AdmiralXyz writes "Even the darkest corners of the internet aren't immune to the Web 2.0 boom: BoingBoing reports that 4chan is working on the largest codebase update in its history. The new 4chan will include as standard the functionality of popular browser plugins for using the site, as well as a JSON API so- hooray?- anyone can have immediate access to the contents of 4chan for any purpose they like. This represents a significant update to the heretofore haphazard development process of 4chan, and opens up the possibility of third-party 4chan apps... though probably not on the App Store."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
An anonymous reader writes "Patrick Wyatt led production efforts for several of Blizzard Entertainment's early games, including Warcraft 1 & 2 and StarCraft. Wyatt has just published an in-depth look at the development of StarCraft, highlighting many of the problems the team encountered, and several of the hacks they came to later regret. Quoting: 'Given all the issues working against the team, you might think it was hard to identify a single large source of bugs, but based on my experiences the biggest problems in StarCraft related to the use of doubly-linked linked lists. Linked lists were used extensively in the engine to track units with shared behavior. With twice the number of units of its predecessor — StarCraft had a maximum of 1600, up from 800 in Warcraft 2 — it became essential to optimize the search for units of specific types by keeping them linked together in lists. ... All of these lists were doubly-linked to make it possible to add and remove elements from the list in constant time — O(1) — without the necessity to traverse the list looking for the element to remove — O(N). Unfortunately, each list was 'hand-maintained' — there were no shared functions to link and unlink elements from these lists; programmers just manually inlined the link and unlink behavior anywhere it was required. And hand-rolled code is far more error-prone than simply using a routine that's already been debugged. ... So the game would blow up all the time. All the time.'" Wyatt also has a couple interesting posts about the making of Warcraft 1.
lkcl writes "Rhombus Tech's first CPU Card is nearing completion and availability: the schematics have been completed by Wits-Tech. Although it appears strange to be using a 1ghz Cortex A8 for the first CPU Card, the mass-volume price of the A10 was lower than other offerings. Not only does the A10 classify as 'good enough' (in combination with 1GB of RAM), Allwinner Tech is one of the very rare China-based SoC companies willing to collaborate with Software (Libre) developers without an enforced (GPL-violating) NDA in place. Overall, it's the very first step in the right direction for collaboration between Software (Libre) developers and mass-volume PRC Factories. There will be more (faster, better) EOMA-68 CPU Cards: this one is just the first."
itwbennett writes "Slashdot readers are familiar with the Torvalds/de Icaza slugfest over 'the lack of development in Linux desktop initiatives.' The problem with the Linux desktop boils down to this: We need more applications, and that means making it easier for developers to build them, says Brian Proffitt. 'It's easy to point at solutions like the Linux Standard Base, but that dog won't hunt, possibly because it's not in the commercial vendors' interests to create true cross-distro compatibility. United Linux or a similar consortium probably won't work, for the same reasons,' says Proffitt. So, we put it to the Slashdot community: How would you fix the Linux desktop?"
mikejuk writes "Developers worried about the changes that might be waiting for them in the new Windows Phone 8 API are going to have to wait even longer to find out. Microsoft has just announced that the SDK will be available soon, but only to the developers it approves. If you already have a published app, then you can apply to be part of the program. The announcement says, 'But I do want to set your expectations that program access will be limited.' The public SDK will be made available 'later this year,' which is behind the timetable that developers were led to expect. As you can imagine, the developer community, judging by the comment stream, is less than happy. What makes this whole development even stranger is that the announcement was made on the day Nokia previewed a range of WP8 devices. The Nokia launch got most of the publicity, so perhaps the idea was that a little negative news wouldn't be noticed. The real question is: why the limited availability?"
theodp writes "It seems like comments are on programmers' minds these days. The problem with comments, as Zachary Voase sees it, is that our editors display comments in such a way as to be ignored by the programmer. And over at Scripting News, Dave Winer shares some comments on comments, noting how outlining features allow programmers to see and hide comments as desired. 'The important thing is that with elision (expand/collapse),' explains Winer, 'comments don't take up visual space so there's no penalty for fully explaining the work. Without this ability there's an impossible tradeoff between comments and the clarity of comment-free code.' Winer also makes the case for providing links in his code to external 'worknotes.' So, what are your thoughts on useful commenting practices or features, either implemented or on your wishlist?"
hypnosec writes "Just yesterday Apple released updates to fix Java vulnerabilities, but it seems the patch doesn't actually target the recently discovered high-profile Java bug that has been the talk of the web during the last two weeks. The two updates – Java for OS X 2012-005 for OS X Lion and Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 10 for Mountain Lion, are meant to tackle the vulnerability described in CVE-2012-0547. But according to KerbsOnSecurity, it seems Cupertino hasn't addressed the recent mega-vulnerabilities in Java as described in CVE-2012-4681." Update: 09/07 12:00 GMT by S : As readers have pointed out, these updates address flaws in Java 6, which is the version Apple maintains. The recently-reported Java vulnerabilities primarily affect Java 7, the patching of which is handled solely by Oracle. Nothing to see here.
