Can Learning Smalltalk Make You A Better Programmer?

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Slashdot reader horrido shares an article that “has done more for Smalltalk advocacy than any other article in memory.” It was the second-most popular article of the year on the Hewlett Packard Enterprise site TechBeacon (recently passing 20,000 views), with Richard Eng, the founder of the nonprofit Smalltalk Renaissance, arguing that the 44-year-old language is much more than a tool for teachers — and not just because Amber Smalltalk transpiles to JavaScript for front-end web programming.
It’s a superlative prototyping language for startups. It’s an industrial-strength enterprise language used by businesses both big and small all around the globe… Smalltalk’s implementation of the object-oriented paradigm is so excellent that it has influenced an entire generation of OO languages, such as Objective-C, Python, Ruby, CLOS, PHP 5, Perl 6, Erlang, Groovy, Scala, Dart, Swift, and so on. By learning Smalltalk, you’ll understand how all of those useful features in today’s OO languages came to be.
The article also argues that Smalltalk pioneered just-in-time compilation and virtual machines, the model-view-controller design paradigm, and to a large extent, even test-driven development. But most importantly, Smalltalk’s reliance on domain-specific languages makes it “the ‘purest’ OO, and one of the earliest… It is often said that programming in Smalltalk or Python is rather like Zen; your mind just flows effortlessly with the task. This is the beauty and value of language simplicity, and Smalltalk has this in spades… Smalltalk, by virtue of its object purity and consistency, will give you a profoundly better understanding of object-oriented programming and how to use it to its best effect.”

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Google and Facebook Dominate The List of 2016’s Top Ten Apps

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After surveying over 9,000 Android and iPhone users, Nielsen’s “Electronic Mobile Measurement” has calculated the 10 most popular apps of 2016. Interestingly, the #1 and #2 most popular apps of the year were Facebook and Facebook Messenger.

BrianFagioli writes: Facebook holds the first, second, and eighth spots — remember, the company owns Instagram too. Google has the most number of spots in the top 10, with three, four, five, six, and seven [YouTube, Google Maps, Google Search, Google Play, and Gmail]. Rounding out the bottom of the list is Apple [for Apple Music] and Amazon. Google Play is sort of a weird inclusion, however, as it is the app which downloads other apps — it probably should have been excluded. Amazon saw insane growth, seeing a massive 43 percent year-over-year gain. Instagram comes in at second place with 36 percent. Facebook Messenger scores the third spot. The biggest surprise is that Apple Music is the top streaming music app, beating apps like Pandora and Spotify…because other music apps had huge head-starts.

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Creepy Site Claims To Reveal Torrenting Histories

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Slashdot reader dryriver writes: The highly invasive and possibly Russian owned and operated website IKnowWhatYouDownload.com immediately shows [a] bittorent download history for your IP address when you land on it. What’s more, it also [claims to] show the torrenting history of any specific IP address you enter, and also of IP addresses similar to yours, so you can see what others near you — perhaps the nice neighbours in the house next door — have downloaded when they thought nobody was looking…
There is also a nasty little “Track Downloads” feature that lets you send a “trick URL” to somebody else. When they click on the URL — thinking its something cool on Facebook, Twitter or the general internet — THEY see what they URL promised, but YOU get sent their entire torrenting history, including anything embarrassing or otherwise compromising content they may have downloaded in private… The website appears to offer an API, customized download reports and more to interested parties in the hopes of generating big cash from making other people’s torrenting activities public.
It’s not clear whether this site is really revealing the information it claims to — or whether it can filter out the fake IP addresses provided by many downloaders. But putting that aside, it does raise an important question. Is it technologically possible to build a site that tracks and reveals torrenting histories based on IP addresses?

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Astronomers Detect Mysterious Radio Signals Coming From Outside Our Galaxy

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This week the New York Post reported on “powerful radio signals which have been detected repeatedly in the same exact location in space,” generating as much energy as the sun does in a whole day, in “the only known instance in which these signals have been found twice in the same location in space.” Slashdot reader schwit1 quotes Science Alert:
Back in March, scientists detected 10 powerful bursts of radio signals coming from the same location in space. And now researchers have just picked up six more of the signals seemingly emanating from the same region, far beyond our Milky Way… Currently, the leading hypothesis for the source of the Milky Way’s FRB is the cataclysmic collision of two neutron stars, which forms a black hole. The idea is that as this collision happens, huge amounts of short-lived radio energy are blasted out into space. But the repeating nature of these distant signals, all coming from the same place, suggest that can’t be the case… the most likely hypothesis at the moment for these outer-galactic FRB is that they’re coming from an exotic object such as a young neutron star, that’s rotating with enough power to regularly emit the extremely bright pulses.
But the New York Post thinks it’s aliens.

