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We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).


+ - Spacewalking astronauts finish extensive, trick cable job

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Spacewalking astronauts successfully completed a three-day cable job outside the International Space Station on Sunday, routing several-hundred feet of power and data lines for new crew capsules commissioned by NASA. It was the third spacewalk in just over a week for Americans Terry Virts and Butch Wilmore, and the quickest succession of spacewalks since NASA’s former shuttle days. The advance work was needed for the manned spacecraft under development by Boeing and SpaceX. A pair of docking ports will fly up later this year, followed by the capsules themselves, with astronauts aboard, in 2017."

+ - Linux database GUI application develpment question 2

Submitted by msubieta
msubieta (1539615) writes "I have been developing some applications to use in small businesses using Windows and SQL Server. I would like to move on and start doing the same thing in Linux. I have looked at several Frameworks/Databases/Development environments and I really don't know what is the best/simplest/fastest to learn approach. I use VS and C# mostly, although I could easily go back to C++. I found Qt and GTK+ are the most common frameworks, but they seem to lack controls that deal with datasets and stuff (sorry, spoiled by the .net form controls), but I also know that I could use Mono in order to make the jump. I would have no problem on moving to MySQL, as I have done quite a lot of work on that side, and I would like to stick with the traditional client server application, as I find it easier to maintain, and a whole lot more robust when it comes to user interaction (web apps for POS applications don't seem to be the right way to go in my view).

Any suggestions/comments/recommendations?"

Comment: Fat app or web app? (Score 1) 2

by rolandw (#48797971) Attached to: Linux database GUI application develpment question

I think that you need to look at how many people will be using this database app and how strong the demand is for a fat app. Most of my development as been to a web interface for which, in general, I use Python with Flask and as few Javascript frameworks as possible. By sticking to responsive HTML5 you can ensure that as many people as possible can access your data regardless of what OS they are needing and it really shows up Linux's very best (headless) ability. However if you insist on a GUI then my only positive experience has been via a Qt/QML interface. You have a small choice of languages to use but perhaps the least dependency issues if you stick to C. Everything just caused me frustrations (but that might be more to do with my skills than anything else...).

PS. At a risk of starting a flame-war - head for PostgreSQL...

PPS. and write it with Emacs...

PPPS. with Git for version control. You see, there's just so much choice and everyone has their own (probably incorrect) view.

Comment: Re:draws a lot of comparisons to Mac OS X (Score 1) 209

by rolandw (#47664327) Attached to: Elementary OS "Freya" Beta Released

As the boss of a company playing in the UK enterprise Linux space I have two machines on my desk. One a MacBookPro and the other a Lenovo running Elementary Luna. I try to run open source software in both - Firefox, Thunderbird, Terminal, Emacs, Gimp, Inkscape and Scribus are my regular tools (did I mention Terminal - that's about 50% of my day?). As OS X develops I reject more and more of what it stands for. I can't stand the App Store and I refuse to install App Store only products. I hate being pandered and molly-coddled. If I want to do something then I want to be able to do it. The only reason I'm writing this on OS X is that the hardware is just better (come on, how hard is it to make a decent keyboard, trackpad and display?). Match Elementary with decent hardware and I'd relegate the Mac (after 30 years...) to legacy only use. Both OSes are equally good at managing a business, managing a stack of Linux servers and writing software.

Comment: Re:Prince XML (Score 1) 132

by rolandw (#47640825) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best PDF Handling Library?

PrinceXML is reliable, simple and produces the most beautiful PDFs ever. We've used it to replace InDesign as a tool for high end magazine page generation and have analysed the output of both - PrinceXML is significantly cleaner. However, it does help if you combine it with an image (re)sizing tool otherwise you end up with huge bloat with oversized images embedded in your PDF.

Comment: Visual programming - look at Prograph (Score 1) 876

by rolandw (#46208227) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Why Are We Still Writing Text-Based Code?

Visual representation of source code does not and will not work effectively. Equally, visual representation of the written word will not work effectively. Where images and text go together, either the text is used to explain the image or the image is just an illustration to go with the text, not a real representation.

This all changes when the code is visual, when the programmer programmes visually and there is no text involved other than for labels, names and attributes. This was what Phil Cox and colleagues realised when they produced Prograph, a visual, object orientated data flow language. Prograph was directly compiled into an executable - it was no pseudo coding system that merely generated C or Java, yet it could run interpreted (making it a dream to debug). In comparisons, clean Prograph code could be produced in about 20% of the time taken to produce the equivalent in C++ but ran only 5% slower. Isn't that what we are always looking for?

