theodp writes "In the movie Groundhog Day, a weatherman finds himself living the same day over and over again. It's a tale to which software-designers-of-a-certain-age can relate. Like Philip Greenspun, who wrote in 1999, 'One of the most painful things in our culture is to watch other people repeat earlier mistakes. We're not fond of Bill Gates, but it still hurts to see Microsoft struggle with problems that IBM solved in the 1960s.' Or Dave Winer, who recently observed, 'We marvel that the runtime environment of the web browser can do things that we had working 25 years ago on the Mac.' And then there's Scott Locklin, who argues in a new essay that one of the problems with modern computer technology is that programmers don't learn from the great masters. 'There is such a thing as a Beethoven or Mozart of software design,' Locklin writes. 'Modern programmers seem more familiar with Lady Gaga. It's not just a matter of taste and an appreciation for genius. It's a matter of forgetting important things.' Hey, maybe it's hard to learn from computer history when people don't acknowledge the existence of someone old enough to have lived it, as panelists reportedly did at an event held by Mark Zuckerberg's FWD.us last Friday!"
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×
Nerval's Lobster writes "If struggling online-games developer Zynga thought things were bad before, they could be turning a whole lot worse: Facebook is rolling out a pilot program for small- and medium-sized game developers. 'Through the program, we will work with select game developers and provide promotional support for their games in placements across our mobile apps,' reads a note on the Facebook Developers Website. Facebook is promising those developers access to the social network's '800 million monthly mobile users,' a variety of analytics tools for measuring their games' impact, and a 'unique targeting ability' for finding the right audiences — all for a cut of the games' revenue. 'We will be collaborating deeply with developers in our program by helping them cultivate high-quality, long-term players for their games,' the note added. Zynga benefited mightily from its relationship with Facebook, but other developers have subsequently realized they can utilize many of Zynga's tricks — and the social network's enormous audience — for their own ends. King is now Facebook's top app developer, largely on the strength of its Candy Crush Saga game. If Facebook encourages more small- and medium-sized developers to jump into the social gaming, it could fill the arena with even more competitors, which could prove bad news for the already-reeling Zynga. But for Facebook, the benefits are obvious: if any of those tiny-for-the-moment developers create a hit game, the revenues will come flooding in. That would supplement the social network's ad revenue, all while ensuring it doesn't need to overly depend on a single large developer with a set portfolio of games. Zynga has already been suffering from gaming-studio closings, games being shut down, and a declining user-base."
siliconbits writes "The debate about tagging has been going for nearly a decade. Slashdot has covered it a number of times. But it seems that nobody has yet to come up with a foolproof solution to tagging. Even luminaries like Engadget, The Verge, Gizmodo and Slashdot all have different tagging schemes. Commontag, a venture launched in 2009 to tackle tagging, has proved to be all but a failure despite the backing of heavyweights like Freebase, Yahoo and Zemanta. Even Google gave up and purchased Freebase in July 2010. Somehow I remain convinced that a unified, semantically-based solution, using a mix of folksonomy and taxonomy, is the Graal of tagging. I'd like to hear from fellow Slashdotters as to how they tackle the issue of creating and maintaining a tagging solution, regardless of the platform and the technologies being used in the backend." A good time to note: there may be no pretty way to get at them, but finding stories with a particular tag on Slashdot is simple, at least one at a time: Just fill in a tag you'd like to explore after "slashdot.org/tag/", as in "slashdot.org/tag/bizarro."
ectoman writes "Are firms responsible for GPL violations on code they receive from third parties? A German court thinks so. The Regional Court of Hamburg recently ruled that Fantec, a European media player maker, failed to distribute 'complete corresponding source code' for firmware found in some of its products. Fantec claims its third-party firmware supplier provided the company with appropriate source code, which Fantext made available online. But a hackathon organized by the Free Software Foundation Europe discovered that this source code was incomplete, and programmer Harald Welte filed suit. He won. Mark Radcliffe, an IP expert and senior partner at DLA Piper who specializes in open source licensing issues, has analyzed the case—and argued that it underscores the need for companies to implement internal GPL compliance processes. 'Fantec is a reminder that companies should adopt a formal FOSS use policy which should be integrated into the software development process,' he writes. 'These standards should include an understanding of the FOSS management processes of such third-party suppliers. The development of a network of trusted third-party suppliers is critical part of any FOSS compliance strategy.'"
achowe writes "The 22nd International Obfuscated C Code Contest opens 2013-Aug-01 03:14:15 UTC through to 2013-Oct-03 09:26:53 UTC. The rules have been updated, in particular Rule 2 (size rule) has changed. The draft rules and guidelines are available online. In addition there is now an IOCCC Size Rule Tool to aid with counting the secondary size rule. Questions and comments for the Judges can be emailed to email@example.com and must include 'IOCCC 2013' in the subject. Or contact them via Twitter @IOCCC." Anyone planning on entering?
