An anonymous reader writes "So, it's that wonderful time of year again. Instead of buying the latest, greatest whiz-bang, overpriced fad toy of the year, I thought I might try my hand at corrupting my nieces (ages 12 and 14) in a nerdier direction with some sort of introductory robotics kit. They have no programming experience, and part of my idea is that it would be encouraging for them to see interactions of their code that they write with the real-world by being able to control some actuators and read sensors. The first thing that comes to mind is Lego Mindstorms, but I find them a bit on the pricey side of things. My budget falls between $40 and $100, and the ideal kit would focus more on the software side than on soldering together circuits. I'd be looking for a kit that provides an easy to learn API and development tools that will work with a standard Windows PC. I don't mind spending a few afternoons helping them out with the basics, but I'd like for them to be able to be able to explore on their own after grasping the initial concepts. Has anybody gotten their younger relations into programming through robotics, and what kits might you recommend?"
DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! ×
New submitter an_orphan writes "Apparently, Oracle's 'Operating System Distributor License for Java' is expired, causing Ubuntu to not only remove sun-java from the partner repository, but from user's machines."
itwbennett writes "Use of the GPL, LGPL, and AGPL set of licenses is declining at an accelerating rate, according to new analysis by the 451 Group's Matthew Aslett. In fact, the 451 Group projects that GPL usage will hit 50% by September 2012. Instead, developers are licensing projects under permissive licenses such as the MIT, Apache (ASL), BSD, and Ms-PL. The shift started in 2007 and has been gathering momentum ever since. Blogger Brian Proffitt posits that 'the creation of the GPLv3 and the sometimes contentious discussion that led up to it' may be partly responsible for the move away from the GPL."
An anonymous reader writes "Google Chariman Eric Schmidt recently addressed an Android user lamenting the fact that that mobile apps are often released on Apple's iOS platform well before they finally reach Android. Schmidt cooly and curiously explained that this dynamic will change in just 6 months. Here's why he's wrong. Though Google brags about the total number of Android users, developers care about certain kinds of users (those that pay for apps). A similar dynamic can be found in television advertising, where advertisers will more money for ad spots on less popular shows in order to reach desirable demographics, even though other programs may have many millions of more viewers."
jrepin duly notes the release of Qt 4.8.0, and extracts from the announcement some of the key changes for developers: "Qt Platform Abstraction (QPA) restructures the GUI stack to enable easier porting of Qt to different windowing systems and devices. Threaded OpenGL enables us to render OpenGL from more than one thread concurrently. HTTP requests are now handled in a separate thread by default. The file system stack received some heavy lifting under the hood. The result is better I/O performance."
angry tapir writes "Montclair State University is suing Oracle in connection with a troubled ERP (enterprise resource planning) project. Montclair's complaint, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, states that Oracle made an array of 'intentionally false statements' regarding the functionality of its base ERP system, the amount of customization that would be required, and the amount of 'time, resources, and personnel that the University would have to devote.' 'Ultimately, after missing a critical go-live deadline for the University's finance system, Oracle sought to extort millions of dollars from the University by advising the University that it would not complete the implementation of the ... project unless the University agreed to pay millions of dollars more than the fixed fee the University and Oracle had previously agreed to,' it adds."
An anonymous reader writes "Firefox has gotten so large that it cannot be compiled with PGO on a 32-bit linker anymore, due to the virtual memory limitation of 3 GB. This problem had happened last year with 2 GB, which was worked around by adding a/3GB switch to the Windows build servers. Now the problem is back, and things aren't quite that simple anymore." This only affects the inbound branch, but from the looks of it new code is no longer being accepted until they can trim things from the build to make it work again. The long term solution is to build the 32-bit binaries on a 64-bit system.
An anonymous reader writes "NVIDIA has announced they have 'open-sourced' their new CUDA compiler so that their GPGPU platform can be brought to new architectures. NVIDIA's CUDA compiler is based upon LLVM. At the moment though they seem to be restricting the source code's access to 'qualified' individuals.' The official press release implies wider access to the source will happen later. It so happens that a few days ago AMD opened their OpenCL backend and added initial support to the Free Software r600 driver.
DemonGenius writes "I'm in the midst of a major rollout of one of our primary internal applications at work and we have a beta version available for all the staff to use. The problem here is most of the staff don't know how to send reports meaningful enough to get us devs started on solving their problems without constant back and forth correspondence that wastes both developer time and theirs. Some common examples are: screenshots of the YSOD that don't include the page URL, scaled screenshots that are unreadable, the complaint that wants to be a bug report but is still just a complaint, etc. From the user's perspective, they just send an email, but that email registers in our tracking system. Any thoughts on how to get the non-devs sending us descriptive and/or meaningful reports? Does anyone here have an efficient and user-friendly bug tracking system/policy/standard at their workplace? How does it work?"
angry tapir writes, quoting a Techworld article: "In its continuing endeavor to serve its 800 million users as quickly as possible, Facebook is once again revamping the way it handles its PHP-based Web pages. Facebook has posted ... its HipHop Virtual Machine (HHVM), which the company's engineers call a just-in-time PHP compiler. According to Facebook, this PHP execution engine is 60 percent faster than its current PHP interpreter and uses 90 percent less memory." Facebook has a weblog post with a more technical description.
chrb writes "U.S. company Aerospace Corp. has paid $2.5 million to settle a case that they defrauded the U.S. Air Force by knowingly billing for the services of a rogue software developer. The rogue developer, William Grayson Hunter, was being paid for two full time jobs at two different aerospace companies, but spent most of his time in bars, amusement parks and movie theaters. On some days, he billed his employers for over 24 hours' work."
