jrepin writes "Google is offering rewards as high as $3,133.70 for software updates that improve the security of OpenSSL, OpenSSH, BIND, and several other open-source packages that are critical to the stability of the Internet. The program announced Wednesday expands on Google's current bug-bounty program, which pays from $500 to $3,133.70 to people who privately report bugs found in the company's software and Web properties." Google isn't the only company that sees the value in rewarding those who find security problems: Microsoft just paid British hacker James Forshaw $100,000 for finding a serious security flaw in Windows 8.1.
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Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Andrew Binstock writes at Dr. Dobb's that a recurring prejudice in the forums where the cool kids hang out is against Java, often described as verbose and fading in popularity but Binstock sees little supporting evidence of Java being in some kind of long-term decline. While it is true that Java certainly can be verbose, several scripting languages have sprung up which are purpose-designed to spare developers from long syntactical passages to communicate a simple action, including NetRexx, Groovy, and Scala. As far as Java's popularity goes, normally, when technologies start their ultimate decline, tradeshows are the first to reflect the disintegrating community. But the recent JavaOne show was clearly larger and better attended than it has been in either of the last two years and vendors on the exhibiting floor were unanimous in saying that traffic, leads, and inquiries were up significantly over last year. Technically, the language continues to advance says Binstock. Java 8, expected in March, will add closures (that is, lambda expressions) that will reduce code, diminish the need for anonymous inner classes, and facilitate functional-like coding. Greater modularity which will be complete in Java 9 (due in 2016) will help efficient management of artifacts, as will several enhancements that simplify syntax in that release. 'When you add in the Android ecosystem, whose native development language is Java, it becomes very difficult to see how a language so widely used in so many areas — server, Web, desktop, mobile devices — is in some kind of decline,' concludes Binstock. 'What I'm seeing is a language that is under constant refinement and development, with a large and very active community, which enjoys a platform that is widely used for new languages. None of this looks to me like a language in decline.'"
jones_supa writes "A new major version of the classic GNU Make software has been released. First of all, Make 4.0 has integration support for GNU Guile Scheme. Guile is the extension system of the GNU project that is a Scheme programming language implementation and now in the Make world will be the embedded extension language. 4.0 also features a new 'output-sync' option, 'trace-enables' for tracing of targets, a 'none' flag for the 'debug' argument, and the 'job server' and .ONESHELL features are now supported under Windows. There are also new assignment operators, a new function for writing to files, and other enhancements. It's been reported that Make 4.0 also has more than 80 bug-fixes. More details can be found from their release announcement on the mailing list."
An anonymous reader writes "vBulletin is a popular proprietary CMS that was recently reported to be vulnerable to an unspecified attack vector. Although vBulletin has not disclosed the root cause of the vulnerability or its impact, we determined the attacker's methods. The identified vulnerability allows an attacker to abuse the vBulletin configuration mechanism in order to create a secondary administrative account. Once the attacker creates the account, they will have full control over the exploited vBulletin application, and subsequently the supported site."
mattydread23 writes "Most gamification efforts fail. But when DirecTV wanted to encourage its IT staff to be more open about sharing failures, it created a massive internal game called F12. Less than a year later, it's got 97% participation and nearly everybody in the IT group actually likes competing. So what did DirecTV do right? The most important thing was to devote a full-time staffer to the game, and to keep updating it constantly."
McGruber writes "AllThingsD has the news that Hewlett-Packard has enacted a policy requiring most employees to work from the office and not from home. According to an undated question-and-answer document distributed to HP employees, the new policy is aimed at instigating a cultural shift that 'will help create a more connected workforce and drive greater collaboration and innovation.' The memo also said, 'During this critical turnaround period, HP needs all hands on deck. We recognize that in the past, we may have asked certain employees to work from home for various reasons. We now need to build a stronger culture of engagement and collaboration and the more employees we get into the office the better company we will be.' One major complication is that numerous HP offices don't have sufficient space to accommodate all of their employees. According to sources familiar with the company's operations, as many as 80,000 employees, and possibly more, were working from home in part because the company didn't have desks for them all within its own buildings."
An anonymous reader writes "Soured by his attempt to acquire a quote from healthcare.gov, James Turner compiled a short list of things developers can learn from the experience: 'The first highly visible component of the Affordable Health Care Act launched this week, in the form of the healthcare.gov site. Theoretically, it allows citizens, who live in any of the states that have chosen not to implement their own portal, to get quotes and sign up for coverage. I say theoretically because I've been trying to get a quote out of it since it launched on Tuesday, and I'm still trying. Every time I think I've gotten past the last glitch, a new one shows up further down the line. While it's easy to write it off as yet another example of how the government (under any administration) seems to be incapable of delivering large software projects, there are some specific lessons that developers can take away. 1) Load testing is your friend.'"
