phlawed writes "I've been a Linux user since the previous millennium. I came from OS/2, which I really liked. I quickly felt at home with icewm, using a suitably tweaked config to give me something resembling Presentation Manager. I may have commented on that before. Today, I find myself in a position where my preferred 'environment' is eroding. The only force keeping icewm rolling these days is the distribution package maintainers. I can't code in any meaningful way, nor do I aspire to. I could easily pay for a supported version of icewm, but I can't personally pay someone enough to keep it alive. I'd love it if someone took a personal interest in the code, to ensure that it remains up to date, or to make it run on Wayland or whatever. I want someone to own the code, be proud of it. Is there a general solution for this situation? How do I go about drumming up interest for an old project?"
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theodp writes "Over at Scripting News, Dave Winer has a hobbyist phone on his wish list. Innovative phone manufacturers, Winer suggests, should 'make a smart phone with a really great scripting language, with all kinds of scriptable tools on board. Instead of disallowing scripting, disallow apps that can't be scripted. Make a great simple programming environment that runs on desktops or laptops that plugs right in, but it should also be easy to write scripts on the phone itself. Dave concludes, 'We've already seen the Jobs phone. Now it's time for Woz's.' Having ditched App Inventor, it would appear that Google isn't interested. Microsoft Research has the idea, if not the right implementation, with TouchDevelop (video). Any other existing or in-the-works projects that might fit the bill?"
dp619 writes "Fighting against software patents (New Zealand has banned them) tends to blind FOSS communities to aspects of IP law that actually serve them well. While certainly not perfect, patent, copyright, trademark, and trade secret law each has something to offer FOSS communities. Penn State law professor Clark Asay wrote a guest post for the Outercurve Foundation briefly describing some of the ways in IP law can help open source developers."
An anonymous reader writes "Do you think so called 'rock star' developers are necessary at every company? Personally, I don't think so, and I equate it to not needing a college degree to work at Walmart. If you give every problem a complexity value from 1 to 10, and your problems never get higher than a 6 or 7, do you need people capable of solving the 10s? I work for a large software company and I'd rate myself a 7. There are more technically proficient developers, but I don't have an ego about my work, I work well with coworkers and customers, and I bring people up around me. Most 'rock stars' I've seen have been difficult to work with. Most of them are no longer with the company because they were terminated or quit for more money. Is this usually the case? Is it worth the trouble? (Note to any managers reading this: if you have a rockstar who is a pleasant person, pay them well; they are very rare.)"
jones_supa writes "The sudden death of a solid-state drive in Linus Torvalds' main workstation has led to the work on the 3.12 Linux kernel being temporarily suspended. Torvalds has not been able to recover anything from the drive. Subsystem maintainers who have outstanding pull requests may need to re-submit their requests in the coming days. If the SSD isn't recoverable he will finish out the Linux 3.12 merge window from a laptop."
Esther Schindler writes "You've written some code, you think it would be useful to the world, and you'd like to give back to the open source world. But how do you do it? Andy Lester provides a checksheet for developers for how to release an open source project and get it noticed. For instance: Before you release the project to the wild, write some documentation, create a mailing list, create an issue tracker, and so on. 'Users require releases of your software. It’s a disservice to your users to point at the Git repo and say “Just pull from the master branch and install it.” Users don’t want to have to use version control just to get a release of the code. Create a proper tarball (.tar.gz) that is easily downloadable by anyone. Announce each release. Your announcements should not assume that the reader is familiar with your project.' You think he's missing anything?"
