Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×
Microsoft

Google Joins Microsoft's .NET Foundation (venturebeat.com) 93

Emil Protalinski, writing for VentureBeat:As part of its slew of announcements at its Connect(); 2016 developer event in New York City today, Microsoft unveiled that Google is joining the .NET Foundation. Specifically, Google is becoming a member of the Technical Steering Group, which Microsoft says "reinforces the vibrancy of the .NET developer community" and also underlines "Google's commitment to fostering an open platform that supports businesses and developers who have standardized on .NET." [...] So what does Google joining actually mean? In short, Google will help steer the future of .NET in a way that is "similar to an open standard," Xamarin cofounder and Microsoft's current vice president of mobile developer tools, Nat Friedman, told VentureBeat. Google's decision is being driven by its enterprise business (Google Cloud) and the desire to keep up with businesses adopting public and hybrid clouds. The company sees the move as part of its commitment to open-source technology, which benefits all enterprises, and cross-platform development that gives developers and IT professionals access to the best tools.
Medicine

Chemical Traces On Your Phone Reveal Your Lifestyle, Scientists Say (theguardian.com) 80

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Scientists say they can deduce the lifestyle of an individual, down to the kind of grooming products they use, food they eat and medications they take, from chemicals found on the surface of their mobile phone. Experts say analysis of someone's phone could be a boon both to healthcare professionals, and the police. "You can narrow down male versus female; if you then figure out they use sunscreen then you pick out the [people] that tend to be outdoorsy -- so all these little clues can sort of narrow down the search space of candidate people for an investigator," said Pieter Dorrestein, co-author of the research from the University of California, San Diego. Writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers from the U.S. and Germany describe how they swabbed the mobile phone and right hand of 39 individuals and analyzed the samples using the highly sensitive technique of mass spectrometry. The results revealed that each person had a distinct "signature" set of chemicals on their hands which distinguished them from each other. What's more, these chemicals partially overlapped with those on their phones, allowing the devices to be distinguished from each other, and matched to their owners. Analysis of the chemical traces using a reference database allowed the team to match the chemicals to known substances or their relatives to reveal tell-tale clues from each individual's life -- from whether they use hair-loss treatments to whether they are taking antidepressants.
Businesses

Charter Customer Sues Over Hidden Fees, Claims 'Massive Billing Fraud' (arstechnica.com) 96

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: A Charter customer has sued the cable company, alleging that it falsely advertises a lower price than it actually charges and falsely tells customers that extra fees tacked onto their bills are mandated by the government. The complaint, filed in California State Superior court in San Diego, takes aim at the "Broadcast TV" and "Sports Programming" surcharges that are added to customers' bills despite not being included in the advertised rate. "Charter is committing massive billing fraud by disguising price increases above the advertised and promised service package price in the form of the bogus 'Broadcast TV and Sports Programming Surcharges' line item on customer bills," said the lawsuit filed last week by Michael Song. The plaintiff is a subscriber in California, where Charter, the second largest cable company in the US after Comcast, operates via its newly acquired Time Warner Cable (TWC) subsidiary. Song is paying an extra $8.75 a month from those two fees combined. In addition to subtracting the fees from the advertised price, Charter falsely tells customers that it collects the fees to comply with government mandates, the lawsuit says. A Charter/TWC bill from last month is included in the complaint, and it says, "TWC imposes surcharges to recover costs of complying with its governmental obligations." Song's complaint also has a transcript of a chat with a Charter customer service agent, who claimed that Charter pays the broadcast fee back to the government. The customer service agent apparently has only a limited grasp of English, but the chat transcript helps illustrate one of the ways in which customers are being misinformed about their bills. Song's lawsuit repeatedly refers to the Broadcast TV and Sports Programming surcharges as "bogus" and "hidden," since they subtract a portion of the standard monthly charges from the "services" section of the bill.
Operating Systems

Samsung Really, Really Wants Developers To Build Tizen Apps (theinquirer.net) 122

Samsung wants developers to build apps for its homegrown Tizen mobile operating system, and it is offering cash prizes to do so. From a report on The Inquirer:The firm has launched the Tizen Mobile App Incentive Programme, which offers devs whose apps feature in the top 100 most downloaded rankings (can't be that hard, surely) a $10,000 reward. The firm will pay up to $1m a month from February to September 2017, Samsung said, making a total of $9m up for grabs. Developers will be able to sign up for the Tizen incentive programme from January 2017, and the firm explained that applications must be developed using the Tizen SDK and aimed at the Tizen-powered Samsung Z1, Z2 and Z3.
Desktops (Apple)

