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Open Source

LLVM 3.7 Delivers OpenMP 3.1 Support, ORC JIT API, New Optimizations 32

An anonymous reader writes: LLVM 3.7 was released today as the newest six-month update. LLVM 3.7 has OpenMP 3.1 support via Clang, a new On-Request Compilation JIT API, the Berkeley Packet Filter back-end was added, the AMDGPU back-end now supports OpenGL 4.1 when paired with Mesa 11.0, and many other functional changes. Early benchmarks against GCC show its performance quite competitive with GCC5, even superior in some workloads, and should be more competitive in scientific applications with there now being OpenMP support.

Book Review: Effective Python: 59 Specific Ways To Write Better Python 66

MassDosage writes: If you are familiar with the "Effective" style of books then you probably already know how this book is structured. If not here's a quick primer: the book consists of a number of small sections each of which focus on a specific problem, issue or idea and these are discussed in a "here's the best way to do X" manner. These sections are grouped into related chapters but can be read in pretty much any order and generally don't depend on each other (and when they do this will be called out in the text). The idea is that you can read the book from cover to cover if you want but you can also just dip in and out and read only the sections that are of interest to you. This also means that you can use the book as a reference in future when you inevitably forget the details or want to double check something. Read below for the rest of Mass Dosage's review.
Open Source

"Hack" Typeface Is Open Source, Easy On the IDEs 207

Ars Technica writes that "At this week, programmer Chris Simpkins debuted the 2.0 version of Hack, an open-source typeface designed specifically for use in source code." The revamped font is "characterized by a large x-height, wide aperture, and low contrast design in order to be 'highly legible' at common coding text sizes," and the font specimen shows how legible it is right down to downright tiny sizes, though Simpkins says the sweet spot is between 8 and 12 pixels. Hack's roots are in the libre, open source typeface community, and the project expands upon the contributions of the Bitstream Vera & DejaVu projects. ... Simpkins has been working on the project throughout 2015, and he tweeted that this latest version includes "new open type features, changes in weights, significant changes in spacing, Powerline glyphs, and more." The typeface now comes with four font styles: Regular, Bold, Oblique, and Bold Oblique.

Google May Try To Recruit You For a Job Based On Your Search Queries 182 writes: If Google sees that you're searching for specific programming terms, they may ask you to apply for a job as Max Rossett writes that three months ago while working on a project, he Googled "python lambda function list comprehension." The familiar blue links appeared on the search page, and he started to look for the most relevant one. But then something unusual happened. The search results split and folded back to reveal a box that said "You're speaking our language. Up for a challenge?" Clicking on the link took Rossett to a page called "" that outlined a programming challenge and gave instructions on how to submit his solution. "I had 48 hours to solve it, and the timer was ticking," writes Rossett. "I had the option to code in Python or Java. I set to work and solved the first problem in a couple hours. Each time I submitted a solution, tested my code against five hidden test cases."

After solving another five problems the page gave Rossett the option to submit his contact information and much to his surprise, a recruiter emailed him a couple days later asking for a copy of his resume. Three months after the mysterious invitation appeared, Rossett started at Google. Apparently Google has been using this recruiting tactic for some time.

In Praise of the Solo Programmer 112 writes: Jean-Louis Gassée writes that once upon a time, we were awestruck by the solo programmer who could single-handedly write a magnum opus on a barebones machine like the Apple ][ with its 64 kilobytes of memory and an 8-bit processor running at 1MHz. Once such giant was Paul Lutus, known as the Oregon Hermit, who won a place next to Jobs and Wozniak in the Bandley Drive Hall of Fame for his Apple Writer word processor. "Those were the days Computers and their operating systems were simple and the P in Personal Computers applied to the programmer," writes Gassée. "There's no place for a 2015 Paul Lutus. But are things really that dire?"

As it turns out, the size and complexity of operating systems and development tools do not pose completely insurmountable obstacles; There are still programs of hefty import authored by one person. One such example is Preview, Mac's all-in-one file viewing and editing program. The many superpowers of Apple's Preview does justice to the app's power and flexibility authored by a solo, unnamed programmer who has been at it since the NeXT days. Newer than Preview but no less ambitious, is Gus Mueller's Acorn, an "Image Editor for Humans", now in version 5 at the Mac App Store. Mueller calls his Everett, WA company a mom and pop shop because his spouse Kristin does the documentation when she isn't working as a Physical Therapist. Gus recently released Acorn 5 fixing hundreds of minor bugs and annoyances. "It took months and months of work, it was super boring and mind numbing and it was really hard to justify, and it made Acorn 5 super late," writes Mueller. "But we did it anyway, because something in us felt that software quality has been going downhill in general, and we sure as heck weren't going to let that happen to Acorn."

Deep Learning Pioneer On the Next Generation of Hardware For Neural Networks 45

An anonymous reader writes: While many recognize Yann LeCun as the father of convolutional neural networks, the momentum of which has ignited artificial intelligence at companies like Google, Facebook and beyond, LeCun has not been strictly rooted in algorithms. Like others who have developed completely new approaches to computing, he has an extensive background in hardware, specifically chip design and this recognition of specialization of hardware, movement of data around complex problems, and ultimately core performance, has proven handy. He talks in depth this week about why FPGAs are coming onto the scene as companies like Google and Facebook seek a move away from "proprietary hardware" and look to "programmable devices" to do things like, oh, say, pick out a single face of one's choosing from an 800,000 strong population in under five seconds.