Koookiemonster writes "Our company has many projects, each one with a folder on a Samba drive (Z:\). Our problem is syncing only the programmers' current projects (~30 at any time) between Z:\ and their C:\Projects\-folder on five Windows 7 laptops. If we sync the whole Z:\-drive, our projects folders would be filled with too many subfolders, making it difficult to navigate. The folders contain OpenPCS projects (PLC) and related files (Word, Excel, PDF documents); a common project folder is 50 MB. Is there any easy to use, low-budget sync software with scripting, so that we could e.g. only sync folders that exist locally?" (Read more details, below, of what Koookiemonster is looking for.)
hypnosec writes "Linus Torvalds, in response to a petition on Change.org to remove RdRand from /dev/random, has lambasted the petitioner by called him ignorant for not understanding the code in the Linux Kernel. Kyle Condon from the UK raised a petition on Change.org to get Linus to remove RdRand from /dev/random in a bid 'to improve the overall security of the linux kernel.' In his response, Torvalds asked Condon and the supporters of the petition to gain an understanding of Linux drivers and cryptography, and then 'come back here and admit to the world that you were wrong.' Torvalds stressed that kernel maintainers knew what they were doing and the petitioner didn't. Torvalds, in a similar outburst just yesterday, hoped that 'ARM SoC hardware designers all die in some incredibly painful accident.' This came in response to a message from Kevin Hilman when he noted that there were quite a few conflicts in the ARM SoC pull request for Linux 3.12 which were a result of the platform changes conflicting with driver changes going in to the V4L tree."
New submitter Archie Cobbs writes "Last May I encountered a relatively obscure performance bug present in both MySQL 5.5.x and MariaDB 5.5.x (not surprising since they share the same codebase). This turned out to be a great opportunity to see whether Oracle or the MariaDB project is more responsive to bug reports. On May 31 Oracle got their bug report; within 24 hours they had confirmed the bug — pretty impressive. But since then, it's been radio silence for 3 months and counting. On July 25, MariaDB got their own copy. Within a week, a MariaDB developer had analyzed the bug and committed a patch. The resulting fix will be included in the next release, MariaDB 5.5.33."
An anonymous reader writes "Fed up with piracy and the availability of cracked versions of his software, Cobalt Strike developer Raphael Mudge wrote a blog post telling people how to crack his software. Some gifts are poisoned, and Raphael goes into deep detail about how to backdoor his software and use it to distribute malware. Will this increase piracy of his software, or will it discourage would-be pirates from downloading cracked versions?"
rysiek writes "Remember MailPile, the privacy-focused, community-funded FOSS webmail project with built-in GPG support? The good news is, the funding campaign is a success, with $135k raised (the goal was $100k). The bad news is: PayPal froze MailPile's account, along with $45k that was on it, and will not un-freeze it until MailPile team provides 'an itemized budget and your development goal dates for your project.' One of the team members also noted: 'Communications with PayPal have implied that they would use any excuse available to them to delay delivering as much of our cash as possible for as long as possible.' PayPal doesn't have a great track record as far as fund freezing is concerned — maybe it's high time to stop using PayPal?"
whoever57 writes "On Saturday, Oracle Team USA and Team New Zealand will begin racing for the America's Cup in the amazing AC72 boats. However, the Oracle team starts with a significant handicap. It was recently discovered that members of Oracle Team USA made illegal changes to the boats used in the America's Cup Series (which is sailed in the smaller AC45 boats). After a hearing on Friday, the International Jury has decided on the penalty: Team Oracle will have to pay a fine and sail without some team members. More significantly, they lose two points before starting the America's Cup races against Team New Zealand. A tiny amount of weight had been added to the kingpost, in violation of the measurement rules for the class. This was reported to the measurement committee some weeks ago after its discovery by boatbuilders working for America's Cup Regatta Management (ACRM), not members of Oracle Team USA."
Programmer Steve Losh has written a lengthy explanation of what separates good documentation from bad, and how to go about planning and writing documentation that will actually help people. His overarching point is that documentation should be used to teach, not to dump excessive amounts of unstructured information onto a user. Losh takes many of the common documentation tropes — "read the source," "look at the tests," "read the docstrings" — and makes analogies with learning everyday skills to show how silly they can be. "This is your driving teacher, Ms. Smith. ... If you have any questions about a part of the car while you’re driving, you can ask her and she’ll tell you all about that piece. Here are the keys, good luck!" He has a similar opinion of API strings: "API documentation is like the user’s manual of a car. When something goes wrong and you need to replace a tire it’s a godsend. But if you’re learning to drive it’s not going to help you because people don’t learn by reading alphabetized lists of disconnected information." Losh's advice for wikis is simple and straightforward: "They are bad and terrible. Do not use them."
