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Programming

An Algorithm To Randomly Generate Game Dungeons 34

An anonymous reader writes: Game developers frequently turn to procedural algorithms to generate some of their game's content. Sometimes it's to give the game more diverse environments, or to keep things fresh upon subsequent playthroughs, or simply just to save precious development time. If you've played a game that had an unpredictable layout of connected rooms, you may have wondered how it was built. No longer; a post at Gamasutra walks through a procedural generation algorithm, showing how random and unique layouts can be created with some clever code. The article is filled with animated pictures demonstrating how rooms pop into existence, spread themselves out to prevent overlap, finds a sensible series of connections, and then fill in the gaps with doors and hallways.
Television

Is There Too Much New Programming On TV? 158

HughPickens.com writes: John Koblin writes in the NY Times that there's a crisis in television programming felt among executives, viewers and critics, and it's the result of one thing: There is simply too much on television. John Landgraf, chief executive of FX Networks, reported at the Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour that the total number of original scripted series on TV in 2014 was 371. The total will surpass 400 in 2015. The glut, according to Landgraf, has presented "a huge challenge in finding compelling original stories and the level of talent needed to sustain those stories."

Michael Lombardo, president of programming at HBO, says it is harder than ever to build an audience for a show when viewers are confronted with so many choices and might click away at any moment. "I hear it all the time," says Lombardo. "People going, 'I can't commit to another show, and I don't have the time to emotionally commit to another show.' I hear that, and I'm aware of it, and I get it." Another complication is that shows not only compete against one another, but also against old series that live on in the archives of Amazon, Hulu or Netflix. So a new season of "Scandal," for example, is also competing against old series like "The Wire." "The amount of competition is just literally insane," says Landgraf.

Others point out that the explosion in programming has created more opportunity for shows with diverse casts and topics, such as "Jane the Virgin," "Transparent" and "Orange Is the New Black." Marti Noxon, the showrunner for Lifetime's "UnREAL" and Bravo's "Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce," says there has been a "sea change" in the last five years. "I couldn't have gotten those two shows on TV five years ago," says Noxon. "There was not enough opportunity for voices that speak to a smaller audience. Now many of these places are looking to reach some people — not all the people. That's opened up a tremendous opportunity for women and other people that have been left out of the conversation."
Programming

Lack of Teacher Training Hampers UK Programming Education 69

An anonymous reader writes: The UK government recently introduced a new computer curriculum to the school system in order to get more kids into programming. Unfortunately, they're running into a serious problem: one-third of the secondary schools tasked with teaching these programs have not spent any money training their teachers on the requisite knowledge and technology. The government has provided £4.5 million for this training, and a number of schools have spent their share and more. But it's clearly not filtering down to every school, and that harms the children enrolled in these schools.
Programming

An Idea For Software's Industrial Revolution 252

An anonymous reader writes: Tech company Code Valley makes the bold claim that a software industrial revolution may be imminent (PDF). They propose shifting developers from the coding domain (current software development practice) to a "design-domain," where the emphasis is no longer on writing code, but on decentralized design – code becomes simply a by-product of this collaboration. In this design-domain, software programs are designed (and built) by a peer-to-peer supply chain of software vendors, each owned and managed by a software engineer. They envisage a global supply-chain of these software experts capable of reliably delivering immensely complex software.
Transportation

Copenhagen's New All-Electric Public Carsharing Programming 80

dkatana writes: Residents in Copenhagen have a new all-electric, free-floating, carsharing service. DriveNow is launching 400 brand new BMW i3 electric cars in the Danish city. The service is one-way, and metered by the minute. The big news is that residents can sign-up on the spot taking a picture of their drivers' license and a selfie and use their public transport accounts to pay. There will be a car available every 300 meters, the same distance as bus stops. The cost will be 3.50 kroner ($0.52) per minute driven. If members decide to park the car for a few minutes continuing the rental, those stationary minutes are charged at 2.5 kroner ($0.37). The maximum charge per hour is capped at 190 kroner ($28.50). There is no annual fee.
Programming

