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  • Ask Slashdot: Is an Open Source .NET Up To the Job?

    Rob Y. writes: The discussion on Slashdot about Microsoft's move to open source .NET core has centered on:

    1. whether this means Microsoft is no longer the enemy of the open source movement
    2. if not, then does it mean Microsoft has so lost in the web server arena that it's resorting to desperate moves.
    3. or nah — it's standard Microsoft operating procedure. Embrace, extend, extinguish.

    What I'd like to ask is whether anybody that's not currently a .NET fan actually wants to use it? Open source or not. What is the competition? Java? PHP? Ruby? Node.js? All of the above? Anything but Microsoft? Because as an OSS advocate, I see only one serious reason to even consider using it — standardization. Any of those competing platforms could be as good or better, but the problem is: how to get a job in this industry when there are so many massively complex platforms out there. I'm still coding in C, and at 62, will probably live out my working days doing that. But I can still remember when learning a new programming language was no big deal. Even C required learning a fairly large library to make it useful, but it's nothing compared to what's out there today. And worse, jobs (and technologies) don't last like they used to. Odds are, in a few years, you'll be starting over in yet another job where they use something else.

    Employers love standardization. Choosing a standard means you can't be blamed for your choice. Choosing a standard means you can recruit young, cheap developers and actually get some output from them before they move on. Or you can outsource with some hope of success (because that's what outsourcing firms do — recruit young, cheap devs and rotate them around). To me, those are red flags — not pluses at all. But they're undeniable pluses to greedy employers. Of course, there's much more to being an effective developer than knowing the platform so you can be easily slotted in to a project. But try telling that to the private equity guys running too much of the show these days.

    So, assuming Microsoft is sincere about this open source move,
    1. Is .NET up to the job?
    2. Is there an open source choice today that's popular enough to be considered the standard that employers would like?
    3. If the answer to 1 is yes and 2 is no, make the argument for avoiding .NET.

    325 comments | yesterday

  • Ask Slashdot: Resources For Kids Who Want To Make Games?

    Mr. Jones writes: My 11-year-old son is fascinated by games — game mechanics in particular. He has been playing everything from Magic to WarFrame since he was 5 years old. He seems mostly interested in creating the lore and associated mechanics of the games (i.e. how a game works). If it was only programming I could help him, but I am lost when it comes to helping him learn more formal ways of developing and defining gameplay. I really see a talent for this in him and I want to support it any way I can. Can you suggest any conferences, programs, books, websites, etc. that would help him learn?

    118 comments | 2 days ago

  • Hackers' Shutdown of 'The Interview' Confirms Coding Is a Superpower

    theodp writes: The idea of programming as a superpower was touched upon by CS teacher Alfred Thompson back in 2010, but it became a rallying call of sorts for the Hour of Code after Dropbox CEO Drew Houston described coding as "the closest thing we have to a superpower" in a Code.org video that went viral. And if the kids who learned to code with the President last week were dubious about the power of coding, this week's decision by Sony to scrap the release of the satirical film The Interview after a massive hack attack should put aside any doubts, especially after new revelations that Sony had reached out to the White House for help and screened the film for administration officials back in June. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Thursday that the Obama Administration is viewing the Sony attack as a "serious national security matter" and is considering a range of possible options as a response, which could turn things into a contest of U.S. Superpower vs. Coding Superpower. In case it wasn't mentioned last week, remember to always use your coding superpower for good, kids!

