Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Submission + - Halt and Catch Fire's COMDEX '83: Cheesy, But No More Than Real Thing 1

theodp writes: AMC's Halt and Catch Fire, the fictionalized insider's view of the personal computer revolution, has its season finale Sunday night. In last week's episode, the Cardiff Electric gang took their "featherweight" 15-lb. 'Giant' luggable PC clone to COMDEX 1983 for its debut. It'd be easy to write off the episode's cheesy Vegas hospitality suites, garish attire, and funky trade show floor displays, booths, and exhibits as the flights of fancy of the show's designers, were it not for Dan Bricklin's videos of Fall COMDEX 1983. You'll see 28-year-old Bill Gates talking about Xenix development, a pre-Mac mouse and paint program on an Apple IIe, a demo of pre-1.0 Microsoft Windows, and see why Lotus 1-2-3 Rocks. There's no doubt that Cardiff Electric's 'Giant' could have held its own against the Pied Piper ("leads your business exactly where you want to go," reads the brochure) or even IBM's humorless hands-on demo of 72 IBM PC Jr.'s (holy cow, a clock program!). While there was some Buck Rogers tech on display, e.g., HP's Touch 150 and speech on the T.I. Professional Computer, those were simpler times — it's hard to believe the Mac was waiting in the wings!

Submission + - How Many Members of Congress Does it Take to Screw in a $400MM CS Bill?

theodp writes: Over at Code.org, they're banging the gong to celebrate that more than 100 members of Congress are now co-sponsoring the Computer Science Education Act (HR 2536), making the bill "to strengthen elementary and secondary computer science education" the most broadly cosponsored education bill in the House. By adding fewer than 50 words to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, HR 2536 would elevate Computer Science to a "core academic subject" (current core academic subjects are English, reading or language arts, mathematics, science, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history, and geography), a status that opens the doors not only to a number of funding opportunities, but also to a number of government regulations. So, now that we know it takes 112 U.S. Representatives to screw in a CS education bill, the next question is, "How many taxpayer dollars will it take to pay for the consequences?" While Code.org says "the bill is cost-neutral and doesn’t introduce new programs or mandates," the organization in April pegged the cost of putting CS in every school at $300-$400 million. In Congressional testimony last January, Code.org proposed that "comprehensive immigration reform efforts that tie H-1B visa fees to a new STEM education fund" could be used "to support the teaching and learning of more computer science in K-12 schools," echoing Microsoft's National Talent Strategy.

Submission + - US Army to transport American Ebola victim to Atlanta hospital from Liberia (jalopnik.com) 1

acidradio writes: American air charter specialist Phoenix Air has been contracted by the US Army to haul an American physician afflicted with Ebola from Liberia to the Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. This will be the first "purposeful" transport of an Ebola victim to the US. The patient will be flown in a special Gulfstream III (formerly owned by the Danish Air Force) outfitted for very specialized medical transports such as this. I dunno. I know there are brilliant doctors and scientists in Atlanta who handle highly-communicable diseases, but is this such a brilliant idea?

Submission + - CDC Issues Ebola Guidance for Airlines

theodp writes: In response to the Ebola outbreak, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued Interim Guidance about Ebola Virus Infection for Airline Flight Crews, Cleaning Personnel, and Cargo Personnel. "Ebola virus is transmitted by close contact with a person who has symptoms of Ebola," the CDC explains. "Close contact is defined as having cared for or lived with a person with Ebola or having a high likelihood of direct contact with blood or body fluids of an Ebola patient. Examples of close contact include kissing or embracing, sharing eating or drinking utensils, close conversation (3 feet), physical examination, and any other direct physical contact between people. Close contact does not include walking by a person or briefly sitting across a room from a person."

