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Programming

Video Write the Docs Helps Create FLOSS Software Documentation (Video #2) 14

Say hello once again to David Smatlak, who works with Write the Docs -- a group that started some years back as Read the Docs.They have conferences in the U.S.and Europe, and Meetups in over a dozen cities. We ran a conversation with David Wednesday, but couldn't fit all he had to say into one video, so here he is again, with additional info that tags onto Wednesday's video.
Programming

Video Write the Docs Helps Create FLOSS Software Documentation (Video) 27

Say hello to David Smatlak, who works with Write the Docs -- a group that started some years back as Read the Docs.They have conferences in the U.S.and Europe, and Meetups in over a dozen cities. It's a low-key group, open to both people who write documentation and developers who want help writing professeional-quality documentation for their Free/Libre/Open Source Software (FLOSS) projects. Also welcome are those who would like to learn how to write good software documentation, starting with this online tutorial about the art and science of writing technical documentation. (And if you are interested primarily in Linux documentation, you'll want to check the Linux Documentation Project, too.)
Programming

Video Software Engineer Liz Bennett Talks About Being a Woman in a Nearly All Male Workplace (Video) 370

This conversation was generated by a post Eric S. Raymond published on his "Armed and Dangerous" blog that said, "...if you are any kind of open-source leader or senior figure who is male, do not be alone with any female, ever, at a technical conference. Try to avoid even being alone, ever, because there is a chance that a 'women in tech' advocacy group is going to try to collect your scalp." Eric later wrote a post about how Social Justice Warriors may be more of a problem than the problems they complain about.

Whoa! Predatory women in tech trying to entrap people like (and including) Linus Torvalds the way an old-time private eye got the goods on an errant husband as part of a divorce case? Scary! And worrying about thoughtcrime, too? Oh my! But Liz Bennett is an actual software engineer who works at Loggly in San Francisco. She writes for her company's blog when she's not writing Java code, has a (not very active) GitHub account, and plays bassoon. And her attitude is similar to the one espoused by ESR in the second post (above): write great code -- and if you do, they (for any value of they) have no right to be negative about you, period. And, she says, before you take a job you should be sure the company is a good "fit" for you and doesn't harbor people who will work to bring you down -- which is great advice for anyone, in any field of endeavor.
Programming

Video DevOps: Threat or Menace? (Video) 65

The title above is a joke. Mostly. We've heard so much about DevOps -- good, bad, and indifferent -- from so many people who contradict each other, that we turned to Alan Zeichick, one of the world's most experienced IT analysts, to tell us what DevOps is and isn't, how it can help get work done (and done right), how it can hinder progress, and how to make sure DevOps is a help, not a hindrance, if you or your employers decide to implement DevOps yourselves at some point.
Programming

Video Security is an Important Coding Consideration Even When You Use Containers (Video) 57

Last month Tom Henderson wrote an article titled Container wars: Rocket vs. Odin vs. Docker. In that article he said, "All three are potentially very useful and also potentially very dangerous compared to traditional hypervisor and VM combinations."

Tom's list of contributions at Network World show you that he's not a neophyte when it comes to enterprise-level security, and that he's more of a product test/analytical person than a journalist. And afraid to state a strong opinion? That's someone else, not Tom, who got flamed hard for his "Container Wars" article, but has been proved right since it ran. Tom also says, in today's interview, that the recent Apple XcodeGhost breach should be a loud wake-up call for developers who don't worry enough about security. But will it? He's not too sure. Are you?
Education

Video GameStart Uses Minecraft to Teach Kids Programming (Video 1) 30

You can't teach all programming by using Minecraft to keep kids interested, but you can use Minecraft, Java, and Eclipse to give them a good start. That's what Tyler Kilgore and his colleagues at GameStart are doing. Watch today's video (number 1), tomorrow's video (number 2) and read both days' transcripts for the full scoop. EDIT: "Tomorrow's video" should read, "Monday's video."
Programming

Video Starcoder Uses a Multiplayer Game to Teach Programming (Video # 2) 11

We ran video # 1 about Starcoder yesterday and linked to the project's Kickstarter page. At that time, the project had raised $3221 out of a $4000 goal. Today they're up to $5836, which means they've reached their goal and then some, and they still have four days of Kickstarting to go. Nice! It looks like Starcoder will soon be available to a lot more students than are using it now, and that (hopefully) there will be enough server capacity to accommodate students who want to sign up and play on their own, not necessarily with help from their schools.

