beaverdownunder writes "I recently attended a 'hackathon' that was really just another pitching contest, and out of frustration am tempted to organize an event myself that is better suited to developers and far less entrepreneur-centric than some of the latest offerings. What I'd like to know from the /. community is, what would you like to see in a hackathon? What are some good hackathons you've attended that weren't just thinly-veiled pitch-development workshops? I have an idea around assigning attendees to quasi-random teams based on their skill sets, then giving them 48 hours to complete a serious coding / engineering challenge (probably in the not-for-profit space) — but maybe you've got some better ideas?"
An anonymous reader writes "I run a small software consulting company who outsources most of its work to contractors. I market myself as being able to handle any technical project, but only really take the fun ones, then shop it around to developers who are interested. I write excellent product specs, provide bug tracking & source control and in general am a programming project manager with empathy for developers. I don't ask them to work weekends and I provide detailed, reproducible bug reports and I pay on time. The only 'rule' (if you can call it that) is: I do not pay for bugs. Developers can make more work for themselves by causing bugs, and with the specifications I write there is no excuse for not testing their code. Developers are always fine with it until we get toward the end of a project and the customer is complaining about bugs. Then all of a sudden I am asking my contractors to work for 'free' and they can make more money elsewhere. Ugh. Every project ends up being a battle, so, I think the solution is to finally hire someone full-time and pay for everything (bugs or not) and just keep them busy. But how can I make that transition? The guy I'd need to hire would have to know a lot of languages and be proficient in all of them. Plus, I can't afford to pay someone $100k/year right now. Ideas?"
jammag writes "Free sodas, candy and energy bars can be surprisingly important to developers, says longtime coder Eric Spiegel. They need the perks, not to mention the caffeine boost. More important, free sodas from management are like the canary in the coal mine. If they get cut, then layoffs might be next. 'The sodas are just the wake-up call. If the culture changes to be focused more on cost-cutting than on innovation and creativity, then would you still want to work here? I wouldn't.' Are free perks really that important?"
itwbennett writes "Whoever said 'everyone has to start somewhere' has clearly never tried contributing to an open source project — the Linux Kernel development team in particular is known for its savagery. But if you're determined to donate your time and talents, there are some things you can do to get off on the right foot. Of course you should pick something you're interested in and that you use. Check, and double check. You should also research the project, learn about the process for contributing, and do your utmost to avoid asking questions that you can find the answers to. But beyond that there are some hallmarks of beginner-friendly open source projects like Drupal, Python, and LibreOffice — namely, a friendly and active community, training and mentorship programs, and a low barrier to entry."
MojoKid writes "In an effort to coax developers to begin taking Atom seriously as an Android platform, Intel has just released a complete suite of tools that should help ease them into things — especially since it can be used for ARM development as well. It's called Beacon Mountain, named after the highest peak outside of Beacon, New York. As you'd expect, Beacon Mountain supports Jelly Bean (4.2) development, and with this suite, you're provided with a collection of important Intel tools: Hardware Accelerated Execution Manager, Integrated Performance Primitives, Graphics and System Performance Analyzers, Threaded Building Blocks and Software Manager. In addition, Android SDK and NDK, Eclipse and Cygwin third-party tools are included to complete the package."
An anonymous reader writes "Andy Oram reports on the quality, security, and community driving open source adoption. 'All too often, the main force uniting competitors is the fear of another vendor and the realization that they can never beat a dominant vendor on its own turf. Open source becomes a way of changing the rules out from under the dominant player. OpenStack, for instance, took on VMware in the virtualization space and Amazon.com in the IaaS space. Android attracted phone manufacturers and telephone companies as a reaction to the iPhone.'"
An anonymous reader writes "A report released this morning looks at the maintainability level of the Firefox codebase through five measures of architectural complexity. It finds that 11% of files in Firefox are highly interconnected, a value that went up significantly following version 3.0 and that making a change to a randomly selected file can, on average, directly impact eight files and indirectly impact over 1,400 files. All the data is made available and the report comes with an interactive Web-based exploratory tool." The complexity exploration tool is pretty neat.
Georgia Tech and Udacity — the online courseware project led by Sebastian Thrun — have announced a plan to offer an accredited M.S. Computer Science program online. The two organizations are also working with AT&T. This is the first time a major university has made an actual degree available solely through the MOOC format. Getting a degree in this manner is going to be much cheaper than a traditional degree: "... students also will pay a fraction of the cost of traditional on-campus master’s programs; total tuition for the program is initially expected to be below $7,000." U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said, "Massive open online courses (MOOCs) have quickly become one of the most significant catalysts of innovation in higher education. As parents know all too well, America urgently needs new ideas about how to make higher education accessible and affordable. This new collaboration between Georgia Tech, AT&T and Udacity, and the application of the MOOC concept to advanced-degree programs, will further the national debate — pushing from conversations about technology to new models of instruction and new linkages between higher education and employers." Georgia Tech is looking at the big picture: "At present, around 160,000 master’s degrees are bestowed in the United States every year in computer science and related subject disciplines; the worldwide market is almost certainly much larger, perhaps even an order of magnitude larger."