MojoKid writes "Although Intel is Chipzilla, the company can't help but extend its reach just a bit into the exciting and growing world of DIY makers and hobbyists. Intel announced its Galileo development board, a microcontroller that's compatible with Arduino software and uses the new Quark X1000 processor (400MHz, 32-bit, Pentium-class, single- core and thread) that Intel announced at the IDF 2013 keynote. The board makes use of Intel's architecture to make it easy to develop for Windows, Mac, and Linux, but it's also completely open hardware (PDF). Galileo is 10cm x 7cm (although ports protrude a bit beyond that), and there are four screw holes for secure mounting. Ports include 10/100 Ethernet, USB client/host ports, RS-232 UART and 3.5mm jack, mini PCIe slot (with USB 2.0 host support); other features include 8MB Legacy SPI Flash for firmware storage, 512KB embedded SRAM, 256MB DRAM, 11KB EEPROM programmed via the EEPROM library, and support for an additional 32GB of storage using a microSD card."
CowboyRobot sends this excerpt from Dr. Dobb's: "Ten years of surveys show an influx of younger developers, more women, and personality profiles at odds with traditional stereotypes. Software development is an art and a science that is not attainable for just anyone. It takes a special type of person to write code. Developers are detail-oriented, very literal, and intelligent. Logic is paramount, and they share a passion for their craft that rises above the desire to make more money. They are also typically married, middle-aged, have children, and most likely a mortgage. In one of a series of surveys that we've performed every six months since 2001 (interviewing each time more than 1400 developers worldwide), we find the typical developer is a married, middle-aged male, who has two to three children. Males have dominated the profession for as long we've been tracking this; and during that time, they have accounted for anywhere from 84% to 94% of the workforce. The number of male developers is currently close to the low, at 86%, which might indicate more females are taking up programming."
the agent man writes "Wired Magazine is exploring how early kids should learn to code. One of the challenges is to find the proper time in schools to teach programming. Are teachers at elementary and middle school levels really able to teach this subject? The article suggests that even very young kids can learn to program and lists a couple of early experiments as well as more established ideas including the Scalable Game Design curriculum. However, the article also suggests that programming may have to come at the cost of Foreign language learning and music."
New submitter ddyer writes "Java 1.7.0_40 [Note: released earlier this month] introduces a new 'red text' warning when running unsigned Java applets. 'Running unsigned applications like this will be blocked in a future release...' Or, for self-signed applets,'Running applications by UNKNOWN publishers will be blocked in a future release...' I think I see the point — this will give the powers that be the capability to shut off any malware java applet that is discovered by revoking its certificate. The unfortunate cost of this is that any casual use of Java is going to be killed. It currently costs a minimum of $100/year and a lot of hoop-jumping to maintain a trusted certificate.'"
coondoggie writes "In his keynote address at a security conference today, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak admitted he has enjoyed many adventures in hacking often for the sake of pranks on friends and family, especially back in his college days and the early years of working on computers and the Internet. 'I like to play jokes,' said the Wozniak jovially as he addressed his audience of thousands of security professionals attending the ASIS Conference in Chicago. The famed inventor at Apple admitted he also had some fun with light-hearted forays into hacking computer and telecommunications networks several decades ago back in his college years and while learning about electronics and computers."
itwbennett writes "A couple of years ago, developer Sammy Larbi undertook a project to identify which languages had the most instances of the string 'WTF' in their GitHub code repositories. At the time, Objective C topped the list. ITworld's Phil Johnson has updated Larbi's research using GitHub data from the last 21 months, but instead of screen-scraping GitHub search results as Larbi had done, he queried the GitHub Archive for stand-alone instances of 'WTF' in the comments attached to GitHub commits to weed out cases where the string 'WTF' was legitimately used in the code. The three most baffling languages for 2012/13: C++, Lua, and Scala. Objective C comes in at #16."