cold fjord sends news that a study by Coverity has found open-source Python code to contain a lower defect density than any other language. "The 2012 Scan Report found an average defect density of .69 for open source software projects that leverage the Coverity Scan service, as compared to the accepted industry standard defect density for good quality software of 1.0. Python's defect density of .005 significantly surpasses this standard, and introduces a new level of quality for open source software. To date, the Coverity Scan service has analyzed nearly 400,000 lines of Python code and identified 996 new defects — 860 of which have been fixed by the Python community."
theodp writes "Friday saw the launch of Rupert Murdoch's AP Computer Science MOOC. Taught by an AP CS high school teacher, the Java-centric course has students use the DrJava lightweight development environment for the exercises. 'If this MOOC works,' said Amplify CEO Joel Klein, 'we can think of ways to expand and support it.' Only the first week's videos are posted; course content is scheduled to be presented through March, with five weeks thereafter set aside for AP Exam prep. Might as well check it out, you may have helped pay for it — a MOOC-related Amplify job listing notes that 'This position may be funded, in whole or in part, through American Recovery & Reinvestment Act funds.'"
New submitter MeatoBurrito writes "The latest iteration of Mechwarrior was crowdfunded (without Kickstarter) as a free-to-play first-person mech simulator. However, despite promises to the founders, the game has been shifted to a third-person arcade shooter and now the community is rioting. This followed a series of other unpopular decisions; the developers decided to sell an item for real money that had a significant impact on gameplay, crossing the line separating cosmetic/convenience items and 'pay-to-win.' Then they added a confusing game mechanic to limit its use, which had the unfortunate side effect of making some strategies completely useless. From the article: 'PGI’s community practices showcase a fundamental misunderstanding of both freemium development and community management. The developer has never had to deal with such a large player base before, and it has never had to deal with the strains of continuous development before. Rather, PGI seems to be handling Mechwarrior Online in much the same way they might a AAA game: by keeping quiet and only discussing its work in vague terms. ... Mechwarrior Online’s road to launch is a cautionary consumer tale, fraught with anger and betrayal. It shows how a company can take a fan base dedicated to an old IP and completely alienate it through lack of communication, unpopular features, and oathbreaking. It shows how players need to be cautious of supporting a project based solely on the IP backing it.'"
rjmarvin writes "Cities are taking coding to the streets through projects like Code for America and CityNext, working with governments on multiple levels to better serve constituents with mobile and cloud technologies. The 'Peace Corps for geeks' is using technology to make everyday life in cities run more smoothly, providing a way to 'connect technologists and designers with their government to solve important problems and reimagine how government could work.'"
theodp writes "Writing in The Atlantic, Phil Nichols makes a convincing case for why educational technologies should be more like graphing calculators and less like iPads. Just messing around with TI-BASIC on a TI-83 Plus, Nichols recalls, 'helped me cultivate many of the overt and discrete habits of mind necessary for autonomous, self-directed learning.' So, with all those fancy iPads at their schools, today's kids must really be programming up a storm, right? Wrong. Nichols, who's currently pursuing a PhD in education, laments, 'The iPad is among the recent panaceas being peddled to schools, but like those that came before, its ostensibly subversive shell houses a fairly conventional approach to learning. Where Texas Instruments graphing calculators include a programming framework accessible even to amateurs, writing code for an iPad is restricted to those who purchase an Apple developer account, create programs that align with Apple standards, and submit their finished products for Apple's approval prior to distribution.'"
