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+ - Millennial Tech Workers Losing Ground in U.S.->

Submitted by Nerval's Lobster
Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "Millennial tech workers are entering the U.S. workforce at a comparable disadvantage to other tech workers throughout the industrialized world, according to study earlier this year from Educational Testing Services (PDF). How do U.S. millennials compare to their international peers, at least according to ETS? Those in the 90th percentile (i.e., the top-scoring) actually scored lower than top-scoring millennials in 15 of the 22 studied countries; low-scoring U.S. millennials ranked last (along with Italy and England/Northern Ireland). While some experts have blamed the nation's education system for the ultimate lack of STEM jobs, other studies have suggested that the problem isn't in the classroom; a 2014 report from the U.S. Census Bureau suggested that many of the people who earned STEM degrees didn't actually go into careers requiring them. In any case, the U.S. is clearly wrestling with an issue; how can it introduce more (qualified) STEM people into the market (yes, Dice link)?"
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+ - A Bechdel Test for Programmers?->

Submitted by Nerval's Lobster
Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "In order for a movie or television show to pass the Bechdel Test (named after cartoonist and MacArthur genius Alison Bechdel), it must feature two female characters, have those two characters talk to one another, and have those characters talk to one another about something other than a man. A lot of movies and shows don’t pass. How would programming culture fare if subjected to a similar test? One tech firm, 18F, decided to find out after seeing a tweet from Laurie Voss, CTO of npm, which explained the parameters of a modified Bechdel Test. According to Voss, a project that passes the test must feature at least one function written by a woman developer, that calls a function written by another woman developer. 'The conversation started with us quickly listing the projects that passed the Bechdel coding test, but then shifted after one of our devs then raised a good point,' read 18F’s blog posting on the experiment. 'She said some of our projects had lots of female devs, but did not pass the test as defined.' For example, some custom languages don’t have functions, which means a project built using those languages would fail even if written by women. Nonetheless, both startups and larger companies could find the modified Bechdel Test a useful tool for opening up a discussion about gender balance within engineering and development teams."
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+ - What's the Best Way to Build Tech Skills Without Quitting Your Job?->

Submitted by Nerval's Lobster
Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "Keeping your tech skills up-to-date is essential if you want to stay employed. But given the lengthy hours most of us work, it's difficult to put in the hours necessary to learn new languages and platforms, especially since a lot of employers aren't enlightened enough to let you learn on the job. You could always quit and go back to school, of course, or at least a bootcamp; you could also devote your nights and weekends to the pursuit of knowledge, but that might start interfering with all the other demands on your time (not to mention your need for sleep). What's the best way you've found to keep your skill-sets nice and sharp?"
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+ - Why I Choose PostgreSQL Over MySQL/MariaDB-> 1

Submitted by Nerval's Lobster
Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "For the past ten years, developers and tech pros have made a game of comparing MySQL and PostgreSQL, with the latter seen by many as technically superior. Those who support PostgreSQL argue that its standards support and ACID compliance outweighs MySQL’s speed. But MySQL remains popular thanks to its inclusion in every Linux Web hosting package, meaning that a mind-boggling number of Web developers have used it. In a new article, developer David Bolton compares MySQL/MariaDB 5.7.6 (released March 9, 2015) with PostgreSQL 9.4.1 and thinks the latter remains superior on several fronts, including subqueries, JSON support, and better licensing and data integrity: "I think MySQL has done a great job of improving itself to keep relevant, but I have to confess to favoring PostgreSQL." Which do you prefer?"
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+ - Lyft CEO: Self-Driving Cars Aren't the Future->