First time accepted submitter chris.kohlhepp writes "The Emacs editor just got consolidated package management with "Feline Herd", offering 2000+ packages under one roof. No struggle with convoluted keyboard shortcuts — only easy GUI navigation via toolbar buttons! Every conceivable programming language is handled. Cuts the Emacs learning curve to a minimum for learners."
alphadogg writes "Oracle is continuing to crack down on companies it claims are providing support services for its products in an illegal fashion. Last week, Oracle sued IT services providers Terix and Maintech, alleging they have 'engaged in a deliberate scheme to misappropriate and distribute copyrighted, proprietary Oracle software code' in the course of providing support for customers using Oracle's Solaris OS. Oracle's allegations are similar to ones it has made in lawsuits against other Solaris service providers, such as ServiceKey, as well as Rimini Street, which provides third-party support for Oracle and SAP applications."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Forget about hacking an app or database: for a small cadre of hackers in San Francisco, it's all about writing code that can score them a great table at a hot restaurant. According to the BBC, these developers and programmers have designed bots that scan restaurant Websites for open tables and reserve them. Diogo Mónica, a security engineer with e-commerce firm Square, is one of those programmers. A self-described foodie, he decided to get around his inability to score a table at the ultra-popular State Bird Provisions by writing a script that sent out an email every time the restaurant's reservation page changed. 'Once a reservation got canceled I would get an email and could quickly get it for myself,' he wrote in a blog posting. But soon he noticed something peculiar: 'As soon as reservations became available on the website (at 4am), all the good times were immediately taken and were gone by 4:01am.' He suspected it was automated 'reservation bots at work,' built by other programmers with a hankering for fine cuisine. 'After a while even cancellations started being taken immediately from under me,' he wrote. 'It started being common receiving an email alerting of a change, seeing an available time, and it being gone by the time the website loaded.' His solution was to build his own reservation bot, using Ruby, and post the code in the wild."
An anonymous reader writes "Apple's had a small, very secretive office in Cambridge, MA for a few months now. And we finally know what they're doing: Building a team that works on speech technology for Siri. Sure, it's interesting for Apple to have a remote engineering team. And hiring from MIT is a no-brainer. But here's why this is a bigger deal: Apple has always relied on Nuance, a Boston-area company, for the speech-recognition technology behind Siri. By branching out with its own speech team — stocked with former Nuance scientists, no less — Apple could very well be signaling a move away from relying on Nuance for this core technology. And the speech wars are just heating up: Microsoft and Amazon both have speech engineering offices in the Boston area too."
snydeq writes "Java 8 brings exciting developments, but as with any new technology, you can count on the good, the bad, and the headaches, writes Andrew C. Oliver. 'Java 8 is trying to "innovate," according to the Microsoft meaning of the word. This means stealing a lot of things that have typically been handled by other frameworks and languages, then incorporating them into the language or runtime (aka standardization). Ahead of the next release, the Java community is talking about Project Lambda, streams, functional interfaces, and all sorts of other goodies. So let's dive into what's great — and what we can hate.'"
tlhIngan writes "Microsoft was the last platform manufacturer to require that all games go through publishers, a much hated policy. Indeed, their approval process was one of the harshest around. But now Microsoft will allow indie developers to self publish, and allow retail Xbox One units to serve as developer consoles. Previously, self-publishing developers were relegated to the 'Xbox Live Indie Arcade' section, as well as developer consoles often costing upwards of $10,000 with special requirements and NDAs. This puts Microsoft's Xbox One more in line with Apple's App Store, including Microsoft's new promise of a 14-day turnaround for approvals. Microsoft's retail debug console system is to work similarly to Apple's — that is, to run pre-release code, the individual consoles used have to be registered with Microsoft."
Acmeism to describe this approach; Acmeists who follow his lead strive to create software that is broadly re-useable and adaptable, rather than tied only to a single platform.
