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Programming

The Programmers Who Want To Get Rid of Software Estimates 282

Posted by Soulskill
from the and-the-managers-who-want-them-dead dept.
An anonymous reader writes: This article has a look inside the #NoEstimates movement, which wants to rid the software world of time estimates for projects. Programmers argue that estimates are wrong too often and a waste of time. Other stakeholders believe they need those estimates to plan and to keep programmers accountable. Is there a middle ground? Quoting: "Software project estimates are too often wrong, and the more time we throw at making them, the more we steal from the real work of building software. Also: Managers have a habit of treating developers' back-of-the-envelope estimates as contractual deadlines, then freaking out when they're missed. And wait, there's more: Developers, terrified by that prospect, put more and more energy into obsessive trips down estimation rabbit-holes. Estimation becomes a form of "yak-shaving" — a ritual enacted to put off actual work."
Android

Who's Afraid of Android Fragmentation? 133

Posted by Soulskill
from the aside-from-actual-androids dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes: The dreaded term "fragmentation" has been applied to Android more times than anyone can count over the past half-decade. That's part of the reason why game developers often build for iOS before Android, even though Android offers a bigger potential customer base worldwide, and more types of gaming experiences. Fortunately, new sets of tools allow game developers to build for one platform and port their work (fairly) easily to another. "We've done simultaneously because it is such a simple case of swapping out the textures and also hooking up different APIs for scores and achievements," London-based indie developer Tom Vian told Dice. "I've heard that iOS is a better platform to launch on first, but there's no sense for us in waiting when we can spend half a day and get it up and running." So is fragmentation an overhyped roadblock, or is it a genuine problem for developers who work in mobile?
AI

The Believers: Behind the Rise of Neural Nets 43

Posted by samzenpus
from the back-in-the-day dept.
An anonymous reader writes Deep learning is dominating the news these days, but it's quite possible the field could have died if not for a mysterious call that Geoff Hinton, now at Google, got one night in the 1980s: "You don't know me, but I know you," the mystery man said. "I work for the System Development Corporation. We want to fund long-range speculative research. We're particularly interested in research that either won't work or, if it does work, won't work for a long time. And I've been reading some of your papers." The Chronicle of Higher Ed has a readable profile of the minds behind neural nets, from Rosenblatt to Hassabis, told primarily through Hinton's career.
Education

Interviews: Ask Senior Director Matt Keller About the Global Learning XPRIZE 28

Posted by samzenpus
from the go-ahead-and-ask dept.
The former Vice President of One Laptop per Child (OLPC) Matt Keller is currently the Senior Director of the $15 million Global Learning XPRIZE. The competition challenges teams from around the world to develop open source software solutions that will allow children in developing countries to teach themselves basic reading, writing and arithmetic within a 18 month competition period. After 18 months a panel of judges will evaluate the projects and announce semi-finalists. Semi-finalists will have a month to tweak their projects and/or reconfigure their teams before the judges elect the top five finalist to proceed. Each of the five teams selected will receive $1 million to field test their ideas with the eventual winners receiving the Grand Prize of $10 million. The Global Learning XPRIZE is recruiting teams now through April 30, 2015. Matt has agreed to answer any questions you might have about the competition and the future of education in general. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post.
Programming

H-1B Visas Proving Lucrative For Engineers, Dev Leads 175

Posted by timothy
from the quick-get-the-pitchforks dept.
Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes Ever wanted to know how much H-1B holders make per year? Developer Swizec Teller, who is about to apply for an H-1B visa, took data from the U.S. Department of Labor and visualized it in a series of graphs that break down H-1B salaries on a state-by-state basis. Teller found that the average engineer with an H-1B makes $87,000 a year, a good deal higher than developers ($74,000) and programmers ($61,000) with the same visa. ("Don't call yourself a programmer," he half-joked on Twitter.) Architects, consultants, managers, administrators, and leads with H-1Bs can likewise expect six-figure annual salaries, depending on the state and company. Teller's site is well worth checking out for the interactive graphs, which he built with React and D3.js. The debate over H-1Bs is an emotional one for many tech pros, and research into the visa's true impact on the U.S. labor market wasn't helped by the U.S. Department of Labor's recent decision to destroy H-1B records after five years. "These are the only publicly available records for researchers to analyze on the demand by employers for H-1B visas with detail information on work locations," Neil Ruiz, who researches visa issues for The Brookings Institution, told Computerworld after the new policy was announced in late 2014.
Displays

Valve To Reveal Virtual Reality Dev Kit Next Week At GDC 46

Posted by timothy
from the they-want-your-eyeballs dept.
An anonymous reader writes Gaming giant Valve has been researching augmented and virtual reality for some time. Early on, the company worked closely with Oculus, sharing research findings and even adding support for TF2 to Oculus' first VR headset, the DK1, back in 2013. After demonstrating their own prototype VR headset at Steam Dev Days in early 2014, and then a modified version later in the year, Valve is now ready to take the wraps off a 'previously unannounced ... SteamVR Dev Kit,' which will make its debut at GDC next week. SteamVR is the name of the software adaptation of Steam's 'Big Picture' mode that the company revealed early last year, allowing players to browse their Steam library and play supported games all in virtual reality.
Businesses

Attention, Rockstar Developers: Get a Talent Agent 145

Posted by timothy
from the there-will-be-no-green-m&ms dept.
ErichTheRed writes OK, we all know that there are a lot of developers and IT people in the field who shouldn't be, and finding really good people and hanging onto them is very difficult. However, I almost fell out of my chair reading this breathless article suggesting that developers hire agents. I grant the authors that recruiters are sometimes the only way to cut through the HR jungle in some companies, but outside of the hot San Francisco startup market, can you imagine a "10x rockstar developer" swaggering into a job interview with his negotiating team? I'm sure our readers can cite plenty of examples of these types who were only 10x in their own minds...
Programming

