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An anonymous reader writes in with this excerpt from Shirky.com. "The idea that 'failure is not an option' is a fantasy version of how non-engineers should motivate engineers. That sentiment was invented by a screenwriter, riffing on an after-the-fact observation about Apollo 13; no one said it at the time. (If you ever say it, wash your mouth out with soap. If anyone ever says it to you, run.) Even NASA's vaunted moonshot, so often referred to as the best of government innovation, tested with dozens of unmanned missions first, several of which failed outright. Failure is always an option. Engineers work as hard as they do because they understand the risk of failure. And for anything it might have meant in its screenplay version, here that sentiment means the opposite; the unnamed executives were saying 'Addressing the possibility of failure is not an option.' ... Healthcare.gov was unable to complete even a thousand enrollments a day at launch, and for weeks afterwards. As we now know, programmers, stakeholders, and testers all expressed reservations about Healthcare.gov's ability to do what it was supposed to do. Yet no one who understood the problems was able to tell the President. Worse, every senior political figure—every one—who could have bridged the gap between knowledgeable employees and the President decided not to. And so it was that, even on launch day, the President was allowed to make things worse for himself and his signature program by bragging about the already-failing site and inviting people to log in and use something that mostly wouldn't work. Whatever happens to government procurement or hiring (and we should all hope those things get better) a culture that prefers deluding the boss over delivering bad news isn't well equipped to try new things.'"
theodp writes "Nate West has a nice essay on the importance of whimsy in learning to program. "It wasn't until I was writing Ruby that I found learning to program to be fun," recalls West. "What's funny is it really doesn't take much effort to be more enjoyable than the C++ examples from earlier...just getting to write gets.chomp and puts over cout > made all the difference. Ruby examples kept me engaged just long enough that I could find Why's Poignant Guide to Ruby." So, does the future of introductory computer programming books and MOOCs lie in professional, business-like presentations, or does a less-polished production with some genuine goofy enthusiasm help the programming medicine go down?"
An anonymous reader writes "A few months after releasing support for viewing models in .STL format, GitHub just added support for viewing changes to .STL formatted 3D models directly in the browser. 'How does this work? We take both versions of the model, and using binary space partitioning, we compute the added, removed, and unchanged parts. This is done using csgtool, a C library paired with a Ruby gem via FFI. These pieces are cached and displayed by the 3D viewer we already have, though we color them differently and play with their transparency to help illustrate the changes.'"
benrothke writes "Diet books are literally a dime a dozen. They generally benefit only the author, publisher and Amazon, leaving the reader frustrated and bloated. With a failure rate of over 99%, diet books are the epitome of a sucker born every minute. One of the few diet books that can offer change you can believe in is The Healthy Programmer: Get Fit, Feel Better, and Keep Coding. Author Joe Kutner observes that nearly every popular diet fails and the reason is that they are based on the premise of a quick fix without focusing on the long-term core issues. It is inevitable that these diets will fail and the dieters at heart know that. It is simply that they are taking the wrong approach. This book is about the right approach; namely a slow one. With all of the failed diet books, Kutner is one of the few that has gotten it right." Keep reading for the rest of Ben's review.
Kagetsuki writes "While grainy GIF images can have entertaining uses, they aren't the ideal animated image format due to lack of full color support and an alpha channel [for varied transparency]. Animated PNG doesn't have these faults and has been available and incorporated in quite a few browsers since roughly 2004. Lack of tools and recognition has hurt adoption, so to remedy this there is a campaign on Kickstarter to create an Open Source, high quality Animated PNG [APNG] conversion library and GUI Editor based on the APNG Assembler tool 'apngasm.' Even the primary goal includes libraries/modules for C/C++ and Ruby along with a cross platform GUI authoring tool. Aside from supporting the project simply using APNG willl help raise interest and support in the standard and bring us one step closer to a world with cleaner animated images."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Forget about hacking an app or database: for a small cadre of hackers in San Francisco, it's all about writing code that can score them a great table at a hot restaurant. According to the BBC, these developers and programmers have designed bots that scan restaurant Websites for open tables and reserve them. Diogo Mónica, a security engineer with e-commerce firm Square, is one of those programmers. A self-described foodie, he decided to get around his inability to score a table at the ultra-popular State Bird Provisions by writing a script that sent out an email every time the restaurant's reservation page changed. 'Once a reservation got canceled I would get an email and could quickly get it for myself,' he wrote in a blog posting. But soon he noticed something peculiar: 'As soon as reservations became available on the website (at 4am), all the good times were immediately taken and were gone by 4:01am.' He suspected it was automated 'reservation bots at work,' built by other programmers with a hankering for fine cuisine. 'After a while even cancellations started being taken immediately from under me,' he wrote. 'It started being common receiving an email alerting of a change, seeing an available time, and it being gone by the time the website loaded.' His solution was to build his own reservation bot, using Ruby, and post the code in the wild."