An anonymous reader writes "How can we ensure, together, that this will not be the last GUADEC? Last year, during GUADEC, there was that running joke amongst some participants that this was the last GUADEC. It was, of course, a joke. Everybody was expecting to see each other in Brno, in 2013. One year later, most of those who were joking are not coming to GUADEC. For them, the joke became a reality. People are increasingly leaving the desktop computer to use phones, tablets and services in the cloud. The switch is deeper and quicker than anything we imagined. Projects are also leaving GTK+ for QT. Unity abandoned GTK+, Linus Torvald's Subsurface is switching from GTK+ to Qt. If you spot a GNOME desktop in a conference, chances are that you are dealing with a Red Hat employee. That's it. According to Google Trends, interest in GNOME and GTK+ is soon to be extinct."
Travis Goodspeed has authored a blog post detailing his method of tracking low-earth-orbit satellites. Starting with an old Felcom 82B dish made for use on maritime vessels, he added motors to move it around and a webcam-based homemade calibration system. "For handling the radio input and controlling the motors, I have a BeagleBone wired into a USB hub. These are all mounted on the trunk of the assembly inside of the radome, sending data back to a server indoors. ... In order to operate the dish, I wanted both a flashy GUI and concise scripting, but scripting was the higher priority. Toward that end, I constructed the software as a series of daemons that communicate through a PostgreSQL database on a server inside the house. For example, I can run SELECT * FROM sats WHERE el>0 to select the names and positions of all currently tracked satellites that are above the horizon. To begin tracking the International Space Station if it is in view, I run UPDATE target SET name='ISS';. For predicting satellite locations, I wrote a quick daemon using PyEphem that fetches satellite catalog data from CelesTrak. These positions are held in a database, with duplicates filtered out and positions constantly updated. PyEphem is sophisticated enough to predict in any number of formats, so it's easy to track many of the brighter stars as well as planets and deep-space probes, such as Voyagers 1 and 2."
dcblogs writes "Software employment is rising at 4 to 5% a year, and may be the only tech occupation to have recovered to full employment since the recession. Other tech occupations aren't doing as well. In 2001, there were more than 200,000 people working in the semi-conductor industry. That number was less than 100,000 by 2010, according to a recent study by the Economic Policy Institute. Darin Wedel, who was laid off from Texas Instruments, and gained national attention when his wife, Jennifer, challenged President Obama on H-1B use, said that for electrical engineers, 'unless you are in the actual design of circuits, then you're not in demand.' He said that much of the job loss in the field is due to the closing of fabrication facilities. Wedel has since found new work as a quality engineer."
Karrde712 writes "Fedora Cloud Architect Matthew Miller announced a proposal on a plan to redesign the way that the Fedora Project builds its GNU/Linux distribution. Fedora has often been described as a 'bag of bits,' with thousands of packages and only minimal integration. Miller's proposal for 'Fedora.Next' describes reorganizing the packages and upstream projects that comprise Fedora into a series of 'rings,' each level of which would have its own set of release and packaging requirements. The lowest levels of the distribution may be renamed to 'Fedora Core.' Much discussion is ongoing on the Fedora Devel mailing list. If any Slashdot readers have good advice to add to the discussion, it would be most useful to respond to the ongoing thread there." A full presentation on the plan will be given at the Flock conference next month, and draft slides have been uploaded. A few more details about the discussion are below the fold.
An anonymous reader writes "With Firefox OS version 1.0 out the door, Mozilla has decided that it's time to unveil its strategy for new versions. The company is planning to make feature releases available to partners every quarter and push out security updates for the previous two feature releases every six weeks. 'As far as I know, that's the most aggressive mobile OS release strategy out there,' Alex Keybl, Mozilla's Manager of Release Management, said in a statement. 'This sort of alignment across multiple browser products, and now an OS, is unprecedented at the pace we're moving.'"
dryriver writes "I am an intermediate-level programmer who works mostly in C# NET. I have a couple of image/video processing algorithms that are highly parallelizable — running them on a GPU instead of a CPU should result in a considerable speedup (anywhere from 10x times to perhaps 30x or 40x times speedup, depending on the quality of the implementation). Now here is my question: What, currently, is the most painless way to start playing with GPU programming? Do I have to learn CUDA/OpenCL — which seems a daunting task to me — or is there a simpler way? Perhaps a Visual Programming Language or 'VPL' that lets you connect boxes/nodes and access the GPU very simply? I should mention that I am on Windows, and that the GPU computing prototypes I want to build should be able to run on Windows. Surely there must a be a 'relatively painless' way out there, with which one can begin to learn how to harness the GPU?"
