sl4shd0rk writes "In 2012, Oracle took Google to court over the use of Java in Android. Judge William Alsup brought the ruling that the structure of APIs could not be copyrighted at all. Emerging from the proceedings, it was learned that Alsup himself had some programming background and wasn't bedazzled by Oracle's thin arguments on the range-checking function. The ruling came, programmers rejoiced and Oracle vowed Appeal. It seems that time is coming now, nearly a year later, as Microsoft, BSA, EMC, Netapp, et al. get behind Oracle to overturn Alsup's ruling citing 'destabilization' of the 'entire software industry.'"
Nerval's Lobster writes "Software developer Jeff Cogswell, who matched up Java and C# and peeked under the hood of Facebook's Graph Search, is back with a new tale: why his team decided to go with Amazon's DynamoDB over MongoDB when it came to building a highly customized content system, even though his team specialized in MongoDB. While DynamoDB did offer certain advantages, it also came with some significant headaches, including issues with embedded data structures and Amazon's sometimes-confusing billing structure. He offers a walkthrough of his team's tips and tricks, with some helpful advice on avoiding pitfalls for anyone interested in considering DynamoDB. 'Although I'm not thrilled about the additional work we had to do (at times it felt like going back two decades in technology by writing indexes ourselves),' he writes, 'we did end up with some nice reusable code to help us with the serialization and indexes and such, which will make future projects easier.'"
Two years ago Guile Scheme, the official extension language of the GNU project, released version 2.0, a major upgrade to the implementation. As part of the two year anniversary, the maintainers organized a challenge to hack a small project using Guile in 30 days as part of a birthday software potluck. The two coolest dishes appear to be OpenGL support using the FFI, and XCB bindings built using the XML specification for XCB: "guile-xcb is a language implemented in the Guile VM that parses the XML files used by the xcb project to specify the X protocol and compiles them into Guile modules containing all the methods and data needed to send requests to the X server and receive replies/events back. If new X extensions are added to the xcb library, guile-xcb can compile and add them with no additional work. " See the release announcement for details on the other dishes.
WebMink writes "Is it possible that the CEO of the company that's trying to file a trademark on 'Python' was unaware of Python's importance as a programming technology? That's what he claims — despite running a hosting company that's trying to break into cloud computing, where Python is used extensively. Still, he also regards the Python Software Foundation as a hostile American company and thinks that getting attention from half the world's geeks is a DDoS. From the article: '[The CEO, Tim Poultney,] confirmed that he'd not involved any technical staff in the decisions he'd made about the Python product brand, and told me he regretted that as it would probably have helped him understand the likely reaction to his trademark challenge. ... He said he now understood how offended the global developer community are and told me there was obviously only one outcome that was now possible.'"
jrepin writes "The Tizen 2.0 source code and SDK are now available. 'This release includes an enhanced Web framework that provides state-of-the-art HTML5/W3C API support, a Web UI framework (including full-screen and multi-window support), additional Tizen device APIs, such as Bluetooth and NFC support, and access to the device's calendar, call history, and messaging subsystems are now available. Other highlights: The Web Runtime framework supports new configuration elements for specifying the required features and privileges, and provides the basic runtime environment for NPRuntime plugins; the Native framework supports full-featured application development and provides a variety of features such as background applications, IP Push, and TTS (Text-To-Speech)."
snydeq writes "Apple was recently attacked by hackers who infected the Macintosh computers of some employees, the company said on Tuesday in an unprecedented disclosure that described the widest known cyber attacks against Apple-made computers to date, Reuters reports. 'The same software, which infected Macs by exploiting a flaw in a version of Oracle Corp's Java software used as a plug-in on Web browsers, was used to launch attacks against Facebook, which the social network disclosed on Friday. ... A person briefed on the investigation into the attacks said that hundreds of companies, including defense contractors, had been infected with the same malicious software, or malware. The attacks mark the highest-profile cyber attacks to date on businesses running Mac computers.'"
alancronin writes "Similar to Fabien Sanglard's previous code reviews of other games such as the Quake and Doom line of games comes a review of the code base of Duke Nukem 3D (split out over 4 pages). This will be a very good read for anyone interested in understanding the mechanics of a highly addictive game or anyone that wants to learn more about game design."
