waderoush writes "Adam Wiggins, co-founder of Heroku, agrees with anthropologist Bonnie Nardi that programming isn't just for geeks. The problem, he says, is that today's tools for teaching programming are woefully inadequate. In a commentary, Wiggins argues that there are two major gaps preventing programming tools from being accessible to beginners: 1) they're too fussy, requiring extensive setup, and 2) they're focused on the technology rather than everyday tasks. A good tool for learning programming, Wiggins argues, would emulate an Excel or Google Docs spreadsheet – beginners would be able to fire it up instantly, and would be able to get useful things done right away. (He's dismissive, though, of visual programming tools that 'attempt to hide logic behind a point-and-click interface.') 'Broad programming literacy is crucial in a world increasingly made of computers,' Wiggins says. 'Despite common stereotypes, programming is not out of reach for the average person,' as long as the tools are easy to set up and specialized on the programmer's task."
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New submitter redhat_redneck writes "The U.S. and Canada has been experiencing a shortage of barium sulfate, which is used as contrast for upper and lower GI studies. It has reached the point where doctors are being asked not to order these exams except in emergencies, and some exams are being cancelled. Here's the letter that's been put out by the manufacturer. The longer this drags on, the more serious this issue becomes, eventually impacting patients and healthcare providers in both cost and quality of care. Some sources point to a dramatic drop in Chinese production. In their defense, it seems China is changing safety regulations. Medical use only make a fraction of the uses of barium sulfate, but it's going to be disproportionately affected by this shortage. We can't go back to our old contrast Thorotrast; it causes cancer. Does anyone know of alternatives to barium?"
Spy Handler writes "A software update of the California welfare computer system (CalWIN) caused 37,000 Food Stamp recipients to lose their EBT (a credit card paid for by the government) benefits last weekend. According to the article, Hewlett Packard was responsible for the failed update of CalWIN, but at 8:00 a.m. today Xerox (who administers another state welfare system called CalFresh) issued a patch that reactivated the EBT cards."
slew writes "In the shadow of Stanford and Harvard offering free on-line courses, The University of California has been attempting to offer pay-courses for credit. UC online took out a $6.9M loan from UC and spent $4.3M to market these courses. For their efforts, they've been able to quadruple their enrollment year over year. The first year results: only one person not already attending UC paid $1,400 for an online pre-calculus class worth four credits. Now four non-UC are signed up. 'UC Online has to pay back the loan in seven years and expected to sell 7,000 classes to non-UC students for $1,400 or $2,400 apiece, depending on each course's duration. China was thought to be a lucrative potential source of students, but few expressed interest. The U.S. military also fell through.' Methinks head will roll on this one..."
adeelarshad82 writes "Ubuntu for smartphones may be pretty late to the smartphone ecosystem, but as the hands-on video demonstrates, Canonical has been paying attention. The operating system is just called Ubuntu, allowing the company to complete their illusion that this operating system offers everything that desktop Ubuntu runs. If you're a fan of the Unity UI you will find yourself right at home with this interface since every bit of Ubuntu has visual cues that come straight from Unity. As the video shows, the animations looked great, and the phone feels incredibly fast. The top bar of the OS has several icons across it, offering a quick glimpse into things like battery life, messages and others. Settings for every app are available by swiping up from the bottom of the screen, in a gesture that is quite similar to the one used in Windows 8 to access the menu. Given that it's early days for the OS, Ubuntu is far from perfect. For instance, their welcome screen allows for way too many apps to be rapidly accessible without a pin lock of some kind."
inode_buddha writes "After completing its bailout rescue and paying back the money with interest, AIG is considering suing the US Government for doing so. The reasons why? Among other things, the 14% interest rate paid to the government. 'The lawsuit does not argue that government help was not needed. It contends that the onerous nature of the rescue — the taking of what became a 92 percent stake in the company, the deal's high interest rates and the funneling of billions to the insurer's Wall Street clients — deprived shareholders of tens of billions of dollars and violated the Fifth Amendment, which prohibits the taking of private property for "public use, without just compensation." The former CEO and current major shareholder said: "The government has been saying, 'We're your friend, we owned and controlled you and we let you go.' But A.I.G. doesn't owe loyalty to the government," a person close to Mr. Greenberg said. "It owes loyalty to its shareholders."' The lawyer representing him is none other than David Boies of SCO fame."
