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Programming

It's Time To Revive Hypercard 31

Posted by timothy
from the overdue-as-open-source dept.
HughPickens.com writes HyperCard, an application program and programming tool released for the Apple Macintosh in 1987, represented the 'computing for the people' philosophy that enabled users to go past the pre-built software that came on their machines, and to program and build software of their own. "Mac users could use Hypercard to build their own mini-programs to balance their taxes, manage sports statistics, make music – all kinds of individualized software that would be useful (or fun) for individual users." Now Jer Thorp writes that the end of HyperCard left a huge gap that desperately needs to be filled – a space for an easy to use, intuitive tool that will once again let average computer users make their own tools. According to Throp, this type of plain-language programming makes sense, particularly in an application that was designed specifically for non-programmers. "I find the largest concern for learners to be not with the conceptual hurdles involved in writing a program, but with obscure and confusing syntax requirements. I would love to be able to teach HyperTalk to my students, as a smooth on-road to more complex languages like JavaScript, Java or C++." By putting the tools of creation into the hands of the broader userbase, we would allow for the creation of ultra-specific personalized apps that, aside from a few exceptions, don't exist today."

HyperTalk wasn't just easy, it was also fairly powerful. Complex object structures could be built to handle complicated tasks, and the base language could be expanded by a variety of available external commands and functions (XCMDs and XFCNs, respectively), which were precursors to the modern plug-in. But ultimately, HyperCard would disappear from Mac computers by the mid-nineties, eclipsed by web browsers and other applications which it had itself inspired. The last copy of HyperCard was sold by Apple in 2004. "One thing that's changed in the intervening decades is that the hobbyist has largely gone by the wayside. Now you're either a user or a full-fledged developer, and the gulf is wider than ever," writes Peter Cohen. "There's really nothing like it today, and I think the Mac is lesser for it."
Programming

Tao3D: a New Open-Source Programming Language For Real-Time 3D Animations 77

Posted by timothy
from the not-quite-minecraft dept.
descubes (35093) writes "Tao3D is a new open-source programming language designed for real-time 3D animations. With it, you can quickly create interactive, data-rich presentations, small applications, proofs of concept, user interface prototypes, and more. The interactivity of the language, combined with its simplicity and graphical aspects, make it ideal to teach programming.

Tao3D also demonstrates a lot of innovation in programming language design. It makes it very easy to create new control structures. Defining if-then-else is literally a couple of lines of code. The syntax to pass pass blocks of code to functions is completely transparent. And it is fully reactive, meaning that it automatically reacts as necessary to external events such as mouse movements or the passage of time.

The source code was just made available under the GNU General Public License v3 on SourceForge [as linked above], GitHub and Gitorious."
Graphics

Qualcomm Begins Contributing To Reverse-Engineered Freedreno Linux Driver 16

Posted by Soulskill
from the doing-it-right dept.
An anonymous reader writes: For over two years there's been a Freedreno driver project that's been reverse-engineering Qualcomm's Adreno graphics hardware. Freedreno consists of both a user-space Gallium3D driver providing OpenGL / OpenGL ES support and a DRM/KMS kernel driver to replace Qualcomm's open-source kernel driver designed just around Android's needs. The community-based, reverse-engineering Freedreno driver project is finally paying off and gaining critical momentum with Qualcomm now contributing to the driver. QuIC through the Aurora Forum provided Adreno A4xx hardware support to the Freedreno MSM kernel driver.
Education

Colleges Face New 'Gainful Employment' Regulations For Student Loans 286

Posted by Soulskill
from the degree-in-underwater-basketweaving-no-longer-being-offered dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Education Secretary Arne Duncan says the Education Department wants to make sure loan programs that prey on students don't continue their abusive practices. Now Kimberly Hefling reports that for-profit colleges who are not producing graduates capable of paying off their student loans could soon stand to lose access to federal student-aid programs. In order to receive federal student aid, the law requires that most for-profit programs, regardless of credential level, and most non-degree programs at non-profit and public institutions, including community colleges, prepare students for "gainful employment in a recognized occupation" (PDF). To meet these "gainful employment" standards, a program will have to show that the estimated annual loan payment of a typical graduate does not exceed 20 percent of his or her discretionary income or 8 percent of total earnings.

"Career colleges must be a stepping stone to the middle class. But too many hard-working students find themselves buried in debt with little to show for it. That is simply unacceptable," says Duncan. "These regulations are a necessary step to ensure that colleges accepting federal funds protect students, cut costs and improve outcomes. We will continue to take action as needed."

