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How a 3D Printer Let a Dog Run for the First Time

Nerval's Lobster Nerval's Lobster writes  |  2 days ago

Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "Ever since 3-D printing began to enter the mainstream, people have discussed the technology’s potential for building prosthetic arms and legs for human beings. But what about doing the same for dogs? In one of those videos that ends up circulated endlessly on the Internet, a dog named Derby, born with a congenital deformity that deprived him of front paws, is outfitted with a pair of 3-D-printed prosthetics. With those "legs" in place, the dog can run for the first time, at a pretty good clip. Both the prosthetics and the video were produced by 3D Systems, which builds 3-D printers, and it seems likely that other 3-D-printing companies will explore the possibility of printing off parts for pets. And while the idea of a cyborg pooch is heartwarming, it will be interesting to see how 3D printers will continue to advance the realm of human prosthetics, which have become increasingly sophisticated over the past decade."
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Is Google's Cardboard Project the Android of VR?

Nerval's Lobster Nerval's Lobster writes  |  3 days ago

Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "When Facebook dropped a cool $2 billion to purchase virtual-reality firm Oculus VR earlier this year, it was seen as a way for CEO Mark Zuckerberg to take an early position in what could become one of the dominant technologies of the next decade. But what if Oculus VR, even with all of Facebook’s money, didn’t end up as the competitor to beat? What if a piece of cardboard, supported by some APIs and an ecosystem of third-party developers, become synonymous with virtual reality? You can debate whether Google’s Cardboard project is expressly intended as a way to ding archrival Facebook, but it’s clear that the search-engine giant wants to play in the virtual-reality sandbox in the same way as it did with smartphones and tablets: open source a technology and encourage others to build with it. Will Cardboard prove the Android of VR, to Oculus Rift’s iPhone? At this nascent stage, that question can’t be answered, but one thing’s for certain: Google is intent on turning something that people initially treated like a joke into an actual platform."
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What Will Microsoft's 'Embrace' of Open Source Actually Achieve?

Nerval's Lobster Nerval's Lobster writes  |  5 days ago

Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "Back in the day, Microsoft viewed open source and Linux as a threat and did its best to retaliate with FUD and patent threats. And then a funny thing happened: Whether in the name of pragmatism or simply marketing, Microsoft began a very public transition from a company of open-source haters (at least in top management) to one that’s embraced some aspects of open-source computing. Last month, the company blogged that .NET Core will become open-source, adding to its previously open-sourced ASP.NET MVC, Web API, and Web Pages (Razor). There’s no doubt that, at least in some respects, Microsoft wants to make a big show of being more open and supportive of interoperability. The company’s even gotten involved with the .NET Foundation, an independent organization designed to assist developers with the growing collection of open-source technologies for .NET. But there’s only so far Microsoft will go into the realm of open source—whereas once upon a time, the company tried to wreck the movement, now it faces the very real danger of its whole revenue model being undermined by free software. But what's Microsoft's end-goal with open source? What can the company possibly hope to accomplish, given a widespread perception that such a move on its part is the product of either fear, cynicism, or both?"
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Tech Hiring Will Rise in 2015, Say Recruiters

Nerval's Lobster Nerval's Lobster writes  |  4 days ago

Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "Demand for tech professionals isn’t slowing down anytime soon, according to a survey of nearly 800 tech-focused hiring managers by Dice (yes, yes, we know). Heading into the new year, 75 percent of recruiters anticipate hiring more tech professionals in the first six months of 2015 than the last six months of 2014, an all-time high for this semi-annual survey; that’s five points greater than mid-year and two points greater than December 2013. Like the last six months of 2014, hiring managers are particularly interested in the experienced candidate. The majority (76 percent) are hiring for positions requiring six to 10 years of experience, while four in 10 (40 percent) are hiring for positions requiring more than 10 years of experience. Nearly three quarters (72 percent) of companies are planning to expand by more than 10 percent in early 2015, another record breaker. Sixty-eight percent of recruiters anticipated hiring over 10 percent more professionals six months ago, and 65 percent projected such a large-scale hiring push a year ago. So, for tech professionals looking for a job or considering leaving their current one, now might be a good time."
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Apple's iPod Classic Refuses to Die

