Python

Ask Slashdot: Will Python Become The Dominant Programming Language? 808

An anonymous reader shares their thoughts on language popuarity: In the PYPL index, which is based on Google searches and is supposed to be forward looking, the trend is unmistakable. Python is rising fast and Java and others are declining. Combine this with the fact that Python is now the most widely taught language in the universities. In fields such as data science and machine learning, Python is already dominating. "Python where you can, C++ where you must" enterprises are following suit too, especially in data science but for everything else from web development to general purpose computing...

People who complain that you can't build large scale systems without a compiler likely over-rely on the latter and are slaves to IDEs. If you write good unit tests and enforce Test Driven Development, the compiler becomes un-necessary and gets in the way. You are forced to provide too much information to it (also known as boilerplate) and can't quickly refactor code, which is necessary for quick iterations.

The original submission ends with a question: "Is Python going to dominate in the future?" Slashdot readers should have some interesting opinions on this. So leave your own thoughts in the comments. Will Python become the dominant programming language?
AI

Ask Slashdot: How Can Programmers Move Into AI Jobs? 121

"I have the seriously growing suspicion that AI is coming for us programmers and IT experts faster than we might want to admit," writes long-time Slashdot reader Qbertino. So he's contemplating a career change -- and wondering what AI work is out there now, and how can he move into it? Is anything popping up in the industry and AI hype? (And what are these positions called, what do they precisely do, and what are the skills needed to do them?) I suspect something like an "AI Architect", planning AI setups and clearly defining the boundaries of what the AI is supposed to do and explore.

Then I presume the requirements for something like an "AI Maintainer" and/or "AI Trainer" which would probably resemble something like an admin of a big data storage, looking at statistics and making educated decisions on which "AI Training Paths" the AI should continue to explore to gain the skill required and deciding when the "AI" is ready to be let go on to the task... And what about Tensor Flow? Should I toy around with it or are we past that stage already and will others do AI setup and installation better than me before I know how this thing really works...?

Is there a degree program, or other paths to skill and knowledge, for a programmer who's convinced that "AI is today what the web was in 1993"? And if AI of the future ends up tied to specific providers -- AI as a service -- then are there specific vendors he should be focusing on (besides Google?) Leave your best suggestions in the comments. How can programmers move into AI jobs?
Programming

Does Silicon Valley Need More Labor Unions? (salon.com) 187

Salon recently talked to Jeffrey Buchanan, who two years ago co-founded a labor rights group "that highlights the plight of security officers, food-service workers, janitors and shuttle-bus drivers in the region." An anonymous reader quotes their report: The situation among Silicon Valley's low-wage contract workers has become so perilous that in January, thousands of security guards working at immensely profitable companies like Facebook and Cisco followed the shuttle-bus drivers and voted to unionize in an effort to collectively bargain for higher wages and better benefits. The upcoming labor contract negotiations between the roughly 3,000 security guards (represented by SEIU United Service Workers West) and their employers is one of the biggest developments in Silicon Valley labor organizing to happen this year. Buchanan says there's also a broader push this year to get tech companies to be proactive in ensuring these workers can make ends meet, even if these companies have to pay more for the services they procure...

A paper published last year by University of California at Santa Cruz researchers Chris Brenner and Kyle Neering estimates between 19,000 and 39,000 contracted service workers are employed in the Valley at any given time... An additional 78,000 workers are at risk of becoming contract employees, according to the study, a number which includes administrative assistants, sales representatives and medium-wage computer programmers. This is part of a larger societal shift in which salaried workers are converted to contractors -- a transition that benefits business owners, in that they don't have to pay benefits and can hire and fire contractors at will.

