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1  Discussions / General Discussions / Re: Teaching Kids to be Independent on: 2015-05-22 07:21:26
Interesting topic, I'm also trying to figure out how to motivate students to learn.

I read once that a key way to motivate employees is to present the job as an impossible challenge that has never been done before. Then the employees rise to the challenge and over-achieve because they take pride in breaking new ground.

I think this can also work for learners because then any progress that they make proves their intelligence and self-worth to themselves, giving them the confidence to continue breaking new ground and allowing them to write-off failures as inevitable which doesn't make them feel stupid.

I agree that competition, examples and relevance are important for effective teaching.

Learners often don't know where to start, so it's important to show them a simple working example.

Relating the theory back to reality helps show relevance. I remember studying trigonometry in school and hating it. Then I voluntarily studied it by myself when I found out that it can be used to calculate projectile paths in games.

I've also noticed that the most effective teachers interact with the class by posing questions, and budget more time for students to do problems themselves rather than making the student listen to the teacher solve problems.
2  Game Development / Networking & Multiplayer / Re: How to properly benchmark server performance. on: 2015-05-17 03:30:47
I'm not an expert, but I run a small Tomcat server and found that JavaMelody ( was very useful for monitoring connections, RAM, CPU, etc. Might be worth checking out just for ideas.
Good luck with the big launch, sounds like an exciting project.

Edit: to test your server setup, couldn't you have another server with the same specs that just keeps connections open with the other one you're actually trying to test
3  Discussions / Miscellaneous Topics / Re: Rust 1.0 has been released on: 2015-05-16 04:28:22
Interesting. I notice that the Rust license is MIT and apache. It's nice to have a less-constraining license than java's GPL, but the downside might be the chance of fragmentation.
Also it looks like Rust is cross-platform since it uses LLVM.

@HeroesGraveDev, you said that you can't write java in rust.
Is that because Rust doesn't support classes and there's no such thing as null? Or are there other more serious problems with translating java source across to rust?
4  Discussions / Miscellaneous Topics / Re: Rust 1.0 has been released on: 2015-05-16 02:02:16
Looks like an interesting language. I haven't read much about it, but apparently it's much more low-level than java and seeks to compete with C++.
For example, its memory management decisions evolved to be similar to C++ with manual heap or stack allocation, and optional library-level garbage collection.

This sounds like a handy feature of the Rust language: "sharing mutable state across a concurrency boundary without a mutex is a compile-time error in Rust". That would have saved me some time finding bugs and learning how to code with threads properly.
5  Games Center / WIP games, tools & toy projects / Re: GNetLib V0.0.0.3 (A Simple Java Networking Library) on: 2015-04-27 13:02:58
Try to avoid morbid thoughts and jinxing fellow members.
TehJavaDev was last active on December 20, 2014. I'm sure he's alive and well.
Best wishes to him and his excellent library.

Edit: oops, wrong person.
6  Games Center / Showcase / Re: RoboFight - LD32 Compo entry on: 2015-04-22 13:10:33
I'm still seeing the same error, cannot create window.
By the way, try making the program dump out System.out to a text file next to the jar file, that way I can easily post the error for you.

@ CommanderKeith is it a Notebook? If yes, Optimus tries to start "simple" games with the integrated Intel HD GPU, to save energy, and only Games which need more GPU-Performance, will be started with the nVidia by default. But optimus sometimes fails to decide which one it should use, so you need to manually start it with the nVidia.
This can be done by right-clicking the game -> start with GPU -> nVidia.
But as much as i remeber this won't wok with java, as they are started with another ".exe" (under windows). For those games you need to go to the nVidia system configuration.
There you will see a drop list of games. If you click on the "add" button, you will see the latest started games. There should be a "Java" entry, which you should add. Then select "use nVidia" and it should now start with the dedicated nVidia GPU.