Microsoft is Bringing Visual Studio To Mac (techcrunch.com) 133

Microsoft will finally bring Visual Studio, a "true mobile-first, cloud-first development tool for .NET and C#," to Mac later this month, the company has said. From a report on TechCrunch:The IDE is very similar to the one found on Windows. In fact, that is presumably the point. By making it easy for OS X users to switch back and forth between platforms, Microsoft is able to ensure coders can quickly become desktop agnostic or, barring that, give Windows a try again. From the release: "At its heart, Visual Studio for Mac is a macOS counterpart of the Windows version of Visual Studio. If you enjoy the Visual Studio development experience, but need or want to use macOS, you should feel right at home. Its UX is inspired by Visual Studio, yet designed to look and feel like a native citizen of macOS. And like Visual Studio for Windows, it's complemented by Visual Studio Code for times when you don't need a full IDE, but want a lightweight yet rich standalone source editor.
Movies

More Code In Movies: Nmap Meets Snowden (nmap.org) 73

After Saturday's story about the code samples in the new movie Arrival, an anonymous reader reminded us of this classic essay at Nmap.org: For reasons unknown, Hollywood has decided that Nmap is the tool to show whenever hacking scenes are needed... While Nmap had been used in some previous obscure movies, it was The Matrix Reloaded which really turned Nmap into a movie star!
Nmap.org has a tradition -- the first person to notify them when new Nmap appears in a new movie wins a signed copy of Nmap Network Scanning "or a T-shirt of your choice from the Zero Day Clothing Nmap Store." (The site adds that "movie script writers, artists, and digital asset managers are also welcome to email Fyodor for advice.") And Nmap.org just added another film, Oliver Stone's new movie about Edward Snowden. In one early scene, Snowden is given a network security challenge at a CIA training class which is expected to take 5 to 8 hours. But with the help Nmap and a custom Nmap NSE script named ptest.nse, Snowden stuns the professor by completing everything in 38 minutes!
According to the site, even the movie's trailer features Nmap. Anybody else have their own favorite stories about code in the movies?
Java

Java's Open Sourcing Still Controversial Ten Years Later (infoworld.com) 89

An anonymous reader quotes InfoWorld: Sun Microsystems officially open-sourced Java on November 13, 2006... "The source code for Java was available to all from the first day it was released in 1995," says [Java creator James] Gosling, who is now chief architect at Liquid Robotics. "What we wanted out of that was for the community to help with security analysis, bug reporting, performance enhancement, understanding corner cases, and a whole lot more. It was very successful." Java's original license, Gosling says, allowed people to use the source code internally but not redistribute. "It wasn't 'open' enough for the 'open source' crowd," he says... While Gosling has taken Oracle to task for its handling of Java at times, he sees the [2006] open-sourcing as beneficial. "It's one of the most heavily scrutinized and solid bodies of software you'll find. Community participation was vitally important..."

A former Oracle Java evangelist, however, sees the open source move as watered down. "Sun didn't open-source Java per se," says Reza Rahman, who has led a recent protest against Oracle's handling of enterprise Java. "What they did was to open-source the JDK under a modified GPL license. In particular, the Java SE and Java EE TCKs [Technology Compatibility Kits] remain closed source."

Rahman adds that "Without open-sourcing the JDK, I don't think Java would be where it is today."
Movies

How Stephen Wolfram Devised Interstellar Travel (And Code Samples) For 'Arrival' (backchannel.com) 102

The new movie "Arrival" depicts first contact with aliens, and its producers faced the question of how interstellar spacecraft would actually work. They turned to futurist Stephen Wolfram, who came up with an answer overnight, and also tasked his son with writing much of the computer code seen on displays in the movie. Slashdot reader mirandakatz brings us Wolfram's story: Christopher was well aware that code shown in movies often doesn't make sense (a favorite, regardless of context, seems to be the source code for nmap.c in Linux). But he wanted to create code that would make sense, and would actually do the analyses that would be going on in the movie... For instance, there's a nice shot of rearranging alien "handwriting," in which one sees a Wolfram Language notebook with rather elegant Wolfram Language code in it. And, yes, those lines of code actually do the transformation that's in the notebook. It's real stuff, with real computations being done...

