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Programming

Vandalism Detection Contest Sponsored For Wikidata (wsdm-cup-2017.org) 38

Remember when Bing Maps lost a city because they used bad Wikipedia data? An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: Since knowledge bases like Wikidata are poised to be integrated into all kinds of information systems, wrong facts are not just displayed on Wikidata's pages but may propagate directly to all systems using the knowledge base. Hence, detecting and reverting vandalism and other kinds of damaging edits is an even more important task than on Wikipedia. Recently, German scientists published the first machine learning-based approach on vandalism detection in Wikidata, and now Adobe sponsors a competition on vandalism detection, the WSDM Cup Challenge, awarding $2500 for the best-performing solutions that will also be published open source.
"Given a Wikidata revision, compute a vandalism score denoting the likelihood of this revision being vandalism (or similarly damaging)," read the official rules, pushing for a near real-time solution to be submitted before December 22. And the winners will also be invited to the headquarters of Wikimedia Germany to discuss implenting their solutions.
Education

Stephen Wolfram Reveals Ambitious Plan to Teach Computational Thinking (stephenwolfram.com) 76

Can we teach future generations how to solve their problems with computers? Slashdot reader mirandakatz writes: Doctors, lawyers, teachers, farmers -- whatever the profession, it'll soon be full of computational thinking. Mathematica and Wolfram Alpha creator Stephen Wolfram argues on Backchannel that it's essential we start teaching kids to talk to computers today to ensure their success in the future -- and he's got a comprehensive lesson plan.
Arguing that Wikipedia popularized "a more direct style of presenting information," Wolfram writes that computer-assisted education continues the trend, "taking things which could only be talked around, and turning them into things that can be shown through computation directly and explicitly." Wolfram's 11,000-word essay adds that "with all the knowledge and automation that we've built into the Wolfram Language we're finally now to the point where we have the technology to be able to directly teach broad computational thinking, even to kids.." (And without having to start off with loops and conditionals...)
Microsoft

Microsoft Hopes To Hire More Coders With Autism (fastcompany.com) 226

Autistic people are methodical and detail-oriented, and a new Microsoft program is trying to hire more of them, according to Fast Company. Slashdot reader tedlistens writes: Vauhini Vara takes a look at the at the (difficult) efforts of Microsoft to recruit more autistic engineers and make a more neurodiverse workplace, through the lens of one of those coders. "The program, which began in May 2015, does away with the typical interview approach, instead inviting candidates to hang out on campus for two weeks and work on projects while being observed and casually meeting managers who might be interested in hiring them. Only at the end of this stage do more formal interviews take place.

"The goal is to create a situation that is better suited to autistic people's styles of communicating and thinking. Microsoft isn't the first to attempt something like this: The German software firm SAP, among a handful of others, have similar programs -- but Microsoft is the highest-profile company to have gone public with its efforts, and autistic adults are hoping it will spark a broader movement."

One autistic coder says they make better employees because "You don't have to tell someone not to go home early. They'll just stay." But there's also a push to bring different analytical and creative approaches into Microsoft's company culture. The article ultimately asks the question, "Could the third-largest corporation in the world make the case that hiring and employing autistic people, with all their social and intellectual quirks, was good, not bad, for business?"
AI

Google's DeepMind Develops New Speech Synthesis AI Algorithm Called WaveNet (qz.com) 46

Artem Tashkinov writes: Researchers behind Google's DeepMind company have been creating AI algorithms which could hardly be applied in real life aside from pure entertainment purposes -- the Go game being the most recent example. However, their most recent development, a speech synthesis AI algorithm called WaveNet, beats the two existing methods of generating human speech by a long shot -- at least 50% by Google's own estimates. The only problem with this new approach is that it's very computationally expensive. The results are even more impressive considering the fact that WaveNet can easily learn different voices and generate artificial breaths, mouth movements, intonation and other features of human speech. It can also be easily trained to generate any voice using a very small sample database. Quartz has a voice demo of Google's current method in its report, which uses recurrent neural networks, and WaveNet's method, which "uses convolutional neural networks, where previously generated data is considered when producing the next bit of information." The report adds, "Researchers also found that if they fed the algorithm classical music instead of speech, the algorithm would compose its own songs."
Databases

Israeli DDoS Provider 'vDOS' Earned $600,000 In Two Years (krebsonsecurity.com) 74

pdclarry writes: Brian Krebs writes that he has obtained the hacked database of an Israeli company that is responsible for most of the large-scale DDoS attacks over the past (at least) 4 years. The vDOS database, obtained by KrebsOnSecurity.com at the end of July 2016, points to two young men in Israel as the principle owners and masterminds of the attack service, with support services coming from several young hackers in the United States. Records before 2012 were not in the dump, but Krebs believes that the service has actually been operating for decades. The report starts by saying, "vDos -- a so-called 'booter' service has earned in excess of $600,000 over the past two years helping customers coordinate more than 150,000 so-called distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks designed to knock websites offline -- has been massively hacked, spilling secrets about tens of thousands of paying customers and their targets." In regard to how long the service has been operating, Krebs believes the service has been operating for decades "because the data leaked in the hack of vDOS suggests that the proprietors erased all digital records of attacks that customers launched between Sept. 2012 (when the service first came online) and the end of March 2016."
Google

