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Earth

Null Island: The Land of Lousy Directional Data (vice.com) 91

An anonymous reader writes: Null Island is one of the world's most visited places for directional data that doesn't exist in real life. The Wall Street Journal reports (Warning: source may be paywalled): "In the world of geographic information systems, the island is an apparition that serves a practical purpose. It lies at 'zero-zero,' a mapper's shorthand for zero degrees latitude and zero degrees longitude. By a programming quirk introduced by developers, those are the default coordinates where Google maps and other digital Global Positioning System applications are directed to send the millions of users who make mistakes in their searches. [About seven years ago, Mr. Kelso, who had heard the phrase used by other cartographers, encoded Null Island as the default destination for mistakes into a widely used public-domain digital-mapping data set called Natural Earth, which has been downloaded several million times. On a whim, he made the location at zero-zero appear as a tiny outcrop one-meter square. In no time at all, other mappers gave the 'island' its own natural geography, created a website, and designed T-shirts and a national flag.]" If you're feeling cognitively lazy, you can watch the short animated YouTube video explaining Null Island.
Open Source

A Smaller Version of Raspberry Pi 3 Is Coming Soon (pcworld.com) 89

An anonymous reader quotes a report from PCWorld: A smaller version of the popular Raspberry Pi 3 will go on sale in a few months. Raspberry Pi is developing a new version of its Compute Module, a single-board computer that plugs into specific on-board memory slots. The new Pi will be more like a mini-computer inside a computer, and it won't come with a power supply. The Compute Module will have similar circuitry to that of Raspberry Pi 3, a wildly successful computer that can be a PC replacement. But it will be smaller, with the memory, CPU, and storage embedded tightly on a board. While the Compute Module will have a 64-bit ARM processor like the Pi 3, it won't have Wi-Fi, Eben Upton, founder of Raspberry Pi, said in an interview with IDG News Service. The Compute Module could ship as soon as this quarter, Upton said. It will be priced similar to its predecessor, the 2-year-old Compute Module, available from reseller RS Components for about $24. The older Compute Module is based on the original Raspberry Pi. Like Raspberry Pi 3, the new Compute Module will work with Linux and Microsoft's Windows 10 IoT Core, Upton said. A Compute Module Development Kit, in which the Compute Module can be slotted for testing, may also be sold. The Development Kit could have multiple connectivity and port options, much like the Raspberry Pi 3. Last month, the biggest manufacturer of the Raspberry Pi, Premier Farnell, was acquired by Swiss industrial component supplier Daetwyler Holding AG for roughly $871 million.
Communications

Emirati Man Gets 3-Month Prison Sentence Over Instagram Insult (go.com) 96

An anonymous reader quotes a report from ABC News: A state-owned newspaper in the United Arab Emirates is reporting that an Emirati man has received a three-month prison sentence and a fine after being convicted of insulting his brother on Instagram. The Arabic-language newspaper Al Etihad reported on Thursday that the man's brother became upset after finding his photo on his brother's Instagram account with an expletive as the caption. The newspaper says the unidentified defendant also must pay a 250,000-dirham ($68,000) fine under the sentence from the Khor Fakkan Court of Misdemeanors. The newspaper says the defendant planned to appeal. In other insult-related stories, we asked Slashdotters back in April, "What are some insults no developer wants to hear?" Some of the standout responses include: "Wow this is microsoft quality!" and "It compiled cleanly, so he shipped it."
Graphics

NVIDIA's Releases Its First VR Game, Along With An Interactive Screenshot Tool 'Ansel' (techgage.com) 20

