Programming

Lessons From Your Toughest Software Bugs 124 124

Nerval's Lobster writes: Most programmers experience some tough bugs in their careers, but only occasionally do they encounter something truly memorable. In developer David Bolton's new posting, he discusses the bugs that he still remembers years later. One messed up the figures for a day's worth of oil trading by $800 million. ('The code was correct, but the exception happened because a new financial instrument being traded had a zero value for "number of days," and nobody had told us,' he writes.) Another program kept shutting down because a professor working on the project decided to sneak in and do a little DIY coding. While care and testing can sometimes allow you to snuff out serious bugs before they occur, some truly spectacular ones occasionally end up in the release... despite your best efforts.
Education

CollegeBoard: Analyses of CS Study Benefits Shouldn't Be Interpreted As Causal 103 103

theodp writes: Code.org, backed by some of tech's wealthiest individuals and their companies, is this close to getting computer science declared a 'core subject' in K-12 public schools. So, when the non-profit recently asked CollegeBoard for more evidence that learning computer science is linked to improved learning in other subjects, it must have been disheartened by the study results. "The purpose of this brief note," wrote the CollegeBoard, "is to document some exploratory analyses linking participation in AP Computer Science to subsequent performance in SAT Mathematics and AP Calculus and Statistics. None of these analyses should be interpreted as causal. Although there appears to be a relationship between AP CS participation and subsequent outcomes, it is highly likely that this is the result of one or more omitted and confounding characteristics of students that are not able to be controlled for given this research design."
Programming

Lennart Poettering Announces the First Systemd Conference 363 363

jones_supa writes: Lennart Poettering, the creator of the controversial init system and service manager for Linux-based operating systems has announced the first systemd conference. The systemd.conf will take place November 5-7, in Berlin, Germany. systemd developers and hackers, DevOps professionals, and Linux distribution packagers will be able to attend various workshops, as well as to collaborate with their fellow developers and plan the future of the project. Attendees will also be able to participate in an extended hackfest event, as well as numerous presentations held by important names in the systemd project, including Poettering himself.
Android

Samsung Woos Developers As It Eyes Tizen Expansion Beyond Smartphones 79 79

New submitter Manish Singh writes: Why is Samsung, the South Korean technology conglomerate which has the tentpole position in Android, becoming increasinglu focused on its homegrown operating system Tizen? At its annual developer summit this week, the company announced new SDKs for smartwatches, smart TVs, and smartphones, and also shared its future roadmap.
Businesses

Silicon Valley's Big Lie 129 129

HughPickens.com writes: Danny Crichton writes at TechCrunch that startups in Silicon Valley run on an alchemy of ignorance and amnesia and that lying is a requisite and daily part of being a founder, the grease that keeps the startup flywheel running. Most startups fail. The vast, vast majority of startup employees will never exercise their options, let alone become millionaires while doing it. But founders have little choice as they sell their company to everyone, whether investors, employees, potential employees, or clients. "Founders have to tell the lie – that everything is fine, that a feature is going to launch even though the engineer for that feature hasn't been hired yet, that payroll will run even though the VC dollars are still nowhere on the horizon," writes Crichton. "For one of the most hyper-rational populations in the world, Silicon Valley runs off a myth about startup success, of the lowly founder conquering the world."
Databases

Oracle To Debut Low-Cost SPARC Chip Next Month 91 91

jfruh writes: Of the many things Oracle acquired when it absorbed Sun, the SPARC processors have not exactly been making headlines. But that may change next month when the company debuts a new, lower-cost chip that will compete with Intel's Xeon. "Debut," in this case, means only an introduction, though -- not a marketplace debut. From the article: [T]he Sparc M7 will have technologies for encryption acceleration and memory protection built into the chip. It will also include coprocessors to accelerate database performance. "The idea of Sonoma is to take exactly those same technologies and bring them down to very low cost points, so that people can use them in cloud computing and for smaller applications, and even for smaller companies who need a lower entry point," [Oracle head of systems John] Fowler said. ... [Fowler] didn’t talk about prices or say how much cheaper the new Sparc systems will be, and it could potentially be years before Sonoma comes to market—Oracle isn’t yet saying. Its engineers are due to discuss Sonoma at the Hot Chips conference in Silicon Valley at the end of the month, so we might learn more then.
Businesses