New submitter LFSim writes "It's not the Turing test just yet, but in one more domain, AI is becoming increasingly competitive with humans. This time around, it's in interplanetary trajectory optimization. From the European Space Agency comes the news that researchers from its Advanced Concepts Team have recently won the Gold 'Humies' award for their use of Evolutionary Algorithms to design a spacecraft's trajectory for exploring the Galilean moons of Jupiter (Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto). The problem addressed in the awarded article (PDF) was put forward by NASA/JPL in the latest edition of the Global Trajectory Optimization Competition. The team from ESA was able to automatically evolve a solution that outperforms all the entries submitted to the competition by human experts from across the world. Interestingly, as noted in the presentation to the award's jury (PDF), the team conducted their work on top of open-source tools (PaGMO / PyGMO and PyKEP)."
theodp writes " The lack of education in computer science is an example of an area of particularly acute concern,' Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith told Congress (PDF) as he sold lawmakers on the need to improve 'America's access to high skilled foreign talent'. Smith added that Microsoft also wants to 'help American students and workers gain the skills needed for the jobs that will fuel the innovation economy.' Towards that end, Microsoft will award $100,000 worth of donations to five technology education nonprofits 'who teach programming and provide technical resources to those who might not otherwise get the chance.' So, how will Microsoft determine who's most worthy? With a popularity contest, of course! At the end of October, the top five vote-getting nonprofits — only Windows AzureDev Community members are eligible to vote — will split the Microsoft Money. By the way, currently in second place but trying harder is Code.org, the seemingly dual-missioned organization advised by Microsoft's Smith which has reached out to its 140,000 Facebook fans, and 17,000 Twitter followers in its quest for the $50,000 first prize."
super_rancid writes "In a 7,000 word interview with Raspberry Pi's founder posted on TuxRadar.com, Eben Upton talks about the challenges of managing such a successful project, what may be in the Raspberry Pi mark 2, and why he wishes he'd backed the Parallela Kickstarter." On interesting answer: "We were thinking of booting into Python or booting into Scratch. For younger kids, boot into Scratch. Have an environment where it’s Linux underneath, boots into Scratch and hold down a key at a particular point during boot and it doesn’t boot into Scratch it just drops into the prompt. So you can play with Scratch for six months, once you’re happy with Scratch you turn over the page and 'Hold down F1 during boot,' and it’s like 'Oh look - it’s a PC!' So I think that’s something we’d really like to do."
An anonymous reader writes "I recently (within the past couple years) graduated from college with a bachelor's degree in Computer Science and currently work as a programmer for a large software consulting firm. However, I've become gradually disillusioned with the financial-obsession of the business world and would like to work for the overall betterment of humanity instead. With that in mind, I'm looking to shift my career more toward the scientific research side of things. My interest in computer science always stemmed more from a desire to use it toward a fascinating end — such as modeling or analyzing scientific data — than from a love of business or programming itself. My background is mostly Java, with some experience in C++ and a little C. I have worked extensively with software analyzing big data for clients. My sole research experience comes from developing data analysis software for a geologic research project for a group of grad students; I was a volunteer but have co-authorship on their paper, which is pending publication. Is it realistic to be looking for a position as a programmer at a research institution with my current skills and experiences? Do such jobs even exist for non-graduate students? I'm willing to go to grad school (probably for geology) if necessary. Grad school aside, what specific technologies should I learn in order to gain an edge? Although if I went back to school I'd focus on geology, I'm otherwise open to working as a programmer for any researchers in the natural sciences who will take me."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Developer and editor Jeff Cogswell is back with a comparison of Eclipse and Visual Studio, picking through some common complaints about both platforms and comparing their respective features. 'First, let's talk about usability,' he writes, 'and let's be frank: Neither Eclipse nor Visual Studio is a model for sound usability.' That being said, as an open-source project, Eclipse wins some points for its customizability and compatibility with languages; it's more difficult to modify Visual Studio to meet some programmer needs, which has led to any number of abandoned projects over the years. Microsoft choosing to eliminate macros in recent versions of Visual Studio has also led to some programmer frustrations (and a need for external tools)."