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‘Watership Down’ Author Richard Adams Died On Christmas Eve At Age 96

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Initially rejected by several publishers, “Watership Down” (1972) went on to become one of the best-selling fantasy books of all time. Last Saturday the book’s author died peacefully at the age of 96. Long-time Slashdot reader haruchai remembers some of the author’s other books: In addition to his much-beloved story about anthropomorphic rabbits, Adams penned two fantasy books set in the fictional Beklan Empire, first Shardik (1974) about a hunter pursuing a giant bear he believes to be imbued with divine power, and Maia (1984), a peasant girl sold into slavery who becomes entangled in a war between neighboring countries. Adams also wrote a collection of short stories called “Tales From Watership Down” in 1996, and the original “Watership Down” was also made into a movie and an animated TV series. In announcing his death, Richard’s family also included a quote from the original “Watership Down”.

“It seemed to Hazel that he would not be needing his body any more, so he left it lying on the edge of the ditch, but stopped for a moment to watch his rabbits and to try to get used to the extraordinary feeling that strength and speed were flowing inexhaustibly out of him into their sleek young bodies and healthy senses.

“‘You needn’t worry about them,’ said his companion. ‘They’ll be alright — and thousands like them.'”

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Microsoft Patent Suggests HoloLens Could Keep Track of Your Small Items

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A new Microsoft patent has been published that describes a system that would let its HoloLens glasses track small items like car keys, ultimately helping users find their lost belongings. What’s more is that the system can “monitor the status of objects without any instructions from users, keeping tabs on anything that’s important to their lives,” writes Adi Robertson via The Verge. From the report: The patent’s basic idea is pretty simple. HoloLens has outward-facing cameras that can make a spatial map of a room, and machine vision technology can identify or track specific objects in an image. So if, for example, you put your keys down on a table, HoloLens could hypothetically spot them through the camera and quietly note their position. When you’re about to leave the house, it could give you the keys’ last known location, even if they’ve since been covered up by a newspaper or slipped under a couch cushion. But what’s really interesting isn’t the idea of HoloLens tracking an object. It’s HoloLens learning what items matter to you and choosing what to follow, before you ever worry about losing something. To be clear, you could designate objects: one example has a traveler telling HoloLens to track their passport while abroad. In other cases, though, it could check to see how often you interact with an object, or when you move it around, and start tracking anything that hits a certain threshold.

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The best deals of 2016 from the Boing Boing Store

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The Boing Boing Store had plenty of great items over the past year, but these 8 deals top each catagory. From course bundles in an array of professional programming and IT subjects to futuristic vaporizers, this guide features healthy discounts on leading tech finds.

Twisty Glass Blunt – $34.99

Rolling your own without destroying the paper with saliva is tricky without ample practice. This elegant glass pipe eliminates the hassle with a clever corkscrew design that holds up to 1.5 grams of tobacco. This deal will only be available until midnight of December 26th .

Buy Now: $34.99, 30% Off

Ultimate Unity3D Game Building Bundle – $32 

The Unity3D development environment has made creating video games remarkably accessible. With this game development bundle, you will learn the fundamentals of 3D modeling, physics simulation, and game analytics. 

Buy Now: $32, 90% off

A-Audio Legacy Noise Cancelling Headphones – $79.99

Eliminating background noise is an easy way to significantly improve your music listening experience. These headphones go beyond passive over-ear sound isolation with additionally enhanced bass and active noise cancelling. This deal goes away at midnight on December 27th.

Buy Now: $79.99, 73% off

The Complete Raspberry Pi 3 Starter Kit – $99

The Raspberry Pi compact computer offers a welcoming platform for creating custom electronics projects. This introductory bundle supplies a Raspberry Pi 3, a variety of components, and six detailed courses. 

