Android

Google Launches Android O Developer Preview 3 With Final APIs (venturebeat.com) 16

An anonymous reader quotes a report from VentureBeat: Google today launched the third Android O developer preview, available for download now at developer.android.com and via the Android Beta Program. The preview includes an updated SDK with system images for the Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus Player, Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel C, and the official Android Emulator, and there's even an emulator for testing Android Wear 2.0 on Android O. The big highlight with this preview is that the Android O APIs are now final. Google launched the first Android O developer preview in March and the second developer preview in May at its I/O 2017 developer conference. Google is planning to release one more preview with near-final system images in July and has slated the final version for release "later this summer" (in Q3 2017). Developer Preview 3 includes the latest version of the Android O platform with the final API level 26 and "hundreds of bug fixes and optimizations."
EU

EU Seeks New Powers To Obtain Data 'Directly' From Tech Firms (zdnet.com) 40

Zack Whittaker reports via ZDNet: European authorities are seeking new powers to allow police and intelligence agencies to directly obtain user data stored on the continent by U.S. tech companies. The move comes in the wake of an uptick in terrorist attacks, including several attacks in Britain and France, among others across the bloc. Tech companies have been asked to do more to help law enforcement, while police have long argued the process for gathering data overseas is slow and cumbersome. The bloc's justice commissioner, Vera Jourova, presented several plans to a meeting of justice ministers in Luxembourg on Thursday to speed up access for EU police forces to obtain evidence -- including one proposal to allow police to obtain data "directly" from the cloud servers of U.S. tech companies in urgent cases. "Commissioner Jourova presented at the Justice Council three legislative options to improve access to e-evidence," said Christian Wiga, an EU spokesperson, in an email. "Based on the discussion between justice ministers, the Commission will now prepare a legislative proposal," he added. Discussions are thought to have included what kind of data could be made available, ranging from geolocation data to the contents of private messages. Such powers would only be used in "emergency" situations, said Jourova, adding that safeguards would require police to ensure that each request is "necessary" and "proportionate." Further reading: Reuters
Television

Apple's 'Planet of the Apps' Reality Show Is 'Bland, Tepid, Barely Competent Knock-off of 'Shark Tank' (variety.com) 78

On Tuesday, Apple made its debut into the world of original television programming with "Planet of the Apps," a reality show that brings app developers in a competition to try to get mentoring and assistance from hosts Jessica Alba, will.i.am, Gwyneth Paltrow and entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk. Contestants describe their proposals as they ride an escalator down onto a stage where the judges sit, and then fire questions at the app developer. The problem? Critics aren't pleased. An anonymous reader shares a Variety report: Apple's first offering, "Planet of the Apps," feels like something that was developed at a cocktail party, and not given much more rigorous thought or attention after the pitcher of mojitos was drained. It's not terrible, but essentially, it's a bland, tepid, barely competent knock-off of " Shark Tank." Apple made its name on game-changing innovations, but this show is decidedly not one of them. The program's one slick innovation is the escalator pitch. You read that right; I didn't mistype "elevator pitch." The show begins with an overly brief set-up segment, which doesn't spend much time explaining the rules of the show, and which also assumes that a viewer will know who host Zane Lowe is, though a reasonably large chunk of the audience won't. Soon enough, app developers step into a pitch room with a very long escalator in the middle of it. As the four judges listen (often with looks of glacial boredom on their faces), the aspiring creators have one minute of escalator time to tout the product they want funding for. After the app makers get to the bottom of the conveyance, the judges (or "advisors") vote yea or nay. As long as one judge has given the developers a green light, they can continue making their pitch.
Operating Systems

Ubuntu Works With GNOME To Improve HiDPI Support On Linux Desktop (omgubuntu.co.uk) 85

An anonymous reader shares an article: Canonical is playing host to a 'fractional scaling hackfest' in its Taipei offices this week. Both GNOME developers and Ubuntu developers are in attendance, ready to wrestle with the aim: improve GNOME HiDPI support. Ubuntu's Unity desktop (I'm told, anyhow) plays fairly nice with high DPI monitors because the shell supports fractional scaling (though most apps, I believe, do not). Furthermore, users can tweak some high DPI settings to better suit their display(s). GNOME Shell also supports HiDPI monitors, but has, until now, been a little less flexible about it. "Currently, we only allow to scale windows by integral factors (typically 2). This proves somewhat limiting as there are many systems that are just in between the dpi ranges that are good for scale factor 2, or unscaled," the hackfest page explains.
Chrome

