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Education

How Computer Science Education Got Practical (Again) 138 138

jfruh writes: In the 1980s and 1990s, thousands of young people who had grown up tinkering with PCs hit college and dove into curricula designed around the vague notion that they might want to "do something with computers." Today, computer science education is a lot more practical — though in many ways that's just going back to the discipline's roots. As Christopher Mims put it in the Wall Street Journal, "we've entered an age in which demanding that every programmer has a degree is like asking every bricklayer to have a background in architectural engineering."
Businesses

The Programmer's Path To Management 110 110

snydeq writes: The transition from command line to line-of-command requires a new mind-set — and a thick skin, writes InfoWorld's Paul Heltzel in a tips-based article aimed at programmers interested in breaking into management. "Talented engineers may see managing a team as the next step to growing their careers. So if you're moving in this direction, what tools do you need to make the transition? We'll look at some possible approaches, common pitfalls — and offer solutions."
Open Source

Ask Slashdot: Choosing the Right Open Source License 134 134

NicknamesAreStupid writes: I need to choose an open source license. I am developing an open source iOS application that use a significant number of other open source projects which, in turn, use a number of different open source licenses such as MPL/GPL, MIT, and BSD. I am also using sample code from Apple's developer site, which has their own terms of use. The code dependencies are such that my code would not be of much use without theirs. If this project is used, then it would be nice to pick a license that best fits in with this mashup. I am interested in maintaining the freedom of my code but do not want to create a catch-22 or make life hard for people who need to use this project for personal use or profit. My inclination is to use MIT's, as I have done so before. I asked an IP lawyer about this matter, and she replied (pro bono), "it probably doesn't matter." Of course, that advice was worth every penny. Moving away from legal issues and looking at this from a social perspective, which license would appeal most and offend least? I thought about no license but was warned (pro bono), "If you do not, then someone else may." Any suggestions?
Programming

To Learn (Or Not Learn) JQuery 123 123

Nerval's Lobster writes: jQuery isn't without its controversies, and some developers distrust its use in larger projects because (some say) it ultimately leads to breakage-prone code that's harder to maintain. But given its prevalence, jQuery is probably essential to know, but what are the most important elements to learn in order to become adept-enough at it? Chaining commands, understanding when the document is finished loading (and how to write code that safely accesses elements only after said loading), and learning CSS selectors are all key. The harder part is picking up jQuery's quirks and tricks, of which there are many... but is it worth studying to the point where you know every possible eccentricity?
Google

SCOTUS Denies Google's Request To Appeal Oracle API Case 161 161

New submitter Neil_Brown writes: The Supreme Court of the United States has today denied Google's request to appeal against the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit's ruling (PDF) that the structure, sequence and organization of 37 of Oracle's APIs (application program interfaces) was capable of copyright protection. The case is not over, as Google can now seek to argue that, despite the APIs being restricted by copyright, its handling amounts to "fair use". Professor Pamela Samuelson has previously commented (PDF) on the implications if SCOTUS declined to hear the appeal. The Verge reports: "A district court ruled in Google's favor back in 2012, calling the API "a utilitarian and functional set of symbols" that couldn't be tied up by copyrights. Last May, a federal appeals court overturned that ruling by calling the Java API copyrightable. However, the court said that Google could still have lawfully used the APIs under fair use, sending the case back to a lower court to argue the issue. That's where Google will have to go next, now that the Supreme Court has declined to hear the issue over copyright itself.
Bug

MIT System Fixes Software Bugs Without Access To Source Code 72 72

jan_jes writes: MIT researchers have presented a new system at the Association for Computing Machinery's Programming Language Design and Implementation conference that repairs software bugs by automatically importing functionality from other, more secure applications. According to MIT, "The system, dubbed CodePhage, doesn't require access to the source code of the applications. Instead, it analyzes the applications' execution and characterizes the types of security checks they perform. As a consequence, it can import checks from applications written in programming languages other than the one in which the program it's repairing was written."
Education

