Open Source

GitHub Open Sources Their Internal Testing Tool ( 34

destinyland writes: Last week GitHub released a new open source tool called Scientist, a Ruby-based library they've been using in-house for several years. "It's the most terrifying moment when you flip the switch," GitHub engineer Jesse Toth told one technology reporter, who notes that the tool is targeted at developers transitioning from a legacy system. "Scientist was born when GitHub engineers needed to rewrite the permissions code — one of the most critical systems in the GitHub application." The tool measures execution duration and other metrics for both test and production code during runtime, and Toth reports that they're now also developing new versions in Node.js, C#, and .Net..

Drag-and-Drop "CS" Tutorials: the Emperor's New Code? 152

theodp writes: Teaching kids computer science is a great movement," writes HS senior David Yue, "however, to overly dilute the magnitude of the difficulty in regards to the subject area of coding and to create the illusion of mastering a 'superpower' ( is a huge mistake. There are many videos and articles on the Internet these days that have demonstrated positive support towards computer science education. Below these articles, one can find many comments, left mostly by parents and supporters. These people usually express how proud they are that their children have an opportunity to learn computer science or how proud they are that computer science is being integrated at a more substantial level into the education system." But Drag and Drop Doesn't = Coding, argues Yue. "Parents and teachers today who aren't technical need to be aware that the drag and drop code or the candy-coated learning process does not effectively teach children programming but eventually causes a huge amount of shock once they are immersed in real code." Yue's Emperor's-New-Code warning comes days before President Obama — a graduate of's drag-and-drop Disney Princess coding tutorial — asks Congress for $4-billion-and-change in the upcoming budget to fund his "Computer Science for All" K-12 initiative.

Unreal Engine Will Soon Allow Developers To Build Games Inside of VR ( 36

An anonymous reader writes: Epic Games, the creators of Unreal Engine, has been a longstanding supporter of VR. They were on board way back when Oculus sparked the VR industry in 2012 with a Kickstarter that would snowball into a rekindling of consumer virtual reality. Having been one of the first major game engines to support VR headsets like the Rift, the company has been aggressively positioning Unreal Engine as the go-to tool for VR developers. Now they're taking a massive next step, showing the first look at bringing developers themselves inside of virtual reality to craft games with the full set of UE4 tools at their fingertips. That means that developers can place and manipulate objects from right within a world in progress; the video demo in the linked story is impressive.

K-12 CS Framework Draft: Kids Taught To 'Protect Original Ideas' In Early Grades 132

theodp writes: Remember that and ACM-bankrolled K-12 Computer Science Education Framework that Microsoft, Google, Apple, and others were working on? Well, a draft of the framework was made available for review on Feb. 3rd, coincidentally just 3 business days after U.S. President Barack Obama and Microsoft President Brad Smith teamed up to announce the $4+ billion Computer Science for All initiative for the nation's K-12 students. "Computationally literate citizens have the responsibility to learn about, recognize, and address the personal, ethical, social, economic, and cultural contexts in which they operate," explains the section on Fostering an Inclusive Computing Culture, one of seven listed 'Core K-12 CS Practices'. "Participating in an inclusive computing culture encompasses the following: building and collaborating with diverse computational teams, involving diverse users in the design process, considering the implication of design choices on the widest set of end users, accounting for the safety and security of diverse end users, and fostering inclusive identities of computer scientists." Hey, do as they say, not as they do! Also included in the 10-page draft (pdf) is a section on Law and Ethics, which begins: "In early grades, students differentiate between responsible and irresponsible computing behaviors. Students learn that responsible behaviors can help individuals while irresponsible behaviors can hurt individuals. They examine legal and ethical considerations for obtaining and sharing information and apply those behaviors to protect original ideas."

New Hack Shrinks Docker Containers ( 130

destinyland writes: Promising "uber tiny Docker images for all the things," has released a new library of base images for every major language optimized to be as small as possible by using only the required OS libraries and language dependencies. "By streamlining the cruft that is attached to the node images and installing only the essentials, they reduced the image from 644 MB to 29MB,"explains one technology reporter, noting this makes it quicker to download and distribute the image, and also more secure. "Less code/less programs in the container means less attack surface..." writes Travis Reeder, the co-founder of, in a post on the company's blog. "Most people who start using Docker will use Docker's official repositories for their language of choice, but unfortunately if you use them, you'll end up with images the size of the Empire State Building..."

Winner of the 2015 Underhanded C Contest Announced ( 48

Xcott Craver writes: The Underhanded C contest results have now been announced. This time the contest challenge was to cause a false match in a nuclear inspection scenario, allowing a country to remove fissile material from a warhead without being noticed. The winner receives $1000 from the Nuclear Threat Initiative.

7 Swift 2 Enhancements iOS Devs Will Love 123

snydeq writes: InfoWorld's Paul Solt outlines how Apple has made good on Swift's emphasis on performance, approachability, and ease in its latest update, offering up seven worthwhile enhancements to Swift 2, along with code samples. 'Many of the enhancements to Swift, through both the Swift 2.0 update and subsequent Swift 2.1 update, have made the language more explicit and intentional, and in turns, Swift 2 code will be safer and easier to maintain for years to come (especially now that Swift is open source). New language constructs (keywords) in Swift 2 improve the readability of control flow — the order in which lines of code are executed. Thanks to these new keywords, collaborating on Swift code will be much more productive and efficient.'