Nerval's Lobster Nerval's Lobster writes  |  about two weeks ago

Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "A funny thing happened to the iPod Classic on its way to the dustbin of history: people seemed unwilling to actually give it up. Apple quietly removed the iPod Classic from its online storefront in early September, on the same day CEO Tim Cook revealed the latest iPhones and the upcoming Apple Watch. At 12 years old, the device was ancient by technology-industry standards, but its design was iconic, and a subset of diehard music fans seemed to appreciate its considerable storage capacity. At least some of those diehard fans are now paying four times the iPod Classic’s original selling price for units still in the box. The blog 9to5Mac mentions Amazon selling some last-generation iPod Classics for $500 and above. Clearly, some people haven’t gotten the memo that touch-screens and streaming music were supposed to be the way of the future."
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A Flying Drone Built From Fungus

Nerval's Lobster Nerval's Lobster writes  |  about two weeks ago

Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "what if manufacturers could build drones out of something other than metal? What if you could construct an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) out of biological material, specifically a lightweight-but-strong one known as mycelium? The vegetative part of a fungus, mycelium is already under consideration as a building material; other materials would include cellulose sheets, layered together into “leather,” as well as starches worked into a “bioplastic.” While a mushroom-made drone is probably years away from takeoff, a proposal for the device caught some attention at this year’s International Genetically Engineered Machine competition. Designed by a team of students from Brown, Spelman, and Stanford Universities in conjunction with researchers from NASA, such a drone would (theoretically) offer a cheap and lightweight way to get a camera and other tools airborne. 'If we want to fly it over wildfires to see where it’s spreading, or if there’s a nuclear meltdown and we want to fly in to see what’s going on with the radioactivity, we can send in the drone and it can send back data without returning,' Ian Hull, a Stanford sophomore involved in the project, told Fast Company."
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Is C Still Relevant In the 21st Century?

Nerval's Lobster Nerval's Lobster writes  |  about two weeks ago

Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "Many programming languages have come and gone since Dennis Ritchie devised C in 1972, and yet C has not only survived three major revisions, but continues to thrive. But aside from this incredible legacy, what keeps C atop the Tiobe Index? The number of jobs available for C programmers is not huge, and many of those also include C++ and Objective-C. On Reddit, the C community, while one of the ten most popular programming communities, is half the size of the C++ group. In a new column, David Bolton argues that C remains extremely relevant due to a number of factors, including newer C compiler support, the Internet ("basically driven by C applications"), an immense amount of active software written in C that's still used, and its ease in learning. 'Knowing C provides a handy insight into higher-level languages—C++, Objective-C, Perl, Python, Java, PHP, C#, D and Go all have block syntax that’s derived from C.' Do you agree?"
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Which Programming Language Pays the Best? Some Say Python

Nerval's Lobster Nerval's Lobster writes  |  about three weeks ago

Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "What programming language will earn you the biggest salary over the long run? According to Quartz, which relied partially on data compiled by employment-analytics firm Burning Glass and a Brookings Institution economist, Ruby on Rails, Objective-C, and Python are all programming skills that will earn you more than $100,000 per year. But salary doesn’t necessarily correlate with popularity. Earlier this year, for example, tech-industry analyst firm RedMonk produced its latest ranking of the most-used languages, and Java/JavaScript topped the list, followed by PHP, Python, C#, and C++/Ruby. Meanwhile, Python was the one programming language to appear on Dice’s recent list of the fastest-growing tech skills, which is assembled from mentions in Dice job postings. Python is a staple language in college-level computer-science courses, and has repeatedly topped the lists of popular programming languages as compiled by TIOBE Software and others. Should someone learn a language just because it could come with a six-figure salary, or are there better reasons to learn a particular language and not others?"
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What If George Lucas Had Directed the Next 'Star Wars'?