AP CS Test Takers and Pass Rates Up, Half of Kids Don't Get Sparse Arrays At All 124 124

theodp writes: Each June, the College Board tweets out teasers of the fuller breakouts of its Advanced Placement (AP) test results, which aren't made available until the fall. So, here's a roundup of this year's AP Computer Science tweetstorm: 1. "Wow — massive gains in AP Computer Science participation (25% growth) AND scores this year; big increase in % of students earning 4s & 5s!" 2. "2015 AP Computer Science scores: 5: 24.4%; 4: 24.6%; 3: 15.3%; 2: 7.1%; 1: 28.6%." [3 or above is passing] 3."Count them: a whopping 66 AP Computer Science students out of 50,000 worldwide earned all 80 pts possible on this year's exam." 4. "Remember that AP exam standards are equated from year to year, so when scores go up, it's a direct indication of increased student mastery." 5. "Many AP Computer Science students did very well on Q1 (2D array processing–diverse array); >20% earned all 9/9 pts" [2015 AP CS A Free-Response Questions] 6. "The major gap in this year's AP Computer Sci classrooms seems to be array list processing; Q3 (sparse array): 47% of students got 0/9 pts."
AI

WSJ Overstates the Case Of the Testy A.I. 200 200

mbeckman writes: According to a WSJ article titled "Artificial Intelligence machine gets testy with programmer," a Google computer program using a database of movie scripts supposedly "lashed out" at a human researcher who was repeatedly asking it to explain morality. After several apparent attempts to politely fend off the researcher, the AI ends the conversation with "I'm not in the mood for a philosophical debate." This, says the WSJ, illustrates how Google scientists are "teaching computers to mimic some of the ways a human brain works."

As any AI researcher can tell you, this is utter nonsense. Humans have no idea how the human, or any other brain, works, so we can hardly teach a machine how brains work. At best, Google is programming (not teaching) a computer to mimic the conversation of humans under highly constrained circumstances. And the methods used have nothing to do with true cognition.

AI hype to the public has gotten progressively more strident in recent years, misleading lay people into believing researchers are much further along than they really are — by orders of magnitude. I'd love to see legitimate A.I. researchers condemn this kind of hucksterism.
Programming

Mob Programming: When Is 5 Heads Really Better Than 1 (or 2)? 122 122

itwbennett writes: Proponents of Mob programming, an offshoot of Pair programming in which the whole team works together on the same computer, say that it increases both quality and productivity, but also acknowledge that the productivity gains might not be readily apparent. "If you measure by features or other classic development productivity metrics, Mobbing looks like it's achieving only 75 to 85 percent of individual or Pair output for, say, a team of six or seven working for a week," says Paul Massey, whose company Bluefruit Software is a heavy user of the Mob approach. So, where does the productivity come from? Matthew Dodkins, a software architect at Bluefruit says the biggest gains are in code merges. "In a day spent using traditional collaboration, you would have to first spend time agreeing on tasks, common goals, deciding who's doing what... and then going away to do that, write code, and come back and merge it, resolve problems," says Dodkins. By bringing everyone into the same room, "we try to merge frequently, and try to do almost continuous integration." Matt Schartman, whose company Appfolio also uses Mobbing and wrote about his experience, gave Mobbing high marks for producing a quality product, but didn't find that it improved productivity in any measurable way.
Programming

Amazon Opens Up Echo's Alexa To Developers 26 26

mikejuk writes: Amazon announced Echo, a wireless speaker with a built-in, voice-controlled, personal assistant called Alexa last year. Now it appears Alexa will no longer be tied exclusively to Echo. Amazon has announced that the Alexa Voice Service (AVS), the cloud-based service behind Echo, is being made available for free to third party hardware makers who want to integrate Alexa into their devices. To propel developers and hardware manufacturers interest in voice technology and their adoption of Alexa, Amazon has also announced a $100 Million Alexa Fund, open to anyone, startups to established brands, with an innovative idea for using voice technology.
Google

