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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?
Space

Bad Code May Have Crashed Schiaparelli Mars Lander (nature.com) 163

cadogan west writes "In the accordance with the longstanding tradition of bad software wrecking space probes (See Mariner 1), it appears a coding bug crashed the ESA's latest attempt to land on Mars." Nature reports: Thrusters, designed to decelerate the craft for 30 seconds until it was metres off the ground, engaged for only around 3 seconds before they were commanded to switch off, because the lander's computer thought it was on the ground. The lander even switched on its suite of instruments, ready to record Mars's weather and electrical field, although they did not collect data...

The most likely culprit is a flaw in the craft's software or a problem in merging the data coming from different sensors, which may have led the craft to believe it was lower in altitude than it really was, says Andrea Accomazzo, ESA's head of solar and planetary missions. Accomazzo says that this is a hunch; he is reluctant to diagnose the fault before a full post-mortem has been carried out... But software glitches should be easier to fix than a fundamental problem with the landing hardware, which ESA scientists say seems to have passed its test with flying colours.

Google

Oracle Will Officially Appeal Its 'Fair Use' Loss Against Google (arstechnica.com) 99

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The massive Oracle v. Google litigation has entered a new phase, as Oracle filed papers (PDF) yesterday saying it will appeal its loss on "fair use" grounds to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. For a brief recap of the case: after Oracle purchased Sun Microsystems and acquired the rights to Java, it sued Google in 2010, saying that Google infringed copyrights and patents related to Java. The case went to trial in 2012. Oracle initially lost but had part of its case revived on appeal. The sole issue in the second trial was whether Google infringed the APIs in Java, which the appeals court held are copyrighted. In May, a jury found in Google's favor after a second trial, stating that Google's use of the APIs was protected by "fair use." Oracle's appeal is no surprise, but it will be a long shot. The four-factor "fair use" test is a fairly subjective one, and Oracle lawyers will have to argue that the jury's unanimous finding must be overturned. There are various ways a jury could arrive at the conclusion that Google was protected by fair use. The case will go back to the Federal Circuit, the same appeals court that decided APIs could be copyrighted in the first place. That decision overruled U.S. District Judge William Alsup, the lower court judge, and was extremely controversial in the developer community. However, the same decision that insisted APIs can be copyrighted clearly held the door open to the idea that "fair use" might apply. Unless Oracle pulls off a stunning move on appeal, its massive legal expenditures in this case will be for naught.
AI

'Picat' Programming Language Creators Surprised With A $10,000 Prize (bcexcelsior.com) 63

An anonymous reader writes: "I didn't even know they gave out prizes," said a Brooklyn College CS professor, remembering how he'd learned that a demo of the Picat programming language won a $10,000 grand prize last month at the NYC Media Lab Summit. Professor Neng-Fa Zhou created Picat with programmer Jonathan Fruhman, and along with graduate student Jie Mei they'd created a demo titled "The Picat Language and its Application to Games and AI Problems" to showcase the language's ability to solve combinatorial search problems, "including a common interface with CP, SAT, and MIP solvers."

Mie tells the Brooklyn College newspaper that Picat "is a multi-paradigm programming language aimed for general-purpose applications, which means theoretically it can be used for everything in life," and Zhou says he wants to continue making the language more useful in a variety of settings. "I want this to be successful, but not only academically... When you build something, you want people to use it. And this language has become a sensation in our community; other people have started using it."

Mozilla

Rust Implements An IDE Protocol From Red Hat's Collaboration With Microsoft and Codenvy (infoworld.com) 49

An anonymous reader quotes InfoWorld: Developers of Mozilla's Rust language, devised for fast and safe system-level programming, have unveiled the first release of the Rust Language Service, a project that provides IDEs and editors with live, contextual information about Rust code. RLS is one of the first implementations of the Language Server Protocol, co-developed by Microsoft, Codenvy, and Red Hat to standardize communications between IDEs and language runtimes.

