Slashdot videos: Now with more Slashdot!

  • View

  • Discuss

  • Share

We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).

×
Programming

No, It's Not Always Quicker To Do Things In Memory 481

Posted by Soulskill
from the performance-that-fails-to-perform dept.
itwbennett writes: It's a commonly held belief among software developers that avoiding disk access in favor of doing as much work as possible in-memory will results in shorter runtimes. To test this assumption, researchers from the University of Calgary and the University of British Columbia compared the efficiency of alternative ways to create a 1MB string and write it to disk. The results consistently found that doing most of the work in-memory to minimize disk access was significantly slower than just writing out to disk repeatedly (PDF).
Software

Developers and the Fear of Apple 264

Posted by Soulskill
from the think-different-except-about-us dept.
An anonymous reader writes: UI designer Eli Schiff has posted an article about the "climate of fear" surrounding Apple in the software development community. He points out how developers who express criticism in an informal setting often recant when their words are being recorded, and how even moderate public criticism is often prefaced by flattery and endorsements.

Beyond that, the industry has learned that they can't rely on Apple's walled garden to make a profit. The opaque app review process, the race to the bottom on pricing, and Apple's resistance to curation of the App Store are driving "independent app developers into larger organizations and venture-backed startups." Apple is also known to cut contact with developers if they release for Android first. The "climate of fear" even affects journalists, who face not only stonewalling from Apple after negative reporting, but also a brigade of Apple fans and even other journalists trying to paint them as anti-Apple.
Programming

A Bechdel Test For Programmers? 515

Posted by timothy
from the this-code-feels-different dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes In order for a movie or television show to pass the Bechdel Test (named after cartoonist and MacArthur genius Alison Bechdel), it must feature two female characters, have those two characters talk to one another, and have those characters talk to one another about something other than a man. A lot of movies and shows don't pass. How would programming culture fare if subjected to a similar test? One tech firm, 18F, decided to find out after seeing a tweet from Laurie Voss, CTO of npm, which explained the parameters of a modified Bechdel Test. According to Voss, a project that passes the test must feature at least one function written by a woman developer, that calls a function written by another woman developer. 'The conversation started with us quickly listing the projects that passed the Bechdel coding test, but then shifted after one of our devs then raised a good point,' read 18F's blog posting on the experiment. 'She said some of our projects had lots of female devs, but did not pass the test as defined.' For example, some custom languages don't have functions, which means a project built using those languages would fail even if written by women. Nonetheless, both startups and larger companies could find the modified Bechdel Test a useful tool for opening up a discussion about gender balance within engineering and development teams.
Programming

A Software Project Full of "Male Anatomy" Jokes Causes Controversy 762

Posted by samzenpus
from the can't-we-all-just-get-along? dept.
An anonymous reader writes with the story of a Github user's joke repository that is causing some controversy. "There's no question that the tech world is an overwhelmingly male place. There's legit concern that tech is run-amok with 'brogrammers' that make women programmers feel unwelcome. On the other hand, people just want to laugh. It's at that intersection that programmer Randy Hunt, aka 'letsgetrandy' posted a 'project' earlier this week to software hosting site GitHub called 'DICSS.' The project, which is actual free and open source software, is surrounded by geeky jokes about the male anatomy. And it's gone nuts, so to speak, becoming the most trending project on Github, and the subject of a lot of chatter on Twitter. And, Hunt tells us, the folks at Github are scratching their heads wondering what they should do about it. Some people love DICSS ... and some people are, understandably, offended. The offended people point out that this is exactly the sort of thing that makes tech unwelcoming to women, and not just because of the original project, but because of some of the comments (posted as "commits") that might take the joke too far."
Education