Google Asks Android Developers To Show Sensitivity To Disasters and Atrocity 96 96

Mark Wilson writes: Today Google revealed an updated version of its Google Play Developer Program Policies. There aren't actually all that many changes or additions, but those that are present are quite interesting. Google is clamping down on the problem of impersonation, making it clearer that it is not permissible to mislead users by imitating other apps, making false claims, or suggesting endorsements that do not exist. One of the more intriguing changes to the document sees Google calling on developers to show sensitivity to evens such as natural disasters, war, and death. Any apps or other content that attempt to benefit by exploiting such events are explicitly banned.
Education

New Google and CMU Moonshot: the 'Teacherless Classroom' 89 89

theodp writes: At the behest of Google, Carnegie Mellon University will largely replace formal lectures in a popular introductory Data Structures and Algorithms course this fall with videos and a social networking tool to accommodate more students. The idea behind the multi-year research project sponsored by Google — CMU will receive $200,000 in the project's first year — is to find a way to leverage existing faculty to meet a growing demand for computer science courses, while also expanding the opportunities for underrepresented minorities, high school students and community college students, explained Jacobo Carrasquel, associate teaching professor of CS. "As we teach a wider diversity of students, with different backgrounds, we can no longer teach to 'the middle,'" Carrasquel said. "When you do that, you're not aiming at the 20 percent of the top students or the 20 percent at the bottom." The move to a "teacherless classroom" for CS students at CMU [tuition $48K] comes on the heels of another Google CS Capacity Award-inspired move at Stanford [tuition $45K], where Pair Programming was adopted in a popular introductory CS class to "reduce the increasingly demanding workload for section leaders due to high enrollment and also help students to develop important collaboration skills."
Open Source

NVIDIA Begins Supplying Open-Source Register Header Files 77 77

An anonymous reader writes: NVIDIA's latest mark of their newly discovered open-source kindness is beginning to provide open-source hardware reference headers for their latest GK20A/GM20B Tegra GPUs while they are working to also provide hardware header files on their older GPUs. These programming header files in turn will help the development of the open-source Nouveau driver as up to this point they have had to do much of the development via reverse-engineering. Perhaps most interesting is that moving forward they would like to use the Nouveau kernel driver code-base as the primary development environment for new hardware.
Open Source

The Open Container Project and What It Means 54 54

An anonymous reader writes: Monday saw the announcement of the Open Container Project in San Francisco. It is a Linux Foundation project that will hold the specification and basic run-time software for using software containers. The list of folks signing up to support the effort contains the usual suspects, and this too is a good thing: Amazon Web Services, Apcera, Cisco, CoreOS, Docker, EMC, Fujitsu Limited, Goldman Sachs, Google, HP, Huawei, IBM, Intel, Joyent, the Linux Foundation, Mesosphere, Microsoft, Pivotal, Rancher Labs, Red Hat, and VMware. In this article Stephen R. Walli takes a look at what the project means for open source.
Education

Learn-to-Code Program For 10,000 Low-Income Girls 471 471

theodp writes: In a press release Tuesday, the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) announced it was teaming with Lifetime Partner Apple and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on its Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Commitment to engage 10,000 girls in learning computing concepts. "Currently, just 25 states and the District of Columbia allow computer science to count as a math or science graduation requirement," explained the press release. "Because boys get more informal opportunities for computing experience outside of school, this lack of formal computing education especially affects girls and many youth of color." HUD, the press release added, has joined the Commitment to Action to help extend the program's reach in partnership with public housing authorities nationwide and provide computing access to the 485,000 girls residing in public housing. "In this Information Age, opportunity is just a click on a keyboard away. HUD is proud to partner with NCWIT to provide talented girls with the skills and experiences they need to reach new heights and to achieve their dreams in the 21st century global economy," said HUD Secretary Julian Castro, who coincidentally is eyed as a potential running mate for Hillary Clinton, whose daughter Chelsea is the Clinton Foundation's point-person on computer science. Last year, Chelsea Clinton gave a keynote speech at the NCWIT Summit and appeared with now-U.S. CTO Megan Smith to help launch Google's $50 million girls-only Made With Code initiative.
Programming