The Top 10 Programming Languages On GitHub, Over Time 132

An anonymous reader writes with a link to VentureBeat's article on the information that GitHub released this week about the top-ten languages used by GitHub's users, and how they've changed over the site's history. GitHub's chart shows the change in rank for programming languages since GitHub launched in 2008 all the way to what the site's 10 million users are using for coding today. To be clear, this graph doesn't show the definitive top 10 programming languages. Because GitHub has become so popular (even causing Google Code to shut down), however, it still paints a fairly accurate picture of programming trends over recent years. Trend lines aside, here are the top 10 programming languages on GitHub today: 1. JavaScript 2. Java 3. Ruby 4. PHP 5. Python 6. CSS 7. C++ 8. C# 9. C 10. HTML

Standardized Tests Blamed, Asian Students Ignored In Google-Gallup K-12 CS Study 184

theodp writes: According to a study released Thursday by Google and Gallup, standardized tests may be holding back the next generation of computer programmers. The Google-Gallup Searching for Computer Science: Access and Barriers in U.S. K-12 Education report (PDF) found that the main reason given by a "comprehensive but not representative" sample of 9,693 K-12 principals and 1,865 school district superintendents in the U.S. for their schools not offering computer science "is the limited time they have to devote to classes that are not tied to testing requirements." Which makes one wonder if Google now views Bill Gates as part of the problem and/or part of the solution of K-12 CS education. The Google-Gallup report also explores race/ethnicity differences to access and learning opportunities among White, Black and Hispanic students — but not Asian students — a curious omission considering that Google's own Diversity Disclosure shows that 35% of its U.S. tech workforce is Asian, making it by far the most overrepresented race/ethnicity group at Google when compared to the U.S. K-12 public school population. Which raises the question: Why would the Google-Gallup study ignore the access and learning opportunities of the race/ethnicity subgroup that has enjoyed the greatest success at Google? Not unsurprisingly, the Google-Gallup report winds up by concluding that what U.S. K-12 education really needs is more CS cowbell.

COBOL Comes To Visual Studio 2015 86

New submitter dmleonard618 writes: Micro Focus isn't writing off COBOL just yet. The company is trying to win developers over with COBOL with the latest release of Visual COBOL for Visual Studio. The new solution aims to bring back the ancient language and make it relevant again. "Visual COBOL for Visual Studio 2015 is the next generation of COBOL development solutions, designed for today's application developer to do just that, in a productive and cost-effective way," said Micro Focus' Ed Airey.

Do Old Programmers Need To Keep Leaping Through New Hoops? 242

Nerval's Lobster writes: In recent years, it seems as if tech has evolved into an industry that lionizes the young. Despite all the press about 21-year-old rock-star developers and 30-year-old CEOs, though, is there still a significant market for older programmers and developers, especially those with specialized knowledge? The answer is "yes," of course, and sites like Dice suggest that older tech pros should take steps such as setting up social media accounts and spending a lot of time on Github if they want to attract interest from companies and recruiters. But do they really need to go through all of that? If you have twenty, thirty, or even forty years of solid tech work under your belt, is it worth jumping through all sorts of new hoops? Or is there a better way to keep working — provided you don't already have a job, that is, or move up to management, or get out of the game entirely in order to try something startling and new.

Google Releases Version 1.5 of Its Go Programming Language, Finally Ditches C 221

An anonymous reader writes: Google has launched the sixth notable stable release of its Go programming language Go 1.5. VB reports: "This is not a major release, as denoted by the version number and the fact that the only language change is the lifting of a restriction in the map literal syntax to make them more consistent with slice literals. That said, Go 1.5 does include a significant rewrite: The compiler tool chain has been translated from C to Go. This means "the last vestiges of C code" have been finally removed from the Go code base. As for actual changes in Go 1.5, you'll want to read the full release notes. Highlights include improvements to garbage collection, the developer tools, the standard library, and new ports."

Air Traffic Snafu: FAA System Runs Out of Memory 234

minstrelmike writes: Over the weekend, hundreds of flights were delayed or canceled in the Washington, D.C. area after air traffic systems malfunctioned. Now, the FAA says the problem was related to a recent software upgrade at a local radar facility. The software had been upgraded to display customized windows of reference data that were supposed to disappear once deleted. Unfortunately, the systems ended up running out of memory. The FAA's report is vague about whether it was operator error or software error: "... as controllers adjusted their unique settings, those changes remained in memory until the storage limit was filled." Wonder what programming language they used?

AMD Still Struggling With Linux Gaming 100

An anonymous reader writes: AMD's Linux gaming performance has been embarrassingly bad, and it doesn't look like there's any quick remedy. Virtual Programming just released Dirt: Showdown for Linux, and it's the latest example of AMD's Linux driver issues: AMD's GPU results are still far behind NVIDIA's, with even the Radeon R9 Fury running slower than NVIDIA's aging GTX 680 and GTX 760. If a racing game doesn't interest you, Feral Interactive confirmed they are releasing Company of Heroes 2 for Linux next week, but only NVIDIA and Intel graphics are supported.

