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+ - 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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+ - 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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+ - Facebook Claims 'Progress' on Diversity->

Nerval's Lobster writes: Facebook is the latest tech giant to release a 2015 diversity report, and the data shows a company that's majority white and male. Facebook as a whole is currently 55 percent Caucasian and 36 percent Asian; its senior leadership is 73 percent Caucasian, and its technology ranks are 51 percent Caucasian and 43 percent Asian. Blacks constitute less than 5 percent of all categories, and Hispanics less than 10 percent. On the gender front, Facebook is 68 percent male; within its tech ranks, that percentage climbs to 84 percent male. In a corporate blog posting, Maxine Williams, Facebook’s Global Director of Diversity, tried to put a positive spin on the data. “Our work is producing some positive but modest change and our new hire numbers are trending up,” she wrote. “In addition to best practice programs we have been running in recruitment and retention, we are always trying creative approaches.” Those creative approaches reportedly include presenting hiring managers in some parts of Facebook’s U.S. operations with at least one qualified candidate from an “underrepresented group.” Facebook also requires its employees undergo a reworked Managing Bias training course, which features discussions about stereotypes and unconscious bias.
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+ - Knowing C++ Beyond a Beginner Level ->

Nerval's Lobster writes: C++ is not an easy language to master, but many people are able to work in it just fine without being a 'guru' or anything along those lines. That being said, what separates C++ beginners from those with 'intermediate' skills, or even masters? According to this Dice article, it comes down to knowledge of several things, including copy constructors, virtual functions, how to handle memory leaks, the intricacies of casting, Lambda functions for C++11, (safe) exception handling and much more. All that being said, is there one particular thing or point that separates learners from masters?
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+ - Is Microsoft's .NET Ecosystem on the Decline? ->

Nerval's Lobster writes: In a posting that recently attracted some buzz online, .NET developer Justin Angel (a former program manager for Silverlight) argued that the .NET ecosystem is headed for collapse—and that could take interest in C# along with it. “Sure, you’ll always be able to find a job working in C# (like you would with COBOL), but you’ll miss out on customer reach and risk falling behind the technology curve,” he wrote. But is C# really on the decline? According to Dice’s data, the popularity of C# has risen over the past several years; it ranks No. 26 on Dice’s ranking of most-searched terms. But Angel claims he pulled data from Indeed.com that shows job trends for C# on the decline. Data from the TIOBE developer interest index mirrors that trend, he said, with “C# developer interest down approximately 60% down back to 2006-2008 levels.” Is the .NET ecosystem really headed for long-term implosion, thanks in large part to developers devoting their energies to other platforms such as iOS and Android?
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+ - 5 Reasons to Use Mono for Linux Development-> 1 1

Nerval's Lobster writes: In the eleven years since Mono first appeared, the Linux community has regarded it with suspicion. Because Mono is basically a free, open-source implementation of Microsoft’s .NET framework, some developers feared that Microsoft would eventually launch a patent war that could harm many in the open-source community. But there are some good reasons for using Mono, developer David Bolton argues in a new blog posting (Dice link). Chief among them is MonoDevelop, which he claims is an excellent IDE; it's cross-platform abilities; and its utility as a game-development platform. That might not ease everybody's concerns (and some people really don't like how Xamarin has basically commercialized Mono as an iOS/Android development platform), but it's maybe enough for some people to take another look at the platform.
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+ - The Future of AI: A Non-Alarmist Viewpoint->

Nerval's Lobster writes: There has been a lot of discussion recently about the dangers posed by building truly intelligent machines. A lot of well-educated and smart people, including Bill Gates and Stephen Hawking, have stated they are fearful about the dangers that sentient Artificial Intelligence (AI) poses to humanity. But maybe it makes more sense to focus on the societal challenges that advances in AI will pose in the near future (Dice link), rather than worrying about what will happen when we eventually solve the titanic problem of building an artificial general intelligence that actually works. Once the self-driving car becomes a reality, for example, thousands of taxi drivers, truck drivers and delivery people will be out of a job practically overnight, as economic competition forces companies to make the switch to self-driving fleets as quickly as possible. Don't worry about a hypothetical SkyNet, in other words; the bigger issue is what a (dumber) AI will do to your profession over the next several years.
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+ - How Much Python Do You Need to Know to Be Useful?-> 1 1

Nerval's Lobster writes: Since Python is a general-purpose language, it finds its way into a whole lot of different uses and industries. That means the industry in which you work has a way of determining what you actually need to know in terms of the language, as developer Jeff Cogswell explains in a new Dice piece. For example, if you’re hired to write apps that interact with operating systems and monitor devices, you might not need to know how to use the Python modules for scientific and numerical programming. In a similar fashion, if you’re hired to write Python code that interacts with a MySQL database, then you won’t need to master how it works with CouchDB. The question is, how much do you need to know about Python's basics? Cogswell suggests there are three basic levels to learning Python: Learn the core language itself, such as the syntax and basic types (and the difference between Python 2 and Python 3); learn the commonly used modules, and familiarize yourself with other modules; learn the bigger picture of software development with Python, such as including Python in a build process, using the pip package manager, and so on. But is that enough?
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+ - Stress Is Driving Developers from the Video Game Industry->

