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Books

Ask Slashdot: Books for a Comp Sci Graduate Student? 151

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the suggesting-some-knowledge dept.
peetm (781139) writes "Having visited with me and my wife recently, the girlfriend of an ex-student of mine (now taking an M.Sc. in pure CS) asked me to suggest useful books for her boyfriend: '... He recently mentioned that he would love to have a home library, like the one you have, with variety of good, useful and must-have books from different authors. ... Mostly, I was thinking your advice would be priceless when it comes to computer science related books, but .. I would appreciate any sort of advice on books from you. ...' Whilst I could scan my own library for ideas, I doubt that I'm really that 'current' with what's good, or whether my favorites would be appropriate: I've not taught on the M.Sc. course for a while, and in some cases, and just given their price, I shouldn't really recommend such books that are just pet loves of mine — especially to someone who doesn't know whether they'd even be useful.

And, before you ask: YES, we do have a reading list, but given that he'll receive this as part of this course requirement anyway, I'd like to tease readers to suggest good reads around the periphery of the subject."
I'll throw out Pierce's Types and Programming Languages (and probably Advanced Topics in Types and Programming Languages ), and Okasaki's Purely Functional Data Structures .
Programming

The Ethical Dilemmas Today's Programmers Face 180

Posted by samzenpus
from the do-the-right-thing dept.
snydeq (1272828) writes "As software takes over more of our lives, the ethical ramifications of decisions made by programmers only become greater. Unfortunately, the tech world has always been long on power and short on thinking about the long-reaching effects of this power. More troubling: While ethics courses have become a staple of physical-world engineering degrees, they remain a begrudging anomaly in computer science pedagogy. Now that our code is in refrigerators, thermostats, smoke alarms, and more, the wrong moves, a lack of foresight, or downright dubious decision-making can haunt humanity everywhere it goes. Peter Wayner offers a look at just a few of the ethical quandaries confronting developers every day. 'Consider this less of a guidebook for making your decisions and more of a starting point for the kind of ethical contemplation we should be doing as a daily part of our jobs.'"
Bug

Bug Bounties Don't Help If Bugs Never Run Out 235

Posted by Soulskill
from the trying-to-bail-the-ocean dept.
Bennett Haselton writes: "I was an early advocate of companies offering cash prizes to researchers who found security holes in their products, so that the vulnerabilities can be fixed before the bad guys exploited them. I still believe that prize programs can make a product safer under certain conditions. But I had naively overlooked that under an alternate set of assumptions, you might find that not only do cash prizes not make the product any safer, but that nothing makes the product any safer — you might as well not bother fixing certain security holes at all, whether they were found through a prize program or not." Read on for the rest of Bennett's thoughts.
Programming

Code Quality: Open Source vs. Proprietary 133

Posted by Soulskill
from the put-your-money-where-your-code-is dept.
just_another_sean sends this followup to yesterday's discussion about the quality of open source code compared to proprietary code. Every year, Coverity scans large quantities of code and evaluates it for defects. They've just released their latest report, and the findings were good news for open source. From the article: "The report details the analysis of 750 million lines of open source software code through the Coverity Scan service and commercial usage of the Coverity Development Testing Platform, the largest sample size that the report has studied to date. A few key points: Open source code quality surpasses proprietary code quality in C/C++ projects. Linux continues to be a benchmark for open source quality. C/C++ developers fixed more high-impact defects. Analysis found that developers contributing to open source Java projects are not fixing as many high-impact defects as developers contributing to open source C/C++ projects."
Programming

How 'DevOps' Is Killing the Developer 226

Posted by Soulskill
from the in-the-server-room-with-the-lamp-stack dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Python guru Jeff Knupp writes about his frustration with the so-called 'DevOps' movement, an effort to blend development jobs with operations positions. It's an artifact of startup culture, and while it might make sense when you only have a few employees and a focus on simply getting it running rather than getting it running right, Knupp feels it has no place in bigger, more established companies. He says, 'Somewhere along the way, however, we tricked ourselves into thinking that because, at any one time, a start-up developer had to take on different roles he or she should actually be all those things at once. If such people even existed, "full-stack" developers still wouldn't be used as they should. Rather than temporarily taking on a single role for a short period of time, then transitioning into the next role, they are meant to be performing all the roles, all the time. And here's what really sucks: most good developers can almost pull this off.' Knupp adds, 'The effect of all of this is to destroy the role of "developer" and replace it with a sort of "technology utility-player". Every developer I know got into programming because they actually enjoyed doing it (at one point). You do a disservice to everyone involved when you force your brightest people to take on additional roles.'"
Programming