An anonymous reader writes "LLVM's libc++ standard library (an alternative to GNU libstdc++) now has full support for C++1y, which is expected to become C++14 next year. Code merged this week implements the full C++1y standard library, with support for new language features in the Clang compiler frontend nearly complete." GCC has some support for the soon-to-be standard too. The C++ standards committee is expected to produce a more or less final draft in just a few weeks. The LLVM and GCC C++14 status pages both have links to the proposals for the new features.
jrepin writes "The KDE libraries are being methodically reworked into a set of cross platform modules that will be readily available to all Qt developers. The KDE Frameworks, designed as drop-in Qt Addons, will enrich Qt as a development environment with functions that simplify, accelerate and reduce the cost of Qt development. For example, KArchive (one of the first Frameworks available) offers support for many popular compression codecs in a self-contained and easy-to-use file archiving library. Just feed it files; there's no need to reinvent an archiving function." This is a pretty major thing: "The introduction of Qt's Open Governance model in late 2011 offered the opportunity for KDE developers to get more closely involved with Qt, KDE's most important upstream resource. ... These contributions to Qt form the basis for further modularization of the KDE libraries. The libraries are moving from being a singular 'platform' to a set of 'Frameworks'. ... Instead it is a comprehensive set of technologies that becomes available to the whole Qt ecosystem." The new KDE Frameworks will be layered as three tiers of components, with each tier consisting of three semi-independent groups of libraries (the article explains the category/tier dependencies; it's a bit hairy for a quick summary). A dashboard shows the status of each component.
ananyo writes "An offshoot of Mozilla is aiming to discover whether a review process could improve the quality of researcher-built software that is used in myriad fields today, ranging from ecology and biology to social science. In an experiment being run by the Mozilla Science Lab, software engineers have reviewed selected pieces of code from published papers in computational biology. The reviewers looked at snippets of code up to 200 lines long that were included in the papers and written in widely used programming languages, such as R, Python and Perl. The Mozilla engineers have discussed their findings with the papers’ authors, who can now choose what, if anything, to do with the markups — including whether to permit disclosure of the results. But some researchers say that having software reviewers looking over their shoulder might backfire. 'One worry I have is that, with reviews like this, scientists will be even more discouraged from publishing their code,' says biostatistician Roger Peng at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland. 'We need to get more code out there, not improve how it looks.'"
theodp writes "Nate West has a nice essay on the importance of whimsy in learning to program. "It wasn't until I was writing Ruby that I found learning to program to be fun," recalls West. "What's funny is it really doesn't take much effort to be more enjoyable than the C++ examples from earlier...just getting to write gets.chomp and puts over cout > made all the difference. Ruby examples kept me engaged just long enough that I could find Why's Poignant Guide to Ruby." So, does the future of introductory computer programming books and MOOCs lie in professional, business-like presentations, or does a less-polished production with some genuine goofy enthusiasm help the programming medicine go down?"
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "ZDNet reports that Oracle's Larry Elison kicked off Oracle OpenWorld 2013 promising a 100x speed-up querying OTLP database or data warehouse batches by means of a 'dual format' for both row and column in-memory formats for the same data and table. Using Oracle's 'dual-format in-memory database' option, every transaction is recorded in row format simultaneously with writing the same data into a columnar database. 'This is pure in-memory columnar technology,' said Ellison, explaining that means no logging and very little overhead on data changes while the CPU core scans local in-memory columns. Ellison followed up with the introduction of Oracle's new M6-32 'Big Memory Machine,' touted to be the fastest in-memory machine in the world, hosting 32 terabytes of DRAM memory and up to 384 processor cores with 8-threads per core."
angry tapir writes "A team of developers has launched a new crowdfunding platform — Drupalfund.us — that's designed to help accelerate development work on the open-source Drupal CMS, as well as potentially fund new training material and other projects of interest to community members. I had a long-ish chat to one of the co-founders about the goals of the platform and how crowdfunding can be used to push forward open source development."
g01d4 writes "I volunteer at a used bookstore that supports the local library. One of my tasks is to sort book donations. For > 5-year-old computer books the choices typically are to save it for sale (fifty cents soft cover, one dollar hardback), pack it, e.g. for another library's bookstore, put it on the free cart, or toss it in the recycle bin. I occasionally dumpster dive the recycle bin to 'rescue' books that I don't think should be pulped. Recently I found a copy of PostgresSQL Essential Reference (2002) and Programming Perl (1996). Would you have left them to RIP? Obviously we have very limited space, 20 shelf feet (storage + sale) for STEM. What criteria would you use when sorting these types of books?"
littlekorea writes "The world's largest web-scale users of MySQL have committed to one further upgrade to the Oracle-controlled database — but Facebook and Twitter are also eyeing off more open options from MariaDB and cheaper options from the NoSQL community. Who will pay for MySQL enterprise licenses into the future?"