How Developers Can Fight Creeping Mediocrity 133 133

Nerval's Lobster writes: As the Slashdot community well knows, chasing features has never worked out for any software company. "Once management decides that's where the company is going to live, it's pretty simple to start counting down to the moment that company will eventually die," software engineer Zachary Forrest y Salazar writes in a new posting. But how does any developer overcome the management and deadlines that drive a lot of development straight into mediocrity, if not outright ruination? He suggests a damn-the-torpedoes approach: "It's taking the code into your own hands, building or applying tools to help you ship faster, and prototyping ideas," whether or not you really have the internal support. But given the management issues and bureaucracy confronting many companies, is this approach feasible?
Programming

Ask Slashdot: Everyone Building Software -- Is This the Future We Need? 352 352

An anonymous reader writes: I recently stumbled upon Apple's headline for version 2 of its Swift programming language: "Now everyone can build amazing apps." My question: is this what we really need? Tech giants (not just Apple, but Microsoft, Facebook, and more) are encouraging kids and adults to become developers, adding to an already-troubled IT landscape. While many software engineering positions are focused only on a business's internal concerns, many others can dramatically affect other people's lives. People write software for the cars we drive; our finances are in the hands of software, and even the medical industry is replete with new software these days. Poor code here can legitimately mess up somebody's life. Compare this to other high-influence professions: can you become surgeon just because you bought a state-of-art turbo laser knife? Of course not. Back to Swift: the app ecosystem is already chaotic, without solid quality control and responsibility from most developers. If you want simple to-do app, you'll get never-ending list of software artifacts that will drain your battery, eat memory, freeze the OS and disappoint you in every possible way. So, should we really be focusing on quantity, rather than quality?
Programming

.NET 4.6 Optimizer Bug Causes Methods To Get Wrong Parameters 147 147

tobiasly writes: A serious bug in the just-released .NET 4.6 runtime causes the JIT compiler to generate incorrectly-optimized code which results in methods getting called with different parameters than what were passed in. Nick Craver of Stack Exchange has an excellent write-up of the technical details and temporary workarounds; Microsoft has acknowledged the problem and submitted an as-yet unreleased patch.

This problem is compounded by Microsoft's policy of replacing the existing .NET runtime, as opposed to the side-by-side runtimes which were possible until .NET 2.0. This means that even if your project targets .NET 4.5, it will get the 4.6 runtime if it was installed on that machine. Since it's not possible to install the just-released Visual Studio 2015 without .NET 4.6, this means developers must make the difficult choice between using the latest tools or risking crippling bugs such as this one.
HP

HP R&D Starts Enforcing a Business Casual Dress Code 471 471

An anonymous reader writes: HP was once known as a research and technology giant, a company founded in a garage by a pair of engineers and dominated by researchers. Whilst a part of that lives on in Agilent any hope for the rest of the company has now died with the announcement that HP R&D will have to dress in business "smart casual" with T-shirts, baseball caps, short skirts, low cut dresses and sportswear all being banned.
Open Source

Battle For Wesnoth Seeks New Developers 58 58

jones_supa writes: Twelve years ago, David White sat down over a weekend and created the small pet project that we know today as the open source strategy game The Battle For Wesnoth. At the time, Dave was the sole programmer, working alongside Francisco Muñoz, who produced the first graphics. As more and more people contributed, the game grew from a tiny personal project into an extensive one, encompassing hundreds of contributors. Today however, the ship is sinking. The project is asking for help to keep things rolling. Especially requested are C++, Python, and gameplay (WML) programmers. Any willing volunteers should have good communication skills and preferably be experienced with working alongside fellow members of a large project. More details can be found at the project website.
Google

Google Will Block Access To Its Autocomplete API On August 10 59 59

An anonymous reader writes with news reported by VentureBeat that Google will be discontinuing developer access to its unofficial Autocomplete API, as of August 10 of this year. A snippet from the article: Google currently supports more than 80 APIs that developers can use to integrate Google services and data into their applications. The company also has unsupported and unpublished APIs which people outside the company have discovered and leveraged. One of those is the Autocomplete API. The company says it is making this move "in the interest of maintaining the integrity of autocomplete as part of Search," that it wants to "ensure that users experience autocomplete as it was designed to be used," and finally that "this provides the best user experience for both services." I'm sure many will disagree.
AI

A Programming Language For Self-Organizing Swarms of Drones 56 56

New submitter jumpjoe writes: Drones are becoming a staple of everyday news. Drone swarms are the natural extension of the drone concept for applications such as search and rescue, mapping, and agricultural and industrial monitoring. A new programming language, compiler, and virtual machine were recently introduced to specify the behaviour of an entire swarm with a single program. This programming language, called Buzz, allows for self-organizing behaviour to accomplish complex tasks with simple program. Details on the language and examples are available here. Full disclosure: I am one of the authors of the paper.
Google