The Security of Popular Programming Languages 188

Posted by Soulskill
from the new-ways-to-argue-about-your-favorite-language dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Deciding which programming language to use is often based on considerations such as what the development team is most familiar with, what will generate code the fastest, or simply what will get the job done. How secure the language might be is simply an afterthought, which is usually too late. A new WhiteHat Security report approaches application security not from the standpoint of what risks exist on sites and applications once they have been pushed into production, but rather by examining how the languages themselves perform in the field. In doing so, we hope to elevate security considerations and deepen those conversations earlier in the decision process, which will ultimately lead to more secure websites and applications."
Security

Akamai Reissues All SSL Certificates After Admitting Heartbleed Patch Was Faulty 56

Posted by samzenpus
from the try-it-again dept.
SpacemanukBEJY.53u (3309653) writes "It took security researcher Willem Pinckaers all of 15 minutes to spot a flaw in code created by Akamai that the company thought shielded most of its users from one of the pernicious aspects of the Heartbleed flaw in OpenSSL. More than a decade ago, Akamai modified parts of OpenSSL it felt were weak related to key storage. Akamai CTO Andy Ellis wrote last week that the modification protected most customers from having their private SSL stolen despite the Heartbleed bug. But on Sunday Ellis wrote Akamai was wrong after Pinckaers found several flaws in the code. Akamai is now reissuing all SSL certificates and keys to its customers."
Businesses

Michael Bloomberg: You Can't Teach a Coal Miner To Code 581

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-can't-teach-an-old-dog-how-to-use-a-for-loop dept.
theodp (442580) writes "Gigaom reports that while speaking at the Bloomberg Energy Summit on Wednesday, former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he gives 'a lot of money to the Sierra Club' to help close dirty coal plants, but added that as a society we have to 'have some compassion to do it gently.' Subsidies to help displaced workers are one option, said Bloomberg, while retraining is another option. But, in a slight to the tech industry's sometimes out-of-touch nature with workers outside of Silicon Valley, he said retraining needs to be realistic, 'You're not going to teach a coal miner to code,' argued Bloomberg. 'Mark Zuckerberg says you teach them to code and everything will be great. I don't know how to break it to you... but no.'"
Security

Heartbleed Coder: Bug In OpenSSL Was an Honest Mistake 446

Posted by samzenpus
from the only-human dept.
nk497 (1345219) writes "The Heartbleed bug in OpenSSL wasn't placed there deliberately, according to the coder responsible for the mistake — despite suspicions from many that security services may have been behind it. OpenSSL logs show that German developer Robin Seggelmann introduced the bug into OpenSSL when working on the open-source project two and a half years ago, according to an Australian newspaper. The change was logged on New Year's Eve 2011. 'I was working on improving OpenSSL and submitted numerous bug fixes and added new features,' Seggelmann told the Sydney Morning Herald. 'In one of the new features, unfortunately, I missed validating a variable containing a length.' His work was reviewed, but the reviewer also missed the error, and it was included in the released version of OpenSSL."
Crime

Stung By File-Encrypting Malware, Researchers Fight Back 85

Posted by timothy
from the picked-the-wrong-guys dept.
itwbennett (1594911) writes "When Jose Vildoza's father became the victim of ransomware, he launched his own investigation. Diving into CryptoDefense's code, he found its developers had made a crucial mistake: CryptoDefense used Microsoft's Data Protection API (application programming interface), a tool in the Windows operating system to encrypt a user's data, which stored a copy of the encryption keys on the affected computer. Vildoza and researcher Fabian Wosar of the Austrian security company Emsisoft collaborated on a utility called the Emsisoft Decrypter that could recover the encrypted keys. In mid-March Vildoza had launched a blog chronicling his investigation, purposely not revealing the mistake CryptoDefense's authors had made. But Symantec then published a blog post on March 31 detailing the error."
Google

Google: Teach Girls Coding, Get $2,500; Teach Boys, Get $0 673

Posted by timothy
from the got-enough-of-the-other-kind-already dept.
theodp (442580) writes "'Public school teachers,' reads the headline at Khan Academy (KA), 'introduce your students to coding and earn $1000 or more for your classroom!' Read the fine print, however, and you'll see that the Google-bankrolled offer is likely to ensure that girls, not boys, are going to be their Computer Science teachers' pets. 'Google wants public high school students, especially girls, to discover the magic of coding,' KA explains to teachers. 'You'll receive a $100 DonorsChoose.org gift code for every female student who completes the [JS 101: Drawing & Animation] course. When 4 or more female students complete it, we'll email you an additional $500 gift code as a thank-you for helping your students learn to code.' While 'one teacher cannot have more than 20 of the $100 gift codes activated on their DonorsChoose.org projects,' adds KA, 'if the teacher has more than 20 female students complete the curriculum, s/he will still be sent gift codes, and the teacher can use the additional gift codes on another teacher's DonorsChoose.org project.' So, is girls-are-golden-boys-are-worthless funding for teachers' projects incongruent with Khan Academy's other initiatives, such as its exclusive partnership with CollegeBoard to eliminate inequality among students studying for the SAT?"
Hardware Hacking