Buchanan's group represents contractors typically earning "as little as $20,000 a year." But Salon's headline argues that "programmers may be next" in the drive to organize contractors.
Programming

Developer Accidentally Deletes Production Database On Their First Day On The Job (qz.com) 418

An anonymous reader quotes Quartz: "How screwed am I?" asked a recent user on Reddit, before sharing a mortifying story. On the first day as a junior software developer at a first salaried job out of college, his or her copy-and-paste error inadvertently erased all data from the company's production database. Posting under the heartbreaking handle cscareerthrowaway567, the user wrote, "The CTO told me to leave and never come back. He also informed me that apparently legal would need to get involved due to severity of the data loss. I basically offered and pleaded to let me help in someway to redeem my self and i was told that I 'completely fucked everything up.'"
The company's backups weren't working, according to the post, so the company is in big trouble now. Though Qz adds that "the court of public opinion is on the new guy's side. In a poll on the tech site the Register, less than 1% of 5,400 respondents thought the new developer should be fired. Forty-five percent thought the CTO should go."
Software

App Store Now Requires Developers To Use Official API To Request App Ratings, Disallows Custom Prompts (9to5mac.com) 34

One of the new App Store policy changes made this week is the addition of section 1.1.7, which requires developers to use the official in-app rating UI added in iOS 10.3 and states that they "will disallow custom review prompts" going forward. 9to5Mac reports: When the new App Store rating API was introduced in the iOS 10.3 beta period at the start of the year, adoption was optional but Apple warned that it would eventually become mandatory. It seems that time has come. Here's the relevant addition to the App Store Review guidelines: "Use the provided API to prompt users to review your app; this functionality allows customers to provide an App Store rating and review without the inconvenience of leaving your app, and we will disallow custom review prompts." The language is pretty clear-cut, use the Apple API and stop using custom implementations. The change to the Apple API has some advantages and drawbacks for developers and users.
AI

Ask Slashdot: What Types of Jobs Are Opening Up In the New Field of AI? 133

Qbertino writes: I'm about to move on in my career after having a "short rethink and regroup break" and was for quite some time now thinking about getting into perhaps a new programming language and technology, like NodeJS or Java/Kotlin or something. But I have the seriously growing suspicion that artificial intelligence is coming for us programmers and IT experts faster than we might want to admit. Just last weekend I heard myself saying to a friend who was a pioneer on the web, "AI is today what the web was in 1993" -- I think that to be very true. So just 20 minutes ago I started thinking and wondering about what types of jobs there are in AI. Is anything popping up in the industry from the AI hype and what are these positions called, what do they precisely do and what are the skills needed to do them? I suspect something like an "AI Architect" for planning AI setups and clearly defining the boundaries of what the AI is supposed to do and explore. Then I presume the requirements for something like an "AI Maintainer" and/or "AI Trainer," which would probably resemble something like an admin of a big data storage, looking at statistics and making educated decisions on which "AI Training Paths" the AI should continue to explore to gain the skill required and deciding when the "AI" is ready to be let go on to the task. You're seeing we -- AFAIK -- don't even have names for these positions yet, but I suspect, just as in the internet/web boom 20 years ago, that is about to change *very* fast.

And what about Tensor Flow? Should I toy around with it or are we past that stage already and will others do AI setup and installation better than me before I know how this thing really works? Because I also suspect most of the AI work for humans will closely be tied to services and providers such as Google. You know, renting "AI" as you rent webspace or subscribe to bandwidth today. Any services and industry vendors I should look into -- besides the obvious Google that is? In a nutshell, what work is there in the field of AI that can be done and how do I move into that? Like now. And what should I maybe get a degree in if I want to be on top of this AI thing? And how would you go about gaining skill and knowledge on AI today, and I mean literally, today. I know, tons of questions but insightful advice is requested from an educated slashdot crowd. And I bet I'm not the only one interested in this topic. Thanks.
Android

Google Launches Android O Developer Preview 3 With Final APIs (venturebeat.com) 16

An anonymous reader quotes a report from VentureBeat: Google today launched the third Android O developer preview, available for download now at developer.android.com and via the Android Beta Program. The preview includes an updated SDK with system images for the Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus Player, Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel C, and the official Android Emulator, and there's even an emulator for testing Android Wear 2.0 on Android O. The big highlight with this preview is that the Android O APIs are now final. Google launched the first Android O developer preview in March and the second developer preview in May at its I/O 2017 developer conference. Google is planning to release one more preview with near-final system images in July and has slated the final version for release "later this summer" (in Q3 2017). Developer Preview 3 includes the latest version of the Android O platform with the final API level 26 and "hundreds of bug fixes and optimizations."
EU

