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Submission + - Will a Tighter Economy Rein In Startups?->

Nerval's Lobster writes: It's been quite a ride for the stock market this week. In China, markets cratered; in the U.S., stocks dove for two days, only to rebound on Wednesday. That made many tech firms nervous, both about the Chinese economy (which some of them depend upon) and the continuing flow of money from VCs and investors. While the economic jitters don't seem to be affecting some tech firms' ability to implode themselves, more than one pundit is wondering whether the tech industry will shift into 'fear mode,' which could be bad for the so-called 'unicorns' that need funders to keep partying like it's 1999. Are we going to see money start drying up for startups?
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Submission + - Do Old Programmers Need to Keep Leaping Through New Hoops?->

Nerval's Lobster writes: In recent years, it seems as if tech has evolved into an industry that lionizes the young. Despite all the press about 21-year-old rock-star developers and 30-year-old CEOs, though, is there still a significant market for older programmers and developers, especially those with specialized knowledge? The answer is "yes," of course, and sites like Dice suggest that older tech pros should take steps such as setting up social media accounts and spending a lot of time on Github if they want to attract interest from companies and recruiters. But do they really need to go through all of that? If you have twenty, thirty, or even forty years of solid tech work under your belt, is it worth jumping through all sorts of new hoops? Or is there a better way to keep working — provided you don't already have a job, that is, or move up to management, or get out of the game entirely in order to try something startling and new.
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Submission + - Debate Over Amazon Working Conditions Goes Back Years->

Nerval's Lobster writes: This weekend, The New York Times published a lengthy report about working conditions for white-collar workers at Amazon. Describing the e-commerce giant as a “bruising workplace,” the report paints a picture of a Darwinian environment. But criticism of Amazon's working conditions actually goes back years. In The Everything Store, a book-length account of Amazon by Bloomberg BusinessWeek reporter Brad Stone, the Amazon of yesteryear is indeed described as an aggressive place in which Bezos pushed employees relentlessly. So is Amazon a terrible place to work? On Quora and Glassdoor, current employees suggest that the company presents its workers with interesting challenges, and that the culture is fast-paced. While there are complaints about the hours and workload, many don’t seem Amazon-specific: The world is filled with tech pros struggling to achieve work-life balance in the face of incredible goals on tight deadlines. Many cite issues with the company’s frugality—its lack of perks vis-à-vis Google or Microsoft.
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Submission + - The Fastest-Growing Tech State Is... Minnesota->

Nerval's Lobster writes: What’s the fastest-growing state for technology jobs? You might be tempted to say California or New York, or even North Carolina. But according to new data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, it’s actually Minnesota, which saw the size of its tech workforce jump 8.36 percent over the past six months, to 37,600 workers. Utah and Nebraska came in second and third on the list of fastest-growing states, with six-month tech-employment gains of 5.75 percent and 5.22 percent, respectively. Michigan and Florida came in fourth and fifth. States with smallish tech-worker populations can enjoy heady growth rates by adding relatively few workers. But not all states saw their tech workforce grow in the first half of 2015. Four states—Pennsylvania, Washington, North Carolina, and Alabama—actually saw their workforce decline by 0.61 percent, 0.63 percent, 2.36 percent, and 3.52 percent, respectively, during the period in question. The declines in Washington and North Carolina may come as a surprise to anyone following those states’ tech industries, which are quite robust. In Washington’s case, layoffs at Microsoft and other firms over the past few months may have contributed to the slight decline.
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Submission + - Good Economy? Tech Layoffs Are Up->

Nerval's Lobster writes: If you look at the broad numbers produced by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the economy seems great, especially for the tech industry: The unemployment rate for tech pros currently stands at 2.1 percent, down from 2.3 percent in the first quarter. However, that dip isn't uniform for all sectors: The unemployment rate for Web developers climbed from 2.1 percent to 3.1 percent. Computer support specialists, network and systems administrators, computer & information systems managers, and database administrators also saw their respective unemployment rates rising slightly. Layoffs and discharges for the tech industry as a whole rose slightly in April and May (the latest months for which the BLS had numbers), to an average of 441,500 employees per month. That’s higher than the first quarter, when layoffs and discharges averaged 424,300 per month. That's not to say we're on the verge of a collapse, bubble, or other economic shock, but it's definitely not great times for everybody.
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Submission + - Lessons From My Toughest Software Bugs-> 1

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 (Dice link), 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.
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Submission + - How Developers Can Fight Creeping Mediocrity->

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 (Dice link). 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?
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Submission + - Google Staffers Share Salary Info with Each Other; Management Freaks-> 1

Nerval's Lobster writes: Imagine a couple of employees at your company create a spreadsheet that lists their salaries. They place the spreadsheet on an internal network, where other employees soon add their own financial information. Within a day, the project has caught on like wildfire, with people not only listing their salaries but also their bonuses and other compensation-related info. While that might sound a little far-fetched, that’s exactly the scenario that recently played out at Google, according to an employee, Erica Baker, who detailed the whole incident on Twitter. While management frowned upon employees sharing salary data, she wrote, “the world didn’t end everything didn’t go up in flames because salaries got shared.” For years, employees and employers have debated the merits (and drawbacks) of revealing salaries (Dice link). While most workplaces keep employee pay a tightly guarded secret, others have begun fiddling with varying degrees of transparency, taking inspiration from studies that have shown a higher degree of salary-related openness translates into happier workers. (Other studies (PDF) haven't suggested the same effect.) Baker claims the spreadsheet compelled more Google employees to ask and receive "equitable pay based on data in the sheet."
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Submission + - Why Certifications Are Necessary (Even If Aggravating to Earn)->