Deathspawner writes: NVIDIA has today released a Game Ready GeForce driver that introduces its interactive screenshot tool 'Ansel.' Named after famed photographer Ansel Adams, this new tool requires a developer to integrate up to a couple hundred lines of code to give players the ability to pause their game, move around the environment, and then capture a more "artistic" image. To further that artistic value, users will have the ability to apply filters as well as capture an image in high-res 360 mode so that they can be viewed properly with a virtual-reality (VR) headset. Currently, Ansel supports only a single game -- Mirror's Edge Catalyst -- but NVIDIA promises that many more supported titles are on the way. In addition, NVIDIA has released its first ever video game via Steam that just so happens to be a VR game. The game is called VR Funhouse and is available for free via Steam but is only playable on the HTC Vive. The game consists of a virtual-reality carnival and employs many NVIDIA graphics technologies, like collision-based haptic feedback and advanced physics simulation.
Television

Apple Launching Reality TV Show Called 'Planet of the Apps' (venturebeat.com) 62

theodp writes: The Verge reports Apple is making good on an earlier threat to create a reality TV show about app developers. An open casting call has been issued for "Planet of the Apps," with the goal of finding "100 of the world's most talented app creators" -- news which VentureBeat suggests must be making Steve Jobs' ghost weep. Apple has teamed up with Propagate, a new production company created by the producer of "The Biggest Loser." The description of the show says: "Join us on the search for the next great app in a new original series. Those selected will have the chance to receive hands-on guidance from some of the most influential experts in the tech community, featured placement on the App Store, and funding from top-tier VCs." The show is expected to be released in 2017.
Bitcoin

Ex-Google Engineer Launches Blockchain-Based System For Banks (reuters.com) 62

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: A former Google engineer, whose speech recognition software is used in more than a billion Android smartphones, has launched a company that uses blockchain technology to build a new operating system for banks. Paul Taylor, a Cambridge University academic with an expertise in artificial intelligence, speech synthesis and machine learning, started working on the system, called Vault OS, two years ago in a basement in London's Shoreditch district, known for being a tech start-up hub. The technology, which underpins the digital currency bitcoin, creates a shared database in which participants can trace every transaction ever made. The ledger is tamper-proof and transparent, meaning that transactions can be processed without the need for third-party verification. The system also negates the need for costly in-house data centers, as it uses cloud-based systems, which banks can use on a "pay-as-you-go" basis, which means that there is no single point of failure. Taylor said major high-street banks were spending around a billion pounds ($1.3 billion) a year on computer technology, much of which he said was being used for propping up the current "legacy" systems rather than on any innovative technology. The start-up has been working with about ten banks, Taylor said, at least one of which would be starting a trial using the new system in August. He expects the system to be up-and-running within about a year. In banking-related news, a Congressional report shows that China's spies hacked into computers at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) from 2010 until 2013 and American government officials tried to cover it up.
Software

90% Of Software Developers Work Outside Silicon Valley (qz.com) 180

An anonymous reader shares a Quartz report: So much code to write, so few developers. The chronic talent shortage afflicting Silicon Valley is now all over the US -- and the developers are too. A study by the software trade group The App Association analyzed government and private sector data to map where software developers live, and it identified 223,054 open positions around the country. It found that most developers live far away from the technology epicenter of Silicon Valley, and job openings follow a similar pattern. The upshot: Silicon Valley-style talent wars are moving away from tech hubs to smaller metro and even rural areas. Everywhere from rural Vermont to the middle of Montana is in need of programmers. "You can find places where you didn't expect software developers to be, but they are part of the local economy," said association spokesman Jonathan Godfrey in an interview. "It's pretty much everywhere."
Firefox

Mozilla Will Ship Its First Rust Component In Firefox 48 (softpedia.com) 167

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Softpedia: Mozilla announced today plans to ship its first ever Rust code with the production releases of Firefox. The first ever Rust components will arrive in Firefox 48, scheduled for release on August 2, 2016. After teasing Rust features last year, the Mozilla Foundation announced today that Firefox 48 would contain a new media stack component that's entirely coded in Rust. The first Firefox component to feature Rust code was not chosen at random because media components often execute malicious code when parsing multimedia files. "This makes a memory-safe programming language like Rust a compelling addition to Mozilla's tool-chest for protecting against potentially malicious media content on the Web," says Dave Herman, Director of Strategy at Mozilla Research. During tests of this Rust-based media component in Firefox's unstable builds, Mozilla says that after one billion uses they have yet to see a crash or issue in the Rust media component. Last month, Mozilla released the first versions of Servo, a minimal browser created in Rust code alone. At around the same time, Microsoft open-sourced Checked C, an extension to the C programming language that brings new features to address a series of security-related issues.
DRM