DavidGilbert99 writes "Facebook admitted last weekend that it was hacked but assured everyone that no data was compromised. However following some investigation by security firm F-Secure, it seems this could be just the tip of the iceberg and that thousands of mobile app developers without the dedicated security team Facebook has in place could already be compromised. The vector for the attack was a mobile developer's website, and the malware used likely targeted Apple's Mac OS X rather than Windows."
imac.usr writes "The Huffington Post is reporting that The Washington Post has gone through yet another round of layoffs, but this time instead of cutting editorial positions, they're apparently cutting IT positions, specifically in the mobile applications department. According to Washington, DC media blog FishbowlDC, 54 people, including the General Manager of Mobile and Director of Mobile Products, were given the axe on Valentine's Day. A particularly damning quote from the FishbowlDC article: '"[CIO and VP Shaliesh] Prakash thinks these are 'inefficiencies' – that is the exact word he uses for human beings who are not useful according to him," said a source who spoke only on condition of anonymity. "Get rid of experienced people to save money, under the garb of streamlining is the new trend inside the Post."' Given that mobile products seem somewhat more likely to succeed than printed newspapers, this seems a strange decision at best."
An anonymous reader writes "Over the years, Slashdot has had many stories of non-technical entrepreneurs in need of programmers. Now I found myself in an almost opposite situation: I am a programmer with a fledgling mass-market product that needs marketing. I know Slashdot's general sentiment towards marketing. Without being judgmental one way or the other, I must say that for a product to reach the widest possible audience in a given time period, marketing is a necessity. Short of doing everything myself, I see a couple of options: 1. Hire marketing people, or an outside marketing firm; 2. Take in willing partners who are good at marketing (currently there are no shortage of people who want in). With these options, my major concerns are how to quantify performance, as well as how to avoid getting trapped in a partnership with non-performing partners — I already have a tangible product with a huge amount of time, money, and effort invested. Budget is also limited. (Budget is always limited unless you are a Fortune 500 business, but for now that's more of a secondary concern.) So here is my question to Slashdot: how do you address these concerns, and in a more general sense, how would you handle the situation: technical people with a product in need of marketing?"
New submitter karijes writes "Evil is a new Emacs major mode intended to implement full Vim emulation for Emacs editor, and it's reached its first stable release. Evil implements many Vim features and has support for plugins, so there is port for rails.vim, NERDCommenter and mapleader among others. You can find details about this release on the mailing list."
An anonymous reader writes "It's not everyday that we get to hear about the potential downsides of using WebKit, but that's just what has happened as Dave Methvin, president of the jQuery foundation and a member of the core programming team that builds the widely used Web programming tool, lamented in a blog post yesterday. While most are happy to cheer for IE's demise, perhaps having three main browser engines is still a good thing. For those that work in the space, does the story ring true? Are we perhaps swearing at the wrong browser when implementing 'workarounds' for Firefox or IE?"
mvar writes "A company in the UK is trying to trademark the 'Python' term for all things computing. The Python Software Foundation is asking for help. According to the PSF, they contacted the company in order to settle the matter but 'They blew us off and responded by filing the community trademark application claiming the exclusive right to use "Python" for software, servers, and web services — everywhere in Europe.' They now seek help from the community in several ways: By sending a letter to the EU council if you happen to work on a company that uses the Python programming language, by providing EU-published material regarding the Python language (articles etc) and/or financially supporting the PSF in the upcoming legal battle."
First time accepted submitter BadassFractal writes "I'm in the market for a new large desktop monitor (or two) which I intend to use almost exclusively for programming and all sorts of software development-related work. I'm trying to keep the cost down reasonable, and I do enjoy as large of a resolution as possible. What do people 'in the know' out there use these days for that purpose? I'm thinking a 1920x1200 24" would be good, unless there's an affordable 2560xFoo option out there. I keep hearing about nameless Korean 27" screens, any thoughts on those?"
