Perl 6 Released ( 145

Earlier this month, we noted the Perl 6 advent calendar. Now, an anonymous reader writes to note that, right on schedule, and after 15 years of work, Perl 6 has been released. The top two bullet points in the linked description say that the newest Perl "retains the core values of Perl: expressiveness, getting the job done, taking influences from natural language, and pushing the boundaries of language design," and that is "has clean, modern syntax, rooted in familiar constructs but revisiting and revising the things that needed it." However, while it's nice to see Perl 6 reach official release, the team behind it takes pains to note that work goes on: "We will continue to ship monthly releases, which will continue to improve performance and our user’s experience." Further, "[T]his Rakudo release is not considered the primary deliverable for this Christmas; it is the language specification, known as “roast” (Repository Of All Spec Tests), that is considered the primary deliverable."
Christmas Cheer

Another Internet Griswold's Controllable Christmas Lights 46

An anonymous reader writes: For over a decade, Alek's Controllable Christmas Lights have been a festive online holiday tradition for millions of Internet users world-wide, so it was sadly the end of an era last year, when the Griswold wanna-be hung up his Santa Hat in 2014. But with the "Internet of Things" being the rage these days, it didn't take long for another Griswold to emerge from the North Pole, or at least pretty darn close to it. Ken Woods from Fairbanks, Alaska has his house online 24 hours a day with a dozen ON/OFF buttons that Internet users can use to toggle his lights with a click of a mouse. Here's a video of it in action and he uses Amazon EC2 to power it online. (While that all looks real, low-UID /.'ers will remember that Alek did a simulation from 2002-2004 using Perl code to switch between a series of images. Looks like the prankster dusted off that code for the Control Christmas website.) I, for one, welcome our new Griswold Overlords with a big HO-HO-HO.

Perl 6 Gets Beta Compiler, Modules and an Advent Calendar ( 131

An anonymous reader writes: A "useful and usable distribution of Perl 6" was released Saturday, a new beta version of the Rakudo compiler to support the coming production release this Christmas. And there's already 467 Perl 6 modules on the new archive at (though Perl 6 will also be able to load modules written in other languages). "Perl has a huge community of avid users that continues to thrive in spite of detractors," says one developer, pointing to new applications for big data, in a new article reporting that over one million people have downloaded ActivePerl's own Perl distribution just in 2015. And this week also saw the release of two new "Advent Calendars" of programming tips, one for Perl 5 and one for Perl 6.

Symbolic vs. Mnemonic Relational Operators: Is "GT" Greater Than ">"? 304

theodp writes: "Mnemonic operators," writes SAS's Rick Wicklin as he weighs the pros-and-cons of Symbolic Versus Mnemonic Logical Operators, "tend to appear in older languages like FORTRAN, whereas symbolic operators are common in more recent languages like C/C++, although some relatively recent scripting languages like Perl, PHP, and Windows PowerShell also support mnemonic operators. SAS software has supported both operators in the DATA step since the very earliest days, but the SAS/IML language, which is more mathematically oriented, supports only the symbolic operators. Functionally, the operators are equivalent, so which ones you use is largely a matter of personal preference. Since consistency and standards are essential when writing computer programming, which operators should you choose?"

Larry Wall Unveils Perl 6.0.0 163

An anonymous reader writes: Last night Larry Wall unveiled the first development release of Perl 6, joking that now a top priority was fixing bugs that could be mistaken for features. The new language features meta-programming — the ability to define new bits of syntax on your own to extend the language, and even new infix operators. Larry also previewed what one reviewer called "exotic and new" features, including the sequence operator and new control structures like "react" and "gather and take" lists. "We don't want their language to run out of steam," Larry told the audience. "It might be a 30- or 40-year language. I think it's good enough."

Book Review: Effective Python: 59 Specific Ways To Write Better Python 71

MassDosage writes: If you are familiar with the "Effective" style of books then you probably already know how this book is structured. If not here's a quick primer: the book consists of a number of small sections each of which focus on a specific problem, issue or idea and these are discussed in a "here's the best way to do X" manner. These sections are grouped into related chapters but can be read in pretty much any order and generally don't depend on each other (and when they do this will be called out in the text). The idea is that you can read the book from cover to cover if you want but you can also just dip in and out and read only the sections that are of interest to you. This also means that you can use the book as a reference in future when you inevitably forget the details or want to double check something. Read below for the rest of Mass Dosage's review.

Larry Wall On Perl 6, Language Design, and Getting Kids To Code 133

M-Saunders writes: Perl 6 has been a long time in the making, but Larry Wall, the language's chief developer, now says it should arrive in time for Christmas. In this interview with Linux Voice, Wall explains why Perl 6 took so long, and describes how his background in linguistics influenced the design of the language. He also discusses ways to get kids interested in coding, and notes that Python has done a better job so far in this respect.

