the agent man writes "The idea of getting kids interested in programming in spite of their common perception of programming to be 'hard and boring' is an ongoing Slashdot discussion. With support of the National Science Foundation, the Scalable Game Design project has explored how to bring computer science education into the curriculum of middle and high schools for some time. The results are overwhelmingly positive, suggesting that game design is highly motivational across gender and ethnicity lines. The project is also finding new ways of tracking programming skills transferring from game design to STEM simulation building. This NPR story highlights an early and unplanned foray into bringing game-design based computer science education even to elementary schools."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
snydeq writes "With WWDC around the corner, iOS 6 rumors are taking center stage, but the real action for developers may be around iCloud. Forthcoming OS X Mountain Lion will integrate iCloud into the formal file system, making iCloud usage much easier and thus more common, and thanks to iCloud Documents, which lets apps open and save documents directly in iCloud, developers will be able to better tap iOS-to-OSX document syncing in their apps, a la iWork. But there is a downside to this opportunity: 'For developers, it further enmeshes you in the Apple ecosystem, almost in the way that America Online did in its heyday. Case in point: OS X apps can use the iCloud Documents APIs only if they are sold through the Mac App Store.'"
New submitter The God of Code writes "EA has announced that they will be waiving all Origin distribution fees for crowd-funded games — like those from Kickstarter — for the first 90 days. 'The public support for crowd-funding creative game ideas coming from small developers today is nothing short of phenomenal,' Origin VP David DeMartini commented. 'It's also incredibly healthy for the gaming industry. Gamers around the world deserve a chance to play every great new game, and by waiving distribution fees on Origin we can help make that a reality for successfully crowd-funded developers.' The recently funded Wasteland 2 developer Brian Fargo applauds EA's move, saying, 'Having Origin waive their distribution fees for 90 days for fan funded games is a major economic bonus for small developers. We look forward to bringing Wasteland 2 to the Origin audience.'"
New submitter penmanglewood writes "I am a developer at a small IT company, and we primarily make software and games for the education market. I used to work with a team of developers, but for reasons outside the scope of this question, my boss and I are the only ones left. My boss says that our new strategy is to use outsourced developers to do the 'monkey work' for us. To me, this sounds like a bad idea. Do we give the developers access to our internal libraries? How will they be able to work on parts of our product without having access to our repository. I could think of a hundred more objections, but maybe I'm looking at it the wrong way. Is there a smart way to outsource development, or is it just a bad idea?"
mikejuk writes with an update on the Oracle vs Google Trial. From the article: "One month into the Oracle v Google trial, Judge William Alsup has revealed that he has, and still does, write code. Will this affect the outcome? I think so! After trying to establish that the nine lines in rangeCheck that were copied saved Google time in getting Android to market the lawyer making the case is interrupted by the judge which indicates he at least does understand how straightforward it would be to program rangeCheck from scratch: 'rangeCheck! All it does is make sure the numbers you're inputting are within a range, and gives them some sort of exceptional treatment. That witness, when he said a high school student could do it — ' And the lawyer reveals he doesn't: 'I'm not an expert on Java — this is my second case on Java, but I'm not an expert, and I probably couldn't program that in six months.' Perhaps every judge should be a coding judge — it must make the law seem a lot simpler..." From yesterday; the Oracle lawyer was attempting to argue that Google profited by stealing rangeCheck since it allowed them to get to market faster than they would have had they wrote it from scratch. Groklaw, continuing its detailed coverage as always, has the motions filed today.
CowboyRobot writes "Ward Cunningham developed the first wiki, wrote the Fit test framework, is the co-inventor of CRC cards, and is now promoting the concept of technical debt. He recently won the Dr. Dobb's Excellence in Programming Award and was interviewed by that publication. 'The creator of the Wiki dishes on the Wiki, Wikipedia's policies, OO design, technical debt, CoffeeScript and Perl, how to survive as a veteran programmer, and doing the simplest thing that could possibly work.' Cunningham is given the chance to explain his philosophy of coding: 'I like the picture and I like the look of the code. It's only 40 lines, but every line carried some careful thought. There was a learning curve there that surprised me because the programs looked short. The most rewarding work I've done this year is digging through that code and understanding what it does and understanding what it didn't do, and how to approach the problem.'"
itwbennett writes "Sauce Labs had outgrown CouchDB and too much unplanned downtime made them switch to MySQL. With 20-20 hindsight they wrote about their CouchDB experience. But Sauce certainly isn't the first organization to switch databases. Back in 2009, Till Klampaeckel wrote a series of blog posts about moving in the opposite direction — from MySQL to CouchDB. Klampaeckel said the decision was about 'using the right tool for the job.' But the real story may be that programmers are never satisfied with the tool they have." Of course, then they say things like: "We have a TEXT column on all our tables that holds JSON, which our model layer silently treats the same as real columns for most purposes. The idea is the same as Rails' ActiveRecord::Store. It’s not super well integrated with MySQL's feature set — MySQL can’t really operate on those JSON fields at all — but it’s still a great idea that gets us close to the joy of schemaless DBs."
An anonymous reader writes "Shared in last quarter's FreeBSD status report are developer plans to have LLVM/Clang become the default compiler and to deprecate GCC. Clang can now build most packages and suit well for their BSD needs. They also plan to have a full BSD-licensed C++11 stack in FreeBSD 10." Says the article, too: "Some vendors have also been playing around with the idea of using Clang to build the Linux kernel (it's possible to do with certain kernel configurations, patches, and other headaches)."