Google Releases Chrome 59 (venturebeat.com) 72

An anonymous reader writes: Google has launched Chrome 59 for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Among the additions are native notifications on macOS, settings being revamped to follow Material Design, the Image Capture API, Headless Chrome, and more service worker improvements. You can update to the latest version now using the browser's built-in silent updater or download it directly from google.com/chrome.
Businesses

Why Women Devs Are Hard To Recruit and Even Harder To Keep (windowsitpro.com) 608

An anonymous reader writes: The results of a recent survey conducted by GitHub sheds light on the issue of why women developers are hard to recruit and keep in the business of tech. Windows IT Pro reports: "The 2017 Open Source Survey 'collected responses from 5,500 randomly sampled respondents sourced from over 3,800 open source repositories on GitHub.com, and over 500 responses from a non-random sample of communities that work on other platforms.' Although the survey focused on open source and asked 50 questions on a wide range of topics that were in no way focused on gender issues alone, some of the data collected offers insight into why the developer industry as a whole has trouble recruiting and keeping female devs. Indeed, the severity of the gender gap in open source is substantial. In the survey, 95 percent of respondents were men, with the response rate from women at only 3 percent -- a degree of under-representation that's not seen elsewhere in this study. Other groups show numbers that are more proportionate to their numbers in the general population, with 'ethnic or national minorities' representing 16 percent of the respondents, immigrants at 26 percent, and 'lesbian, gay, bisexual, asexual, or another minority sexual orientation' at 7 percent. The problems that women in tech face are pretty much what you might expect. Twenty-five percent of the women surveyed report 'encountering language or content that makes them feel unwelcome,' compared with 15 percent of men. Women are six times more likely to encounter stereotyping than men (12 versus 2 percent), and twice as likely to be subjected to unsolicited sexual advances (6 vs 3 percent)."
Businesses

Apple Piles On the Features, and Users Say, 'Enough!' (nytimes.com) 191

In a few hours, Apple will kickstart its annual developer conference. At the event, the company is expected to announce new MacBook laptops, the next major updates for iOS and MacOS, new features of Siri, and a home-speaker. Ahead of the conference, The New York Times has run a story that talks some of the headline announcements that Apple announced last year: one of which was, the ability to order food, scribble doodles and send funny images known as stickers in chats on its Messages app. Speaking with users, engineers and industry insiders, the Times reports that many of its existing features -- including expansion of Messages -- are too complicated for many users to figure out (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled; alternative source). From the report: The idea was to make Messages, one of the most popular apps on the iPhone, into an all-purpose tool like China's WeChat. But the process of finding and installing other apps in Messages is so tricky that most users have no idea they can even do it, developers and analysts say.
Programming

Ask Slashdot: How Does Your Team Track And Manage Bugs In Your Software? 189

Slashdot reader jb373 is a senior software engineer whose team's bug-tracking methodology is making it hard to track bugs. My team uses agile software methodologies, specifically scrum with a Kanban board, and adds all bugs we find to our Kanban board. Our Kanban board is digital and similar to Trello in many regards and we have a single list for bugs... We end up with duplicates and now have a long list to try and scroll through... Has anyone run into a similar situation or do things differently that work well for their team?
The original submission ends with one idea -- "I'm thinking about pushing for a separate bug tracking system that we pull bugs from during refinement and create Kanban cards for." But is there a better way? Leave your own experiences in the comments. How does your team track and manage bugs in your software?
Programming

Jean Sammet, Co-Designer of COBOL, Dies at 89 (nytimes.com) 73

theodp writes: A NY Times obituary reports that early software engineer and co-designer of COBOL Jean Sammet died on May 20 in Maryland at age 89. "Sammet was a graduate student in math when she first encountered a computer in 1949 at the Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign," the Times reports. While Grace Hopper is often called the "mother of COBOL," Hopper "was not one of the six people, including Sammet, who designed the language -- a fact Sammet rarely failed to point out... 'I yield to no one in my admiration for Grace,' she said. 'But she was not the mother, creator or developer of COBOL.'"
By 1960 the Pentagon had announced it wouldn't buy computers unless they ran COBOL, inadvertently creating an industry standard. COBOL "really was very good at handling formatted data," Brian Kernighan, tells the Times, which reports that today "More than 200 billion lines of COBOL code are now in use and an estimated 2 billion lines are added or changed each year, according to IBM Research."

