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Video Software Engineer Liz Bennett Talks About Being a Woman in a Nearly All Male Workplace (Video) 116

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.

NSF Antes Up $200K For Spin-off of Microsoft-Funded 'Code Trip' TV Show 20

theodp writes: The Microsoft-sponsored PBS 'reality' show Code Trip, in which Roadtrip Nation and Microsoft YouthSpark partnered to send three students across the U.S. on a "transformative journey into computer science" is getting a spin-off. According to the National Science Foundation Award Abstract for a Computer Science Roadtrip (CS Roadtrip), $199,866.00 in funding has been awarded for a pilot project that began in October "to design and develop pilot materials for a Computer Science Roadtrip (CS Roadtrip)."

From the abstract: "Through this pilot project, Roadtrip Nation will lay the groundwork and provide proof-of-concept for a CS Roadtrip, leveraging a combination of multimedia deliverables, an evidence-based educational curriculum, and dynamic engagement strategies that will provide critical connections between students' natural interests, positive role models who align with those interests, and corresponding CS educational and career pathways. To that end, the CS Roadtrip Pilot will develop up to four student-facing videos that feature the stories of diverse computing professionals, appropriate for on-air, online, and classroom purposes, along with the appropriate Learning Guides."

The NSF study's Principal Investigator is Roadtrip Nation co-founder Mike Marriner, who explained his company's relationship with Microsoft in a July 30th press release, "Roadtrip Nation is proud to partner with Microsoft's YouthSpark initiative not only to inform others of the many career routes one can take with a computer science background, but also to engage in the much-needed conversation of diversifying the tech field with more pluralistic perspectives."

HTTP/2.0 Opens Every New Connection It Makes With the Word 'PRISM' ( 189

An anonymous reader writes: British programmer and writer John Graham-Cumming has spotted what appears to be a 'code-protest' in the next generation of the hypertext protocol. Each new connection forged by the HTTP/2.0 protocol spells out the word 'PRISM' obliquely, though the word itself is obscured to the casual observer by coded returns and line-breaks. Work on the hidden message in HTTP/2.0 seems to date back to nine days after the Snowden revelations broke, with the final commit completed by July of 2013. In July 2013 one of the protocol's architects appealed to the development group to reconsider design principles in the light of the revelations about the NSA's worldwide surveillance program.

Rikers Inmates Learn How To Code Without Internet Access ( 173

An anonymous reader sends the story of another prison where inmates are learning the basics of programming, despite having no access to the vast educational resources on the internet. Instructors from Columbia University have held a lengthy class at New York's Rikers Island prison to teach the basics of Python. Similar projects have been attempted in California and Oklahoma. The goal wasn’t to turn the students into professional-grade programmers in just a few classes, [Instructor Dennis] Tenen emphasizes, but to introduce them to the basics of programming and reasoning about algorithms and code. "It’s really to give people a taste, to get people excited about coding, in hopes that when they come out, they continue," says Tenen. ...Having an explicit goal—building the Twitter bot—helped the class focus its limited time quickly on learning to do concrete tasks, instead of getting bogged down in abstract discussions of syntax and algorithms.

Creator of Relay On BITNET, Predecessor of IRC, Dies ( 34

tmjva writes: Jeff Kell passed away on November 25 as reported here in the 3000newswire. He was inventor of BITNET Relay, a predecessor of Internet Relay Chat using the REXX programming language.

In 1987 he wrote the following preserved article about RELAY and here is his obituary. May this early inventor rest in peace.


Free Pascal Compiler 3.0.0 Is Out; Adds Support For 16-Bit MS-DOS, 64-Bit iOS ( 132

Halo1 writes: Twenty-three years ago, development started on the first version of the Turbo Pascal and later also Delphi-compatible Free Pascal Compiler, for OS/2 no less. Two decades and change later, the new Free Pascal Compiler 3.0.0 release still supports OS/2, along with a host of older and newer platforms ranging from MS-DOS on an 8086 to the latest Linux and iOS running on AArch64. On the language front, the new features include support for type helpers, codepage-aware strings and a utility to automatically generate JNI bridges for Pascal code. In the mean time, development on the next versions continues, with support for generic functions, an optional LLVM code generator backend and full support for ISO and Extended Pascal progressing well.

Will You Be Able To Run a Modern Desktop Environment In 2016 Without Systemd? 754

New submitter yeupou writes: Early this year, David Edmundson from KDE, concluded that "In many cases [systemd] allows us to throw away large amounts of code whilst at the same time providing a better user experience. Adding it [systemd] as an optional extra defeats the main benefit". A perfectly sensible explanation. But, then, one might wonder to which point KDE would remain usable without systemd?

