the agent man writes "Wired Magazine is exploring how early kids should learn to code. One of the challenges is to find the proper time in schools to teach programming. Are teachers at elementary and middle school levels really able to teach this subject? The article suggests that even very young kids can learn to program and lists a couple of early experiments as well as more established ideas including the Scalable Game Design curriculum. However, the article also suggests that programming may have to come at the cost of Foreign language learning and music."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
New submitter ddyer writes "Java 1.7.0_40 [Note: released earlier this month] introduces a new 'red text' warning when running unsigned Java applets. 'Running unsigned applications like this will be blocked in a future release...' Or, for self-signed applets,'Running applications by UNKNOWN publishers will be blocked in a future release...' I think I see the point — this will give the powers that be the capability to shut off any malware java applet that is discovered by revoking its certificate. The unfortunate cost of this is that any casual use of Java is going to be killed. It currently costs a minimum of $100/year and a lot of hoop-jumping to maintain a trusted certificate.'"
coondoggie writes "In his keynote address at a security conference today, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak admitted he has enjoyed many adventures in hacking often for the sake of pranks on friends and family, especially back in his college days and the early years of working on computers and the Internet. 'I like to play jokes,' said the Wozniak jovially as he addressed his audience of thousands of security professionals attending the ASIS Conference in Chicago. The famed inventor at Apple admitted he also had some fun with light-hearted forays into hacking computer and telecommunications networks several decades ago back in his college years and while learning about electronics and computers."
itwbennett writes "A couple of years ago, developer Sammy Larbi undertook a project to identify which languages had the most instances of the string 'WTF' in their GitHub code repositories. At the time, Objective C topped the list. ITworld's Phil Johnson has updated Larbi's research using GitHub data from the last 21 months, but instead of screen-scraping GitHub search results as Larbi had done, he queried the GitHub Archive for stand-alone instances of 'WTF' in the comments attached to GitHub commits to weed out cases where the string 'WTF' was legitimately used in the code. The three most baffling languages for 2012/13: C++, Lua, and Scala. Objective C comes in at #16."
An anonymous reader writes "LLVM's libc++ standard library (an alternative to GNU libstdc++) now has full support for C++1y, which is expected to become C++14 next year. Code merged this week implements the full C++1y standard library, with support for new language features in the Clang compiler frontend nearly complete." GCC has some support for the soon-to-be standard too. The C++ standards committee is expected to produce a more or less final draft in just a few weeks. The LLVM and GCC C++14 status pages both have links to the proposals for the new features.
jrepin writes "The KDE libraries are being methodically reworked into a set of cross platform modules that will be readily available to all Qt developers. The KDE Frameworks, designed as drop-in Qt Addons, will enrich Qt as a development environment with functions that simplify, accelerate and reduce the cost of Qt development. For example, KArchive (one of the first Frameworks available) offers support for many popular compression codecs in a self-contained and easy-to-use file archiving library. Just feed it files; there's no need to reinvent an archiving function." This is a pretty major thing: "The introduction of Qt's Open Governance model in late 2011 offered the opportunity for KDE developers to get more closely involved with Qt, KDE's most important upstream resource. ... These contributions to Qt form the basis for further modularization of the KDE libraries. The libraries are moving from being a singular 'platform' to a set of 'Frameworks'. ... Instead it is a comprehensive set of technologies that becomes available to the whole Qt ecosystem." The new KDE Frameworks will be layered as three tiers of components, with each tier consisting of three semi-independent groups of libraries (the article explains the category/tier dependencies; it's a bit hairy for a quick summary). A dashboard shows the status of each component.
ananyo writes "An offshoot of Mozilla is aiming to discover whether a review process could improve the quality of researcher-built software that is used in myriad fields today, ranging from ecology and biology to social science. In an experiment being run by the Mozilla Science Lab, software engineers have reviewed selected pieces of code from published papers in computational biology. The reviewers looked at snippets of code up to 200 lines long that were included in the papers and written in widely used programming languages, such as R, Python and Perl. The Mozilla engineers have discussed their findings with the papers’ authors, who can now choose what, if anything, to do with the markups — including whether to permit disclosure of the results. But some researchers say that having software reviewers looking over their shoulder might backfire. 'One worry I have is that, with reviews like this, scientists will be even more discouraged from publishing their code,' says biostatistician Roger Peng at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland. 'We need to get more code out there, not improve how it looks.'"
theodp writes "Nate West has a nice essay on the importance of whimsy in learning to program. "It wasn't until I was writing Ruby that I found learning to program to be fun," recalls West. "What's funny is it really doesn't take much effort to be more enjoyable than the C++ examples from earlier...just getting to write gets.chomp and puts over cout > made all the difference. Ruby examples kept me engaged just long enough that I could find Why's Poignant Guide to Ruby." So, does the future of introductory computer programming books and MOOCs lie in professional, business-like presentations, or does a less-polished production with some genuine goofy enthusiasm help the programming medicine go down?"