For the movie, I wanted to have a particular theory for interstellar travel. And who knows, maybe one day in the distant future it'll turn out to be correct. But as of now, we certainly don't know. In fact, for all we know, there's just some simple "hack" in existing physics that'll immediately make interstellar travel possible.

Wolfram's theory posited that space is just one of the attributes emerging from a low-level network of nodes, where long-range connections occasionally break out of three-dimensional space altogether. His 6,900-word essay (originally published on his blog) also suggests film-making has "some structural similarities" with software development -- and grapples with the question of how we'd actually communicate with aliens once they've arrived.
Programming

'Here Be Dragons': The Seven Most Vexing Problems In Programming (infoworld.com) 497

InfoWorld has identified "seven of the gnarliest corners of the programming world," which Slashdot reader snydeq describes as "worthy of large markers reading, 'Here be dragons.'" Some examples:
  • Multithreading. "It sounded like a good idea," according to the article, but it just leads to a myriad of thread-managing tools, and "When they don't work, it's pure chaos. The data doesn't make sense. The columns don't add up. Money disappears from accounts with a poof. It's all bits in memory. And good luck trying to pin down any of it..."
  • NP-complete problems. "Everyone runs with fear from these problems because they're the perfect example of one of the biggest bogeymen in Silicon Valley: algorithms that won't scale."

The other dangerous corners include closures, security, encryption, and identity management, as well as that moment "when the machine runs out of RAM." What else needs to be on a definitive list of the most dangerous "gotchas" in professional programming?


Movies

IMDb Sues California To Overturn Law Forcing Them To Remove Actors' Ages (theguardian.com) 68

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) is suing California over a law forcing the website to remove the ages of actors on request, saying it is unconstitutional. California passed a law in September ruling that "a commercial online entertainment employment service provider" would be required to remove details of the age of any of its subscribers within five days, on the request of the subscriber. The law was intended to fight age discrimination in the film industry and had been campaigned for by actors' groups. The president of the union Sag-Aftra wrote in August that actors "face blatant age discrimination every day as websites routinely used for casting talent force birth dates and ages on casting decision-makers without their even realizing it." However, IMDb's suit (pdf) claims that the law "does not advance, much less achieve" the goal of reducing age discrimination, and that it violates both the first amendments and commerce clause of the U.S. constitution. IMDb also claims it separately violates federal law "because it imposes liability on IMDb based on factual content that is lawfully posted by its users." The website criticizes the state of California for passing the law, saying it has "chosen to chill free speech and undermine public access to factual information." IMDb says it is being unfairly targeted and that the law does not deal with the main cause of age discrimination. The case claims the law is both too broad -- as it includes all film professionals, rather than just those who could expect to be the target of age discrimination such as actors -- and too narrow, as it fails to impose the same restrictions on the "myriad other sources of the same information," such as Wikipedia, Google or specialist websites that list the birthdays of famous people. IMDb also says that subscribers to its paid professional service, IMDb Pro, have been able to edit or remove biographical details about themselves on the site since 2010.
Chrome

Google Says There Are Now 2 Billion Active Chrome Installs (techcrunch.com) 48

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Google is hosting its Chrome Dev Summit today. There hasn't been a lot of news out of the event, but one number that stood out in today's keynote by Chrome Engineering VP Darin Fisher was that there are now 2 billion Chrome installs in active use across desktop and mobile. This is the first time Google has shared this number. Sadly, Google didn't announce any new user numbers for Chrome today. The latest stat for active Chrome users remains at 1 billion -- a number Google shared in April. While this number is surely higher today than it was six months ago, the company decided to focus on the number of active browser install today. "I wanted to make this point that there are a lot of Chrome browsers out there," Fisher said. "What's exciting about this to you all is that when you think about building for the web, there' a lot of browsers out there that implement the latest web standards -- that implement the latest and greatest web features." The report also notes that Google has a total of seven products with more than a billion users: Gmail, Android, Chrome, Maps, Search, YouTube and Google Play Store.
AI

IBM's Project Intu brings Watson's Capabilities To Any Device (siliconangle.com) 17