Multiple readers sent word that Bastion, an action RPG from indie developer Supergiant Games originally made for Xbox Live Arcade, has shown up in the Chrome Web Store. The purpose of the move is to showcase the browser's Native Client technology. From the article: "Ian Ellison-Taylor, Google's director of product management for the open Web platform, said that Native Client, also called NaCl, can currently improve browser performance by 1 to 10 times. 'What would it be like if we could run native code inside the browser,' he asked the crowd, and he enumerated two goals for the Native Client project. He said Google wants to bring native applications to the Web for performance and security reasons, and it wants to enrich the Web ecosystem by bringing popular, long-in-use programming languages to the Web."
New submitter CaptSlaq sends word that Silverlight 5 has been released. Microsoft has not revealed whether it will be the last version. "New features in Silverlight 5 include Hardware Decode of H.264 media, which provides a significant performance improvement with decoding of unprotected content using the GPU; Postscript Vector Printing to improve output quality and file size; and an improved graphics stack with 3D support that uses the XNA API on the Windows platform to gain low-level access to the GPU for drawing vertex shaders and low-level 3D primitives. In addition, Silverlight 5 extends the ‘Trusted Application’ model to the browser for the first time. These features, when enabled via a group policy registry key and an application certificate, mean users won’t need to leave the browser to perform complex tasks such as multiple window support, full trust support in browser including COM and file system access, in browser HTML hosting within Silverlight, and P/Invoke support for existing native code to be run directly from Silverlight."
snydeq writes "Fatal Exception's Neil McAllister writes in favor of new programming languages, given the difficulty of upgrading existing, popular languages. 'Whenever a new programming language is announced, a certain segment of the developer population always rolls its eyes and groans that we have quite enough to choose from already,' McAllister writes. 'But once a language reaches a certain tipping point of popularity, overhauling it to include support for new features, paradigms, and patterns is easier said than done.' PHP 6, Perl 6, Python 3, ECMAScript 4 — 'the lesson from all of these examples is clear: Programming languages move slowly, and the more popular a language is, the slower it moves. It is far, far easier to create a new language from whole cloth than it is to convince the existing user base of a popular language to accept radical changes.'"
dcblogs writes "An analysis of 745 applications for violations of good architectural and coding practices found that Java applications had the most problems and Cobol-built systems, the least. Some 365 million lines of code were analyzed by Cast Software to assess 'technical debt,' or the cost to fix the violations. Java was calculated at $5.42 per line of code, while Cobol did best at $1.26. Cobol code had the least number of violations because programmers 'have been beating on it for 30 years,' said Cast. As far as Java goes, 'there are many people going into Java now that really don't have strong computer science backgrounds,' said its chief scientist, Bill Curtis."
New submitter dd1968 writes "Today IBM announced the release of a new set of Open Source development tools based on their EGL programming language. The announcement describes the tools as being built from the ground up on an 'open, extensible compiler and generator framework.' The one-language approach places an abstraction layer between the developer and target languages, frameworks, and runtime platforms."
First time accepted submitter clava writes "We have a desktop Java testing application that is going to be administering tests to students on lab computers running Ubuntu 10.x. These computers are used by the students for other purposes and we're not allowed to create special users or change the OS configuration. When the testing app is launched, we need to restrict users from exiting the app so they can't do things like search the internet for answers or use other applications. Is there a good way to put an Ubuntu machine in kiosk mode or something via our application and have exiting kiosk mode be password protected? Any ideas are appreciated."
Orome1 writes with a summary of a large survey of web applications by Veracode. From the article: "Considered 'low hanging fruit' because of their prevalence in software applications, XSS and SQL Injection are two of the most frequently exploited vulnerabilities, often providing a gateway to customer data and intellectual property. When applying the new analysis criteria, Veracode reports eight out of 10 applications fail to meet acceptable levels of security, marking a significant decline from past reports. Specifically for web applications, the report showed a high concentration of XSS and SQL Injection vulnerabilities, with XSS present in 68 percent of all web applications and SQL Injection present in 32 percent of all web applications."
New submitter Geist3 writes "Forbes has an article by Venkatesh Rao asserting that the safest investment for both corporations and individuals is in software developers. Throwing money at talented coders now — even on random projects — will build relationships that are likely to pay off big in the future. 'In what follows, I am deliberately going to talk about the developers like they are products in a meat market. For practical purposes, they are, since the vast majority of them haven't found a way to use their own scarcity to their advantage.'"
First time accepted submitter bushx writes "A little over a month ago, I assumed the position of programmer and sole IT personnel at a thriving e-commerce company. All the documentation I have is of my own creation, as I've spent most of my time reverse-engineering the systems in place just so I can understand how everything works together. Since I've started, I've done everything from network and phone upgrades to database maintenance with Perl, and thus far it's been immensely rewarding. But as I dig deeper, I notice the alarming number of band-aids applied by my predecessor, and it seems like the entire company's infrastructure is just a few problems away from a total meltdown. The big question now is, how do I, as a single person, effectively audit the network, servers, databases, backups, and formulate a long-term plan that can be implemented by one person? Is it possible? Where do I begin?"