How do you judge a Java programmer with only 5 questions? Wednesday, Apr 22 2015 

Miguel Paraz

Miguel Paraz, Know a few languages by heart

Some questions that will lead to interesting discussions and will help tell you more about the programmer. (And would anyone like to answer!)

  • What programming languages do you use besides Java? How do they influence your Java programming? When do you choose to use Java?
  • What are some complex systems you have built in Java? How does the Java code follow from the requirements? Could you explain them in terms of simpler systems, or in terms of frameworks and libraries they use?
  • coffee prisonerWhat is the most interesting standard Java API class, interface, or package? How does it work? How have you used it?
  • What is Object-Oriented Programming? How does Java fulfil the requirements of OOP? Do you strictly follow the principles of Java OOP programming, or do you adjust it to your needs?
  • How does the JVM work? How does the JVM work with bytecode, with memory allocation, and garbage collection?

http://www.quora.com/How-do-you-judge-a-Java-programmer-with-only-5-questions

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Droning on about drones Wednesday, Apr 22 2015 

I have met a guy who built his own drone for about $400.  It is possible to buy an assembled drone costing from $55.00 to more than $2,000.  There are many DIY drone kits with almost the same price range as the assembled drones.  A Google search for build your own drone returned About 4,910,000 results (0.44 seconds).  This is going to be a lot of fun until ‘they’ start passing laws about it.

When I was a kid, in the last millennium, we spent hours building a balsa wood model plane with a ‘049’ gasoline engine and flew it in circles held by hand with a string.   You go with what ya’ got and call it fun!

https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=build+your+own+drone

http://mashable.com/2015/04/21/parrot-bebop-drone-review/

The Parrot Bebop is a drone enthusiast’s dream

Headshot_2015_LanceUlanoff

Written by Lance Ulanoff is Chief Correspondent and Editor-at-Large of Mashable.

Gazing straight up into a partially cloudy sky, I could just make out the Parrot Bebop drone buzzing overhead. I looked down at the formidable Skycontroller and attached iPad Air 2 in my hands where I could see the drone’s magnificent view. I could make out water towers in the distance. They were easily two towns away.

This looked and felt like pro-level drone flying though at $899 for the package, I guess I shouldn’t have expected any less.

A follow-up to Parrot’s entry-level AR.Drone 2.0, the Bebop drone is a quadrocopter with serious speed, impressive camera capabilities and, with the Skycontroller option, a remarkable level of control.

I flew Bebop both indoors and out and, once I learned how to fly, I didn’t want to stop.

There are two options for flying Bebop. You can make what’s known as a direct ad-hoc Wi-Fi connection to a smartphone or tablet running Parrot’s Freeflight 3 software. As soon as you turn on the drone, it becomes a Wi-Fi beacon that my iPad Air 2 easily found.

If you plan on using the Skycontroller — as I did — you don’t have to connect to the drone. Instead, each Bebop is pre-paired with its Skycontroller, which, like the drone, is a Wi-Fi hub. Once the tablet is paired with it, the Skycontroller takes care of the rest.

You can fly the Bebop drone without a tablet (the Skycontroller is actually an Android-based device with built-in Freeflight software), but then you won’t see what the drone is capturing on its powerful camera.

If you do use a tablet as your viewfinder, it sits in an adjustable holder, right between the two joysticks and just below the giant antenna. You can tighten up the tablet holder so it feels secure. My iPad Air 2 never slid around or dropped out of it.

To a certain extent, the Skycontroller is just a hardware recreation of the Freeflight software. It has two aluminum joysticks for controlling direction, attitude, pitch, yaw and speed. It adds hardware buttons for many of the soft controls, like “Return Home” and “Take a picture.” But it also adds significantly to the Bebop drone’s range.  Without the Skycontroller, your drone can fly 800 feet or so. With it, the range increases to more than a mile (or 2 kilometers).

The Skycontroller also includes two radio frequency settings: 2.4GHz and 5GHz, with the latter offering more precise control over the drone. For the purposes of my test flights, I used the 2.4GHz setting, but I also never let the drone fly beyond my line of sight. Yes, I love testing gadgets, but don’t really want to get arrested for using them.

The drone comes with foam bumpers that you can attach and use when flying indoors. They protect walls and people from getting caught in the high-speed copter blades, which also include a safety feature that stops them from spinning the instant they detect any resistance. That came in handy when I occasionally crashed the Bebop drone into walls, chairs, trees and bushes (what can I say — it took me a little while to master flying the drone).

