Slashdot videos: Now with more Slashdot!

  • View

  • Discuss

  • Share

We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).


MIT Debuts Integer Overflow Debugger 40

Posted by timothy
from the measure-twice-cut-once dept.
msm1267 writes Students from M.I.T. have devised a new and more efficient way to scour raw code for integer overflows, the troublesome programming bugs that serve as a popular exploit vector for attackers and often lead to the crashing of systems. Researchers from the school's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) last week debuted the platform dubbed DIODE, short for Directed Integer Overflow Detection. As part of an experiment, the researchers tested DIODE on code from five different open source applications. While the system was able to generate inputs that triggered three integer overflows that were previously known, the system also found 11 new errors. Four of the 11 overflows the team found are apparently still lingering in the wild, but the developers of those apps have been informed and CSAIL is awaiting confirmation of fixes.

No, It's Not Always Quicker To Do Things In Memory 482

Posted by Soulskill
from the performance-that-fails-to-perform dept.
itwbennett writes: It's a commonly held belief among software developers that avoiding disk access in favor of doing as much work as possible in-memory will results in shorter runtimes. To test this assumption, researchers from the University of Calgary and the University of British Columbia compared the efficiency of alternative ways to create a 1MB string and write it to disk. The results consistently found that doing most of the work in-memory to minimize disk access was significantly slower than just writing out to disk repeatedly (PDF).

Michael Stonebraker Wins Turing Award 40

Posted by Soulskill
from the much-deserved-recognition dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Michael Stonebraker, an MIT researcher who has revolutionized the field of database management systems and founded multiple successful database companies, has won the Association for Computing Machinery's $1 million A.M. Turing Award, often referred to as "the Nobel Prize of computing." In his previous work at the University of California at Berkeley, Stonebraker developed two of his most influential systems, Ingres and Postgres (PDF), which provide the foundational ideas — and, in many cases, specific source code — that spawned several contemporary database products, including IBM's Informix and EMC's Greenplum. Ingres was one of the first relational databases, which provide a more organized way to store multiple kinds of entities – and which now serve as the industry standard for business storage. Postgres, meanwhile, integrated Ingres' ideas with object-oriented programming, enabling users to natively map objects and their attributes into databases. This new notion of "object-relational" databases could be used to represent and manipulate complex data, like computer-aided design, geospatial data, and time series.

A Bechdel Test For Programmers? 515

Posted by timothy
from the this-code-feels-different dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes In order for a movie or television show to pass the Bechdel Test (named after cartoonist and MacArthur genius Alison Bechdel), it must feature two female characters, have those two characters talk to one another, and have those characters talk to one another about something other than a man. A lot of movies and shows don't pass. How would programming culture fare if subjected to a similar test? One tech firm, 18F, decided to find out after seeing a tweet from Laurie Voss, CTO of npm, which explained the parameters of a modified Bechdel Test. According to Voss, a project that passes the test must feature at least one function written by a woman developer, that calls a function written by another woman developer. 'The conversation started with us quickly listing the projects that passed the Bechdel coding test, but then shifted after one of our devs then raised a good point,' read 18F's blog posting on the experiment. 'She said some of our projects had lots of female devs, but did not pass the test as defined.' For example, some custom languages don't have functions, which means a project built using those languages would fail even if written by women. Nonetheless, both startups and larger companies could find the modified Bechdel Test a useful tool for opening up a discussion about gender balance within engineering and development teams.

Modern PHP: New Features and Good Practices 178

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
Michael Ross writes In recent years, JavaScript has enjoyed a dramatic renaissance as it has been transformed from a browser scripting tool primarily used for special effects and form validation on web pages, to a substantial client-side programming language. Similarly, on the server side, after years as the target of criticism, the PHP computer programming language is seeing a revival, partly due to the addition of new capabilities, such as namespaces, traits, generators, closures, and components, among other improvements. PHP enthusiasts and detractors alike can learn more about these changes from the book Modern PHP: New Features and Good Practices, authored by Josh Lockhart. Keep reading for the rest of Michael's review.
GNU is Not Unix

RMS Talks Net Neutrality, Patents, and More 165

Posted by samzenpus
from the straight-from-the-man dept.
alphadogg writes "According to Richard Stallman, godfather of the free software movement, Facebook is a "monstrous surveillance engine," tech companies working for patent reform aren't going nearly far enough, and parents must lobby their children's schools to keep data private and provide free software alternatives. The free software guru touched on a host of topics in his keynote Saturday at the LibrePlanet conference, a Free Software Foundation gathering at the Scala Center at MIT.