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 (Dice link) 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.
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Submission + - Security Fears Might Slowly Doom Adobe Flash->

Nerval's Lobster writes: A day after Facebook’s head of security suggested the Web would be better off without Adobe Flash, Mozilla executive Mark Schmidt announced that Firefox would block all versions of Flash by default. Adobe Flash isn’t going away anytime soon—a great many websites rely on it to power animations, forms, and other features. But the two-pronged attack from Facebook and Mozilla is sure to revive the long-running argument that the plugin is too error-riddled for its own good. The current criticisms of Flash focus almost exclusively on its security vulnerabilities, and Adobe’s perceived slowness in patching them. Given the comments by Facebook Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos, it seems likely that the social network will eventually sub out Flash for HTML5, notably for video playback. For those developers who specialize in Flash, the thought of thousands of websites suddenly deciding to dump the technology en masse is probably not a comforting one (or maybe it is, if you dislike working with the platform). Given Flash’s sizable presence, however, that doom date is likely a long time from now. Wherever he is, Steve Jobs might be grinning a little.
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Submission + - Are Certifications Worth the Time and Money?-> 1

Nerval's Lobster writes: Having one or more certifications sounds pretty sensible in today’s world, doesn’t it? Many jobs demand proof that you’ve mastered a particular technology. But is the argument for spending lots of time and money to earn a certification as ironclad as it seems? In a new column (Dice link), developer David Bolton argues 'no.' Most certifications just prove you can pass tests, he argues, not mastery of a particular language or platform; and given the speed at which technology evolves, most are at risk of becoming quickly outdated. Plus they aren't the sole determiner of whether you can actually land a job: 'Recruiters sometimes have trouble determining a developer’s degree of technical experience, and so insist upon certificates or tests to judge abilities. If you manage to get past them to the job interview, the interviewer (provided they’re also a developer) can usually get a good feel for your actual programming ability and whether you’ll fit well with the group.' Are certifications mostly a rip-off, or are some (especially the advanced ones) actually useful, as many people insist?
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Submission + - WebAssembly and the Future of JavaScript->

Nerval's Lobster writes: WebAssembly is the next stage in the evolution of client-side scripting. In theory, it will improve on JavaScript’s speed. That’s not to say that JavaScript is a slowpoke: Incremental speed improvements have included the rollout of asm.js (an optimized subset) in 2013. But WebAssembly—while not a replacement for JavaScript—is intended as a “cure” for a variety of issues where JavaScript isn’t always a perfect fit, including video editing, encryption, peer-to-peer, and more. (Here’s a full list of the Web applications that WebAssembly could maybe improve.) If WebAssembly is not there to replace JavaScript but to complement it, the key to the integration rests with the DOM and Garbage Collected Objects such as JavaScript strings, functions (as callable closures), Typed Arrays and Typed objects. The bigger question is, will WebAssembly actually become something big, or is it ultimately doomed to suffer the fate of other hyped JavaScript-related platforms such as Dart (a Google-only venture), which attracted buzz ahead of a Minimum Viable Product release, only to quickly fade away afterward?
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Submission + - Exploring the Relationships Between Tech Skills (Visualization) ->

Nerval's Lobster writes: Simon Hughes, Dice's Chief Data Scientist, has put together an experimental visualization that explores how tech skills relate to one another. In the visualization, every circle or node represents a particular skill; colors designate communities that coalesce around skills. Try clicking “Java”, for example, and notice how many other skills accompany it (a high-degree node, as graph theory would call it). As a popular skill, it appears to be present in many communities: Big Data, Oracle Database, System Administration, Automation/Testing, and (of course) Web and Software Development. You may or may not agree with some relationships, but keep in mind, it was all generated in an automatic way by computer code, untouched by a human. Building it started with Gephi, an open-source network analysis and visualization software package, by importing a pair-wise comma-separated list of skills and their similarity scores (as Simon describes in his article) and running a number of analyses: Force Atlas layout to draw a force-directed graph, Avg. Path Length to calculate the Betweenness Centrality that determines the size of a node, and finally Modularity to detect communities of skills (again, color-coded in the visualization). The graph was then exported as an XML graph file (GEXF) and converted to JSON format with two sets of elements: Nodes and Links. "We would love to hear your feedback and questions," Simon says.
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Submission + - Building a Game with a Tweet's Worth of JavaScript, HTML->

Nerval's Lobster writes: A standard video game relies on a mountain of code, painstakingly pieced together by an army of programmers and developers. Then you have Tiny-Twitch. Inspired by a challenge from Australian game designer Ben Porter, developers Alex Yoder decided to create a game using 133 characters’ worth of JavaScript and HTML. The game itself is simple: A black “X” appears on your screen. When you click it, the “X” appears in another place. If you’re very easily amused, you could probably spend hours chasing that little digit around. Sure, as a piece of digital entertainment, it isn’t exactly “Arkham Knight,” but as an example of elegant coding, it’s pretty hard to beat.
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Submission + - To Learn (Or Not Learn) jQuery->

Nerval's Lobster writes: jQuery isn't without its controversies, and some developers distrust its use in larger projects because (some say) it ultimately leads to breakage-prone code that's harder to maintain. But given its prevalence, jQuery is probably essential to know (Dice link), but what are the most important elements to learn in order to become adept-enough at it? Chaining commands, understanding when the document is finished loading (and how to write code that safely accesses elements only after said loading), and learning CSS selectors are all key. The harder part is picking up jQuery's quirks and tricks, of which there are many... but is it worth studying to the point where you know every possible eccentricity?
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