Facebook Is Shuttering the Parse Developer Platform ( 48

itwbennett writes: In a blog post yesterday, Facebook announced it is shutting down the Parse developer platform as of Jan. 28, 2017, giving developers a year to move off its hosted services. This comes as a bit of a surprise, considering that just last month, Parse launched a set of new tools to help developers work with Apple's watchOS and tvOS last, and at the time, Parse Product Manager Supratik Lahiri promised more updates in the future. Developers who don't want to rewrite their applications to work with a new back-end service provider can follow a migration guide from Parse to make their applications work with an independent MongoDB instance and a new open-source Parse Server that's running on Salesforce-owned developer platform provider Heroku.
Open Source

GitHub Service Outage ( 117

New submitter thebigjeff writes: Beginning at around 7:30pm EST on 1/27/2016, GitHub's core services have been offline. Most repositories and other functionality is inaccessible. The status page is calling it a "significant network disruption." More from The Register: GitHub falls offline, devs worldwide declare today a snow day.

Ask Slashdot: How To Work On Source Code Without Having the Source Code? 233

occamboy writes: Perhaps the ultimate conundrum!

I've taken over a software project in an extremely specialized area that needs remediation in months, so it'll be tough to build an internal team quickly enough. The good news is that there are outside software engineering groups that have exactly the right experience and good reputations. The bad news is that my management is worried about letting source code out of the building. Seems to me that unless I convince the suits otherwise, my options are to:

1) have all contractors work on our premises — a pain for everyone, and they might not want to do it at all

2) have them remote in to virtual desktops running on our premises — much of our software is sub-millisecond-response real-time systems on headless hardware, so they'll need to at least run executables locally, and giving access to executables but not sources seems like it will have challenges. And if the desktop environment goes down, more than a dozen people are frozen waiting for a fix. Also, I'd imagine that if a remote person really wanted the sources, they could video the sources as they scrolls by.

I'll bet there are n better ways to do this, and I'm hoping that there are some smart Slashdotters who'll let me know what they are; please help!

GOTO Jail: FBI Investigated Bizarre BASIC Program Sent To Johnny Cash ( 62

v3rgEz writes: Who has time to write out all the vaguely threatening conspiracies that need to be sent to celebrities these days? Turns out, that can be automated too: In 1979, the FBI investigated a bizarre, threatening Christmas message sent to Johnny Cash on the eve of his 62nd album's release. The threat included the source and output of a BASIC program, which the FBI dutifully dusted for clues. Newly released documents show what would become the FBI's CyberCrime division.

Ask Slashdot: What Are Your Experiences With Online IDEs For Web Development? 168

Qbertino writes: I'm toying with the thought of moving my web development (PHP, HTML, CSS, JavaScript with perhaps a little Python and Ruby thrown in) into the cloud. The upsides I expect would be: 1) No syncing hassles across machines. 2) No installation of toolchains to get working or back to work — a browser and a connection is all that would be required. 3) Easy teamwork. 4) Easy deployment. 5) A move to Chrome OS for ultra-cheap laptop goodness would become realistic.

Is this doable/feasible? What are your experiences? Note, this would be for professional web development, not hobbyist stuff. Serious interactive JS, non-trivial PHP/LAMP development, etc. Has anyone have real world experience doing something like this? Maybe even experience with moving to a completely web-centric environment with Chrome OS? What have you learned? What would you recommend? How has it impacted your productivity and what do you miss from the native pipelines? What keeps you in the cloud, and enables you to stay there? Are you working "totally cloud" with a team and if so, how does it work out/feel? Does it make sense? As for concrete solutions, I'm eyeing Cloud9, CodeAnywhere, CodeEnvy but also semi-FOSS stuff like NeutronDrive. Anything you would recommend for real world productivity? Have you tried this and moved back? If so, what are your experiences and what would need to be improved to make it worthwhile? Thanks for any insights.

Software Hall of Fame Member Ed Yourdon Dies ( 67

New submitter andyjl writes: The software industry lost one of its pioneers on Tuesday, January 20, 2016 when Ed Yourdon died from post-operative complications. Ed was a pioneer of Structured Programming methodologies, and was a prodigious author of software-related books, including topics such as "death march" projects, and the problems of Y2K. He was also a personal friend and fellow forensic software analyst specializing in the analysis of failed software development projects and the lack of software development disciplines. He once told me that he read a item on the Internet (which I cannot find) that said, "whenever a programmer writes a GOTO statement, somewhere a Yourdon dies." I am forced to conclude that one of you programmers out there did indeed write a GOTO statement on Tuesday and I want to know who it was. Look at what you did! Did you really have to use a GOTO? Adds reader theodp: Yourdon was a successful author, whose Slashdot-reviewed books included Rise and Resurrection of the American Programmer, Death March: The Complete Software Developer's Guide to Surviving "Mission Impossible" Projects, Byte Wars: The Impact of September 11 on Information Technology, and Outsourcing: Competing in the Global Productivity Race. Yourdon's Time Bomb 2000!: What the Year 2000 Computer Crisis Means to You!, written with daughter Jennifer, was a Y2K best-seller.