A Software Project Full of "Male Anatomy" Jokes Causes Controversy 764

Posted by samzenpus
from the can't-we-all-just-get-along? dept.
An anonymous reader writes with the story of a Github user's joke repository that is causing some controversy. "There's no question that the tech world is an overwhelmingly male place. There's legit concern that tech is run-amok with 'brogrammers' that make women programmers feel unwelcome. On the other hand, people just want to laugh. It's at that intersection that programmer Randy Hunt, aka 'letsgetrandy' posted a 'project' earlier this week to software hosting site GitHub called 'DICSS.' The project, which is actual free and open source software, is surrounded by geeky jokes about the male anatomy. And it's gone nuts, so to speak, becoming the most trending project on Github, and the subject of a lot of chatter on Twitter. And, Hunt tells us, the folks at Github are scratching their heads wondering what they should do about it. Some people love DICSS ... and some people are, understandably, offended. The offended people point out that this is exactly the sort of thing that makes tech unwelcoming to women, and not just because of the original project, but because of some of the comments (posted as "commits") that might take the joke too far."

Arkansas Is Now the First State To Require That High Schools Teach Coding 211

Posted by timothy
from the unexpected-locale dept.
SternisheFan writes Arkansas will be implementing a new law that requires public high schools to offer classes in computer science starting in the 2015-16 school year. Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who signed the bill, believes it will provide "a workforce that's sure to attract businesses and jobs" to the state. $5 million of the governor's proposed budget will go towards this new program. For the districts incapable of of administering these classes due to lack of space or qualified teachers, the law has provisions for online courses to be offered through Virtual Arkansas. Although students will not be required to take computer science classes, the governor's goal is to give students the opportunity if they "want to take it." Presently, only one in 10 schools nationwide offer computer science classes. Not only will Arkansas teach these classes in every public high school and charter school serving upper grades, the courses will count towards the state's math graduation requirement as a further incentive for students. Training programs for teacher preparation will be available, but with the majority of the infrastructure already primed, the execution of this new law should hopefully be painless and seamless.

Ask Slashdot: Choosing a Laptop To Support Physics Research? 385

Posted by timothy
from the budget-for-replacement-too dept.
An anonymous reader writes My daughter is in her third year of college as a physics major. She has an internship in Europe this summer, will graduate next year, and continue with graduate physics studies. Her area of research interest is in gravitational waves and particle physics. She currently has a laptop running Win7 and wants to buy a new laptop. She would like to use Linux on it, and plans to use it for C++ programming, data analysis and simulations (along with the usual email, surfing, music, pictures, etc). For all of the physics-savvy Slashdotters out there: what should she get? PC? Mac? What do you recommend for running Linux? For a C++ development environment? What laptop do you use and how is it configured to support your physics-related activities?

Apple Reportedly Working On an Online TV Service 87

Posted by Soulskill
from the eliminating-those-choices-that-confuse-your-pretty-little-head dept.
An anonymous reader writes: According to a Wall Street Journal report (paywalled) Apple is in negotiations with media companies to develop an online TV service. The service will include a bundle of roughly 25 channels, so less popular channels will have a very difficult time fighting for a spot. Most major networks should be present, although NBC's participation is dubious because of its ties to Comcast, which would be in direct competition with Apple's service. "If Apple can offer a comprehensive, albeit slimmed-down, bundle for $30 to $40 a month, that could force distributors to cut prices or eat into margins to retain subscribers. At Comcast, for example, average video revenue per user should be about $79.45 in 2015, according to UBS. Meanwhile, its programming costs per average subscriber should be about $39.60. Those costs may need to rise. That roughly 50% gross margin looks vulnerable."
United Kingdom

GCHQ Builds a Raspberry Pi Super Computer Cluster 68

Posted by samzenpus
from the building-it-better dept.
mikejuk writes GCHQ, the UK equivalent of the NSA, has created a 66 Raspberry Pi cluster called the Bramble for "educational" purposes. What educational purposes isn't exactly clear but you do associate super computers with spooks and spies. It seems that there was an internal competition to invent something and three, unnamed, GCHQ technologists decided that other Pi clusters were too ad-hoc. They set themselves the target of creating a cluster that could be reproduced as a standard architecture to create a commodity cluster. The basic unit of the cluster is a set of eight networked Pis, called an "OctaPi". Each OctaPi can be used standalone or hooked up to make a bigger cluster. In the case of the Bramble a total of eight OctaPis makes the cluster 64 processors strong. In addition there are two head control nodes, which couple the cluster to the outside world. Each head node has one Pi, a wired and WiFi connection, realtime clock, a touch screen and a camera. This is where the story becomes really interesting. Rather than just adopt a standard cluster application like Hadoop, OctaPi's creators decided to develop their own. After three iterations, the software to manage the cluster is now based on Node.js, Bootstrap and Angular. So what is it all for? The press release says that: "The initial aim for the cluster was as a teaching tool for GCHQ's software engineering community....The ultimate aim is to use the OctaPi concept in schools to help teach efficient and effective programming."

Ask Slashdot: What Can Distributed Software Development Teams Learn From FLOSS? 133

Posted by Soulskill
from the don't-swear-at-people-unless-you-can-get-away-with-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes: As a long time free software proponent and leader of a small development team (10+ people) within a mid-sized company, I always try to incorporate my experiences from both worlds. Lately I was confronted with the need to accept new team members from abroad working on the same codebase and I expect to have even more telecommuting people on my team in the future (even though research suggests the failure rate of virtual teams could be as high as 70%). On the other hand, FLOSS does not seem to suffer from that problem, despite being developed in a distributed manner more often than not. What can corporations and managers learn from FLOSS to make their distributed teams more successful? Consequently, what FLOSS tools, methods, rules, and policies can and should be incorporated into the software development process within a company more often? I'm interested in hearing what you think, especially regarding technical issues like source code ownership and revision control systems, but also ways of communication, dealing with cultural differences, etc.

