Nerval's Lobster writes "Netflix has released Hystrix, a library designed for managing interactions between distributed systems, complete with 'fallback' options for when those systems inevitably fail. The code for Hystrix—which Netflix tested on its own systems—can be downloaded at Github, with documentation available here, in addition to a getting-started guide and operations examples, among others. Hystrix evolved out of Netflix's need to manage an increasing rate of calls to its APIs, and resulted in (according to the company) a 'dramatic improvement in uptime and resilience has been achieved through its use.' The Netflix API receives more than 1 billion incoming calls per day, which translates into several billion outgoing calls (averaging a ratio of 1:6) to dozens of underlying systems, with peaks of over 100,000 dependency requests per second. That's according to Netflix engineer Ben Christensen, who described the incredible loads on the company's infrastructure in a February blog posting. The vast majority of those calls serve the discovery user interfaces (UIs) of the more than 800 different devices supported by Netflix."
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Dupple writes "When a cellphone is reported stolen in New York, the Police Department routinely subpoenas the phone's call records, from the day of the theft onward. The logic is simple: If a thief uses the phone, a list of incoming and outgoing calls could lead to the suspect. But in the process, the Police Department has quietly amassed a trove of telephone logs, all obtained without a court order, that could conceivably be used for any investigative purpose. The call records from the stolen cellphones are integrated into a database known as the Enterprise Case Management System, according to Police Department documents from the detective bureau. Each phone number is hyperlinked, enabling detectives to cross-reference it against phone numbers in other files."
Nerval's Lobster writes "This is the story of the comparison that just wasn't meant to be. It's a story of everything that can go wrong in the customer end of the software world, and some thoughts on what needs to be done, especially in an area known as Installers. I'm a software engineer with 25 years of experience, and for years I've wanted to point out some of the shortcomings of my own industry to help make it better for everyone involved—not only for the end-users, but also for the IT people who have to support the products; the salespeople who have to sell and later, possibly, apologize for the software; for the executives whose hands are tied because they don't have the technical knowledge to roll up their sleeves and help fix problems in the code; and for the programmers themselves who might get stuck with what some consider the absolute worst position for a programmer: maintenance of crappy code written by programmers who have long since left the organization."
Barence writes "When it comes to programming, the classroom is moving online. A new wave of start-ups has burst onto the scene over the last year, bringing interactive lessons and gamification techniques to the subject to make coding trendy again. From Codecademy — and its incredibly successful Code Year initiative — to Khan Academy, Code School and Udacity, online learning is now sophisticated and high-tech — but is it good enough to replace the classroom? 'We are the first five or six chapters in a book,' says Code School's Gregg Pollack in this exploration of online code classes, but with the number of sites and lessons growing by the week that might not be the case for long."
An anonymous reader writes "Alex Norton is the man behind Malevolence: The Sword of Ahkranox, an upcoming indie action-RPG. What makes Malevolence interesting is that it's infinite. It uses procedural generation to create a world that's actually endless. Norton jumped into this project without having worked at any big gaming studios, and in this article he shares what he's learned as an independent game developer. Quoting: "A large, loud portion of the public will openly hate you regardless of what you do. Learn to live with it. No-one will ever take your project as seriously as you, or fully realize what you're going through. ... The odds of you making money out of it are slim. If you want to succeed, you'll likely have to sell out. Just how MUCH you sell out is up to you.' He also suggests new game devs avoid RPGs for their first titles, making a thorough plan before you begin (i.e. game concepts explained well enough that a non-gamer could understand), and considering carefully whether the game will benefit from a public development process."
dncsky1530 writes "UNSW professor Richard Buckland, lecturer of the famous Computing 1 course on YouTube, is now running a large scale open online Computer Science course for the world. UNSW Computing 1 — PuzzleQuest and the Art of Programming starts off with microprocessors and works it way through C with interactive activities while taking students on an adventure of hacking, cracking and problem solving. It's based around a three month long PuzzleQuest with grand and suspiciously unspecified prizes as well as fame and glory for the intrepid. The next class starts December 3rd 2012."
Thinkcloud writes "Even though the operating system hasn't arrived in a version for smartphones and tablets just yet, Firefox OS is available as a prototype module that you can run on Windows, Mac or Linux computers (download page). The initial Firefox OS phones are expected to arrive in 2013, and it's been reported that Alcatel and ZTE are the first manufacturers on board."
Billly Gates writes "In a bizarre, yet funny and ironic move, Microsoft warned web developers that using WebKit stagnates open standards and innovation on the Web. According to the call to action in its Windows Phone Developer Blog, Microsoft is especially concerned about the mobile market, where many mobile sites only work with Android or iOS with WebKit-specific extensions. Their examples include W3C code such as radius-border, which is being written as -WebKit-radius-border instead on websites. In the mobile market WebKit has a 90% marketshare, while website masters feel it is not worth the development effort to test against browsers such as IE. Microsoft's solution to the problem of course is to use IE 10 for standard compliance and not use the proprietary (yet open source) WebKit."
New submitter NewYork writes with this chestnut from an article about the role of age in the high-tech workplace: 'The shelf life of a software engineer today is no more than that of a cricketer — about 15 years,' says V R Ferose, MD of German software major SAP's India R&D Labs that has over 4,500 employees . 'The 20-year-old guys provide me more value than the 35-year-olds do.'" The article features similar sentiments from Mukund Mohan, CEO of Microsoft's India-based startup initiative.
theodp writes "Microsoft's promotion of Julie Larson-Green to lead all Windows software and hardware engineering in the wake of Steven Sinofsky's resignation is reopening the question of what is the difference between Computer Science and Software Engineering. According to their bios on Microsoft's website, Sinofsky has a master's degree in computer science from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and an undergraduate degree with honors from Cornell University, while Larson-Green has a master's degree in software engineering from Seattle University and a bachelor's degree in business administration from Western Washington University. A comparison of the curricula at Sinofsky's and Larson-Green's alma maters shows there's a huge difference between UMass's MSCS program and Seattle U's MSE program. So, is one program inherently more compatible with Microsoft's new teamwork mantra?"
