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+ - Yahoo Called Its Layoffs a 'Remix.' Don't Do That.->

Submitted by Nerval's Lobster
Nerval's Lobster writes: Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, in a conference call with reporters and analysts, referred to the net layoffs of 1,100 employees in the first quarter of 2015 as part of a 'remixing' of the company. A 'remix' is a term most often applied to songs, although it’s also appropriate to use in the context of photographs, films, and artwork. CEOs rarely use it to describe something as momentous as a major enterprise’s transition, especially if said transition involves layoffs of longtime employees, because it could potentially appear flippant to observers. If you run your own shop (no matter how large), it always pays to choose words as carefully as possible when referring to anything that affects your employees’ lives and careers. Despite a renewed focus on mobile and an influx of skilled developers and engineers, Yahoo still struggles to define its place on the modern tech scene; that struggle is no more evident than in the company’s most recent quarterly results, which included rising costs, reduced net income, and layoffs.
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+ - Swift Tops List of Most-Loved Languages and Tech->

Submitted by Nerval's Lobster
Nerval's Lobster writes: Perhaps developers are increasingly overjoyed at the prospect of building iOS apps with a language other than Objective-C, which Apple has positioned Swift to replace; whatever the reason, Swift topped Stack Overflow's recent survey of the "Most Loved" languages and technologies (cited by 77.6 percent of the 26,086 respondents), followed by C++11 (75.6 percent), Rust (73.8 percent), Go (72.5 percent), and Clojure (71 percent). The “Most Dreaded” languages and technologies included Salesforce (73.2 percent), Visual Basic (72 percent), WordPress (68.2 percent), MATLAB (65.6 percent), and SharePoint (62.8 percent). Those results were mirrored somewhat in recent list from RedMonk, a tech-industry analyst firm, which ranked Swift 22nd in popularity among programming languages (based on data drawn from GitHub and Stack Overflow) but climbing noticeably quickly.
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+ - Today's Developers: Self-Taught and Over-Caffeinated->

Submitted by Nerval's Lobster
Nerval's Lobster writes: Stack Overflow recently surveyed several thousand developers about pretty much everything work-related, and the results paint an interesting portrait of what the developer life is like in 2015. For starters, the average developer is 28.9 years old; some 92.1 percent were male. (They're also getting paid a whole lot, but that's a story for another article.) Nearly half of respondents (48 percent) never received a degree in computer science, while nearly a third never took a computer-science course at a university. Although system administrators tended to fall into the category of self-taught tech pros, others—especially those specializing in machine learning and data analytics—tended to undergo much more formal schooling, in the form of either certifications or even a Ph.D. Of course, balancing work-life and side projects demands lots of caffeine—and the average developer suggested they consumed 2.2 servings of coffee, tea, or some other caffeinated beverage every day. (Project managers drank an average of 2.92 servings, while system administrators managed to slug down 2.58 servings.) So that’s a portrait of your average developer in 2015: over-caffeinated, self-taught, late-20s, male, focused primarily on Web development, and just as interested in passion projects as actually doing a day job.
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+ - Why I Became Involved in Data Science->

Submitted by Nerval's Lobster
Nerval's Lobster writes: Over at Dice, several members of the data-science team talk about what attracted them to the field, how they trained, and what aspect of analytics means the most to them. (So many commented, the accounts spill over into a Part 2.) What's their collective advice for anyone who wants to get into data science? So long as you have an overwhelming interest in statistics and mathematics, and a willingness to spend years studying everything from classification and clustering systems to machine learning, there are multiple paths you can take to an eventual career. Some data scientists start out in academia and then apply their skills to business; others begin in finance and decide to do something that doesn't involve building predictive models for stock prices; still others are almost entirely self-taught, and land a job by going to meetups and learning from people already in the field. Given the current shortage of data scientists -- and the desperate need for them — there's apparently no end of ways to break in.
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+ - How Mission Creep Killed a Gaming Studio->

Submitted by Nerval's Lobster
Nerval's Lobster writes: Over at Kotaku, there’s an interesting story about the reported demise of Darkside Game Studios, a game-development firm that thought it finally had a shot at the big time only to collapse once its project requirements spun out of control. Darkside got a chance to show off its own stuff with a proposed remake of Phantom Dust, an action-strategy game that became something of a cult favorite. Microsoft, which offered Darkside the budget to make the game, had a very specific list of requirements for the actual gameplay. The problem, as Kotaku describes, is those requirements shifted after the project was well underway. Darkside needed more developers, artists, and other skilled tech pros to finish the game with its expanded requirements, but (anonymous sources claimed) Microsoft refused to offer up more money to actually hire the necessary people. As a result, the game’s development imploded, reportedly followed by the studio. What’s the lesson in all this? It’s one of the oldest in the book: Escalating and unanticipated requirements, especially without added budget to meet those requirements, can have devastating effects on both a project and the larger software company.
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+ - New York State Spent Millions on Program for Startups That Created... 76 Jobs->