Arkansas Is Now the First State To Require That High Schools Teach Coding 211

Posted by timothy
from the unexpected-locale dept.
SternisheFan writes Arkansas will be implementing a new law that requires public high schools to offer classes in computer science starting in the 2015-16 school year. Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who signed the bill, believes it will provide "a workforce that's sure to attract businesses and jobs" to the state. $5 million of the governor's proposed budget will go towards this new program. For the districts incapable of of administering these classes due to lack of space or qualified teachers, the law has provisions for online courses to be offered through Virtual Arkansas. Although students will not be required to take computer science classes, the governor's goal is to give students the opportunity if they "want to take it." Presently, only one in 10 schools nationwide offer computer science classes. Not only will Arkansas teach these classes in every public high school and charter school serving upper grades, the courses will count towards the state's math graduation requirement as a further incentive for students. Training programs for teacher preparation will be available, but with the majority of the infrastructure already primed, the execution of this new law should hopefully be painless and seamless.
Databases

Why I Choose PostgreSQL Over MySQL/MariaDB 320

Posted by timothy
from the semi-religious-wars dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes For the past ten years, developers and tech pros have made a game of comparing MySQL and PostgreSQL, with the latter seen by many as technically superior. Those who support PostgreSQL argue that its standards support and ACID compliance outweighs MySQL's speed. But MySQL remains popular thanks to its inclusion in every Linux Web hosting package, meaning that a mind-boggling number of Web developers have used it. In a new article, developer David Bolton compares MySQL/MariaDB 5.7.6 (released March 9, 2015) with PostgreSQL 9.4.1 and thinks the latter remains superior on several fronts, including subqueries, JSON support, and better licensing and data integrity: "I think MySQL has done a great job of improving itself to keep relevant, but I have to confess to favoring PostgreSQL."
Portables

Ask Slashdot: Choosing a Laptop To Support Physics Research? 385

Posted by timothy
from the budget-for-replacement-too dept.
An anonymous reader writes My daughter is in her third year of college as a physics major. She has an internship in Europe this summer, will graduate next year, and continue with graduate physics studies. Her area of research interest is in gravitational waves and particle physics. She currently has a laptop running Win7 and wants to buy a new laptop. She would like to use Linux on it, and plans to use it for C++ programming, data analysis and simulations (along with the usual email, surfing, music, pictures, etc). For all of the physics-savvy Slashdotters out there: what should she get? PC? Mac? What do you recommend for running Linux? For a C++ development environment? What laptop do you use and how is it configured to support your physics-related activities?
Programming

Prison Program Aims To Turn Criminals Into Coders 305

Posted by Soulskill
from the hello-walls dept.
Press2ToContinue writes with news that San Quentin, a notorious California prison, has started a program to teach a class of inmates to write code. The first class will last for six months, and the inmates are learning about programming for eight hours a day. The hope is to give them the skills to find a good job after they leave prison, which in turn would reduce their chances of recidivism. Since the state's Dept. of Corrections prohibits internet access, the class only "pretends" to be online — they can't use internet-based resources, and nobody on the outside can see or use the software they create. One of the class's backers said, 'Almost every week there's epiphanies. And most of the guys in here, they've never touched a computer before. They are progressing beyond our expectations."
Programming

NTP's Fate Hinges On "Father Time" 287

Posted by samzenpus
from the time-will-tell dept.
Esther Schindler writes In April, one of the open source code movement's first and biggest success stories, the Network Time Protocol, will reach a decision point, writes Charlie Babcock. At 30 years old, will NTP continue as the preeminent time synchronization system for Macs, Windows, and Linux computers and most servers on networks? Or will this protocol go into a decline marked by drastically slowed development, fewer bug fixes, and greater security risks for the computers that use it? The question hinges to a surprising degree on the personal finances of a 59-year-old technologist in Talent, Ore., named Harlan Stenn.
Open Source

On Firing Open Source Community Members 255

Posted by Soulskill
from the can't-we-all-just-get-along dept.
An anonymous reader writes: As open source started booming, more people joined. Opinionated people. People who listened to the "we welcome everyone!" message and felt that their opinion could be their primary contribution. For some, they felt showing up at the gig gave them the right to dictate what the band played. From a leadership perspective, this was a tough spot to be in. On one hand, you want to foster an open, welcoming, and empowered community. You want that diversity of skills, but you also want value and quality. Low-quality contributors don't bring much other than noise: they are a net drain on resources because other good contributors have to take time away to support them.