New submitter hmilz writes "I've been using procmail for years to filter my incoming mail, and over time a long list of spam patterns was created. The good thing about the patterns is, there are practically no false positives, and practically no false negatives, i.e. I see each new spam exactly once, and lose no legit mail. This works by using an external spam-patterns file, containing one pattern per line, and running an 'egrep -F' against it. As simple as this is, with a long pattern list this becomes rather slow and CPU consuming. An average mail currently needs about 15 seconds to be grepped. In other words, this has become quite clumsy over time, and I would like to replace it by a more (CPU, hence energy) efficient method. I was thinking about a small indexed database or something. What would you recommend and use if you were me? Is sqlite something to look at?"
rjmarvin writes "Two developers were able to successfully reverse-engineer Dropbox to intercept SSL traffic, bypass two-factor authentication and create open-source clients. They presented their paper, 'Looking inside the (Drop) box' (PDF) at USENIX 2013, explaining step-by-step how they were able to succeed where others failed in reverse-engineering a heavily obfuscated application written in Python. They also claimed the generic techniques they used could be applied to reverse-engineer other Frozen python applications: OpenStack, NASA, and a host of Google apps, just to name a few..."
CWmike writes "Windows app developers are taking Microsoft to task for the company's decision to withhold Windows 8.1 until mid-October. Traditionally, Microsoft offers an RTM to developers several weeks before the code reaches the general public. On Tuesday, however, Microsoft confirmed that although Windows 8.1 has reached RTM, subscribers to MSDN will not get the final code until the public does on Oct. 17, saying it was not finished. Antoine Leblond, a Microsoft spokesman, said in a blog post, 'In the past, the release to manufacturing milestone traditionally meant that the software was ready for broader customer use. However, it's clear that times have changed.' Developers raged against the decision in comments on another Microsoft blog post, one that told programmers to write and test their apps against Windows 8.1 Preview, the public sneak peak that debuted two months ago. One commenter, 'brianjsw,' said, 'In the real world, developers must have access to the RTM bits before [general availability]. The fact that Microsoft no longer seems to understand this truly frightens me.'"
New submitter wkaan writes "Last financial year, we had an underspend at work, and it was suggested and agreed that we should give some cash away — $20k to be exact — to open source projects. Four projects were selected. A management catch was that it could not appear to be a donation and it had to be for something we had notionally received in the current financial year. At that time it was early June, our financial year finishes at the end of June. The four projects were emailed using the most relevant looking contact address on their website. Often this was 'Finance' or 'Donations' contact. What do you know, none of the projects that were contacted could work out a way to accept our money. We were unable to give a cent of the twenty grand away, not even a cent. All somebody needed to do was invoice us for something (perhaps 'support' or whatever) and they'd have received $5000. Of the projects contacted, two never replied to our mail — perhaps they thought it a scam? The other two contacted couldn't work out what to invoice and just went away. Is open source too rich to need the money? Have you got a funny donation story? Better still, do you have a way this can be streamlined when we have our next underspend? The goal was not to have a funny (sad) story, but to support the projects that support our business." For those of you with open source projects for which would you would like to take donations but sometimes cannot, what complications get in the way?
Lemeowski writes "Game studios go to great lengths to protect their IP. But board game designer Daniel Solis doesn't subscribe to that philosophy. He has spent the past ten years blogging his game design process, posting all of his concepts and prototypes on his blog. Daniel shares four things he's learned after designing games in public, saying paranoia about your ideas being stolen "is just an excuse not to do the work." His article provides a solid gut check for game designers and other creatives who may let pride give them weird expectations."
Last week you had a chance to ask Guido van Rossum, Python's BDFL (Benevolent Dictator For Life), about all things Python and his move to Dropbox. Guido wasted no time answering your questions and you'll find his responses below.
jfruh writes "One of the biggest challenges Microsoft has faced with its Windows Phone platform is that it's far behind in the apps race against iOS and Android. One way to close the gap is to lower the barrier to entry for new app devs, and Microsoft has done so with Windows Phone App Studio, a hosted service that lets you build applications without actually writing any code. The description of how App Studio works may leave you wondering how useful or exciting the apps created will be, but a surge of developer interest during the current beta program has surprised even Microsoft with its scope."