Hope it helps Smiley
Thanks for the tip, you're right! The Nvidia control panel does have a list of programs with the choice of what graphics card should be used.
Strangely, I can't see java.exe or javaw.exe in there. But I can add them to the list manually.
7  Games Center / Showcase / Re: RoboFight - LD32 Compo entry on: 2015-04-22 05:07:46
Hmm, good question.
When I open up dxdiag.exe it says I have a display with Intel(R) HD graphics 4000 with 1696MB memory.
But When I open up the NVidia control panel and select system info, it says I have a GT GeForce 630M with 2048MB dedicated memory.

So I'm not sure which video card is being used by default.
But other LWJGL games work on this computer.
8  Games Center / Showcase / Re: Crazy Farmer on: 2015-04-22 04:30:49
Oh right, hmm.
Maybe it was the way the jump felt like it was a constant speed, rather than a sudden high speed then a slowing height at the top.
Regardless, it's not a big thing.
Nice work finishing a little game in the short time.
9  Games Center / Showcase / Re: RoboFight - LD32 Compo entry on: 2015-04-22 04:27:50

10  Games Center / Showcase / Re: RoboFight - LD32 Compo entry on: 2015-04-21 06:36:55
Looks nice, but I couldn't get the game to start from double clicking the jar.
javaw.exe fires up in windows task manager but then promptly closes in a second or two, with nothing shown on the screen.
Windows 7, 64 bit, java 8, nvidia.
11  Games Center / Showcase / Re: Crazy Farmer on: 2015-04-21 03:40:42
Nice job! It's a funny little game. I got to level 2, scored 21.
I prefer the jump to not depend on how long you hold the button, but that's a personal preference.
Graphics are nice
12  Game Development / Shared Code / Re: StraightEdge, some questions on use... on: 2015-03-17 11:28:54
Hi Jamz,
Nice to hear from you, thanks for your kind words.
I haven't worked on straightedge polygon library for a while, but I still use it in my projects.
Recently Google code announced that it will shut down so I plan to migrate to GitHub where I hope others might be able to help and get involved with fulfilling feature requests since I haven't enough time for now.
1. I haven't integrated Area class but I agree that it would be nice to have. I should add it as a feature request.

2. I never got soft shadows working, but there are some cheating methods you could use to make it appear as so. Paint the shadow edge as feint grey line. Or use multiple light sources or 'eyes' to cast multiple shadows and paint them on top of one another in a translucent colour so they appear as soft shadows.

3. Yes that's absolutely right.

4. Vision is actually very quick, so the way you propose is fine. It's path finding which is expensive.

5. OpenGL would be great, I did make a LWJGL port once but I was more interested in java2D at the time since it was more reliable. There were a lot of openGL driver problems in the past. I have been meaning to make an openGL version. By the way, in the comments page on google code you can see that some people have ported the library to android and I think they're using openGL to render. The drawing code should be quite easy to switch to openGL from java2d. It's the number one thing I've been planning on doing in my next holiday.

6. The default scale method scales relative to the 'centroid' of the polygon. There is another method which scales relative to an X,Y location, which you can make the origin of the map and then scaling should work as you want. Perhaps I should change this to abide by the 'principal of least surprise'.

I haven't looked into box2DLights ( very deeply but it certainly looks fantastic and is popular here. It has the benefit of built-in libgdx and openGL rendering, and I notice that the author has achieved soft shadows. I will try to learn how he does that.

13  Game Development / Newbie & Debugging Questions / Re: Check for lan servers on: 2015-03-11 10:34:01
Here's a method to do that
14  Game Development / Game Mechanics / Re: Making GUIs on: 2015-03-04 15:41:12
Fair enough. I wasn't trying to be passive aggressive, but the onus usually isn't on us to prove every little misunderstanding wrong. When we get people making posts like "teh jav is suck, C++ is faster and you can use it for games" - we usually just tell them that they're wrong and leave them to their own research, right? If they have specific code showing specific benchmarks we can talk about that, but generally we just tell them "you're wrong, here's some links explaining why, now if you have some code, please post it."

Thanks, and no hard feelings either. I think it's great that a solution might have been found. If I had to pay for all the experts who participated in this thread it would surely cost thousands!   Cool

But there was obviously a misunderstanding which is evident in the code you posted. You were talking about direct-rendering inside an empty JPanel which is pretty simple, there was no swingComponent.paint(Graphics2D) going on so there were no Swing GUI components (except the empty JPanel) being actively rendered. Whereas I was talking about drawing Swing components on top of the game graphics at 60Hz.