Submission + - Jackson: Tech Diversity is Next Civil Rights Step

theodp writes: Having seen this movie before, U.S. civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson called on the Obama administration Monday to scrutinize the tech industry's lack of diversity. "There's no talent shortage. There's an opportunity shortage," Jackson said, calling Silicon Valley "far worse" than many others, such as car makers that have been pressured by unions. He said tech behemoths have largely escaped scrutiny by a public dazzled with their cutting-edge gadgets. Jackson spoke after meeting with Labor Secretary Tom Perez to press for a review of H-1B visas, arguing that data show Americans have the skills and should have first access to high-paying tech work. Jackson's Rainbow Push Coalition plans to file a freedom-of-information request next month with the EEOC to acquire employment data for companies that have not yet disclosed it publicly, which includes Amazon, Broadcom, Oracle, Qualcomm and Yelp. Unlike the DOL, Jackson isn't buying Silicon Valley's argument that minority hiring statistics are trade secrets. Five years after Google's HR Chief would only reassure Congress the company had "a very strong internal Black Googler Network" and its CEO brushed off similar questions about its diversity numbers by saying "we're pretty happy with the way our recruiting work," Google — under pressure from Jackson — fessed up to having a tech workforce that's only 1% Black, apparently par for the course in Silicon Valley.

Submission + - AP Computer Science Test Takers Up 8,000, Pass Rate Down 6.8%

theodp writes: Code.org reports that preliminary data on students who took the Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science Exam in 2014 show an increase of 8,276 students over 2013 and represent what the College Board called "the first real indication of progress in AP CS enrollment for women and underserved minorities in years." Girls made up 20% of the 39,393 total test takers, compared to 18.7% of the 31,117 test takers in 2013. Black or African American students saw their share increase by 0.19%, from 3.56% to 3.75% (low, but good enough to crush Twitter). Code.org credits the increased enrollment to its celebrity-studded CS promo film starring Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg ("I even made a personal bet (reflected in my contractual commitment to Code.org donors) that our video could help improve the seemingly immovable diversity numbers in computer science," Code.org founder Hadi Partovi notes). However, some of the increase is likely attributable to the other efforts of Code.org's donors. Microsoft ramped up its TEALS AP CS program in 2013-2014, and — more significantly — Google helped boost AP CS study not only through its CS4HS program, but also by funding the College Board's AP STEM Access program, which offered $5 million to schools and teachers to encourage minority and female students to enroll in AP STEM courses. This summer, explains the College Board, "All AP STEM teachers in the participating schools (not just the new AP STEM teachers), who increase diversity in their class, receive a [$100] DonorsChoose.org gift card for each student in the course who receives a 3, 4, or 5 on the AP Exam." The bad news for AP CS teachers anticipating Google "Excellence Funding" bounties (for increasing course enrollment and completion "by at least five underrepresented students") is that AP CS pass rates decreased to 60.8% in 2014 (from 67.6% in 2013), according to Total Registration. Using these figures and a back-of-the-envelope calculation, while enrollment saw a 26.6% increase over last year, the total number of students passing increased by 13.9%.

Submission + - 'Just Let Me Code!' (drdobbs.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Andrew Binstock has an article about the ever-increasing complexity required to write code. He says, "I got into programming because I like creating stuff. Not just any stuff, but stuff other people find useful. I like the constant problem solving, the use of abstractions that exist for long periods nowhere but in my imagination, and I like seeing the transformation into a living presence. ... The simple programs of a few hundred lines of C++ long ago disappeared from my experience. What was the experience of riding a bicycle has become the equivalent of traveling by jumbo jet; replete with the delays, inspections, limitations on personal choices, and sudden, unexplained cancellations — all at a significantly higher cost. ... Project overhead, even for simple projects, is so heavy that it's a wonder anyone can find the time to code, much less derive joy from it. Software development has become a mostly operational activity, rather than a creative one. The fundamental problem here is not the complexity of apps, but the complexity of tools. Tools have gone rather haywire during the last decade chasing shibboleths of scalability, comprehensiveness, performance. Everything except simplicity."