WebMink writes "After strong criticism last year, Github has finally accepted the view that public repositories with no open source license are a bad thing. Self-described as the 'world's largest open source community,' a significant number of GitHub projects come with no rights whatsoever for you to use their code in an open source project. But from now on, creators of new repositories will have to pick from a small selection of OSI-approved licenses or explicitly opt for 'no license'. In Github's words, 'please note that opting out of open source licenses doesn't mean you're opting out of copyright law.'" A quick scan of their new choose a license site reveals at least a few flaws: they present simplicity, caring about patents, and sharing improvements with others as mutually exclusive points when they clearly are not (e.g. the Apache license and the GPLv3 both help with patent concerns, but only Apache is mentioned; and the MIT/X license is listed as the simple license when BSD-style is more prevalent). They also imply it is entirely optional to actually note your copyright in your files, when it is really bad practice not to unless you really want to make it impossible for people to understand the copyright history when e.g. merging your code into another project. Their list of licenses does provide a nice overview of the features of each, but regrettably encourages the use of the GPLv2 (without the "or later version" clause), listing the GPLv3 and all versions of the LGPL in league with seldom used licenses like the Perl Artistic license.
darthcamaro writes "The Linux Kernel Development Mailing List can be a hostile place for anyone. Now Intel developer Sarah Sharp is taking a stand and she wants the LKML to become a more civil place. Quoting her first message: 'Seriously, guys? Is this what we need in order to get improve -stable? Linus Torvalds is advocating for physical intimidation and violence. Ingo Molnar and Linus are advocating for verbal abuse. ... Violence, whether it be physical intimidation, verbal threats or verbal abuse is not acceptable. Keep it professional on the mailing lists.'" The entire thread is worth a read, but Linus isn't buying it: "Because if you want me to 'act professional', I can tell you that I'm not interested. I'm sitting in my home office wearing a bathrobe. The same way I'm not going to start wearing ties, I'm *also* not going to buy into the fake politeness, the lying, the office politics and backstabbing, the passive aggressiveness, and the buzzwords. Because THAT is what 'acting professionally' results in: people resort to all kinds of really nasty things because they are forced to act out their normal urges in unnatural ways.' He also offered cookies in exchange for joining the dark side. An earlier reply by Linus further explains why he thinks it is OK to be mean: most of the time, he's only yelling at people who should know better (cultivating a crew of lead developers bound to him by Stockholm Syndrome?).
hypnosec writes "Oracle will soon be announcing its decision to stop development of Sun virtualization technologies including Sun Ray Software and Hardware, Oracle Virtual Desktop Client, and Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) product lines. In an update to its support policies [Oracle support login required] for virtualization software and hardware, the database company has revealed that this decision is a result of its efforts to 'tightly align Oracle's future desktop virtualization portfolio investments with Oracle Corporation's overall core business strategy.'"
First time accepted submitter faffod writes "Coming from a background of console development, where memory management is a daily concern, I found it interesting that there was any doubt that memory management on a constrained system, like a mobile device, would be a concern. Drew Crawford took the time to document his thoughts, and though there is room for some bikesheding, overall it is spot on. Plus it taught me what bikeshedding means."
PolygamousRanchKid writes with this except from the Economist: "Only 10% of internet entrepreneurs across the world are women, according to Startup Compass, a firm that tracks such things. Except in Amman and other Middle Eastern cities, it seems. There, the share of women entrepreneurs is said to average 35% — an estimate seemingly confirmed by the mix of the sexes at 'Mix'n'Mentor,' a recent gathering in the Jordanian capital organised by Wamda, an online publication for start-ups. Reasons abound, and they are not always positive, says Nina Curley, Wamda's editor. Although more than half of university graduates in many Middle Eastern countries (51% in Jordan) are women, the workforce is dominated by men (women provide only 21% of it overall, and a paltry 16% in Jordan). The internet, however, is a new space that is more meritocratic and not as heavily male. The technology also lets entrepreneurs work from home, making it easier to raise children."
lemur3 writes "State legislators in Colorado have not been receiving speeding tickets due to inadequacies in the implementation of a DMV database. The current system ties plates to vehicles rather than to individuals, the special plates for legislators are issued to individuals. The result is that there is no entry in the database for the special plates when the automated photo radar system is triggered, this means nobody receives a citation. In one case a Colorado resident, who had vanity plates reading '33,' received the photo radar citations intended for Senator Mike Johnston representing district 33, whose vehicle was identified by a '33' on his special plate. Lt. Matt Murray of the Denver Police, speaking of the system commented, 'Our system works, the database works. What needs to happen is the state's database need to be complete.'"
