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Submission Summary: 0 pending, 5 declined, 9 accepted (14 total, 64.29% accepted)

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Submission + - WhatsApp to end support for BlackBerry, Nokia, and other older operating systems (whatsapp.com)

nerdyalien writes: While everybody is immersed in Apple vs FBI case, WhatsApp has posted a blog entry that could potentially alter the mobile landscape as we know it today. By the end of 2016, WhatsApp will no longer support many older mobile operating systems from BlackBerry, Nokia, Android and Windows Phone. Moving forward, WhatsApp will only support latest and greatest iPhone, Android and Windows Phone platforms. With over 1 billion active users, and backing of FaceBook, is WhatsApp finally reducing the mobile landscape to a 3 horse race ?

Submission + - The App-ocalypse: Can Web standards make mobile apps obsolete? (arstechnica.com) 3

nerdyalien writes: There's currently a litany of problems with apps. There is the platform lock-in and the space the apps take up on the device. Updating apps is a pain that users often ignore, leaving broken or vulnerable versions in use long after they've been allegedly patched. Apps are also a lot of work for developers—it's not easy to write native apps to run on both Android and iOS, never mind considering Windows Phone and BlackBerry. What's the alternative? Well, perhaps the best answer is to go back to the future and do what we do on desktop computers: use the Web and the Web browser.

Submission + - Tim Cook calls Apple's tax questions 'political crap' (business-standard.com)

nerdyalien writes: Apple Inc Chief Executive Tim Cook dismissed as "total political crap" the notion that the tech giant was avoiding taxes. Cook's remarks, made on CBS' 60 Minutes show, come amid a debate in the United States over corporations avoiding taxes through techniques such as so-called inversion deals, where a company redomiciles its tax base to another country. Apple holds $181.1 billion in offshore profits, more than any other US company, and would owe an estimated $59.2 billion in taxes if it tried to bring the money back to the United States, a recent study based on SEC filings showed. The current tax code was made for the industrial age, and not the "digital age," Cook said.

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Are general engineering skills undervalued in web development ? 1

nerdyalien writes: Reading a recent post about developer competence, I can't help but to ask the question "Are general engineering skills undervalued in web development ?"

I am an EE major. The course I completed, and the professors who taught it; mainly emphasized on developing skills rather memorizing reams of facts and figures. As a result, I have acquired multitude of skills such as analytical, research, programming, communication, project management, planning, self-learning, etc.

Little over 3 years ago, I made the fateful decision to become a web developer in a small SME in SEA. Admittedly, I have an unstructured knowledge about CS theory. Still, within a short period of time I picked up the essentials of web development craft, and delivered reliable web applications. Most of all, I made good use of my existing technical/soft skills, despite the lack of my CS pedigree.

Lately I went through couple of job interviews in MNCs, SMEs and start-ups alike. All of them grilled my CS theory or Java knowledge. Almost no interviewer asked me about my other skills (or past experiences) that could be helpful in the developer position.

In my experience, web development is a cocktail of competing programming languages, frameworks and standards. Rarely a developer gets exposed to a single technology for a substantial period to learn it inside-out. Even still, in web development world, deep in-depth knowledge in anything will be outdated in few years’ time as new technologies roll out.

So, what matter's today? Knowledge on a particular technology or re-usable engineering skills ?

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Have you experienced Fear Driven Development (FDD) ? (hanselman.com) 1

nerdyalien writes: Few years back, I worked for a large-scale news-media related web development project in a South-East Asian country. Despite formally adopting Agile/Scrum as the SDLC, development was driven based on fear imposed by managers, and architects who were proficient in ADD — A**hole Driven Development. Project ran 4x over its initial estimation, and not to forget those horrendous 18 hours/day, 6 days/week shifts with pizza dinners. For better or worse, I was asked to leave half way thru the project due to a row with the manager; which followed with poor performance reviews and delayed promotion. Are FDD and ADD here to stay ?

Submission + - Does "Scientific Consensus" deserve a bad reputation? (arstechnica.com)

nerdyalien writes: From the article: Fiction author Michael Crichton probably started the backlash against the idea of consensus in science. Crichton was rather notable for doubting the conclusions of climate scientists—he wrote an entire book in which they were the villains—so it's fair to say he wasn't thrilled when the field reached a consensus. Still, it's worth looking at what he said, if only because it's so painfully misguided:

As a STEM major, I am somewhat bias towards "strong" evidence side of the argument. However, the more I read literature from other somewhat related fields i.e. psychology, economics and climate science; the more I felt that they have little opportunity in repeating experiments, similar to counterparts in traditional hard science fields. Their accepted theories are based on limited historical occurrences and consensus among the scholars. Given the situation, should we consider "consensus" as accepted scientific facts ?