EU Seeks New Powers To Obtain Data 'Directly' From Tech Firms (zdnet.com) 40

Zack Whittaker reports via ZDNet: European authorities are seeking new powers to allow police and intelligence agencies to directly obtain user data stored on the continent by U.S. tech companies. The move comes in the wake of an uptick in terrorist attacks, including several attacks in Britain and France, among others across the bloc. Tech companies have been asked to do more to help law enforcement, while police have long argued the process for gathering data overseas is slow and cumbersome. The bloc's justice commissioner, Vera Jourova, presented several plans to a meeting of justice ministers in Luxembourg on Thursday to speed up access for EU police forces to obtain evidence -- including one proposal to allow police to obtain data "directly" from the cloud servers of U.S. tech companies in urgent cases. "Commissioner Jourova presented at the Justice Council three legislative options to improve access to e-evidence," said Christian Wiga, an EU spokesperson, in an email. "Based on the discussion between justice ministers, the Commission will now prepare a legislative proposal," he added. Discussions are thought to have included what kind of data could be made available, ranging from geolocation data to the contents of private messages. Such powers would only be used in "emergency" situations, said Jourova, adding that safeguards would require police to ensure that each request is "necessary" and "proportionate." Further reading: Reuters
Television

Apple's 'Planet of the Apps' Reality Show Is 'Bland, Tepid, Barely Competent Knock-off of 'Shark Tank' (variety.com) 78

On Tuesday, Apple made its debut into the world of original television programming with "Planet of the Apps," a reality show that brings app developers in a competition to try to get mentoring and assistance from hosts Jessica Alba, will.i.am, Gwyneth Paltrow and entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk. Contestants describe their proposals as they ride an escalator down onto a stage where the judges sit, and then fire questions at the app developer. The problem? Critics aren't pleased. An anonymous reader shares a Variety report: Apple's first offering, "Planet of the Apps," feels like something that was developed at a cocktail party, and not given much more rigorous thought or attention after the pitcher of mojitos was drained. It's not terrible, but essentially, it's a bland, tepid, barely competent knock-off of " Shark Tank." Apple made its name on game-changing innovations, but this show is decidedly not one of them. The program's one slick innovation is the escalator pitch. You read that right; I didn't mistype "elevator pitch." The show begins with an overly brief set-up segment, which doesn't spend much time explaining the rules of the show, and which also assumes that a viewer will know who host Zane Lowe is, though a reasonably large chunk of the audience won't. Soon enough, app developers step into a pitch room with a very long escalator in the middle of it. As the four judges listen (often with looks of glacial boredom on their faces), the aspiring creators have one minute of escalator time to tout the product they want funding for. After the app makers get to the bottom of the conveyance, the judges (or "advisors") vote yea or nay. As long as one judge has given the developers a green light, they can continue making their pitch.
Operating Systems

Ubuntu Works With GNOME To Improve HiDPI Support On Linux Desktop (omgubuntu.co.uk) 85

An anonymous reader shares an article: Canonical is playing host to a 'fractional scaling hackfest' in its Taipei offices this week. Both GNOME developers and Ubuntu developers are in attendance, ready to wrestle with the aim: improve GNOME HiDPI support. Ubuntu's Unity desktop (I'm told, anyhow) plays fairly nice with high DPI monitors because the shell supports fractional scaling (though most apps, I believe, do not). Furthermore, users can tweak some high DPI settings to better suit their display(s). GNOME Shell also supports HiDPI monitors, but has, until now, been a little less flexible about it. "Currently, we only allow to scale windows by integral factors (typically 2). This proves somewhat limiting as there are many systems that are just in between the dpi ranges that are good for scale factor 2, or unscaled," the hackfest page explains.
Chrome

Google Releases Chrome 59 (venturebeat.com) 72

An anonymous reader writes: Google has launched Chrome 59 for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Among the additions are native notifications on macOS, settings being revamped to follow Material Design, the Image Capture API, Headless Chrome, and more service worker improvements. You can update to the latest version now using the browser's built-in silent updater or download it directly from google.com/chrome.
Businesses

Why Women Devs Are Hard To Recruit and Even Harder To Keep (windowsitpro.com) 608