Guido van Rossum is best known as the creator of Python, and he remains the BDFL (Benevolent Dictator For Life) in the community. The recipient of many awards for his work, and author of numerous books, he left Google in December and started working for Dropbox early this year. A lot has happened in the 12 years since we talked to Guido and he's agreed to answer your questions. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
mikejuk writes "Is it possible that we have been wasting our time typing programs. Could voice recognition, with a little help from an invented spoken language, be the solution we didn't know we needed? About two years ago Tavis Rudd, developed a bad case of RSI caused by typing lots of code using Emacs. It was so severe that he couldn't code. As he puts it: 'Desperate, I tried voice recognition'. The Dragon Naturally Speaking system used by Rudd supported standard language quite well, but it wasn't adapted to program editing commands. The solution was to use a Python speech extension, DragonFly, to program custom commands. OK, so far so good, but ... the commands weren't quite what you might have expected. Instead of English words for commands he used short vocalizations — you have to hear it to believe it. Now programming sounds like a conversation with R2D2. The advantage is that it is faster and the recognition is easier — it also sounds very cool and very techie. it is claimed that the system is faster than typing. So much so that it is still in use after the RSI cleared up."
msheekhah writes "I have a friend who, when he gets out of college, has been promised a job at well known electronics company with a salary around $70k. However, he wants to instead go work for Blizzard or some other game company as a game programmer. I've read enough on here and on other tech websites to know that he should take the job he's been offered. Can you share with me your experiences so I can give him real life examples to convince him to take this job? If your experience is contrary to mine, I'd appreciate that input as well."
An anonymous reader writes "This article takes a look at whether web apps will ever match desktop and mobile apps in terms of performance and usability. Jo Rabin, who's leading the push by web standards body W3C to get web app performance up to scratch, is optimistic web apps will eventually be the default choice for building the majority of commercial and business apps, while the article weighs up just how much web technologies need to be improved before this could happen. Quoting: 'Native apps are generally first to gain access to new platform-specific hardware features — be it navigating using a phone's GPS and accelerometer or taking pictures with a phone's camera. But if a particular hardware feature becomes popular, standards to implement that feature in the browser will always follow, Rabin said. Work is taking place within W3C to standardise APIs for web technologies to access many of the features found on modern smartphones. Ongoing work this year includes setting out a system-level API to allow a web app to manage a device's contacts book, a messaging API for sending and receiving SMS and MMS, new mechanisms for capturing photos and recordings, new event triggers that could handle mouse, pen and touch inputs, a new push API to allow web apps to receive messages in the background, new media queries for responsive web design, an API for exchanging information using NFC and precise control over resource loading times in a web document.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Here in the U.S., 'being professional' means giving at least two week's notice when leaving a job. Is this an outmoded notion? We've all heard stories about (or perhaps experienced) a quick escort to the parking lot upon giving the normal notice, and I've never heard of a company giving a two-week notice to an employee that's being laid off or fired. A generation ago, providing a lengthy notice was required to get a glowing reference, but these days does a reference hold water any more? Once you're reached the point where you know it's time to leave, under what circumstances would you just up and walk out or give only a short notice?"
New submitter Lemeowski writes "Critics have been pounding GitHub recently, claiming it is hosting tons of code with no explicit software license. The debate was thrust into the limelight last year when James Governor of RedMonk issued an acclaimed tweet about young developers being 'about POSS — post open source software,' meaning they disliked or avoided licensing and governance. Red Hat's IP attorney Richard Fontana explores the complaint saying there is a positive aspect of the POSS and GitHub phenomenon: Developers are, for the first time in the history of free software, helping inform each other about licensing and aiding in the selection process. The result is that it's becoming easier to suggest legal improvements to GitHub-hosted repositories."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Oracle CEO Larry Ellison thinks that Apple will collapse without Steve Jobs at the helm. In a televised interview with CBS News, scheduled to air August 13, Ellison called the deceased Jobs 'brilliant' and compared him to iconic creators such as Thomas Edison and Pablo Picasso. When asked about Apple's future now that Jobs is dead, Ellison didn't hold back: 'We already know, we saw — we conducted the experiment, it's been done.' Raising his hand above his head, presumably to indicate the rise of Apple's fortunes during Jobs' initial reign, Ellison said: 'We saw Apple with Steve Jobs.' Then he lowered his hand: "We saw Apple without Steve Jobs." In other words, the period following Jobs' ouster, when the company's revenues declined and it launched whole portfolios of consumer products that failed. 'We saw Apple with Steve Jobs,' Ellison continued, raising his hand above his head again — this time, to suggest that incandescent period following Jobs' return to the company, when it released the iPod, iPhone, iPad, and a variety of bestselling PCs. 'And now, we're going to see Apple without Steve Jobs,' he finished, and his hand fell."
