Government

Oracle And Cisco Both Support The FCC's Rollback Of Net Neutrality (thehill.com) 136

An anonymous reader quotes The Hill: Oracle voiced support on Friday for FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's controversial plan to roll back the agency's net neutrality rules. In a letter addressed to the FCC, the company played up its "perspective as a Silicon Valley technology company," hammering the debate over the rules as a "highly political hyperbolic battle," that is "removed from technical, economic, and consumer reality"... Oracle wrote in their letter [PDF] that they believe Pai's plan to remove broadband providers from the FCC's regulatory jurisdiction "will eliminate unnecessary burdens on, and competitive imbalances for, ISPs [internet service providers] while enhancing the consumer experience and driving investment"... Other companies in support of Pai's plan, like AT&T and Verizon, have made the argument that the rules stifled investment in the telecommunications sector, specifically in broadband infrastructure.
Cisco has also argued that strict net neutrality laws on ISPs "restrict their ability to use innovative network management technology, provide appropriate levels of quality of service, and deliver new features and services to meet evolving consumer needs. Cisco believes that allowing the development of differentiated broadband products, with different service and content offerings, will enhance the broadband market for consumers."
Education

Should The Government Pay For Veterans To Attend Code Schools? (backchannel.com) 168

mirandakatz writes: David Molina was finishing up his 12-year time in the army when he started teaching himself to code, and started to think that he might like to pursue it professionally once his service was done. But with a wife and family, he couldn't dedicate the four years he'd need to get an undergraduate degree in computer science -- and the GI Bill, he learned, won't cover accelerated programs like code schools. So he started an organization dedicated to changing that. Operation Code is lobbying politicians to allow vets to attend code schools through the GI Bill and prepare themselves for the sorts of stable, middle-class jobs that have come to be called "blue-collar coding." Molina sees it as a serious failing that the GI Bill will cover myriad vocational programs, but not those that can prepare veterans for one of the fastest-growing industries in existence.
The issue seems to be quality. The group estimates there are already nine code schools in the U.S. which do accept GI Bill benefits -- but only "longer-standing ones that have made it through State Approving Agencies." Meanwhile, Course Report calculates 18,000 people finished coding bootcamps last year -- and that two thirds of them found a job within three months.

But I just liked how Molina described his introduction into the world of programmers. While stationed at Dover Air Force Base, he attended Baltimore's long-standing Meetup for Ruby on Rails, where "People taught me about open source. There was pizza, there was beer. They made me feel like I was at home."
Java

Red Hat And IBM Will Vote Against Java's Next Release (infoworld.com) 57

An anonymous reader quotes InfoWorld: The next edition of standard Java had been proceeding toward its planned July 27 release after earlier bumps in the road over modularity. But now Red Hat and IBM have opposed the module plan. "JDK 9 might be held up by this," Oracle's Georges Saab, vice president of development for the Java platform, said late Wednesday afternoon. "As is the case for all major Java SE releases, feedback from the Java Community Process may affect the timeline..."

Red Hat's Scott Stark, vice president of architecture for the company's JBoss group, expressed a number of concerns about how applications would work with the module system and its potential impact on the planned Java Enterprise Edition 9. Stark also said the module system, which is featured in Java Specification Request 376 and Project Jigsaw, could result in two worlds of Java: one for Jigsaw and one for everything else, including Java SE classloaders and OSGI. Stark's analysis received input from others in the Java community, including Sonatype.

"The result will be a weakened Java ecosystem at a time when rapid change is occurring in the server space with increasing use of languages like Go," Stark wrote, also predicting major challenges for applications dealing with services and reflection. His critique adds that "In some cases the implementation...contradicts years of modular application deployment best practices that are already commonly employed by the ecosystem as a whole." And he ultimately concludes that this effort to modularize Java has limitations which "almost certainly prevent the possibility of Java EE 9 from being based on Jigsaw, as to do so would require existing Java EE vendors to completely throw out compatibility, interoperability, and feature parity with past versions of the Java EE specification."
Oracle