I thought this was obvious, and I also thought that you and PrinceC would only talk with such authority on the topic if you had actually achieved active rendering with Swing components painted on top of the game graphics without involving the EDT. Therefore I figured that sharing your secret and posting code would not be hard. But that's fine, it was just a misunderstanding about what 'direct rendering' meant. Next time I'll be more specific.

FWIW I've got my own UI library I use for making games UIs. It executes in the main loop, and renders in the main loop, and doesn't even use "events" (just a horribly complex load of state machines). As soon as I want to do anything asynchronous, I have to punt it out into another thread and I am only allowed to interact with my own UI in the main thread. It's a solution you'll end up with time and time again - it's best to accept that's the way it works.
I think your system is perfect, it's exactly what I would want in a GUI library too. No bundled EDT thread, and you probably have an update and paint method, with no locks since you do all the work in your own single thread. Swing should be able to be used like this, there was no need to tie the GUI component library to the EDT. Let the programmer manage his own threading problems. Yet for some reason you disagree with me  Huh
15  Game Development / Game Mechanics / Re: Making GUIs on: 2015-03-04 14:44:57
The method you're looking for is called push(), but it's on EventQueue itself.  You don't replace the Toolkit queue, you push another on top of it.
Thank you, I'll try that and report back. It certainly looks like the solution I'm after, which is great.

nsigma at least understands the problem and offers some directions to the solution. The run-your-game-loop-on-the-EDT solution is obvious and isn't the solution I'm after which is painting the GUI in my own thread.
And I say this in the friendliest way (eyeballs @Riven Wink ) - What's so damn special about your own thread?  Do you complain that main() doesn't run in your own thread?  Now, I'm not 100% sure this is the way to go, or that AWT wouldn't kick up a fuss about it, but it would be the simplest way - just make sure to manually drain and dispatch the event queue!
public static void main (final String[] args) {
  EventQueue.invokeLater(new Runnable() {
    public void run() {

There's nothing special about my main game loop thread. But what's so special about the GUI library? I just don't think that a GUI library needs to bundle a thread with itself and force me to do all event handling, painting and logic on it. I mean, what if the physics, lighting, AI and scripting also insisted on running all their code on their own threads? It'd be a nightmare. I don't see what's so special about a GUI when all it's supposed to do is update and paint like everything else  Huh

If you're stuck with using another thread, I have doubts, as you do, about active rendering from another thread while the EDT is still processing events - not just on the paint() thing, but also because models aren't thread-safe.  So, custom queue ...
It seems as though Swing model updates are also just events on the EventQueue, so I should be able to intercept them if EventQueue.push() works out.

By the way, I stumbled on this forum thread which was written by the Swing dev's Scott Violet and Dmitri Trembovetski:
Dmitri says that the context-switching from calling invokeLater is expensive in the last post. So perhaps there's also a performance reason why rendering from a single thread is a better idea.

Thanks for your advice nsigma, much appreciated.
16  Game Development / Game Mechanics / Re: Making GUIs on: 2015-03-04 03:40:44
And here's a really dumb program that follows the bullet points at the bottom of that link to perform active rendering in Swing, off the EDT:
               Graphics g = myPanel.getGraphics();
               g.fillRect(0, 0, myPanel.getWidth(), myPanel.getHeight());
               g.drawRect((int)ballX, (int)ballY, 100, 100);

I don't think that you understand the problem, which is to paint Swing components inside the game loop, not rendering inside an empty JPanel. There should be a swingComponent.paint(g) in there.