Google To Buy Apigee For $625 Million To Expand Enterprise (bloomberg.com) 30

An anonymous reader shares a Bloomberg report:Google is buying software development toolmaker Apigee for $625 million, the latest move by the search giant to bulk up its cloud-based offerings for businesses. Alphabet Inc.'s Google has agreed to pay $17.40 a share in cash, San Jose, California-based Apigee said in a statement Thursday. That's a 6.5 percent premium to Apigee's closing price Wednesday. The companies expect the deal to be completed by the end of the year. Apigee sells a platform that aids companies in managing their APIs, which are programming tools that help developers build software that talks to each other and shares information without revealing the underlying code. APIs have become an integral part of cloud software development, allowing one application to pull data and use services from multiple other programs. "The addition of Apigee's API solutions to Google cloud will accelerate our customers' move to supporting their businesses with high quality digital interactions" Diane Greene, senior vice president of Google's cloud business, said in a blog post, referring to application program interface products.
Japan

Japan To Develop 3D Maps For Self-Driving Cars (nikkei.com) 25

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Nikkei: A joint venture in Japan will begin creating high-definition 3D maps for self-driving cars in September as part of a government effort to have such vehicles on the road by 2020, when the Tokyo Summer Olympics will be held. Tokyo-based Dynamic Map Planning, set up by Mitsubishi Electric, mapmaker Zenrin and nine automakers, will digitally chart the country's key expressways by driving a vehicle loaded with special surveying equipment. The data will be processed using computers designed for the creation of maps, which will be provided to automakers that invest in the startup. As a first step, Dynamic Map Planning will make maps covering 300km of the country's main expressways. The combination of high-resolution 3D maps and sensors will enable the accurate detection of which lane a car is in and the distance to junctions. High-precision surveying technology is required to make the maps, so Mitsubishi Electric developed equipment that will be installed on a canvassing vehicle. GPS will track the location of the car on the map, and sensors designed to detect the inclination of the car will measure the road grades. At the same time, data including the locations of road signs and traffic lights, as well as right- and left-turns and pedestrian crossings, will be collected using lasers. The survey data will be displayed as a collection of dots. Lines on the road, such as lanes, noise barriers and road signage, will be plotted on that image to faithfully re-create road conditions for 3D maps.
KDE

QtCon Opens In Berlin (qtcon.org) 38

Long-time Slashdot reader JRiddell writes: A unique coming together of open source communities is happening in Berlin over the next week. QtCon brings together KDE, Qt, VLC and FSF-E to discuss free software, open development, community management and proprietary coding. Live streams of many of the talks are available now. The opening keynote spoke of open data and collaborative coding freeing accessibility information. 13 tracks of talks cover Community, Web, Best practices, Automotive, Mobile and Embedded, Let's talk business, Tooling, QtQuick, Multithreading, OpenGL and 3D.
China

US Would Be 28th In 'Hacking Olympics', China Would Take The Gold (infoworld.com) 112

After analyzing 1.4 million scores on HackerRank's tests for coding accuracy and speed, Chinese programmers "outscored all other countries in mathematics, functional programming, and data structures challenges". Long-time Slashdot reader DirkDaring quotes a report from InfoWorld: While the United States and India may have lots of programmers, China and Russia have the most talented developers according to a study by HackerRank... "If we held a hacking Olympics today, our data suggests that China would win the gold, Russia would take home a silver, and Poland would nab the bronze. Though they certainly deserve credit for making a showing, the United States and India have some work ahead of them before they make it into the top 25."
While the majority of scores came from America and India, the two countries ranked 28th and 31st, respectively. "Poland was tops in Java testing, France led in C++, Hong Kong in Python, Japan in artificial intelligence, and Switzerland in databases," reports InfoWorld. Ukrainian programmers had the top scores in security, while Finland showed the highest scores for Ruby.
Democrats