In Oracle's Cloud Pitch To Enterprises, an Echo of a Bygone Tech Era (siliconangle.com) 55

An anonymous reader writes: Oracle sought to position itself once again this week as the best place for everything companies need to move to cloud computing. On Thursday, executives at the database and business software giant distanced Oracle from public cloud leaders such as Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure that provide computing, storage and other services to corporations looking to reduce or eliminate their data centers. "Our cloud is more comprehensive than any other cloud in the market today, a full end-to-end cloud," said David Donatelli, Oracle's executive vice president of converged infrastructure. "We design from the chip all the way up to the application, fully vertically integrated." What's interesting about that messaging, which Oracle has been refining since at least its OpenWorld conference last September, is not simply the competitive positioning. Oracle is essentially saying that the nature of cloud computing suggests customers need to move away from the notion that has dominated information technology since personal computers and PC-based servers began to displace mainframes and minicomputers: cherry-picking the best applications and hardware and cobbling together their own IT setups. In short, Oracle contends, it's time for another broad swing back to the integrated, uber-suppliers of a bygone era of technology. Of course, the new tech titans such as Google, Facebook and Amazon arguably wield as much power in their particular domains of advertising and e-commerce as the Big Blue of old. But it has been a long time since a soup-to-nuts approach has worked for enterprise tech companies, and for those few still attempting it, such as Dell and Oracle, it's far from obvious it will work. The cloud, Oracle contends, may well change that.
Education

How Scratch Is Feeding Hacker Values into Young Minds (backchannel.com) 48

Reader mirandakatz writes: It's the 10th anniversary of Scratch, the kids programming language that's become a popular tool for training the next generation of minds in computer science. But as Steven Levy writes at Backchannel, Scratch's real value is how it imparts lessons in sharing, logic, and hackerism: 'A product of the MIT Media Lab, Scratch is steeped in a complicated set of traditions -- everything from educational philosophy to open source activism and the pursuit of artificial life. The underpinnings of this tool subtly, and sometimes not so subtly, convey a set of values through its use... These values include reverence of logic, an unshakeable belief in the power of collaboration, and a celebration of the psychic and tangible rewards of being a maker.'
NASA

NASA Runs Competition To Help Make Old Fortran Code Faster (bbc.com) 205

NASA is seeking help from coders to speed up the software it uses to design experimental aircraft. From a report on BBC: It is running a competition that will share $55,000 between the top two people who can make its FUN3D software run up to 10,000 times faster. The FUN3D code is used to model how air flows around simulated aircraft in a supercomputer. The software was developed in the 1980s and is written in an older computer programming language called Fortran. "This is the ultimate 'geek' dream assignment," said Doug Rohn, head of NASA's transformative aeronautics concepts program that makes heavy use of the FUN3D code. In a statement, Mr Rohn said the software is used on the agency's Pleiades supercomputer to test early designs of futuristic aircraft. The software suite tests them using computational fluid dynamics, which make heavy use of complicated mathematical formulae and data structures to see how well the designs work.
China

China Makes Quantum Leap In Developing Quantum Computer (scmp.com) 70

hackingbear writes: Researchers at the University of Science and Technology of China created a quantum device, called a boson sampling machine, that can now carry out calculations for five photons, but at a speed 24,000 times faster than previous experiments. Pan Jianwei, the lead scientist on the project, said that though their device was already (only) 10 to 11 times faster at carrying out the calculations than the first electronic digital computer, ENIAC, and the first transistor computer, TRADIC, in running the classical algorithm, their machine would eclipse all of the world's supercomputers in a few years. "Our architecture is feasible to be scaled up to a larger number of photons and with a higher rate to race against increasingly advanced classical computers," they said in the research paper published in Nature Photonics. This device is said to be the first quantum computer beating a real electronic classical computer in practice. Scientists estimate that the current faster supercomputers would struggle to estimate the behavior of 20 photons.
Facebook

Facebook Rejects Female Engineers' Code More Often Than Male Counterparts, Analysis Finds (theverge.com) 450