Built from plastic, aluminum and foam, the drone is surprisingly robust. It took numerous hits and kept on flying. One time I hit the emergency button on the Skycontroller and the drone’s motors stopped, making it drop out of the sky. The 20-foot drop left it scuffed, but otherwise undamaged. The Bebop drone/Skycontroller bundle does ship with a full set of replacement propellers, which are easy to remove and replace.

Always watching and in control

Parrot equipped the Bebop with an impressive 14-megapixel 180-degree camera that is always recording 1080p video directly to the drone’s s 8GB of onboard storage. You’ll get an onscreen message when it runs out of space. You can offload the videos by connecting the drone to a computer (it has a built-in microUSB port). The only downside here is the Bebop has to be on if you want to download the videos.

That camera, by the way, is kept on a digital, three-axis gimbal, which keeps the video perfectly stable during even the roughest of flights. Normally, I would prefer optical image stabilization, but this digital version is so good, you might mistake it for optical. Video quality on a bright, sunny day was impressive, though I wish Parrot had included better high-dynamic range capabilities: The drone had trouble keeping the foreground decently exposed when pointed toward sunlight.

I can’t say enough about the precision control available with the Skycontroller. With it, the drone could turn on a dime. It could also fly at almost 30 miles per hour, which made for some pretty dramatic shots. Yes, strong winds could blow Bebop off course, but it was easy to use the Skycontroller to get it back on track and take it where I wanted to go.

Bebop is more than just a remote control flying device; it’s a robot. If you’re not controlling it with a tablet or the Skycontroller, it will simply hover in the air, awaiting your command. It does so thanks to the sensors inside that include a barometric pressure sensor, accelerometer, gyroscope and magnetometer — and it has a low-res camera in its belly for smooth landings. There’s also built-in GPS so the drone knows where it is, even if you can’t see it.

Without all these sensors, I’m certain I could not have flown the Bebop drone as well as I did.

Caveats

I loved flying the Bebop with the Skycontroller, but the RC is a bit of a beast. Parrot acknowledges as much by including a neck strap for the controller. I didn’t bother with it, though. With just 11 minutes of fly time per charge, it’s unlikely you’ll experience too much arm fatigue.

Yes, you heard me right:   Just 11 minutes of fly time per charge and it takes the batteries an hour to charge.

Just 11 minutes of fly time per charge and it takes the batteries an hour to charge. The $899 kit ships with three batteries, so if you have everything charged up and put one battery in the controller, you’ll have more than 20 minutes of fly time.

The bad news is that the Parrot batteries were flakey. One refused to charge up and the others would only charge 80% of the time. At other times, I put them into the charger and it would just blink red. A continuous red was what I was looking for; solid green meant fully charged. Parrot told me they have not seen similar issues or received complaints about the batteries. However, I had no trouble finding people discussing the exact same issue on Parrot’s Bebop discussion boards.

It’s also worth noting that for as rugged as the Bebop is, I did see a couple of minor build-quality issues on the drone and the controller. On the controller, the power button immediately popped off. I put it back in place and then a few days later, it popped off again. It’s back in place… for now.

Also, the power button on the drone got jammed. I was able to reseat it with a thin screwdriver, but this was not encouraging.

Can’t keep a good drone down

To be fair, these are complex products and these may simply be earmarks of V1 hardware. Neither build issue stopped me from my overall enjoyment of the product.

Is the Bebop and Skycontroller package pricey? Yes, but for under $900, you are getting a pro-level drone with the ability to capture cinematic video. If you learn how to use the GPS, you can program in a pretty impressive overhead tracking shot that then moves down to ground level. The shots are so steady that people will assume you used a giant rig and Steadicam to capture them.

The product is just that good.

Parrot’s Bebop drone offers an impressive level of depth and control, which, to be frank, we can’t fit inside this review. It can preload maps if your control tablet lacks cellular connectivity to show you where the drone is even when you can’t see it. It can return to a preset home position with the touch of a button. You can shoot timelapse video in-flight and even hook up the Skycontroller to a pair of virtual reality goggles for a more immersive drone flight experience.

If you have a creative bent, the sky is literally the limit with the Parrot Bebop and Skycontroller.