Sammet was entirely self-taught, and in an interview two months ago shared a story about how her supervisor in 1955 had asked if she wanted to become a computer programmer. "What's a programmer?" she asked. He replied, "I don't know, but I know we need one." Within five years she'd become the section head of MOBIDIC Programming at Sylvania Electric Products, and had helped design COBOL -- before moving on to IBM, where she worked for the next 27 years and created the FORTRAN-based computer algebra system FORMAC.
Databases

Insecure Hadoop Servers Expose Over 5 Petabytes of Data (bleepingcomputer.com) 51

An anonymous reader quotes the security news editor at Bleeping Computer: Improperly configured HDFS-based servers, mostly Hadoop installs, are exposing over five petabytes of information, according to John Matherly, founder of Shodan, a search engine for discovering Internet-connected devices. The expert says he discovered 4,487 instances of HDFS-based servers available via public IP addresses and without authentication, which in total exposed over 5,120 TB of data.

According to Matherly, 47,820 MongoDB servers exposed only 25 TB of data. To put things in perspective, HDFS servers leak 200 times more data compared to MongoDB servers, which are ten times more prevalent... The countries that exposed the most HDFS instances are by far the US and China, but this should be of no surprise as these two countries host over 50% of all data centers in the world.

Programming

Ask Slashdot: Is There a Way To Write Working Code By Drawing Flow Charts? 264

Slashdot reader dryriver writes: There appear to be two main ways to write code today. One is with text-based languages ranging from BASIC to Python to C++. The other is to use a flow-based or dataflow programming-based visual programming language where you connect boxes or nodes with lines. What I have never (personally) come across is a way to program by drawing classical vertical (top to bottom) flow charts. Is there a programming environment that lets you do this...?

There are software tools that can turn, say, C code into a visual flow chart representation of said C code. Is there any way to do the opposite -- draw a flowchart, and have that flowchart turn into working C code?

Leave your best answers in the comments.
Java

Java 9 Delayed Due To Modularity Controversy (infoworld.com) 79

An anonymous reader quotes InfoWorld: Java 9 won't be released on July 27 after all. Oracle has proposed that Java 9 Standard Edition be delayed until September 21 so the open source community that is finalizing Java 9 can address the ongoing controversy over a planned but later rejected approach to modularity, said Georges Saab, vice president of software development in the Java platform group at Oracle and chairman of the OpenJDK governing board...

The [Java Platform Module System] measure was sent back to the proposal's expert group for further discussion. Since then, the group has reached consensus on addressing the modularity concerns, Saab said. But they cannot rework Java 9 in time for the original July 27 release date... If the revised JSR 376 approved, as expected, work can proceed on implementing it in the official version of Java 9 SE. This setback for Java 9s upcoming upgrade, however, should just be temporary, with Oracle expecting a more rapid cadence of Java SE releases going forward, Saab said.

IOS

App Store Earnings For Developers Exceed $70 Billion; App Downloads Up 70% YoY (macstories.net) 63

Apple announced today that since it launched in 2008, developers have earned over $70 billion from the App Store. From an article: "People everywhere love apps and our customers are downloading them in record numbers," said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. "Seventy billion dollars earned by developers is simply mind-blowing." According to Apple's press release, subscriptions saw a 58 percent increase year over year, fueled by their availability in all 25 app categories. Games and Entertainment are the App Store's top grossing categories, Lifestyle and Health and Fitness apps have experienced 70 percent growth, and the Photo and Video category is up over 90 percent.
Security

