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Programming

Programming Language Gurus Converge on 'Curry On' Conference (curry-on.org) 62

Videos are now online from this week's Curry On conference, which incuded talks by programming pioneers Larry Wall and Matthias Felleisen, as well as speakers from Google, Twitter, Facebook, Microsoft, and Oracle. Dave Herman from Mozilla Research also talked about building an open source research lab, while Larry Wall's keynote was titled "It's the End of the World as We Know It, and I Feel Fine."

Billing itself as a non-profit conference about programming languages and emerging computer-industry challenges, this year's installment included talks about Java, Rust, Scala, Perl, Racket, Clojure, Rascal, Go and Oden. Held in a different European city each year, the annual conference hopes to provoke an open conversation between academia and the larger technology industry.
Chrome

Slashdot Asks: What's Your Computer Set-Up Look Like? 325

I thought it'd be fun to ask Slashdot readers one of the same questions we asked Larry Wall: What's your computer set-up look like? Slashdot reader LichtSpektren had asked: Can you give us a glimpse into what your main work computer looks like? What's the hardware and OS, your preferred editor and browser, and any crucial software you want to give a shout-out to?
Larry Wall is running Linux Mint (Cinnamon edition), and he surfs the web with Firefox (and Chrome on his phone) -- "but I'm not a browser wonk. Maybe I'll have more opinions on that after our JS backend is done for Perl 6..." And for a text editor, he's currently ensconced in the vi/vim camp, though "I've used lots of them, so I have no strong religious feelings."

So leave your answers in the comments. What's your OS, hardware, preferred editor, browser, "and any crucial software you want to give a shout-out to?" What does your computer set-up look like?
Java

TIOBE's Language-Popularity Index Sees A New Top 10 Language: Assembly (tiobe.com) 348

TIOBE's "Programming Community Index" measures the popularity of languages by the number of skilled engineers, courses, and third-party vendors. Their July report indicates that Assembly has become one of the 10 most popular languages: It might come as surprise that the lowest level programming language that exists has re-entered the TIOBE index top 10. Why would anyone write code at such a low level, being far less productive if compared to using any other programming language and being vulnerable to all kinds of programming mistakes? The only reasonable explanation for this is that the number of very small devices that are only able to run assembly code is increasing. Even your toothbrush or coffee machine are running assembly code nowadays. Another reason for adoption is performance. If performance is key, nobody can beat assembly code.
The report also noted that CFML (ColdFusion) jumped from #102 to #66, Maple from #94 to #74, and Tcl from #65 to #48. But Java still remains the #1 most-popular language, with C and C++ still holding the #2 and #3 positions. Over the last five years, C# and Python have risen into the #4 and #5 spots (made possible by PHP's drop to the #6 position) while JavaScript now holds the #7 position (up from #9 in 2011). Visual Basic .NET came in at #8, and Perl at #9.
GNU is Not Unix

Slackware 14.2 Released, Still Systemd-Free (slackware.com) 179

sombragris writes: Slackware, the oldest GNU/Linux distribution still in active maintenance, was released just minutes ago. Slackware is noted for being the most Unix-like of all Linux distributions. While sporting kernel 4.4.14 and GCC 5.3, other goodies include Perl 5.22.2, Python 2.7.11, Ruby 2.2.5, Subversion 1.9.4, git-2.9.0, mercurial-3.8.2, KDE 4.14.21 (KDE 4.14.3 with kdelibs-4.14.21) Xfce 4.12.1... and no systemd!

According to the ChangeLog: "The long development cycle (the Linux community has lately been living in "interesting times," as they say) is finally behind us, and we're proud to announce the release of Slackware 14.2. The new release brings many updates and modern tools, has switched from udev to eudev (no systemd), and adds well over a hundred new packages to the system. Thanks to the team, the upstream developers, the dedicated Slackware community, and everyone else who pitched in to help make this release a reality." Grab the ISOs at a mirror near you. Enjoy!
The torrents page can be found here.
Privacy

New 'Hardened' Tor Browser Protects Users From FBI Hacking (vice.com) 103

An anonymous reader quotes an article from Motherboard: According to a new paper, security researchers are now working closely with the Tor Project to create a "hardened" version of the Tor Browser, implementing new anti-hacking techniques which could dramatically improve the anonymity of users and further frustrate the efforts of law enforcement...

"Our solution significantly improves security over standard address space layout randomization (ASLR) techniques currently used by Firefox and other mainstream browsers," the researchers write in their paper, whose findings will be presented in July at the Privacy Enhancing Technologies Symposium in Darmstadt, Germany.

The researchers say Tor is currently field-testing their solution for an upcoming "hardened" release, making it harder for agencies like the FBI to crack the browser's security, according to Motherboard. "[W]hile that defensive advantage may not last for too long, it shows that some in the academic research community are still intent on patching the holes that their peers are helping government hackers exploit."
Perl

Interviews: Ask Perl Creator Larry Wall a Question 281

Larry Wall created the Perl programming language (as well as the Unix utility patch, and the Usenet client rn ). This Christmas saw the release of Perl 6 -- a "sister" language to the original Perl -- that's also free and open source, after 15 years of development. Now Larry has agreed to give some of his time to answer your questions (joking that "I doubt my remarks will be quite as controversial as, say, Donald Trump's, but I suspect I could say an interesting thing or two...")