gentryx writes "In scientific computing a huge pile of code is still written in Fortran. One reason for this is that codes often evolve over the course of decades and rewriting them from scratch is both risky and costly. While OpenMP and OpenACC are readily available for Fortran, only few tools support authors in porting their codes to MPI clusters, let alone supercomputers. A recent blog post details how LibGeoDecomp (Library for Geometric Decompostition codes), albeit written in C++, can be used to port such codes to state-of-the-art HPC systems. Source code modification is required, but mostly limited to restructuring into a new pattern of subroutines."
reifman writes "In an unusual move, Amazon abruptly pulled the plug on its $100,000 Civic Apps contest for AWS, redirecting contestants to the AWS government site. All entrants through October 15th were to receive a $50 AWS credit. Amazon AWS PR says they, '...accidentally pushed this out early, but please stay tuned for more information on this program later this year.' The contest site, rules (pdf) and FAQ (pdf) of the apparently still upcoming contest can be read from the google cache. Contest prize winners would have had to 'spend' their AWS credits by December 2014."
debingjos writes "Management at my company seems to think that our developers can get extra work done if they work extra long days. However, as one of the devs in question, I don't agree. When I've been coding for eight hours, my pool of concentration is exhausted. Working overtime either fails to produce any extra code, or the quality of the code is very bad. What is the community's opinion on this? This can be broken out further into several questions: What are the maximum number of hours you can work in a day/week and still be reasonably productive? When you absolutely must work beyond that limit, what steps do you take to minimize degradation of quality? If you're able to structure your time differently from the typical 9-5 schedule, what method works best for you? Finally, how do you communicate the quality problems to management?"
kylus writes "The Register is reporting that Oracle's new Java 7 update 40 release comes complete with a new 'Deployment Rule Set' capability which allows administrators to define which particular applets and Java Web Start applications ('Rich Internet Applications') are permitted to run on a given machine. Not a complete solution for the recent trend of Java hacks that have cropped up, but good news for enterprises that have to run this in their environment." Update: 09/19 20:08 GMT by U L : There's an introduction to deploying rule sets on the Java platform group weblog too.
curtwoodward writes "You'd have a hard time picking just one way the traditional news business stumbled into the Internet era. But America's most important newspaper publisher says one mistake sticks out. In a recent discussion at Harvard, Arthur Sulzberger Jr. of the New York Times said newspapers really messed up by not having enough engineers on hand 'building the tools that we're now using.' Instead, the the news business faces a world where outsiders like Facebook and Twitter control the technology that is distributing their work." Or maybe those outsiders are just better.
Lemeowski writes "Open source software projects are seeing some success on fundraising sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. But Warren Konkel believes open source software needs a better funding model that's more aligned with how software is built. So Konkel, who was the first hire at LivingSocial, teamed up with his friend David Rappo, a producer for games including Guitar Hero and Skylander, and founded Bountysource, a crowdfunding and bounty site specifically designed to help developers raise money for their OSS projects, bug fixes and feature requests. In this interview, Konkel talks about how he recently snagged a $1.1 million investment in Bountysource, gives developers tips on launching a fundraising effort for their OSS project, and more."
Damek writes "The OpenZFS project launched today, the truly open source successor to the ZFS project. ZFS is an advanced filesystem in active development for over a decade. Recent development has continued in the open, and OpenZFS is the new formal name for this community of developers, users, and companies improving, using, and building on ZFS. Founded by members of the Linux, FreeBSD, Mac OS X, and illumos communities, including Matt Ahrens, one of the two original authors of ZFS, the OpenZFS community brings together over a hundred software developers from these platforms."
itwbennett writes with a link to a story you'll need to mentally upgrade from "expected to" to "just happened" about IBM's $1 billion dollar investment in Linux officially announced Tuesday morning at LinuxCon (the WSJ broke the story yesterday), by IBM VP Brad McCredie. IBM, says the linked article, will use all that money "to promote Linux development as it tries to adapt Power mainframes and servers to handle cloud and big data applications in distributed computing environments. The investment will fund Linux application development programs for IBM's Power servers and also be used to expand a cloud service where developers can write and test applications for Power servers before deployment. It will also facilitate software development around IBM's new Power8 chips, which will go into servers next year." It's not the only time that IBM has recently tossed around the B-word, and as Nick Kolakowski notes at Slash BI, it's also not the first time IBM has put that much money into Linux.
theodp writes "The fist rule of Hackathon Club is don't talk about Hackathon Club cheating. But ever-increasing stakes — the MHacks Hackathon at the Univ. of Michigan is offering over $30,000 in prizes — prompts Kevin Conley to broach the subject, suggesting it's time for some common-sense measures — including showing one's code or reducing prize money — to discourage Hackathon ruses, which can include pre-coding, faked live demos/videos, and the use of remote teammates."
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?"
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.'"