another random user writes "A Q&A on Ars Technica asks about an old adage that many programmers stick to: 'It takes a certain type of mind to learn programming, and not everyone can do it.' Users at Stack Exchange are wading in with their answers, but what do Slashdot users think?"
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An anonymous reader writes "Just Cause 2 Multiplayer has been getting a lot of press lately, but this making-of feature points out how the mod raises serious questions about the games industry: if 1,800-player massively multiplayer action games are possible on one server, why did it take a group of modders to prove it? From the article: 'There’s more chaos to come. That 1,800 player limit isn’t maxing out the server or the software by any means. Foote says that the team, who first met online seven years ago playing the similar Multi Theft Auto GTA mod, are "yet to reach any real barrier or limitation preventing us from reaching an even higher player count than the previous public tests." When it’s ready, the team will release the software for everyone to download and run their own servers, wherever they are in the world.'"
Nicros writes "I have the good fortune to be a lead software engineer in a really fun company. The culture and people are great, and while the position has some down sides (distance from home, future opportunities), in general I'm quite happy there, and I wasn't looking for a new job. Now, I've had an offer to go be a software director for a new company. The pay is more than 10% better, the location is closer to home, and the people seem nice. I would get to grow a new group as I saw fit, following some regulatory guidelines. Problem is, I just can't decide what to do, and I'm not even sure why I can't decide. Maybe it has to do with leaving a job that I like (something I've never done) that just doesn't sit well with me. Maybe it's fear. I'm 40, so maybe it's just getting older and appreciating stability more. But then again, I have my current position dialed in, and could use a change. I have ambition, and my current company has made every effort to work with me to develop my career — probably more in the business development side, but that could be fun too. That career path is just more vague and longer-term than jumping right into a director position, with no guarantee that it would even work out. In the new company, software is not what this company does primarily; not many people would use the software, so the appreciation level would be much lower than my current position. Has anyone made a transition like this in software? How did it work out? Did you stay or did you go? Why? What's more important, the people and culture at a job, or the opportunities that job presents for future growth?"
Mesa 3D has famously always not been technically OpenGL (lacking certification), but times are changing: "This is a great day for Mesa and open-source graphics drivers. Just a tad over a month ago, I submitted OpenGL ES 2.0 conformance test results to Khronos for Intel Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge GPUs with Mesa 8.0.4. There were no objections during the 30 day review period, so we are now officially conformant! Finally being on that list is pretty cool. Not only is this great news for my team at Intel, but it's terrific news for Mesa. Mesa has had a long history with OpenGL, the ARB, and Khronos. This is, however, the first time that Mesa has ever, in any way, been listed as a conformant implementation. This is a big boost to Mesa's credibility."
hypnosec writes about a neat little hack using Lego, Raspberry Pis, and Scratch to construct a "supercomputer." From the article: "A team of computational engineers over at the University of Southampton led by Professor Simon Cox have built a supercomputer using Raspberry Pi and Lego. The supercomputer is comprised of 64 processors, 1TB of storage (16GB SD cards in each of the Raspberry Pis) and can be powered on using just a single 13-amp mains socket. MPI is used for communications between the nodes through the ethernet port. The team managed to build the core of the supercomputer for under £2500. Named 'Iridis-Pi' after University of Southampton's supercomputer Iridis, the supercomputer runs software that was built using Python and Scratch. Professor Cox used the free plug-in 'Python Tools for Visual Studio' to develop code for the Raspberry Pi." Lots of pictures of the thing, and a howto on making your own.
An anonymous reader writes "Speaking yesterday at TechCrunch Disrupt, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged that the company's stock performance was disappointing. He also made an interesting remark about Facebook's development efforts over the past couple of years: 'The biggest mistake we made as a company was betting too much on HTML5 as opposed to native. It just wasn't ready.' According to Mashable, 'the benefits of cross-platform development weren't enough to outweigh the downsides of HTML5, which pulls in data much more slowly than native code, and is much less stable. ... Now, Zuckerberg says, Facebook is focused on continuing to improve the native mobile experience on iOS, as well as bringing a native app to Android.'"
snydeq writes "Self-taught technologists are almost always better hires than those with a bachelor's degree in computer science and a huge student loan, writes Andrew Oliver. 'A recruiter recently asked me why employers are so picky. I explained that of the people who earned a computer science degree, most don't know any theory and can't code. Instead, they succeed at putting things on their resume that match keywords. Plus, companies don't consider it their responsibility to provide training or mentoring. In fairness, that's because the scarcity of talent has created a mercenary culture: "Now that my employer paid me to learn a new skill, let me check to see if there's an ad for it on Dice or Craigslist with a higher rate of pay." When searching for talent, I've stopped relying on computer science degrees as an indicator of anything except a general interest in the field. Most schools suck at teaching theory and aren't great at Java instruction, either. Granted, they're not much better with any other language, but most of them teach Java.'"
descubes writes "Tao Presentations is a 3D presentation tool based on a 3D dynamic document description language. This makes it very easy for developers to create their own 3D shows, illustrate talks in an innovative way, even build small interactive 3D applications. An example included in the latest release grabs RSS feeds from a variety of sources (including Slashdot) and turns them into a 3D scene, all in real-time and in about 120 lines of code. It fetches the pictures directly from the web site and maps them on 3D shapes. And this is only a starting point. Tao Presentations can display 3D objects, drive the majority of 3D displays (including glasses-free 3D displays from Alioscopy, Philips or Tridelity), use GLSL shaders for advanced effects, and much more. Tao Presentations is free (as in beer), and the document description language is based on the free (as in speech) XL programming language."
jfruh writes "Apple's spent more than a decade on version 10 — or, rather, X — of its flagship operating system, with .x versions named after big cats (and many of them, it turns out, after the same big cats). Ubuntu Linux is scrambling to find ever more obscure animals to alliteratively name its versions after. And let's not even talk about Windows, whose current shipping OS is sold as Windows 7 but is really Windows NT 6.1. Why is this area of software marketing so ridiculous?"
darien writes "On the day before the Intel Developer Forum opens in San Francisco, Intel has been showing off some of its current research projects, including a system for encoding data in apparently steady light sources, a Kinect-based projected 'touch interface' that works on any surface and an ambitious signage concept that could revolutionise your weekly shop." My favorite thing about light-based networking is that it's the basis of a certain strain of (all too plausible, all too often) conspiracy theory. ("The modern LED 'eco-friendly' light bulb is also a two-way communications device." — easy to believe, since many of them can be. )
New submitter iamnothing writes "Eric Preisz, CEO of GarageGames, announces, 'Eleven years ago, The GarageGames founders did an incredibly innovative thing when they sold a full source game engine for $100. We are excited to continue in their footsteps by announcing that we will be releasing Torque 3D as the best open source game technology in the world. Once again, GarageGames will be changing game development.'"
The PostgreSQL project announced the release of PostgreSQL 9.2 today. The headliner: "With the addition of linear scalability to 64 cores, index-only scans and reductions in CPU power consumption, PostgreSQL 9.2 has significantly improved scalability and developer flexibility for the most demanding workloads. ... Up to 350,000 read queries per second (more than 4X faster) ... Index-only scans for data warehousing queries (2–20X faster) ... Up to 14,000 data writes per second (5X faster)" Additionally, there's now a JSON type (including the ability to retrieve row results in JSON directly from the database) ala the XML type (although lacking a broad set of utility functions). Minor, but probably a welcome relief to those who need them, 9.2 adds range restricted types. For the gory details, see the what's new page, or the full release notes.
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."
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."