To learn more about Starcoder, you may want to check out these video clips on Vimeo that not only show you how the game was developed, but give you a look at how it's played. Note: this is video 2 of 2. The transcript covers both videos, plus some material we were forced to edit out of the videos due to length restrictions.)
Education

Video Starcoder Uses a Multiplayer Game to Teach Programming (Video # 1) 37

Starcoder, says the project's Kickstarter page, "is a multiplayer online space action game that teaches kids coding as they play." Their page also points out that it's easier to learn as a group than it is to learn alone. The Starcoder Kickstarter project has collected $3221 at this writing, out of a $4000 goal, and they have until June 17 to come up with the rest. So please take a look at Starcoder, see how it works and why it is unquestionably a more interesting way to learn programming basics than the traditional "highly theoretical and (frankly) boring manner."

Starcoder starts with Blockly. Then, as students advance to higher game levels, moves to JavaScript. Yes, there are levels. Also competitive play, since Starcoder is a massively multiplayer online game. In fact, a big reason for the Kickstarter project is to expand server capability so that kids can play from home, not just in school or during after-school computer classes. One more thing to note: The Win2Learn team behind Starcoders is composed of professional educators and designers. They've been working on STEM education for a while. Want to see some of the thinking behind Starcoder? They have some video clips on Vimeo that not only show you how the game was developed, but give you a good look at how it's played. Does it sound good? Do you want more kids to have access to an ever-improving Starcoder? Then you know what to do. (Note: This is video 1 of 2. The second one will run tomorrow. The transcript covers both videos, plus some material we were forced to edit out of the videos due to length restrictions.)
Education

WA Gov. Sides With Microsoft: Philanthropy-Funded K-12 CS Education Now the Law 166

theodp writes: During public hearings on WA State's House Bill 1813, which took aim at boys' historical over-representation in K-12 computer classes, the Office of the WA State Superintendent of Public Instruction voiced concerns that by relying on the generosity of corporations, wealthy individuals, and nonprofits to fund STEM, computer science, and technology programs, learning opportunities would be limited to a small group of students, creating disparity of opportunity. "If this is a real priority," pleaded Chris Vance, "fund it fully" (HB 1813, like the White House K-12 CS plan, counts on philanthropy to make up for tax shortfalls). But legislators in the WA House and Senate — apparently more swayed by the pro-HB 1813 testimony of representatives from Microsoft and Microsoft-backed TEALS and Code.org — overwhelmingly passed the bill, sending it to Governor Jay Inslee for his signature. Not to worry. On Wednesday, the bill was signed into law by Gov. Inslee, who was perhaps influenced by the we-need-to-pass-HB-1813 blogging of Microsoft General Counsel and Code.org Board member Brad Smith, who coincidentally is not only responsible for Microsoft's philanthropic work, but was also co-chair of Gov.-elect Inslee's transition team. The WA state legislative victory comes less than 24 hours after the San Francisco School Board voted to require CS instruction beginning with preschool.
Cloud

Video A Conversation with Druva Co-Founder Jaspreet Singh (Video) 39

This was originally going to be an interview about the state of enterprise-level backup software in an increasingly edge computing-focused world, but we rapidly drifted into talking about how Druva started in Pune (near Bangalore) and ended up moving to Silicon Valley. We hear plenty about American software companies moving to India, but not a lot about Indian software companies moving here. Druva had good reasons for the move, the chief one being a financing deal with Sequoia Capital. Aside from that, though, Jaspreet says the talent pool -- not just developers but software marketing people and other important staffers -- is more concentrated in Silicon Valley than almost anywhere else in the world. 'It's like Hollywood for geeks,' Jaspreet says. This doesn't mean business is necessarily easy in the USA: Jaspreet ended up laying off his entire staff. Twice. And he made other mistakes as a young, new CEO bringing a company to life in a crowded field.