Recently, on one Devuan box, I noticed that KDE power management (Powerdevil) no longer supported suspend and hibernate. Since pm-utils was still there, for a while, I resorted to call pm-suspend directly, hoping it would get fixed at some point. But it did not. So I wrote a report myself. I was not expecting much. But neither was I expecting it to be immediately marked as RESOLVED and DOWNSTREAM, with a comment accusing the "Debian fork" I'm using to "ripe out" systemd without "coming with any of the supported solutions Plasma provides". I searched beforehand about the issue so I knew that the problem also occurred on some other Debian-based systems and that the bug seemed entirely tied to upower, an upstream software used by Powerdevil. So if anything, at least this bug should have been marked as UPSTREAM.

While no one dares (yet) to claim to write software only for systemd based operating system, it is obvious that it is now getting quite hard to get support otherwise. At the same time, bricks that worked for years without now just get ruined, since, as pointed out by Edmunson, adding systemd as "optional extra defeats its main benefit". So, is it likely that we'll still have in 2016 a modern desktop environment, without recent regressions, running without systemd?

How Computer Scientists Cracked a 50-Year-Old Math Problem ( 96

An anonymous reader writes: Over the decades, the Kadison-Singer problem had wormed its way into a dozen distant areas of mathematics and engineering, but no one seemed to be able to crack it. The question "defied the best efforts of some of the most talented mathematicians of the last 50 years," wrote Peter Casazza and Janet Tremain of the University of Missouri in Columbia, in a 2014 survey article.

As a computer scientist, Daniel Spielman knew little of quantum mechanics or the Kadison-Singer problem's allied mathematical field, called C*-algebras. But when Gil Kalai, whose main institution is the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, described one of the problem's many equivalent formulations, Spielman realized that he himself might be in the perfect position to solve it. "It seemed so natural, so central to the kinds of things I think about," he said. "I thought, 'I've got to be able to prove that.'" He guessed that the problem might take him a few weeks.

Instead, it took him five years. In 2013, working with his postdoc Adam Marcus, now at Princeton University, and his graduate student Nikhil Srivastava, now at the University of California, Berkeley, Spielman finally succeeded. Word spread quickly through the mathematics community that one of the paramount problems in C*-algebras and a host of other fields had been solved by three outsiders — computer scientists who had barely a nodding acquaintance with the disciplines at the heart of the problem.


High Level Coding Language Used To Create New POS Malware ( 94

An anonymous reader writes: A new malware framework called ModPOS is reported to pose a threat to U.S. retailers, and has some of the highest-quality coding work ever put into a ill-intentioned software of this nature. Security researchers iSight say of the ModPOS platform that it is 'much more complex than average malware'. The researchers believe that the binary output they have been studying for three years was written in a high-level language such as C, and that the software took 'a significant amount of time and resources to create and debug'.

Stack Overflow and the Zeitgeist of Computer Programming ( 171

An anonymous reader writes: Stack Overflow remains one of the most widely-used resources in the developer community. Around 400,000 questions are posted there every month. The Priceonomics blog is using statistical analysis to ask, "What does the nature of these questions tell us about the state of programming?" They see tremendous growth in questions about Android Studio, as well as more generic growth in work relating to data analysis and cloud services. Topics on a significant decline include Silverlight, Joomla, Clojure, and Flash (not to mention emacs, for some reason). The article also takes a brief look at the site's megausers, who receive a lot of credit for keeping the signal-to-noise ratio as high as it is, while also taking flack for how the Stack Overflow culture has progressed. "Others are worried about how Stack Overflow has impacted programming fundamentals. Some critics believe that rather than truly struggling with a problem, developers can now just ask Stack Overflow users to solve it for them. The questioner may receive and use an answer with code they do not truly understand; they just know it fixes their problem. This can lead to issues in the long run when adjustments are needed."

Sued Freelancer Allegedly Turns Over Contractee Source Code In Settlement 130

FriendlySolipsist writes: Blizzard Entertainment has been fighting World of Warcraft bots for years. TorrentFreak reports that Bossland, a German company that operates "buddy" bots, alleges Blizzard sued one of its freelancers and forced a settlement. As part of that settlement, the freelancer allegedly turned over Bossland's source code to Blizzard. In Bossland's view, their code was "stolen" by Blizzard because it was not the freelancer's to disclose. This is a dangerous precedent for freelance developers in the face of legal threats: damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Ask Slashdot: Convincing a Team To Undertake UX Enhancements On a Large Codebase? 192

unteer writes: I work at a enterprise software company that builds an ERP system for a niche industry (i.e. not Salesforce or SAP size). Our product has been continuously developed for 10 years, and incorporates code that is even older. Our userbase is constantly expanding, and many of these users expect modern conveniences like intuitive UI and documented processes. However, convincing the development teams that undertaking projects to clean up the UI or build more self-explanatory features are often met with, "It's too big an undertaking," or, "it's not worth it." Help me out: What is your advice for how to quantify and qualify improving the user experience of an aging, fairly large,but also fairly niche, ERP product?