Larry also gave Slashdot's very first interview back in 2002 -- so it's high time we had him back for more heartfelt and entertaining insights. Ask as many questions as you'd like, but please, one per comment. (And feel free to also leave your suggestions for who Slashdot should interview next.) We'll pick the very best questions -- and forward them on to Larry Wall himself.
DRM

Researchers Help Shut Down Spam Botnet That Enslaved 4,000 Linux Machines (arstechnica.com) 47

An anonymous reader shares an article on Ars Technica: A botnet that enslaved about 4,000 Linux computers and caused them to blast the Internet with spam for more than a year has finally been shut down. Sophisticated Mumblehard spamming malware flew under the radar for five years. Known as Mumblehard, the botnet was the product of highly skilled developers. It used a custom "packer" to conceal the Perl-based source code that made it run, a backdoor that gave attackers persistent access, and a mail daemon that was able to send large volumes of spam. Command servers that coordinated the compromised machines' operations could also send messages to Spamhaus requesting the delisting of any Mumblehard-based IP addresses that sneaked into the real-time composite blocking list, or CBL, maintained by the anti-spam service. "There was a script automatically monitoring the CBL for the IP addresses of all the spam-bots," researchers from security firm Eset wrote in a blog post published Thursday. "If one was found to be blacklisted, this script requested the delisting of the IP address. Such requests are protected with a CAPTCHA to avoid automation, but OCR (or an external service if OCR didn't work) was used to break the protection."
Perl

Perl 6 Released (wordpress.com) 145

Earlier this month, we noted the Perl 6 advent calendar. Now, an anonymous reader writes to note that, right on schedule, and after 15 years of work, Perl 6 has been released. The top two bullet points in the linked description say that the newest Perl "retains the core values of Perl: expressiveness, getting the job done, taking influences from natural language, and pushing the boundaries of language design," and that is "has clean, modern syntax, rooted in familiar constructs but revisiting and revising the things that needed it." However, while it's nice to see Perl 6 reach official release, the team behind it takes pains to note that work goes on: "We will continue to ship monthly releases, which will continue to improve performance and our user’s experience." Further, "[T]his Rakudo release is not considered the primary deliverable for this Christmas; it is the language specification, known as “roast” (Repository Of All Spec Tests), that is considered the primary deliverable."
Christmas Cheer

Another Internet Griswold's Controllable Christmas Lights 46

An anonymous reader writes: For over a decade, Alek's Controllable Christmas Lights have been a festive online holiday tradition for millions of Internet users world-wide, so it was sadly the end of an era last year, when the Griswold wanna-be hung up his Santa Hat in 2014. But with the "Internet of Things" being the rage these days, it didn't take long for another Griswold to emerge from the North Pole, or at least pretty darn close to it. Ken Woods from Fairbanks, Alaska has his house online 24 hours a day with a dozen ON/OFF buttons that Internet users can use to toggle his lights with a click of a mouse. Here's a video of it in action and he uses Amazon EC2 to power it online. (While that all looks real, low-UID /.'ers will remember that Alek did a simulation from 2002-2004 using Perl code to switch between a series of images. Looks like the prankster dusted off that code for the Control Christmas Lights.com website.) I, for one, welcome our new Griswold Overlords with a big HO-HO-HO.
Perl

Perl 6 Gets Beta Compiler, Modules and an Advent Calendar (thenewstack.io) 131

An anonymous reader writes: A "useful and usable distribution of Perl 6" was released Saturday, a new beta version of the Rakudo compiler to support the coming production release this Christmas. And there's already 467 Perl 6 modules on the new archive at proto.perl6.org (though Perl 6 will also be able to load modules written in other languages). "Perl has a huge community of avid users that continues to thrive in spite of detractors," says one developer, pointing to new applications for big data, in a new article reporting that over one million people have downloaded ActivePerl's own Perl distribution just in 2015. And this week also saw the release of two new "Advent Calendars" of programming tips, one for Perl 5 and one for Perl 6.
Programming

Symbolic vs. Mnemonic Relational Operators: Is "GT" Greater Than ">"? 304

theodp writes: "Mnemonic operators," writes SAS's Rick Wicklin as he weighs the pros-and-cons of Symbolic Versus Mnemonic Logical Operators, "tend to appear in older languages like FORTRAN, whereas symbolic operators are common in more recent languages like C/C++, although some relatively recent scripting languages like Perl, PHP, and Windows PowerShell also support mnemonic operators. SAS software has supported both operators in the DATA step since the very earliest days, but the SAS/IML language, which is more mathematically oriented, supports only the symbolic operators. Functionally, the operators are equivalent, so which ones you use is largely a matter of personal preference. Since consistency and standards are essential when writing computer programming, which operators should you choose?"
Perl