Clinton's First Email Server Was a Power Mac Tower (arstechnica.com) 223

An anonymous reader shares with us an excerpt from a report via Ars Technica: As she was being confirmed as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton contacted Colin Powell to ask him about his use of a Blackberry while in the same role. According to a Federal Bureau of Investigations memorandum published today (PDF), Powell warned Clinton that if it became public that she was using a Blackberry to "do business," her e-mails would be treated as "official" record and be subject to the law. "Be very careful," Powell said according to the FBI. "I got around it all by not saying much and not using systems that captured the data." Perhaps Clinton's troubles began when she switched from a Blackberry-hosted e-mail account to an account on her Clintonemail.com domain -- a domain hosted on an Apple Power Mac "G4 or G5" tower running in the Clintons' Chappaqua, New York residence. The switch to the Power Mac as a server occurred the same month she exchanged messages with Powell. The Power Mac, originally purchased in 2007 by former President Clinton's aide Justin Cooper, had acted as the server for presidentclinton.com and wjcoffice.com. Cooper managed most of the technology support for Bill Clinton and took charge of setting up Hillary Clinton's new personal mail system on the Power Mac, which sat alongside a firewall and network switching hardware in the basement of the Clintons' home. But the Power Mac was having difficulty handling the additional load created by Blackberry usage from Secretary Clinton and her staff, so a decision was made quickly to upgrade the server hardware. Secretary Clinton's deputy chief of staff at the State Department, Huma Abedin, connected Cooper with Brian Pagliano, who had worked in IT for the secretary's 2008 presidential campaign. Cooper inquired with Pagliano about getting some of the campaign's computer hardware as a replacement for the Power Mac, and Pagliano was in the process of selling the equipment off.
Open Source

Is Apache OpenOffice Finally On the Way Out? (apache.org) 137

Reader JImbob0i0 writes: After almost another year without a release and another major CVE leaving users vulnerable for that year the Chairman of the Project Management Committee has started public discussions on what it will entail to retire the project, following the Apache Board showing concern at the poor showing.
It's been a long battle which would have been avoided if Oracle had not been so petty. Did this behaviour actually help get momentum in the community underway though? What ifs are always hard to properly answer. Hopefully this long drawn out death rattle will finally come to a close and the wounds with LibreOffice can heal with the last few contributors to AOO joining the rest of the community.

Operating Systems

OpenBSD 6.0 Released (sdtimes.com) 94

LichtSpektren writes: Version 6.0 of the free operating system OpenBSD has just been released. This release features much improved hardware and armv7 support, a new tool called proot for building software ports in an isolated chroot environment, W^X that is now strictly enforced by default, and removal of official support for Linux emulation, usermount, and systrace. The release announcement can be read here. The release is OpenBSD's 40th release on CD-ROM and 41st release via FTP/HTTP.
AMD

New Intel and AMD Chips Will Only Support Windows 10 (pcworld.com) 585

An anonymous reader writes: Buried in the announcement of the new Kaby Lake (seventh-generation) processors and a rash of incoming notebooks set to use them is the confirmation that they will have a Windows 10 future. Microsoft has been warning people for ages that Kaby Lake will not run on anything older than Windows 10, and it looks like AMD's upcoming Zen chip will be going the same way. Microsoft said, "As new silicon generations are introduced, they will require the latest Windows platform at that time for support. This enables us to focus on deep integration between Windows and the silicon, while maintaining maximum reliability and compatibility with previous generations of platform and silicon." "We are committed to working with Microsoft and our ecosystem partners to help ensure a smooth transition given these changes to Microsoft's Windows support policy," an Intel spokesperson said. "No, Intel will not be updating Win 7/8 drivers for 7th Gen Intel Core [Kaby Lake] per Microsoft's support policy change." An AMD representative was equally neutral. "AMD's processor roadmap is fully aligned with Microsoft's software strategy," AMD chief technical officer Mark Papermaster said, via a company spokeswoman. Slashdot reader MojoKid via HotHardware has some more details on Intel's Kaby Lake 7th Gen Core Series Processors for those yearning to learn more.
Software

Apple To Remove Abandoned Apps From The App Store (techcrunch.com) 67

Apple has issued an email to its community of developers indicating that it will remove apps that are outdated or no longer work. "We are implementing an ongoing process of evaluating apps, removing apps that no longer function as intended, don't follow current review guidelines, or are outdated," Apple wrote. TechCrunch reports: In addition to search ads and extensions in many different apps in iOS 10, Apple plans to remove all these useless apps that clutter the App Store search pages. And Apple is not going to stop at abandoned apps. The company will also fight spammy app names. For instance, if you search for "Instagram" on the App Store, one of the first results is an app that is called "[app name] Photo Collage, Picture Editor, Pic Grid, F... and then it gets cut off. With this SEO strategy, app developers can trick App Store searches. If you search for "pic collage," chances are you're going to find this app. Apple wants clean names to make App Store searches relevant again. From now on, app names have to be shorter than 50 characters. Apple will start reviewing old apps on September 7. Apps that crash on launch will be removed immediately. Other apps will get a notice from Apple first. And if you don't update over the next 30 days, your app will be removed -- you'll be able to submit your app again though. You can view Apple's FAQ if you have any unanswered questions.
Programming