It's another sign of Rust's effort to be an A-list language across the board -- not only by providing better solutions to common programming problems, but also cultivating first-class, cutting-edge tooling support from beyond its ecosystem...

The Rust Language Service is "pre-alpha", and the whole Language Service Protocol is only currently supported by two IDEs -- Eclipse and Microsoft's Visual Studio Code. Earlier InfoWorld described it as "a JSON-based data exchange protocol for providing language services consistently across different code editors and IDEs," and one of the Rust developers has already developed a sample RLS client for Visual Studio Code.
Communications

Russians Seek Answers To Central Moscow GPS Anomaly (yahoo.com) 176

stevegee58 writes: Russians have been noticing that their GPS doesn't work in Moscow near the Kremlin. Everyone from taxi drivers to Pokemon Go players suddenly notice that they're transported 18 miles away at the airport when they near the Kremlin. While this may be an annoyance to the public it seems like a reasonable countermeasure to potential terrorist threats. Is it only a matter of time before other vulnerable sites such as the White House or the Capitol in Washington start doing the same? "A programmer for Russian internet firm Yandex, Grigory Bakunov, said Thursday his research showed a system for blocking GPS was located inside the Kremlin, the heavily guarded official residence of Russian President Vladimir Putin," reports Yahoo. "The first anomaly was recorded in June, according to Russian media reports, which have also suggested that the GPS interference comes and goes in a pattern. Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Thursday he did not know why the malfunction was occurring and admitted experiencing the problem himself when driving recently. Peskov redirected questions to Russia's Federal Guards Service, which is responsible for protecting the Kremlin and senior Russian officials."
PlayStation (Games)

Mark Cerny, Chief PlayStation Architect, Explains the PS4 Pro (theverge.com) 71

Sony's PlayStation 4 Pro, which launches next month on November 10th, is the company's most powerful console that will be capable of outputting 4K and HDR content, including movies, TV shows and games. In an effort to find out how developers will make use of the console and whether or not the PS4 Pro will in any way undermine the audience of the current PS4, The Verge sat down with Mark Cerny, Sony's chief PlayStation architect, and asked him some questions. The Verge reports: The PS4 Pro is 2.28 times more powerful than its predecessor, but not everything will run in native 4K
Instead of using an entirely new GPU, Cerny said the PS4 Pro is using a "double-sauced one." In effect, the new console has a second, identical GPU configured next to the original, more than doubling the processing power of the Pro. While the standard PS4 produces 1.8 teraflops, the PS4 Pro achieves 4.2 teraflops. This is how the device can achieve native 4K and, in some cases, what Cerny said are results "extremely close to 4K." For select software, including games like adventure title Horizon Zero Dawn and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, the PS4 Pro will use a crafty technique called checkerboard rendering to achieve 2160p resolution. Checkboard rendering changes the formation of pixels to achieve higher-fidelity graphics.

Standard PS4 games will play just the same unless devs patch them
For the more than 700 or so existing PS4 games, Cerny said the goal was to ensure those titles played smoothly no matter what. That's why the Pro incorporates an identical GPU. Because the new console has "the old GPU next to a mirror version of itself," Sony can support existing games with a simple trick: "We just turn off the second GPU," he said. Developers can patch these titles to boost graphics and performance in very subtle ways. But unless you have a 4K television, the difference will not be substantial.

Sony says it doesn't want games released solely for the PS4 Pro
When asked whether Sony would ever let a game run exclusively on the PS4 Pro, Cerny was blunt. "We're putting a very high premium on not splitting the user base in that fashion," he said. That doesn't rule out the possibility that, two or even three years down the line, a game comes out that relies so heavily on the hardware improvements of the Pro that it becomes unplayable on the standard PS4. Cerny wouldn't really speak much to that scenario, saying that Sony is asking developers to take advantage of the new console without leaving older hardware behind.
You can also watch Mark Cerny chat with PlayStation Blog's Sid Shuman about the creation of the PS4 Pro here on YouTube.

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