Sega Saturn's DRM Cracked Almost 23 Years After Launch (gamasutra.com) 96

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Gamasutra: The Sega Saturn's DRM has finally been cracked after it hit store shelves nearly 23 years ago in November 1994. Engineer James Laird-Wah first set forth to break through the console's copy protection in an attempt to harness its chiptune capabilities. Laird-Wah has, however, developed a way to run games and other software from a USB stick in the process. Since disc drive failure is a common fault with the game console, his method circumvents the disc drive altogether, instead reworking the Video CD Slot so it can take games stored on a USB stick and run them directly through the Saturn's CD Block. "This is now at the point where, not only can it boot and run games, I've finished just recently putting in audio support, so it can play audio tracks," explained Laird-Wah, speaking to YouTuber debuglive. "For the time being, I possess the only Saturn in the world that's capable of writing files to a USB stick. There's actually, for developers of home-brew, the ability to read and write files on the USB stick that's attached to the device.
Databases

Leaky Database Leaves Oklahoma Police, Bank Vulnerable To Intruders (dailydot.com) 16

blottsie quotes a report from The Daily Dot: A leaky database has exposed the physical security of multiple Oklahoma Department of Public Safety facilities and at least one Oklahoma bank. The vulnerability -- which has reportedly been fixed -- was revealed on Tuesday by Chris Vickery, a MacKeeper security researcher who this year has revealed numerous data breaches affecting millions of Americans. The misconfigured database, which was managed by a company called Automation Integrated, was exposed for at least a week, according to Vickery, who said he spoke to the company's vice president on Saturday. Reached on Tuesday, however, an Automation Integrated employee said "no one" in the office was aware of the problem. Vickery was able to retrieve images of various doors, locks, RFID access panels, and the controller board of an alarm system all of which could be previously accessed without a username or password. The database also contained "details on the make, model, location, warranty coverage, and even whether or not the unit was still functional," Vickery said. What's worse is that Automated Integration is far from the only company whose database are left exposed online. "I have a constantly fluctuating list of 50 to 100 similar breaches that need to be reported," he said. "This one just happened to involve a security-related company and government buildings, so it got bumped to the top of my list."
Databases

FBI Has Collected 430,000 Iris Scans In 'Pilot Program' (theverge.com) 32

An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Verge: The Verge has obtained documents that reveal the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department has been collecting iris data from at least 200,000 arrestees over the last two and a half years. The department was collecting an average of 189 iris scans each day in the early months of 2016. The activity is part of a larger pilot program organized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. "Since its launch in 2013, the program has stockpiled iris scans from 434,000 arrestees, an FBI spokesperson confirmed," reports The Verge. Through information-sharing agreements with various other agencies across the country, the new national biometric database stretches the traditional boundaries of a pilot program, and just barely stays out of reach of privacy mandates. The Verge reports: "A 2013 memo signed by representatives from the FBI and California Department of Justice summarizes responsibilities. At that time, according to the memo, the FBI had more than 30,000 images but did not have a way to search through them. The length of the California program was to be kept at one year, and reassessed after, but the documents show the partnership has been renewed every year since. The FBI would not comment on numbers from any particular source. However, 'operations reports' obtained by The Verge through the California Public Records Act requests the catalogue of the program's progress and suggest the state has been a major asset in the construction of the database. A document dated February of this year lists more than a quarter of a million 'enrollments' in the database from the California Department of Justice. In both 2014 and 2015, according to the document, more than 100,000 records were added to the system. Those scans are sent to the FBI by the California Justice Department, which in turn receives them from three counties: Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Riverside. Despite its relatively small population, the documents show San Bernardino County made more than 190,000 enrollments alone since 2014, far outpacing Los Angeles and Riverside counties." The pilot program has no privacy impact assessment "because the pilot was conducted with very limited participation for a limited period of time in order to evaluate iris technology," an FBI representative told The Verge. The vast majority of the 430,000 enrollments were added after that determination was made. The bureau is reportedly in the process of creating a privacy impact assessment but there's no word as to when that will be complete. In June, the Government Accountability Office published a report that says the FBI has access to hundreds of millions of photos.
Programming