When you switch to active rendering you're in control of paint() not the EDT.
setIgnoreRepaint only stops the operating system (OS) events from calling paint, not internal changes to the menu. See the java docs:
Sets whether or not paint messages received from the operating system should be ignored. This does not affect paint events generated in software by the AWT, unless they are an immediate response to an OS-level paint message.
This is useful, for example, if running under full-screen mode and better performance is desired, or if page-flipping is used as the buffer strategy.
So for example, if the game logic calls setText(String) on an in-game GUI JLabel, then inside the JLabel.setText method repaint is called, which posts an even to the EventQueue, which will occur on the EDT even though setText was called from the game loop thread, conflicting with the painting of that button in my game loop thread.
Stopping this is difficult, as basil said it requires 'interception' of the event on the EDT which is not easy. I thought it was impossible since no-one has shown how it is done without reflection hacks, but I'm open to being proved wrong. nsigma is the only person who has offered reasonable advice, and even then I wonder if it's possible.

You can do all that already!  To paint, you could use active rendering, or if you're running your game loop in the EDT you could control the default Swing paint mechanism.  For the other two, use Toolkit.getSystemEventQueue() to get access to the queue.  If you're running your game loop in the EDT, just pull events and dispatch (see component.dispatchEvent()).  Otherwise, push your own EventQueue implementation on top of the existing and override EventQueue.dispatchEvent() to filter / pass to your game thread.  The latter might have an issue if anything was using EventQueue.isDispatchThread() though.

nsigma at least understands the problem and offers some directions to the solution. The run-your-game-loop-on-the-EDT solution is obvious and isn't the solution I'm after which is painting the GUI in my own thread.
How do you push your own EventQueue? I note that there is Toolkit.getEventQueue but no Toolkit.setEventQueue()?
I would like to see your EDT-event interception idea work. As I said, no-one has demonstrated this being done that I have ever found.

Nuff of this. We all have our ill-informed moments. No need to 'gang up' on our beloved Keith. I'm sure lots of people found new information in this thread about the inner workings of Swing - we should focus on sharing such information instead of telling eachother how ill-informed we are, over and over and over. We don't need N similar corrections from N people quoting the same statement. It gets old rather quickly.
Thanks, it's nice to be beloved! I'll be the first person to admit that I'm wrong, but so far it seems that people either don't understand the problem or dismiss it as not being a problem.

I would like to treat the GUI like everything else in a game: with an update and a paint method. I thought that is what we would all want Huh

Like I've said several times now, this is not just a Swing thing. Almost every GUI library (including OpenGL, Android, JavaFX, libGDX, and JMonkeyEngine) uses this model. I promise that the people behind these libraries have put more thought into it than you or I.
If every GUI library has an EDT like Swing, I'm surprised. I think it's a design deficiency because it's inflexible. According to the principal of loose-coupling, Swing's event system, painting and logic should be separable, but clearly they aren't.

Edit: And like Cas says, none of this really matters. If you really think you need to go through all of this rigmarole with active rendering and threading in Swing: you're either wrong, or you should be using a different library that handles it for you.
On the whole I like the swing libary and it's what I know. If I could re-use it in my games I would. But the way it enforces everything to be done on the EDT is quite irritating. I will try libgdx's scene2d.ui, nifty or TWL for my next projects.

That tutorial guide gives no working examples, and even worse, it seems to indicate that active-rendering swing components from a non-EDT game loop thread in a thread safe way is impossible, since it says:
Don't put drawing code in the paint routine. You may never know when that routine may get called! Instead, use another method name, such as render(Graphics g), which can be called from the paint method when operating in windowed mode, or alternately called with its own graphics from the rendering loop.
It seems to indicate that a swing component's paint method can be called at any time from the EDT (with or without setIgnoreRepaint) and therefore you can't truly paint swing components in your own game loop thread.

By the way, it's great to be part of a forum where we can debate interesting topics like this.
17  Game Development / Game Mechanics / Re: Making GUIs on: 2015-03-03 06:02:42
As that article said:
...processes (threads) and monitors (locks) are duals. Well, yes, it's true. In some sense we are using the event thread to implement a global lock. We could invert things, and create a global lock that is equivalent to the event queue.

If there was more flexibility in the Swing API's threading model then I think it would be a better library which could be used in directly-rendered games without forcing us to do everything on the EDT. The EDT is an unnecessary and annoying aspect of the API which could have easily been done differently, such as using locks or letting the developer use their own game loop thread. However, the Swing API has no flexibility to do this.