    220 comments | 2 days ago

  • Book Review: Build Your Own Website: A Comic Guide to HTML, CSS, and WordPress

    MassDosage writes "At the the risk of exposing my age I remember building my first website using a rudimentary Unix text editor (Joe) and carefully handcrafting the Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) while directly logged on to the web server it was being served from. Back then Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) weren't even a glint in the eyes of their creators. A lot has changed and there's now a world of fancy WYSIWYG web page editors to choose from as well as Content Management Systems that allow you to create websites without looking at the underlying code at all. While this is all very useful and allows less technical people to create websites I still feel that having at least some knowledge of how everything works under the hood is empowering — especially in situations where you want to go beyond the limits placed on you by a certain tool. This is where Build Your Own Website: A comic guide to HTML, CSS and Wordpress comes into the picture. Its aim is to enable people new to web development to learn the subject by teaching the fundamentals of HTML and CSS first and only then describing how to use a Content Management System (CMS) — in this case Wordpress. While Wordpress might not be everyone's kettle of fish it's a good choice as an example of a modern CMS that is easily accessible and very popular. The concepts presented are simple enough that it should be easy enough for a reader to apply them to a different CMS should they want to. Read below for The rest of MassDosage's review.

    31 comments | 4 days ago

  • Dr. Dobb's 38-Year Run Comes To an End

    An anonymous reader writes: Dr. Dobb's — long time icon of programming magazines — "sunsets" at the end of the year. Editor Andrew Binstock says despite growing traffic numbers, the decline in revenue from ads means there will be no new content posted after 2014 ends. (The site will stay up for at least a year, hopefully longer.) Younger people may not care, but for the hard core old guys, it marks the end of a world where broad knowledge of computers and being willing to create solutions instead of reuse them was valuable. Binstock might disagree; he said, "As our page views show, the need for an independent site with in-depth articles, code, algorithms, and reliable product reviews is still very much present. And I will dearly miss that content. I wish I could point you to another site that does similar work, but alas, I know of none."

    156 comments | 5 days ago

  • Ask Slashdot: How Should a Liberal Arts Major Get Into STEM?

    An anonymous reader writes: I graduated with a degree in the liberal arts (English) in 2010 after having transferred from a Microbiology program (not for lack of ability, but for an enlightening class wherein we read Portrait of the Artist). Now, a couple years on, I'm 25, and though I very much appreciate my education for having taught me a great deal about abstraction, critical thinking, research, communication, and cheesily enough, humanity, I realize that I should have stuck with the STEM field. I've found that the jobs available to me are not exactly up my alley, and that I can better impact the world, and make myself happier, doing something STEM-related (preferably within the space industry — so not really something that's easy to just jump into). With a decent amount of student debt already amassed, how can I best break into the STEM world? I'm already taking online courses where I can, and enjoy doing entry-level programming, maths, etc.

    Should I continue picking things up where and when I can? Would it be wiser for me to go deeper into debt and get a second undergrad degree? Or should I try to go into grad school after doing some of my own studying up? Would the military be a better choice? Would it behoove me to just start trying to find STEM jobs and learn on the go (I know many times experience speaks louder to employers than a college degree might)? Or perhaps I should find a non-STEM job with a company that would allow me to transfer into that company's STEM work? I'd be particularly interested in hearing from people who have been in my position and from employers who have experience with employees who were in my position, but any insight would be welcome.

    279 comments | 5 days ago

  • Godot Engine Reaches 1.0, First Stable Release

    goruka writes "Godot, the most advanced open source (MIT licensed) game engine, which was open-sourced back in February, has reached 1.0 (stable). It sports an impressive number of features, and it's the only game engine with visual tools (code editor, scripting, debugger, 3D engine, 2D engine, physics, multi-platform deploy, etc) on a scale comparable to commercial offerings. As a plus, the user interface runs natively on Linux. Godot has amassed a healthy user community (through forums, Facebook and IRC) since it went public, and was used to publish commercial games in the Latin American and European markets such as Ultimo Carnaval with publisher Square Enix, and The Mystery Team by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe.