Zocalo writes "Star Citizen, Chris Roberts' attempt to reboot the Space Sim genre, hit a major funding milestone earlier today, exceeding the previous record of $4,163,208 secured by the game Project Eternity and more than doubling the initial funding target set by the producer of the Wing Commander series. With Stretch Goals now being passed every few hours bringing new features to the planned game, and David Braben announcing a new installment of the classic Elite using a similar funding model at Kickstarter could this be a wake-up call for the big game publishers to take another look at the genre? There are still two days left for Star Citizen funding as well, so if you feel like taking part, you can chip in either at the main RSI site or on Kickstarter."
McGruber writes "The Associated Press is reporting that the U.S. Justice Department is suing eBay for allegedly agreeing with Intuit not to hire each other's employees. According to the article, 'eBay's agreement with Intuit hurt employees by lowering the salaries and benefits they might have received and deprived them of better job opportunities at the other company,' said acting Assistant Attorney General Joseph Wayland, who is in charge of the Justice Department's antitrust division. The division 'has consistently taken the position that these kinds of agreements are per se (on their face) unlawful under antitrust laws.'"
SternisheFan writes "Google has expanded its legal agreement with developers working on Android applications to specifically prohibit them from taking any action that could lead to a fragmentation of the operating system. The prohibition was added to the terms and conditions for Google's Android SDK (software development kit), which developers must accept before using the software to build Android apps. The previous version of the terms of service, published in April 2009, didn't address the issue, but the new terms published on Tuesday include this new paragraph: 'You agree that you will not take any actions that may cause or result in the fragmentation of Android, including but not limited to distributing, participating in the creation of, or promoting in any way a software development kit derived from the SDK.' Google did not respond to several requests for comment. The issue of Android fragmentation has been gaining increased attention, but it's happened largely as a result of actions taken by Google and Android handset makers, not developers. It's a problem because it means that Android applications may not run properly across all Android devices. 'It continues to be a problem, both on smartphones and tablets,' said Avi Greengart, research director at Consumer Devices. 'Google has talked about multiple initiatives for dealing with it, but none of them have successfully addressed it.'"
Nerval's Lobster writes "When Steven Sinofsky stepped down as head of Microsoft's Windows division earlier this week, multiple publications cited friction with other executives as the primary reason behind the departure. Whether or not that's the case—neither Sinofsky nor Microsoft has offered an official explanation, aside from the usual platitudes—someone with connections to Microsoft is claiming that Sinofsky's departure stemmed from a failed attempt to bring additional parts of the company under his control. 'Steven had apparently lost recent battles to bring both Windows Phone and the Developer Division under his control,' Hal Berenson, president of consulting group True Mountain Group and a former Microsoft executive, wrote in a Nov. 13 blog posting. 'I suspect that he saw those [losses] both as a roadblock to where he wanted to take Windows over the next few years, and a clear indication that his political power within Microsoft had peaked.' The departure, he added, was the 'outgrowth of conflict.' Berenson's claim was enough to draw Sinofsky himself into the discussion. In the comments section below the posting, Sinofsky left a short note suggesting that rumors of a multi-product takeover were, frankly, malarkey."
sfcrazy writes "A very serious argument erupted on the Linux kernel mailing list when Andy Grover, a Red Hat SCSI target engineer, requested that Nicholas A. Bellinger, the Linux SCSI target maintainer, provide proof of non-infringement of the GPL. Nick is developer at Rising Tide Systems, a Red Hat competitor, and a maker of advanced SCSI storage systems. Nick's company recently produced a groundbreaking technology involving advanced SCSI commands which will give Rising Tide Systems a lead in producing SCSI storage systems. Now, RTS is blocking Red Hat from getting access to that code as it's proprietary. What's uncertain is whether RTS' code is covered by GPL or not — if it is then Red Hat has all the rights to get access to it and it's a serious GPL violation."
Artefacto writes "The Ksplice team has made available a git repository with the changes Red Hat made to the kernel broken down. They are calling this project RedPatch. This comes in response to a policy change Red Hat had implemented in early 2011, with the goal of undercutting Oracle and other vendors' strategy of poaching Red Hat's customers. The Ksplice team says they've been working on these individual patches since then. They claim to be now making it public because they 'feel everyone in the Linux community can benefit from the work.' 'For Ksplice, we build individual updates for each change and rely on source patches that are broken-out, not a giant tarball. Otherwise, we wouldn't be able to take the right patches to create individual updates for each fix, and to skip over the noise — like a change that speeds up bootup — which is unnecessary for an already-running system.'"
First time accepted submitter jemenake writes "A friend of mine teaches electronic media (Photoshop, Premiere, etc.) at a local high-school. Right now, they're doing Photoshop, and each chapter in the book starts with an 'end result' file which shows what they're going to construct in that chapter, and then, given the basic graphical assets (background textures, photos, etc.), the students need to duplicate the same look in the final-result file. The problem, of course, is that some students just grab the final-result file and rename it and turn it in. Some are a little less brazen and they rename a few layers, maybe alter the colors on a few images, etc. So, it becomes time-consuming for her to open each file alongside the final-result file to see if it's 'too perfect.'" How to look for images closer than they should be to the original? Read on for more details.