As I said, I can't see why the Swing engineers couldn't:
  • Expose a hook to let us see the OS event queue in our game loop thread if we want so we can take the events we want to consume and make game logic updates
  • Let us call an update method on the Swing components with any relevant events for them given as an argument which would happen in our game loop thread,
  • Let us call paint on the Swing components from our game loop thread and repeat.

@KevinWorkman and @PrinceC. While I appreciate both of your input on the forum since your posts are often very insightful and entertaining, in this case it's disappointing to see you repeatedly dismiss me as 'not really understanding how threading works' while failing to answer my question, which is: show me how you can make Swing render in your own thread without the event dispatch thread (EDT).

If you can do it as easily as you say, I'd be very impressed. The code would be an important contribution to the community since the Swing library is well designed in general, we're all familiar with the API and it comes included in the jdk.

I've tried to make Swing run in a direct rendering game not rendered on the EDT, and so have many others including the swing-gl programmers, but we all failed in one way or another. The swing-gl programmers only make it work using reflection hacks to overcome the lack of flexibility in the Swing API.
In my multiplayer networked game SydneyEngine (, I use Swing menus but was forced to use invokeAndWait(renderSwingMenus) to draw the user interface on the EDT, since the swing API forces it to be so.

the only thing that sun did not do well is to give us proper control over polling and flushing queues - which is done by the EDT for us.

What exactly do you want by "proper control" above what EventQueue or a custom subclass gives you (assuming you can re-appropriate the dispatch thread)?  Not that I don't agree with all of your second sentence!  Wink
I agree with basil. I would like to use the swing GUI without having to change my threading model, which I think is completely unnecessary for a GUI to impose. Imagine if every library insisted that its code run on a specific thread. There'd be invokeAndWait equivalents every time I tried to use any libraries' code, making quite a mess.
18  Game Development / Game Mechanics / Re: Making GUIs on: 2015-03-01 06:56:44
The closest thing that I could google which showed swing components being re-used, possibly in a direct rendering game, was this project:
The problems I describe about the swing libraries being inflexible and not exposing hooks are made apparent in this statement by the swing-gl projects' authors:
Important: At the moment we use a nasty hack to make event system work: Set dispatcher field of Container class with reflection. This hack most probably won't work on non-SUN JVM's and will break in the future. However we beleive event system can also be made work with a custom Toolkit and a dummy Peer. Indeed we seek help from AWT/Swing gurus about this subject.
I think this shows that the Sun programmers did not make the Swing library with re-usability in mind, they have designed the swing library to be used on the event dispatch thread only. Which is not a bad thing for most people and probably a sensible design choice. But it's a pity for us game programmers who would like to use the swing components in a direct-rendered game, rendered in our own thread.
19  Game Development / Game Mechanics / Re: Making GUIs on: 2015-03-01 00:05:04
Lol, well I appreciate your direct answers, but how would you achieve those things? I've never heard of anyone doing it, because I presume that it's impossible.

If it was possible, why does everyone choose to reinvent the wheel by making more GUI libraries rather than leveraging the existing Swing library? I know that swing uses java2d rather than opengl, but graphics2D can be over-ridden with calls to openGL so that can't be the problem.
20  Game Development / Game Mechanics / Re: Making GUIs on: 2015-02-28 01:25:57
It seems like it wasn't thought out very well by the Sun swing engineers.

This is a pretty presumptuous statement. Can you name any other thread-safe gui libraries?

Recommended reading:

Thanks for the link. Most widely used GUI libraries are 'heavyweight' since they use the operating system components rather than Swing which is lightweight, and has the opportunity to do things with more flexibility.

I like this quote at the end:
"processes and monitors are duals". Well, yes, it's true.
In some sense we are using the event thread to implement
a global lock. We could invert things, and create a global
lock that is equivalent to the event queue.

This is my major gripe with Swing. Swing takes sole control of the operating system (OS) event queue in its event dispatch thread (EDT), forcing us to do all of our work on the EDT or making us do messy invokeAndWait's all the time.
I can't see why the Swing engineers couldn't:
  • Expose a hook to let us see the OS event queue in our game loop thread so we can take the events we want to consume and make game logic updates
  • Call an update method on the Swing components with any relevant events for them given as an argument which would happen in our game loop thread,
  • Call paint on the Swing components from our game loop thread and repeat.

