bonch writes "An analysis of software licenses shows usage of GPL and other copyleft licenses declining at an accelerating rate. In their place, developers are choosing permissive licenses such as BSD, MIT, and ASL. One theory for the decline is that GPL usage was primarily driven by vendor-led projects, and with the shift to community-led projects, permissive licenses are becoming more common."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
mikejuk writes "You probably know that the traveling salesman problem is one of the classics of computer science theory. Now we have a new challenge — the Physical Travelling Salesman Problem and anyone can join in. All you have to do is visit each city once using an optimal route. The new element is that you now have to drive between the cities using a 'car' that has inertia and friction — see the video. You can submit an AI bot to solve the problem or drive the course yourself."
benfrog writes with a piece that appeared in yesterday's Wall Street Journal about the in-progress legal battle between Oracle and Google over Java: "Ex-Sun and current Google employee Tim Lindholm testified that it was "not what he meant" when asked about the smoking gun email (included here (PDF)) that essentially said that Google needed to get a license for Java because all the alternatives 'suck[ed].' He went on in 'brief but tense testimony' to claim that his day-to-day involvement with Android was limited."
eldavojohn writes "So you're commenting on your highly visible blog about patent case after patent case that deal with corporations battling over open source stuff, what does it matter if you're taking money from one and not the other? If you don't see any ethical problems with that, you might be Florian Mueller. Groklaw's PJ (who has been suspicious of Florian's ties to other giants like Microsoft for quite sometime) has noticed that Florian Mueller has decided to go full disclosure and admit that all his commentary on the Oracle v Google case might be tainted by his employment by Oracle. It seems he's got a bunch of consulting money coming his way from Oracle but I'm sure that won't undermine any of his assessments like Android licenses violate the GPL or that Oracle will win $6 billion from Google and Google was "at risk" of not settling despite the outcome that the charges later dropped to a small fraction of the $6 billion. Like so many other times, PJ's hunch was right."
concealment writes in with an interview with a creator of the (fairly) new language Julia designed for number crunching. Quoting Infoworld: "InfoWorld: When you say technical computing, to what type of applications are you specifically referring? Karpinski: It's a broad category, but it's pretty much anything that involves a lot of number-crunching. In my own background, I've done a lot of linear algebra but a fair amount of statistics as well. The tool of choice for linear algebra tends to be Matlab. The tool of choice for statistics tends to be R, and I've used both of those a great deal. But they're not really interchangeable. If you want to do statistics in Matlab, it's frustrating. If you want to do linear algebra in R, it's frustrating. InfoWorld: So you developed Julia with the intent to make it easier to build technical applications? Karpinski: Yes. The idea is that it should be extremely high productivity. To that end, it's a dynamic language, so it's relatively easy to program, and it's got a very simple programming model. But it has extremely high performance, which cuts out [the need for] a third language [C], which is often [used] to get performance in any of these other languages. I should also mention NumPy, which is a contender for these areas. For Matlab, R, and NumPy, for all of these options, you need to at some point drop down into C to get performance. One of our goals explicitly is to have sufficiently good performance in Julia that you'd never have to drop down into C." The language implementation is licensed under the GPL. Lambda the Ultimate has a bit of commentary on the language, and an R programmer gives his two cents on the language.
New submitter Emacs.Cmode sends this excerpt from CNet: "Among the highlights emanating from U.S. District Court in San Francisco courtroom 8 today was Oracle CEO Larry Ellison's response to a question regarding the status of the Java programming language, which his company acquired when it bought Sun Microsystems in 2010. Asked by Google's lead attorney, Robert Van Nest, if the Java language is free, Ellison was slow to respond. Judge William Alsup pushed Ellison to answer with a yes or no. As ZDNet reporter Rachel King observed in the courtroom, Ellison resisted and huffed, 'I don't know.'" Groklaw has a good write-up about what happened during day one of the trial and a briefer summary of what happened on day two.
itwbennett writes "John Larson hears a lot of 'ideas' from a lot of entrepreneurs who want his programming expertise, but says he 'will almost never sign an NDA.' He has plenty of reasons for refusing to sign, but one that really resonates is that, regardless of what your lawyer may say, demanding an NDA upfront starts the relationship off on the wrong foot. The bottom line: If you want a programmer to hear you out, don't start by assuming that they'll steal your great idea."