According to The Wall Street Journal, female engineers who work at Facebook may face gender bias that prevents their code from being accepted at the same rate as male counterparts. "For Facebook, these revelations call into question the company's ongoing diversity efforts and its goal to build overarching online systems for people around the globe," reports The Verge. "The company's workforce is just 33 percent female, with women holding just 17 percent of technical roles and 27 percent of leadership positions." From the report: The findings come in two parts. An initial study by a former employee found that code written by female engineers was less likely to make it through Facebook's internal peer review system. This seemed to suggest that a female engineer's work was more heavily scrutinized. Facebook, alarmed by this data, commissioned a second study by Jay Parikh, its head of infrastructure, to investigate any potential issues. Parikh's findings suggested that the code rejections were due to engineering rank, not gender. However, Facebook employees now speculate that Parikh's findings mean female engineers might not be rising in the ranks as fast as male counterparts who joined the company at the same time, or perhaps that female engineers are leaving the company more often before being promoted. Either possibility could result in the 35 percent higher code rejection rate for female engineers. When contacted by The Wall Street Journal, Facebook called the initial study "incomplete and inaccurate" and based on "incomplete data," but did not shy away from confirming Parikh's separate findings.
Programming

Power of Modern Programming Languages is That They Are Expressive, Readable, Concise, Precise, and Executable (scientificamerican.com) 268

An anonymous reader shares a Scientific American article: Programming has changed. In first generation languages like FORTRAN and C, the burden was on programmers to translate high-level concepts into code. With modern programming languages -- I'll use Python as an example -- we use functions, objects, modules, and libraries to extend the language, and that doesn't just make programs better, it changes what programming is. Programming used to be about translation: expressing ideas in natural language, working with them in math notation, then writing flowcharts and pseudocode, and finally writing a program. Translation was necessary because each language offers different capabilities. Natural language is expressive and readable, pseudocode is more precise, math notation is concise, and code is executable. But the price of translation is that we are limited to the subset of ideas we can express effectively in each language. Some ideas that are easy to express computationally are awkward to write in math notation, and the symbolic manipulations we do in math are impossible in most programming languages. The power of modern programming languages is that they are expressive, readable, concise, precise, and executable. That means we can eliminate middleman languages and use one language to explore, learn, teach, and think.
Programming

Developer Hacks Together Object-Oriented HTML (github.com) 184

An anonymous reader writes: Ever since I started coding, I have always loved object-oriented design patterns. I built an HTML preprocessor that adds inheritance, polymorphism, and public methods to this venerable language. It offers more freedom than a templating engine and has a wider variety of use cases. Pull requests appreciated!
Data Storage

Developer Shares A Recoverable Container Format That's File System Agnostic (github.com) 133

Long-time Slashdot reader MarcoPon writes: I created a thing: SeqBox. It's an archive/container format (and corresponding suite of tools) with some interesting and unique features. Basically an SBX file is composed of a series of sector-sized blocks with a small header with a recognizable signature, integrity check, info about the file they belong to, and a sequence number. The results of this encoding is the ability to recover an SBX container even if the file system is corrupted, completely lost or just unknown, no matter how much the file is fragmented.
Businesses

Should Banks Let Ancient Programming Language COBOL Die? (thenextweb.com) 383

COBOL is a programming language invented by Hopper from 1959 to 1961, and while it is several decades old, it's still largely used by the financial sector, major corporations and part of the federal government. Mar Masson Maack from The Next Web interviews Daniel Doderlein, CEO of Auka, who explains why banks don't have to actively kill COBOL and how they can modernize and "minimize the new platforms' connections to the old systems so that COBOL can be switched out in a safe and cheap manner." From the report: According to [Doderlein], COBOL-based systems still function properly but they're faced with a more human problem: "This extremely critical part of the economic infrastructure of the planet is run on a very old piece of technology -- which in itself is fine -- if it weren't for the fact that the people servicing that technology are a dying race." And Doderlein literally means dying. Despite the fact that three trillion dollars run through COBOL systems every single day they are mostly maintained by retired programming veterans. There are almost no new COBOL programmers available so as retirees start passing away, then so does the maintenance for software written in the ancient programming language. Doderlein says that banks have three options when it comes to deciding how to deal with this emerging crisis. First off, they can simply ignore the problem and hope for the best. Software written in COBOL is still good for some functions, but ignoring the problem won't fix how impractical it is for making new consumer-centric products. Option number two is replacing everything, creating completely new core banking platforms written in more recent programming languages. The downside is that it can cost hundreds of millions and it's highly risky changing the entire system all at once. The third option, however, is the cheapest and probably easiest. Instead of trying to completely revamp the entire system, Doderlein suggests that banks take a closer look at the current consumer problems. Basically, Doderlein suggests making light-weight add-ons in more current programming languages that only rely on COBOL for the core feature of the old systems.
Nintendo