That way Swing components could be used in a 'direct-rendering' game loop thread, rather than the current requirement where everything to do with them must be done on the EDT.

You'll understand one day, probably when you start really understanding threading...

Cas Smiley

Don't be patronising. I understand threads reasonably well.
21  Game Development / Game Mechanics / Re: Making GUIs on: 2015-02-27 11:35:49
I can't really see anything good about the EDT. I don't see why painting, logic and event processing should be restricted to the same thread. It seems like it wasn't thought out very well by the Sun swing engineers. I remember when Java 1.4 was being released and the 'do everything on the EDT' rule was being promoted by Sun engineers, which was presented as a new best practice despite the fact that Swing had been around for years before and even the sun java tutorials at the time were calling Swing object code on non-EDT threads.

I persevered and used Swing in my own game loop thread anyway. But to my horror, some swing components trigger events in their own code which are processed on the EDT and then painting and logic threading problems arise between my game loop thread and the EDT.
22  Game Development / Game Mechanics / Re: Making GUIs on: 2015-02-27 09:49:04
Making GUI components is incredibly hard. Next time I do a project with a GUI I'll try to use someone else's code and save time.

I haven't used libgdx's scene2d.ui ( or TWL ( but I've heard they're both very good.

Another which was good but has since been abandoned is pulpcore (
It's no longer maintained but has some good GUI component code that you could pilfer.

All of these projects are generously licensed as either apache 2 (libgdx) or BSD (TWL and pulpcore).

Last time I made a semi-complex GUI rendered in java2D I had to use Swing. But swing and javafx force you to use their own threading model. Everything must be done on the event dispatch thread rather than your game loop thread, which is quite irritating.
23  Java Game APIs & Engines / Java 2D / Re: VSync on: 2015-02-18 15:44:23
In java2d it isn't.

In openGL (LWJGL and JOGL) you can set vsync on and off using their API's.
24  Discussions / General Discussions / Re: What's your day job? on: 2015-02-18 15:39:10
...some teachers are only there to squeeze coauthored papers out of students...

Yes that's a particularly rotten thing that goes on. Typically the poor students that these researchers prey on are the international students from impoverished countries who are extraordinarily smart and hard working but would never complain lest it jeopardise their chances of obtaining or keeping their visa and job.

I've been teaching English in Seoul, Korea in a variety of forms for 21 years (which I suppose makes me incompetent at English). These days I run my own hot dog shop in central Seoul, teach a handful of one-on-one private English lessons at a nice hourly rate, and divide the rest of my time between hacking away on throw-away games & web apps and watching VOD movies with my wife.

Sounds like a pleasant life! I've heard that the highest paid teachers in the world are from South Korea, and that like most Asian countries, teachers are held in high regard like doctors and lawyers. The Chinese even have 'teachers' day' (
25  Discussions / General Discussions / Re: What's your day job? on: 2015-02-18 13:54:26
Interesting to hear everyone's stories and impressive careers.

I'm studying finance and economics, trying to find out why house prices are so high for my thesis. I also do teaching and I'm sure that some of my students think I'm incompetent, but hopefully they're a minority.

it does come at a slight cost and that is incompetent teachers.
Beats Texas. We have teachers that are incompetent AND psycho.

All teachers are incompetent Smiley
"Those can can, do. Those who can't, teach." - old proverb

I agree that many university teachers appear incompetent. But I'd like to share why. Teachers are not compensated based on their teaching, they are promoted according to their research output, and fired if they don't perform: publish or perish.

The root of the problem is that students choose universities based on the institutions' notoriety and ranking, which is based on their research output, which leads to hiring good researchers who typically find their teaching responsibilities a chore.
For example, the newest or worst-performing researchers are often tasked with running the large first year 101 courses. This is not because they're inspirational and well-prepared, it's punishment for being at the bottom of the pecking order. The best researchers with the most cachet have their choice of classes which is almost always the small, easy to organise subjects that take the shortest time to mark. The very best researchers usually buy out their teaching time using research grant money, so you will never even meet them as a student.

