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Programming

Invented-Here Syndrome 150

Posted by Soulskill
from the all-of-this-has-happened-before-and-all-of-this-will-happen-again dept.
edA-qa writes: Are you afraid to write code? Does the thought linger in your brain that somewhere out there somebody has already done this? Do you find yourself trapped in an analysis cycle where nothing is getting done? Is your product mutating to accommodate third party components? If yes, then perhaps you are suffering from invented-here syndrome.

Most of use are aware of not-invented-here syndrome, but the opposite problem is perhaps equally troublesome. We can get stuck in the mindset that there must be a product, library, or code sample, that already does what we want. Instead of just writing the code we need a lot of effort is spent testing out modules and trying to accommodate our own code. At some point we need to just say, 'stop!', and write the code ourselves.
Programming

The Programmers Who Want To Get Rid of Software Estimates 341

Posted by Soulskill
from the and-the-managers-who-want-them-dead dept.
An anonymous reader writes: This article has a look inside the #NoEstimates movement, which wants to rid the software world of time estimates for projects. Programmers argue that estimates are wrong too often and a waste of time. Other stakeholders believe they need those estimates to plan and to keep programmers accountable. Is there a middle ground? Quoting: "Software project estimates are too often wrong, and the more time we throw at making them, the more we steal from the real work of building software. Also: Managers have a habit of treating developers' back-of-the-envelope estimates as contractual deadlines, then freaking out when they're missed. And wait, there's more: Developers, terrified by that prospect, put more and more energy into obsessive trips down estimation rabbit-holes. Estimation becomes a form of "yak-shaving" — a ritual enacted to put off actual work."
AI

The Believers: Behind the Rise of Neural Nets 45

Posted by samzenpus
from the back-in-the-day dept.
An anonymous reader writes Deep learning is dominating the news these days, but it's quite possible the field could have died if not for a mysterious call that Geoff Hinton, now at Google, got one night in the 1980s: "You don't know me, but I know you," the mystery man said. "I work for the System Development Corporation. We want to fund long-range speculative research. We're particularly interested in research that either won't work or, if it does work, won't work for a long time. And I've been reading some of your papers." The Chronicle of Higher Ed has a readable profile of the minds behind neural nets, from Rosenblatt to Hassabis, told primarily through Hinton's career.
Build

Developers Disclose Schematics For 50-1000 MHz Software-Defined Transceiver 131

Posted by samzenpus
from the fire-up-the-boat-anchor dept.
Bruce Perens writes Chris Testa KD2BMH and I have been working for years on a software-defined transceiver that would be FCC-legal and could communicate using essentially any mode and protocol up to 1 MHz wide on frequencies between 50 and 1000 MHz. It's been discussed here before, most recently when Chris taught gate-array programming in Python. We are about to submit the third generation of the design for PCB fabrication, and hope that this version will be salable as a "developer board" and later as a packaged walkie-talkie, mobile, and base station. This radio is unique in that it uses your smartphone for the GUI, uses apps to provide communication modes, contains an on-board FLASH-based gate-array and a ucLinux system. We intend to go for FSF "Respects Your Freedom" certification for the device. My slide show contains 20 pages of schematics and is full of ham jargon ("HT" means "handi-talkie", an old Motorola product name and the hams word for "walkie talkie") but many non-hams should be able to parse it with some help from search engines. Bruce Perens K6BP
Education

Interviews: Ask Senior Director Matt Keller About the Global Learning XPRIZE 28

Posted by samzenpus
from the go-ahead-and-ask dept.
The former Vice President of One Laptop per Child (OLPC) Matt Keller is currently the Senior Director of the $15 million Global Learning XPRIZE. The competition challenges teams from around the world to develop open source software solutions that will allow children in developing countries to teach themselves basic reading, writing and arithmetic within a 18 month competition period. After 18 months a panel of judges will evaluate the projects and announce semi-finalists. Semi-finalists will have a month to tweak their projects and/or reconfigure their teams before the judges elect the top five finalist to proceed. Each of the five teams selected will receive $1 million to field test their ideas with the eventual winners receiving the Grand Prize of $10 million. The Global Learning XPRIZE is recruiting teams now through April 30, 2015. Matt has agreed to answer any questions you might have about the competition and the future of education in general. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post.
Programming