Buy Now: The Complete Raspberry Pi 3 Starter Kit

Python Programming Bootcamp – $39.00

With a design that encourages equally readable code in small- and large-scale programs, Python is one of the most popular programming languages around. If you want to learn the language behind everything from YouTube to a variety of scientific computing applications, pick up this course bundle.

Buy Now: $39, 96% off

Code Black Drone with HD Camera – $89

Quadcopter drones are great fun, and this one doubles as an aerial photographer with its built-in HD video camera. Enjoy ultra-smooth flight right out of the box for up to 10 minutes at a time with the intuitive remote control.

Buy Now: $89, 70% off

Ghost Indoor HDTV Antenna – $15.99

You don’t need an expensive cable subscription to get local broadcasts on your television. This antenna receives high-quality HDTV signals without any monthly fees. This deal lasts unt

Foxconn and Sharp Team Up To Build $8.8 Billion LCD Plant In China

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Foxconn was in the news recently for plans to “automate entire factories” in China, but the electronics manufacturing company has also announced plans with Sharp to build a $8.8 billion (61 million yuan) factory in China to produce liquid-crystal displays (LCDs). Reuters reports: Sakai Display Products Corp’s plant will be a so-called Gen-10.5 facility specializing in large-screen LCDs and will be operational by 2019, the company said at a signing event with local officials in Guangzhou on Friday. It said the plant will have capacity equating to 92 billion yuan a year. The heavy investment is aimed at increasing production to meet expected rising demand for large-screen televisions and monitors in Asia. Sakai Display Products Corp’s plans for the Guangzhou plant come as Hon Hai seeks to turn the joint venture into a subsidiary, investing a total of 15.1 billion yuan in the company. The venture will also sell 436,000 shares for 17.1 billion yuan to an investment co-owned by Hon Hai Chairman Terry Gou, giving Hon Hai a 53 percent interest in the business and lowering Sharp’s stake from to 26 percent from 40 percent.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

NASA Designs ‘Ice Dome’ For Astronauts On Mars

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An anonymous reader quotes a report from Phys.Org: The “Mars Ice Home” is a large inflatable dome that is surrounded by a shell of water ice. NASA said the design is just one of many potential concepts for creating a sustainable home for future Martian explorers. The idea came from a team at NASA’s Langley Research Center that started with the concept of using resources on Mars to help build a habitat that could effectively protect humans from the elements on the Red Planet’s surface, including high-energy radiation. The advantages of the Mars Ice Home is that the shell is lightweight and can be transported and deployed with simple robotics, then filled with water before the crew arrives. The ice will protect astronauts from radiation and will provide a safe place to call home, NASA says. But the structure also serves as a storage tank for water, to be used either by the explorers or it could potentially be converted to rocket fuel for the proposed Mars Ascent Vehicle. Then the structure could be refilled for the next crew. Other concepts had astronauts living in caves, or underground, or in dark, heavily shielded habitats. The team said the Ice Home concept balances the need to provide protection from radiation, without the drawbacks of an underground habitat. The design maximizes the thickness of ice above the crew quarters to reduce radiation exposure while also still allowing light to pass through ice and surrounding materials.

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Inferno JS: Build and Authenticate an App – Part III

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Don’t forget to read Parts I and II before jumping in!

Authenticate an Inferno App With Auth0

The last thing we’ll do is add Auth0 authentication to our Inferno app. At the moment, our sample dinosaur API doesn’t have any secured endpoints—but if we need them in the future, Auth0’s JSON Web Token authentication can help.

Apple Patent Hints At Magnetic Ear Hooks To Keep Future AirPods In Your Ears

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Patently Apple has recently uncovered a new Apple patent that may help AirPods stay in your ears. The patent details a magnetic mechanism that wraps around the user’s ear. Digital Trends reports: The magnets attract each other through the ear tissue, keeping the AirPods in place and ensuring that they don’t get lost. Of course, it’s not certain if Apple filed this patent with AirPods in mind — one of the images clearly shows a wired pair of headphones, and the patent was filed in June. The concept, however, would help keep both wired and wireless earbuds in place. The issue of keeping AirPods in the ear has been arguably the biggest issue related to the AirPods, and for good reason — they’re pretty expensive little devices, so losing them is definitely not something you want to do. It’s possible that Apple decided against using the ear hooks for aesthetic reasons — Apple is known for its excellent design and the ear hooks in the patent don’t exactly look great. Not only that but the design of the charging case would have to change with the ear hooks. Some reports indicate that the patent could be implemented with future versions and given the hullaballoo surrounding keeping AirPods in, we wouldn’t be totally surprised. It’s also possible, however, that Apple patented the design but ultimately ended up nixing it.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Self-Driving Cars Will Make Organ Shortages Even Worse