In addition to this, those entitled, special-snowflakes who felt they deserved to be listened to would invariably start whining on their blogs about what they considered to be poor decisions. This caused heat in a community, heat causes sweating, sweating causes irritability, and irritability causes more angry blog posts. Critical blog posts were not the problem; un-constructive, critical blog posts were the problem. So what's the best way to foster a welcoming environment while still being able to remove the destructive elements?
Programming

Was Linus Torvalds Right About C++ Being So Wrong? 757

Posted by Soulskill
from the harsh-language-about-a-harsh-language dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes: Perhaps the most famous rant against C++ came from none other than Linus Torvalds in 2007. "C++ is a horrible language," he wrote, for starters. "It's made more horrible by the fact that a lot of substandard programmers use it, to the point where it's much much easier to generate total and utter crap with it." He's not alone: A lot of developers dislike how much C++ can do "behind the scenes" with STL and Boost, leading to potential instability and inefficiency. And yet there's still demand for C++ out there. Over at Dice, Jeff Cogswell argues that C++ doesn't deserve the hatred. "I've witnessed a lot of 'over-engineering' in my life, wherein people would write reusable classes with several layers of inheritance, even though the reusable class wasn't actually used more than once," he wrote. "But I would argue that's the exception, not the norm; when done right, generic programming and other high-level aspects of C++ can provide enormous benefits." Was Linus going overboard?
Programming

Study: Refactoring Doesn't Improve Code Quality 247

Posted by Soulskill
from the just-makes-you-hate-it-a-bit-less dept.
itwbennett writes: A team of researchers in Sri Lanka set out to test whether common refactoring techniques resulted in measurable improvements in software quality, both externally (e.g., Is the code more maintainable?) and internally (e.g., Number of lines of code). Here's the short version of their findings: Refactoring doesn't make code easier to analyze or change (PDF); it doesn't make code run faster; and it doesn't result in lower resource utilization. But it may make code more maintainable.
GUI

Why We Should Stop Hiding File-Name Extensions 564

Posted by timothy
from the text-rules dept.
An anonymous reader writes 14 years after the Anna Kournikova virus took advantage of users' ignorance about file-name extensions in order to wreak worldwide havoc, virus writers and hackers are still taking advantage of the tendency of popular consumer operating systems to hide file-name extensions: Windows users still need to activate extension visibility manually – even though email-transmitted viruses depend most on less savvy users who will never do this. Additionally applications on even the latest versions of Apple's OSX operating system still require the user to 'opt in' to including a file-name extension during an initial save. In looking at some of the eccentricities of the modern user experience, this article argues that it might be time to admit that users need to understand, embrace and responsibly use the only plain-text, obvious indicator of what a file actually is.
Open Source

Ask Slashdot: Which Classic OOP Compiled Language: Objective-C Or C++? 407

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-as-classic-as-COBOL dept.
Qbertino writes: I've been trying to pick up a classic, object-oriented, compiled language since the early 90s, but have never gotten around to it. C++ was always on my radar, but I'm a little torn to-and-fro with Objective-C. Objective-C is the obvious choice if you also want to make money developing for Mac OS X, but for the stuff I want to do, both languages would suffice on all platforms. I do want to start out on x86 Linux, though, and also use it as my main development platform. Yes, I know quite a few other languages, but I want to get into a widespread compiled language that has good ties into FOSS. Both Objective-C and C++ fit that bill. What do you recommend? How do these two programming languages compare with each other, and how easy is cross-platform development in either? (Primarily GUI-free, "headless" applications.)