Liquid Robotics makes the Wave Glider, an autonomous, environmentally powered marine robot. James has agreed to take a little time from the oceangoing robots and answer any questions you have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
michaelmalak writes "The annual ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest finished up last week for 2013, but for the first time since its inception in the 1970s, no U.S. college placed in the top 10. Through 1989, a U.S. college won first place every year, but there hasn't been one in first place since 1997. The U.S. college that has won most frequently throughout the contest's history, Stanford, hasn't won since 1991. The 2013 top 10 consists entirely of colleges from Eastern Europe, East Asia, and India."