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Ask Slashdot: Best Book Or Game To Introduce Kids To Programming? 246

New submitter connorblack writes "My very gifted nephew is about to turn nine this month and I would love to get him some sort of fun, engaging book or game to introduce him to the basic concepts of programming. I have a feeling if approached correctly he would absolutely devour the subject (he is already working through mathematics at an 8th grade level). What I first was looking at were the Lego Mindstorm programmable robots- which would have been perfect, if only they weren't around 300 dollars... So if there's anything similar (or completely new!) you've either heard praise about or used yourself with your kids, it would be great to get a recommendation. Also if possible I would want to stick to an under 100 dollar budget." Would a nine year old be able to follow The Little Schemer?

Ask Slashdot: Dedicating Code? 186

First time accepted submitter The_Buse writes "This week I lost my grandmother and after returning to work (as a web developer) I find myself looking for some way to dedicate something to her memory. Unfortunately, I'm no author so I can't dedicate a book to her, and I can't carry a tune so penning a song in her honor is out of the question. What I can do is write one hell of a web app, and after nearly a year of development my (small) team and I are nearing the release date of our next product. My question is, have you ever dedicated a project/app/code in honor of someone? What's the best way to do it: comment blocks in the header, tongue-in-cheek file names, Easter eggs? Or is this a horrible idea all together?"

Flip This App: Secondary Mobile App Market Quietly Taking Off 39

alphadogg writes "The practice of flipping is probably most familiar to the general public from reality TV shows like 'Flip This House' on A&E. The idea is to buy a house for a lowish price, fix it up a bit, and then sell it on to a buyer, hopefully at a profit. Now, the secondary market for Android and iOS apps is beginning to see the same pattern. App creators without the time or inclination to service or monetize their apps can simply sell them off for a flat, up-front sum of money. Buyers can then either tweak them as they like or not, and either attempt to monetize them themselves or re-sell the apps to still another party. 'Probably 80% of people who want to get involved in mobile either don't know how to code an app or don't know an app developer,' says the founder of one app trading site. 'So there's this massive demand, but kind of a little bit of a barrier to entry.'"

Ask Slashdot: Best Approach To Reenergize an Old Programmer? 360

StonyCreekBare writes "I started out programming in Z80 assembler in the 1970s. Then I programmed in Pascal. Then x86 Assembler in the early '90s. Over time I did a smattering of C, Basic, Visual C++, Visual Basic, and even played at Smalltalk. Most recently I settled on Perl, and Perl/Tk as the favorite 'Swiss army Chainsaw' tool set, and modestly consider myself reasonably competent with that. But suddenly, in this tight financial environment I need to find a way to get paid for programming, and perl seems so 'yesterday.' The two hot areas I see are iOS programming and Python, perhaps to a lesser extent, Java. I need to modernize my skill-set and make myself attractive to employers. I recently started the CS193P Stanford course on iTunesU to learn iPad programming, but am finding it tough going. I think I can crack it, but it will take some time, and I need a paycheck sooner rather than later. What does the Slashdot crowd see as the best path to fame, wealth and full employment for gray-haired old coots who love to program?"

Stress-Testing Software For Deep Space 87

kenekaplan writes "NASA has used VxWorks for several deep space missions, including Sojourner, Spirit, Opportunity and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. When the space agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) needs to run stress tests or simulations for upgrades and fixes to the OS, Wind River's Mike Deliman gets the call. In a recent interview, Deliman, a senior member of the technical staff at Wind River, which is owned by Intel, gave a peek at the legacy technology under Curiosity's hood and recalled the emergency call he got when an earlier Mars mission hit a software snag after liftoff."

Apple, Microsoft, Google, Others Join Hands To Form WebPlatform.org 138

hypnosec writes "Apple, Adobe, Google, HP, Microsoft and many others have joined forces and launched a new resource – the Web Platform in a bid to create a 'definitive resource' for all open Web technologies. The companies have come together to provide developers with a single source of all the latest information about HTML5, CSS3, WebGL, SVG and other Web standards. The platform will also offer tips and best practices on web development as well as web technologies. 'We are an open community of developers building resources for a better web, regardless of brand, browser or platform,' notes the WebPlatform site."

Learning HTML Through a Board Game 34

An anonymous reader writes "cHTeMeLe is a board game about writing HTML5 code. In cHTeMeLe, players endorse their favorite web browser (Firefox, Safari, Chrome, Opera, or IE) and then score points by correctly laying out HTML tags, while also trying to bug or crash their opponents' code. From the article: 'Despite cHTeMeLe's technical theme, its developers claim you don't need any web programming experience to play. The game takes web design standards and boils them down into game rules that even children can learn. To help less technical players keep everything straight, the tag cards use syntax highlighting that different parts of code have unique colors — just like an Integrated Developer Environment. No one is going to completely pick up HTML5 purely by playing cHTeMeLe, but it does have some educational value for understanding basic tags and how they fit together.'"

The Case For the Blue Collar Coder 233

theodp writes "U.S. tech talent shortage discussions tend to focus on getting more young people to go to college to become CS grads. Nothing wrong with that, writes Anil Dash, but let's not forget about education which teaches mid-level programming as a skilled trade, suitable for apprenticeship and advancement in a way that parallels traditional trade skills like HVAC or welding. Dash encourages less of a focus on 'the next Zuckerberg' in favor of encouraging solid middle-class tech jobs that are primarily focused on creating and maintaining tech infrastructure in non-tech companies. Dash also suggests 'changing the conversation about recruiting technologists from the existing narrow priesthood of highly-skilled experts constantly chasing new technologies to productive workers getting the most out of widely-deployed platforms and frameworks.'"