Submission + - Veep Joe Biden Briefs U.S. Governors on H-1B Visas, IT, and Coding

theodp writes: Back in 2012, Computerworld blasted Vice President Joe Biden for his ignorance of the H-1B temporary work visa program. But Joe's got his H-1B story and he's sticking to it, characterizing the visa program earlier this month in a speech to the National Governors Association as "apprenticeships" of sorts that companies provide to foreign workers to expand the Information Technology industry only after proving there are no qualified Americans to fill the jobs. Biden said he also learned from his talks with tech's top CEOs that 200,000 of the jobs that companies provide each year to highly-skilled H-1B visa holders could in fact be done by Americans with no more than a two-year community college degree.

Submission + - Too Old to Speak at CS Career Day, Too Young to Die

theodp writes: After posting a screed on Why Age in Software is Bullshit ("People who love to create software will be doing it a lot longer than you think. And if you think this is something that only young people can do, you are wrong."), Dave Winer probably didn't figure on having his assertion challenged by the NY Times' Farhad Manjoo ("Do you think there's any part of coding you've gotten worse at as you age?" Manjoo asked. "Eg, maybe less open to new ideas?"). "I'm very good at adapting to new things," a frustrated Dave testily reassured Manjoo. Unfortunately, ageist attitudes in tech persist. Indeed, a presentation for Microsoft's TEALS program (Technology Education And Literacy in Schools), a fave of new Microsoft CEO Satyam Nadar and Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith which aims to put computer science into every high school, seems to suggest that now even High School Career Day is No-Country-For-Old-CS-Men-And-Women. "Get good people [software engineers for college & career panels]," the presentation (6.5MB .pptx) advises its teacher audience. "Younger is good." Hey, never trust CS Career Day to anyone over 30!

Submission + - Google, CNN Leaders in "Advertising Pollution" 1

theodp writes: "Everyone gets that advertising is what powers the internet, and that our favorite sites wouldn't exist without it," writes longtime ad guy Ken Segall in The Relentless (and annoying) Pursuit of Eyeballs. "Unfortunately, for some this is simply license to abuse. Let's call it what it is: advertising pollution." CNN's in-your-face, your-video-will-play-in-00:25-seconds approach, once unthinkable, has become the norm. "Google," Segall adds, "is a leader in advertising pollution, with YouTube being a showcase for intrusive advertising. Many YouTube videos start with a mandatory ad, others start with an ad that can be dismissed only after the first 10 seconds. Even more annoying are the ad overlays that actually appear on top of the video you're trying to watch. It won't go away until you click the X. If you want to see the entire video unobstructed, you must drag the playhead back to start over. Annoying. And disrespectful." Google proposed using cap and trade penalties to penalize traditional polluters — how about for those who pollute the Internet?

Submission + - Microsoft TEALS Presentation: "Get Good People...Younger is Good"

theodp writes: After Dave Winer posted his screed on Why Age in Software is Bullshit ("People who love to create software will be doing it a lot longer than you think. And if you think this is something that only young people can do, you are wrong."), NY Times tech writer Farhad Manjoo took to Twitter to challenge Dave's assertion. "Do you think there's any part of coding you've gotten worse at as you age?" Manjoo asked. "Eg, maybe less open to new ideas?" "I'm very good at adapting to new things," Dave testily reassured Manjoo. Unfortunately, ageist attitudes in tech persist. Indeed, a presentation for Microsoft's TEALS program (Technology Education And Literacy in Schools), a fave of CEO Satyam Nadar which aims to put computer science into every high school, seems to suggest that even High School Career Day is No Country For Old CS Men. "Get good people [software engineers for college & career panels]," the presentation (6.5MB .pptx) advises its teacher audience. "Younger is good."

Slashdot Top Deals

New York... when civilization falls apart, remember, we were way ahead of you. - David Letterman

Working...