H-1B Visas Proving Lucrative For Engineers, Dev Leads 176

Posted by timothy
from the quick-get-the-pitchforks dept.
Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes Ever wanted to know how much H-1B holders make per year? Developer Swizec Teller, who is about to apply for an H-1B visa, took data from the U.S. Department of Labor and visualized it in a series of graphs that break down H-1B salaries on a state-by-state basis. Teller found that the average engineer with an H-1B makes $87,000 a year, a good deal higher than developers ($74,000) and programmers ($61,000) with the same visa. ("Don't call yourself a programmer," he half-joked on Twitter.) Architects, consultants, managers, administrators, and leads with H-1Bs can likewise expect six-figure annual salaries, depending on the state and company. Teller's site is well worth checking out for the interactive graphs, which he built with React and D3.js. The debate over H-1Bs is an emotional one for many tech pros, and research into the visa's true impact on the U.S. labor market wasn't helped by the U.S. Department of Labor's recent decision to destroy H-1B records after five years. "These are the only publicly available records for researchers to analyze on the demand by employers for H-1B visas with detail information on work locations," Neil Ruiz, who researches visa issues for The Brookings Institution, told Computerworld after the new policy was announced in late 2014.
Businesses

Attention, Rockstar Developers: Get a Talent Agent 145

Posted by timothy
from the there-will-be-no-green-m&ms dept.
ErichTheRed writes OK, we all know that there are a lot of developers and IT people in the field who shouldn't be, and finding really good people and hanging onto them is very difficult. However, I almost fell out of my chair reading this breathless article suggesting that developers hire agents. I grant the authors that recruiters are sometimes the only way to cut through the HR jungle in some companies, but outside of the hot San Francisco startup market, can you imagine a "10x rockstar developer" swaggering into a job interview with his negotiating team? I'm sure our readers can cite plenty of examples of these types who were only 10x in their own minds...
Programming

How One Developer Got the Internet To Watch People Code 65

Posted by Soulskill
from the next-year-we'll-all-be-crowdcoding dept.
blottsie writes: While Twitch TV is generally used for livestreaming gameplay, Alexander Putilin has other plans for the platform. Putilin and his girlfriend are using Twitch to build a community of software developers and students who broadcast complex floating point operations and algorithm design to the rest of the world. The community is responding and growing alongside its newfound popularity. WatchPeopleCode is now facilitating live hackathons (there was one this weekend), enabling programmers to meet and collaborate with people that they'd otherwise never be able to.
United Kingdom

Scotland's Police Lose Data Because of Programmer's Error 108

Posted by samzenpus
from the who's-to-blame dept.
Anne Thwacks writes Assistant Chief Constable Wayne Mawson told the [Scottish Police Authority] committee that a total of 20,086 records had been lost because a computer programmer pressed the wrong button between May and July last year. He added: "....they had been properly put on the system by the officers as a result of stopping and searching people, but we lost the outcome of it as a computer programming error. We have been working really hard to recover that data. I have personally overseen the sending out of several thousand emails to officers and follow-up audits. We have been working hard with HMICS to oversee everything that we do, to make sure it is done properly and I am pleased to say that the vast majority of that data, those results, are now back on the system."
Microsoft

Will Every Xbox Be a Dev Kit? 69

Posted by samzenpus
from the working-it-out dept.
jfruh writes There were a lot of rumored features of the Xbox One that vanished after public outcry — that it would need an always-on Internet connection, for instance. But another rumor from that era was that every Xbox One sold would include a dev kit that would allow anyone to create games — and it looks like this is one dream that might be coming true soon.
Java

Java Vs. Node.js: Epic Battle For Dev Mindshare 318

Posted by samzenpus
from the hearts-and-minds dept.
snydeq writes While it may have been unthinkable 20 years ago, Java and JavaScript are now locked in a battle of sorts for control of the programming world. InfoWorld's Peter Wayner examines where the old-school compiler-driven world of Java hold its ground and where the speed and flexibility of Node.js gives JavaScript on the server the nod. "In the history of computing, 1995 was a crazy time. First Java appeared, then close on its heels came JavaScript. The names made them seem like conjoined twins newly detached, but they couldn't be more different. One of them compiled and statically typed; the other interpreted and dynamically typed. That's only the beginning of the technical differences between these two wildly distinct languages that have since shifted onto a collision course of sorts, thanks to Node.js."
Programming

