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Programming

You Don't Have To Be Good At Math To Learn To Code 261

HughPickens.com writes: Olga Khazan writes in The Atlantic that learning to program involves a lot of Googling, logic, and trial-and-error—but almost nothing beyond fourth-grade arithmetic. Victoria Fine explains how she taught herself how to code despite hating math. Her secret? Lots and lots of Googling. "Like any good Google query, a successful answer depended on asking the right question. "How do I make a website red" was not nearly as successful a question as "CSS color values HEX red" combined with "CSS background color." I spent a lot of time learning to Google like a pro. I carefully learned the vocabulary of HTML so I knew what I was talking about when I asked the Internet for answers." According to Khazan while it's true that some types of code look a little like equations, you don't really have to solve them, just know where they go and what they do. "In most cases you can see that the hard maths (the physical and geometry) is either done by a computer or has been done by someone else. While the calculations do happen and are essential to the successful running of the program, the programmer does not need to know how they are done." Khazan says that in order to figure out what your program should say, you're going to need some basic logic skills and you'll need to be skilled at copying and pasting things from online repositories and tweaking them slightly. "But humanities majors, fresh off writing reams of term papers, are probably more talented at that than math majors are."
Open Source

Netflix Open Sources Sleepy Puppy XSS Hunter 7

msm1267 writes: Netflix has released a tool it calls Sleepy Puppy. The tool injects cross-site scripting payloads into a target app that may not be vulnerable, but could be stored in a database and tracks the payload if it's reflected to a secondary application that makes use of the data in the same field. "We were looking for a way to provide coverage on applications that come from different origins or may not be publicly accessible," said co-developer Scott Behrens, a senior application security engineer at Netflix. "We also wanted to observe where stored data gets reflected back, and how data that may be stored publicly could also be reflected in a large number of internal applications." Sleepy Puppy is available on Netflix's Github repository and is one of a slew of security tools its engineers have released to open source.
Open Source

LLVM 3.7 Delivers OpenMP 3.1 Support, ORC JIT API, New Optimizations 76

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.
Open Source

LILO Bootloader Development To End 132

An anonymous reader writes: For any longtime Linux users, you probably remember the LILO bootloader from Linux distributions of many years ago. This bootloader has been in development since the 90's but development is finally ending. A homepage message reads, "I plan to finish development of LILO at 12/2015 because of some limitations (e.g. with BTFS, GPT, RAID). If someone want to develop this nice software further, please let me know ..."
Programming

The Most Important Obscure Languages? 426

Nerval's Lobster writes: If you're a programmer, you're knowledgeable about "big" languages such as Java and C++. But what about those little-known languages you only hear about occasionally? Which ones have an impact on the world that belies their obscurity? Erlang (used in high-performance, parallel systems) springs immediately to mind, as does R, which is relied upon my mathematicians and analysts to crunch all sorts of data. But surely there are a handful of others, used only by a subset of people, that nonetheless inform large and important platforms that lots of people rely upon... without realizing what they owe to a language that few have ever heard of.
Books

Book Review: Effective Python: 59 Specific Ways To Write Better Python 68

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.
Government

Where the Tech Industry's Political Donations Are Going 129

An anonymous reader writes: Early estimates suggest the 2016 U.S. presidential election will result in $5-10 billion in spending by candidates and organizations — much more than ever before. To support this, they need lots of contributions, and the tech industry is becoming a significant player. (Not as much as the financial industry, of course, but tech's influence is growing.) Re/Code breaks down which candidates are getting the most money from the tech sector so far. Right now, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) has gotten the most tech money by far — more than the rest of the field combined, thanks in large part to Larry Ellison. Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida, is a distant second, followed closely by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT). New Jersey governor Chris Christie and Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) are the only other candidates with significant tech contributions so far. Carly Fiorina, a tech industry veteran, has only managed about $13,000 in donations.
Education

NSF Makes It Rain: $722K Award To Evaluate Microsoft-Backed TEALS 63

theodp writes: Microsoft has $92 billion in cash parked offshore, so it's kind of surprising to see a $722K National Science Foundation award is going towards validating the efficacy of Microsoft TEALS, the pet program of CEO Satya Nadella that sends volunteer software engineers with no teaching experience into high schools to teach kids and their teachers computer science. Among its Program Changes for 2015, TEALS said it "explicitly commits to provide a core set of curriculum materials that are complete, organized, and adaptable," which should help improve the outcome of the Developing Computer Science Pedagogical Content Knowledge through On-the-Job Learning NSF study schools are being asked to participate in. Meanwhile, CSTUY, a volunteer organization led by experienced CS teachers (including Slashdot user zamansky), finds itself turning to Kickstarter for $25K to fund Saturday Hacking Sessions. So, as Microsoft-backed Code.org — which has also attracted NSF award money to validate its CS program — is fond of saying: What's wrong with this picture? (To be fair to TEALS: it may have Microsoft backing, but it's not strictly a Microsoft effort, and also started out as a pure volunteer effort, as founder Kevin Wang explained earlier this year.)
Open Source

"Hack" Typeface Is Open Source, Easy On the IDEs 210

Ars Technica writes that "At SourceFoundry.org 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.
GNOME

GNOME To Start Using Codenames 46

prisoninmate writes: A discussion between GNOME developers and users during the annual GUADEC conference lead to potential code names for the desktop environment, starting with the upcoming September release, GNOME 3.18, which might be dubbed Gothenburg. They decided to codename the September releases after the city where the GUADEC conference took place, as explained above, and the March releases after the city where the GNOME.Asia Summit will take place.
Math