But not everyone is convinced the rules go far enough. "The rule is far too weak to address the grave misconduct of predatory for-profit colleges," writes David Halperin. "The administration missed an opportunity to issue a strong rule, to take strong executive action and provide real leadership on this issue." The final gainful employment regulations follow an extensive rulemaking process involving public hearings, negotiations and about 95,000 public comments and will go into effect on July 1, 2015.
The Internet

Hungary's Plans For Internet Tax On Hold After Protests 48

Posted by Soulskill
from the gigabit-off-more-than-they-could-chew dept.
An anonymous reader writes: When news broke last week that the Hungarian government was planning to tax internet traffic at a rate of about 62 cents per gigabyte, people on the internet were outraged. But it went beyond that: there were protests in the streets in Hungary, and the European Union warned against the plan. Now, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has put the plans on hold, saying, "This tax in its current form cannot be introduced." It's not completely dead — Orban has planned consultations over the next year to look for other ways to tax revenue generated over the internet.
United States

Statisticians Study Who Was Helped Most By Obamacare 626

Posted by samzenpus
from the looking-at-the-numbers dept.
HughPickens.com writes We know that about 10 million more people have insurance coverage this year as a result of the Affordable Care Act but until now it has been difficult to say much about who was getting that Obamacare coverage — where they live, their age, their income and other such details. Now Kevin Quealy and Margot Sanger-Katz report in the NYT that a new data set is providing a clearer picture of which people gained health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. The data is the output of a statistical model based on a large survey of adults and shows that the law has done something rather unusual in the American economy this century: It has pushed back against inequality, essentially redistributing income — in the form of health insurance or insurance subsidies — to many of the groups that have fared poorly over the last few decades. The biggest winners from the law include people between the ages of 18 and 34; blacks; Hispanics; and people who live in rural areas. The areas with the largest increases in the health insurance rate, for example, include rural Arkansas and Nevada; southern Texas; large swaths of New Mexico, Kentucky and West Virginia; and much of inland California and Oregon.

Despite many Republican voters' disdain for the Affordable Care Act, parts of the country that lean the most heavily Republican (according to 2012 presidential election results) showed significantly more insurance gains than places where voters lean strongly Democratic. That partly reflects underlying rates of insurance. In liberal places, like Massachusetts and Hawaii, previous state policies had made insurance coverage much more widespread, leaving less room for improvement. But the correlation also reflects trends in wealth and poverty. Many of the poorest and most rural states in the country tend to favor Republican politicians.
Education

Mark Zuckerberg And John Doerr Donate $1M To Expand The Hour Of Code Campaign 24

Posted by samzenpus
from the pay-up dept.
theodp writes Techcrunch reports that Mark Zuckerberg has donated $500K to expand the Hour of Code campaign, which aims to reach 100 million students this year with its learn-to-code tutorials, including its top-featured tutorial starring Zuckerberg (video). Techcrunch adds that Zuckerberg's donation will be matched by fellow tutorial team teacher Bill Gates (video), Microsoft, Reid Hoffman, Salesforce, Google, and others. Zuck and Gates appear to have a sizable captive audience — a Code.org District Partnership Model brochure on the code-or-no-HS-diploma-for-you Chicago Public Schools' website calls for partner districts to "hold a district-wide Hour of Code event each year" for three years.
News

Researchers Claim Metal "Patch" Found On Pacific Island Is From Amelia Earhart 91

Posted by samzenpus
from the lost-and-maybe-found dept.
An anonymous reader writes Amelia Earhart disappeared in 1937, but scientists may have now uncovered where she ended up. Researchers have identified a piece of aluminum, which washed up on a remote Pacific island, as dated to the correct time period and consistent with the design of Earhart's Lockheed Electra. From the article: "The warped piece of metal was uncovered on a 1991 voyage to the island of Nikumaroro in the Republic of Kiribati by The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), which has spent millions of dollars searching for Earhart's plane in a project that has involved hundreds of people. 'We don't understand how that patch got busted out of (the plane) and ended up on the island where we found it, but we have the patch, we have a piece of Earhart's aircraft,' TIGHAR executive director Ric Gillespie said."
Earth

New Study Shows Three Abrupt Pulses of CO2 During Last Deglaciation 124

Posted by samzenpus
from the it's-getting-hot-in-here dept.
vinces99 writes A new study shows that the increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide that contributed to the end of the last ice age more than 10,000 years ago did not occur gradually but rather was characterized by three abrupt pulses. Scientists are not sure what caused these abrupt increases, during which carbon dioxide levels rose about 10 to 15 parts per million – or about 5 percent per episode – during a span of one to two centuries. It likely was a combination of factors, they say, including ocean circulation, changing wind patterns and terrestrial processes. The finding, published Oct. 30 in the journal Nature, casts new light on the mechanisms that take the Earth in and out of ice ages.

