First time accepted submitter xkrebstarx writes "A buddy of mine recently applied to a large tech company. Before setting up a phone interview with him, the unnamed company issued a timed coding test to gauge his coding prowess. He was allotted 45 minutes to complete an undergraduate level coding assignment. I would like to ask the Slashdotters of the world if they find value in these speed-programming tests. Does coding quickly really indicate a better programmer? A better employee?"
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×
Dr Herbert West writes with news that General Motors and Ford have both used CES to announce a Software Development Kit for developers to create in-car apps. "Ford is focusing on three primary categories for apps: news and information, music and entertainment, and navigation and location. Marchwicki said the automaker will “instantly deny” apps that incorporate video, excessive text and gaming in a bid to reduce the risk of distracted driving. After developers have incorporated the Sync AppLink code into a proposed app, they submit it to Ford engineers for review. Ford will certify the app is bug-free and appropriate for automobiles. Once approved, Ford will work with the developer to provide a distribution license and get the app on the market." Similarly GM seeks infotainment apps that can be downloaded directly to the dashboard. "GM will provide developers with an SDK through an online portal that allows them to work with the automaker to design, test and deliver relevant automotive apps. GM also is including an HTML5 Java Script framework in its SDK."
eldavojohn writes "I kickstarted a project undertaken by Daniel Shiffman to write a book on what (at the time) seemed to be a very large knowledge space. What resulted is a good book (amazing by CC-BY-NC standards) available in both PDF and HTML versions. In addition to the book he maintains the source code for creating the book and of course the book examples. The Nature of Code starts off swimmingly but remains front heavy with a mere thirty five pages devoted to the final chapter on neural networks. This is an excellent book for Java and Processing developers that want to break into simulation and modeling of well, anything. It probably isn't a must-have title for very seasoned developers (unless you've never done simulation and modeling) but at zero cost why not?" Read below for the rest of eldavojohn's review.
Nerval's Lobster writes "A presidential campaign is many things to many people: a reason to hope in the future, a wellspring of jokes and debate fodder, an annoyance to tune out, a chance to participate in the civic process. But for a couple dozen software engineers and developers involved over the past two years in President Obama's re-election effort, a campaign was something entirely different: a billion-dollar tech startup with an eighteen-month lifespan and a mandate to ship code under extreme pressure. Speaking to a New York City audience, some of Obama for America's leading tech people—those involved in the all-important Dashboard and Narwhal projects, as well as fundraising and DevOps—characterized the experience as 'insane,' filled with unending problems and the knowledge that, at the end of the whole process, nearly everything they worked on would likely end up tossed away. This is the story of what happened, and how technologies on a massive scale can make or break campaigns."
waderoush writes "Adam Wiggins, co-founder of Heroku, agrees with anthropologist Bonnie Nardi that programming isn't just for geeks. The problem, he says, is that today's tools for teaching programming are woefully inadequate. In a commentary, Wiggins argues that there are two major gaps preventing programming tools from being accessible to beginners: 1) they're too fussy, requiring extensive setup, and 2) they're focused on the technology rather than everyday tasks. A good tool for learning programming, Wiggins argues, would emulate an Excel or Google Docs spreadsheet – beginners would be able to fire it up instantly, and would be able to get useful things done right away. (He's dismissive, though, of visual programming tools that 'attempt to hide logic behind a point-and-click interface.') 'Broad programming literacy is crucial in a world increasingly made of computers,' Wiggins says. 'Despite common stereotypes, programming is not out of reach for the average person,' as long as the tools are easy to set up and specialized on the programmer's task."