arclightfire writes "Endgame:Syria billed itself as the first game to cover on ongoing war in a mashup of interactivity and journalism. However it seems like Apple is not happy with this idea, as PocketTactics reports; 'Apple's app guidelines have once again tripped up the release of a strategy game rooted in a real-world conflict. Auroch Digital's Endgame Syria has been rejected by Apple's approvals team for violating guidelines section 15.3, "solely target[ing] a specific race, culture, a real government or corporation, or any other real entity." If section 15.3 sounds familiar, it's because it was the clause invoked when Cupertino said no to Pacific Fleet back in September – the game ran afoul of the guidelines for including Japanese flags in a WWII naval sim.'"
New submitter Fnordulicious writes "Although Canada's anti-spam legislation is already in place, the rules to implement it have been under development for more than a year. This weekend the proposed rules from the Department of Industry were published in the Canada Gazette. Kady O'Malley reports on the CBC Inside Politics Blog that Canadian ISPs will not be allowed to secretly monitor activity except in the case that the activity is illegal and represents an 'imminent risk to the security of its network.' In addition, consent would be required for monitoring of legal activities 'that are merely unauthorized or suspicious.'"
Qedward writes "Software developed by the FBI and Ernst & Young has revealed the most common words used in email conversations among employees engaged in corporate fraud. The software, which was developed using the knowledge gained from real life corporate fraud investigations, pinpoints and tracks common fraud phrases like 'cover up,' write off,' 'failed investment,' 'off the books,' 'nobody will find out' and 'grey area'. Expressions such as 'special fees' and 'friendly payments' are most common in bribery cases, while fears of getting caught are shown in phrases such as 'no inspection' and 'do not volunteer information.'"
Dainsanefh writes with news that the new Congress isn't wasting any time getting back to work. From the article: "Lawmakers are still positioning themselves for a debt ceiling fight in a few months, but one Republican congressman wants to snuff out a particular idea immediately: the U.S. Treasury minting $1 trillion platinum coins to avert a debt ceiling showdown. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) has introduced a bill to specifically ban President Barack Obama from minting the coins. The trillion-dollar coin has been previously discussed on Slashdot:"
mikejuk writes "Every January it is traditional to compare the state of the languages as indicated by the TIOBE index. So what's up and what's down this year? There have been headlines that C# is the language of the year, but this is based on a new language index. What the TIOBE index shows is that Java is no longer number one as it has been beaten by C — yes C not C++ or even Objective C."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Netflix has released 'Janitor Monkey,' an open-source tool for killing old Amazon Web Services (AWS) instances, that began life as an in-house product. While those hosting a private data center will have little use for this scrubbin' simian, those enterprises with a public cloud can add Janitor Monkey to their administrative bag of tricks. The premise behind the tool is a simple one: while AWS allows for easy (and cheap) experimentation, it's easy for even the most diligent IT pro to rack up unnecessary costs when they forget to shut off a particular instance. While Netflix's Asgard tool—open-sourced in June, because this is how the company rolls—allows administrators to delete unused resources, Janitor Monkey takes things one step further by allowing those instances to be automatically found so that Asgard can clean them up. Over the past year, Janitor Monkey has deleted more than 5,000 resources running in the Netflix production and test environments, the company said. Janitor Monkey detects AWS instances, EBS volumes, EBS volume snapshots, and auto-scaling group."
An anonymous reader writes "We all knew it was just a matter of time, now it looks like Windows RT has been Jailbroken. From the article: 'The hack, performed by Clokr, exploits a vulnerability in the Windows kernel that has existed for a long time — since before Microsoft ported Windows from x86 to ARM, in fact. Basically, the Windows kernel on your computer is configured to only execute files that meet a certain level of authentication. There are four levels: Unsigned (0), Authenticode (4), Microsoft (8), and Windows (12). On your x86 Windows system, the default setting is Unsigned — you can run anything you like. With Windows RT, the default, hard-coded setting is Microsoft (8); i.e. only apps signed by Microsoft, or parts of Windows itself, can be executed.'"
A while ago you had the chance to ask founder of the GNU Project, and free software advocate, Richard Stallman, about GNU/Linux, free software, and anything else. You can read his answers to a wide range of questions below. As usual, RMS didn't pull any punches.