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "ZDNet reports that Oracle's Larry Elison kicked off Oracle OpenWorld 2013 promising a 100x speed-up querying OTLP database or data warehouse batches by means of a 'dual format' for both row and column in-memory formats for the same data and table. Using Oracle's 'dual-format in-memory database' option, every transaction is recorded in row format simultaneously with writing the same data into a columnar database. 'This is pure in-memory columnar technology,' said Ellison, explaining that means no logging and very little overhead on data changes while the CPU core scans local in-memory columns. Ellison followed up with the introduction of Oracle's new M6-32 'Big Memory Machine,' touted to be the fastest in-memory machine in the world, hosting 32 terabytes of DRAM memory and up to 384 processor cores with 8-threads per core."
angry tapir writes "A team of developers has launched a new crowdfunding platform — Drupalfund.us — that's designed to help accelerate development work on the open-source Drupal CMS, as well as potentially fund new training material and other projects of interest to community members. I had a long-ish chat to one of the co-founders about the goals of the platform and how crowdfunding can be used to push forward open source development."
g01d4 writes "I volunteer at a used bookstore that supports the local library. One of my tasks is to sort book donations. For > 5-year-old computer books the choices typically are to save it for sale (fifty cents soft cover, one dollar hardback), pack it, e.g. for another library's bookstore, put it on the free cart, or toss it in the recycle bin. I occasionally dumpster dive the recycle bin to 'rescue' books that I don't think should be pulped. Recently I found a copy of PostgresSQL Essential Reference (2002) and Programming Perl (1996). Would you have left them to RIP? Obviously we have very limited space, 20 shelf feet (storage + sale) for STEM. What criteria would you use when sorting these types of books?"
littlekorea writes "The world's largest web-scale users of MySQL have committed to one further upgrade to the Oracle-controlled database — but Facebook and Twitter are also eyeing off more open options from MariaDB and cheaper options from the NoSQL community. Who will pay for MySQL enterprise licenses into the future?"
gentryx writes "In scientific computing a huge pile of code is still written in Fortran. One reason for this is that codes often evolve over the course of decades and rewriting them from scratch is both risky and costly. While OpenMP and OpenACC are readily available for Fortran, only few tools support authors in porting their codes to MPI clusters, let alone supercomputers. A recent blog post details how LibGeoDecomp (Library for Geometric Decompostition codes), albeit written in C++, can be used to port such codes to state-of-the-art HPC systems. Source code modification is required, but mostly limited to restructuring into a new pattern of subroutines."
reifman writes "In an unusual move, Amazon abruptly pulled the plug on its $100,000 Civic Apps contest for AWS, redirecting contestants to the AWS government site. All entrants through October 15th were to receive a $50 AWS credit. Amazon AWS PR says they, '...accidentally pushed this out early, but please stay tuned for more information on this program later this year.' The contest site, rules (pdf) and FAQ (pdf) of the apparently still upcoming contest can be read from the google cache. Contest prize winners would have had to 'spend' their AWS credits by December 2014."
debingjos writes "Management at my company seems to think that our developers can get extra work done if they work extra long days. However, as one of the devs in question, I don't agree. When I've been coding for eight hours, my pool of concentration is exhausted. Working overtime either fails to produce any extra code, or the quality of the code is very bad. What is the community's opinion on this? This can be broken out further into several questions: What are the maximum number of hours you can work in a day/week and still be reasonably productive? When you absolutely must work beyond that limit, what steps do you take to minimize degradation of quality? If you're able to structure your time differently from the typical 9-5 schedule, what method works best for you? Finally, how do you communicate the quality problems to management?"
kylus writes "The Register is reporting that Oracle's new Java 7 update 40 release comes complete with a new 'Deployment Rule Set' capability which allows administrators to define which particular applets and Java Web Start applications ('Rich Internet Applications') are permitted to run on a given machine. Not a complete solution for the recent trend of Java hacks that have cropped up, but good news for enterprises that have to run this in their environment." Update: 09/19 20:08 GMT by U L : There's an introduction to deploying rule sets on the Java platform group weblog too.
curtwoodward writes "You'd have a hard time picking just one way the traditional news business stumbled into the Internet era. But America's most important newspaper publisher says one mistake sticks out. In a recent discussion at Harvard, Arthur Sulzberger Jr. of the New York Times said newspapers really messed up by not having enough engineers on hand 'building the tools that we're now using.' Instead, the the news business faces a world where outsiders like Facebook and Twitter control the technology that is distributing their work." Or maybe those outsiders are just better.
Lemeowski writes "Open source software projects are seeing some success on fundraising sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. But Warren Konkel believes open source software needs a better funding model that's more aligned with how software is built. So Konkel, who was the first hire at LivingSocial, teamed up with his friend David Rappo, a producer for games including Guitar Hero and Skylander, and founded Bountysource, a crowdfunding and bounty site specifically designed to help developers raise money for their OSS projects, bug fixes and feature requests. In this interview, Konkel talks about how he recently snagged a $1.1 million investment in Bountysource, gives developers tips on launching a fundraising effort for their OSS project, and more."
Damek writes "The OpenZFS project launched today, the truly open source successor to the ZFS project. ZFS is an advanced filesystem in active development for over a decade. Recent development has continued in the open, and OpenZFS is the new formal name for this community of developers, users, and companies improving, using, and building on ZFS. Founded by members of the Linux, FreeBSD, Mac OS X, and illumos communities, including Matt Ahrens, one of the two original authors of ZFS, the OpenZFS community brings together over a hundred software developers from these platforms."
itwbennett writes with a link to a story you'll need to mentally upgrade from "expected to" to "just happened" about IBM's $1 billion dollar investment in Linux officially announced Tuesday morning at LinuxCon (the WSJ broke the story yesterday), by IBM VP Brad McCredie. IBM, says the linked article, will use all that money "to promote Linux development as it tries to adapt Power mainframes and servers to handle cloud and big data applications in distributed computing environments. The investment will fund Linux application development programs for IBM's Power servers and also be used to expand a cloud service where developers can write and test applications for Power servers before deployment. It will also facilitate software development around IBM's new Power8 chips, which will go into servers next year." It's not the only time that IBM has recently tossed around the B-word, and as Nick Kolakowski notes at Slash BI, it's also not the first time IBM has put that much money into Linux.