An anonymous reader writes "Simple DirectMedia Layer 2.0 has finally been released. The cross-platform multimedia layer used by hundreds of cross-platform games has seen its first major release in years. The SDL 2.0 release has many new features including GL3 and OpenGL ES rendering support, a new 2D rendering API, better full-screen / multi-window support, multiple input support, Android and iOS support, power management, and other new functionality. SDL 2.0 can be downloaded from libsdl.org."
First time accepted submitter jovius writes "The Matriculation Examination Board of Finland has just opened an international hacking contest to find flaws and exploits in Digabi Live — the Live Debian based operating system to be used in the all-digital final exams by the year 2016. The contest ends on 1st of September, and the winners are about to scoop hefty hardware prizes, also available as cash."
theodp writes "Bret Victor's The Future of Programming (YouTube video; Vimeo version) should probably be required viewing this fall for all CS majors — and their professors. For his recent DBX Conference talk, Victor took attendees back to the year 1973, donning the uniform of an IBM systems engineer of the times, delivering his presentation on an overhead projector. The '60s and early '70s were a fertile time for CS ideas, reminds Victor, but even more importantly, it was a time of unfettered thinking, unconstrained by programming dogma, authority, and tradition. 'The most dangerous thought that you can have as a creative person is to think that you know what you're doing,' explains Victor. 'Because once you think you know what you're doing you stop looking around for other ways of doing things and you stop being able to see other ways of doing things. You become blind.' He concludes, 'I think you have to say: "We don't know what programming is. We don't know what computing is. We don't even know what a computer is." And once you truly understand that, and once you truly believe that, then you're free, and you can think anything.'"
reifman writes "Nothing sucks more than finding an 'Error establishing database connection' on your blog hours after the fact, but it's not easy to find inexpensive, simple monitoring solutions which support smartphone notifications. I wrote MonitorApp, a free, open source software applet which sends notifications to your iPhone (or Android) if anything goes wrong with your web site or services. This tutorial describes how to install and configure MonitorApp for your own purposes. The only cost is a $4.99 mobile application called Pushover — which links MonitorApp to your phone. Pushover also links with Nagios, a more complex open source option — but ironically, Nagios' website was down when I looked for it last month."
hypnosec writes "NVidia has now open-sourced the operating system that powers the gaming console to encourage its modification and further development. Powered by NVidia's homegrown Tegra 4 processor, the console runs Android, which shouldn't surprise many as the company moves ahead with its open-sourcing intentions. The GPU company has said that the SHIELD is an 'open gaming platform' that allows for 'an open ecosystem,' enabling developers to develop content as well as applications that takes advantage of the underlying hardware and which can be enjoyed on bigger displays as well as mobile screen." Playing with it isn't without risks (like potentially voiding the warranty), but NVIDIA's blog post says they're also providing a recovery image to fall back to.
gspec writes "I am an engineer with about 14 years experience in the industry. Lately I have been interviewing with a few companies hoping to land a better position. In almost all those interviews, I was asked these types of question: 'Have you been a leader in a project?' or 'Why after these many years, you are not in a management? Do you lack leadership skills?' Sometimes these questions discourage me and make me feel like an underachiever. I found an article in which the author talked about exactly this, and I agree with him. I think in this modern society, especially in the U.S., we overvalue the leaders and undervalue the followers to the point that we forget that leaders cannot do any good if they do not have good followers."
reifman writes "Zillow quietly released boundary data for more than 7,000 neighborhoods in the U.S. via the Creative Commons attribute-sharealike license but few people know how to integrate this data into their applications. This tutorial describes how to import the data and integrate it with Google Maps and HTML5 Geolocation."
