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Submission + - Apple's Swift Is Killing Objective-C (

Nerval's Lobster writes: When Apple rolled out Swift last summer, it expected its new programming language to eventually replace Objective-C, which developers have used for years to build iOS and Mac OS X apps. Thanks to Apple’s huge developer ecosystem (and equally massive footprint in the world of consumer devices), Swift quickly became one of the most buzzed-about programming languages, as cited by sites such as Stack Overflow. And now, according to new data from TIOBE Software, which keeps a regularly updated index of popular programming languages, Swift might be seriously cannibalizing Objective-C. On TIOBE’s latest index, Objective-C is ranked fourteenth among programming languages, a considerable drop from its third-place spot in October 2014. Swift managed to climb from nineteenth to fifteenth during the same period. “Soon after Apple announced to switch from Objective-C to Swift, Objective-C went into free fall,” read TIOBE’s text accompanying the data. “This month Objective-C dropped out of the TIOBE index top 10.” How soon until Swift eclipses Objective-C entirely?

Submission + - Can a New Type of School Churn Out Developers Faster? (

Nerval's Lobster writes: Demand for software engineering talent has become so acute, some denizens of Silicon Valley have contributed to a venture fund that promises to turn out qualified software engineers in two years rather than the typical four-year university program. Based in San Francisco, Holberton School was founded by tech-industry veterans from Apple, Docker and LinkedIn, making use of $2 million in seed funding provided by Trinity Ventures to create a hands-on alternative to training software engineers that relies on a project-oriented and peer-learning model originally developed in Europe. But for every person who argues that developers don't need a formal degree from an established institution in order to embark on a successful career, just as many people seem to insist that a lack of a degree is an impediment not only to learning the fundamentals, but locking down enough decent jobs over time to form a career. (People in the latter category like to point out that many companies insist on a four-year degree.) Still others argue that lack of a degree is less of an issue when the economy is good, but that those without one find themselves at a disadvantage when the aforementioned economy is in a downturn. Is any one group right, or, like so many things in life, is the answer somewhere in-between?

Submission + - Choosing the Right JavaScript Framework (

Nerval's Lobster writes: As JavaScript has grown, people have created different libraries to expand its utility in Web development. Some of those libraries, such as AngularJS and Ember, are incredibly popular. Unless you’ve actually built a few applications with each one, it’s hard to get a feel for their respective strengths and weaknesses. In this article (Dice link), developer Jeff Cogswell breaks down the considerations that should go into choosing a JavaScript framework, beginning with what you're trying to accomplish. How sophisticated is your Web application’s front end? MVC or MVVM? Will you be doing a lot of JavaScript number-crunching, and thus need easy access to the data? Or will you be creating a beautiful front end that is user-oriented but doesn’t have a lot of data manipulation? The strength of your coding skills is still another factor in framework selection. But that still leaves a lot of room for debate, including whether being more locked into a specific architecture (and its admittedly useful features) is worth the tradeoff in flexibility.

Submission + - Getting More Women Coders Into Open Source (

Nerval's Lobster writes: Diversity remains an issue in tech firms across the nation, with executives and project managers publicly upset over a lack of women in engineering and programming roles. While all that's happening on the corporate side, a handful of people and groups are trying to get more women involved in the open source community, whether Women of OpenStack, Outreachy, which geared toward people from underrepresented groups in free software, and others. But does something actually need to be done about diversity among programmers? Can anything be done to shift the demographics, considering the issues that even large, coordinated companies have with altering the collective mix of their employees?

Submission + - Tech Pros Would Rather Move to a Different City Than Face a Longer Commute (

Nerval's Lobster writes: According to 2,000 tech professionals who answered a new Dice survey (Dice link, obv.), the prospect of a bad commute is so dreaded that, when asked what steps they'd take to earn a higher-paying job, 59 percent said they'd move to a different city rather than face a longer or worse commute (46 percent). The commute conundrum only intensifies in major cities. Washington, D.C.-based tech professionals said the congestion on their commute is too much (63 percent); in the New York City tristate area, 38 percent said their commute to work is too far. While nearly half of those surveyed (49 percent) said their commute to work is fine, many expressed specific issues with getting to the office every morning, such as too much traffic and congestion (40 percent) or too far a distance to travel (31 percent). All the more reason to work from home, frankly.

Submission + - The Effort to Create an 'Iron Man'-Style Exoskeleton (

Nerval's Lobster writes: Tony Stark, as played by Robert Downey, Jr., is the epitome of suave wit—but without his metal shell, he’s just another engineer who’s made good. The exoskeleton is a technology platform that, while young, is gaining traction in industrial, medical and military circles. For several years, the U.S. Special Operations Command has been working on a Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit, or “TALOS,” that would provide “provide [infantry with] comprehensive ballistic protection and peerless tactical capability,” in the words of Gen. Joseph Votel, SOCOM’s commander. Meanwhile, several companies—including Raytheon, Ekso Bionics and US Bionics—are working on products that could help the disabled become more mobile, or allow warehouse and other workers to handle physical tasks with greater efficiency and safety. That means people who specialize in robotics, artificial intelligence, and other areas have an increasing opportunity to get involved. According to Homayoon Kazerooni, president of Berkeley-based US Bionics and a professor of mechanical engineering at UC Berkeley, control and software engineers are the leads in developing these next-generation products. Although he can’t estimate the ultimate size of the market for these intelligent exoskeletons, Kazerooni describes the industry as “fast-growing, but infant,” with “very diverse uses” for the suits. Just don't expect the aforementioned suits to allow you to fly or blow anything up anytime soon.