Raspberry Pi's Eben Upton: How We're Turning Everyone Into DIY Hackers 90

Posted by Soulskill
from the isn't-that-how-the-borg-started dept.
redletterdave writes "Eben Upton is the CEO of the Raspberry Pi Foundation's trading company, where he oversees production and sales of the Raspberry Pi. In a lengthy interview with ReadWrite, Upton shares how he invented Raspberry Pi, and what's coming next for the $35 microcomputer. Quoting: 'There's a big difference between [just] making a platform like Raspberry Pi available and offering support for it. I think if you just make it available, you'll find one percent of eight-year-olds will be the one percent who love that sort of thing and will get into it, regardless of how much or how little support you give them. ... [S]ince we can afford to pay for the development of educational material, we can afford to advocate for good training for teachers throughout this. There's an opportunity to get more than one percent. There's an opportunity to reach the bright kids who don't quite have the natural inclination to personally tackle complicated technical tasks. If you give them good teaching and compelling material that's relevant and interesting to them, you can reach ten percent, twenty percent, fifty percent, many more. We look back to the 1980s as this golden era [of learning to program], and in practice, only a very few percent of people were learning to program to any great degree. ... I think the real opportunity for us now, because we can intervene on the material and teacher training levels, we can potentially blow past where we were in the 1980s.'"
Programming

Born To RUN: Dartmouth Throwing BASIC a 50th B-Day Party 146

Posted by Soulskill
from the over-the-hill dept.
theodp writes: "Still hanging on to a dog-eared copy of BASIC Computer Games? Back issues of Creative Computing? Well then, Bunky, mark your calendar for April 30th, because Dartmouth College is throwing BASIC a 50th birthday party that you won't want to miss! From the 'invite' to BASIC at 50: 'At 4 a.m. on May 1, 1964, in the basement of College Hall, Professor John Kemeny and a student programmer simultaneously typed RUN on neighboring terminals. When they both got back correct answers to their simple programs, time-sharing and BASIC were born. Kemeny, who later became Dartmouth's 13th president, Professor Tom Kurtz, and a number of undergraduate students worked together to revolutionize computing with the introduction of time-sharing and the BASIC programming language. Their innovations made computing accessible to all Dartmouth students and faculty, and soon after, to people across the nation and the world [video — young Bill Gates cameo @2:18]. This year, Dartmouth is celebrating 50 years of BASIC with a day of events on Wednesday, April 30. Please join us as we recognize the enduring impact of BASIC, showcase innovation in computing at Dartmouth today, and imagine what the next 50 years may hold.' Be sure to check out the vintage photos on Flickr to see what real cloud computing looks like, kids!"
Programming

Raspberry Pi Compute Module Release 51

Posted by samzenpus
from the brand-new dept.
First time accepted submitter ControlsGeek (156589) writes "The Raspberry Pi Foundation has developed a new product. It is basically a Raspberry Pi model A processor, memory, and flash memory on a DDR2-style SODIMM connector. Also available will be a development board that breaks out all the internal connections. The board design will be open sourced so you can develop your own devices using the BCM2835 processor. No network, but support for 2 HDMI displays and 2 cameras, so 3D TV is a possibility.
Microsoft

Should Microsoft Give Kids Programmable Versions of Office? 226

Posted by samzenpus
from the won't-somebody-please-think-of-the-children? dept.
theodp (442580) writes "Over at Microsoft on the Issues, Microsoft continues to lament the computer programming skills gap of American kids, while simultaneously lobbying for more H-1B visas to fill that gap. Saying that states must do more to 'help students gain critical 21st century skills,' Microsoft credits itself and partner Code.org for getting 30,606,732 students to experience coding through the Hour of Code, claiming that K-12 kids have 'written 1,332,784,839 lines of code' (i.e., dragged-and-dropped puzzle pieces), So, if it's concerned about helping students gain programming skills, shouldn't Microsoft be donating fully-functional desktop versions of MS-Office to schools, which would allow kids to use Visual Basic for Applications (VBA)? While Microsoft's pledge to give 12 million copies of its Office software to schools was heralded by the White House and the press, a review of the 'fine print' at Microsoft suggests it's actually the online VBA-free version of Office 365 Education that the kids will be getting, unless their schools qualify for the Student Advantage program by purchasing Office for the faculty and staff. Since Microsoft supported President Obama's call for kids to 'Don't Just Play on Your Phone, Program It', shouldn't it give kids the chance to program MS-Office, too?"
Math