New submitter omar.sahal writes "Bret Victor demoed the idea of instant feedback on your code. ... Allowing the programmer to instantly see what his program is doing. Chris Granger has turned this novel idea into Light Table — a new IDE designed to make use of Victor's insights." The screenshots make this look like it could be genuinely useful — like a much fancier and more functional combination of features from SLIME and Speedbar. There's a Google group for those wanting to track development. There's no code yet, but source is promised: "I can guarantee you that Light Table will be built on top of the technologies that are freely available to us today. As such, I believe it only fair that the core of Light Table be open sourced once it is launched, while some of the plugins may remained closed source."
Fluffeh writes "After around 900 motions and filings, not to mention a timeline of two years, Google and Oracle are finally putting their case before a jury which will be selected on Monday. While Oracle originally sued for billions, the possible damages have come down to a more reasonable $30-something million (the details vary depending on if you ask Google or Oracle). However, the sides are still far apart. Oracle's proposal was a minimum, not a maximum, and Oracle has asked for a tripling of damages because of the 'willful and deliberate nature of Google's infringement.' For ongoing royalties from future sales, Google has proposed payment of just over one-half of one percent of revenue if patent infringement is proven, but Oracle wants more. Beyond financial damages, Oracle has asked for a permanent order preventing Google from continuing to infringe the patents and copyrights. The case is planned to start on Monday afternoon, after jury selection or Tuesday at the latest."
New submitter Sekrimo writes "This article discusses an interesting advantage to writing documentation. While the author acknowledges that developers often write documentation so that others may better understand their code, he claims documenting can also be a useful way to find bugs before they ever become an issue. Taking the time to write this documentation helps to ensure that you've thought through every aspect of your program fully, and cleared up any issues that may arise."
snydeq writes "Today's developers are overwhelmingly young and male, and they're barring the door from a more diverse workforce, writes Fatal Exception's Neil McAllister. 'Software development isn't just failing to attract women. It's actively pushing them away. ... Put all the pieces together, and you're left with an impression of developers that's markedly different from the geeks and nerds they're made out to be in popular culture. On the contrary, developers harbor the same attitudes and engage in the same behaviors you see whenever a subculture is overwhelmingly dominated by young males. They've even coined a clever name for programmers who think and behave like fraternity pledges: brogrammers,' McAllister writes. 'Developers like to think of their culture as a meritocracy, where the very best developers naturally rise to the top. But as long as the industry tends to exclude more than half of the potential workforce, that's nothing but pure arrogance.'"
D H NG writes "In a study by Careercast.com, software engineers retain their position as having the top jobs in 2012. The #1 and #2 positions remain the same from last year. One surprise entry was human resources manager in the #3 position. The worst job was lumberjack, beating out last year's roustabout."
hypnosec writes "It seems fitting that the first batch of Raspberry Pi computers landed in the UK in the hands of school children based in Leeds as what many consider as another wave of grass-root computing revolution, another BBC Micro 2.0, begins. The Raspberry Pi has been designed from scratch to get anyone interested in computer programming to do so without forking out much; the base unit can connect to a television like the Commodore C64 or the Sinclair ZX81. According to the BBC, the first batch has been presented [Friday] by Eben Upton, the school project coordinator, in an event held at the Leeds offices of Premier Farnell, one of the official PI distributors."
pcritter writes "With the Oracle v. Google trial date set for next Monday, the Judge has asked Google and Oracle to take a position on whether a programming language is copyrightable. This presumably relates to whether Google violated copyright by using a variant of the Java language and its APIs in the Android framework. Oracle, who thinks it can be, has used J.R.R. Tolkein's Elvish language as an examples (PDF) of a language that can be copyrighted. Google disagrees (PDF)."
Fluffeh writes "In the third update to Java that Apple has released this week, the update now identifies and removes the most common variants of the Flashback malware that has infected over half a million Apple machines. 'This Java security update removes the most common variants of the Flashback malware,' Apple wrote in the support document for the update. 'This update also configures the Java web plug-in to disable the automatic execution of Java applets. Users may re-enable automatic execution of Java applets using the Java Preferences application. If the Java web plug-in detects that no applets have been run for an extended period of time it will again disable Java applets.'"