chicksdaddy writes "Two researchers at the Black Hat Briefings security conference Thursday said Smart TVs from electronics giant Samsung are rife with vulnerabilities in the underlying operating system and Java-based applications. Those vulnerabilities could be used to steal sensitive information on the device owner, or even spy on the television's surroundings using an integrated webcam. Speaking in Las Vegas, Aaron Grattafiori and Josh Yavor, both security engineers at the firm ISEC Partners, described Smart TVs as Linux boxes outfitted with a Webkit-based browser. They demonstrated how vulnerabilities in SmartHub, the Java-based application that is responsible for many of the Smart TV's interactive features, could be exploited by a local or remote attacker to surreptitiously activate and control an embedded webcam on the SmartTV, launch drive-by download attacks and steal local user credentials and those of connected devices, browser history, cache and cookies as well as credentials for the local wireless network. Samsung has issued patches for many of the affected devices and promises more changes in its next version of the Smart TV. This isn't the first time Smart TVs have been shown to be vulnerable. In December, researchers at the firm ReVuln also disclosed a vulnerability in the Smart TV's firmware that could be used to launch remote attacks."
msmoriarty writes "Google's Don Dodge, GitHub's Tom Preston-Werner, New Relic's Lew Cirne and others recently got together in San Francisco on a panel called 'The Developer is King: The Power Behind the Throne.' According to coverage of the event, the panelists all agreed that programmers — both independent ones and those employed by companies — have more power, and thus opportunities, than ever. Even the marketing power of developers was acknowledged: 'The only way to convince a developer is by giving them a demo and showing them how it's better,' said Preston-Werner. 'The beauty is, you plant these seeds around the world, and those people will evangelize it for you. Because another thing that developers are great at is telling other developers what works for them.'"
twofishy writes "Something I've noticed amongst financial service companies in London is a growing use of Java in preference to C/C++ for exchange systems, High Frequency Trading and over low-latency work. InfoQ has a good written panel discussion with Peter Lawrey, Martin Thompson, Todd L. Montgomery and Andy Piper. From the article: 'Often the faster an algorithm can be put into the market, the more advantage it has. Many algorithms have a shelf life and quicker time to market is key in taking advantage of that. With the community around Java and the options available, it can definitely be a competitive advantage, as opposed to C or C++ where the options may not be as broad for the use case. Sometimes, though, pure low latency can rule out other concerns. I think currently, the difference in performance between Java and C++ is so close that it's not a black and white decision based solely on speed. Improvements in GC techniques, JIT optimizations, and managed runtimes have made traditional Java weaknesses with respect to performance into some very compelling strengths that are not easy to ignore.'"
Nerval's Lobster writes "Developer and editor Jeff Cogswell asks: When it comes to implementing a CouchDB installation, do you roll your own, or go with a service that provides a hosted version of the database? He takes a look at some of the technologies present in CouchDB that can greatly influence that decision. His conclusion? Like all things, it's a little complicated. 'If you're going to be self-hosting—unless you're working on a really small system—don't use the basic CouchDB for anything,' he writes. 'If you want scalability, either go with Couchbase or BigCouch, or wait until Cloudant's BigCouch merger into CouchDB is officially available.' But going with a host also creates its own things to watch for, including potential issues with replication and eventual consistency."
snydeq writes "Taming technology is sometimes more art than science, but the difference can sometimes be hard to discern, writes Deep End's Paul Venezia. 'You've probably come across colleagues who were extremely skilled at their jobs — system administrators who can bend a zsh shell to their every whim, or developers who can write lengthy functions that compile without a whimper the first time. You've probably also come across colleagues who were extremely talented — who could instantly visualize a new infrastructure addition and sketch it out to extreme detail on a whiteboard while they assembled it in their head, for example, or who could devise a new, elegant UI without breaking a sweat. The truly gifted among us exhibit both of those traits, but most fall into one category or another. There is a difference between skill and talent. Such is true in many vocations, of course, but IT can present a stark contrast between the two.'"Assuming Venezia is correct, which do you think is more important?
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!"
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."