A chance to join Google’s farm
If your kids, nieces or nephews are interested in following in your footsteps as a coder, the Google Open Source Program is offering a contest for them to get started.

Called Google Code-In, 13- to 18-year-old students around the world will have the opportunity to work on open-source projects and real-world software development tasks.

Not only will students be able to accomplish tasks related to coding, such as writing or refactoring, they will also have the opportunity to feel out other areas, including documentation, community management and marketing, quality assurance, research, training, translation and user interface.

Once the contest kicks off on Nov. 22, students will be matched to organizations that will mentor and guide them throughout their tasks. Google will announce this year’s participating organizations on Nov. 5.

For each successfully completed task, students will receive US$100, up to a maximum of $500. All who participate will also compete for the grand prize of an all-expenses-paid trip for themselves and a family member to visit the Google campus.
Katie Serignese

Sidling into LLVM and Maven
With last month’s releases of LLVM and Maven 3, it’s a sure bet that your build team will have a lot to assimilate before the end of the year. That’s a good thing, though, because everyone I’ve ever spoken to in an enterprise software shop has told me that building can be a real pain in the tuckus.

Unfortunately, Maven 3 isn’t a huge step forward beyond optimization and stability enhancements. LLVM, too, includes many “not-ready-for-this-release” features, such as the new LLDB and the Java compilation capabilities. These types of releases, though lacking in mature additions, are a great way for your team to slowly begin acclimating themselves with new ideas and concepts that may have been introduced. That way, when these new ideas formulate into final ideas, your folks will be ready.
Alex Handy

Apple can’t stop growing
As of this writing, Apple has the second-largest market capitalization (US$274.2 billion) of any U.S.-based company, trailing only Exxon-Mobil ($331.2 billion). That’s astounding.

GM? GE? U.S. Steel? The giants of yesteryear are nowhere to be found. Wal-Mart? Target? Big-box retailers don’t even come close. Topping $300 per share on the NASDAQ stock market, Apple has completed the move from a company that offered odd-looking, boutique computers that “only graphic designers use,” as it was said as recently as the mid-1990s.

The formula for success hasn’t changed. It just has moved from iPod to iPhone to iPad (with a lot of iMac and MacBooks thrown in for good measure). Give people something that’s slick and hip, and that works, and you’re in. But closing in on the largest market cap in the world? How many more 99-cent copies of iTunes “Free Bird” could they possibly sell??
David Rubinstein

A different Kin…
So Microsoft is jumping into the smartphone wars, in earnest this time. Windows Phone 7 comes in late to the game, but that’s not the biggest problem it faces.

Microsoft’s last major foray into the smartphone world was the Kin, and, well, yeah. Duds like that can make an uphill climb even steeper, as Sega can attest to when its lackluster Saturn paved the way for Dreamcast’s demise.

A commentator at businessinsider.com spelled out the real fears Microsoft may be facing ahead of Windows Phone 7’s launch: “The PC is no longer the center of the software universe. Phones are.”

Microsoft is trying again to enter territory dominated by the competition. It succeeded with the Xbox, but this time around it has baggage, and one of its launch phones has numerous design flaws (no copy/paste, not all screens landscape despite having a landscape keyboard, etc.). Tread carefully, Microsoft.
Adam LoBelia