For Microsoft, Windows 10 Charity Begins At Home 74 74

theodp writes: "We're investing $10 million in organizations that are upgrading the world," Microsoft announced on in its new Upgrade Your World website, which was created in conjunction with the Windows 10 launch. "We've identified nine global nonprofits, and we'd like your help choosing the 10th." The missions of the selected nonprofits include fighting global poverty, preventing children living with HIV from needlessly dying, increasing access to quality education for children in the developing world, conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends, and ensuring that all kindergartners learn 'computer science.' To paraphrase Sesame Street, can you guess which cause is not like the others? If you guessed, which wants CS made a "core" K-12 subject in U.S. schools, you're right! Coincidentally,'s biggest donors include Microsoft ($3M+), Ballmer Family Giving ($3M+), and Bill Gates ($1M+). And CEO Hadi Partovi, who once reported to Satya Nadella, is coincidentally a sometimes jogging partner of Steve Ballmer, as well as the next-door neighbor of Microsoft General Counsel and Board member Brad Smith, whose bio notes is responsible for Microsoft's philanthropic work. emerged on the scene shortly after Smith suggested that action on Microsoft's 'two-pronged' National Talent Strategy to increase K-12 CS education and the number of H-1B visas could be galvanized by 'producing a crisis'.

ELIoT, Distributed Programming For the Internet of Things 91 91

descubes writes: ELIoT (Extensible Language for the Internet of Things) is a new programming language designed to facilitate distributed programming. A code sample with less than 20 lines of code looks like a single program, but really runs on three different computers to collect temperature measurements and report when they differ. ELIoT transforms a simple sensor API into a rich, remotely-programmable API, giving your application the opportunity to optimize energy usage and minimize network traffic.

Using fewer resources than Bash, and capable of serving hundreds of clients easily on a Raspberry Pi, ELIoT transparently sends program fragments around, but also the data they need to function, e.g. variable values or function definitions. This is possible because, like in Lisp, programs are data. ELIoT has no keywords, and program constructs such as loops or if-then-else are defined in the library rather than in the language. This makes the language very flexible and extensible, so that you can adapt it to the needs of your application.

The project is still very young (published last week), and is looking for talented developers interested in distributed programming, programming languages or language design.

First Java 0-Day In 2 Years Exploited By Pawn Storm Hackers 122 122

An anonymous reader writes with Help Net Security's report that a new zero-day vulnerability in Java is being exploited, quoting from which: The flaw was spotted by Trend Micro researchers, who are closely monitoring a targeted attack campaign mounted by the economic and political cyber-espionage operation Pawn Storm. The existence of the flaw was discovered by finding suspicious URLs that hosted the exploit. The exploit allows attackers to execute arbitrary code on target systems with default Java settings. Until a patch is made, disabling Java is the recommended course of action.

CSTA: Google Surveying Educators On Unconscious Biases of Students, Parents 173 173

theodp writes: According to a Computer Science Teachers Association tweet, Google is reportedly asking educators to assess the unconscious bias of students and their parents for the search giant. "We are in the early stages of learning how unconscious bias plays out in schools, and who would benefit most from bias busting materials," begins the linked-to 5-page Google Form, which sports a email address, but lists no contact name. "This survey should take 15 minutes to complete, and your responses are confidential, meaning that your feedback will not be attributed to you and the data will only be used in aggregate form." The form asks educators to "list the names of organizations, tools, and resources that you have used to combat unconscious bias," which is defined as "the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner." A sample question: "Who do you think would benefit most from unconscious bias training at your school (or program)? Rank the following people in order (1=would most benefit to 5=would benefit least) training: Student, Parent (or guardian), Teacher (or educator), Guidance counselor, Principal." Google deflected criticism for its lack of women techies in the past by blaming parents' unconscious biases for not steering their girls to study computer science, suggesting an intervention was needed. "Outreach programs," advised Google, "should include a parent education component, so that parents learn how to actively encourage their daughters."