    54 comments | 5 days ago

  • Sony Pictures Leak Reveals Quashed Plan To Upload Phony Torrents

    retroworks writes Motherboard.vice offers an interesting scoop from the hacked Sony Pictures email trove. A plan championed by Polish marketing employee Magda Mastalerz was to upload false versions of highly-pirated Sony programming, effectively polluting torrent sites with false positives. For example, a "Hannibal"-themed anti-piracy ad to popular torrent sites disguised as the first episode. Sony Pictures legal department quashed the idea, saying that if pirate sites were illegal, it would also be illegal for Sony Pictures to upload onto them. There were plans in WW2 to drop phony counterfeit currency to disrupt markets, and I wonder why flooding underground markets with phony products isn't widespread. Why don't credit card companies manufacture fake lists of stolen credit card numbers, or phony social security numbers, for illegal trading sites? For that matter, would fake ivory, fake illegal porn, and other "false positives" discourage buyers? Or create alibis?

    130 comments | about a week ago

  • Google Suggests Separating Students With 'Some CS Knowledge' From Novices

    theodp writes To address the challenge of rapidly increasing CS enrollments and increasing diversity, reports the Computing Education Blog, Google in November put out an RFP to universities for its invite-only 3X in 3 Years: CS Capacity Award program, which aims "to support faculty in finding innovative ways to address the capacity problem in their CS courses." In the linked-to RFP document, Google suggests that "students that have some CS background" should not be allowed to attend in-person intro CS courses where they "may be more likely to create a non-welcoming environment," and recommends that they instead be relegated to online courses. According to a recent NSF press release, this recommendation would largely exclude Asian and White boys from classrooms, which seems to be consistent with a Google-CodeCademy award program that offers $1,000 bonuses to teachers who get 10 or more high school kids to take a JavaScript course, but only counts students from "groups traditionally underrepresented in computer science (girls, or boys who identify as African American, Latino, American Indian or Alaska Native)." The project suggested in the Google RFP — which could be worth $1.5 million over 3 years to a large CS department — seems to embrace-and-extend a practice implemented at Harvey Mudd College years ago under President Maria Klawe, which divided the intro CS offering into separate sections based upon prior programming experience to — as the NY Times put it — reduce the intimidation factor of young men, already seasoned programmers, who dominated the class. Google Director of Education and University Relations Maggie Johnson, whose name appears on the CS Capacity RFP, is also on the Board of Code.org (where Klawe is coincidentally an Advisory Board member), the K-12 learn-to-code nonprofit that has received $3+ million from Google and many millions more from other tech giants and their execs. Earlier this week, Code.org received the blessing of the White House and NSF to train 25,000 teachers to teach CS, stirring unease among some educators concerned about the growing influence of corporations in public schools.

    307 comments | about a week ago

  • Kawa 2.0 Supports Scheme R7RS

    First time accepted submitter Per Bothner (19354) writes "Kawa is a general-purpose Scheme-based programming language that runs on the Java platform. It combines the strengths of dynamic scripting languages (less boiler-plate, fast and easy start-up, a REPL, no required compilation step) with the strengths of traditional compiled languages (fast execution, static error detection, modularity, zero-overhead Java platform integration).

    Version 2.0 was just released with many new features. Most notably is (almost) complete support for the latest Scheme specification, R7RS, which was ratified in late 2013. This LWN article contains a brief introduction to Kawa and why it is worth a look."

    62 comments | about a week ago

  • Google Earth API Will Be Retired On December 12, 2015

    An anonymous reader writes Google [on Friday] announced it plans to retire the Google Earth API on December 12, 2015. The reason is simple: Both Chrome and Firefox are removing support for Netscape Plugin Application Programming Interface (NPAPI) plugins due to security reasons, so the API's death was inevitable. The timing makes sense. Last month, Google updated its plan for killing off NPAPI support in Chrome, saying that it would block all plugins by default in January and drop support completely in September. The company also revealed that the Google Earth plugin had dropped in usage from 9.1 percent of Chrome users in October 2013 to 0.1 percent in October 2014. Add dwindling cross-platform support (particularly on mobile devices), and we're frankly surprised the announcement didn't come sooner.

