Education

Why Coding Is Not the New Literacy 101

Posted by Soulskill
from the pants-are-the-new-shirts dept.
An anonymous reader writes: There has been a furious effort over the past few years to bring the teaching of programming into the core academic curricula. Enthusiasts have been quick to take up the motto: "Coding is the new literacy!" But long-time developer Chris Granger argues that this is not the case: "When we say that coding is the new literacy, we're arguing that wielding a pencil and paper is the old one. Coding, like writing, is a mechanical act. All we've done is upgrade the storage medium. ... Reading and writing gave us external and distributable storage. Coding gives us external and distributable computation. It allows us to offload the thinking we have to do in order to execute some process. To achieve this, it seems like all we need is to show people how to give the computer instructions, but that's teaching people how to put words on the page. We need the equivalent of composition, the skill that allows us to think about how things are computed."

He further suggests that if anything, the "new" literacy should be modeling — the ability to create a representation of a system that can be explored or used. "Defining a system or process requires breaking it down into pieces and defining those, which can then be broken down further. It is a process that helps acknowledge and remove ambiguity and it is the most important aspect of teaching people to model. In breaking parts down we can take something overwhelmingly complex and frame it in terms that we understand and actions we know how to do."
Programming

Ask Slashdot: Is Pascal Underrated? 463

Posted by timothy
from the let's-make-a-wager dept.
An anonymous reader writes In the recent Slashdot discussion on the D programming language, I was surprised to see criticisms of Pascal that were based on old information and outdated implementations. While I'm sure that, for example, Brian Kernighan's criticisms of Pascal were valid in 1981, things have moved on since then. Current Object Pascal largely addresses Kernighan's critique and also includes language features such as anonymous methods, reflection and attributes, class helpers, generics and more (see also Marco Cantu's recent Object Pascal presentation). Cross-platform development is fairly straightforward with Pascal. Delphi targets Windows, OS X, iOS and Android. Free Pascal targets many operating systems and architectures and Lazarus provides a Delphi-like IDE for Free Pascal. So what do you think? Is Pascal underrated?
Education

Brought To You By the Letter R: Microsoft Acquiring Revolution Analytics 103

Posted by timothy
from the interesting-choice-of-letter dept.
theodp writes Maybe Bill Gates' Summer Reading this year will include The Art of R Programming. Pushing further into Big Data, Microsoft on Friday announced it's buying Revolution Analytics, the top commercial provider of software and services for the open-source R programming language for statistical computing and predictive analytics. "By leveraging Revolution Analytics technology and services," blogged Microsoft's Joseph Sirosh, "we will empower enterprises, R developers and data scientists to more easily and cost effectively build applications and analytics solutions at scale." Revolution Analytics' David Smith added, "Now, Microsoft might seem like a strange bedfellow for an open-source company [RedHat:Linux as Revolution Analytics:R], but the company continues to make great strides in the open-source arena recently." Now that it has Microsoft's blessing, is it finally time for AP Statistics to switch its computational vehicle to R?
Programming

Bjarne Stroustrup Awarded 2015 Dahl-Nygaard Prize 182

Posted by timothy
from the took-a-while-to-get-the-spelling dept.
mikejuk writes Bjarne Stroustrup, the creator of C++, is the 2015 recipient of the Senior Dahl-Nygaard Prize, considered the most prestigious prize in object-oriented computer science. Established in 2005 it honors the pioneering work on object-orientation of Ole-Johan Dahl and Kristen Nygaard, who designed Simula, the original object-oriented language and are remembered as "colorful characters." To be eligible for the senior prize an individual must have made a "significant long-term contribution to the field of Object-Orientation," and this year it goes to Bjarne Stoustrup for the design, implementation and evolution of the C++ programming language. You can't argue with that.
Programming

By the Numbers: The Highest-Paying States For Tech Professionals 135

Posted by timothy
from the where-are-you-now? dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes The average technology professional made $89,450 in 2014, according to Dice's latest salary survey. When it comes to salaries, however, not all states and cities are created equal. Those tech pros living and working in Silicon Valley are the highest-paid in the country, with an average annual salary of $112,610—but that salary grew only 4 percent year-over-year, lagging behind cities such as Portland and Seattle. Dice has built an interactive map that shows where people are making the most (and least). As you click around, note how salary growth is particularly strong in parts of the West, the Northeast, and the South, while remaining stagnant (and even regressing) in some middle states. If anything, the map reinforces what many tech pros have known for years: that more cities and regions are becoming hubs of innovation.
Programming