Several readers have passed on news of a privacy hole in the Google app store. Reader Strudelkugel writes with the news.com.au version, excerpting: "Every time you purchase an app on Google Play, your name, address and email is passed on to the developer, it has been revealed today. The 'flaw' — which appears to be by design — was discovered this morning by Sydney app developer Dan Nolan who told news.com.au that he was uncomfortable being the custodian of this information and that there was no reason for any developer to have this information at their finger tips."
gbooch writes "With the permission of Adobe Systems, the Computer History Museum has made available the source code for Photoshop version 1.0.1, comprising about 128,000 lines of code within 179 files, most of which is in Pascal, the remainder in 68000 assembly language. This the kind of code I aspire to write. The Computer History Museum has earlier made available the source code to MacPaint."
mikejuk writes "Programmers often say that regular expressions are fun ... but now they can be a whole lot of fun in a completely new way. Want to try your hand at a regular expression crossword? The idea is simple enough — create a crossword style puzzle with regular expressions are the 'clues.' In case you don't know what a regular expression is — it is a way of specifying what characters are allowed using wild-card characters and more. For example a dot matches any single character, an * any number of characters and so on. The regular expression crossword is more a sort of Sudoku puzzle than crossword however because the clues determine the pattern that the entries in a row have to satisfy. It also has to use a hexagonal grid to provide three regular expressions to control each entry. This particular regular expression crossword(pdf) was part of this year's MIT Mystery Hunt. This annual event is crammed with a collection of very difficult problems and the regular expression crossword, created by Dan Gulotta from an idea by Palmer Mebane, was just a small part of the whole — and yes there is a solution."
hypnosec writes "Oracle is going to open source JavaFX ports for Android and iOS soon as a part of its efforts to open source the framework. JavaFX, destined to replace Swing GUI library as the default method to develop graphical user interfaces, is a framework used to develop cross-platform rich Internet applications. The ports for iOS and Android are based on an 'unreleased version of JavaSE Embedded for iOS/Android.' Oracle's Richard Bair revealed that the 'first bits and pieces' for JavaFX for iOS should probably be out sometime next week. The rest of the release will be scheduled along with the release of Prism (the next-generation toolkit). Oracle is going to keep javafx-font proprietary, but Bair has said developers are already working toward an open source native replacement of the component through the OpenJFX list."
jfruh writes "Here's an old computer science joke: What's the difference between hardware and software? If you use hardware long enough, it breaks. If you use software long enough, it works. The truth behind that is the reason that so much decades-old COBOL code is out there still driving crucial applications at banks and other huge companies. Many attempts to replace COBOL applications flopped in the 1980s and '90s, and we're stuck with them for the foreseeable future — but the Baby Boomers who wrote all that code are now retiring en masse."
hyperorbiter writes "How come after 25 years in the tech industry, someone hasn't worked out how to make accurate progress bars? This migration I'm doing has sat on 'less than a minute' for over 30 minutes. I'm not an engineer; is it really that hard?"
earlzdotnet writes "I've been programming for a few years now, and I have a full time job. I'm one of those lucky souls that actually enjoy programming, so I commonly work on my own open source projects on weekends. However, I wouldn't mind working on a short-term projects (i.e. not more than ~2 months) every once in a while on weekends. I've looked at freelancing before, and I could probably make more money by working at McDonald's on weekends than that. I've also looked into making web sites for small businesses, but it requires a bit too much commitment and support for me, especially since I'm terrible at graphics design. I've tried my hand at writing reusable components to sell to other programmers, but that was pretty pointless (I made one $20 sale). I've seen teaching suggested, but I'm self-taught and probably not experienced enough to responsibly teach people. Are there any other options to make a bit of cash as a programmer? Is programming just one of those things that requires complete dedication, or what?"
theodp writes "In an open letter on TechCrunch, Vivek Wadhwa calls on Congressman Luis Gutierrez to lift his 'hold on Silicon Valley' and stop tying immigration reform for highly-skilled STEM immigrants to the plight of undocumented immigrants. So, why should the STEM set get first dibs? 'The issues of high-skilled and undocumented immigrants are both equally important,' says Wadhwa, but 'the difference is that the skilled workers have mobility and are in great demand all over the world. They are getting frustrated and are leaving in droves.' Commenting on Gutierrez's voting record, Wadhwa adds, 'I would have voted for visas for 50,000 smart foreign students graduating with STEM degrees from U.S. universities over bringing in 55,000 randomly selected high-school graduates from abroad. The STEM graduates would have created jobs and boosted our economy. The lottery winners will come to the U.S. with high hopes, but will face certain unemployment and misery because of our weak economy.' So, should Gutierrez cede to Wadhwa's techies-before-Latinos proposal, or would this be an example of the paradox of virtuous meritocracy undermining equality of opportunity?"
