glowend writes "I just listened to a fascinating podcast with Valve's economist-in-residence, Yanis Varoufakis, about the unusual structure of the workplace at Valve where there is no hierarchy or bosses. Teams of software designers join spontaneously to create and ship video games without any top-down supervision. Varoufakis discussed the economics of this Hayekian workplace and how it actually functions alongside Steam — a gaming platform created by Valve. I kept wondering: assuming that his description of Valve is accurate, can this model work for other tech companies?"
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
First time accepted submitter oxidus60659 writes "I currently work as a programmer for a small business. They have provided me with a laptop and a 27" BenQ monitor on a Neo-Flex stand. The problem is that my main screen is the tiny laptop right in front of me. The 27" monitor is on the left at a very different height position. I want to put the 27" monitor directly above my laptop so I'm looking up rather than to the left for all my coding on the bigger monitor. The stand does not have a high enough setting to accommodate this. What would be a good stand that can mount to a desk high enough to be above a laptop? What kind of monitor setup do you use when programming?"
An anonymous reader writes "Here we go again. A new Java 0-day vulnerability is being exploited in the wild. If you use Java, you can either uninstall/disable the plugin to protect your computer or set your security settings to 'High' and attempt to avoid executing malicious applets. This latest flaw was first discovered by security firm FireEye, which says it has already been used 'to attack multiple customers.' The company has found that the flaw can be exploited successfully in browsers that have Java v1.6 Update 41 or Java v1.7 Update 15 installed, the latest versions of Oracle's plugin."
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.
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."
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.
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.
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."
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.
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."
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.
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."
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.'"
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.'"
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.
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.'"
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)."