Eclipse Galileo released
The Eclipse Foundation put out its gigantic 2009 release, Eclipse Galileo. This is the largest Eclipse release ever, and it provides a huge number of features. While I am not an Eclipse expert by any means, seeing support for PHP 5.3 (including new features like namespaces and closures), as well as support for Mac Cocoa, definitely seem like very good things.
$10,000 for best Silverlight app
ComponentArt, a maker of software components, is hosting a competition for the best Silverlight app. The grand prize? $10,000. Community voting starts July 7th, with expert judging beginning in September.
Android development now possible in C/C++
How ironic; last week I talked about the declining usage of C/C++, and ZDNet blogger Ed Burnette reported that there is now an API to allow you to write portions of your Android apps in C/C++. Good for Android, I suppose, although I really doubt that being forced to use Java over C/C++ was a limiting factor in the number of Android developers; mobile app developers have been used to using Java for quite some time.
Gear6 Web Cache 2.3 released
Gear6 released the 2.3 version of its Web Cache software. This software is aimed at giving large Web hosts (particularly cloud providers) scaling and caching capabilities that span multiple servers. The latest release comes with a number of new features, including a Web service for management and SNMP monitoring, which I consider pretty important for this type of software.
Should passwords be masked?
Usability expert Jakob Nielsen does not think so. He points out that password masking (i.e., when you replace the letters typed with something else, such as asterisks) increases user errors and makes it very hard to enter passwords on mobile devices.
He has a good point; it is fairly uncommon for people to enter a password in view of someone else, and that someone could just watch the keyboard anyway. While I don't think that password masking quite falls under the category of "Security Theater," I like his suggestion of providing a checkbox to unmask the password (defaulting to "mask mode" for particularly sensitive applications or applications used in public areas) so that people who are having a hard time logging in can see what's happening.
Also check out what TechRepublic blogger Michael Kassner has to say about masking passwords.
Kodu teaches programming skills on the Xbox 360
Microsoft Research has put together its first Xbox 360 game called Kodu. It's interesting to me because it's not a "game" per se; it's more like a game construction toolkit, allowing users to assemble a game out of "building blocks" representing code. While the players are having a good time, they are learning a lot about the programming process. This would never replace a programming class, but it is a good way to get people interested in development and give them experience in the thought process behind development. Kudos to Microsoft Research for Kodu.
Good debugging tip: logging the calling method
The ASP.NET team posted a good tip on its blog; the tip shows how to find what the calling method is so that you can log it. I had been wondering how to do this for ages, but it was never quite important enough for me to actually find out, so it was nice to have the answer dropped in my lap.
Simple tutorial for making an Office add-in
MSDN has a nice, clear tutorial for creating Office add-ins, including how to make the new item available on the Ribbon.
J.JaDisclosure of Justin's industry affiliations: Justin James has a working arrangement with Microsoft to write an article for MSDN Magazine. He also has a contract with Spiceworks to write product buying guides.
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Justin James is the Lead Architect for Conigent.