Nerval's Lobster Nerval's Lobster writes  |  about three weeks ago

Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "Late last week, Disney released a ninety-second trailer for the latest Star Wars movie, which is scheduled to arrive in theaters by the end of 2015. While the trailer itself didn’t reveal very much about the plot or characters of the space epic, it’s already providing seemingly endless material for fan art, homages, and even parodies. One of the most popular parodies circulating online, created by Michael Shanks, re-edits the trailer in a way that suggests what might have happened if George Lucas—who sold the rights to the Star Wars franchise in 2012 and didn’t direct this latest installment—had gotten his hands on the footage. Spoiler alert: It features everything that diehard Star Wars fans hated about the prequels and the “Special Edition” versions of the original trilogy, from excessive use of computer graphics to a very special guest appearance by a certain much-reviled character."
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Want Better Software? Stop Tolerating Buggy Code

Nerval's Lobster Nerval's Lobster writes  |  about three weeks ago

Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "As researchers uncover one serious flaw after another in widely used software, it’s increasingly clear there are lots of vulnerabilities, everywhere. While there are efforts underway to identify and fix these issues before criminals exploit them, the bigger challenge is stopping developers from using buggy code. There is no such thing as perfect software, but developers can reduce the number of bugs by following secure coding practices. There are also tools which can analyze individual libraries—both open-source and commercial—included in software projects to ensure they aren’t buggy. Many organizations have no idea if the software they are using contains vulnerable components because the application hasn’t been thoroughly tested. But aside from As researchers uncover one serious flaw after another in widely used software, it’s increasingly clear there are lots of vulnerabilities, everywhere. While there are efforts underway to identify and fix these issues before criminals exploit them, the bigger challenge is stopping developers from using buggy code. But aside from efforts such as The Linux Foundation’s Core Infrastructure Initiative, which maintains open-source apps, it doesn't seem like there's a lot of coordinated effort out there to clean up old code and analyze libraries and apps for bugs. Is there anything that can be done about this?"
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Top 5 Python GUI Frameworks

Nerval's Lobster Nerval's Lobster writes  |  about three weeks ago

Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "As a Python developer, sooner or later you’ll want to write an application with a graphical user interface. Fortunately, there are a lot of options on the tools front: The Python wiki on GUI programming lists over 30 cross-platform frameworks, as well as Pyjamas, a tool for cross-browser Web development based on a port of the Google Web Toolkit. How to choose between all these options for Python GUIs? Developer David Bolton started by narrowing it down to those that included all three platforms (Windows, Mac, and Linux) and, where possible, Python 3. After that filtering, he found four toolkits (Gtk, Qt, Tk, and wxWidgets) and five frameworks (Kivy, PyQt, gui2Py, libavg and wxPython). He provides an extensive breakdown on why he prefers these."
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Here's What Your Car Could Look Like in 2030

Nerval's Lobster Nerval's Lobster writes  |  about a month ago

Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "If you took your cubicle, four wheels, SkyNet's AI, and brought them all together in unholy matrimony, their offspring might look something like the self-driving future car created by design consultants IDEO. That's not to say that every car on the road in 2030 will look like a mobile office, but technology could take driving to a place where a car's convenience and onboard software (not to mention smaller size) matter more than, say, speed or handling, especially as urban areas become denser and people potentially look at "driving time" as a time to get things done or relax as the car handles the majority of driving tasks. Then again, if old science-fiction movies have proven anything, it’s that visions of automobile design thirty or fifty years down the road (pun intended) tend to be far, far different than the eventual reality. (Blade Runner, for example, posited that the skies above Los Angeles would swarm with flying cars by 2019.) So it's anyone's guess what you'll be driving a couple decades from now."
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How Obama's Immigration Overhaul Will Affect Tech