Motorcycle Gang Busted For Hacking and Stealing Over 150 Jeep Wranglers (bleepingcomputer.com) 83

An anonymous reader writes: "The FBI has arrested members of a motorcycle gang accused to have hacked and stolen over 150 Jeep Wranglers from Southern California, which they later crossed the border into Mexico to have stripped down for parts," reports Bleeping Computer. What stands apart is how the gang operated. This involved gang members getting the Jeep Wrangler VIN (Vehicle Identification Number), accessing a proprietary Jeep database, and getting two codes needed to create a duplicate replacement key. Gang members used one code to cut the key, while they used the second code while stealing the car, connecting a handheld programming computer to the car, and programming the replacement key's chip, synchronizing it to the car's dashboard. All of this took under 2 minutes and was also possible because Jeep Wranglers allow thieves to pop the hood from the outside of the car and disable the alarm even before using their non-authenticated replacement key. Officials say that all the database queries for the stolen VIN codes came from a Jeep dealer in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Court documents don't say if the dealer cooperated or gang members hacked its system. The motorcycle gang's name was Hooligans and the sub-unit that stole the Jeeps was named Dirty 30.
Education

As Computer Coding Classes Swell, So Does Cheating (nytimes.com) 250

An anonymous reader shares a report: College students have flooded into computer science courses across the country, recognizing them as an entree to coveted jobs at companies like Facebook and Google, not to mention the big prize: a start-up worth millions. The exploding interest in these courses, though, has coincided with an undesirable side effect: a spate of high-tech collegiate plagiarism. Students have been caught borrowing computer code from their friends or cribbing it from the internet. "There's a lot of discussion about it, both inside a department as well as across the field," said Randy H. Katz, a professor in the electrical engineering and computer science department at the University of California, Berkeley, who discovered in one year that about 100 of his roughly 700 students in one class had violated the course policy on collaborating or copying code. Computer science professors are now delivering stern warnings at the start of each course, and, like colleagues in other subjects, deploy software to flag plagiarism. They have unearthed numerous examples of suspected cheating.
AI

Startup Uses AI To Create Programs From Simple Screenshots (siliconangle.com) 89

An anonymous reader shares an article: A new neural network being built by a Danish startup called UIzard Technologies IVS has created an application that can transform raw designs of graphical user interfaces into actual source code that can be used to build them. Company founder Tony Beltramelli has just published a research paper that reveals how it has achieved that. It uses cutting-edge machine learning technologies to create a neural network that can generate code automatically when it's fed with screenshots of a GUI. The Pix2Code model actually outperforms many human coders because it can create code for three separate platforms, including Android, iOS and "web-based technologies," whereas many programmers are only able to do so for one platform. Pix2Code can create GUIs from screenshots with an accuracy of 77 percent, but that will improve as the algorithm learns more, the founder said.
Stats

Are There More Developers Than We Think? (redmonk.com) 191

JavaScript's npm package manager reports 4 million users, doubling every year, leading to an interesting question from tech industry analyst James Governor: Just how many developers are there out there? GitHub is very well placed to know, given it's where (so much) of that development happens today. It has telemetry-based numbers, with their own skew of course, but based on usage rather than surveys or estimates. According to GitHub CEO Chris Wanstrath, "We see 20 million professional devs in the world as an estimate, from research companies. Well we have 21 million [active] users -- we can't have more users than the entire industry"...

If Github has 21 million active users, Wanstrath is right that current estimates of the size of the developer population must be far too low... Are we under-counting China, for example, given its firewalls? India continues to crank out developers at an astonishing rate. Meanwhile Africa is set for crazy growth too... You certainly can't just count computer science graduates or software industry employees anymore. These days you can't even be an astronomer without learning code, and that's going to be true of all scientific disciplines.