Ten Dropbox Engineers Build BSD-licensed, Lossless 'Pied Piper' Compression Algorithm 172

An anonymous reader writes: In Dropbox's "Hack Week" this year, a team of ten engineers built the fantasy Pied Piper algorithm from HBO's Silicon Valley, achieving 13% lossless compression on Mobile-recorded H.264 videos and 22% on arbitrary JPEG files. Their algorithm can return the compressed files to their bit-exact values. According to FastCompany, "Its ability to compress file sizes could actually have tangible, real-world benefits for Dropbox, whose core business is storing files in the cloud."The code is available on GitHub under a BSD license for people interested in advancing the compression or archiving their movie files.
Microsoft

Microsoft Builds Open-Source Browser Using HTML, JavaScript, and CSS 70

An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft's new browser, Edge, has a new rendering engine, EdgeHTML. Like Edge, the new rendering engine is only available in Windows 10, but it does more than just power the company's new browser: It's also readily available to developers. To show off what EdgeHTML can do, Microsoft has built a browser using predominantly JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. Next, the company released the browser on the Windows Store and the sample code on GitHub.
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: Advice On Enterprise Architect Position 198

dave562 writes: I could use some advice from the community. I have almost 20 years of IT experience, 5 of it with the company I am currently working for. In my current position, the infrastructure and applications that I am responsible for account for nearly 80% of the entire IT infrastructure of the company. In broad strokes our footprint is roughly 60 physical hosts that run close to 1500 VMs and a SAN that hosts almost 4PB of data. The organization is a moderate sized (~3000 employees), publicly traded company with a nearly $1 billion market value (recent fluctuations not withstanding).

I have been involved in a constant struggle with the core IT group over how to best run the operations. They are a traditional, internal facing IT shop. They have stumbled through a private cloud initiative that is only about 30% realized. I have had to drag them kicking and screaming into the world of automated provisioning, IaaS, application performance monitoring, and all of the other IT "must haves" that a reasonable person would expect from a company of our size. All the while, I have never had full access to the infrastructure. I do not have access to the storage. I do not have access to the virtualization layer. I do not have Domain Admin rights. I cannot see the network.

The entire organization has been ham strung by an "enterprise architect" who relies on consultants to get the job done, but does not have the capability to properly scope the projects. This has resulted in failure after failure and a broken trail of partially implemented projects. (VMware without SRM enabled. EMC storage hardware without automated tiering enabled. Numerous proof of concept systems that never make it into production because they were not scoped properly.)

After 5 years of succeeding in the face of all of these challenges, the organization has offered me the Enterprise Architect position. However they do not think that the position should have full access to the environment. It is an "architecture" position and not a "sysadmin" position is how they explained it to me. That seems insane. It is like asking someone to draw a map, without being able to actually visit the place that needs to be mapped.

For those of you in the community who have similar positions, what is your experience? Do you have unfettered access to the environment? Are purely architectural / advisory roles the norm at this level?
Google

Google May Try To Recruit You For a Job Based On Your Search Queries 182

HughPickens.com 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 "foo.bar" 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, foo.bar 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.
Software

Open Source, Collaborative Rich-Text, Web-Based Editor Almost Available 59

johanneswilm writes: Open source web-based editors such as CKEditor and TinyMCE have been available for more than a decade, and some closed source collaborative editors such as Google Docs have been available since 2007. Creating open source, collaborative, rich-text, web-based editors has proven difficult due to lack of standardization of the lower-level browser features. Now Marijn Haverbeke, the developer behind the popular CodeMirror has started such an editor, called Prosemirror, financed through a crowd-funding campaign. Meanwhile the W3C has installed a task force to rapidly standardize and fix the features needed in browsers to easily create richtext and semantic editors.
Programming

In Praise of the Solo Programmer 112

HughPickens.com 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."
Programming

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.
Google

Why Modular Smartphones Are Such a Nightmare To Develop 111

itwbennett writes: Last week Google postponed tests of its Project Ara until next year. Mikael Ricknäs has written about why developing such devices is particularly difficult. The biggest challenge, writes Ricknäs, 'is the underlying architecture, the structural frame and data backbone of the device, which makes it possible for all the modules to communicate with each other. It has to be so efficient that the overall performance doesn't take a hit and still be cheap and frugal with power consumption.' For more on Project Ara and its challenges, watch this Slashdot interview with the project's firmware lead Marti Bolivar.
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: Technical Resources For Non-Technical Disciplines? 87

New submitter nashpt writes: An accountant friend has recently joined a startup looking at developing a web platform. My friend is now dealing with developers directly where he would not have done so previously and feels he is at somewhat of a disadvantage. He asked me if I could advise on how he could get knowledgeable in the relevant technologies, HTML and JavaScript, in order to better interact with their developers. While there are numerous resources available to learn to program both of these, I didn't feel that would be the best approach; if nothing else, because he will have significant constraints on his time. Instead I looked for any primers that focus on technical subjects for non-technical disciplines. I haven't found much I think would be suitable for his needs. I appreciate this is a broad subject but can you recommend any resources that would be suitable in general or specific to these technologies? Do you even agree that this is an appropriate approach or should he look to develop a working knowledge of these languages instead? Any other suggestions on how to approach this?
Open Source

Happy Birthday, Linux! An OS At 24 152

prisoninmate writes: It has been 24 long years since the first ever release of the Linux project on August 25, 1991, which is the core component of any GNU/Linux distribution. With this occasion we want to remind everyone that Linux is everywhere, even if you don't see it. You use Linux when you search on Google, when you use your phone, when buy metro tickets, actually the whole Internet is powered by Linux. Happy Birthday, Linux!