Parrot Bebop Drone and Skycontroller

The Good

Smart Powerful Fast and responsive Great camera Addictive

The Bad

There’s a learning curve Battery issues Limited fly time

The Bottom Line

If you want pro-level drone flying but do not want to spend thousands of dollars, Bebop and the Skycontroller is the drone package you’ve been looking for.

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

Woolly Mammoth DNA Inserted into Elephant Cells Wednesday, Apr 1 2015 

The idea of bringing extinct animals back to life continues to reside in the realm of science fiction. But scientists have taken a small step closer to that goal, by inserting the DNA of a woolly mammoth into lab-grown elephant cells.

NGS Picture ID:122644

Harvard geneticist George Church and his colleagues used a gene-editing technique known as CRISPR to insert mammoth genes for small ears, subcutaneous fat, and hair length and color into the DNA of elephant skin cells. The work has not yet been published in a scientific journal, and has yet to be reviewed by peers in the field.

Woolly mammoths (Mammuthus primigenius) have been extinct for millennia, with the last of the species dying out about 3,600 years ago. But scientists say it may be possible to bring these and other species back from the grave, through a process known as de-extinction. [Photos: 6 Extinct Animals That Could Be Brought Back to Life]

But we won’t be seeing woolly mammoths prancing around anytime soon, “because there is more work to do,” Church told U.K.’s The Times, according to Popular Science. “But we plan to do so,” Church added.

Splicing mammoth DNA into elephant cells is only the first step in a lengthy process, Church said. Next, they need to find a way to turn the hybrid cells into specialized tissues, to see if they produce the right traits. For instance, the researchers need to make sure the mammoth genes produce hair of the right color and texture.

After that, the team plans to grow the hybrid cells in an artificial womb; scientists and animal-rights advocates have deemed it unethical to grow them in a living elephant’s womb.

If the researchers can get these hybrid mammoth-elephants to survive, they hope to engineer an elephant that can survive in cold climates, where it should face fewer threats from humans. Only once the team can get these hybrid creatures to survive will they incorporate more mammoth DNA into the elephant’s genome, with the ultimate goal of reviving the ancient beasts.

But woolly mammoths aren’t the only candidates for de-extinction. In 2003, scientists briefly revived the Pyrenean ibex, which went extinct in 2000, by cloning a frozen tissue sample of the goat. However, after being born, the clone survived for just 7 minutes.

Several years ago, a group of researchers took DNA from a 100-year-old Tasmanian tiger specimen at a museum in Melbourne, Australia, and inserted it into mouse embryos, showing the genes were functional.

And Church himself has been working on trying to bring back the passenger pigeon, a bird whose flocks once filled the skies of North America but went extinct in the early 20th century. The researchers extracted about 1 billion DNA “letters” from a 100-year-old museum specimen, and are attempting to splice them into the DNA of a common rock pigeon.

But even if these efforts succeed, they pose some ethical challenges.

For example, the ability to revive once-extinct creatures in a lab could encourage support for the destruction of natural habitats, Stuart Pimm, a conservation ecologist at Duke University, told Live Science in August 2013.

“It totally ignores the very practical realities of what conservation is about,” Pimm said.

Other scientists have been cautiously accepting of the idea. Stanley Temple, an ecologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison told Live Science in August 2013, “We can use some of these techniques to actually help endangered species improve their long-term viability.”

Follow Tanya Lewis on Twitter. Follow us @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on Live Science.

Google’s Very Rough Transition Thursday, Dec 18 2014 

Nick Carlson

Nicholas Carlson

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/googles-very-rough-transition-nicholas

Chief Correspondent at Business Insider

Google’s stock price hit a 52-week low yesterday.

This is not surprising news.

This has been a year of major change for Google, and it hasn’t always been pretty.

CEO Larry Page, frustrated with the pace of innovation at the company, took a big step back from day-to-day operations, turning over control to Sundar Pichai.

Google’s core business, search advertising, is looking shakier than it has in years. The problem is the rise of mobile. Search advertising is the best way to make money on the web. But people aren’t using the web as much on their mobile phones as they did on their desktops. Last quarter, Google’s advertising business grew at its slowest rate in six years.

People are searching for products on Amazon, rather than using Google. The only reason search makes money for Google is that people use it to search for products they would like to buy on the internet, and Google shows ads for those products. Increasingly, however, people are going straight to Amazon to search for products. Desktop search queries on Amazon increased 47% between September 2013 and September 2014, according to ComScore.