Qbertino writes "I'm in my early 40s, and after a little more than 10 years of web, scripting and software development as a freelancer and some gigs as a regular, full-time employee, I'm seriously considering giving my IT career a boost by getting a degree. I'm your regular 1980s computer kid and made a career switch to IT during the dot-bomb days. I have quite a bit of programming and project experience, but no degree. I find myself hitting somewhat of a glass ceiling (with maybe a little age discrimination thrown in there). Since I'm in Germany, degrees count for a lot (70% of IT staff have a degree) so getting one seems fitting and a nice addition to my portfolio. However, I'm pondering wether I should go for Computer Science or Business Informatics. I'd like to move into Project Management or Technical Account Management, which causes my dilemma: CS gives me the pro credibility and proves my knowledge with low-level and technical stuff, and I'd be honing my C/C++ and *nix skills. Business Informatics would teach me some bean-counting skills; I'd be doing modelling, ERP with Java or .NET all day. It would give me some BA cred, but I'd lose karma with the T-shirt wearing crew and the decision-makers in that camp. I'm leaning toward Business Informatics because I suspect that's where the money is, but I'm not quite sure wether a classic CS degree wouldn't still be better — even if I'm wearing a suit. Any suggestions?"
bobwrit writes with news about how the monetary damages in the Google v. Oracle case might shake out. On Thursday, Judge Alsup told Oracle the most it could expect for statutory damages was a flat $150,000, a far cry from the $6.1 billion Oracle wanted in 2011, or even the $2.8 million offered by Google as a settlement. However, Oracle still thinks it can go after infringed profits, even though Judge Alsup specifically warned its lawyers they were making a mistake. He said, "It's the height of ridiculousness to say for those 9 lines you get hundreds of millions." Groklaw has a detailed post about today's events.
New submitter IdleThoughts writes "Sometimes it takes a long time to spark a revolution. Long the ugly duckling of programming languages, iOS' Objective-C passed C# in the 'TIOBE Programming Community Index this month and seems on a trajectory to overtake C++ in the next few. It was invented in the early 1980s by Brad Cox and Tom Love, with the idea of creating 'Software Integrated Circuits' and heavily influenced by Smalltalk — yet another legacy from Xerox PARC, along with desktop GUIs, ethernet and laser printers. It was adopted early on by Steve Jobs' NeXTStep, the grand-daddy of all that is now OS X. It had to wait, however, for the mobile device revolution to have its day, being ideally suited to the limited resources on portable devices. It's still being actively developed by Apple and others, sporting the new automatic reference counting and static analysis in the Clang compiler. It turns out it has supported dynamic patching of code in applications all along. What more surprises does this venerable language have up its sleeve?"
coondoggie writes "An innovative project, called Autonomous Dynamic Analysis of Metaphor and Analogy, or ADAMA, aims to build a software system that can automatically analyze metaphorical speech in five different languages by analyzing huge quantities of online data got off the ground this week when the U.S. Army Research Laboratory awarded a $1.4 million contract to the team conducting the research. The research is backed by the US Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), which develops high-risk, reward research projects for the government, and is intended to build a repository of speech metaphors from American/English Iranian Farsi, Mexican Spanish and Russian speakers. ADAMA could have immediate applications in forensics, intelligence analysis, business intelligence, sociological research and communication studies, researchers stated."
jones_supa writes "Barton George, director of marketing for Dell's Web vertical reveals information about 'Project Sputnik', a laptop tailored for developer needs in web companies. 'We want to find ways to make the developer experience as powerful and simple as possible. And what better way to do that than beginning with a laptop that is both highly mobile and extremely stylish, running the 12.04 LTS release of Ubuntu Linux,' George ponders. He also gives a quick list of packages that the default installation could include. The machine will base on the XPS13, assessing a couple of its main hardware deficiencies along the way." According to the article, this is a "6 month project to investigate an Ubuntu laptop. If successful, we have big plans for the effort." It's unclear how closely they are working with upstream, but there's mention of Canonical as a commercial partner so this may mean Dell is working to ensure some of their hardware Just Works (tm) with Ubuntu. The software side is so far just a customized install with developer tools preinstalled. Ars remains skeptical about Dell's strategy for GNU/Linux support, which may be warranted given their track record.
Aciel writes "Ruby has long been popular in the web/business community, while Python dominates the scientific community. One new project seeks to bring balance to the force: SciRuby. We've already introduced a linear algebra library called NMatrix (currently alpha status). There's at least one fellowship available for students interested in working on the project this summer."
snydeq writes "Since so many recent exploits have used Java as their attack vector, you might conclude Java should be shown the exit, but the reality is that Java is not the problem, writes Security Advisor's Roger Grimes. 'Sure, I could opt not to use those Java-enabled services or install Java and uninstall when I'm finished. But the core problem isn't necessarily Java's exploitability; nearly all software is exploitable. It's unpatched Java. Few successful Java-related attacks are related to zero-day exploits. Almost all are related to Java security bugs that have been patched for months (or longer),' Grimes writes. 'The bottom line is that we aren't addressing the real problems. It isn't a security bug here and there in a particular piece of software; that's a problem we'll never get rid of. Instead, we allow almost all cyber criminals to get away with their Internet crime without any penalty. They almost never get caught and punished. Until we solve the problem of accountability, we will never get rid of the underlying problem.'"