An anonymous reader writes "Learning to write code has become something of a trendy thing to do. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said he intends to learn code this year. Estonia has recently announced a scheme with the aim of getting every 6-year-old in the Baltic state to learn programming skills. The demand has spawned a number of start-ups offering coding lessons. General Assembly, which teaches off-line courses, has recently opened up in London and is recruiting ahead of a launch in Berlin. On-line education site Codecademy landed $10 million to expand from its home base in New York. Zach Simms, the 22-year-old co-founder, said in an earlier interview with The Wall Street Journal that not everyone has to learn to code, but everybody 'needs to learn the notions of algorithms, realizing what you can use code for.' But do they?"
eldavojohn writes "You may recall the news that Google would not be paying Oracle for Oracle's intellectual property claims against the search giant. Instead, Google requested $4.03 million for lawyer fees in the case. The judge denied some $2.9 million of those fees and instead settled on $1.13 million as an appropriate number for legal costs. Although this is relative peanuts to the two giants, Groklaw breaks the ruling down into more minute detail for anyone curious on what risks and repercussions are involved with patent trolling."
An anonymous reader writes "With the launch of the Raspberry Pi, computers are becoming affordable again for the younger generations. Now what we need is kids learning about computers in greater detail, including what the hardware is inside the box, and how to create rather than just use software. Estonia looks to be the pace-setter in this regard, and has just announced that it is introducing computer programming learning for all children attending school. By all, I mean from grades 1 through to 12, meaning children as young as 6 will be writing their own code and producing software. The program is called 'ProgeTiiger' and is being introduced by the Estonian Tiger Leap Foundation as a pilot scheme to some Estonian schools this year. Next year the program will expand, adding programming groups for older kids who want to carry on activities outside of the classroom. Eventually it looks as though ProgeTiiger will become just another standard part of the curriculum, just like math and language studies are."
Orome1 writes "A file containing a million and one record sets containing Apple Unique Device Identifiers (UDIDs) and some other general information about the devices has been made available online by Anonymous hackers following an alleged breach of an FBI computer. 'During the second week of March 2012, a Dell Vostro notebook, used by Supervisor Special Agent Christopher K. Stangl from FBI Regional Cyber Action Team and New York FBI Office Evidence Response Team was breached using the AtomicReferenceArray vulnerability on Java,' the hackers claim." Update: 09/04 13:44 GMT by T : A piece at SlashCloud points out that if the leak is genuine, this raises some sticky questions about privacy and security; in particular: "[H]ow did the agency obtain said information, and to what purpose? Why did all that personal data reside on the laptop of one special agent?"
New submitter drsmack1 writes with news of some bummed out programmers losing access to an undocumented Google API. From the article: "The curious popularity of the Google Weather API appears to be coming to a close. The search giant never officially supported the feature, but developers have used the unofficial feed available from the iGoogle homepage. With iGoogle now set for deprecation in November, developers are reporting that the once simple weather API is no longer returning data." Seems like the sort of thing you could replace with a tiny bit of XSLT.
An anonymous reader writes "I have been telecommuting as a software architect for a major corporation since 2007. It has allowed me to live a quality rural lifestyle. Never content, am now considering living on the road for several years. Due to the proliferation of 4G and wireless hotspots, I see no reason I could not do this from a 5th-wheel trailer. Have any slashdotters truly cut the cord in this manner? Any advice or warnings?"
An anonymous reader writes "It's not so long since Apple silently dropped the restriction about iOS apps for programming — iPad owners can now code in Lua with Codea or with Python for iOS. Yesterday, a new app called Kodiak PHP brought another IDE to the iPad, this time for PHP coders. Pandodaily's Nathaniel Mott describes it as a full-blooded software development tool with comparison to other iOS apps. Cult of Mac reports that the demise of the Mac might be closer than we think, but are developers really ready to use the on-screen keyboard to do some serious work?"
olau writes "Hot on the heels on the opinion piece on how Mac OS X killed Linux on the desktop is a more levelheaded analysis by another GNOME old-timer Christian Schaller who doesn't think Mac OS X killed anything. In fact, in spite of the hype surrounding Mac OS X, it seems to barely have made a dent in the overall market, he argues. Instead he points to a much longer list of thorny issues that Linux historically has faced as a contender to Microsoft's double-monopoly on the OS and the Office suite."