IBM has launched a new system-agnostic platform called Project Intu with which it aims to bring "embodied cognition" to a range of devices. From a report on SiliconAngle: In IBM's parlance, "cognitive computing" refers to machine learning. The idea behind Project Intu is that developers will be able to use the platform to embed the various machine learning functions offered by IBM's Watson service into various applications and devices, and make them work across a wide spectrum of form factors. So, for example, developers will be able to use Project Intu's capabilities to embed machine learning capabilities into pretty much any kind of device, from avatars to drones to robots and just about any other kind of Internet of Things' device. As a result, these devices will be able to "interact more naturally" with users via a range of emotions and behaviors, leading to more meaningful and immersive experiences for users, IBM said. What's more, because Project Intu is system-agnostic, developers can use it to build cognitive experiences on a wide range of operating systems, be it Raspberry PI, MacOS, Windows or Linux. Project Intu is still an experimental platform, and it can be accessed via the Watson Developer Cloud, the Intu Gateway and also on GitHub.
Ubuntu

Ubuntu Budgie Is Now An Official Ubuntu Flavor (softpedia.com) 49

prisoninmate writes from a report via Softpedia: After two successful major releases, budgie-remix has finally been accepted as an official Ubuntu flavor, earlier today during a meeting where four Canonical technicians voted positive. As such, we're extremely happy to inform our readers that the new Ubuntu flavor is called Ubuntu Budgie. In April this year, when budgie-remix hit the road towards its first major release, versioned 16.04, we reported that David Mohammed was kind enough to inform Softpedia about the fact that he got in touch with Ubuntu MATE leader Martin Wimpress, who urged the developer to target Ubuntu 16.10 for an official status. budgie-remix 16.10 arrived as well this fall shortly after the release of Ubuntu 16.10 (Yakkety Yak), and the dream of becoming an official Ubuntu flavor is now a reality. Re-branding of the official website and the entire distribution is ongoing. "We now move full steam ahead and look forward to working with the Ubuntu Develop Membership Board to examine and work through the technical aspects [...] 17.04 will be our first official release under the new name," said David Mohammed in the announcement.
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: Why Are American Tech Workers Paid So Well? 587

Slashdot reader davidwr is "an American-born, American-educated mid-career IT professional." But he's still curious about why American geeks earn more than their IT counterparts overseas: If I'm a mid-career programmer looking for a job, why should I expect to be paid a whole lot more than my peer in India when applying for a job that could easily be outsourced to India? If I do get the job, why should I expect to keep it more than a year or two instead of being told "your job is being outsourced" before 2020? Is my American education and 5-25 years of experience in the American workplace really worth it to an employer?

Should we, as an industry, lower our salary expectations -- and that of students entering the field -- to make us more competitive with our peers in India and similar "much cheaper labor than first world" economies? If not, what should we be doing to make ourselves competitive in ways that our peers overseas cannot duplicate?

What's the secret ingredient that justifies those higher salaries? Leave your answers in the comments. Why are American tech workers paid so well?
Bug

Two Critical MySQL Bugs Discovered (infoworld.com) 70

An anonymous reader quotes InfoWorld: Two critical privilege escalation vulnerabilities in MySQL, MariaDB, and PerconaDB can help take control of the whole server, which is very bad for shared environments... Administrators need to check their database versions, as attackers can chain two critical vulnerabilities and completely take over the server hosting the database... The first vulnerability, a privilege escalation/race condition flaw, gives elevated privileges to a local system user with access to a database and allows them to execute arbitrary code as the database system user. This gives an attacker access to all of the databases on the affected server... The privilege escalation/race condition flaw can be chained with another critical vulnerability, a root privilege escalation vulnerability, to further elevate the system level user to gain root on the server.
Programming

Adobe Is Working On 'Photoshop For Audio' That Will Let You Add Words Someone Never Said (theverge.com) 161

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Adobe is working on a new piece of software that would act like a Photoshop for audio, according to Adobe developer Zeyu Jin, who spoke at the Adobe MAX conference in San Diego, California today. The software is codenamed Project VoCo, and it's not clear at this time when it will materialize as a commercial product. The standout feature, however, is the ability to add words not originally found in the audio file. Like Photoshop, Project VoCo is designed to be a state-of-the-art audio editing application. Beyond your standard speech editing and noise cancellation features, Project VoCo can also apparently generate new words using a speaker's recorded voice. Essentially, the software can understand the makeup of a person's voice and replicate it, so long as there's about 20 minutes of recorded speech. In Jin's demo, the developer showcased how Project VoCo let him add a word to a sentence in a near-perfect replication of the speaker, according to Creative Bloq. So similar to how Photoshop ushered in a new era of editing and image creation, this tool could transform how audio engineers work with sound, polish clips, and clean up recordings and podcasts. "When recording voiceovers, dialog, and narration, people would often like to change or insert a word or a few words due to either a mistake they made or simply because they would like to change part of the narrative," reads an official Adobe statement. "We have developed a technology called Project VoCo in which you can simply type in the word or words that you would like to change or insert into the voiceover. The algorithm does the rest and makes it sound like the original speaker said those words."
Bug