Larry Wall Unveils Perl 6.0.0 163

An anonymous reader writes: Last night Larry Wall unveiled the first development release of Perl 6, joking that now a top priority was fixing bugs that could be mistaken for features. The new language features meta-programming — the ability to define new bits of syntax on your own to extend the language, and even new infix operators. Larry also previewed what one reviewer called "exotic and new" features, including the sequence operator and new control structures like "react" and "gather and take" lists. "We don't want their language to run out of steam," Larry told the audience. "It might be a 30- or 40-year language. I think it's good enough."
Books

Book Review: Effective Python: 59 Specific Ways To Write Better Python 71

MassDosage writes: If you are familiar with the "Effective" style of books then you probably already know how this book is structured. If not here's a quick primer: the book consists of a number of small sections each of which focus on a specific problem, issue or idea and these are discussed in a "here's the best way to do X" manner. These sections are grouped into related chapters but can be read in pretty much any order and generally don't depend on each other (and when they do this will be called out in the text). The idea is that you can read the book from cover to cover if you want but you can also just dip in and out and read only the sections that are of interest to you. This also means that you can use the book as a reference in future when you inevitably forget the details or want to double check something. Read below for the rest of Mass Dosage's review.
Perl

Larry Wall On Perl 6, Language Design, and Getting Kids To Code 133

M-Saunders writes: Perl 6 has been a long time in the making, but Larry Wall, the language's chief developer, now says it should arrive in time for Christmas. In this interview with Linux Voice, Wall explains why Perl 6 took so long, and describes how his background in linguistics influenced the design of the language. He also discusses ways to get kids interested in coding, and notes that Python has done a better job so far in this respect.
Perl

Perl 5.22 Released 92

kthreadd writes: Version 5.22 of the Perl programming language has just been released. A major new feature in this release is the double diamond operator; like the regular diamond operator it allows you to quickly read through files specified on the command line but does this in a much safer way by not evaluating special characters in the file names. Other new features include hexadecimal floating point numbers, improved variable aliasing and a nicer syntax for repetition in list assignment. Also, historical Perl modules CGI.pm and Module::Build are removed from the core distribution.
Perl

Ask Slashdot: Career Advice For an Aging Perl Developer? 271

New submitter ukrifleman writes: I've been doing UK based perl, JS, light PHP and JQUERY dev plus Centos/Debian sys admin on a freelance basis for over a decade now. Mostly maintaining older stuff but I also undertook a big, 3 year bespoke project (all written in legacy non OO perl). The trouble is, that contract has now finished and all the legacy work has dried out and I've only got about 2 months of income left! I need to get a full time job.

To most dev firms I'm going to look like a bit of a dinosaur, 40 odd years old, knows little of OO coding OR modern languages and aproaches to projects. I can write other languages and, with a bit of practice I'll pick them up pretty quickly. I really don't know where to start. What's hot, what's worth learning, I'm self-taught so have no CS degree, just 15 years of dev and sys admin experience. I've got a bit of team and project management experience too it's quite a worry going up against young whipper snappers that know all the buzz words and modern tech!

Am I better off trying to get a junior job to start so I can catch up with some tech? Would I be better off trawling the thousands of job sites or finding a bonafide IT specialist recruitment firm? Should I take the brutally honest approach to my CV/interviews or just wing it and hope I don't bite off more than I can chew? What kind of learning curve could I expect if I took on a new language I have no experience with? Are there any qualififcations that I NEED to have before firms would be willing to take me on? I've been sitting here at this desk for 10 years typing away and only now do I realise that I've stagnated to the point where I may well be obsolete!
Classic Games (Games)

(Hack) and Slash: Doing the LORD's Work 63

Emmett Plant (former Slashdot editor as well as video interviewee) writes: Legend of the Red Dragon was written by Seth Robinson in 1989, and it remains one of the most popular games of the DOS BBS era. Chris England has been doing his part to keep the game alive for the past twelve years, adapting an installation that runs on Linux. I was only able to play for two days before I was overcome with curiosity -- I wrote to Chris, politely inquiring as to how it all came together. Read on below for a look into Chris's motivations, the state of the project, and just how deeply nested it can all get, when bringing games from early BBS days into the modern era.
Programming

C Code On GitHub Has the Most "Ugly Hacks" 264

itwbennett writes: An analysis of GitHub data shows that C developers are creating the most ugly hacks — or are at least the most willing to admit to it. To answer the question of which programming language produces the most ugly hacks, ITworld's Phil Johnson first used the search feature on GitHub, looking for code files that contained the string 'ugly hack'. In that case, C comes up first by a wide margin, with over 181,000 code files containing that string. The rest of the top ten languages were PHP (79k files), JavaScript (38k), C++ (22k), Python (19k), Text (11k), Makefile (11k), HTML, (10k), Java (7k), and Perl (4k). Even when controlling for the number of repositories, C wins the ugly-hack-athon by a landslide, Johnson found.

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