Matt Heusser, who makes a good living as an independent IT consultant. He says many other people who are currently pounding out code or performing other routine computer-oriented tasks can become independent, too. He's not selling a course or anything here, just passing on some advice to fellow Slashdot readers. He's written up some of this advice in a series of four articles: Getting People to Throw Money At You; How to become IT Talent; That Last Step to Become ‘Talent’ In IT; and The Schwan’s Solution. He also gave a speech last November titled Building your reputation through creative disobedience. (The link is to a 50 minute video of that speech.) Anyway, we figure quite a few Slashdot readers are at least as smart as Matt and may want to take some career steps similar to the ones he has taken. In today's video, he gives you some ideas about how to stop being an IT worker and how to become IT talent instead.
mikejuk writes "Every January it is traditional to compare the state of the languages as indicated by the TIOBE index. So what's up and what's down this year? There have been headlines that C# is the language of the year, but this is based on a new language index. What the TIOBE index shows is that Java is no longer number one as it has been beaten by C — yes C not C++ or even Objective C."
Press2ToContinue writes "I came across this page that asks the question, 'what are the unwritten rules of deleting code?' It made me realize that I have seen no references to generally-accepted best-practice documents regarding code modification, deletion, or rewrites. I would imagine Slashdot's have come across them if they exist. The answers may be somewhat language-dependent, but what best practices do Slashdot's use when they modify production code?"
New submitter tian2992 writes "The new terms for the Android SDK now include phrases such as 'you may not: (a) copy (except for backup purposes), modify, adapt, redistribute, decompile, reverse engineer, disassemble, or create derivative works of the SDK or any part of the SDK' among other non-Free-software-friendly terms, as noted by FSF Europe's Torsten Grote. Replicant, a free fork of Android, announced the release of Replicant SDK 4.0 based on the latest sources of the Android SDK without the new terms."
Bobfrankly1 writes "Robert Stuart and his company Extensions Software are being charged by New York authorities, claiming he is promoting gambling in New York because of the actions of his clients. They are charging him after he rejected a plea agreement that would have him plead guilty to lesser charges, adding backdoors to his software, and using said backdoors to gather details on his clients and their customers." Another article on the case at Salon.
llamafirst writes "As the year flipped to 2013, we learned that Adobe and Apple don't test for "forward date" bugs. Adobe prevented any copy of FrameMaker 10 from launching and Apple broke Do Not Disturb for the first week of 2013. Surely some more critical and safety systems also have lurking issues. Got tips for catching time/date bugs 'from the mysterious future?' (Also, obligatory link to Falsehoods programmers believe about time.)"
alphadogg writes "Results from the early application rounds at the nation's best technical colleges indicate that it will be another excruciatingly difficult year for high school seniors to get accepted into top-notch undergraduate computer science and engineering programs. Leading tech colleges reported a sharp rise in early applications, prompting them to be more selective in choosing prospective freshmen for the Class of 2017. Many colleges are reporting lower acceptance rates for their binding early decision and non-binding early action admissions programs than in previous years. Here's a roundup of stats from MIT, Stanford and others."
An anonymous reader writes "I have a coworker who, despite being very smart, and even very knowledgeable about software, writes the most horrible code imaginable. Entire programs are stuffed into single functions, artificially stretched thanks to relentless repetition; variable and class names so uninformative as to make grown men weep; basic language features ignored, when they could make everything shorter and more readable; and OOP abuse so sick and twisted that it may be considered a war crime. Of course, being a very smart person who has been programming since before I was born makes him fairly impervious to criticism, so even a simple 'Do you see how much better this function is when written this way?' is hopeless. How can I make him see the light, realize the truth, and be able to tell good code from bad?"
Trailrunner7 writes with the news as posted at Threatpost (based on this advisory) that "All of the current versions of the Ruby on Rails Web framework have a SQL injection vulnerability that could allow an attacker to inject code into Web applications. The vulnerability is a serious one given the widespread use of the popular framework for developing Web apps, and the maintainers of Ruby on Rails have released new versions that fix the flaw, versions 3.2.10, 3.1.9 and 3.0.18. The advisory recommends that users running affected versions, which is essentially anyone using Ruby on Rails, upgrade immediately to one of the fixed versions, 3.2.10, 3.1.9 or 3.0.18. The vulnerability lies specifically in the Ruby on Rails framework, and its presence doesn't mean that all of the apps developed on vulnerable versions are susceptible to the bug."