Submitted by Nerval's Lobster
Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "Google, Tesla, Mercedes and others are working hard to build the best self-driving car. But will anyone actually buy them? In a Q&A session at this year’s South by Southwest, Lyft CEO Logan Green insisted the answer is “No.” But does Green truly believe in this vision, or is he driven (so to speak) by other motivations? It’s possible that Green’s stance on self-driving cars has to do more with Uber’s decision to aggressively fund research into that technology. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick announcing that self-driving cars were the future was something that greatly upset many Uber drivers, and Green may see that spasm of anger as an opportunity to differentiate Lyft in the hearts and minds of the drivers who work for his service. Whether or not Green’s vision is genuine, we won’t know the outcome for several more years, considering the probable timeframes before self-driving cars hit the road... if ever."
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+ - SXSW: Do Androids Dream of Being You?-> 1

Submitted by Nerval's Lobster
Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "In 2010, Dr. Martine Rothblatt (founder of United Theraputics and Sirius Radio) decided to build a robotic clone of her partner, named Bina. In theory, this so-called 'mindclone' (dubbed Bina48) can successfully mimic the flesh-and-blood Bina’s speech and decision-making, thanks to a dataset (called a 'mindfile') that contains all sorts of information about her mannerisms, beliefs, recollections, values, and experiences. But is software really capable of replicating a person’s mind? At South by Southwest this year, Rothblatt is defending the idea of a 'mindfile' and clones as a concept that not only works, but already has a "base" thanks to individuals' social networks, email, and the like. While people may have difficulty embracing something engineered to replicate their behavior, but Rothblatt suggested younger generations will embrace the robots: 'I think younger people will say ‘My mindclone is me, too.’' Is her idea unfeasible, or is she onto something? Video from Bloomberg suggests that Bina48 still has some kinks to work out before it can pass for human."
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+ - The Internet of Things Just Found Your Lost Wallet->

Submitted by Nerval's Lobster
Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "Ever forgotten your wallet in a coffee shop or restaurant? Now there’s a way to ensure it’ll never happen again: Woolet, which its creators bill as a “smart wallet.” It features a rechargeable battery, Bluetooth support, and the ability to synchronize with a smartphone app; if you walk 20-85 feet away from your wallet, the app will make a sound and guide you back to it. The platform's being financed on Kickstarter, and attracted attention from TechCrunch and some other places, but it begs the question: is this yet another example of connected devices run amok—shiny and interesting as a concept but not nearly useful enough for the population at large? What would it take for a connected device, whether a wallet or a smoke detector, to gain mass appeal?"
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+ - Was Linus Torvalds Right About C++ Being So Wrong?->

Submitted by Nerval's Lobster
Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "Perhaps the most famous rant against C++ came from none other than Linus Torvalds in 2007. It featured some choice language. 'C++ is a horrible language,' he wrote, for starters. 'It’s made more horrible by the fact that a lot of substandard programmers use it, to the point where it’s much much easier to generate total and utter crap with it.' He's not alone: A lot of developers dislike how much C++ can do 'behind the scenes' with STL and Boost, leading to potential instability and inefficiency. And yet there's still demand for C++ out there. Over at Dice, Jeff Cogswell argues that C++ doesn't deserve the hatred. 'I’ve witnessed a lot of 'over-engineering' in my life, wherein people would write reusable classes with several layers of inheritance, even though the reusable class wasn’t actually used more than once,' he wrote. 'But I would argue that’s the exception, not the norm; when done right, generic programming and other high-level aspects of C++ can provide enormous benefits.' Was Linus going overboard?"
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+ - Do Tech Companies Ask For Way Too Much From Job Candidates?->

Submitted by Nerval's Lobster
Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "The short answer: Yes. Many employers’ “required” skill sets seem to include everything but the ability to teleport and build a Shaker barn; the lengthy requisites of skills and experience seem achievable only by candidates who’ve spent the past four decades using a hundred different programming languages and platforms to excel at fifty different, complicated jobs. Why do a lot of tech companies do that? Dice asked around and discovered a bunch of different reasons. Companies want to make investments in talent, but the inherent costs of that talent also make them wary of hiring anyone but the absolute best. The need to find the right talent, and the concern over cost, often leads to employers producing job descriptions too broad for the actual position. There's also pure idiocy: PHBs don't know what they want, don't understand the technology, and throw just anything into the description that pops to mind. Is there any way to stop this scourge?"
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+ - 'Chappie': What It Takes to Render a Robot->