Oracle Bullies Enterprise Clients Into Cloud Purchases, Consultant Claims 184 184

An anonymous reader writes: A consultant claims that Oracle has adopted the widespread use of 'breach notices' this year to force existing enterprise customers to adopt its newly-bolstered range of cloud services, or else be told to stop using all Oracle software within thirty days. Speaking to Business Insider, the unnamed source described the tactic as a 'nuclear option' which is now practically the default when the need to add services or users to an existing contract triggers an 'audit' by Oracle. An ex-Oracle contract negotiator who now works in the ever-expanding business niche of 'Oracle contract negotiation' commented 'Internally, the water cooler gossip there is that they've never seen this kind of aggression before. Oracle has really dialed it up. Customers are buying cloud services to make the Oracle issue go away, not because they have any intention of using cloud services.'
Open Source

Calculating the Truck-Factor of Popular Open Source Projects 79 79

An anonymous reader writes: The Truck Factor describes the minimal number of developers that have to be hit by a truck (or quit) before a project is incapacitated. Wikipedia defines it as a "measurement of the concentration of information in individual team members. A high truck factor means that many individuals know enough to carry on and the project could still succeed even in very adverse events." The term is also known by bus factor/number. In this article, the authors calculate the truck factor for 133 popular GitHub applications. Spoiler, but unsurprising: Linux ranks near the top (meaning that it's highly resilient).
The Almighty Buck

Is the Amazon-Led Economic Boom Wrecking Seattle? 410 410

reifman writes: Seattleites are struggling with massive traffic, rising housing costs and declining diversity. Amazon's building and acquiring enough office space to triple its local headcount by 2020. Facebook, Google and many other tech companies are now expanding here as well — it's the San Franciscoization of Seattle. Downtown is filled with 75 cranes — some blocks look like mining towns. Amazon's hired so many white males that King County is now the whitest in the nation and hate crimes against gays have shot up in a formerly LGBTQ neighborhood. Politicians can't agree on reforming impact fees and taxes to address these issues." An interesting piece of recent advice from a long time Amazonian to the company's interns: avoid full-time employment there.

Well-Played: Microsoft Parlays NSF Video 'Remake' Into National CS K-12 Crisis 69 69

theodp writes: K–12 computer science and information technology teachers head to Grapevine, TX this week for the 2015 CSTA Conference. A glance at the draft agenda shows a remarkable number of presenters employed by or tied to two-year-old, the tech-bankrolled nonprofit that coincidentally sprung up together with Mark Zuckerberg's PAC just months after Microsoft called for the creation of a national K-12 CS and tech immigration crisis to advance its agenda.'s shaping of the nation's CS K-12 education began with the release of its tech-billionaire and celebrity-studded, slickly-produced What Most Schools Don't Teach video, which went viral on YouTube after being promoted by politicians, Facebook, Google, and a Microsoft-sponsored theatrical release, sparking a groundswell of interest in expanding K-12 CS education, succeeding where a similarly-themed-and-messaged but decidedly-amateurish National Science Foundation video of real-but-little-known computer scientists failed just months earlier (YouTube Doubler comparison). (More, below.)

Ask Slashdot: How Should Devs Deal With Trademark Trolls? 99 99

An anonymous reader writes: I'll start off by admitting that trademark infringement wasn't something that was on my mind when I released my first application. Like many other developers I was concentrating on functionality, errors, and getting the thing published. I did a cursory Google search and search of the app stores to make sure no other apps were using the same name, but that's about the extent of my efforts to avoid trademark infringement. After all, I'm spending hundreds of hours of my own time to make an app that I'm giving away with the hopes to make some ad money or sell paid versions down the road. Hiring a lawyer for advice and help didn't seem like a reasonable expenditure since I'm pretty sure my income per hour of coding was under $1 for the first year or two. Besides, it's something I do on the side because I enjoy coding, not for my main source of income.

My first app was published in early 2010. I followed up with a paid version, then a couple other small apps that perform functions I wanted on my phone. I continue to maintain my apps and offer bug fixes, user support, and the occasional feature request. My income isn't tremendous, but it's steady. Nothing to brag about, but also not something I'd willingly give up.

Earlier this year I got a notice from Google that someone had submitted a takedown request for one of my applications based on a trademark infringement claim."
(Read on below for the rest of the story, and the question.)