Perl 5.22 Released 92

kthreadd writes: Version 5.22 of the Perl programming language has just been released. A major new feature in this release is the double diamond operator; like the regular diamond operator it allows you to quickly read through files specified on the command line but does this in a much safer way by not evaluating special characters in the file names. Other new features include hexadecimal floating point numbers, improved variable aliasing and a nicer syntax for repetition in list assignment. Also, historical Perl modules and Module::Build are removed from the core distribution.

Ask Slashdot: Career Advice For an Aging Perl Developer? 271

New submitter ukrifleman writes: I've been doing UK based perl, JS, light PHP and JQUERY dev plus Centos/Debian sys admin on a freelance basis for over a decade now. Mostly maintaining older stuff but I also undertook a big, 3 year bespoke project (all written in legacy non OO perl). The trouble is, that contract has now finished and all the legacy work has dried out and I've only got about 2 months of income left! I need to get a full time job.

To most dev firms I'm going to look like a bit of a dinosaur, 40 odd years old, knows little of OO coding OR modern languages and aproaches to projects. I can write other languages and, with a bit of practice I'll pick them up pretty quickly. I really don't know where to start. What's hot, what's worth learning, I'm self-taught so have no CS degree, just 15 years of dev and sys admin experience. I've got a bit of team and project management experience too it's quite a worry going up against young whipper snappers that know all the buzz words and modern tech!

Am I better off trying to get a junior job to start so I can catch up with some tech? Would I be better off trawling the thousands of job sites or finding a bonafide IT specialist recruitment firm? Should I take the brutally honest approach to my CV/interviews or just wing it and hope I don't bite off more than I can chew? What kind of learning curve could I expect if I took on a new language I have no experience with? Are there any qualififcations that I NEED to have before firms would be willing to take me on? I've been sitting here at this desk for 10 years typing away and only now do I realise that I've stagnated to the point where I may well be obsolete!
Classic Games (Games)

(Hack) and Slash: Doing the LORD's Work 63

Emmett Plant (former Slashdot editor as well as video interviewee) writes: Legend of the Red Dragon was written by Seth Robinson in 1989, and it remains one of the most popular games of the DOS BBS era. Chris England has been doing his part to keep the game alive for the past twelve years, adapting an installation that runs on Linux. I was only able to play for two days before I was overcome with curiosity -- I wrote to Chris, politely inquiring as to how it all came together. Read on below for a look into Chris's motivations, the state of the project, and just how deeply nested it can all get, when bringing games from early BBS days into the modern era.

C Code On GitHub Has the Most "Ugly Hacks" 264

itwbennett writes: An analysis of GitHub data shows that C developers are creating the most ugly hacks — or are at least the most willing to admit to it. To answer the question of which programming language produces the most ugly hacks, ITworld's Phil Johnson first used the search feature on GitHub, looking for code files that contained the string 'ugly hack'. In that case, C comes up first by a wide margin, with over 181,000 code files containing that string. The rest of the top ten languages were PHP (79k files), JavaScript (38k), C++ (22k), Python (19k), Text (11k), Makefile (11k), HTML, (10k), Java (7k), and Perl (4k). Even when controlling for the number of repositories, C wins the ugly-hack-athon by a landslide, Johnson found.
Open Source

Perl 6 In Time For Next Christmas? 192

An anonymous reader writes Larry Wall has reportedly announced at Fosdem that "Perl 6 Developers will attempt to make a development release of Version 1.0 of Perl 6.0 in time for his 61st Birthday this year and a Version 1.0 release by Christmas 2015." From the article: "There is going to be the inevitable discussions, comments and probably some mileage from detractors to come. However ever were it so, for us in the Perl Community these are quite exciting times. We have two strong languages and a strong community, I think there is a lot that binds us together so here's looking forward to Christmas."

Is D an Underrated Programming Language? 386

Nerval's Lobster writes: While some programming languages achieved early success only to fall by the wayside (e.g., Delphi), one language that has quietly gained popularity is D, which now ranks 35 in the most recent Tiobe Index. Inspired by C++, D is a general-purpose systems and applications language that's similar to C and C++ in its syntax; it supports procedural, object-oriented, metaprogramming, concurrent and functional programming. D's syntax is simpler and more readable than C++, mainly because D creator Walter Bright developed several C and C++ compilers and is familiar with the subtleties of both languages. D's advocates argue that the language is well thought-out, avoiding many of the complexities encountered with modern C++ programming. So shouldn't it be more popular? The languages with the biggest gains this time around include JavaScript, PL/SQL, Perl, VB, and COBOL. (Yes, COBOL.) The biggest drops belonged to the six most popular languages: Objective-C, C, Java, C++, PHP, and C#.