Ask Slashdot: Has the Time Passed For Coding Website from Scratch? 299

Posted by samzenpus
from the best-tools-for-the-job dept.
First time accepted submitter thomawack writes As a designer I always do webdesign from scratch and put them into CMSMS. Frameworks are too complicated to work into, their code is usually bloated and adaptable online solutions are/were limited in options. I know my way around html/css, but I am not a programmer. My problem is, always starting from scratch has become too expensive for most customers. I see more and more online adaptive solutions that seem to be more flexible, but I am a bit overwhelmed because there are so many solutions around. Is there something you can recommend?
Programming

Is D an Underrated Programming Language? 382

Posted by Soulskill
from the single-letter-names dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes: While some programming languages achieved early success only to fall by the wayside (e.g., Delphi), one language that has quietly gained popularity is D, which now ranks 35 in the most recent Tiobe Index. Inspired by C++, D is a general-purpose systems and applications language that's similar to C and C++ in its syntax; it supports procedural, object-oriented, metaprogramming, concurrent and functional programming. D's syntax is simpler and more readable than C++, mainly because D creator Walter Bright developed several C and C++ compilers and is familiar with the subtleties of both languages. D's advocates argue that the language is well thought-out, avoiding many of the complexities encountered with modern C++ programming. So shouldn't it be more popular? The languages with the biggest gains this time around include JavaScript, PL/SQL, Perl, VB, and COBOL. (Yes, COBOL.) The biggest drops belonged to the six most popular languages: Objective-C, C, Java, C++, PHP, and C#.
Programming

Justified: Visual Basic Over Python For an Intro To Programming 643

Posted by timothy
from the I-know-let's-centralize-such-decisions dept.
theodp writes ICT/Computing teacher Ben Gristwood justifies his choice of Visual Basic as a programming language (as a gateway to other languages), sharing an email he sent to a parent who suggested VB was not as 'useful' as Python. "I understand the popularity at the moment of the Python," Gristwood wrote, "however this language is also based on the C language. When it comes to more complex constructs Python cannot do them and I would be forced to rely on C (which is incredibly complex for a junior developer) VB acts as the transition between the two and introduces the concepts without the difficult conventions required. Students in Python are not required to do things such as declare variables, which is something that is required for GCSE and A-Level exams." Since AP Computer Science debuted in 1984, it has transitioned from Pascal to C++ to Java. For the new AP Computer Science Principles course, which will debut in 2016, the College Board is leaving the choice of programming language(s) up to the teachers. So, if it was your call, what would be your choice for the Best Programming Language for High School?
Books

Book Review: FreeBSD Mastery: Storage Essentials 75

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
Saint Aardvark writes If, like me, you administer FreeBSD systems, you know that (like Linux) there is an embarrassment of riches when it comes to filesystems. GEOM, UFS, soft updates, encryption, disklabels — there is a *lot* going on here. And if, like me, you're coming from the Linux world your experience won't be directly applicable, and you'll be scaling Mount Learning Curve. Even if you *are* familiar with the BSDs, there is a lot to take in. Where do you start? You start here, with Michael W. Lucas' latest book, FreeBSD Mastery: Storage Essentials. You've heard his name before; he's written Sudo Mastery (which I reviewed previously), along with books on PGP/GnuPGP, Cisco Routers and OpenBSD. This book clocks in at 204 pages of goodness, and it's an excellent introduction to managing storage on FreeBSD. From filesystem choice to partition layout to disk encryption, with sidelong glances at ZFS along the way, he does his usual excellent job of laying out the details you need to know without every veering into dry or boring. Keep reading for the rest of Saint Aardvark's review.
Programming