Those mistakes, which Jaspreet shares freely with us, are like a business school 'Start-Up Pitfalls' class. You may never want to do your own startup, but if you're a developer or otherwise involved with the software industry, there's a good chance that you'll have a chance to work for one at some point. And if you have that chance, you'll be glad you watched this video (or read the transcript) before you take the startup plunge.
Open Source

Video State of the GitHub: Chris Kelly Does the Numbers 34

I talked with Chris Kelly of GitHub at last week's LinuxCon about GitHub. He's got interesting things to say about the demographics and language choices on what has become in short order (just six years) one of the largest repositories of code in the world, and one with an increasingly sophisticated front-end, and several million users. Not all of the code on GitHub is open source, but the majority is -- handy, when that means an account is free as in beer, too. (And if you're reading on the beta or otherwise can't view the video below, here's the alternative video link.)
Programming

Video The Grumpy Programmer has Advice for Young Computer Workers (Video) 120

Bob Pendleton calls his blog "The Grumpy Programmer" because he's both grumpy and a programmer. He's also over 60 years old and has been programming since he was in his teens. This pair of videos is a break from our recent spate of conference panels and corporate people. It's an old programmer sharing his career experiences with younger programmers so they (you?) can avoid making his mistakes and possibly avoid becoming as grumpy as he is -- which is kind of a joke, since Bob is not nearly as grumpy as he is light-hearted. (Transcript covers both videos. Alternate Video Link One; Alternate Video Link Two)
Programming

Video Peter Hoddie Talks About His Internet of Things Construction Kit (Video) 53

You remember Peter Hoddie, right? He was one of the original QuickTime developers at Apple. He left in 2002 to help found a startup called Kinoma, which started life developing multimedia players and browsers for mobile devices. Kinoma was acquired in 2011 by Marvell Semiconductor, whose management kept it as a separate entity.

The latest creation from Peter and his crew is the 'Kinoma Create,' AKA the 'JavaScript-Powered Internet of Things Construction Kit.' With it, they say, you can 'quickly and easily create personal projects, consumer electronics, and Internet of Things prototypes.' EE Times mentioned it in March, and they're not the only ones to notice this product. Quite a few developers and companies are jumping on the 'Internet of Things' bandwagon, so there may be a decent -- and growing -- market for something like this. (Alternate Video Link)
Programming

Video Will Google's Dart Language Replace Javascript? (Video) 180

Seth Ladd, Google Web engineer and Chrome Developer Advocate, is today's interviewee. He's talking about Dart, which Wikipedia says is 'an open-source Web programming language developed by Google.' The Wikipedia article goes on to say Dart was unveiled at the GOTO conference in Aarhus, October 10–12, 2011, and that the goal of Dart is 'ultimately to replace JavaScript as the lingua franca of web development on the open web platform.' A bold aim, indeed. Last month (June, 2014), InfoWorld ran an article by Paul Krill headlined, Google's Go language on the rise, but Dart is stalling. Seth Ladd, unlike Paul Krill, is obviously rah-rah about Dart -- which is as it should be, since that's his job -- and seems to think it has a growing community and a strong place in the future of Web programming. For more about Dart, scroll down to watch Tim Lord's video interview with Seth -- or read the transcript, if you prefer. (Alternate Video Link)
Programming

Video Milverton Wallace Organizes Hackathons in Great Britain (Video) 11

Milverton Wallace (@milvy on Twitter) might seem an unlikely candidate to be setting up hackathons in the UK; his background is as a journalist, and he was born a few thousand miles away in Jamaica. Nonetheless, when I met up with him at last month’s AppsWorld in London, he was about to conduct another in a series of hackathons at Google’s London campus. He’s got some interesting things to say about the mechanics and reasons for putting a bunch of programmers (and/or kids who aren’t yet programmers per se) into a room, and giving them a good environment for creativity. He has some harsh words for the UK school system’s approach to computer education (which sounds an awful lot like the U.S. approach in far too many schools), and praise for efforts (like the Raspberry Pi Foundation) to bring programming to British classrooms, both earlier and with more depth. The same ideas should apply world-wide.

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