400,000 GitHub Repositories, 1 Billion Files, 14TB of Code: Spaces or Tabs? (medium.com) 391

Here's a debate that refuses to die: given a choice, would you rather use spaces or tabs? An episode of Silicon Valley last season had a bit on this. Now we have more data to analyze people's behavior. A Google developer has looked into 400,000 GitHub repositories -- 1 billion files, 14 terabytes to find that programmers with interest in specific languages do seem to prefer either tabs or spaces. Spoiler alert: space wins, like all the time.
AI

Baidu Open-Sources Its Deep Learning Tools (theverge.com) 27

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and Amazon have all done it -- and now Baidu's doing it, too. The Chinese tech giant has open sourced one of its key machine learning tools, PaddlePaddle, offering the software up to the global community of AI researchers. Baidu's big claim for PaddlePaddle is that it's easier to use than rival programs. Like Amazon's DSSTNE and Microsoft's CNTK, PaddlePaddle offers a toolkit for deep learning, but Baidu says comparable software is designed to work in too many different situations, making it less approachable to newcomers. Xu Wei, the leader of Baidu's PaddlePaddle development, tells The Verge that a machine translation program written with Baidu's software needs only a quarter of the amount of code demanded by other deep learning tools. Baidu is hoping this ease of use will make PaddlePaddle more attractive to computer scientists, and draw attention away from machine learning tools released by Google and Facebook. Baidu says PaddlePaddle is already being used by more than 30 of its offline and online products and services, covering sectors from search to finance to health. Xu said that if one of its machine learning tools became too monopolistic, it would be like "trying to use one programming language to code all applications." Xu doesn't believe that any one company will dominate this area. "Different tools have different strengths," he said. "The deep learning ecosystem will end up having different tools optimized for different uses. Just like no programming language truly dominates software development."
Java

Slashdot Asks: What Are Your Favorite Java 8 Features? (infoworld.com) 427

New submitter liveedu shares with us a report from InfoWorld: When Java 8 was released two years ago, the community graciously accepted it, seeing it as a huge step toward making Java better. Its unique selling point is the attention paid to every aspect of the programming language, including JVM (Java Virtual Machine), the compiler, and other help-system improvements. Java is one of the most searched programming languages according to TIOBE index for July 2016, where Java ranks number one. Its popularity is also seen on LiveCoding, a social live coding platform for engineers around the world, where hundreds and thousands of Java projects are broadcasted live. InfoWorld highlights five Java 8 features for developers in their report: lambda expressions, JavaScript Nashorn, date/time APIs, Stream API and concurrent accumulators. But those features only scratch the surface. What makes Java 8 amazing in your opinion? What are your favorite Java 8 features that help you write high quality code? You can view the entire list of changes made to the programming language here.
Software

Companies Are Developing More Apps With Fewer Developers (fortune.com) 163

Fortune reports that the "yawning gap in tech skills" has resulted in a surprising shift in supply and demand in the software industry. And in many companies now, a growing trend of developer jobs being given to non-developers can be seen. From the article: That's because a relatively new technology, known as low-code or no-code platforms, is now doing a big chunk of the work that high-priced human talent used to do. Low-code platforms are designed so that people with little or no coding or software engineering background -- known in the business as "citizen developers" -- can create apps, both for use in-house and for clients. Not surprisingly, the low-code platform industry, made up of about 40 small companies (so far), is growing like crazy. A recent Forrester Research report put its total revenues at about $1.7 billion in 2015, a figure that's projected to balloon to $15 billion in the next four years. Low-code-platform providers, notes Forrester, are typically seeing sales increases in excess of 50% a year.The report cites QuickBase, a company whose low-code platforms are used by half of the Fortune 500 companies, as an example. Its CEO Allison Mnookin says that almost any employee can now do most or all of the same work that developers used to do. Mnookin adds that there's a big advantage in this. "Opening an app's development to the non-techies who need the app removes misunderstandings between the IT department and other employees about what the end user needs."
Programming

C Programming Language Hits a 15-Year Low On The TIOBE Index (businessinsider.com) 232

Gamoid writes: The venerable C programming language hit a 15-year low on the TIOBE Index, perhaps because more mobile- and web-friendly languages like Swift and Go are starting to eat its lunch. "The C programming language has a score of 11.303%, which is its lowest score ever since we started the TIOBE index back in 2001," writes Paul Jansen, manager of TIOBE Index. With that said, C is still the second most popular programming language in the world, behind only Java. Also worth noting as mentioned by Matt Weinberger via Business Insider, "C doesn't currently have a major corporate sponsor; Oracle makes a lot of money from Java; Apple pushes both Swift and Objective-C for building iPhone apps. But no big tech company is getting on stage and pushing C as the future of development. So C's problems could be marketing as much as anything."

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