"We used to think that naturally occurring changes in carbon dioxide took place relatively slowly over the 10,000 years it took to move out of the last ice age," said lead author Shaun Marcott, who did the work as a postdoctoral researcher at Oregon State University and is now at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "This abrupt, centennial-scale variability of CO2 appears to be a fundamental part of the global carbon cycle."

Previous research has hinted at the possibility that spikes in atmospheric carbon dioxide may have accelerated the last deglaciation, but that hypothesis had not been resolved, the researchers say. The key to the new finding is the analysis of an ice core from the West Antarctic that provided the scientists with an unprecedented glimpse into the past."
Security

Vulnerabilities Found (and Sought) In More Command-Line Tools 86

Posted by timothy
from the one-thing-at-a-time dept.
itwbennett writes The critical Shellshock vulnerabilities found last month in the Bash Unix shell have motivated security researchers to search for similar flaws in old, but widely used, command-line utilities. Two remote command execution vulnerabilities were patched this week in the popular wget download agent and tnftp client for Unix-like systems [also mentioned here]. This comes after a remote code execution vulnerability was found last week in a library used by strings, objdump, readelf and other command-line tools.
Television

A Mixed Review For CBS's "All Access" Online Video Streaming 81

Posted by timothy
from the hey-this-cord-appears-quite-intact dept.
lpress writes I tested CBS All Access video streaming. It has technical problems, which will be resolved, but I will still pass because they show commercials in addition to a $5.99 per month fee. Eventually, we will all cut the cord and have a choice of viewing modes — on-demand versus scheduled and with and without commercials — but don't expect your monthly bill to drop as long as our ISPs are monopolies or oligopolies.
Open Source

Slashdot Asks: Appropriate Place For Free / Open Source Software Artifacts? 42

Posted by timothy
from the you-haul dept.
A friend of mine who buys and sells used books, movies, etc. recently purchased a box full of software on CD, including quite a few old Linux distributions, and asked me if I'd like them. The truth is, I would like them, but I've already collected over the last two decades more than I should in the way of Linux distributions, on at least four kinds of media (starting with floppies made from a CD that accompanied a fat book on how to install some distribution or other -- very useful in the days of dialup). I've got some boxes (Debian Potato, and a few versions of Red Hat and Mandrake Linux), and an assortment of marketing knickknacks, T-shirts, posters, and books. I like these physical artifacts, and they're not dominating my life, but I'd prefer to actually give many of them to someplace where they'll be curated. (Or, if they should be tossed, tossed intelligently.) Can anyone point to a public collection of some kind that gathers physical objects associated with Free software and Open Source, and makes them available for others to examine? (I plan to give some hardware, like a pair of OLPC XO laptops, to the same Goodwill computer museum highlighted in this video, but they probably don't want an IBM-branded radio in the shape of a penguin.)
Businesses

Cutting the Cord? Time Warner Loses 184,000 TV Subscribers In One Quarter 386

Posted by timothy
from the jacked-up-my-bill-lately-too dept.
Mr D from 63 (3395377) writes Time Warner Cable's results have been buoyed recently by higher subscriber numbers for broadband Internet service. In the latest period, however, Time Warner Cable lost 184,000 overall residential customer relationships [Note: non-paywalled coverage at Bloomberg and Reuters]. The addition of 92,000 residential high-speed data customers was offset by 184,000 fewer residential video customers in the quarter. Triple play customers fell by 24,000, while residential voice additions were 14,000.
Security

Drupal Warns Users of Mass, Automated Attacks On Critical Flaw 75

Posted by timothy
from the big-targets-get-hit-first dept.
Trailrunner7 writes The maintainers of the Drupal content management system are warning users that any site owners who haven't patched a critical vulnerability in Drupal Core disclosed earlier this month should consider their sites to be compromised. The vulnerability, which became public on Oct. 15, is a SQL injection flaw in a Drupal module that's designed specifically to help prevent SQL injection attacks. Shortly after the disclosure of the vulnerability, attackers began exploiting it using automated attacks. One of the factors that makes this vulnerability so problematic is that it allows an attacker to compromise a target site without needing an account and there may be no trace of the attack afterward.

The world is moving so fast these days that the man who says it can't be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it. -- E. Hubbard

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