    75 comments | about a week ago

  • FreeNAS 9.3 Released

    An anonymous reader writes This FreeNAS update is a significant evolutionary step from previous FreeNAS releases featuring: a simplified and reorganized Web User Interface, support for Microsoft ODX and Windows 2012 clustering, better VMWare integration, including VAAI support, a new and more secure update system with roll-back functionality, and hundreds of other technology enhancements. You can get it here and the list of changes are here. Existing 9.2.x users and 9.3 beta testers are encouraged to upgrade.

    115 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Apple, IBM Partnership Yields First Results: 10 Mobile Apps

    itwbennett writes IBM and Apple have unveiled the first results of the enterprise IT partnership they announced in July: 10 mobile applications aimed at businesses in six industries as well as government users. One of the apps, for example, allows a flight crew to personalize a passenger's in-flight experience. An app targeted at the banking industry allows a financial advisor to remotely access and manage a client's portfolio. And police officers can use iPhones to view video feeds from crime scenes with an app for law enforcement.

    53 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Seeking Coders, Tech Titans Turn To K-12 Schools

    theodp writes: Politico reports on how a tech PR blitz on the importance of coding in K-12 schools has won over President Obama, who's now been dubbed the "coder-in-chief" after sitting down Monday to "write" a few lines of computer code with middle school students as part of a PR campaign for the Hour of Code, which has earned bipartisan support in Washington. From the article: "The $30 million campaign to promote computer science education has been financed by the tech industry, led by Steve Ballmer, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, with corporate contributions from Microsoft, Google, Amazon and other giants. It's been a smash success: So many students opened up a free coding tutorial on Monday that the host website crashed. But the campaign has also stirred unease from some educators concerned about the growing influence of corporations in public schools. And it's raised questions about the motives of tech companies, which are sounding an alarm about the lack of computer training in American schools even as they lobby Congress for more H-1B visas to bring in foreign programmers."

    105 comments | about two weeks ago

  • How Relevant is C in 2014?

    Nerval's Lobster writes: Many programming languages have come and gone since Dennis Ritchie devised C in 1972, and yet C has not only survived three major revisions, but continues to thrive. But aside from this incredible legacy, what keeps C atop the Tiobe Index? The number of jobs available for C programmers is not huge, and many of those also include C++ and Objective-C. On Reddit, the C community, while one of the ten most popular programming communities, is half the size of the C++ group. In a new column, David Bolton argues that C remains extremely relevant due to a number of factors including newer C compiler support, the Internet ("basically driven by C applications"), an immense amount of active software written in C that's still used, and its ease in learning. "Knowing C provides a handy insight into higher-level languages — C++, Objective-C, Perl, Python, Java, PHP, C#, D and Go all have block syntax that's derived from C." Do you agree?

    641 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Spectrum Vega: A Blast From the Past

    mikejuk writes A new games console is being launched based on the classic Sinclair ZX Spectrum from the 80s. Within days of the start of its Indiegogo campaign all of the 1000 Limited Edition Spectrum Vegas had been claimed but there is still the chance to get your hands on one of the second batch. The Sinclair Spectrum Vega is really retro in the sense that it plugs into a TV, thus avoiding the need for a monitor, and comes complete with around 1,000 games built-in. Games are accessed through a menu based system, and once selected load automatically, taking the player directly into the game play mode. This is very different from the original Spectrum with its rubber-topped keyboard and BASIC interface. If you have existing Spectrum games you'd like to play, you can use an SD card to load them onto the Vega, though the current publicity material doesn't give much clue as to how you go from ancient cassette tape to SD card. As for programming new games, there are ZX Spectrum emulators for Windows that are free and ready to use.