Nerval's Lobster Nerval's Lobster writes  |  about 1 month ago

Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "President Obama’s plan to overhaul the nation’s immigration policies could not only save up to five million people from deportation, it will also affect the U.S. tech industry. Obama will rely on an executive action for immigration reform, rather than working with Congress. “I will make it easier and faster for high-skilled immigrants, graduates and entrepreneurs to stay and contribute to our economy,” Obama added in his Nov. 20 speech. On paper, his plan will streamline the ability of foreign entrepreneurs and STEM workers to obtain visas, although specifics went unannounced; spouses of certain visa holders, including at least a portion of those with an H-1B, will have the ability to obtain work permits. Obama’s plan will also expand the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), which grants work permits and some legal protections to unauthorized immigrants who arrived in the United States as children. Under the new guidelines, unauthorized immigrants whose children are U.S. citizens, and who have lived in the country for at least five years, will also be protected. Those immigrants will need to pass criminal background checks and pay taxes. While Obama has taken steps to fix what he views as a broken system, he’s also shifted the debate on immigration to a whole new level. Expect tech firms across the nation to ponder the merits and drawbacks of his plan for quite some time to come."
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Google Maps Crunches Data, Tells You When to Drive on Thanksgiving

Nerval's Lobster Nerval's Lobster writes  |  about a month ago

Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "Whatever your plans for Thanksgiving, Google can offer some advice: try to avoid driving anywhere the day before. Analysts from the search-engine giant’s Google Maps division crunched traffic data from 21 U.S. cities over the past two years and found that the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is by far the worst traffic day that week, with some notable exceptions. (In Honolulu, Providence, and San Francisco, the worst traffic is always on Saturday; in Boston, it’s Tuesday.) Unfortunately, Wednesday is often the only available travel day for many Americans—but Google thinks they can beat the worst of the traffic if they leave before 2 P.M. or after 7 P.M. on that day. Traffic on Thanksgiving itself is also light, according to the data. When it comes to driving back home, Sunday beats Saturday from a traffic perspective. According to Google Maps’ aggregated trends, Americans also seek out “ham shop,” “pie shop,” and “liquor store” on the day before Thanksgiving, as they rush to secure last-minute items."
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Is a Moral Compass a Hinderance or a Help for Startups?

Nerval's Lobster Nerval's Lobster writes  |  about a month ago

Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "As an emerging company in a hotly contested space, Uber already had a reputation for playing hardball with competitors, even before reports leaked of one of its executives threatening to dig into the private lives of journalists. Faced with a vicious competitive landscape, Uber executives probably feel they have little choice but to plunge into multi-front battle. As the saying goes, when you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail; and when you’re a startup that thinks it's besieged from all sides by entities that seem determined to shut you down, sometimes your executives feel the need to take any measure in order to keep things going, even if those measures are ethically questionable. As more than one analyst has pointed out, Uber isn’t the first company in America to triumph through a combination of grit and ethically questionable tactics; but it’s also not the first to implode thanks to the latter. Is a moral compass (or at least the appearance of one) a hinderance or a help for startups?"
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Uber Threatens to Do 'Opposition Research' on Journalists

Nerval's Lobster Nerval's Lobster writes  |  about a month ago

Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "A senior executive at Uber reportedly told a Buzzfeed reporter that the company "should consider hiring a team of opposition researchers to dig up dirt on its critics in the media — and specifically to spread details of the personal life of a female journalist who has criticized the company." As detailed by the executive, Uber would spend a million dollars on the effort, which would involve "four top opposition researchers and four journalists," and dig into personal lives and families. Uber has pushed back against the report, insisting that it's never done opposition research, but the idea of any company engaging in such practices seems more like something Nixon would have dreamed up at his worst than a strategy by a "disruptive" startup."
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The New-ish Technologies That Will Alter Your Career