Interviews: Alexander Stepanov and Daniel E. Rose Answer Your Questions 42

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
samzenpus (5) writes "Alexander Stepanov is an award winning programmer who designed the C++ Standard Template Library. Daniel E. Rose is a programmer, research scientist, and is the Chief Scientist for Search at A9.com. In addition to working together, the duo have recently written a new book titled, From Mathematics to Generic Programming. Earlier this month you had a chance to ask the pair about their book, their work, or programming in general. Below you'll find the answers to those questions."
Programming

Linus On Diversity and Niceness In Open Source 359

Posted by timothy
from the are-you-or-have-you-ever-been dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Linus Torvalds has sent a lengthy statement to Ars Technica responding to statements he made in a conference in New Zealand. One of his classic comments in NZ was: "I'm not a nice person, and I don't care about you. I care about the technology and the kernel — that's what's important to me." On diversity, he said that "the most important part of open source is that people are allowed to do what they are good at" and "all that stuff is just details and not really important." Now he writes: "What I wanted to say — and clearly must have done very badly — is that one of the great things about open source is exactly the fact that different people are so different", and that "I don't know where you happen to be based, but this 'you have to be nice' seems to be very popular in the US," calling the concept of being nice an "ideology"."
Programming

The Legacy of CPU Features Since 1980s 180

Posted by Soulskill
from the it-slices-it-dices-it-juliennes-fries dept.
jones_supa writes: David Albert asked the following question:

"My mental model of CPUs is stuck in the 1980s: basically boxes that do arithmetic, logic, bit twiddling and shifting, and loading and storing things in memory. I'm vaguely aware of various newer developments like vector instructions (SIMD) and the idea that newer CPUs have support for virtualization (though I have no idea what that means in practice). What cool developments have I been missing? "

An article by Dan Luu answers this question and provides a good overview of various cool tricks modern CPUs can perform. The slightly older presentation Compiler++ by Jim Radigan also gives some insight on how C++ translates to modern instruction sets.
Programming

Exploring Some Lesser-Known Scripting Languages 60

Posted by Soulskill
from the it's-dangerous-to-go-alone,-import-this dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes: Scripting languages are used in everything from games and Web pages to operating-system shells and general applications, as well as standalone scripts. While many of these scripting languages are common and open to modification, there are some interesting, open-source ones that are worth a look, even if they don't have the substantial audience of some of the popular ones. Wren, Candle, Fancy, Pikt, and PPL all show what a single developer can do if they set out with enough motivation to create open-source scripting languages. The results often prove surprisingly powerful.
Programming

Meet Flink, the Apache Software Foundation's Newest Top-Level Project 34

Posted by timothy
from the name-is-self-explanitory dept.
Open source data-processing language Flink, after just nine months' incubation with the Apache Software Foundation, has been elevated to top-level status, joining other ASF projects like OpenOffice and CloudStack. An anonymous reader writes The data-processing engine, which offers APIs in Java and Scala as well as specialized APIs for graph processing, is presented as an alternative to Hadoop's MapReduce component with its own runtime. Yet the system still provides access to Hadoop's distributed file system and YARN resource manager. The open-source community around Flink has steadily grown since the project's inception at the Technical University of Berlin in 2009. Now at version 0.7.0, Flink lists more than 70 contributors and sponsors, including representatives from Hortonworks, Spotify and Data Artisans (a German startup devoted primarily to the development of Flink). (For more about ASF incubation, and what the Foundation's stewardship means, see our interview from last summer with ASF executive VP Rich Bowen.)
PHP

PHP vs. Node.js: the Battle For Developer Mind Share 245

Posted by Soulskill
from the my-script-is-scriptier-than-your-script dept.
snydeq writes: Simplicity vs. closures, speed of coding vs. raw speed — InfoWorld's Peter Wayner takes a look at how PHP and Node.js stack up against each other. "It's a classic Hollywood plot: the battle between two old friends who went separate ways. Often the friction begins when one pal sparks an interest in what had always been the other pal's unspoken domain. In the programming language version of this movie, it's the introduction of Node.js that turns the buddy flick into a grudge match: PHP and JavaScript, two partners who once ruled the Internet together but now duke it out for the mind share of developers."
AI