Building a Procedural Dungeon Generator In C# 83

Posted by samzenpus
from the random-encounters dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes Procedural dungeon generation is a fun exercise for programmers. Despite the crude interface, such games continue to spark interest. A quarter century ago, David Bolton wrote a dungeon generator in procedural Pascal; now he's taken that old code and converted it to C#. It's amazing just how fast it runs on a five-year-old i7 950 PC with 16GB of RAM. If you want to follow along, you can find his code for the project on SourceForge. The first part of the program generates the rooms in a multilevel dungeon. Each level is based on a 150 x 150 grid and can have up to 40 rooms. Rather than just render boring old rectangular rooms, there are also circular rooms. "There are a couple of places where corridor placement could have been optimized better," Bolton wrote about his experiment. "However, the dungeon generation is still very fast, and could provide a good programming example for anyone exploring what C# can do." For C# beginners, this could represent a solid exercise.
Businesses

Torvalds: "People Who Start Writing Kernel Code Get Hired Really Quickly" 130

Posted by samzenpus
from the getting-paid dept.
alphadogg writes Now more than ever, the development of the Linux kernel is a matter for the professionals, as unpaid volunteer contributions to the project reached their lowest recorded levels in the latest "Who Writes Linux" report, which was released today. According to the report, which is compiled by the Linux Foundation, just 11.8% of kernel development last year was done by unpaid volunteers – a 19% downturn from the 2012 figure of 14.6%. The foundation says that the downward trend in volunteer contributions has been present for years. According to Linus Torvalds, the shift towards paid developers hasn’t changed much about kernel development on its own. “I think one reason it hasn't changed things all that much is that it's not so much unpaid volunteers are going away as people who start writing kernel code get hired really quickly,” he said.
Math

Interviews: Ask Stephen Wolfram a Question 210

Posted by samzenpus
from the go-ahead-and-ask dept.
Stephen Wolfram's accomplishments and contributions to science and computing are numerous. He earned a PhD in particle physics from Caltech at 20, and has been cited by over 30,000 research publications. Wolfram is the the author of A New Kind of Science, creator of Mathematica, the creator of Wolfram Alpha, and the founder and CEO of Wolfram Research. He developed Wolfram Language, a general multi-paradigm programming language, in 2014. Stephen has graciously agreed to answer any questions you may have for him. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post.
Government

Cubans Allowed To Export Software and Software Services To the US 165

Posted by samzenpus
from the getting-out-there dept.
lpress writes In an effort to support Cuba's nascent private sector, the Treasury Department announced on Friday that Americans can now import goods and services produced by "independent Cuban entrepreneurs." Will the Cuban government allow that? Cuba is a communist nation, but they have a list of 201 job categories in which self-employment is permitted. Most of those jobs are goofy things like magician and pedal-taxi driver, but one is not – computer programmer. Will the Castro regime let private individuals and organizations export software and software services to the United States and the rest of the world?
Programming

Ask Slashdot: Are General Engineering Skills Undervalued In Web Development? 323

Posted by samzenpus
from the skills-to-pay-the-bills dept.
nerdyalien writes After reading a recent post about developer competence, I can't help but to ask the question, "Are general engineering skills undervalued in web development?" I am an EE major. The course I completed, and the professors who taught it; mainly emphasized on developing skills rather memorizing reams of facts and figures. As a result, I have acquired a multitude of skills such as analytical, research, programming, communication, project management, planning, self-learning, etc.

A little over 3 years ago, I made the fateful decision to become a web developer in a small SME in SEA. Admittedly, I have an unstructured knowledge about CS theory. Still, within a short period of time I picked up the essentials of web development craft, and delivered reliable web applications. Most of all, I made good use of my existing technical/soft skills, despite the lack of my CS pedigree.