Julia Programming Language Receives $600k Donation 106

jones_supa writes: The Julia programming language has received a $600k donation from Moore Foundation. The foundation wants to get the language into a production version. This has a goal to create more efficient and powerful scientific computing tools to assist in data-driven research. The money will be granted over the next two years so the Julia Language team can move their core open computing language and libraries into the first production version. The Julia Language project aims to create a dynamic programming language that is general purpose but designed to excel at numerical computing and data science. It is especially good at running MATLAB and R style programs.

Microsoft Open-Sources Visual Studio Code ( 158

An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft today unleashed a torrent of news at its Connect(); 2015 developer event in New York City. The company open-sourced code editing software Visual Studio Code, launched a free Visual Studio Dev Essentials program, pushed out .NET Core 5 and ASP.NET 5 release candidates, unveiled Visual Studio cloud subscriptions, debuted the Visual Studio Marketplace, and a lot more. The source for Visual Studio Code is available at GitHub under the MIT license. They've also released an extension (preview) for Visual Studio that facilitates code debugging on Linux.

Python Is On the Rise, While PHP Falls ( 232

Nerval's Lobster writes: While this month's lists of the top programming languages uniformly put Java in the top spot, that's not the only detail of interest to developers. Which language has gained the most users over the past five years? And which are tottering on the edge of obsolescence? According to PYPL, which pulls its raw data for analysis from Google Trends, Python has grown the most over the past five years—up 5 percent since roughly 2010. Over the same period, PHP also declined by 5 percent. Since PYPL looks at how often language tutorials are searched on Google, its data is a good indicator of how many developers are (or aren't) learning a language, presumably because they see it as valuable to their careers. Just because PYPL shows PHP losing market-share over the long term doesn't mean that language is in danger of imminent collapse; over the past year or so, the PHP community has concentrated on making the language more pleasant to use, whether by improving features such as package management, or boosting overall performance. Plus, PHP is still used on hundreds of millions of websites, according to data from Netcraft. Indeed, if there's any language on these analysts' lists that risks doom, it's Objective-C, the primary language used for programming iOS and Mac OS X apps, and its growing obsolescence is by design.

Microsoft Brings Its Embrace-Extend-Extinguish Game To K-12 Schools? 168

theodp writes: A year after it paid $2.5 billion to buy Minecraft, Microsoft has announced a partnership with that makes a Minecraft-themed introduction to programming a signature tutorial of this year's Hour of Code, which hopes to reach 200 million schoolchildren next month in what the Microsoft-funded nonprofit is billing as the largest learning event in history. "A core part of our mission to empower every person on the planet is equipping youth with computational thinking and problem-solving skills to succeed in an increasingly digital world," said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in a press release, which also notes that "Microsoft is gifting Windows Store credit to every educator who organizes an Hour of Code event worldwide." Of the Minecraft tutorial, CEO Hadi Partovi gushed, "Compared to what you would otherwise be doing for school, this is, like, the best thing ever."

Slashdot Asks: Is Scrum Still Relevant? ( 371

An anonymous reader writes: In an article titled "Scrum is dead: breaking down the new open development method," Ahmad Nassri writes: "Among the most 'oversold as a cure' methodologies introduced to business development teams today is Scrum, which is one of several agile approaches to software development and introduced as a way to streamline the process. Scrum has become something of an intractable method, complete with its own holy text, the Manifesto for Agile Software Development , and daily devotions (a.k.a., Scrum meetings). Although Scrum may have made more sense when it was being developed in the early '90s, much has changed over the years. Startups and businesses have work forces spread over many countries and time zones, making sharing offices more difficult for employees. As our workforce world evolves, our software development methods should evolve, too." What do you think? Is Scrum still a viable approach to software development, or is it time to make way for a different process?

The Next Big IT Projects From the University Labs ( 29

snydeq writes: From unstructured data mining to visual microphones, academic labs are bringing future breakthrough possibilities to light, writes InfoWorld's Peter Wayner in his overview of nine university projects that could have lasting impact on IT. 'Open source programmers can usually build better code faster, often because they have bosses who pay them to build something that will pay off next quarter, not next century. Yet good computer science departments still manage to punch above — sometimes well above — their weight. While a good part of the research is devoted to arcane topics like the philosophical limits of computation, some of it can be tremendously useful for the world at large. What follows are nine projects currently under development at university labs that [could] have a broad impact on the world of computing.'