Ingy döt Net (yes, that's his name) likes to bridge gaps in the software world. People get religious about their favorite programming languages, he says, but in the end, no matter the language, the methodology or the underlying OS, all programming is about telling computers what to do -- from "add these numbers" to complex text manipulation. Ingy compares a new app or module in the world of Free and Open Source as a gift that the creator has given to others; if that gift can be simultaneously bestowed on users of Perl, Python, and Ruby at the same time, its worth is amplified. So he proposes (and provides a growing set of tools) to make programming language irrelevant, by the sly means of encouraging people to write software using whatever their favorite tools are, but with a leaning toward using only language features which are broadly available to *other* programming languages as well. He's adopted the term Acmeism to describe this approach; Acmeists who follow his lead strive to create software that is broadly re-useable and adaptable, rather than tied only to a single platform.
hypnosec writes "The Fedora Project has officially announced the release of Fedora 19 'Schrödinger's Cat' today. New features for the open source distribution include the developer's assistant, which accelerates development efforts by providing templates, samples and toolchains for a different languages; OpenShift Origin, which allows easy building of Platform-as-a-Service infrastructure; node.js; Ruby 2.0.0; MariaDB; Checkpoint & Restore, which allows users to checkpoint and restore processes; and OpenLMI, which makes remote management of machines simpler. The distribution also packs GNOME 3.8, KDE Plasma Workspace 4.10 and MATE Desktop 1.6."
For around a decade programming was not part of the computer curriculum in the U.K.. Through a lot of hard work from advocates and the industry this will soon change, but a large skills gap still exists. Tim Gurney is just one of many working on closing that gap. His Coding in Schools initiative aims to "work with schools and students and inspire the next generation of computer programmers and software engineers by creating and spearheading schools based programming clubs." I recently sat down with Tim to talk about who's working on the problem and what yet needs to be done. Read below to see what he's doing to change the state of things.
So far, the Rails Girls have groups in cities ranging from Warsaw to Wellington, with U.S. gatherings in Washington D.C., Charlotte NC, San Francisco CA, and... let's make it easy: Here's a map. OMG! They're everywhere! Actually, mostly Europe, being as they started in Finland, same as the Leningrad Cowboys and a popular computer operating system. But they're spreading like mad. Would you believe the reason one of the two founders originally got interested in Ruby on Rails was because she wanted to make a fan page for American politician Al Gore? Our interviewee, Magda (from Rails Girls Warsaw), swears this is true. She also tells us about their upcoming Washington D.C. workshop on June 13th, 2013, in conjunction with the June 14-15 RubyNation event. Sounds like fun, doesn't it. Maybe you need more of this kind of fun where you live, eh? If there isn't a Rails Girls group near you, maybe you should start one and help more women and girls get into programming. This is the Rails Girls' goal. Any particular ages? Not really. And their workshops are all free of charge: "You just need to be excited!"
Trailrunner7 writes "Developers who have not updated their Ruby on Rails installations with a five-month-old security patch would do well to secure the Web development framework now. Exploit code has surfaced for CVE-2013-0156 that is being used to build a botnet of compromised servers. Exploit code has been publicly available since the vulnerability was disclosed in January on Github and Metasploit, yet the vulnerability had not been exploited on a large scale until now, said security researcher Jeff Jarmoc." One reason your web server firewall might want to block IRC connections to arbitrary hosts.
hypnosec writes "Following delays due to UEFI, the alpha version of Fedora 19 'Schrödinger's Cat' has been released. The alpha version brings with it all the features of Fedora 19, including the updated desktop options – GNOME 3.8, KDE Plasma 4.10 and MATE 1.6. Other new features include Developer's Assistant – a tool that would allow developers to code easily with ready templates, samples and more; OpenShift Origin – through which users will be able to deploy their own Platform-as-a-Service infrastructure; Ruby 2.0.0; Scratch; Syslinux – provides for simplified booting of Fedora; systemd Resource Control – which allows for modification of service settings without requiring a reboot; and Checkpoint & Restore. Downloads and release notes available at the Fedora Project site."