Recently I went through a couple of job interviews in MNCs, SMEs and start-ups alike. All of them grilled my CS theory or Java knowledge. Almost no interviewer asked me about my other skills (or past experiences) that could be helpful in the developer position. In my experience, web development is a cocktail of competing programming languages, frameworks and standards. Rarely a developer gets exposed to a single technology for a substantial period to learn it inside-out. Even still, in web development world, deep in-depth knowledge in anything will be outdated in few years' time as new technologies roll out. So, what matter's today? Knowledge on a particular technology or re-usable engineering skills ?
Open Source

Removing Libsystemd0 From a Live-running Debian System 754

Posted by samzenpus
from the taking-sides dept.
lkcl writes The introduction of systemd has unilaterally created a polarization of the GNU/Linux community that is remarkably similar to the monopolistic power position wielded by Microsoft in the late 1990s. Choices were stark: use Windows (with SMB/CIFS Services), or use UNIX (with NFS and NIS). Only the introduction of fully-compatible reverse-engineered NT Domains services corrected the situation. Instructions on how to remove systemd include dire warnings that "all dependent packages will be removed", rendering a normal Debian Desktop system flat-out impossible to achieve. It was therefore necessary to demonstrate that it is actually possible to run a Debian Desktop GUI system (albeit an unusual one: fvwm) with libsystemd0 removed. The reason for doing so: it doesn't matter how good systemd is believed to be or in fact actually is: the reason for removing it is, apart from the alarm at how extensive systemd is becoming (including interfering with firewall rules), it's the way that it's been introduced in a blatantly cavalier fashion as a polarized all-or-nothing option, forcing people to consider abandoning the GNU/Linux of their choice and to seriously consider using FreeBSD or any other distro that properly respects the Software Freedom principle of the right to choose what software to run. We aren't all "good at coding", or paid to work on Software Libre: that means that those people who are need to be much more responsible, and to start — finally — to listen to what people are saying. Developing a thick skin is a good way to abdicate responsibility and, as a result, place people into untenable positions.
Programming

Nim Programming Language Gaining Traction 520

Posted by Soulskill
from the jack-be-nimble dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Nim is a young, statically typed programming language that has been getting more attention recently. See these articles for an introduction: What is special about Nim?, What makes Nim practical? and How I Start: Nim. The language offers a syntax inspired by Python and Pascal, great performance and C interfacing, and powerful metaprogramming capabilities. The author of "Unix in Rust" just abandoned Rust in favor of Nim and some early-adopter companies are starting to use it as well.
Programming

Should We Really Try To Teach Everyone To Code? 291

Posted by Soulskill
from the going-recursive dept.
theodp writes: Gottfried Sehringer asks Should We Really Try to Teach Everyone to Code? He writes, "While everyone today needs to be an app developer, is learning to code really the answer? Henry Ford said that, 'If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.' I view everyone learning to code as app development's version of a faster horse. What we all really want — and need — is a car. The industry is falling back on code because for most people, it's the only thing they know. If you want to build an application, you have to code it. And if you want to build more apps, then you have to teach more people how to code, right? Instead, shouldn't we be asking whether coding is really the best way to build apps in the first place? Sure, code will always have a place in the world, but is it the language for the masses? Is it what we should be teaching everyone, including our kids?" President Obama thinks so, telling Re/code at Friday's Cyber Security Summit that 'everybody's got to learn to code early' (video). But until domestic girls (including his daughters) and underrepresented groups get with the program(ming), the President explained he's pushing tech immigration reform hard and using executive action to help address tech's "urgent need" for global talent.
Programming

Ask Slashdot: What Portion of Developers Are Bad At What They Do? 809

Posted by Soulskill
from the very-small-shell-scripts dept.
ramoneThePoolGuy writes: We are looking to fill a senior developer/architect position in our firm. I am disappointed with the applicants thus far, and quite frankly it has me worried about the quality of developers/engineers available to us. For instance, today I asked an engineer with 20+ years of experience to describe to me the basic process of public/private key encryption. This engineer had no clue. I asked another applicant a similar question: "Suppose you wanted to send me a file with very sensitive information, how would you encrypt it in such a way that I would decrypt it?" The person started off by asking me if it was an excel file, a PDF, etc. In general, I'm finding that an overwhelming number of developers I've interviewed have poor understanding of key concepts, especially when it comes to securing data. Are other firms experiencing this same dilemma in finding qualified applicants? (Quite frankly it scares me that some of these developers are building sites that need to be secure)"