Submission + - Is there a creativity deficit in science? (arstechnica.com)

nerdyalien writes: From the article: "There is no more important time for science to leverage its most creative minds in attempting to solve our global challenges. Although there have been massive increases in funding over the last few decades, the ideas and researchers that have been rewarded by the current peer-review system have tended to be safer, incremental, and established. If we want science to be its most innovative, it’s not about finding brilliant, passionate creative scientists; it’s about supporting the ones we already have."

Submission + - How Microsoft dragged its development practices into the 21st century (arstechnica.com)

nerdyalien writes: As a web developer who joined the industry few years back, I had to practice Agile from day one. Despite the years of expereince and what I heard/learned in Agile related events (i.e. workshops, conferences), I always maintained a firm opinion that Agile would not scale in large projects. For me, it was the simple fact that there weren't enough strong case studies to explain how a large organization or a project successfully adopted Agile in their daily business. It seems tide has changed, and the Redmond giant has embraced Agile to deliver one of its flagship products. Is this the turning point for large scale Agile ?

Submission + - New html element <picture> to make future web faster (arstechnica.com)

nerdyalien writes: At some point or another, haven't we all web developers spent unjustifiable number of hours trying to optimize a desktop site for mobile devices ? Responsive Web Designs (RWD) has given us the solution "develop once, works in every device"; however, still it downloads multi-MB images and resize them based on device screen resolution. Retrieving optimized images from the server, based on device (desktop, tablet, mobile) and its internet connection (fiber, mobile), has always been an open problem. Recently, number of freelance developers are tackling this with a new html element <picture>, which informs the web browser to download optimized image from the server. This tag to be featured in Chrome and FireFox browsers later this year. Will this finally deliver us faster web browsing on mobile devices, and pain-free web development experience ?

Submission + - Why agile development failed for Universal Credit (computerweekly.com)

nerdyalien writes: Agile software development is at the heart of the coalition government's plan to reform public sector IT. Universal Credit, the government's £2bn flagship welfare reform programme, was meant to prove it worked on major projects. But the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has ceased all agile software development on Universal Credit. Did the DWP ditch agile because it was not up to the job? Or was the DWP not up to agile?

Agile development experts say the problem was with the DWP. Universal Credit failed on agile, they say, because it was never really agile in the first place. A former principal agile consultant on Universal Credit, who asked not to be named, said the programme got off on the wrong foot. "The fundamental problem was procurement," he said. "Our hands were tied because of procurement. If you don't set up the contract properly, you are on a hiding to nothing." Universal Credit could never have been agile, he said, because of the way the DWP let £1.12bn of contracts with the programme's major suppliers, including HP, Accenture, Capgemini and IBM. "We were effectively on a waterfall project, because it was a waterfall contract," he said.

Submission + - Scientists, what will your career look like in ten years? (arstechnica.com)

nerdyalien writes: In the academic world, it’s publish or perish; getting papers accepted by the right journals can make or break a researcher’s career. But beyond a cushy tenured position, it's difficult to measure success. In 2005, physicist Jorge Hurst suggested the h-index, a quantitative way to measure the success of scientists via their publication record. This score takes into account both the number and the quality of papers a researcher has published, with quality measured as the number of times each paper has been cited in peer-reviewed journals. H-indices are commonly considered in tenure decisions, making this measure an important one, especially for scientists early in their career.

However, this index only measures the success a researcher achieved so far; it doesn’t predict their future career trajectory. Some scientists stall out after a few big papers; others become breakthrough stars after a slow start. So how we estimate what a scientist's career will look like several years down the road? A recent article in Nature suggests that we can predict scientific success, but that we need to take into account several attributes of the researcher (such as the breadth of their research).

Submission + - Stress helps alpha males to get laid more (arstechnica.com)

nerdyalien writes: Being an alpha male is not easy. You have to fight with enemy, maintain many ladies, and be ahead of the pack all the time. These demands comes at the cost of high stress.

This study revolves around baboons and their fecal samples. Group of scientists analyse them and come to interesting conclusions such as: stress as the alpha male is same as being in a very low rank, high stress leads to poor health of alpha males, rank #2 reap more benefits including getting laid and less stress.

In an anthropological, evolutionary biological point of view, this is an excellent article. Once the comedy hat is put on, all the "fecal sample" study turns into comedy gold (see the comments section of the original article)


Submission + - google intranet (blogoscoped.com)

nerdyalien writes: What do around 16,000 Google employees stare at in the morning when theyve arrived at the office? They might be looking at Moma, the name for the Google intranet. The meaning of the name of Moma is a mystery even to some of the employees working on it, we heard, but Momas mission is prominently displayed on its footer: Organize Googles information and make it accessible and useful to Googlers.

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