Rust 1.6 Released ( 75

An anonymous reader writes: The Rust team has announced the release of version 1.6 of their programming language. The biggest new feature is that libcore — the Rust core library — is now stable. "Rust's standard library is two-tiered: there's a small core library, libcore, and the full standard library, libstd, that builds on top of it. libcore is completely platform agnostic, and requires only a handful of external symbols to be defined. Rust's libstd builds on top of libcore, adding support for memory allocation, I/O, and concurrency. Applications using Rust in the embedded space, as well as those writing operating systems, often eschew libstd, using only libcore." Other features worth noting: disallows wildcards for dependencies, there are a ton of stabilized APIs, timer functions that use milliseconds have been deprecated, and the parser will warn you if a failure was caused by Unicode characters that look similar but are interpreted differently.

Stephen Wolfram: No Need To Teach With 'Toy Programming Languages' Like Scratch ( 214

theodp writes: From Stephen Wolfram's blog post announcing the Wolfram Programming Lab: "It's a very important — and in fact transformative — moment for programming education. In the past one could use a 'toy programming language' like Scratch, or one could use a professional low-level programming language like C++ or Java. Scratch is easy to use, but is very limited. C++ or Java can ultimately do much more (though they don't have built-in knowledge), but you need to put in significant time—and get deep into the engineering details—to make programs that get beyond a toy level of functionality. With the Wolfram Language, though, it's a completely different story. Because now even beginners can write programs that do really interesting things. And the programs don't have to just be 'computer science exercises': they can be programs that immediately connect to the real world, and to what students study across the whole curriculum. Wolfram Programming Lab gives people a broad way to learn modern programming — and to acquire an incredibly valuable career-building practical skill. But it also helps develop the kind of computational thinking that's increasingly central to today's world." So, when it comes to programming education, are schools hitchIng their cart to the wrong horse?

A.I. Startups Building Bots For Businesses ( 25

gthuang88 writes: Virtual digital assistants are gaining popularity with the rise of Siri, Google Now, and Facebook's M service. Now startups are using related artificial intelligence techniques to solve business problems. Talla is building an interactive bot on Slack and HipChat for handling workflows in recruiting and human resources. The software uses natural language processing, word vectors, and some deep learning. Other startups, such as Gamalon, DataRobot, and Sentenai, are focused on probabilistic programming, data science, and machine learning for the Internet of things. Working with private data sets and business apps could help these startups avoid competing with the big players, at least for now.
Open Source

Developers Frustrated with GitHub Prod For Changes In Bug Reports, Transparency 99

DeveloperTech reports that a group of GitHub developers have posted an open letter, with nearly 1300 signatures, expressing dissatisfaction with GitHub's processes and policies, and in particular the site's level of transparency. A slice of the letter: "Those of us who run some of the most popular projects on GitHub feel completely ignored by you. We’ve gone through the only support channel that you have given us either to receive an empty response or even no response at all," he wrote. "We have no visibility into what has happened with our requests, or whether GitHub is working on them. Since our own work is usually done in the open and everyone has input into the process, it seems strange for us to be in the dark about one of our most important project dependencies."

Code Reviews vs. Pair Programming ( 186

An anonymous reader writes: I've spent nine years working in teams which religiously follow pair programming. I'm used to working that way and appreciate the benefits it brings. We didn't have the luxury of pair programming all the time in my last project. This required us to do code reviews to ensure the quality of the code we delivered. This post is an attempt to consolidate the upsides and downsides of doing code reviews instead of pair programming in my three months of experience.

Ask Slashdot: Good Introductory SW Engineering Projects? (HS Level) 140

New submitter mtapman writes: I'm looking for suggestions on introductory software engineering projects for a high school level student. Assume the student can do basic math (up through Algebra I or Statistics I) but is new to logic and computer science. Each project should take no more than four hours to complete including research, coding, and testing. The intent is to introduce the student to software engineering (and computer science) through practical and fun examples. Classic CS problems are welcome. One of the key criteria is available research/reference material to allow the student to make progress with 30-60 minutes of online research.

Some ideas that came to my mind (not necessarily good ones) are: (1) pick a sorting algorithm and sort a list of ten words alphabetically, (2) write a program to convert characters from lower to upper case, (3) write a program to divide two numbers in two different programming languages and compare the results to determine the differences between the languages.

Microsoft To Release Educational Version of Minecraft ( 57

An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft has announced that it will release an educational version of the Minecraft video game after acquiring the domain and IP. The classroom version of Minecraft will be offered to schools and educators at a discount, and among other innovations will include the facility to create maps which the students can navigate throughout a lesson while recording their in-game activities. Microsoft has emphasized that it does not intend to change Minecraft into a strictly educational program.

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