An anonymous reader writes "Hurd, the GNU micro-kernel project that was founded by Richard Stallman in 1983, may finally be catching up with Linux on the desktop... Plans were shared by its developers to finally bring in some modern functionality by working on support for Serial ATA drives, USB support, and sound cards. There are also ambitions to provide x86-64 CPU architecture support. GNU Hurd developers will be doing an unofficial Debian GNU/Hurd 'Wheezy' release this year but they hope for the Debian 'Jessie' release their micro-kernel in Debian will make it as part of some official CDs."
New submitter jeditobe writes "Aleksey Bragin reported that starting in February he would be a lecturer at the Moscow State Technical University teaching the operating system course. He said that he intends to incorporate ReactOS into the lab work so that students would have the opportunity to work on an actual operating system. He also intends to translate and upload the slides he will use for class for others to see." (Bragin is the Project Coordinator for ReactOS.)
ewenc writes "Mercenary computer coders are helping scientists cope with the deluge of data pouring out of research labs. A contest to write software to analyze immune-system genes garnered more than 100 entries, including many that vastly outperformed existing programs. The US$6,000 contest was launched by researchers at Harvard Medical School and Harvard Business School, both in Boston, Massachusetts. TopCoder.com, a community of more than 400,000 coders who compete in programming competitions, hosted the contest. The results are described in a letter published this week in Nature Biotechnology."
First time accepted submitter LiteWait writes "My son is heading off to college next year and although he is bright kid with a great background in math and science, he has indicated that he'd like learn some introductory programming skills this summer. The courses at the local universities are pretty sparse and most of the CS101-type courses I've seen offered are too general to meet his needs. Even though he is a self-starter I think he would benefit from actual courses/code camps/etc rather than just slogging through online samples and tutorials. I'd like some advice on possible options for code camps, online courses, or developer training."
itwbennett writes "DARPA (the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) has awarded $3 million to software provider Continuum Analytics to help fund the development of Python's data processing and visualization capabilities for big data jobs. The money will go toward developing new techniques for data analysis and for visually portraying large, multi-dimensional data sets. The work aims to extend beyond the capabilities offered by the NumPy and SciPy Python libraries, which are widely used by programmers for mathematical and scientific calculations, respectively. The work is part of DARPA's XData research program, a four-year, $100 million effort to give the Defense Department and other U.S. government agencies tools to work with large amounts of sensor data and other forms of big data."
We've talked in the past about what kind of questions should be asked of potential developer hires, and how being honest in exit interviews probably isn't worth the potential damage to your career. We're also familiar with the tricky questions some interviewers like to throw at people to test their thinking skills, and the questionable merits of gauging somebody's skillset through a pointlessly obtuse math problem. But there are also shady employers who conduct interviews to try to mine your knowledge and experience to find free solutions to their current problems. An actual job may or may not be on the table, but if they can get what they need from you before hiring, then at the very least your bargaining position will have gotten worse. Have you dealt with situations like this in the past? Since you can't know for sure the interviewer's intentions, it's tough to provide an answer demonstrating your abilities without solving their problem. "Before asking about the fixes they’ve tried, start by acknowledging the depth of the problem and find out whether the manager has the resources to solve it. Then, just like a consultant, use their answers to highlight your experience and explain the approach you’d take." You could also try explaining how you've solved similar problems, which won't necessarily help them, but will demonstrate your value. Of course, one of the biggest challenges is determining when somebody is getting a little too specific with their interview questions. What red flags should people keep an eye out for?