Nerval's Lobster writes: For video game developers, life can be tough. The working hours are long, with vicious bursts of so-called “crunch time,” in which developers may pull consecutive all-nighters in order to finish a project—all without overtime pay. According to the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) Developer Satisfaction Survey (PDF), many developers aren’t enduring those work conditions for the money: Nearly 50 percent of respondents earned less than $50,000 annually. Faced with what many perceive as draconian working conditions, many developers are taking their skills and leaving video games for another technology sector. The hard and soft skills that go into producing video games—from knowledge of programming languages to aptitude for handling irate managers—will work just as well in many aspects of conventional software-building. Fortunately, leaving the video-game industry doesn’t have to be a permanent exile; many developers find themselves pulled back in at some point, out of simple passion for the craft.
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+ - You'll Totally Believe Why These Startups Failed->

Nerval's Lobster writes: If you ever wanted a glimpse into what dooms startups, look no further than autopsy.io, a website that lists the reasons why many newborn tech firms imploded. The website offers entrepreneurs the ability to self-explain why their startup didn’t quite make it; in a bid to separate real-life stories from entertaining fictions, the application form asks for a link to a blog post or medium article “that tells the story of the failure,” along with the founder(s) Twitter handle and Crunchbase or Angel.co profile. Some of the reasons listed for failure are maddeningly opaque, such as UniSport’s “for a number of reasons” or PlayCafe’s “we didn’t reach enough users.” Others are bleakly hilarious; as the founders of Zillionears, self-billed as a “creative pre-sale platform for musicians,” confessed: “People really didn’t really LIKE anything about our product.” If you’re thinking of launching your own company, or you work for a wet-behind-the-ears startup, it’s worth scanning the list to see if any of these potential crises are brewing in your setup.
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+ - How Much JavaScript Do You Need to Know for an Entry-Level Job?->

Nerval's Lobster writes: JavaScript is a programming language that’s easy to pick up, but extremely difficult to master. Even some of its beginner-level functions are decidedly not beginner-friendly. When someone lands their first JavaScript job, they’re going to want to know as much as possible, if only so they can navigate through some of the language’s trickier aspects without needing to ask for help. Developer Jeff Cogswell picked through JavaScript (Dice link) and came away with a couple of lists of what he thought were the minimum baseline of skills for JavaScript use in a work context. That list included understanding how to use built-in objects, functions , closures, and DOM (Document Object Model). While his points are comprehensive, not everyone will necessarily agree with what he lists (and doesn't list).
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+ - Virginia Wants Your Self-Driving Cars->

Nerval's Lobster writes: In a bid to help Google (and presumably other companies) test out their next-generation automobiles, the state of Virginia has reportedly opened up 70 miles of highway, overseen by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI), to self-driving cars. Portions of Virginia’s highways—most notably Interstates 95 and 495—are notoriously congested, which could present any self-driving vehicles with a real challenge. The state government has stipulated that any automated car will need a human driver at the wheel to take over in case of malfunction or emergency. California, Nevada, and a handful of other states already have roadways reserved for autonomous-car use. As one Virginia state official acknowledged to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, opening public infrastructure to new technology is seen as a way to attract top tech talent and companies. (Northern Virginia and Washington D.C. are already widely viewed as a tech hub, powered to a large degree by federal money.)
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+ - Amazon: Build Us a Better Warehouse Robot->

Nerval's Lobster writes: Amazon relies quite a bit on human labor, most notably in its warehouses. The company wants to change that via machine learning and robotics, which is why earlier this year it invited 30 teams to a “Picking Contest.” In order to win the contest, a team needed to build a robot that can outpace other robots in detecting and identifying an object on a shelf, gripping said object without breaking it, and delivering it into a waiting receptacle. According to Engadget, Team RBO, composed of researchers from the Technical University of Berlin, won last month’s competition by a healthy margin. Their winning design combined a WAM arm (complete with a suction cup for lifting objects) and an XR4000 mobile base into a single unit capable of picking up 12 objects in 20 minutes—not exactly blinding speed, but enough to demonstrate significant promise. If Amazon’s contest demonstrated anything, it’s that it could be quite a long time before robots are capable of identifying and sorting through objects at speeds even remotely approaching human (and thus taking over those jobs). Chances seem good that Amazon will ask future teams to build machines that are even smarter and faster.
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+ - SPAM: 5 Reasons I Started Using Docker

Nerval's Lobster writes: There's been some rumbling in recent months about Docker's strategic direction, which only increased as some developers began working on Rocket. For those who don't know, the two-year-old Docker is an open platform for developers and sysadmins to build, deploy, and run distributed applications. Having taken it for an extensive spin, developer David Bolton breaks down what he sees as five reasons why you should consider using Docker for your next project (Dice link). His reasons? Isolation and security, access to LibContainer, and a simplified process for bundling applications in the same container. But not everybody will agree that the platform is a necessary tool.
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+ - MIT Trains Robots to Jump->

Nerval's Lobster writes: MIT just announced that its researchers have programmed a robotic cheetah that can leap over obstacles without a prompt from a human controller. The machine’s onboard sensors rely on reflected laser-light to judge obstacles’ distance and height, and use that data to fuel the algorithm for a safe jump. The robot’s controlling algorithm takes into account such factors as the speed needed to launch its mass over the obstacle, the best position for a jump, and the amount of energy required from the onboard electric motor. As of this writing, the robot can clear 90 percent of obstacles on an open track. “A running jump is a truly dynamic behavior,” Sangbae Kim, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at MIT, is quoted as saying in a university press release. “You have to manage balance and energy, and be able to handle impact after landing. Our robot is specifically designed for those highly dynamic behaviors.” For years, some tech pundits have worried that robots and software will gradually replace human workers in key industries such as manufacturing and IT administration. Now they have something else to fret over: Robots replacing the world’s hurdlers.
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People who go to conferences are the ones who shouldn't.