    110 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Why Apple, Google, and FB Have Their Own Programming Languages

    An anonymous reader writes: Scott Rosenberg, author of Dreaming in Code dissects Apple's Swift, Google's Go, and other new languages — why they were created, what makes them different, and what they bring (or not) to programmers. "In very specific ways, both Go and Swift exemplify and embody the essences of the companies that built them: the server farm vs. the personal device; the open Web vs. the App Store; a cross-platform world vs. a company town. Of all the divides that distinguish programming languages—compiled or interpreted? static vs. dynamic variable typing? memory-managed/garbage-collected or not?—these might be the ones that matter most today."

    161 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Programmer Father Asks: What Gets Little Girls Interested In Science?

    nbauman writes Programmer David Auerbach is dismayed that, at a critical developmental age, his 4-year-old daughter wants to be a princess, not a scientist or engineer, he writes in Slate. The larger society keeps forcing sexist stereotypes on her, in every book and toy store. From the article: "Getting more women into science and technology fields: Where’s the silver bullet? While I might get more hits by revealing the One Simple Trick to increase female participation in the sciences, the truth is there isn’t some key inflection point where young women’s involvement drops off. Instead, there is a series of small- to medium-sized discouraging factors that set in from a young age, ranging from unhelpful social conditioning to a lack of role models to unconscious bias to very conscious bias. Any and all of these can figure into why, for example, women tend to underrate their technical abilities relative to men. I know plenty of successful women in the sciences, but let’s not fool ourselves and say the playing field in the academic sciences or the tech world is even. My wife attributes her pursuit of programming to being a loner and pretty much ignoring wider society while growing up: 'Being left alone with a computer (with NO INTERNET TO TELL ME WHAT I COULDN’T DO) was the deciding factor,' she tells me."

    584 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Comcast Forgets To Delete Revealing Note From Blog Post

    An anonymous reader notes that Comcast inadvertently posted a bit too much in a blog post today. Earlier today, Comcast published a blog post to criticize the newly announced coalition opposing its merger with Time Warner Cable and to cheer about the FCC's decision to restart the "shot clock" on that deal. But someone at Kabletown is probably getting a stern talking-to right now, after an accidental nugget of honesty made its way into that post. Comcast posted to their corporate blog today about the merger review process, reminding everyone why they think it will be so awesome and pointing to the pro-merger comments that have come in to the FCC. But they also left something else in. Near the end, the blog post reads, "Comcast and Time Warner Cable do not currently compete for customers anywhere in America. That means that if the proposed transaction goes through, consumers will not lose a choice of cable companies. Consumers will not lose a choice of broadband providers. And not a single market will see a reduction in competition. Those are simply the facts." The first version of the blog post, which was also sent out in an e-mail blast, then continues: "We are still working with a vendor to analyze the FCC spreadsheet but in case it shows that there are any consumers in census blocks that may lose a broadband choice, want to make sure these sentences are more nuanced." After that strange little note, the blog post carries on in praise of competition, saying, "There is a reason we want to provide our customers with better service, faster speeds, and a diverse choice of programming: we don't want to lose them."

    114 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Samsung's Open Source Group Is Growing, Hiring Developers

    jones_supa writes Almost two years ago, Samsung's open source team was just one person: Linux and FOSS advocate Ibrahim Haddad, head of the open source group at Samsung Research America. The new Open Source Innovation Group at Samsung is now 40 people strong, including 30 developers, devoted full-time to working on upstream projects and shepherding open source development into the company. The group is hiring aggressively and plans to double the size of the group in the coming years. Their first targets are project maintainers and key contributors to 23 open source projects that are integral to Samsung's products, including Linux, Gstreamer, FFmpeg, Blink, Webkit, EFL, and Wayland. They plan to eventually start hiring more junior open source developers as well. Just about every Samsung product, from phones and tablets to home appliances, uses open source software, said Guy Martin, senior open source strategist at Samsung. Martin also mentions the importance of funding: "You already see this in the Linux kernel, where most people who contribute are paid to contribute. And you'll see that more and more."

    51 comments | about three weeks ago

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