An anonymous reader writes "For many of us our hosting providers are a way to hone our skills as well as run a business. Which provider out there gives the best bang for the buck for a FOSS developer? Virtually everybody provides Perl, PHP, Ruby, MySQL / MariaDB etc. but where can one get easy and cheap access to a stuff like NodeJS and Big Data? Companies such as Pair Networks are great but not quite on the mark with any of their service offerings for somebody looking to test out real world scenarios with these technologies from a hosted stance. Obviously hosting from home is always an option but that has the penalty of administration, backup, DR planning, bigger security footprint etc. and for those of us whose time is balanced between making money and friends / family time that's not very appealing."
dstates writes "ProPublica, the award winning public interest journalism group and frequently cited Slashdot source, has published an interesting guide to app technology for journalism and a set of data and style guides. Journalism presents unique challenges with potentially enormous but highly variable site traffic, the need to serve a wide variety of information, and most importantly, the need to quickly develop and vet interesting content, and ProPublica serves lots of data sets in addition to the news. They are also doing some cool stuff like using AI to generate specific narratives from tens of thousands of database entries illustrating how school districts and states often don't distribute educational opportunities to rich and poor kids equally. The ProPublica team focuses on some basic practical issues for building a team, rapidly and flexibly deploying technology and insuring that what they serve is correct. A great news app developer needs three key skills: the ability to do journalism, design acumen and the ability to write code quickly — and the last is the easiest to teach. To build a team they look to their own staff rather than competing with Google for CS grads. Most news organizations use either Ruby on Rails or Python/Django, but more important than which specific technology you choose is to just pick a server-side programming language and stick to it. Cloud hosting provides news organizations with incredible flexibility (like increasing your capacity ten-fold for a few days around the election and then scaling back the day after), but they're not as fast as real servers, and cloud costs can scale quickly relative to real servers. Maybe a news app is not the most massive 'big data' application out there, but where else can you find the challenge of millions of users checking in several times a day for the latest news, and all you need to do is sort out which of your many and conflicting sources are providing you with straight information? Oh, and if you screw up, it will be very public."
An anonymous reader writes "Today version 2.0.0 of Ruby has been released. This is a stable release, and the Ruby team has done their best to make it compatible with 1.9, making it easier to migrate than it was to switch from 1.8 to 1.9. New core language features include: 'Keyword arguments, which give flexibility to API design; Module#prepend, which is a new way to extend a class; A literal %i, which creates an array of symbols easily; __dir__, which returns the dirname of the file currently being executed; and UTF-8 default encoding, which make many magic comments omissible.' There are also new built-in libraries for lazy stream and for an asynchronous exception handling API. The release includes a number of performance improvements and debug support for DTrace."
An anonymous reader writes "Jeff Atwood has a post on his Coding Horror weblog about his latest project, Discourse, 'a next-generation, 100% open source discussion platform built for the next decade of the Internet.' Along with Coding Horror, Jeff is most well-known for his work on Stack Exchange and its family of related sites. In the same way that he tried to improve Q&A sites, he hopes to make forum/discussion software better with a team of folks he's pulled together for the task. They're using the 'Wordpress model' of offering both open source software and commercial offerings. The software interface is an in-browser app via Ember.js, with a Ruby on Rails and Postgres backend. I wonder if it will ever have an NNTP gateway."
hypnosec writes "Online version control system GitHub, which is based on Git — the distributed version control system developed by Linus Torvalds — now has over three million registered users, it has been revealed. Announcing the achievement, the code sharing site used by the likes of jQuery, Perl, PHP, Ruby as well as Joomla said in a blog post that the 'three millionth person signed up for a GitHub account' on Monday night."