Woman Recruited By Google Four Times and Rejected Now Joins Age Discrimination Suit 634 634

dcblogs writes: An Ivy league graduate, with a Ph.D. in geophysics, Cheryl Fillekes, who also specializes in Linux and Unix systems, was contacted by Google recruiters four separate times over a seven year period. In each instance, she did well enough on the phone interviews to get invited to an in-person interview but was rejected every time for a job. She has since joined an age discrimination lawsuit against Google filed about two months ago by another older worker. "The amended lawsuit also alleges that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) received 'multiple complaints of age discrimination by Google, and is currently conducting an extensive investigation.'"
Graphics

LibreOffice Ported To Run On Wayland 216 216

An anonymous reader writes: LibreOffice has lost its X11 dependency on Linux and can now run smoothly under Wayland. LibreOffice has been ported to Wayland by adding GTK3 tool-kit support to the office suite over the past few months. LibreOffice on Wayland is now in good enough shape that the tracker bug has been closed and it should work as well as X11 except for a few remaining bugs. LibreOffice 5.0 will be released next month with this support and other changes outlined by the 5.0 release notes.
Businesses

Why Certifications Are Necessary (Even If Aggravating To Earn) 213 213

Nerval's Lobster writes: Whether or not certifications have value is a back-and-forth argument that's been going on since before Novell launched its CNE program in the 1990s. Developer David Bolton recently incited some discussion of his own when he wrote an article for Dice in which he claimed that certifications aren't worth the time and money. But there's a lot of evidence that certifications can add as much as 16 percent to a tech professional's base pay; in addition a lot of tech companies use resume-screening software that weeds out any resumes that don't feature certain acronyms. There's also the argument that the cost, difficulty, and annoyance of earning a certification is actually the best reason to go through it, especially if you're looking for a job; it broadcasts that you're serious enough about the technology to invest a serious chunk of your life in it. But others might not agree with that assessment, arguing that all a certification proves is that you're good at taking tests, not necessarily knowing a technology inside and out.
Security

How Developers Can Rebuild Trust On the Internet 65 65

snydeq writes: Public keys, trusted hardware, block chains — InfoWorld's Peter Wayner discusses tech tools developers should be investigating to help secure the Internet for all. 'The Internet is a pit of epistemological chaos. As Peter Steiner posited — and millions of chuckles peer-reviewed — in his famous New Yorker cartoon, there's no way to know if you're swapping packets with a dog or the bank that claims to safeguard your money,' Wayner writes. 'We may not be able to wave a wand and make the Internet perfect, but we can certainly add features to improve trust on the Internet. To that end, we offer the following nine ideas for bolstering a stronger sense of assurance that our data, privacy, and communications are secure.'
Microsoft

Microsoft Uses US Women's Soccer Team To Explain Why It Doesn't Hire More Women 212 212

theodp writes: "It is not surprising that the U.S. women have been dominant in the sport [of soccer] in recent years. The explanation for that success lies in the talent pipeline," writes General Manager of Citizenship & Public Affairs Lori Forte Harnick on The Official Microsoft Blog. "Said another way, many girls in the U.S. have the opportunity to learn how to play soccer and, as a result, they benefit from the teamwork, skill development and fun involved. That's the kind of opportunity I would like to see develop for the technology sector, which presents a different, yet perhaps even more significant, set of opportunities for girls and young women. Unfortunately, the strength in the talent pipeline that we see in female soccer today is not the reality for technology. The U.S. is facing a shortage of Computer Science (CS) graduates. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, every year there are close to 140,000 jobs requiring a CS degree, but only 40,000 U.S. college graduates major in CS, which means that 100,000 positions go unfilled by domestic talent." Going with the soccer analogy, one thing FIFA realized that Microsoft didn't is that if you want girls to play your sport, you don't take away their ball!
Graphics

Renderman Gets Blender Integration 31 31

jones_supa writes: Now that Renderman has been available for free for non-commercial use for a while, there has been many requests for integration with Blender. An initiative spearheaded by Pixar now presents the first Blender to Renderman plugin. With the release of PRMan 20, a small group of developers headed by Brian Savery of Pixar have been working on support for using Renderman and Blender together. The plugin is still in early alpha but has had many great developments in the last few weeks. The source code is available in GitHub.