Submitted by Nerval's Lobster
Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "The visual-effects supervisor on the new film 'Chappie,' Image Engine’s Chris Harvey, talked with Dice about what it took to render the titular robot. Director Neil Blomkamp thought Chappie needed to look realistic, like something you might honestly expect to see patrolling the streets a decade or two from now. Image Engine took the concept artwork created by Blomkamp and WETA and rendered it in three dimensions, refining the mechanics so the animated Chappie would move realistically for a six-foot-tall, gun-toting robot. As the movie progresses, Chappie begins to take damage from bullets, flames, and thrown debris; if that wasn’t enough, he also ends up covered in graffiti. That sort of wear-and-tear complicated things for the effects team; WETA had to produce three physical Chappie “skeletons” and a multitude of body panels representing the increasing levels of damage, and Image Engine needed to make sure every inch of the digital Chappie was rendered accurately to match. The movie itself might be scoring mediocre reviews, but at least the robot looks good."
Link to Original Source

+ - Demand for Linux Skills Rising This Year-> 2

Submitted by Nerval's Lobster
Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "This year is shaping up as a really good one for Linux, at least on the jobs front. According to a new report (PDF) from The Linux Foundation and Dice, nearly all surveyed hiring managers want to recruit Linux professionals within the next six months, with 44 percent of them indicating they’re more likely to hire a candidate with Linux certification over one who does not. Forty-two percent of hiring managers say that experience in OpenStack and CloudStack will have a major impact on their hiring decisions, while 23 percent report security is a sought-after area of expertise and 19 percent are looking for Linux-skilled people with Software-Defined Networking skills. Ninety-seven percent of hiring managers report they will bring on Linux talent relative to other skills areas in the next six months."
Link to Original Source

+ - Who's Afraid of Android Fragmentation? ->

Submitted by Nerval's Lobster
Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "The dreaded term “fragmentation” has been applied to Android more times than anyone can count over the past half-decade. That’s part of the reason why game developers often build for iOS before Android, even though Android offers a bigger potential customer base worldwide, and more types of gaming experiences. Fortunately, new sets of tools allow game developers to build for one platform and port their work (fairly) easily to another. “We’ve done simultaneously because it is such a simple case of swapping out the textures and also hooking up different APIs for scores and achievements,” London-based indie developer Tom Vian told Dice. “I’ve heard that iOS is a better platform to launch on first, but there’s no sense for us in waiting when we can spend half a day and get it up and running.” So is fragmentation an overhyped roadblock, or is it a genuine problem for developers who work in mobile?"
Link to Original Source

+ - H-1B Visas Proving Lucrative for Engineers, Dev Leads->

Submitted by Nerval's Lobster
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."
Link to Original Source

+ - In Space, a Laptop Doubles As a VR Headset->

Submitted by Nerval's Lobster
Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "On Earth, the engineers and developers in charge of building the Oculus Rift and other virtual-reality headsets are concerned about weight: Who wants to strap on something so heavy it cricks their neck? But in space, weight isn’t an issue, which is why an astronaut can strap a laptop to his head via a heavy and complicated-looking rig and use it as a virtual-reality device. NASA astronaut Terry Virts recently did just that to train himself in the use of SAFER (Simplified Aid for EVA Rescue), a jetpack worn during spacewalks. (In the movie Gravity, George Clooney’s character uses a highly unrealistic version of SAFER to maneuver around a space shuttle.) While a laptop-as-VR-device can work in zero gravity, don’t try it at home; stick instead with something like Google Cardboard, which offers a similar experience at a fraction of the weight."
Link to Original Source

+ - Building a Procedural Dungeon Generator in C#->

Submitted by Nerval's Lobster
Nerval's Lobster (2598977) 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# (Dice link). 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."
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