Early Nintendo Programmer Worked Without a Keyboard (arstechnica.com) 111

Much like IT guys, every programmer has a horror story about the extreme work environments that forced them to hack together things. But as ArsTechnica points out, not many of them can beat the keyboard-free coding environment that Masahiro Sakurai apparently used to create the first Kirby's Dream Land. From the story: The tidbit comes from a talk Sakurai gave ahead of a Japanese orchestral performance celebrating the 25th anniversary of the original Game Boy release of Kirby's Dream Land in 1992. Sakurai recalled how HAL Laboratory was using a Twin Famicom as a development kit at the time. Trying to program on the hardware, which combined a cartridge-based Famicom and the disk-based Famicom Disk System, was "like using a lunchbox to make lunch," Sakurai said. As if the limited power wasn't bad enough, Sakurai revealed that the Twin Famicom testbed they were using "didn't even have keyboard support, meaning values had to be input using a trackball and an on-screen keyboard."
Databases

Five Years Later, Legal Megaupload Data Is Still Trapped On Dead Servers (arstechnica.com) 82

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: It's been more than five years since the government accused Megaupload and its founder Kim Dotcom of criminal copyright infringement. While Dotcom himself was arrested in New Zealand, U.S. government agents executed search warrants and grabbed a group of more than 1,000 servers owned by Carpathia Hosting. That meant that a lot of users with gigabytes of perfectly legal content lost access to it. Two months after the Dotcom raid and arrest, the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a motion in court asking to get back data belonging to one of those users, Kyle Goodwin, whom the EFF took on as a client. Years have passed. The U.S. criminal prosecution of Dotcom and other Megaupload executives is on hold while New Zealand continues with years of extradition hearings. Meanwhile, Carpathia's servers were powered down and are kept in storage by QTS Realty Trust, which acquired Carpathia in 2015. Now the EFF has taken the extraordinary step of asking an appeals court to step in and effectively force the hand of the district court judge. Yesterday, Goodwin's lawyers filed a petition for a writ of mandamus (PDF) with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, which oversees Virginia federal courts. "We've been asking the court for help since 2012," said EFF attorney Mitch Stolz in a statement about the petition. "It's deeply unfair for him to still be in limbo after all this time."
Java

Ask Slashdot: Do You Like Functional Programming? (slashdot.org) 418

An anonymous reader writes: Functional programming seems to be all the rage these days. Efforts are being made to highlight its use in Java, JavaScript, C# and elsewhere. Lots of claims are being made about it's virtues that seem relatively easy to prove or disprove such as "Its use will reduce your debugging time." Or "It will clarify your code." My co-workers are resorting to arm-wrestling matches over this style choice. Half of my co-workers have drunk the Kool-Aid and are evangelizing its benefits. The other half are unconvinced of its virtues over Object Oriented Design patterns, etc.

What is your take on functional programming and related technologies (i.e. lambdas and streams)? Is it our salvation? Is it merely another useful design pattern? Or is it a technological dead-end?

Python creator Guido van Rossum has said most programmers aren't used to functional languages, and when he answered Slashdot reader questions in 2013 said the only functional language he knew much about was Haskell, and "any language less popular than Haskell surely has very little practical value." He even added "I also don't think that the current crop of functional languages is ready for mainstream."

Leave your own opinions in the comments. Do you like functional programming?

Slashdot Top Deals