Ties of the Matrix: An Exercise in Combinatorics 51

Posted by timothy
from the hangman's-noose dept.
mikejuk (1801200) writes "The Matrix Reloaded started something when 'The Merovingian' wore a number of very flashy ties. The problem was that we thought we knew how many ways you can tie a tie. The number of ways had been enumerated in 2001 and the answer was that there were exactly 85 different ways but the enumeration didn't include the Matrix way of doing it. So how many "Merovingian" knots are there? The question is answered in a new paper, More ties than we thought [PDf], by Dan Hirsch, Meredith L. Patterson, Anders Sandberg and Mikael Vejdemo-Johansson. The methodology is based on the original enumeration and an interesting application of language theory. The idea is to create a programming language for tying ties and then work out how many programs there are. For single depth tucks there are 177,147 different sequences and hence knots. Of these there are 2046 winding patterns that take up to 11 moves, the same as the The Merovingian knot and other popular knots, and so these are probably practical with a normal length necktie."
Education

Ask Slashdot: the State of Open CS, IT, and DBA Courseware in 2014? 84

Posted by Soulskill
from the education-is-cheap,-it's-that-one-piece-of-paper-that's-expensive dept.
xyourfacekillerx writes "Not long ago, Slashdot readers answered a question for someone seeking to finish a BS in CS online. I am in a similar situation with a different question. I have spent five years frivolously studying philosophy at a very expensive university, and now I want to start towards an Associate's in CS, and then perhaps a Bachelor's (I want to program for a living; I write code daily anyways). After four hours of combing through Google results, I still don't have much useful information. Problem 1: I am out of money and I have an 8 to 5 job, so on-campus enrollment is not an option. Problem 2: and I have very little to transfer due to the specificity of my prior studies: I don't even have my core English/Language or even math cores to transfer. My questions are: 1) Just where are the open CS courses? Who offers it in a way that's more than just lecture notes posts online? 2) Can any of it help or hinder me getting a degree (i.e. does any of it transfer, potentially? Is it a waste of time? Additionally, any tips about accredited online universities (preferably self-paced) where I can start to get my associates and/or bachelor's in CS at low cost would be useful. I intend to be enrolled online somewhere by Fall, and I am starting my own search among local (Colorado) junior colleges who don't demand on-campus presence like most four-years schools do."
Microsoft

Microsoft To Allow Code Contributions To F# 100

Posted by Soulskill
from the also-debating-renaming-it-to-hashtag-F dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The F# programming language team has been providing source code releases for years, but all contributions to the core implementation were internal. Microsoft is now changing that. They've announced that they'll be accepting code contributions from the community for the core F# language, the compiler, library, and Visual F# tools. They praised the quality of work currently being done by the F# community: 'The F# community is already doing high-quality, cross-platform open engineering using modern tools, testing methodology and build processes. Some particularly active projects include the Visual F# Power Tools, FSharp.Data, F# Editing Support for Open Editors, the Deedle DataFrame library and a host of testing tools, web tools, templates, type providers and other tools.' Microsoft is actively solicited bug fixes, optimizations, and library improvements."
Businesses

Hackathon Gold: How To Win a Job Offer In a Coding Competition 25

Posted by samzenpus
from the show-them-what-you-got dept.
itwbennett (1594911) writes "Hackathons have stirred up their share of controversy — mostly around too-big prizes and the inevitable cheating that follows. But for some developers they also can be the ultimate job interview — not just a coding test, but an opportunity to show off your people skills. Take the case of the January 2014 GlobalHack contest in St. Louis that was initially attended by several hundred programmers. The story of the contest isn't who took away the top $50,000 prize but about the other participants who didn't finish in the money but came away with something else that is arguably more important."
Cloud

Ask Slashdot: Do Any Development Shops Build-Test-Deploy On A Cloud Service? 119

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the raining-dev-builds dept.
bellwould (11363) writes "Our CTO has asked us to move our entire dev/test platform off of shared, off-site, hardware onto Amazon, Savvis or the like. Because we don't know enough about this, we're nervous about the costs like CPU: Jenkins tasks checks-out 1M lines of source, then builds, tests and test-deploys 23 product modules 24/7; as well, several Glassfish and Tomcat instances run integration and UI tests 24/7. Disk: large databases instances packed with test and simulation data. Of course, it's all backed up too. So before we start an in-depth review of what's available, what experiences are dev shops having doing stuff like this in the cloud?"

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