12_West writes "I seek opinions from the Slashdot community about entry level job opportunities as programmers (or other I.T. Staff) for seniors who want to switch careers and continue to work full time. I do not want to retire, nor go part time, as long as I can get up and drive myself in to work. I'm currently 58 years old, working as an industrial electrician in a maintenance department setting for a building products manufacturer. I like the work, but it is becoming hard on my aging body, so, I would like to begin gradually retraining and hope to switch careers in about four years. A lower paying, less physical job would be just fine as there will be pension money coming in. I'm not currently a programmer, but have done some hobbyist level coding in Qbasic and MS-DOS batch files 'back in the days.' I also have some exposure to the Rockwell Automation RSLogix programming tools that are now going obsolete. So, I will be retraining whether I switch careers or not."
First time accepted submitter jsmyth writes "MySQL 5.6.10 has been released, marking the General Availability of version 5.6 for production." Here's more on the features of 5.6. Of possible interest to MySQL users, too, is this look at how MySQL spinoff MariaDB (from Monty, one of the three creators of MySQL) is making inroads into the MySQL market, including (as we've mentioned before) as default database system in some Linux distributions.
Esther Schindler writes "There was a time when programs were written in text editors. And when competition between C++ vendors was actually fierce. Step into the time travel machine as Andy Patrizio revisits the evolution and impact of the visual development metaphor. 'Visual development in its earliest stages was limited by what the PC could do. But for the IBM PC in the early 1980s, with its single-tasking operating system and 8- or 16-bit hardware, the previous software development process was text edit, compile, write down the errors, and debug with your eyes.' Where do you start? 'While TurboPascal launched the idea of an integrated development environment, [Jeff] Duntemann credits Microsoft's Visual Basic (VB), launched in 1991, with being the first real IDE.'... And yes, there's plenty more." A comment attached to the story lists two IDEs that preceded VB; can you name others?
An anonymous reader writes in with news of the continuing saga of Java patches and exploits. "If you're a Mac user who suddenly can't access websites or run applications that rely on Java, you're not alone. For the second time in a month, Apple has silently blocked the latest version of Java 7 from running on OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard or higher via its XProtect anti-malware tool. Apple hasn't issued any official statements advising users of the change or its reasons, but it's a safe bet that the company has deemed Oracle's most recent update to Java insecure. That's why the company stealthily disabled Java on Macs back on Jan. 10, the same day a Java vulnerability was being exploited in the wild."
JerkyBoy writes "RunRev maintains the proprietary LiveCode programming environment. Those familiar with HyperCard on the Mac would feel quite at home using the environment to produce simple applications, and possibly more, although the programming language it incorporates has a few significant shortcomings (e.g., true object orientation). But it is a very versatile environment, currently claiming support for Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, and server-side scripting. For us NOOBs who could never find the time to learn C++ and something like the wxWidgets or QT toolkits, it seems like a pretty good deal. Recently RunRev has done something interesting, however, and that is to create a Kickstarter campaign to move the environment to open source (~500K lines of code, ~700 files). The way that they describe it, it sounds like there will be a commercial version and an open-source version of the environment (hopefully not cripple-ware), and they are asking for money to do this. But I want to know: what are their chances of success with this model? How in the world can they make enough money to maintain their programmers and overhead while giving the environment away? In other words, if a company like RunRev announces that they are moving to an open-source model, should you become more interested or less interested in their product?"
darthcamaro writes "Oracle has been slammed a lot in recent months about its lackluster handling of Java security. Now Oracle is responding as strongly as it can with one of the largest Java security updates in history. 50 flaws in total with the vast majority carrying the highest-possible CVSS score of 10."
chicksdaddy writes "Veracode's blog has an interesting piece that looks at whether 'brogramming' — the testosterone- and booze-fueled coding culture depicted in movies like The Social Network — spells death for the 'engineering' part of 'software engineering.' From the post: 'The Social Network is a great movie. But, let's face it, the kind of "coding" you're doing when you're "wired in"... or drunk... isn't likely to be very careful or – need we say – secure. Whatever else it may have done, [brogramming's] focus on flashy, testosterone-fueled "competitive" coding divorces "writing software" – free form, creative, inspirational – from "software engineering," its older, more thoughtful and reliable cousin.' The article picks up on Leslie Lamport's recent piece in Wired: 'Why we should build software like we build houses' — also worth reading!"