How One Developer Got the Internet To Watch People Code 65

Posted by Soulskill
from the next-year-we'll-all-be-crowdcoding dept.
blottsie writes: While Twitch TV is generally used for livestreaming gameplay, Alexander Putilin has other plans for the platform. Putilin and his girlfriend are using Twitch to build a community of software developers and students who broadcast complex floating point operations and algorithm design to the rest of the world. The community is responding and growing alongside its newfound popularity. WatchPeopleCode is now facilitating live hackathons (there was one this weekend), enabling programmers to meet and collaborate with people that they'd otherwise never be able to.
AI

The Robots That Will Put Coders Out of Work 264

Posted by timothy
from the uber-drivers-will-be-replaced-by-robots-oh-wait dept.
snydeq writes Researchers warn that a glut of code is coming that will depress wages and turn coders into Uber drivers, InfoWorld reports. "The researchers — Boston University's Seth Benzell, Laurence Kotlikoff, and Guillermo LaGarda, and Columbia University's Jeffrey Sachs — aren't predicting some silly, Terminator-like robot apocalypse. What they are saying is that our economy is entering a new type of boom-and-bust cycle that accelerates the production of new products and new code so rapidly that supply outstrips demand. The solution to that shortage will be to figure out how not to need those hard-to-find human experts. In fact, it's already happening in some areas."
Microsoft

How Machine Learning Ate Microsoft 93

Posted by samzenpus
from the doing-it-smarter dept.
snydeq writes Yesterday's announcement of Azure Machine Learning offers the latest sign of Microsoft's deep machine learning expertise — now available to developers everywhere, InfoWorld reports. "Machine learning has infiltrated Microsoft products from Bing to Office to Windows 8 to Xbox games. Its flashiest vehicle may be the futuristic Skype Translator, which handles two-way voice conversations in different languages. Now, with machine learning available on the Azure cloud, developers can build learning capabilities into their own applications: recommendations, sentiment analysis, fraud detection, fault prediction, and more. The idea of the new Azure offering is to democratize machine learning, so you no longer need to hire someone with a doctorate to use a machine learning algorithm."
Microsoft

Will Every Xbox Be a Dev Kit? 69

Posted by samzenpus
from the working-it-out dept.
jfruh writes There were a lot of rumored features of the Xbox One that vanished after public outcry — that it would need an always-on Internet connection, for instance. But another rumor from that era was that every Xbox One sold would include a dev kit that would allow anyone to create games — and it looks like this is one dream that might be coming true soon.
Java

Java Vs. Node.js: Epic Battle For Dev Mindshare 318

Posted by samzenpus
from the hearts-and-minds dept.
snydeq writes While it may have been unthinkable 20 years ago, Java and JavaScript are now locked in a battle of sorts for control of the programming world. InfoWorld's Peter Wayner examines where the old-school compiler-driven world of Java hold its ground and where the speed and flexibility of Node.js gives JavaScript on the server the nod. "In the history of computing, 1995 was a crazy time. First Java appeared, then close on its heels came JavaScript. The names made them seem like conjoined twins newly detached, but they couldn't be more different. One of them compiled and statically typed; the other interpreted and dynamically typed. That's only the beginning of the technical differences between these two wildly distinct languages that have since shifted onto a collision course of sorts, thanks to Node.js."
Programming

Building a Procedural Dungeon Generator In C# 83

Posted by samzenpus
from the random-encounters dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes Procedural dungeon generation is a fun exercise for programmers. Despite the crude interface, such games continue to spark interest. A quarter century ago, David Bolton wrote a dungeon generator in procedural Pascal; now he's taken that old code and converted it to C#. It's amazing just how fast it runs on a five-year-old i7 950 PC with 16GB of RAM. If you want to follow along, you can find his code for the project on SourceForge. The first part of the program generates the rooms in a multilevel dungeon. Each level is based on a 150 x 150 grid and can have up to 40 rooms. Rather than just render boring old rectangular rooms, there are also circular rooms. "There are a couple of places where corridor placement could have been optimized better," Bolton wrote about his experiment. "However, the dungeon generation is still very fast, and could provide a good programming example for anyone exploring what C# can do." For C# beginners, this could represent a solid exercise.
Businesses

Torvalds: "People Who Start Writing Kernel Code Get Hired Really Quickly" 130

Posted by samzenpus
from the getting-paid dept.
alphadogg writes Now more than ever, the development of the Linux kernel is a matter for the professionals, as unpaid volunteer contributions to the project reached their lowest recorded levels in the latest "Who Writes Linux" report, which was released today. According to the report, which is compiled by the Linux Foundation, just 11.8% of kernel development last year was done by unpaid volunteers – a 19% downturn from the 2012 figure of 14.6%. The foundation says that the downward trend in volunteer contributions has been present for years. According to Linus Torvalds, the shift towards paid developers hasn’t changed much about kernel development on its own. “I think one reason it hasn't changed things all that much is that it's not so much unpaid volunteers are going away as people who start writing kernel code get hired really quickly,” he said.
Government

Cubans Allowed To Export Software and Software Services To the US 165

Posted by samzenpus
from the getting-out-there dept.
lpress writes In an effort to support Cuba's nascent private sector, the Treasury Department announced on Friday that Americans can now import goods and services produced by "independent Cuban entrepreneurs." Will the Cuban government allow that? Cuba is a communist nation, but they have a list of 201 job categories in which self-employment is permitted. Most of those jobs are goofy things like magician and pedal-taxi driver, but one is not – computer programmer. Will the Castro regime let private individuals and organizations export software and software services to the United States and the rest of the world?