Ask Slashdot: What Were You Taught About Computers In High School? 632

An anonymous reader writes "What was taught to you about computers in High School? Computer use and computer science in schools are regular headlines, but what 'normal' do we compare it to? It's not a shared reference. A special class with Commodore PETs was set up just after I graduated, and I'm only starting to grey. Everybody younger has had progressive levels of exposure. What was 'normal' for our 40-, 30-, and 20-year olds here? And how well did it work for you, and your classmates?" For that matter, what's it like now — if you're in middle or high school now, or know students who are, what's the tech curriculum like?

They Work Long Hours, But What About Results? 285

theodp writes "HBS lecturer Robert C. Pozen says it's high time for management to stop emphasizing hours over results. By viewing those employees who come in over the weekend or stay late in the evening as more 'committed' and 'dedicated' to their work, as a UC Davis study showed, managers create a perverse incentive to not be efficient and get work done during normal business hours. 'It's an unfortunate reality that efficiency often goes unrewarded in the workplace,' writes Pozen. 'Focusing on results rather than hours will help you accomplish more at work and leave more time for the rest of your life.'"

The Computer Science Behind Facebook's 1 Billion Users 113

pacopico writes "Much has been made about Facebook hitting 1 billion users. But Businessweek has the inside story detailing how the site actually copes with this many people and the software Facebook has invented that pushes the limits of computer science. The story quotes database guru Mike Stonebraker saying, 'I think Facebook has the hardest information technology problem on the planet.' To keep Facebooking moving fast, Mark Zuckerberg apparently instituted a program called Boot Camp in which engineers spend six-weeks learning every bit of Facebook's code."
Open Source

Open Source Raspberry Pi WebIDE Alpha Released 26

ptorrone writes "Adafruit, the NYC based open-source hardware company led by Ladyada released their open-source Raspberry Pi WebIDE alpha today. Its goal is to be 'The easiest way to develop code on your Raspberry Pi.' To get up and running head on over to learn.adafruit.com/webide and follow the installation and setup instructions. It uses Bitbucket, and any code changes you make will be synced to your Bitbucket account. Adafruit chose Bitbucket over GitHub because they offer free secure accounts, which is very important for a Web-based IDE."

Ask Slashdot: Am I Too Old To Retrain? 418

Talcyon writes "I'm a 40-year-old developer, and it's become apparent that my .NET skillset is woefully out of date after five years of doing various bits of support. I tried the 'Management' thing last year, but that was a failure as I'm just not a people person, and a full-on development project this year has turned into a disaster area. I'm mainly a VB.NET person with skills from the .NET 2.0 era. Is that it? Do I give up a career in technology now? Or turn around and bury myself in a support role, sorting out issues with other people's/companies' software? I've been lurking around Slashdot for many years now, and this question occasionally comes up, but it pays to get the opinions of others. Do I retrain and get back up to speed, or am I too old?"

Oracle's Sparc T5 Chip Evidently Pushed Back to 2013 98

Mark Hachman writes in Slash Datacenter that the Sparc T5 chip Oracle announced earlier this year apparently won't be ready until sometime in 2013. John Fowler, executive vice president, Systems, Oracle, presented at Oracle Open World a chart outlining highlights of Oracle's plans for the future. "But Fowler also skipped over some bad news: an apparent delay for the Sparc T5. A year ago, Oracle’s Sun division announced the Sparc T4—and according to Fowler, Oracle chief Larry Ellison set a very high bar for the next iteration: double the performance while maintaining app compatibility on an annual basis. Apparently, that didn’t quite happen with the T5; Oracle had the opportunity to announce a T5-based server, and didn’t. That’s a bit of bad news for the Sun design team, which already had to watch Intel’s Xeon chief, Diane Bryant, give the preceding keynote. ... As detailed at this year’s Hot Chips conference, the T5 combines 16 CPU cores running at 3.6 GHz on a 28-nm manufacturing process. Continuing the trend of hardware acceleration of specific functions, Sun executives claimed the chip would lead in on-chip encryption acceleration, with support for asymmetric (public key) encryption, symmetric encryption, hashing up to SHA-512, plus a hardware random number generator."

Google Glass, Augmented Reality Spells Data Headaches 44

Nerval's Lobster writes "Google seems determined to press forward with Google Glass technology, filing a patent for a Google Glass wristwatch. As pointed out by CNET, the timepiece includes a camera and a touch screen that, once flipped up, acts as a secondary display. In the patent, Google refers to the device as a 'smart-watch. Whether or not a Google Glass wristwatch ever appears on the marketplace — just because a tech titan patents a particular invention doesn't mean it's bound for store shelves anytime soon — the appearance of augmented-reality accessories brings up a handful of interesting issues for everyone from app developers to those tasked with handling massive amounts of corporate data.For app developers, augmented-reality devices raise the prospect of broader ecosystems and spiraling complexity. It's one thing to build an app for smartphones and tablets — but what if that app also needs to handle streams of data ported from a pair of tricked-out sunglasses or a wristwatch, or send information in a concise and timely way to a tiny screen an inch in front of someone's left eye?"