twofishy writes "'To avoid the confusion caused by renumbering releases,' Oracle has announced that it is adopting a new numbering scheme for JDK 5.0, JDK 6 and JDK 7. 'The next Limited Update for JDK 7 will be numbered 7u40, and the next 3 CPUs after that will be numbered 7u45, 7u51, and 7u55." The vendor notes that a more elegant solution would require the changing of the version numbering scheme to accommodate different kinds of changes (for example by using 7u44-2 ). However this cannot be implemented outside of a major release, since doing so might break existing code that parses version strings (possibly including the Java auto-update system)" Here's Oracle's announcement.
theodp writes "In a widely-read WSJ Op-Ed, English major Kirk McDonald, president of online ad optimization service PubMatic, informed college grads that he considers them unemployable unless they can claim familiarity with at least two programming languages. 'Teach yourself just enough of the grammar and the logic of computer languages to be able to see the big picture,' McDonald advises. 'Get acquainted with APIs. Dabble in a bit of Python. For most employers, that would be more than enough.' Over at Typical Programmer, Greg Jorgensen is not impressed. 'I have some complaints about this "everyone must code" movement,' Jorgensen writes, 'and Mr. McDonald's article gives me a starting point because he touched on so many of them.'"
skaffen42 writes "The recent Ask Slashdot about becoming a programmer later in life got me thinking about a related question. How do you deal with programmers who have not stayed current with new technologies? In the hiring process, this is easy; you simply don't hire them. However, at most companies where I've worked, there are usually a few programmers who have been employed long enough that the skill-set they were originally hired for has become irrelevant. At the same time, they have not bothered to stay current with newer technologies. They usually have enough business knowledge that they provide some value to the company, but from a technical perspective they are a slowly-increasing liability. As an example: I work with a developer who is 10 years my senior, but still doesn't understand how to write concurrent code and cannot be trusted to use a revision control system without causing a mess that somebody else will have to clean up. On top of that, he is really resistant to the idea of code reviews; I suspect he dislikes people he considers junior to him making suggestions about how to improve his code. So, how do my fellow Slashdotters handle situations like this? How do you help somebody like this to improve their skill-sets? And, most importantly, how do you do so without stepping on anybody's feelings?"
An anonymous reader writes "Jenny Lamere, a graduating high school senior from Nashua NH, was the youngest of 80 participants (and one of only four women) in the Hill Holiday TVnext hackathon held in Boston this past April, a programming contest sponsored by TV API providers. Her submission of 'Twivo,' an app that allows TV viewers to block spoiler tweets while watching a show and recover them later, won the contest's 'Sync to Broadcast' category (one of five), and was also named the event's 'Best in Show' (overall winner). At least one tech company has expressed interest in her app (a short demo and interview with the judges starts at 3:30 in the embedded YouTube clip). Lamere plans to enter the Rochester Institute of Technology in the fall, and will pursue a career in software development."
Noiser writes "The Israeli pop singer Aya Korem published her new song "Computer Engineer" as a website that shows translation to the Perl programming language along with the lyrics. Perl is quite a good match, given that the Perl community has a long tradition of publishing "Perl poetry", and this song proves that this tradition is very much alive. No Flash is required to view the website, so if you are an HTML5 geek, have no worries."
An anonymous reader writes "The folks at Conformal have announced btcd, an alternative full-node implementation to bitcoind, written in Go! They have released the first of their core packages, btcwire, available for download at GitHub. As a bitcoin user myself, I love the idea of a full alternative. It will only make bitcoin stronger and more independent. This will be great for the Go community, too!"
Last week you had the chance to ask software designer and international man on the run John McAfee about his exploits in business, programming, and the jungle. Mr. McAfee provided some extraordinarily entertaining and frank answers to your questions. Read below and enjoy.
An anonymous reader writes "We're seeing a new revolution in artificial intelligence known as deep learning: algorithms modeled after the brain have made amazing strides and have been consistently winning both industrial and academic data competitions with minimal effort. 'Basically, it involves building neural networks — networks that mimic the behavior of the human brain. Much like the brain, these multi-layered computer networks can gather information and react to it. They can build up an understanding of what objects look or sound like. In an effort to recreate human vision, for example, you might build a basic layer of artificial neurons that can detect simple things like the edges of a particular shape. The next layer could then piece together these edges to identify the larger shape, and then the shapes could be strung together to understand an object. The key here is that the software does all this on its own — a big advantage over older AI models, which required engineers to massage the visual or auditory data so that it could be digested by the machine-learning algorithm.' Are we ready to blur the line between hardware and wetware?"
mlingojones writes "The CSS Zen Garden — an attempt to showcase the power of CSS, from ye olden days when most sites used tables for layout, when CSS2 was bleeding edge, when IE5 was the most popular web browser — turns 10 today. In celebration, the maintainer Dave Shea is reopening the project for submissions, with a focus on CSS3 and responsive design."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Tech firms are engaging in several non-traditional hiring methods, from programming contests to finding the right people via algorithm. One of the more popular methods: set up a coding challenge or programming contest to bring out interested parties, with the top prize being a trip to the sponsoring company's headquarters to interview for a job. Look at what Facebook is doing in this area, sponsoring several Kaggle.com programming contests to find the best programmers; it also makes use of the site InterviewStreet to screen potential applicants. In theory, any company can build and run a contest online. But is it really the best way to go about hiring a programmer (or any other tech-minded employee, for that matter)?"