How Relevant is C in 2014? 641

Nerval's Lobster 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?

Ask Slashdot: Professionally Packaged Tools For Teaching Kids To Program? 107

Binestar writes: I've been doing IT consulting for years, but I'm not a programmer beyond bash scripting, perl scripts to make administration easier, and batch files to make Windows easier. I recently found an online course for modding Minecraft that my 9-year-old daughter is really enjoying (she built a custom sword that shoots lightning). Does anyone have any recommendations on online courses that would be age appropriate and worth the investment? It's been easy to get her interested in the Minecraft modding course because, as any parent with young children knows, Minecraft is kinda popular...

The course she's taking now is teaching her Eclipse and Gimp, and I'm sure there are other tools installed that they haven't had her open yet. What other vendors have stuff worth introducing her to? I've also started looking at things like the Kano and Learn to Mod, but as a non-programmer, I'm not really sure which are most useful for introduction and which are accomplishing what they claim vs. being a waste of money/time.

Anyone have experience or suggestions to help sort this out?

Big Talk About Small Samples 246

Bennett Haselton writes: My last article garnered some objections from readers saying that the sample sizes were too small to draw meaningful conclusions. (36 out of 47 survey-takers, or 77%, said that a picture of a black woman breast-feeding was inappropriate; while in a different group, 38 out of 54 survey-takers, or 70%, said that a picture of a white woman breast-feeding was inappropriate in the same context.) My conclusion was that, even on the basis of a relatively small sample, the evidence was strongly against a "huge" gap in the rates at which the surveyed population would consider the two pictures to be inappropriate. I stand by that, but it's worth presenting the math to support that conclusion, because I think the surveys are valuable tools when you understand what you can and cannot demonstrate with a small sample. (Basically, a small sample can present only weak evidence as to what the population average is, but you can confidently demonstrate what it is not.) Keep reading to see what Bennett has to say.

Americans Rejoice At Lower Gas Prices 334 writes Drivers across America are rejoicing at falling gasoline prices as pumps across the country dip below $3 a gallon. According to Sharon E. Burke while it's nice to get the break at the gas pump and the economic benefits of an energy boom at home, the national security price of oil remains high and the United States should be doing everything it can to diversify global energy suppliers. Ultimately, the only way to solve our long term energy problem is to make a sustained, long-term investment in the alternatives to petroleum. But October saw a 52 percent jump in Jeep SUV sales and a 36 percent rise in Ram trucks while some hybrid and electric vehicle sales fell at the same time. "This is like putting a Big Mac in front of people who need to diet or watch their cholesterol," says Anthony Perl. "Some people might have the willpower to stick with their program, and some people will wait until their first heart attack before committing to a diet—but if we do that at a planetary scale it will be pretty traumatic."

Nicholas St. Fleur writes at The Atlantic that low oil prices may also undermine the message from the UN's climate panel. The price drop comes after the UN declared earlier this week that fossil fuel emissions must drop to zero by the end of the century in order to keep global temperatures in check. "I don't think people will see the urgency of dealing with fossil fuels today," says Perl. Falling oil prices may also deter businesses from switching to energy-saving technology, as a 2006 study in the Energy Journal suggested. Saving several pennies at the pump, Perl says, may tempt Americans away from actions that can lead to a sustainable, post-carbon future.

Goodbye, World? 5 Languages That Might Not Be Long For This World 547

Nerval's Lobster writes As developers embrace new programming languages, older languages can go one of two ways: stay in use, despite fading popularity, or die out completely. So which programming languages are slated for history's dustbin of dead tech? Perl is an excellent candidate, especially considering how work on Perl6, framed as a complete revamp of the language, began work in 2000 and is still inching along in development. Ruby, Visual Basic.NET, and Object Pascal also top this list, despite their onetime popularity. Whether the result of development snafus or the industry simply veering in a direction that makes a particular language increasingly obsolete, time comes for all platforms at one point or another. Which programming languages do you think will do the way of the dinosaurs in coming years? With COBOL still around, it's hard to take too seriously the claim that Perl or Ruby is about to die. A prediction market for this kind of thing might yield a far different list.

Ask Slashdot: What Old Technology Can't You Give Up? 635

An anonymous reader writes: It's the year 2014, and I still have a floppy drive installed on my computer. I don't know why; I don't own any floppy disks, and I haven't used one in probably a decade. But every time I put together a PC, it feels incomplete if I don't have one. I also have a Laserdisc player collecting dust at the bottom of my entertainment center, and I still use IRC to talk to a few friends. Software, hardware, or otherwise, what technology have you had a hard time letting go? (I don't want to put a hard limit on age, so you folks using flip-phones or playing on Dreamcasts or still inexplicably coding in Perl 4, feel free to contribute.)

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