Rupert Murdoch Won't Be Teaching Your Children To Code After All 57

theodp writes: Plans for Rupert Murdoch & Co. to teach your children to code just hit a bump in the road. Murdoch's News Corp. last week announced it plans to exit the education business as it announced a $371 million write-down of the investment in its Amplify education unit, which aimed to reinvent education via digital tools, tablets and curriculum reinforced with snazzy graphics. The news may help to explain why Amplify MOOC, the entity that offered online AP Computer Science A to high school students, was re-dubbed Edhesive ("online education that sticks") a couple of months ago. Tech-backed, whose $1+ million "Gold Supporters" include the James and Kathryn Murdoch-led Quadrivium Foundation, announced a partnership with Edhesive to bring CS to schools in June, around the same time Edhesive LLC was formed.

How 'Rock Star' Became a Business Buzzword 80 writes: Carina Chocano writes in the NYT that once, a long time ago, a rock star was a free-spirited, convention-flouting artist/rebel/hero/Dionysian fertility god who fronted a world-famous band, sold millions of records and headlined stadium concerts where people were trampled in frenzies of cultlike fervor. Now 'rock star'' has made a complete about-face and in its new incarnation, it is more likely to refer to a programmer, salesperson, social-media strategist, business-to-business telemarketer, recruiter, management consultant or celebrity pastry chef than to a person in a band. The term has become shorthand for a virtuosity so exalted it borders on genius — only for some repetitive, detail-oriented task. According to Chocano, posting a listing for a job for which only ''rock stars'' need apply casts an H.R. manager as a kind of corporate Svengali; "That nobody is looking for a front-end developer who is addicted to heroin or who bites the heads off doves in conference rooms goes without saying. Pretty much anyone can be a ''rock star'' these days — except actual rock stars, who are encouraged to think of themselves as brands."

The 2015 Underhanded C Contest Has Begun 52

Xcott Craver writes: The 8th Underhanded C Contest is now underway. The goal of the Underhanded C Contest is to write C code that is as readable, clear, innocent and straightforward as possible, but which performs some malicious function that is not obvious from looking at the source code. This year's challenge is based on a real problem in joint development for nuclear treaty verification, and the prize is $1000.

Is There an Ed-Tech Critic In the House? 61

theodp writes: Educational technology has been stuck for awhile, laments Hack Education's Audrey Watters in And So, Without Ed-Tech Criticism... (an accompanying 1984 photo of Watters making a LOGO turtle draw a square looks little different than President Obama 'learning to code' 30+ years later by making a Disney Princess draw a square). "We might consider why we're still at the point of having to make a case for ed-tech criticism," writes Watters. "It's particularly necessary as we see funding flood into ed-tech, as we see policies about testing dictate the rationale for adopting devices, as we see the technology industry shape a conversation about 'code' — a conversation that focuses on money and prestige but not on thinking, learning. Computer criticism can — and must — be about analysis and action."

UK Industry Group Boss: Study Arts So Games Are Not Designed By 'Spotty Nerds' 207

nickweller writes: John Cridland is the leader of the Confederation of British Industry, a group that represents over 100,000 UK businesses. In a recent interview, he spoke about his enthusiasm for adding arts education to more traditional STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) programs. Here's how he chose to express that: "One of the biggest growth industries in Britain today is the computer games industry. We need extra coders — dozens and dozens of them but nobody is going to play a game designed by a spotty nerd. We need people with artistic flair." Cridland also expressed support for an increased emphasis on foreign language education: "If we’re not capable of speaking other people’s languages, we’re going to be in difficulties. However, there is far too much emphasis placed on teaching French and German. The language we most need going forward is Spanish (the second most frequently spoken language in the world). That and a certain percentage need to learn Mandarin to develop relations with China."

Facebook Awards Researchers $100k For Detecting Emerging Class of C++ Bugs 73

An anonymous reader writes: Facebook has awarded $100,000 to a team of researchers from Georgia Tech University for their discovery of a new method for identifying "bad-casting" vulnerabilities that affect programs written in C++. "Type casting, which converts one type of an object to another, plays an essential role in enabling polymorphism in C++ because it allows a program to utilize certain general or specific implementations in the class hierarchies. However, if not correctly used, it may return unsafe and incorrectly casted values, leading to so-called bad-casting or type-confusion vulnerabilities," the researchers explained in their paper.

GitHub Desktop Launches To Replace Mac and Windows Apps 167

An anonymous reader writes: GitHub today launched a unified desktop version for Mac and Windows — you can download it from GitHub Desktop will automatically replace the previous Mac and Windows apps and can be used alongside GitHub Enterprise. Venturebeat reports: "...GitHub was tired of the differences between its two apps and decided it was time to align them. The hope is that if Mac and Windows users have the same workflow, it will be easier for them to work together (and for individual users to switch between the two platforms)."