The executive in charge of running the moneymaking side of Google, Nikesh Arora, quit for a new job at Softbank. Internally, Arora’s departure has been the source of some tension and disappointment. Before he left, Arora was planning to throw a huge conference for Google sales employees in Las Vegas. Now that Arora is gone, the event has been canceled in favor of more regional meetings, and we’ve heard some Googlers are bummed. These same Googlers are under the impression that the whole company is in the middle of a hiring freeze. After speaking to several more sources, we’re pretty sure there is not actually a hiring freeze at Google. But it is interesting that some people inside the company think there is. Clearly, there are pockets of pessimism.

Google is getting knocked around overseas. Google just pulled its engineers out of Russia. It shut down its news aggregator in Spain. The EU wants to break up the company. The situation isn’t looking great in Brazil, either.

Facebook has decided to compete with YouTube for video-advertising dollars, and Facebook may win. Facebook is working on bringing YouTube-like video to its News Feed. It’s also rolling out video ads. Many in the industry believe that Facebook is in a better position than YouTube to eat into the advertising dollars that are leaving TV. Anmuth writes, “Facebook appears better positioned to capture new dollars coming online given its 21% share of mobile time spent, strong leverage to news feed ads, and nascent opportunities in video and Instagram.”

Add it all together, and there are some serious worries about Google in the industry.

Says a former Googler: “I think 2015 is going to be disastrous.”

“Mobile has been eating away [at them] for years, but they’ve been able to pull rabbits out of the hat to increase revenue.”

“[That] has to end somewhere.”

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/googles-very-rough-transition-nicholas

Nicholas Carlson is the author of “Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo!” available for pre-order now.

The Real Reason No One Wants To Link To You Thursday, Nov 13 2014 

Wondering why no one is linking to you? Julie Joyce gives you the lowdown on why your site isn’t as linkworthy as it could be.

2 New Tricks for Hiring Tech Talent Thursday, Nov 13 2014 

There’s a war for tech talent. Here’s how you can get creative about finding and training coding ninjas.

Jessica Stillman

BY   @ENTRYLEVELREBEL

Talk to any entrepreneur looking to hire technical talent and they’ll tell you its insanely tough out there, with companies facing a dire shortage of trained engineering and design talent.

Sure, you could always steal the competition’s talent, or look abroad for salvation. But both approaches have obvious costs. So as we’ve reported here before some businesses are trying a third way: growing their own tech talent through apprentice style programs.

Video gaming-focused media company IGN, for instance, is augmenting its traditional recruiting for the second year in a row with a “no resumes allowed” alternative. Their Code-Foo program selects participants by setting hopefuls up with online coding challenges and asking for a statement of passion about the company. Those that succeed aren’t asked to produce diplomas and sit for endless interviews. Instead, IGN brings them to a six-week training boot camp. If an individual impresses, he or she gets a job—without ever having to say a word about their work history or educational background.

So how did that work out last year? “We ended up with 30 people,” Roy Bahat, the president of IGN, told Inc.com. “Our guys thought we were going to hire one or two—a third of them didn’t even go to college, a third had non-technical degrees. These were not the people you would have even interviewed on the basis of their resumes. And then lo and behold, a third of them were meeting our bar and the best of them were running laps around much more ‘qualified’ candidates. We were thrilled.” Ten were hired and Bahat says, “on average they’ve worked out better than hires from a traditional hiring process. The best few are among our highest potential talent.”

thumbsup

Code-Foo and other training schemes outside of the academy aren’t just a good bet for smaller companies looking to recruit, but also something Bahat sees as having larger social benefits. “One of my personal passions is teaching young people coding skills because I think that it is the fastest path towards not just economically rewarding work but creatively rewarding work. It’s not as hard as people make it out to be—it’s like being an auto mechanic of the 21st century,” he said. IGN is accepting applications for Code Foo until April 30.

Meanwhile, online marketplace Etsy isn’t just trying to nurture tech talent in general, but female tech talent in particular. The Los Angeles Times reports that the Marc Hedlund, Etsy’s vice president of engineering, noticed that in his career he’s hired men by the hundreds but only a handful of women. To even out the gender balance, the company is hosting the summer 2012 session of Hacker School at its New York City headquarters and offering women who want to participate $5,000 grants to help them support themselves while they learn to be code ninjas.