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One of the many ways self-driving cars will impact the world is with organ shortages. It’s a morbid thought, but the most reliable sources for healthy organs and tissues are the more than 35,000 people killed each year on American roads. According to the book “Driverless: Intelligent Cars and the Road Ahead,” 1 in 5 organ donations comes from the victim of a vehicular accident. Since an estimated 94 percent of motor-vehicle accidents involve some kind of a driver error, it’s easy to see how autonomous vehicles could make the streets and highways safer, while simultaneously making organ shortages even worse. Slate reports: As the number of vehicles with human operators falls, so too will the preventable fatalities. In June, Christopher A. Hart, the chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, said, “Driverless cars could save many if not most of the 32,000 lives that are lost every year on our streets and highways.” Even if self-driving cars only realize a fraction of their projected safety benefits, a decline in the number of available organs could begin as soon as the first wave of autonomous and semiautonomous vehicles hits the road — threatening to compound our nation’s already serious shortages. We’re all for saving lives — we aren’t saying that we should stop self-driving cars so we can preserve a source of organ donation. But we also need to start thinking now about how to address this coming problem. The most straightforward fix would be to amend a federal law that prohibits the sale of most organs, which could allow for development of a limited organ market. Organ sales have been banned in the United States since 1984, when Congress passed the National Organ Transplant Act after a spike in demand (thanks to the introduction of the immunosuppressant cyclosporine, which improved transplant survival rates from 20-30 percent to 60-70 percent) raised concerns that people’s vital appendages might be “treated like fenders in an auto junkyard.” Others feared an organ market would exploit minorities and those living in poverty. But the ban hasn’t completely protected those populations, either. The current system hasn’t stopped organ harvesting — the illegal removal of organs from the recently deceased without the consent of the person or family — either in the United States or abroad. It is estimated that, worldwide, as many as 10,000 black market medical operations are performed each year that involve illegally purchased organs. So what would an ethical fix to our organ transplant shortage look like? To start, while there’s certainly a place for organ donation markets in the United States, implementation will be understandably slow. There are, however, small steps that can get us closer to a just system. For one, the country could consider introducing a “presumed consent” rule. This would change state organ donation registries from affirmative opt-in systems (checking that box at the DMV that yes, you do want to be an organ donor) to an affirmative opt-out system where, unless you state otherwise, you’re presumed to consent to be on the list.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Ask Slashdot: Why Are Some Great Games Panned and Some Inferior Games Praised?

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dryriver writes: A few years ago I bought a multiplayer war game called Soldner: Secret Wars that I had never heard of before. (The game is entirely community maintained now and free to download and play at www.soldnersecretwars.de.) The professional reviews completely and utterly destroyed Soldner — buggy, bad gameplay, no single-player mode, disappointing graphics, server problems and so on. For me and many other players who did give it a chance beyond the first 30 minutes, Soldner turned out to be the most fun, addictive, varied, satisfying and multi-featured multiplayer war game ever. It had innovative features that AAA titles like Battlefield and COD did not have at all at the time — fully destructible terrain, walls and buildings, cool physics on everything from jeeps flying off mountaintops to Apache helicopters crashing into Hercules transport aircraft, to dozens of trees being blown down by explosions and then blocking an incoming tank’s way. Soldner took a patch or three to become fully stable, but then was just fun, fun, fun to play. So much freedom, so much cool stuff you can do in-game, so many options and gadgets you can play with. By contrast, the far, far simpler — but better looking — Battlefield, COD, Medal Of Honor, CounterStrike war games got all the critical praise, made the tens of millions in profit per release, became longstanding franchises and are, to this day, not half the fun to play that Soldner is. How does this happen? How does a title like Soldner, that tried to do more new stuff than the other war games combined, get trashed by every reviewer, and then far less innovative and fun to play war games like BF, COD, CS sell tens of millions of copies per release and get rave reviews all around?