13% of CompSci Grads Have Starting Salaries Over $100K 264 264

itwbennett writes: That was one of the findings of a survey of 50,000 U.S. college students and recent graduates by Looksharp, a marketplace for internships and entry-level jobs. For general findings across all majors, check out the State of College Hiring Report 2015. But the company shared some more computer science-specific findings with Phil Johnson. Among them: "Of all majors, students studying in CS had the highest average starting salary, $66,161." And, what's more, they know the value of their degree: "On average, they expected a starting salary of $68,120, slightly above the actual average starting salary of $66,161."

Computer Program Fixes Old Code Faster Than Expert Engineers 167 167

An anonymous reader writes: Less than two weeks after one group of MIT researchers unveiled a system capable of repairing software bugs automatically, a different group has demonstrated another system called Helium, which "revamps and fine-tunes code without ever needing the original source, in a matter of hours or even minutes." The process works like this: "The team started with a simple building block of programming that's nevertheless extremely difficult to analyze: binary code that has been stripped of debug symbols, which represents the only piece of code that is available for proprietary software such as Photoshop. ... With Helium, the researchers are able to lift these kernels from a stripped binary and restructure them as high-level representations that are readable in Halide, a CSAIL-designed programming language geared towards image-processing. ... From there, the Helium system then replaces the original bit-rotted components with the re-optimized ones. The net result: Helium can improve the performance of certain Photoshop filters by 75 percent, and the performance of less optimized programs such as Microsoft Windows' IrfanView by 400 to 500 percent." Their full academic paper (PDF) is available online.

Microsoft Offers Washington a Bargain: More State Taxes, For More Education 161 161

reifman writes: The Washington State Legislature and its budget is a complete mess this year but there's been an unusual bright spot which may quiet the protesters Slashdot reported earlier: Microsoft has volunteered for an exclusive $28 million annual tax — as long as the state funds a number of computer science degree programs. Visions of these faded after the 2008 recession when the legislature cut $4 billion from K-12 and higher education spending in part to cover the coming legalization and amnesty for Microsoft's Nevada tax dodge (students' tuitions only increased 58.6 percent.) With Microsoft's voluntary tax, the company will have fully repaid its $8.75 billion tax dodge by 2327, just 312 years from now.

WebAssembly and the Future of JavaScript 175 175

Nerval's Lobster writes: WebAssembly is the next stage in the evolution of client-side scripting. In theory, it will improve on JavaScript's speed. That's not to say that JavaScript is a slowpoke: Incremental speed improvements have included the rollout of asm.js (an optimized subset) in 2013. But WebAssembly—while not a replacement for JavaScript—is intended as a "cure" for a variety of issues where JavaScript isn't always a perfect fit, including video editing, encryption, peer-to-peer, and more. (Here's a full list of the Web applications that WebAssembly could maybe improve.) If WebAssembly is not there to replace JavaScript but to complement it, the key to the integration rests with the DOM and Garbage Collected Objects such as JavaScript strings, functions (as callable closures), Typed Arrays and Typed objects. The bigger question is, will WebAssembly actually become something big, or is it ultimately doomed to suffer the fate of other hyped JavaScript-related platforms such as Dart (a Google-only venture), which attracted buzz ahead of a Minimum Viable Product release, only to quickly fade away afterward?

Study: Women Less Likely To Be Shown Ads For High-paid Jobs On Google 233 233

An anonymous reader writes: A team of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University has found that women seeking jobs are less likely to be shown ads on Google for high-paying jobs than men. The researchers created more than 17,000 fake profiles, which were shown roughly 600,000 ads on career-finding websites (abstract). All of the profiles shared the same browsing behavior. "One experiment showed that Google displayed adverts for a career coaching service for '$200k+' executive jobs 1,852 times to the male group and only 318 times to the female group." The article notes, "Google allows users to opt out of behavioral advertising and provides a system to see why users were shown ads and to customize their ad settings. But the study suggests that there is a transparency and overt discrimination issue in the wider advertising landscape."

A Real-Time Map of All the Objects In Earth's Orbit 41 41

rastos1 writes: It started as a passion project in April for 18-year-old James Yoder, an alum of FIRST Robotics, the high school robotics competition. He wanted to learn more about 3D graphics programming and WebGL, a JavaScript API. It's, a real-time, 3D-visualized map of all objects looping around Earth, from satellites to orbital trash. In total, tracks 150,000 objects. Type in a satellite name to scope out its altitude, figure out its age, group satellites by type, and so on.