App Developers Spend Too Much Time Debugging Errors in Production Systems (betanews.com) 167

According to a new study, 43 percent of app developers spend between 10 and 25 percent of their time debugging application errors discovered in production. BetaNews adds: The survey carried out by ClusterHQ found that a quarter of respondents report encountering bugs discovered in production one or more times per week. Respondents were also asked to identify the most common causes of bugs. These were, inability to fully recreate production environments in testing (33 percent), interdependence on external systems that makes integration testing difficult (27 percent) and testing against unrealistic data before moving into production (26 percent). When asked to identify the environment in which bugs are most costly to fix, 62 percent selected production as the most expensive stage of app development to fix errors, followed by development (18 percent), staging (seven percent), QA (seven percent) and testing (six percent).
Google

Google Moves To Upgrade App Store, Aims To Help Developers Bolster Revenue (reuters.com) 25

Google plans to double down on its efforts to help developers of Android apps build their businesses as concerns mount that the app economy has reached saturation. The company is sharpening Google Play store recommendations with AI and expanding support for various payment platforms, among other initiatives, reports Reuters, citing company's top executive. From the article:Many smartphone users, meanwhile, appear to have tired of downloading apps altogether, especially as messaging services like Snapchat perform more of the functions that once required a separate app. Games remain a focus of the Google Play store, and Nintendo is building a version of its popular Super Mario Run game for Android, said Sameer Samat, who leads product management for the Google Play store. The store is also expanding to new platforms, including wearable devices, virtual reality headsets and Google's Chromebook laptops. "What we are excited about is giving developers that single entry point for more and more of the computing ecosystem," said Samat. Google has eased the once-complicated process of developing apps for the Play store, said James Knight, a former Google employee who launched Pembroke, a consultancy that helps developers convert Apple-compatible iOS apps to Android. A big part of Google's new effort involves emerging markets, where Android is stronger relative to the iPhone. To improve app recommendations for users, the Play store has also made extensive use of machine learning, a branch of artificial intelligence that gleans insights from vast troves of data.
Facebook

Facebook Officially Announces Gameroom, Its PC Steam Competitor (techcrunch.com) 116

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: After losing mobile gaming to iOS and Android, Facebook is making a big push into playing on PC with today's developer launch of its Gameroom Windows desktop gaming platform. After months of name changes, beta tests and dev solicitation, Facebook opened up the beta build for all developers and officially named it Gameroom. The app is openly available for users to download on Windows 7 and up. Gameroom let users play web, ported mobile and native Gameroom games in a dedicated PC app free from the distractions of the News Feed. Gameroom will have to fight a steep uphill battle again Valve's Steam platform, which has well over 125 million active users, with millions actually playing at any given moment. Facebook will need to convince developers that Gameroom will share its social network's massive reach and is therefore worth their while. Then it will have to persuade gamers that a more social experience is worth diving into a new platform. If Facebook succeeds, there are plenty of potential benefits to owning a gaming destination. Facebook announced the launch and name change from "Facebook Games Arcade" today at Unity's game development platform conference. Unity 5.6 shipping next year will allow devs to export their games directly to Facebook Gameroom, as well as to the WebGL standard. Facebook's director of global games platform, Leo Olebe, touted how Facebook will feature new games in the Gameroom to give developers a leg up.
Education

Ask Slashdot: What Training Helps Older Programmers Most? 435

brown.dragon is an older programmer moving to Australia. He writes: I want to start an online solution that other programmers find helpful, and right now I'm wondering if I should go with "learning new technologies" or "getting really good at the basics". Both are targeted towards giving a career boost to older programmers...

Would you like to keep in touch with the latest technologies because that's what makes it easy to get jobs? Or would you like to be really good at answering (Google/Facebook/Amazon) algorithmic interview questions?

He asks programmers looking for an online educational tool, "which of these (if any), would interest you?" So leave your answers in the comments. What training do you think would help older programmers most?

Slashdot Top Deals