AI Experts Sign Open Letter Pledging To Protect Mankind From Machines 258

Posted by Soulskill
from the i'm-sorry-dave-i-can't-sign-that dept.
hypnosec writes: Artificial intelligence experts from across the globe are signing an open letter urging that AI research should not only be done to make it more capable, but should also proceed in a direction that makes it more robust and beneficial while protecting mankind from machines. The Future of Life Institute, a volunteer-only research organization, has released an open letter imploring that AI does not grow out of control. It's an attempt to alert everyone to the dangers of a machine that could outsmart humans. The letter's concluding remarks (PDF) read: "Success in the quest for artificial intelligence has the potential to bring unprecedented benefits to humanity, and it is therefore worthwhile to research how to maximize these benefits while avoiding potential pitfalls."
KDE

KDE Frameworks 5.3 and Plasma 2.1 – First Impressions 84

Posted by timothy
from the developing-tools dept.
jones_supa writes Ken Vermette has done a write-up on his experience with the new KDE desktop encompassing Frameworks 5.3 and Plasma 2.1. For starters, some patience is still needed for apps to be ported to KF5, and most of them will be KF4-based for now. Many of the widgets you may have used don't exist yet either, but the good news is that the Plasma goodies which do make an appearance are universally improved. The new search widget is shockingly fast and the notifications tray has been reworked. Visual outlook of desktop has been simplified and things don't feel so tightly packed together anymore. The system settings application has been completely regrouped more by goal than underlying mechanics. Unfortunately the desktop stability leaves a lot to desire: there was several crashes and Plasma had at one point managed to forget colour and wallpaper settings. However the developers seem to be knowing what they are doing, and there's a real feeling that this software will reach rock-solid stability very quickly given the state of it as it stands.
Open Source

Crowdfunded Linux Voice Magazine Releases Second Issue CC-BY-SA 19

Posted by Soulskill
from the coming-through-on-a-promise dept.
M-Saunders writes: As covered previously on Slashdot, Linux Voice crowdfunded its way to success in late 2013, showing how a small team can make things happen with a different business model (giving profits and content back to the community). Now, a few months after the magazine made issue 1 freely available, they've released issue 2 under the Creative Commons for everyone to share and modify. If you've ever fancied making your own Raspberry Pi-powered arcade machine, there's a full guide in the second issue.
Programming

Rust Programming Language Reaches 1.0 Alpha 161

Posted by Soulskill
from the onward-and-upward dept.
c0d3g33k writes: Rust, a new a systems programming language with a focus on safety, performance and concurrency, has released the 1.0 alpha version of the language. This means that the language and core libraries are feature-complete for the 1.0 release. In practical terms, this means that the rate of change experienced by early adopters will slow down dramatically and major breaking changes should be very rare (during the alpha cycle some major changes may still occur if considered necessary). The language will stabilize further when the beta stage is reached (planned for six weeks from now).
Hardware Hacking

Ask Slashdot: Options For Cheap Home Automation? 189

Posted by timothy
from the fan-blows-out-the-candles dept.
New submitter goose-incarnated writes I'm looking at cheap and simple home automation. Unfortunately I'm not too clued up on what my options are. There are such a wide array of choices, none of which seem (to me) to be either cheap or simple. I'd like to: Turn switches on/off (lights, wall sockets, general relays, etc); Read the status of on/off switches; Read analog samples (for example, temperature sensors); 'Program' switches based on analog samples/existing switches (for example, program a relay to come on at 30C and go off at 25C, thereby controlling the temperature); Similarly, program switches to go on/off at certain times; Record the samples of analog or digital inputs for a given time . I'd like to do the above using smartphone+bluetooth (for when I'm in the vicinity of the room), or smartdevice+WiFi (for when I'm in the house, somewhere), or even in a pinch, using HTTP to access a server at home from 600km away (which is what I'm willing to do). I'm definitely not willing to stream all my requests/data/responses through a third-party so third party cloud subscription solutions, even if free, are out of the question. Finally (because I know the Slashdot crowd likes a challenge :-)), I'd like something that is easily reprogrammable without having to compile code, then reflash a device, etc. What languages for embedded devices exist for home automation programming, if any. A quick google search reveals nothing specially made for end-users to reprogram their devices, but, like I said above, I'm clueless about options.