Survey: More Women Are Going Into Programming 273

itwbennett writes: We've previously discussed the dearth of women in computing. Indeed, according to U.S. Bureau and Labor Statistics estimates, in 2014 four out of five programmers and software developers in the U.S. were men. But according to a survey conducted this spring by the Application Developers Alliance and IDC, that may be changing. The survey of 855 developers worldwide found that women make up 42% of developers with less than 1 year of experience and 30% of those with between 1 and 5 years of experience. Of course, getting women into programming is one thing; keeping them is the next big challenge.
Programming

You Don't Have To Be Good At Math To Learn To Code 606

HughPickens.com writes: Olga Khazan writes in The Atlantic that learning to program involves a lot of Googling, logic, and trial-and-error—but almost nothing beyond fourth-grade arithmetic. Victoria Fine explains how she taught herself how to code despite hating math. Her secret? Lots and lots of Googling. "Like any good Google query, a successful answer depended on asking the right question. "How do I make a website red" was not nearly as successful a question as "CSS color values HEX red" combined with "CSS background color." I spent a lot of time learning to Google like a pro. I carefully learned the vocabulary of HTML so I knew what I was talking about when I asked the Internet for answers." According to Khazan while it's true that some types of code look a little like equations, you don't really have to solve them, just know where they go and what they do. "In most cases you can see that the hard maths (the physical and geometry) is either done by a computer or has been done by someone else. While the calculations do happen and are essential to the successful running of the program, the programmer does not need to know how they are done." Khazan says that in order to figure out what your program should say, you're going to need some basic logic skills and you'll need to be skilled at copying and pasting things from online repositories and tweaking them slightly. "But humanities majors, fresh off writing reams of term papers, are probably more talented at that than math majors are."
Open Source

Netflix Open Sources Sleepy Puppy XSS Hunter 12

msm1267 writes: Netflix has released a tool it calls Sleepy Puppy. The tool injects cross-site scripting payloads into a target app that may not be vulnerable, but could be stored in a database and tracks the payload if it's reflected to a secondary application that makes use of the data in the same field. "We were looking for a way to provide coverage on applications that come from different origins or may not be publicly accessible," said co-developer Scott Behrens, a senior application security engineer at Netflix. "We also wanted to observe where stored data gets reflected back, and how data that may be stored publicly could also be reflected in a large number of internal applications." Sleepy Puppy is available on Netflix's Github repository and is one of a slew of security tools its engineers have released to open source.
Open Source

LLVM 3.7 Delivers OpenMP 3.1 Support, ORC JIT API, New Optimizations 83

An anonymous reader writes: LLVM 3.7 was released today as the newest six-month update. LLVM 3.7 has OpenMP 3.1 support via Clang, a new On-Request Compilation JIT API, the Berkeley Packet Filter back-end was added, the AMDGPU back-end now supports OpenGL 4.1 when paired with Mesa 11.0, and many other functional changes. Early benchmarks against GCC show its performance quite competitive with GCC5, even superior in some workloads, and should be more competitive in scientific applications with there now being OpenMP support.
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.
Open Source

"Hack" Typeface Is Open Source, Easy On the IDEs 211

Ars Technica writes that "At SourceFoundry.org this week, programmer Chris Simpkins debuted the 2.0 version of Hack, an open-source typeface designed specifically for use in source code." The revamped font is "characterized by a large x-height, wide aperture, and low contrast design in order to be 'highly legible' at common coding text sizes," and the font specimen shows how legible it is right down to downright tiny sizes, though Simpkins says the sweet spot is between 8 and 12 pixels. Hack's roots are in the libre, open source typeface community, and the project expands upon the contributions of the Bitstream Vera & DejaVu projects. ... Simpkins has been working on the project throughout 2015, and he tweeted that this latest version includes "new open type features, changes in weights, significant changes in spacing, Powerline glyphs, and more." The typeface now comes with four font styles: Regular, Bold, Oblique, and Bold Oblique.
Google