An anonymous reader writes: The results of a recent survey conducted by GitHub sheds light on the issue of why women developers are hard to recruit and keep in the business of tech. Windows IT Pro reports: "The 2017 Open Source Survey 'collected responses from 5,500 randomly sampled respondents sourced from over 3,800 open source repositories on GitHub.com, and over 500 responses from a non-random sample of communities that work on other platforms.' Although the survey focused on open source and asked 50 questions on a wide range of topics that were in no way focused on gender issues alone, some of the data collected offers insight into why the developer industry as a whole has trouble recruiting and keeping female devs. Indeed, the severity of the gender gap in open source is substantial. In the survey, 95 percent of respondents were men, with the response rate from women at only 3 percent -- a degree of under-representation that's not seen elsewhere in this study. Other groups show numbers that are more proportionate to their numbers in the general population, with 'ethnic or national minorities' representing 16 percent of the respondents, immigrants at 26 percent, and 'lesbian, gay, bisexual, asexual, or another minority sexual orientation' at 7 percent. The problems that women in tech face are pretty much what you might expect. Twenty-five percent of the women surveyed report 'encountering language or content that makes them feel unwelcome,' compared with 15 percent of men. Women are six times more likely to encounter stereotyping than men (12 versus 2 percent), and twice as likely to be subjected to unsolicited sexual advances (6 vs 3 percent)."
Businesses

Apple Piles On the Features, and Users Say, 'Enough!' (nytimes.com) 191

In a few hours, Apple will kickstart its annual developer conference. At the event, the company is expected to announce new MacBook laptops, the next major updates for iOS and MacOS, new features of Siri, and a home-speaker. Ahead of the conference, The New York Times has run a story that talks some of the headline announcements that Apple announced last year: one of which was, the ability to order food, scribble doodles and send funny images known as stickers in chats on its Messages app. Speaking with users, engineers and industry insiders, the Times reports that many of its existing features -- including expansion of Messages -- are too complicated for many users to figure out (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled; alternative source). From the report: The idea was to make Messages, one of the most popular apps on the iPhone, into an all-purpose tool like China's WeChat. But the process of finding and installing other apps in Messages is so tricky that most users have no idea they can even do it, developers and analysts say.
Programming

Ask Slashdot: How Does Your Team Track And Manage Bugs In Your Software? 189

Slashdot reader jb373 is a senior software engineer whose team's bug-tracking methodology is making it hard to track bugs. My team uses agile software methodologies, specifically scrum with a Kanban board, and adds all bugs we find to our Kanban board. Our Kanban board is digital and similar to Trello in many regards and we have a single list for bugs... We end up with duplicates and now have a long list to try and scroll through... Has anyone run into a similar situation or do things differently that work well for their team?
The original submission ends with one idea -- "I'm thinking about pushing for a separate bug tracking system that we pull bugs from during refinement and create Kanban cards for." But is there a better way? Leave your own experiences in the comments. How does your team track and manage bugs in your software?
Programming

Jean Sammet, Co-Designer of COBOL, Dies at 89 (nytimes.com) 73

theodp writes: A NY Times obituary reports that early software engineer and co-designer of COBOL Jean Sammet died on May 20 in Maryland at age 89. "Sammet was a graduate student in math when she first encountered a computer in 1949 at the Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign," the Times reports. While Grace Hopper is often called the "mother of COBOL," Hopper "was not one of the six people, including Sammet, who designed the language -- a fact Sammet rarely failed to point out... 'I yield to no one in my admiration for Grace,' she said. 'But she was not the mother, creator or developer of COBOL.'"
By 1960 the Pentagon had announced it wouldn't buy computers unless they ran COBOL, inadvertently creating an industry standard. COBOL "really was very good at handling formatted data," Brian Kernighan, tells the Times, which reports that today "More than 200 billion lines of COBOL code are now in use and an estimated 2 billion lines are added or changed each year, according to IBM Research."

Sammet was entirely self-taught, and in an interview two months ago shared a story about how her supervisor in 1955 had asked if she wanted to become a computer programmer. "What's a programmer?" she asked. He replied, "I don't know, but I know we need one." Within five years she'd become the section head of MOBIDIC Programming at Sylvania Electric Products, and had helped design COBOL -- before moving on to IBM, where she worked for the next 27 years and created the FORTRAN-based computer algebra system FORMAC.

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