Submission + - Robots' Next Big Job: Trash Pickup (

Nerval's Lobster writes: You’ve heard of self-driving cars, fast-moving robots, and automated homes. Now a research group led by Volvo, a waste-recycling company, and a trio of universities in the United States and Sweden want to bring much of the same technology to bear on a new problem: trash disposal. Specifically, the consortium wants to build a robot that will collect trash-bins from in front of peoples’ homes, carry those bins to the nearest waste-disposal truck, and empty them. While that’s a pretty simple (although smelly) task for a human being, it’s an incredibly complex task for a robot, which will need to evaluate and respond to a wide range of environmental variables while carrying a heavy load. An uneven curb, or an overloaded bin, could spell disaster. Hopefully Volvo’s experiment can succeed in a way that some of its other self-driving projects have failed.

Submission + - What Constitutes Advanced JavaScript Knowledge? (

Nerval's Lobster writes: JavaScript: Fairly simple to pick up as a beginner, but increasingly complex as you delve into it. But developing expertise with JavaScript is exactly what’s necessary if you want to land a job using it. What separates advanced users of JavaScript from those at the beginning-to-intermediate level? Answers may vary, but developer Jeff Cogswell offers a few ideas (Dice link), including in-depth knowledge of asynchronicity, use of Strict Mode (which strictly enforces clean code), and experience with features of ES5 and ES6. Not everybody might agree with those, but it’d be hard to argue that there’s a definition of what constitutes the definition of ‘advanced JavaScript knowledge.’

Submission + - Are Non-Technical Certifications Worth Earning? (

Nerval's Lobster writes: Everybody knows that certain technical certifications can boost your career. For developers and others, though, is it worth earning non-technical certificationssuch as the PMP (Project Management Professional), CRISC (which certifies that you're good at managing risk)? The short answer, of course, might be, 'Yes, if you plan on moving into management, or something highly specialized.' But for everybody else, it's hard to tell whether certain certifications are worth the time and money, on the nebulous hope that they'll pay off at some point in the future, or if you're better off just focusing on the technical certifications for certain hard skills.

Submission + - Do Tech Firms Really Want Liberal-Arts Majors? (

Nerval's Lobster writes: Not too long ago, a Forbes writer declared that a liberal arts degree had “become tech’s hottest ticket.” At so-called 'disruptive juggernauts' such as Facebook and Uber, George Anders wrote, 'the war for talent' had moved into non-technical realms such as marketing and sales. While there’s undoubtedly some truth to Anders’s thesis, technology recruiters and executives aren’t seeing any less demand for strong technical skills in a wide variety of roles (Dice link). When there's a need for tech professionals with 'soft skills,' at least one recruiter just recruits computer-science majors from liberal arts schools, figuring those recruits will be more 'well-rounded.' To be clear, Forbes doesn’t suggest that IT employers have begun mixing liberal-arts graduates into their technical teams; the article talks more about those graduates ending up in supporting roles such as sales and marketing, or else becoming intermediaries who translate the customer’s product requirements into engineering solutions. But nobody should think that a strong technical background isn't as valued as ever throughout tech companies.

Submission + - Software Is Hiring, but Manufacturing Is Bleeding (

Nerval's Lobster writes: Which tech segment added the most jobs in August? According to new data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, tech consulting gained 7,000 positions in August, (Dice link) below July’s gains of 11,100, but enough to set it ahead of data processing, hosting, and related services (which added 1,600 jobs) and computer and electronic-product manufacturing (which lost 1,800 jobs). The latest numbers reflect some longtime trends: The rise of cloud services and infrastructure has contributed to slackening demand for PCs and other hardware, eroding manufacturing jobs. At the same time, increased appetite for everything from Web developers to information-systems managers has kept employers adding positions in other technology segments. If that didn't make things difficult enough for manufacturing folks, the rise of automation has cut down on the number of manufacturing jobs available worldwide, contributing to continuing pressure on the segment as a whole, despite all the noise about bringing those jobs back to the U.S.

Submission + - Bunch of Tech Pros Miserable, It Seems (

Nerval's Lobster writes: So what if you work for a tech company that offers free lunch, in-house gym, and dry cleaning? A new survey suggests that a majority of software engineers, developers, and sysadmins are miserable. Granted, the survey in question only involved 5,000 respondents, so it shouldn't be viewed as comprehensive (it was also conducted by a company that deals in employee engagement), but it's nonetheless insightful into the reasons why a lot of tech pros apparently dislike their jobs (Dice link). Apparently perks don't matter quite so much if your employees have no sense of mission, don't have a clear sense of how they can get promoted, and don't interact with their co-workers very well. While that should be glaringly obvious, a lot of companies are still fixated on the idea that minor perks will apparently translate into huge morale boosts; but free smoothies in the cafeteria only goes so far.

Submission + - The Most Important Obscure Languages? (

Nerval's Lobster writes: If you’re a programmer, you’re knowledgeable about “big” languages such as Java and C++. But what about those little-known languages (Dice link) you only hear about occasionally? Which ones have an impact on the world that belies their obscurity? Erlang (used in high-performance, parallel systems) springs immediately to mind, as does R, which is relied upon my mathematicians and analysts to crunch all sorts of data. But surely there are a handful of others, used only by a subset of people, that nonetheless inform large and important platforms that lots of people rely upon... without realizing what they owe to a language that few have ever heard of.

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?

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.

"Stupidity, like virtue, is its own reward" -- William E. Davidsen