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Raspberry Pi For the Rest of Us 170

mikejuk writes "The Raspberry Pi might be a cheap and reasonably powerful but it has a tough learning curve due to the Linux OS it uses. Adafruit, better known for their hardware, are working on a WebIDE which you can use to program the Pi without having to set things up. You write the code in a browser and run it on the Pi using a web server hosted by the Pi. It sounds crazy but if it can make the Pi more approachable then perhaps it could turn out to be an educational powerhouse."

Why Non-Coders Shouldn't Write Code 421

jfruh writes "Software firm FreeCause made a bit of a splash with a policy that requires all its employees — including marketers, finance, etc. — to write JavaScript code. And not just 'code to learn basics of what JavaScript can do,' but 'write code that will be used in production.' Phil Johnson, a tech writer and editor who himself once coded for a living, thinks this is nuts, a recipe for miserable workers and substandard code."

Ask Slashdot: Taming a Wild, One-Man Codebase? 151

New submitter tavi.g writes "Working for an ISP, along with my main job (networking) I get to create some useful code (Bash and Python) that's running on various internal machines. Among them: glue scripts, Cisco interaction / automatization tools, backup tools, alerting tools, IP-to-Serial OOB stuff, even a couple of web applications (LAMPython and CherryPy). Code has piled up — maybe over 20,000 lines — and I need a way to reliably work on it and deploy it. So far I used headers at the beginning of the scripts, but now I'm migrating the code over to Bazaar with TracBzr, because it seems best for my situation. My question for the Slashdot community is: in the case of single developer (for now), multiple machines, and a small-ish user base, what would be your suggestions for code versioning and deployment, considering that there are no real test environments and most code just goes into production ? This is relevant because lacking a test environment, I got used to immediate feedback from the scripts, since they were in production, and now a versioning system would mean going through proper deployment/rollback in order to get real feedback."

Salesforce CEO Benioff: Future Software Will Look Like Facebook 156

Nerval's Lobster writes "Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff is unapologetic about his love for Facebook. 'I think all software is going to look like Facebook,' he told media and analysts at the Dreamforce conference in San Francisco. 'Everyone is going to have to rewrite to have a feed-based platform.' If people can collaborate on tagging a photo, he added, they could easily do the same with a product or business problem. Even as Benioff touted his Facebook love, however, Salesforce is veering away from the Facebook model in one key way: whereas Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg felt his company focused too much on HTML5 for its mobile apps, choosing to focus instead on native-app development, Salesforce is embracing HTML5 for its Salesforce Touch app, which delivers Salesforce data such as Chatter feeds and contacts to a variety of mobile devices."

Designers Criticize Apple's User Interface For OS X and iOS 484

Hugh Pickens writes "Austin Carr notes that a number of user interface designers have become increasingly critical of Apple's approach to software user interface design. Much of their censure is directed against a trend called skeuomorphism, a term for when objects retain ornamental elements of the past that are no longer necessary to the current objects' functions, such as calendars with faux leather-stitching, bookshelves with wood veneers, fake glass and paper and brushed chrome. A former senior UI designer at Apple who worked closely with Steve Jobs said, 'It's like the designers are flexing their muscles to show you how good of a visual rendering they can do of a physical object. Who cares?' The issue is two-fold: first, that traditional visual metaphors no longer translate to modern users; and second, that excessive digital imitation of real-world objects creates confusion among users. 'I'm old enough, sure, but some of the guys in my office have never seen a Rolodex in real life,' says Designer Gadi Amit. 'Our culture has changed. We don't need translation of the digital medium in mechanical real-life terms. It's an old-fashioned paradigm.' One beneficiary could be Microsoft, where the design of Windows 8 distances itself from skeuomorphism by emphasizing a flat user interface that's minimalist to the core: no bevel, no 3-D flourishes, no glossiness and no drop shadow."

Google Spanner: First Globally Scalable Database With External Consistency 49

vu1986 writes with this bit from GigaOm: "Google has made public the details of its Spanner database technology, which allows a database to store data across multiple data centers, millions of machines and trillions of rows. But it's not just larger than the average database, Spanner also allows applications that use the database to dictate where specific data is stored so as to reduce latency when retrieving it. Making this whole concept work is what Google calls its True Time API, which combines an atomic clock and a GPS clock to timestamp data so it can then be synched across as many data centers and machines as needed." Original paper. The article focuses a lot of the Time API, but external consistency on a global scale seems to be the big deal here. From the paper: "Even though many projects happily use Bigtable, we have also consistently received complaints from users that Bigtable can be difficult to use for some kinds of applications: those that have complex, evolving schemas, or those that want strong consistency in the presence of wide-area replication. ... Many applications at Google have chosen to use Megastore (PDF) because of its semi-relational data model and support for synchronous replication, despite its relatively poor write throughput. As a consequence, Spanner has evolved from a Bigtable-like versioned key-value store into a temporal multi-version database. Data is stored in schematized semi-relational tables; data is versioned, and each version is automatically timestamped with its commit time; old versions of data are subject to configurable garbage-collection policies; and applications can read data at old timestamps. Spanner supports general-purpose transactions, and provides a SQL-based query language." Update: 09/20 17:57 GMT by T : Also in a story at Slash BI.

The Perils of Developers Hooking Up 278

jammag writes "Who better for a developer to love than another developer? Yet as a veteran coder describes, it's not always a good idea for a programmer to fall for another programmer. He describes his experience observing — and getting partially pulled into — a romance within a development team. Part of the problem, perhaps, is that some developers spend so much time buried in code that, well, they quickly find themselves out of their league. Then again, why not love among the code?"
PC Games (Games)

How Indie Devs Made an 1,800-Player Action Game Mod In Their Spare Time 87

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.'"

Ask Slashdot: How Much Is a Fun Job Worth? 397

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 Finally An OpenGL Implementation (On Intel Hardware) 80

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."

University Team Builds Lego and Raspberry Pi Cluster 147

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.

Zuckerberg: Betting On HTML5 Was Facebook's Biggest Mistake 290

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.'"

Is a Computer Science Degree Worth Getting Anymore? 630

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.'"

Converting RSS Feeds To a Dynamic 3D Scene In 120 Lines of Code 73

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."