Sadly, the commercial exploitation of Prograph was not as successful (isn't it ever thus?) but the concept still lives on as Marten.

Thank you Jack.


+ - 5000 fps camera reveals the physics of baseball->

Submitted by
concealment writes "This clip from Game 4 shows Marco Scutaro hitting the ball right near the tip of the barrel. The amplitude of the resulting vibration is so large that the bat breaks and the ball weakly dribbles off the bat. Note that the bat splinters toward the pitcher. The reason is that when the ball hits the barrel tip, the barrel of the bat bends backward toward the catcher and the center of the bat bulges forward toward the pitcher. That is the natural shape of the fundamental vibrational mode of the bat. Since the fracture occurs near the center which is bulging outward, that is how the bat splinters, as the wood fibers on the pitcher side of the bat are stretched to the breaking point. If the ball had impacted the bat near the center, the center would have bulged toward the catcher, as in the Yadier Molina clip. Had the vibrational amplitude been strong enough in the Molina case, the bat would have splintered toward the catcher."
Link to Original Source

+ - Can you recommend a book on English grammar for an 11 year old? 2

Submitted by
rolandw writes "My daughter was complaining that she didn't like learning French because she didn't understand the equivalent English grammar. Despite my own classical education (same as the UK's Prime Minister, but at least I know what "Magna Carter" means in English) I also struggled with English grammar until I was in my 20's. I'm now striving to explain it to her so that it sinks in; I have adult grammar books but nothing for a child. Can anyone recommend a good book to help her understand?"

+ - OracleUSA - total failure in SF Bay?->

Submitted by
rolandw writes "The crew of Larry Ellison's 72ft wing sailed catamaran took an unfortunate swim when it buried it's nose in the swell in San Francisco Bay and flipped over. Luckily no one was hurt. With a falling tide, the platform was swept out to sea and was 2 miles outside the Goldengate Bridge before a tow could be made to work. Much, if not all of the boat appears to be totalled. Many thousands of man hours have been put into this machine and many millions of dollars — it represented the state of art of sailing in the USA.

But the biggest losers could include you — the Oracle customer. I'd expect your license fees to be going up next year to help pay for the rebuild."

Link to Original Source

+ - MIT's Robot Uses Cuteness to Get Help-> 3

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "If you saw a helpless robot grinding up a wall, would you stop to help it? What if it told you it needed you? It is harder than one may think to get people to help robots. However, when a particularly cute robot looks like it needs help, those around it can't wait but to give it a hand. A robot named Boxie was created to do just that, be cute and helpless enough that people stop to help it do what it needs to do. Boxie's goal to test this idea, was to interview people and create a movie. By doing things like asking for help in a cute voice, getting stuck and looking lost, Boxie was able to complete a documentary about its surroundings. Boxie, with the help of people, was also able to do things that it physically could not do alone, like climb stairs or find places. When robots become more common in our everyday lives, there will be situations in which they will need help. Having the robots use social cues is a powerful non-verbal mode of communication. This "cuteness principle" is built into our very genes. Where will this lead in the future?"
Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:What a sham (Score 1) 526

by rolandw (#41262711) Attached to: The UK's New Minister For Magic

Actually there is lots of evidence that some homeopathy does actually work. Much of it is disguised as "normal" medicine and I bet you use it without knowing.

Interestingly there is equal evidence that idiots in charge really don't work very well. The number of British MPs with any sort of scientific or engineering background is paltry at best (check out the excellent Mark Henderson's "The Geek Manifesto" for more). Having said that, Boris was pretty damn hot at physics and maths as a teenager and should have gone into science so perhaps it doesn't help anyway.


+ - BBC helps hack to the future->

Submitted by
rolandw writes "The BBC's Michael Sparks blogs about teaching kids in northern England about coding at "Hack to the Future"

"Last month, the BBC went into a school in Preston to help some children get started with learning to code in order to inspire them and help answer some important questions around children, coding and the BBC. I helped with the preprations and went along to assist BBC Learning. This post gives you a little background, describes how it happened, what happened on the day, and why. I personally find the video giving a flavour of the event inspiring and hope you do too."

I did!"

Link to Original Source

+ - RIM give up the consumer route to market->

Submitted by
rolandw writes "The UK's Grauniad newspaper is reporting that RIM are essentially going back to basics focusing "its consumer efforts on targeted offerings that tap the company's strengths". This is because, as RIM CEO Thorsten Heins says, "We can't do everything ourselves but we can do what we're good at". We can all hear Apple and Google breath huge sighs of relief that they are no longer under threat from north of the border."
Link to Original Source

Suburbia is where the developer bulldozes out the trees, then names the streets after them. -- Bill Vaughn