An anonymous reader writes "I have deep experience programming in many languages, and I've some exposure to SQL through PostgreSQL. My math goes so far as trig and algebra, with a little statistics. So far, I've learned enough to be dangerous: mostly via other people's code, experimenting, the PostgreSQL docs, etc. I've been successful using the DB in various ways, but I know I am missing a great deal (and probably doing it wrong, at that.) When DB articles come up on Slashdot, I don't recognize a good deal of the terminology. What is the best way for a technical person to learn SQL/DB work using PostgreSQL? Books? Tutorials? I should mention I don't have local access to a university or people with DB knowledge; have to do this on my own, so books or the Internet are pretty much my options."
First time accepted submitter jasax writes "As an Amazon frequent buyer, I rely quite a lot on reviews of the books I want. However, some caution is in order: the (bad) quality of Amazon's reviews and reviewers under the Amazon Vine program has already been news in Slashdot. Today I was shocked by a practical result of that program. This second edition (published in 2012) of a very specialized system identification book has 12 reviews: the oldest (dated 2007) certainly targets the first edition. The remaining 11 reviews are all from 'Vine Reviewers' (VRs). All seem to be ignorant of what 'System Identification in the Frequency Domain' really is. None of the reviews is tagged with a 'Verified Amazon Purchase'; most (if not all) are 'small talk reviews' peppered with technical phrases cloning the publisher's book description, and some of the reviews are ridiculous, to say the least. If this sample of reviewing by VRs really is the norm, then the bottom line is that the Vine program is totally irrelevant and unreliable — at least for technical books."
grahamsaa writes "I work at medium sized company that offers a number of products that rely fairly heavily on backend databases, some of which are hundreds of gigabytes and deal with hundreds or thousands of queries per second. Currently, we're using a mix of Postgres, Oracle, and MySQL, though we're working hard to move everything to Postgres. The products that are still on MySQL and Oracle were acquisitions, so we didn't get to choose the RDBMS at the time these products were designed. So far, we've been very happy with Postgres, but I know next to nothing about Oracle. It's expensive and has a long history of use in large enterprises, but I'm curious about what it offers that Postgres might not — I'm not saying this because I think that sticking with Oracle would be a good idea (because in our case, it probably isn't), but I'm curious as to how some companies justify the cost — especially considering that EnterpriseDB makes transitioning from Oracle to Postgres feasible (though not painless) in most cases. For those that use Oracle — is it worth the money? What's keeping you from switching?"
An anonymous reader writes "As promised, Mozilla today announced the release of Firefox OS Simulator 4.0 with a focus on developers who want to make money in the Firefox Marketplace. You can download the new version now for Windows, Mac, and Linux from Mozilla Add-Ons. First and foremost, the new simulator supports test receipts for paid apps: each app's dashboard features a drop-down menu where you can select a receipt type. Choosing one of these will have the simulator add-on downloading a test receipt from a Marketplace receipt service and reinstalling the app using it. This lets developers test receipt verification with whatever receipts types they may require (valid, invalid, and refunded)."
James Gosling is probably best known for creating the Java programming language while working at Sun Microsystems. Currently, he is the chief software architect at Liquid Robotics. Among other projects, Liquid Robotics makes the Wave Glider, an autonomous, environmentally powered marine robot. James has agreed to take a little time from the oceangoing robots and answer any questions you have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
michaelmalak writes "The annual ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest finished up last week for 2013, but for the first time since its inception in the 1970s, no U.S. college placed in the top 10. Through 1989, a U.S. college won first place every year, but there hasn't been one in first place since 1997. The U.S. college that has won most frequently throughout the contest's history, Stanford, hasn't won since 1991. The 2013 top 10 consists entirely of colleges from Eastern Europe, East Asia, and India."
Barence writes "Dropbox has kicked off its first developer conference with the stated goal of replacing the hard disk. 'We are replacing the hard drive,' said Dropbox CEO Drew Houston. 'I don't mean that you're going to unscrew your MacBook and find a Dropbox inside, but the spiritual successor to the hard drive is what we're launching.' The new Dropbox Platform includes tools for developers that will allow them to use Dropbox to sync app data between devices. The company's new APIs will also make it easier for app developers to include plugins that save to Dropbox, or choose files stored in the service for use within apps."