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Smart Electricity Meters Can Be Dangerously Insecure, Warns Expert

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An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Smart electricity meters, of which there are more than 100 million installed around the world, are frequently “dangerously insecure,” a security expert has said. The lack of security in the smart utilities raises the prospect of a single line of malicious code cutting power to a home or even causing a catastrophic overload leading to exploding meters or house fires, according to Netanel Rubin, co-founder of the security firm Vaultra. If a hacker took control of a smart meter they would be able to know “exactly when and how much electricity you’re using,” Rubin told the 33rd Chaos Communications Congress in Hamburg. An attacker could also see whether a home had any expensive electronics. “He can do billing fraud, setting your bill to whatever he likes […] The scary thing is if you think about the power they have over your electricity. He will have power over all of your smart devices connected to the electricity. This will have more severe consequences: imagine you woke up to find you’d been robbed by a burglar who didn’t have to break in. “But even if you don’t have smart devices, you are still at risk. An attacker who controls the meter also controls the meter’s software, allowing him to cause it to literally explode.” The problems at the heart of the insecurity stem from outdated protocols, half-hearted implementations and weak design principles. To communicate with the utility company, most smart meters use GSM, the 2G mobile standard. That has a fairly well-known weakness whereby an attacker with a fake mobile tower can cause devices to “hand over” to the fake version from the real tower, simply by providing a strong signal. In GSM, devices have to authenticate with towers, but not the other way round, allowing the fake mast to send its own commands to the meter. Worse still, said Rubin, all the meters from one utility used the same hardcoded credentials. “If an attacker gains access to one meter, it gains access to them all. It is the one key to rule them all.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

34% off TurboTax Deluxe 2016 Tax Software Federal & State – Deal Alert

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Apple To Cut iPhone Production By 10%: Nikkei

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A new report from Nikkei Asian Review says that Apple will cut iPhone production by around 10% in the first quarter of 2017. From the report: This comes after the company slashed output in January-March 2016 due to accumulated inventory of the iPhone 6s line at the end of 2015. That experience led Apple to curb production of the iPhone 7, introduced in September, by around 20%. But the phones still have sold more sluggishly than expected. Information on production of the latest models and global sales suggests cuts in both the 7 and 7 Plus lines in the coming quarter. The larger iPhone 7 Plus, which features two cameras on its back face, remains popular. But a shortage of camera sensors has curbed Apple’s ability to meet demand for the phones. U.S. research company IDC forecasts global smartphone shipments in 2016 on par with the 2015 level. Even Apple has had difficulty creating appealing new features, stifling demand from customers who otherwise would look to upgrade to the latest device.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Microsoft Is No Longer Selling Any Lumia Windows Phones On Its US Store

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An anonymous reader quotes a report from Neowin: It seems that Lumia has reached the end of the line, as the Microsoft Store is no longer selling any of the company’s Windows Phone 8.1 or Windows 10 Mobile handsets in the U.S. The first signs that the end was approaching for Lumia came back in February, when Microsoft launched the Lumia 650, which was said to be the last in the company’s Lumia line. In August, Microsoft removed all mention of Windows handsets from its U.S. store homepage, relegating ‘Windows phone’ to a dropdown menu instead. This week, just one Lumia handset remained on sale: the ATT-locked Lumia 950, available only in white. Now, that model has sold out too, leaving none of the company’s Lumia handsets available to buy on its store. The Windows phones page on the Microsoft Store lists thirteen products, but eight of these are out of stock. When more stock is expected on a temporarily sold-out product, Microsoft typically replaces the ‘Add to cart’ button with one that says ‘Email me when available’. Instead, each of these products now has a grayed-out button, stating “Out of stock.”

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Postal, the Legendarily Violent Video Game by Running With Scissors, Is Now Open Source

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An anonymous reader writes: Video game developer Running With Scissors has announced that it is open sourcing the original version of its most popular title-Postal, which was released back in 1997. Even though violence in video games has been a topic of debate for over decades now, Postal has been one of the most criticised games out of the lot. Running With Scissors has published the code for the game on Bitbucket under the GPL2 license and further said that it is entrusting the fans with the fate of its game. “Anyone with the time and skills can now tweak/change/update/modify anything in the game at all!” the company was quoted as saying in the report. Postal is popularly known for being termed “digital poison” by US Senator Joe Lieberman but developed an audience for itself over the years. Earlier this year, a high-definition remaster of the game called Postal Redux was released on Steam as well as PS4.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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