Nerval's Lobster Nerval's Lobster writes  |  about a month ago

Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "Over at Dice, there’s a discussion of the technologies that could actually alter how you work (and what you work on) over the next few years, including 3D printing, embedded systems, and evolving Web APIs. Granted, predicting the future with any accuracy is a nigh-impossible feat, and a lot of nascent technologies come with an accompanying amount of hype. But given how these listed technologies have actually been around in one form or another for years, and don’t seem to be fading away, it seems likely that they’ll prove an increasing factor in how we live and work over the next decade and beyond. For those who have no interest in mastering aspects of the so-called “Internet of Things,” or other tech on this list, never fear: if the past two decades have taught us anything, it’s that lots of old hardware and software never truly goes away, either (hi, mainframes!)."
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Android 5.0 'Lollipop' vs. iOS 8: More Similar Than Ever

Nerval's Lobster Nerval's Lobster writes  |  about a month ago

Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "With the debut of Android 5.0 (also known as Lollipop, in keeping with Google’s habit of naming each major OS upgrade after a dessert), it’s worth taking a moment to break down how the latest version of Google’s mobile operating system matches up against Apple’s iOS 8. After years of battle, the two are remarkably similar. So while nobody would ever confuse Android and iOS, both Google and Apple seem determined to go “flatter” (and more brightly colored) than ever. Whether or not you agree with their choices, they’re the cutting edge of mobile UX design. The perpetual tit-for-tat over features has reached a climax of sorts with Lollipop and iOS 8: both offer their own version of an NFC-powered e-wallet (Apple Pay vs. Google Wallet), a health app (Apple’s Health app vs. Google Fit), car-dashboard control (Android Auto vs. CarPlay), and home automation. That's not to say that the operating systems are mirror images of one another, but in terms of aesthetics and functionality, they'll be at near-parity for most users, albeit not those users who enjoy customizing Android and hate Apple's 'walled garden.'"
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Linux, Java, Python Top List of Skills Employers Want for Cloud Build-Outs

Nerval's Lobster Nerval's Lobster writes  |  about a month ago

Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "'Cloud' is in the running for the most-hyped term of the decade. Hype aside, tech firms' desire to build Web-based platforms has created a burgeoning need for IT pros skilled in everything from Linux to security and Hadoop. A recent analysis of searches by hiring managers in the Dice resume database found that employers want pros adept in Linux, Java/J2EE, SaaS (Software-as-a-Service), Python, virtualization, and other skills. Many entries on this list hint at cloud-builders’ preferences for platforms and tools. Puppet, for example, is an open-source IT automation tool, created by Puppet Labs, that’s used by a growing number of universities and companies to manage system configurations. OpenStack is an IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) platform similarly relied upon by a number of firms. And efficient data storage and analysis wouldn’t be possible without Hadoop or all the tools that fall under the umbrella of 'Big Data.' Architects, engineers, developers, administrators, and analysts were the top positions sought by hiring managers in the context of 'cloud.' That’s unsurprising, in light of all the companies (big and small) devoting enormous resources to building out, managing, and tweaking their respective platforms. In tech-centric cities such as Seattle, the need for professionals skilled in cloud fundamentals has contributed to increased hiring."
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Black IT Pros on (Lack of) Diversity in Tech

Nerval's Lobster Nerval's Lobster writes  |  about a month ago

Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "While pundits and analysts debate about diversity in Silicon Valley, one thing is very clear: Black Americans make up a very small percentage of tech workers. At Facebook, Google, and Yahoo, that number is a bit less than 2 percent of their respective U.S. workforces; at Apple, it’s closer to 7 percent. Many executives and pundits have argued that the educational pipeline remains one of the chief impediments to hiring a more diverse workforce, and that as long as universities aren’t recruiting a broader mix of students for STEM degrees, the corporate landscape will suffer accordingly. But black IT entrepreneurs and professionals tell Dice that the problem goes much deeper than simply widening the pipeline; they argue that racial bias, along with lingering impressions of what a 'techie' should look like, loom much larger than any pipeline issue. What do you think?"
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