Linus Torvalds In Sweary Rant About Punctuation In Kernel Comments (theregister.co.uk) 523

An anonymous reader shares a report on The Register: Linus Torvalds has unleashed a sweary rant on the Linux Kernel Mailing List, labelling some members "brain-damaged" for their preferred method of punctuating comments. "Can we please get rid of the brain-damaged stupid networking comment syntax style, PLEASE?" the Linux Lord asked last Friday. "If the networking people cannot handle the pure awesomeness that is a balanced and symmetric traditional multi-line C style comments, then instead of the disgusting unbalanced crap that you guys use now, please just go all the way to the C++ mode."Torvalds despises the following two comment-punctuation styles (with his comments):/* This is disgusting drug-induced
* crap, and should die
*/
and:/* This is also very nasty
* and visually unbalanced */
Torvalds prefers the following two styles:/* This is a comment */ and:/*
* This is also a comment, but it can now be cleanly
* split over multiple lines
*/

Android

Google To Train 2 Million Indian Android Developers (thestack.com) 360

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Stack: Google has announced its new "Android Fundamentals" training program, which aims to train and certify up to two million Android developers in India. The course, soon to be available online and at schools country-wide, is focused on training, testing, and certifying Android developers to prepare students for careers using Android technology. Google is currently working to update the skills of its existing trainers to prepare them to teach the Fundamentals course, as well as updating course materials to provide students a solid foundation in Android development. The new program works with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'Skill India' initiative, launched in 2015 with the intent of training 400 million Indian citizens with new vocational skills by 2022. Caesar Sengupta, VP Product Management for Google, said that while India is forecasted to have the largest developer population in the world by 2018, with almost four million developers, only a quarter of them are currently building for mobile.
Android

Ask Slashdot: How Often Do You Switch Programming Languages? 331

An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: I always see a lot of different opinions about programming languages, but how much choice do you really get to have over which language to use? If you want to develop for Android, then you're probably using Java...and if you're developing for iOS, then you've probably been using Swift or Objective-C. Even when looking for a job, all your most recent job experience is usually tied up in whatever language your current employer insisted on using. (Unless people are routinely getting hired to work on projects in an entirely different language than the one that they're using now...)

Maybe the question I really want to ask is how often do you really get to choose your programming languages... Does it happen when you're swayed by the available development environment or intrigued by the community's stellar reputation, or that buzz of excitement that keeps building up around one particular language? Or are programming languages just something that you eventually just fall into by default?

Leave your answers in the comments. How often do you switch programming languages?
Programming

Assembly Code That Took America to the Moon Now Published On GitHub (qz.com) 74

An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: "The code that took America to the moon was just published to GitHub, and it's like a 1960s time capsule," reports Quartz. Two lines of code include the comment "# TEMPORARY, I HOPE HOPE HOPE," and there's also a quote from Shakespeare's play Henry VI. In addition, the keyboard and display system program is named PINBALL_GAME_BUTTONS_AND_LIGHT, and "There's also code that appears to instruct an astronaut to 'crank the silly thing around.'"

A former NASA intern uploaded the thousands of lines of assembly code to GitHub, working from a 2003 transcription made from scans inherited by MIT from a Colorado airplane pilot, and developers are already using GitHub to submit funny issue tickets for the 40-year-old code -- for example, "Extension pack for picking up Matt Damon". Another issue complains that "A customer has had a fairly serious problem with stirring the cryogenic tanks with a circuit fault present." Because this issue succinctly describes the Apollo 13 mission in 1970, the issue has been marked "closed".

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