Submitted by Nerval's Lobster
Nerval's Lobster writes: Last year, the New York state government launched Start-Up NY, a program designed to boost employment by creating tax-free zones for technology and manufacturing firms that partner with academic institutions. Things didn't go quite as planned. In theory, those tax-free zones on university campuses would give companies access to the best young talent and cutting-edge research, but only a few firms are actually taking the bait: According to a report from the state’s Department of Economic Development, the program only created 76 jobs last year, despite spending millions of dollars on advertising and other costs. If that wasn’t eyebrow-raising enough, the companies involved in the program have only invested a collective $1.7 million so far. The low numbers didn’t stop some state officials from defending the initiative. “Given the program was only up and running for basically one quarter of a year,” Andrew Kennedy, a senior economic development aide to Governor Cuomo, told Capital New York, “I think 80 jobs is a good number that we can stand behind.”
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+ - The Key to Interviewing at Google->

Submitted by Nerval's Lobster
Nerval's Lobster writes: Wired has an excerpt from a new book of Google-centric workplace advice, written by Laszlo Bock, the search-engine giant’s head of “People Operations” (re: Human Resources). In an interesting twist, Bock kicks off the excerpt by describing the brainteaser questions that Google is famous for tossing at job candidates as “useless,” before suggesting that some hiring managers at the company might still use them. (“Sorry about that,” he offered.) Rather than ask candidates to calculate the number of golf balls that can fit inside a 747 (or why manhole covers are round), Google now runs its candidates through a battery of work-sample tests and structured interviews, which its own research and data-crunching suggest is best at finding the most successful candidates. Google also relies on a tool (known as qDroid), which automates some of the process—the interviewer can simply input which job the candidate is interviewing for, and receive a guide with optimized interview questions. It was only a matter of time before people got sick of questions like, "Why are manhole covers round?"
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+ - Getting Started Developing with OpenStreetMap Data->

Submitted by Nerval's Lobster
Nerval's Lobster writes: In 2004, Steve Coast set up OpenStreetMap (OSM) in the U.K. It subsequently spread worldwide, powered by a combination of donations and volunteers willing to do ground surveys with tools such as handheld GPS units, notebooks, and digital cameras. JavaScript libraries and plugins for WordPress, Django and other content-management systems allow users to display their own maps. But how do you actually develop for the platform? Osmcode.org is a good place to start, home to the Osmium library (libosmium). Fetch and build Libosmium; on Linux/Unix systems there are a fair number of dependencies that you’ll need as well; these are listed within the links. If you prefer JavaScript or Python, there are bindings for those. As an alternative for Java developers, there’s Osmosis, which is a command-line application for processing OSM data.
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+ - How Startups Outsource These Days->

Submitted by Nerval's Lobster
Nerval's Lobster writes: Have you ever called up customer service at Uber? How about at Whisper? Most likely, you haven’t. In fact, you probably couldn’t find a phone number for these companies’ customer-service departments if you tried; they go out of their way to solve all of your problems over email. While huge companies are well known for outsourcing their (phone-based) customer service, more and more startups are embracing outsourcing (Dice link) as a way to handle everything from email customer service to data wrangling and photo retouching. That's good for the startups, which can use the cash saved from outsourcing to focus on the core business; but as with outsourcing at major companies, the practice could raise controversy over exporting jobs overseas. That's why a lot of those startups don't like the outsourcers naming them as clients in public.
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+ - 5 Alternatives for Developing Native iOS Apps->

Submitted by Nerval's Lobster
Nerval's Lobster writes: The simplest way to join the ranks of iOS developers is to learn Objective-C and/or Swift (the latter, while not quite ready for prime-time upon release, has gotten a lot better with its recent v1.2 update). But for everybody who doesn’t want to go down that route, there are other ways to create native iOS apps. Over at Dice, David Bolton went through five alternatives: Xamarin, Codename One, Embarcadero C++ Builder/Delphi XE/AppMethod, RemObjects C#/Oxygene, and DragonFireSDK. (Three of the systems, excepting Rem Objects C# and DragonFireSDK, are cross-platform, as well.) His conclusion? 'There’s no shortage of systems for developing native apps for iOS and other platforms, but cost will most likely determine your choice. Other than the annual Apple developer fee, creating in Swift and Objective-C; with regard to [these alternative] platforms, Embarcadero is the most expensive.'
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+ - IT Jobs with the Best (and Worst) ROI->

Submitted by Nerval's Lobster
Nerval's Lobster writes: Over at Dice, there's a breakdown of which tech jobs have the greatest return on investment, with regard to high starting salaries and growth potential relative to how much you need to spend on degrees and certifications. Which jobs top this particular calculation? No shockers here: DBAs, software engineers, programmers, and Web developers all head up the list, with salaries that tick into six-figure territory. How about those with the worst ROI? Graphic designers, sysadmins, tech support, and software QA testers often present a less-than-great combination of relatively little money and room for advancement, even if you possess a four-year degree or higher, unless you're one of the lucky few.
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+ - Millennial Tech Workers Losing Ground in U.S.->

Submitted by Nerval's Lobster
Nerval's Lobster 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 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 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 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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