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Books

Book Review: Build Your Own Website: A Comic Guide to HTML, CSS, and WordPress 29

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
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.
Programming

Dr. Dobb's 38-Year Run Comes To an End 152

Posted by Soulskill
from the farewell-and-thanks dept.
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."
Education

Ask Slashdot: How Should a Liberal Arts Major Get Into STEM? 272

Posted by Soulskill
from the jump-in-with-an-appropriate-number-of-feet dept.
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.
Programming

Godot Engine Reaches 1.0, First Stable Release 54

Posted by timothy
from the waiting-for-godot-two-oh dept.
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.
Businesses

Sony Pictures Leak Reveals Quashed Plan To Upload Phony Torrents 130

Posted by timothy
from the trial-balloon dept.
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?
Education

Google Suggests Separating Students With 'Some CS Knowledge' From Novices 305

Posted by timothy
from the go-to-the-head-of-the-other-class dept.
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.
Java

Kawa 2.0 Supports Scheme R7RS 62

Posted by timothy
from the multi-lingual dept.
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."
Google

Google Earth API Will Be Retired On December 12, 2015 75

Posted by timothy
from the so-be-on-that-bus-to-mars dept.
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.
Programming

FreeNAS 9.3 Released 115

Posted by samzenpus
from the check-it-out dept.
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.
IBM

Apple, IBM Partnership Yields First Results: 10 Mobile Apps 53

Posted by samzenpus
from the big-blue-apple dept.
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.
Programming

Seeking Coders, Tech Titans Turn To K-12 Schools 105

Posted by Soulskill
from the building-an-army dept.
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."
Programming

How Relevant is C in 2014? 640

Posted by Soulskill
from the don't-ask-netcraft dept.
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?
Emulation (Games)

Spectrum Vega: A Blast From the Past 110

Posted by samzenpus
from the what's-old-is-new dept.
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.
Programming

Why Apple, Google, and FB Have Their Own Programming Languages 161

Posted by Soulskill
from the wait-until-they-have-their-own-internets dept.
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."
Programming

Programmer Father Asks: What Gets Little Girls Interested In Science? 584

Posted by samzenpus
from the what's-a-father-to-do? dept.
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."
Businesses

Comcast Forgets To Delete Revealing Note From Blog Post 114

Posted by samzenpus
from the you-can't-handle-the-truth dept.
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."
Open Source

Samsung's Open Source Group Is Growing, Hiring Developers 51

Posted by samzenpus
from the bigger-every-day dept.
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."
Python

Which Programming Language Pays the Best? Probably Python 277

Posted by Soulskill
from the from-employer-import-dollars dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes: What programming language will earn you the biggest salary over the long run? According to Quartz, which relied partially on data compiled by employment-analytics firm Burning Glass and a Brookings Institution economist, Ruby on Rails, Objective-C, and Python are all programming skills that will earn you more than $100,000 per year. But salary doesn't necessarily correlate with popularity. Earlier this year, for example, tech-industry analyst firm RedMonk produced its latest ranking of the most-used languages, and Java/JavaScript topped the list, followed by PHP, Python, C#, and C++/Ruby. Meanwhile, Python was the one programming language to appear on Dice's recent list of the fastest-growing tech skills, which is assembled from mentions in Dice job postings. Python is a staple language in college-level computer-science courses, and has repeatedly topped the lists of popular programming languages as compiled by TIOBE Software and others. Should someone learn a language just because it could come with a six-figure salary, or are there better reasons to learn a particular language and not others?
United States

Google, National Parks Partner To Let Girls Program White House Xmas Tree Lights 333

Posted by samzenpus
from the how-lovely-are-your-branches dept.
theodp writes The Washington Post reports the White House holiday decor is going digital this year, with dog-bots and crowdsourced tree lights. "Thanks to Google's Made with Code initiative," reports a National Park Foundation press release, "girls across the country will experience the beauty of code by lighting up holiday trees in President's Park, one of America's 401 national parks and home to the White House." Beginning on December 2, explains the press release, girls can head over to Google's madewithcode.com (launched last June by U.S. CTO Megan Smith, then a Google X VP), to code a design for one of the 56 state and territory trees. Girls can select the shape, size, and color of the lights, and animate different patterns using introductory programming language and their designs will appear live on the trees. "Made with Code is a fun and easy way for millions of girls to try introductory code and see Computer Science as a foundation for their futures. We're thrilled that this holiday season families across the country will be able to try their hands at a fun programming project," said former Rep. Susan Molinari, who now heads Google's lobbying and policy office in Washington, DC.
United Kingdom

In UK Study, Girls Best Boys At Making Computer Games 312

Posted by timothy
from the distaff-side dept.
New submitter Esteanil writes Researchers in the University of Sussex's Informatics department asked pupils at a secondary school to design and program their own computer game using a new visual programming language. The young people, aged 12-13, spent eight weeks developing their own 3D role-playing games. The girls in the classroom wrote more complex programs in their games than the boys and also learnt more about coding. The girls used seven different triggers – almost twice as many as the boys – and were much more successful at creating complex scripts with two or more parts and conditional clauses. Boys nearly always chose to trigger their scripts on when a character says something, which is the first and easiest trigger to learn.

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