Qedward writes "As the UK prepares to shake up the way computer science is taught in schools, Redmond is warning that the UK risks falling behind other countries in the race to develop and nurture computing talent, if 'we don't ensure that all children learn about computer science in primary schools.' With 100,000 unfilled IT jobs but only 30,500 computer science graduates in the UK last year, MS believes: 'By formally introducing children to computer science basics at primary school, we stand a far greater chance of increasing the numbers taking the subject through to degree level and ultimately the world of work.'"
An anonymous reader writes "In what seems to be a recurring theme with Facebook as the social networking giant adds features, competing apps that use Facebook integration risk being cut off due to the terms of service surrounding the API. For example, 'Voxer CEO Tom Katis told AllThingsD that the company got an email on Thursday saying that Facebook wanted to hold a phone call to discuss possible violations of a section of the company’s terms of service. The section in question centers around the use of Facebook’s social graph by competing social networks.' Similarly, 'Within hours of Twitter launching its Vine video-sharing application on Thursday, Facebook has cut off access to Vine’s "find people" feature, which used to let Vine users find their Facebook friends using the Vine application.' You have to ask yourself: is it really worth developing an app that integrates with, or worse runs completely on Facebook's platform?"
An anonymous reader writes "Mozilla on Tuesday announced a massive change to the way it loads third-party plugins in Firefox. The company plans to enable Click to Play for all versions of all plugins, except the latest release of Flash. This essentially means Firefox will soon only load third-party plugins when users click to interact with the plugin. Currently, Firefox automatically loads any plugin requested by a website, unless Mozilla has blocked it for security reasons (such as for old versions of Java, Silverlight, and Flash)."
First time accepted submitter taikedz writes "Citrix Xenapp with Receiver/Metaframe allows publishing individual applications installed on a Windows server to users on remote machines. These applications open in their own windows, along side others as if they were installed locally. I am looking to do the same at home, with free software, publishing applications from Mac, Linux, and Windows machines (and yes, I've verified the license agreements for the apps I am going to do this with!). Up until now, the only alternatives I have found are full-on remote desktop login, not seamlessly-integrated. Can you recommend any tools that can achieve the goal of remote individual application access across platforms for free or at low-cost?"
snydeq writes "Deep End's Paul Venezia waxes philosophical about Perl stagnancy in IT. 'A massive number of tools and projects still make the most out of the language. But it's hard to see Perl regaining its former glory without a dramatic turnaround in the near term. As more time goes by, Perl will likely continue to decline in popularity and cement its growing status as a somewhat arcane and archaic language, especially as compared to newer, more lithe options. Perhaps that's OK. Perl has been an instrumental part of the innovation and technological advancements of the last two decades, and it's served as a catalyst for a significant number of other languages that have contributed heavily to the programming world in general.'"
theodp writes "That his 28-year-old whip-smart, well-educated CS grad friend could be unaware of MacWrite and MacPaint took Dave Winer by surprise. 'They don't, for some reason,' notes Winer, 'study these [types of seminal] products in computer science. They fall between the cracks of "serious" study of algorithms and data structures, and user interface and user experience (which still is not much-studied, but at least is starting). This is more the history of software. Much like the history of film, or the history of rock and roll.' So, Dave asks, what early software was influential and worthy of a Software Hall of Fame?"
giminy writes "Clay Shirky has a thought-provoking piece on depression in the hacker community. While hackers tend to be great at internet collaboration on software projects, we often fall short when it comes to helping each other with personal problems. The evidence is only anecdotal, but there seems to be a higher than average incidence of mental health issues among hackers and internet freedom fighters. It would be great to see this addressed by our community through some outreach and awareness programs."
judgecorp writes "Linux kernel developer Alan Cox has left Intel and Linux development after slamming the Fedora 18 distribution. He made the announcement on Google+ and promised that he had not fallen out with Linus Torvalds, and would finish up all outstanding work." Also at Live Mint, which calls Cox's resignation notice a "welcome change from the sterility, plain dishonesty of CEO departure statements." Cox says in that statement that he's leaving "for a bit," and "I may be back at some point in the future - who knows."