“Our goal is to bring 20 women to New York to participate, and we hope this will be the first of many steps to encourage more women into engineering at Etsy and across the industry,” Hedlund commented. Which is a good thing, as so far only one woman has participated in Hacker School since its founding last year.

Never Say ‘I Don’t Have Time’ Again Friday, Sep 5 2014 

http://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/never-say-i-dont-have-time-again.html?utm_content=buffer0b851

JessicaStillman_800x800_20914
BY JESSICA STILLMAN @ENTRYLEVELREBEL

You’re probably deluding yourself about how you use your time. Here’s one radical way to force yourself to get real.

Busyness is a badge of honor among business owners, but author Laura Vanderkam is calling BS.

She recently asked professionals who perpetually carp about how overscheduled they are if they’re really being honest about what’s actually filling all those hours. Before you bristle about being called dishonest, know that Vanderkam herself confesses to her share of self-delusion.

Fed up with her out-of-control workweek she decided to keep a time log. “I soon realized I’d been lying to myself about where the time was going. What I thought was a 60-hour workweek wasn’t even close. I would have guessed I spent hours doing dishes when in fact I spent minutes. I spent long stretches of time lost on the Internet or puttering around the house, unsure exactly what I was doing,” she confesses.

shutterstock_86113633_pan_20923

Your busyness, in other words, is often largely in your head and down to inefficient time use or lack of clarity about your priorities and your actual schedule. So how can you get real? Vanderkam offers a handful of suggestions that you should check out in the complete article, but among her advice is this simple but radical change that will force you to stop sleepwalking through “busy” days and make more conscience choices about how you’re using your hours:

Change your language. Instead of saying “I don’t have time” try saying “it’s not a priority,” and see how that feels. Often, that’s a perfectly adequate explanation. I have time to iron my sheets, I just don’t want to. But other things are harder. Try it: “I’m not going to edit your résumé, sweetie, because it’s not a priority.” “I don’t go to the doctor because my health is not a priority.” If these phrases don’t sit well, that’s the point. Changing our language reminds us that time is a choice. If we don’t like how we’re spending an hour, we can choose differently.

Vanderkam isn’t the only one urging harried business owners to focus on the root cause of their busyness. Here on Inc. time coach Elizabeth Grace Saunders also stressed that chronic over-scheduling (occasional deadline driven crazy periods are completely real and probably unavoidable for most of us) is usually down to a failure to think critically about priorities rather than some fundamental reality of your life.

“If you’re struggling with containing your hours even when you’re only focusing on ‘Must Do’ items, then you need to really focus on expectations of yourself. Reality always wins,” Saunders said.

What do you think would happen if you made Vanderkam’s suggested switch in language?

Italics are mine–Martin

The Universe Changes Monday, Jun 30 2014 

The Who have announced a 50th anniversary UK tour that is likely to be their last.

wholivegetty

The rock group, whose hits include Substitute and My Generation, announced the Who Hits 50 tour would include songs from across their career.

“This is the beginning of the long goodbye,” said singer Roger Daltrey.

Guitarist Pete Townshend said: “We are what we are, and extremely good at it, but we’re lucky to be alive and still touring.

“If I had enough hairs to split I would say that for 13 years since 1964 The Who didn’t really exist, so we are really only 37.

Townshend said the show would include “hits, picks, mixes and misses”.

who66getty

 

 

Daltrey and Townshend revealed the tour dates at a launch event at Ronnie Scott’s jazz club in London, at which they played a short acoustic set.

The Who have sold more than 100 million records since forming in 1964. Their best-known albums include My Generation, and rock operas Tommy and Quadrophenia.

The original line-up included drummer Keith Moon, who died from an accidental overdose in 1978, and bassist John Entwistle who died of a heart attack in 2002.

In 2013, The Who toured the UK with a full-length performance of 1973’s Quadrophenia, which inspired the 1979 film of the same name.

Daltrey told Rolling Stone last year that The Who were planning a world tour for 2015 which would be their “last big tour”.

He said: “We aren’t finishing after that. We intend to go on doing music until we drop, but we have to be realistic about our age. The touring is incredibly grinding on the body and we have to draw a line in the sand somewhere.”

The Who Hits 50 UK tour begins at Glasgow SSE Hydro on 30 November and ends at London’s The O2 on 17 December.

http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-28087350

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