Ask Slashdot: Is C++ the Right Tool For This Project? 295 295

ranton writes: I am about to start a personal project which I believe should be done in C/C++. The main reasons I have for this are the needs to manage memory usage and disk access at a very granular level and a desire to be cross-platform. Performance is also important but I am unlikely to spend enough time optimizing to be much faster than core libraries of higher level languages.

On the other hand, network access is also a critical part of the project and I am worried about the effort it takes to make cross platform code for both network and disk access. I have been working in the Java / C# world for the past decade and things like TCP/IP and SSL have just been done for me by core libraries. Do libraries like Boost or Asio do a good job of abstracting these aspects away? Or are there other options for doing granular memory and disk management with more high level languages that have better cross-platform library support? I am willing to brush up on my C/C++ skills if necessary but want to spend as much time as possible developing the unique and potentially innovative parts of my project. Thanks for any advice you can provide.
Books

The 2015 Open Source Summer Reading List 31 31

ectoman writes: Opensource.com has just published its annual Open Source Summer Reading List. This year's edition contains 15 recommendations for books that celebrate open source values and practices. Topics include Python programming, Grace Hopper, open-minded leadership, and teaching children to code. There are also books on the philosophy of open information, an intro to DIY/Maker activities, and even a book about mastering Emacs. What would you add to this list?
Programming

Knowing C++ Beyond a Beginner Level 342 342

Nerval's Lobster writes: C++ is not an easy language to master, but many people are able to work in it just fine without being a 'guru' or anything along those lines. That being said, what separates C++ beginners from those with 'intermediate' skills, or even masters? According to this Dice article, it comes down to knowledge of several things, including copy constructors, virtual functions, how to handle memory leaks, the intricacies of casting, Lambda functions for C++11, (safe) exception handling and much more. All that being said, is there one particular thing or point that separates learners from masters?
Programming

MEAN Vs. LAMP: Finding the Right Fit For Your Next Project 175 175

snydeq writes: LAMP diehards take note: The flexible simplicity of MongoDB, ExpressJS, AngularJS, and Node.js is no joke and could very well be a worthwhile stack for your next programming project, writes InfoWorld's Peter Wayner. "It was only a few years ago that MongoDB, Express.js, AngularJS, and Node.js were raising eyebrows on their own. Now they've grown up and ganged up, and together they're doing serious work, poaching no small number of developers from the vast LAMP camp. But how exactly does this newfangled MEAN thing stack up against LAMP? When is it better to choose the well-tested, mature LAMP over this upstart collection of JavaScript-centric technologies?"
Cloud

Docker and CoreOS Join Together For Open Container Project At Linux Foundation 48 48

darthcamaro writes: The great schism in the container world is now at an end. Today, Docker and CoreOS, announced along with Amazon Web Services, Apcera, Cisco, EMC, Fujitsu, Goldman Sachs, Google, HP, Huawei, IBM, Intel, Joyent, the Linux Foundation, Mesosphere, Microsoft, Pivotal, Rancher Labs, Red Hat and VMware the Open Container Project, as a Linux Foundation Collaborative Project. The new effort will focus specifically on libcontainer — providing a baseline for a container runtime. "By participating with Docker and all the other folks in the OCP, we're getting the best of all worlds," Alex Polvi, CEO of CoreOS told eWEEK. "We're getting the contributions from Docker with the format and runtime that underpin container usage, and then we're also getting the shared standard and vendor neutrality aspects that we've designed with app container."