Prison Program Aims To Turn Criminals Into Coders 305

Posted by Soulskill
from the hello-walls dept.
Press2ToContinue writes with news that San Quentin, a notorious California prison, has started a program to teach a class of inmates to write code. The first class will last for six months, and the inmates are learning about programming for eight hours a day. The hope is to give them the skills to find a good job after they leave prison, which in turn would reduce their chances of recidivism. Since the state's Dept. of Corrections prohibits internet access, the class only "pretends" to be online — they can't use internet-based resources, and nobody on the outside can see or use the software they create. One of the class's backers said, 'Almost every week there's epiphanies. And most of the guys in here, they've never touched a computer before. They are progressing beyond our expectations."

Electrical Engineering Employment Declines Nearly 10%, But Developers Up 12% 154

Posted by samzenpus
from the end-of-the-engineer dept.
dcblogs writes The number of people working as electrical engineers declined by 29,000 last year, continuing a long-standing trend, according to government data. But the number of software developers, the largest IT occupational category, increased by nearly 12%,or a gain of 132,000 jobs. There were 1.235 million people working as software developers last year, and 271,000 electrical engineers, according U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

Algorithm Clones Facial Expressions And Pastes Them Onto Other Faces 31

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-want-that-smile dept.
KentuckyFC writes Various researchers have attempted to paste an expression from one face on to another but so far with mixed results. Problems arise because these algorithms measure the way a face distorts when it changes from a neutral expression to the one of interest. They then attempt to reproduce the same distortion on another face. That's fine if the two faces have similar features. But when the faces differ in structure, as most do, this kind of distortion looks unnatural. Now a Chinese team has solved the problem with an algorithm that divides a face into different regions for the mouth, eyes, nose, etc and measures the distortion in each area separately. It then distorts the target face in these specific regions while ensuring the overall proportions remain realistic. At the same time, it decides what muscle groups must have been used to create these distortions and calculates how this would change the topology of the target face with wrinkles, dimples and so on. It then adds the appropriate shadows to make the expression realistic. The result is a way to clone an expression and paste it onto another entirely different face. The algorithm opens the way to a new generation of communication techniques in which avatars can represent the expressions as well as the voices of humans. The film industry could also benefit from an easy way to paste the expressions of actors on to the cartoon characters they voice.

Rendering a Frame of Deus Ex: Human Revolution 81

Posted by samzenpus
from the break-it-down dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Video games are among the most computationally intensive applications. The amount of calculation achieved in a few milliseconds can sometimes be mind-blowing. This post about the breakdown of a frame rendering in Deus Ex: Human Revolution takes us through the different steps of the process. It explains in detail the rendering passes involved, the techniques as well as the algorithms processed by a computer — 60 times per second."

NTP's Fate Hinges On "Father Time" 287

Posted by samzenpus
from the time-will-tell dept.
Esther Schindler writes In April, one of the open source code movement's first and biggest success stories, the Network Time Protocol, will reach a decision point, writes Charlie Babcock. At 30 years old, will NTP continue as the preeminent time synchronization system for Macs, Windows, and Linux computers and most servers on networks? Or will this protocol go into a decline marked by drastically slowed development, fewer bug fixes, and greater security risks for the computers that use it? The question hinges to a surprising degree on the personal finances of a 59-year-old technologist in Talent, Ore., named Harlan Stenn.

Google Code Disables New Project Creation, Will Shut Down On January 25, 2016 140

Posted by timothy
from the that's-a-shame dept.
An anonymous reader writes GitHub has officially won. Google has announced that Google Code project creation has been disabled today, with the ultimate plan to kill off the service next year. On August 24, 2015, the project hosting service will be set to read-only. This means you will still be able to checkout/view project source, issues, and wikis, but nobody will be able to make changes or new commits. On January 25, 2016, Google Code will be shut down. Google says you will be able to download tarballs of project source, issues, and wikis "throughout the rest of 2016." After that, Google Code will be gone for good.

Google's Angular 2 Being Built With Microsoft's TypeScript 91

Posted by samzenpus
from the if-you-build-it-they-will-type dept.
itwbennett writes Big news for fans of static typing! Google and Microsoft have partnered to both enhance TypeScript and rebuild Angular in the TypeScript language. TypeScript, Microsoft's attempt at improving on JavaScript development, has been out there for a while without a notable use case. Likewise, Dart, Google's attempt at a language which accomplishes many of the same goals, hasn't seen a lot of traction outside of Google. With Google creating the next version of its popular framework Angular 2 using TypeScript, some weight is being thrown behind a single effort. Of course, Angular has its fair share of haters, and a complete re-write in version 2 that breaks compatibility with previous versions isn't going to help matters.