Google May Try To Recruit You For a Job Based On Your Search Queries 182

HughPickens.com writes: If Google sees that you're searching for specific programming terms, they may ask you to apply for a job as Max Rossett writes that three months ago while working on a project, he Googled "python lambda function list comprehension." The familiar blue links appeared on the search page, and he started to look for the most relevant one. But then something unusual happened. The search results split and folded back to reveal a box that said "You're speaking our language. Up for a challenge?" Clicking on the link took Rossett to a page called "foo.bar" that outlined a programming challenge and gave instructions on how to submit his solution. "I had 48 hours to solve it, and the timer was ticking," writes Rossett. "I had the option to code in Python or Java. I set to work and solved the first problem in a couple hours. Each time I submitted a solution, foo.bar tested my code against five hidden test cases."

After solving another five problems the page gave Rossett the option to submit his contact information and much to his surprise, a recruiter emailed him a couple days later asking for a copy of his resume. Three months after the mysterious invitation appeared, Rossett started at Google. Apparently Google has been using this recruiting tactic for some time.
Programming

In Praise of the Solo Programmer 114

HughPickens.com writes: Jean-Louis Gassée writes that once upon a time, we were awestruck by the solo programmer who could single-handedly write a magnum opus on a barebones machine like the Apple ][ with its 64 kilobytes of memory and an 8-bit processor running at 1MHz. Once such giant was Paul Lutus, known as the Oregon Hermit, who won a place next to Jobs and Wozniak in the Bandley Drive Hall of Fame for his Apple Writer word processor. "Those were the days Computers and their operating systems were simple and the P in Personal Computers applied to the programmer," writes Gassée. "There's no place for a 2015 Paul Lutus. But are things really that dire?"

As it turns out, the size and complexity of operating systems and development tools do not pose completely insurmountable obstacles; There are still programs of hefty import authored by one person. One such example is Preview, Mac's all-in-one file viewing and editing program. The many superpowers of Apple's Preview does justice to the app's power and flexibility authored by a solo, unnamed programmer who has been at it since the NeXT days. Newer than Preview but no less ambitious, is Gus Mueller's Acorn, an "Image Editor for Humans", now in version 5 at the Mac App Store. Mueller calls his Everett, WA company a mom and pop shop because his spouse Kristin does the documentation when she isn't working as a Physical Therapist. Gus recently released Acorn 5 fixing hundreds of minor bugs and annoyances. "It took months and months of work, it was super boring and mind numbing and it was really hard to justify, and it made Acorn 5 super late," writes Mueller. "But we did it anyway, because something in us felt that software quality has been going downhill in general, and we sure as heck weren't going to let that happen to Acorn."
Programming

Deep Learning Pioneer On the Next Generation of Hardware For Neural Networks 45

An anonymous reader writes: While many recognize Yann LeCun as the father of convolutional neural networks, the momentum of which has ignited artificial intelligence at companies like Google, Facebook and beyond, LeCun has not been strictly rooted in algorithms. Like others who have developed completely new approaches to computing, he has an extensive background in hardware, specifically chip design and this recognition of specialization of hardware, movement of data around complex problems, and ultimately core performance, has proven handy. He talks in depth this week about why FPGAs are coming onto the scene as companies like Google and Facebook seek a move away from "proprietary hardware" and look to "programmable devices" to do things like, oh, say, pick out a single face of one's choosing from an 800,000 strong population in under five seconds.
Programming

The Top 10 Programming Languages On GitHub, Over Time 132

An anonymous reader writes with a link to VentureBeat's article on the information that GitHub released this week about the top-ten languages used by GitHub's users, and how they've changed over the site's history. GitHub's chart shows the change in rank for programming languages since GitHub launched in 2008 all the way to what the site's 10 million users are using for coding today. To be clear, this graph doesn't show the definitive top 10 programming languages. Because GitHub has become so popular (even causing Google Code to shut down), however, it still paints a fairly accurate picture of programming trends over recent years. Trend lines aside, here are the top 10 programming languages on GitHub today: 1. JavaScript 2. Java 3. Ruby 4. PHP 5. Python 6. CSS 7. C++ 8. C# 9. C 10. HTML
Stats