The analyst attributes the increasing number of developers to "the availability, accessibility and affordability of tools and learning," adding "It's pretty amazing to think that GitHub hit 5 million users in 2012, and is now at 20 million." As for the total number of all developers, he offers his own estimate at the end of the essay. "My wild assed guess would be more like 35 million."
Cloud

Is Amazon's AWS Hiring 'Demolishing The Cult Of Youth'? (redmonk.com) 173

Tech analyst James Governor argues that Amazon's cloud business is "demolishing the cult of youth." It just announced it is hiring James Gosling, one of the original inventors of Java... Meanwhile James Hamilton continues to completely kick ass in compute, network, and data center design for AWS... He's in his 50s. Tim Bray, one of the inventors of XML, joined Amazon in 2014. He's another Sun alumni. He's 61 now. He still codes. When you sit down with one of the AWS engineering teams you're sitting down with grownups... Adrian Cockcroft joined AWS in October 2016. He graduated in 1982, not 2002. He is VP Cloud Architecture Strategy at AWS, a perfect role for someone that helped drive Netflix's transition from on-prem Java hairball to serious cloud leadership.

Great engineering is not maths -- it involves tradeoffs, wisdom and experience... The company puts such a premium on independent groups working fast and making their own decisions it requires a particular skillset, which generally involves a great deal of field experience. A related trend is hiring seasoned marketing talent from the likes of IBM. Some other older companies have older distinguished engineers because they grew up with the company. AWS is explicitly bringing that experience in. It's refreshing to the see a different perspective on value.

In a later post the analyst acknowledges engineering managers are generally older than their reports, but adds that "If AWS sees value in hiring engineering leadership from folks that are frankly a bit older than the norm in the industry, isn't that worth shining a light on?" In response to the article, XML inventor Tim Bray suggested a new acronym: GaaS. "Geezers as a service," while Amazon CTO Werner Vogels tweeted "There is no compression algorithm for experience."
Mozilla

Former Mozilla CTO: 'Chrome Won' (andreasgal.com) 272

Responding to Firefox marketing head Eric Petitt's blog post from earlier this week, Andreas Gal, former chief technology officer of Mozilla (who spent seven years at the company) offers his insights. Citing latest market share figures, Gal says "it's safe to say that Chrome is eating the browser market, and everyone else except Safari is getting obliterated." From his blog post (edited and condensed for length): With a CEO transition about 3 years ago there was a major strategic shift at Mozilla to re-focus efforts on Firefox and thus the Desktop. Prior to 2014 Mozilla heavily invested in building a Mobile OS to compete with Android: Firefox OS. I started the Firefox OS project and brought it to scale. While we made quite a splash and sold several million devices, in the end we were a bit too late and we didn't manage to catch up with Android's explosive growth. Mozilla's strategic rationale for building Firefox OS was often misunderstood. Mozilla's founding mission was to build the Web by building a browser. [...] Browsers are a commodity product. They all pretty much look the same and feel the same. All browsers work pretty well, and being slightly faster or using slightly less memory is unlikely to sway users. If even Eric -- who heads Mozilla's marketing team -- uses Chrome every day as he mentioned in the first sentence, it's not surprising that almost 65% of desktop users are doing the same. [...] I don't think there will be a new browser war where Firefox or some other competitor re-captures market share from Chrome. It's like launching a new and improved horse in the year 2017. We all drive cars now. Some people still use horses, and there is value to horses, but technology has moved on when it comes to transportation. Does this mean Google owns the Web if they own Chrome? No. Absolutely not. Browsers are what the Web looked like in the first decades of the Internet. Mobile disrupted the Web, but the Web embraced mobile and at the heart of most apps beats a lot of JavaScript and HTTPS and REST these days. The future Web will look yet again completely different. Much will survive, and some parts of it will get disrupted.
Databases

Vermont DMV Caught Using Illegal Facial Recognition Program (vocativ.com) 109

schwit1 quotes a report from Vocativ: The Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles has been caught using facial recognition software -- despite a state law preventing it. Documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union of Vermont describe such a program, which uses software to compare the DMV's database of names and driver's license photos with information with state and federal law enforcement. Vermont state law, however, specifically states that "The Department of Motor Vehicles shall not implement any procedures or processes that involve the use of biometric identifiers." The program, the ACLU says, invites state and federal agencies to submit photographs of persons of interest to the Vermont DMV, which it compares against its database of some 2.6 million Vermonters and shares potential matches. Since 2012, the agency has run at least 126 such searches on behalf of local police, the State Department, FBI, and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.

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