MrMetlHed writes "A portion of this Reuters article about the Pentagon's inability to manage paying soldiers properly mentions that their payroll program has 'seven million lines of Cobol code that hasn't been updated.' It goes on to mention that the documentation has been lost, and no one really knows how to update it well. In trying to replace the program, the Pentagon spent a billion dollars and wasn't successful."
cyclomedia writes "Over a number of years my company has managed to slowly shift from a free-for-all (pick a developer at random and get them to do what you want) to something resembling Agile development with weekly builds. But we still have to deal with constant incoming feature changes and requests that are expected to be included in this week's package. The upshot is that builds are usually late, not properly tested and developers get the flak when things go wrong. I suspect the answer is political, but how do we make things better? One idea I had was that every time a new request comes in — no matter how small — the build gets pushed back by 24 or even 48 hours. I'd love to hear your ideas or success stories. (Unfortunately, quitting is not an option)"
dcblogs writes "There are about 18.2 million software developers worldwide, a number that is due to rise to 26.4 million by 2019, a 45% increase, says Evans Data Corp. in its latest Global Developer Population and Demographic Study. Today, the U.S. leads the world in software developers, with about 3.6 million. India has about 2.75 million. But by 2018, India will have 5.2 million developers, a nearly 90% increase, versus 4.5 million in the U.S., a 25% increase though that period, Evans Data projects. India's software development growth rate is attributed, in part, to its population size, 1.2 billion, and relative youth, with about half the population under 25 years of age. Rapid economic growth is fueling interest in development. India's services firms hire, in many cases, thousands of new employees each quarter. Consequently, IT and software work is seen as clear path to the middle class for many of the nation's young. For instance, in one quarter this year, Tata Consultancy Services added more than 17,000 employees, gross, bringing its total headcount to 263,600. In the same quarter of 2010, the company had about 150,000 workers."
itwbennett writes "U.C. Berkeley researchers have determined that crowdsourcing bug-finding is a far better investment than hiring employees to do the job. Here's the math: Over the last three years, Google has paid $580,000 and Mozilla has paid $570,000 for bugs found in their Chrome and Firefox browsers — and hundreds of vulnerabilities have been fixed. Compare that to the average annual cost of a single North American developer (about $100,000, plus 50% overhead), 'we see that the cost of either of these VRPs (vulnerability reward programs) is comparable to the cost of just one member of the browser security team,' the researchers wrote (PDF). And the crowdsourcing also uncovered more bugs than a single full-time developer could find."
theshowmecanuck writes "I'm working at a small- to medium-sized company that creates software for mobile devices, but came from a 'large enterprise' world before. I see node.js being used increasingly in smaller companies (including ours) or in web/mobile related software. Meanwhile we see languages like Java/JEE, C/C++, and .NET continue to be used for medium-to-large enterprise corporate software. Compared to the status quo in the enterprise (JEE/C/C++/.NET ... and yes, maybe even COBOL) maybe Slashdotters can chime in on how they see Node.js in this role. I'm thinking of things like complexity of business logic (dependencies, workflows, linear processes, etc), transaction support (for processes in general and database support), messaging services, etc. Also, what is the state of Node.js in terms of paradigms like application containers, where much of the 'plumbing' is already set up for you (one of the main benefits of JEE application containers)? But there is also the question of maintainability, deployment, and ongoing operations. What say you, Slashdot?"
Nerval's Lobster writes "In the fall of 2014, 20 promising video game developers will begin a yearlong (and free) program at the University of Texas at Austin, where they will study under some of the gaming industry's most successful executives. 'The idea is to get the best of the best of the best, run them through a Navy Seals boot camp of sorts and not force them to worry about "how do I pay the rent and buy groceries,"' said program leader Warren Spector, who is responsible for creating well-known games such as Deus Ex. 'Fingers crossed, when we start delivering graduates who can contribute in major ways to the development of future games, that philanthropy will continue.' In a wide-ranging interview, Spector also talked about how his future students will be graduating into an industry in which 'every business model is broken, which is either terrifying or an opportunity depending on how you look at it.' Focus groups, analysis of historical trends, and aggregated game review scores may be comforting to number crunchers, but the majority of game projects still end up as commercial failures. Spector ultimately believes the people who actually make the games are going to make better decisions than the number crunchers. 'We've got to be looking forward and any time you start bringing data into it, you're not," Spector said. "I pitched a Lego construction game in 1989, and guess what: Minecraft is basically a Lego construction game. But at the time I was told "no, that won't work." I pitched a western game and the response was "westerns don't sell." And then Red Dead Redemption came out. Stuff doesn't sell until someone makes one that sells, and no amount of data can reveal what new thing is going to sell. The metrics and data guys, and the publishing guys will never come up with the next big thing.'""