Standardized Tests Blamed, Asian Students Ignored In Google-Gallup K-12 CS Study 184

theodp writes: According to a study released Thursday by Google and Gallup, standardized tests may be holding back the next generation of computer programmers. The Google-Gallup Searching for Computer Science: Access and Barriers in U.S. K-12 Education report (PDF) found that the main reason given by a "comprehensive but not representative" sample of 9,693 K-12 principals and 1,865 school district superintendents in the U.S. for their schools not offering computer science "is the limited time they have to devote to classes that are not tied to testing requirements." Which makes one wonder if Google now views Bill Gates as part of the problem and/or part of the solution of K-12 CS education. The Google-Gallup report also explores race/ethnicity differences to access and learning opportunities among White, Black and Hispanic students — but not Asian students — a curious omission considering that Google's own Diversity Disclosure shows that 35% of its U.S. tech workforce is Asian, making it by far the most overrepresented race/ethnicity group at Google when compared to the U.S. K-12 public school population. Which raises the question: Why would the Google-Gallup study ignore the access and learning opportunities of the race/ethnicity subgroup that has enjoyed the greatest success at Google? Not unsurprisingly, the Google-Gallup report winds up by concluding that what U.S. K-12 education really needs is more CS cowbell.
Programming

COBOL Comes To Visual Studio 2015 86

New submitter dmleonard618 writes: Micro Focus isn't writing off COBOL just yet. The company is trying to win developers over with COBOL with the latest release of Visual COBOL for Visual Studio. The new solution aims to bring back the ancient language and make it relevant again. "Visual COBOL for Visual Studio 2015 is the next generation of COBOL development solutions, designed for today's application developer to do just that, in a productive and cost-effective way," said Micro Focus' Ed Airey.
Businesses

Do Old Programmers Need To Keep Leaping Through New Hoops? 242

Nerval's Lobster writes: In recent years, it seems as if tech has evolved into an industry that lionizes the young. Despite all the press about 21-year-old rock-star developers and 30-year-old CEOs, though, is there still a significant market for older programmers and developers, especially those with specialized knowledge? The answer is "yes," of course, and sites like Dice suggest that older tech pros should take steps such as setting up social media accounts and spending a lot of time on Github if they want to attract interest from companies and recruiters. But do they really need to go through all of that? If you have twenty, thirty, or even forty years of solid tech work under your belt, is it worth jumping through all sorts of new hoops? Or is there a better way to keep working — provided you don't already have a job, that is, or move up to management, or get out of the game entirely in order to try something startling and new.
Google

Google Releases Version 1.5 of Its Go Programming Language, Finally Ditches C 221

An anonymous reader writes: Google has launched the sixth notable stable release of its Go programming language Go 1.5. VB reports: "This is not a major release, as denoted by the version number and the fact that the only language change is the lifting of a restriction in the map literal syntax to make them more consistent with slice literals. That said, Go 1.5 does include a significant rewrite: The compiler tool chain has been translated from C to Go. This means "the last vestiges of C code" have been finally removed from the Go code base. As for actual changes in Go 1.5, you'll want to read the full release notes. Highlights include improvements to garbage collection, the developer tools, the standard library, and new ports."
Bug

Air Traffic Snafu: FAA System Runs Out of Memory 234

minstrelmike writes: Over the weekend, hundreds of flights were delayed or canceled in the Washington, D.C. area after air traffic systems malfunctioned. Now, the FAA says the problem was related to a recent software upgrade at a local radar facility. The software had been upgraded to display customized windows of reference data that were supposed to disappear once deleted. Unfortunately, the systems ended up running out of memory. The FAA's report is vague about whether it was operator error or software error: "... as controllers adjusted their unique settings, those changes remained in memory until the storage limit was filled." Wonder what programming language they used?