The teachers are not idiots, they're rationally responding to the incentive system they operate in which puts no value on teaching.
26  Discussions / Miscellaneous Topics / Re: What I did today on: 2015-02-07 16:31:39
It's funny that the graph doesn't include Android which is the most recognised brand and has the biggest install-base.
Perhaps Android is not included because it doesn't use GNU's GPL'ed software. Though it is based on the linux kernel.
27  Discussions / Miscellaneous Topics / Re: Unit Testing: Waste Of Time? Discuss on: 2015-02-05 12:52:10
I've never used unit-testing before, but it sounds useful for those reasons jmguillemette mentioned.
Most of the bugs that I make for myself are due to threading, and apparently unit testing threading problems is very difficult:
28  Discussions / Miscellaneous Topics / Re: Java Certificates on: 2015-02-01 08:19:44
I did the java certification exam (twice!) just because i had no formal qualification and wanted to show on my resume that i was a serious programmer.
Unfortunately i failed the first time because it was harder than i thought!

I agree that if your name is on a big project then it's not necessary.
29  Discussions / General Discussions / Open source licensing of creative works on: 2015-01-31 07:30:07
When choosing an open-source license, I'm inclined to use the GPL 'copyleft' share-alike style license since it's the most restrictive, and gives me the option of putting a less restrictive license in the future if I want. Whereas if I release my work with a more permissive license such as BSD or the unlicense, then I will never be able to make it more restrictive if I want. I've lost the option.

What are your thoughts on this issue?

The reason why I ask is that I maintain a website for my students to answer questions relevant to the subjects that I teach:
Recently a new teacher took over one of my subjects. I'd like to let her continue using the tutorial questions and answers that I made.
It would be nice to see my work continue to be used after I lose interest in it.
However it would be upsetting if a textbook publisher poached all of my work and wrote a textbook based on the questions and charged students to buy it.
For this reason I'm inclined to use a creative commons attribution share-alike license, which is similar to GPL:

Some background for those who are not familiar with the broad families of licenses:
  • Unlicense/creative commons (CC) zero/public domain style licenses. Bitcoin uses the unlicense.
  • Apache/BSD/MIT/CC attribution style licenses. BSD unix obviously uses the BSD license.
  • Copyleft GPL/CC share-alike, and then copyright. Linux, GNU, Webkit browser (Chrome and Safari), Wikipedia, and Oracle Java (with class path exception) use the GPL license.

Here's some data on the prevalence of each license:

Altruistic programmers and authors choose the most permissive licenses which are the public domain or attribution BSD-style license.

Most open source projects use GPL which forces any improvements to the code base to be shared. Businesses dislike contributing to projects with this license since it nullifies any competitive advantage from their investment because they have to share their improvements with potential competitors.

For software that I want to make money from, of course I maintain copyright.
But so far I've made no money from any software! So I always end up open-sourcing my work after I realise that I won't be able to sell it because there are a million free and better alternatives or because I lose interest and then I slap a BSD style license on it.

Jimmy Wales founded Wikipedia, arguable the greatest open-source resource, and has now moved on from there to make private wiki sites for games and other things that he can make money from. That's quite an interesting switch.
30  Discussions / General Discussions / Re: Schemes to teach the masses to code on: 2015-01-29 15:03:40
I personally had the impression for a long time that programming was this thing that only math geniuses could do. This wasn't aided at all by the fact that, in high school, while there was a computer programming class, being in the most advanced math track was seemingly a prerequisite for taking part.
That's funny, I often thought that math geniuses were disadvantaged when doing programming since equality in maths and assignment in programming use the same = symbol but are quite different ideas, consider 'y = y+2', which makes no sense in maths but is perfectly acceptable in programming.

...Fewer than one in thirty people will ever have any use for it, if that. Probably a lot less...
If you consider MS Excel to be programming, which it basically is, then more people than you think know how to program.
For example, most people working in the finance and insurance services industry would know how to do a VLOOKUP in MS Excel and that industry employs 1 in 25 workers in Australia:
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