jfruh writes "In March of 2012 legendary game designers Tim Schafer and Ron Gilbert ran a Kickstarter to design a new adventure game, asked for $400,000, and came away with more than $3.3 million. Their promised delivery date was October 2012. Now it's July 2013, and the project still needs cash, which they plan to raise by selling an 'early release' version on Steam in January 2014. One possible lesson: radically overshooting your crowdfunding goal can cause you to wildly expand your ambitions, leading to a project that can't be tamed."
Michael Ross writes "As a hugely popular scripting language with an 18-year history, PHP has been the topic of countless computer language books. One of the most comprehensive offerings has been Programming PHP, published by O'Reilly Media. The first edition appeared in March 2002, and was written by Rasmus Lerdorf (the original developer of PHP) and Kevin Tatroe. A second edition was released in May 2006, and saw the addition of another co-author, Peter MacIntyre. With the many changes to the language during the past seven years, the book has again been updated, to cover all of the major new features made available in version 5 of PHP." Keep reading for the rest of Michael's review.
theodp writes "The 1976 science fiction film Logan's Run depicts a dystopian future society where life must end at the age of 30. So, it's a world that kind of resembles today's Silicon Valley, where the NY Times reports that the median age of workers is 29 years old at Google and 28 years old at Facebook. The report that technology workers are young — really young — comes on the heels of other presumably-unrelated stories that Silicon Valley execs can't find enough skilled workers and no one would fund Doug Engelbart in the last four decades of his life. On the bright side, at least old techies don't die in Silicon Valley — they just can't get hired."
An anonymous reader writes "Following up on an experiment from December, Michael Hansen has recorded video of programmers of varying skill levels as the read and evaluate short programs written in Python. An eye tracker checks 300 times per second to show what they look at as they mentally digest the script. You can see some interesting differences between experts and beginners: 'First, Eric's eye movements are precise and directed from the beginning. He quickly finds the first print statement and jumps back to comprehend the between function. The novice, on the other hand, spends time skimming the whole program first before tackling the first print. This is in line with expectations, of course, but it's cool to see it come out in the data. Another thing that stands out is the pronounced effect of learning in both videos. As Eric pointed out, it appears that he "compiled" the between function in his head, since his second encounter with it doesn't require a lengthy stop back at the definition. The novice received an inline version of the same program, where the functions were not present. Nevertheless, we can see a sharp transition in reading style around 1:30 when the pattern has been recognized.'"
WebMink writes "A discussion in the Debian community reveals that last month Oracle quietly disclosed a change for the embedded BerkeleyDB database from the quirky Sleepycat License to the Affero General Public License (AGPL) in future versions. AGPL is only compatible with GPLv3 and treats web deployment as a trigger to license compliance, so developers using BerkeleyDB will need to check their code is still legally licensed. Even if they had made the switch in the interests of advancing software freedom it would be questionable to force so many developers into a new license compatibility crisis. But it seems likely their only motivation is to scare more people into buying proprietary licenses. Oracle are well within their rights, but developers are likely to treat this as a betrayal. As a poster in the Debian thread says, "Oracle move just sent the Berkeley DB to oblivion" because there are some great alternatives, like OpenLDAP's LMDB."
theodp writes "For all of their handwaving at Code.org about U.S. kids not being taught Computer Science, tech execs from Microsoft, Google, and Facebook seem more focused lately on Plan B of their 'two-pronged' National Talent Strategy. So, who's going to teach your children CompSci? Enter friend-of-the-Gates-Foundation Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch's Amplify Education is launching an AP Computer Science MOOC this fall (Java will be covered), taught by an experienced AP CS high school teacher (video). An added option, called MOOC Local, will provide additional resources to schools with students in the CS MOOC. MOOC Local will eventually cost $200 per student, but is free for the first year."