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Microsoft

Microsoft Introduces GVFS (Git Virtual File System) (microsoft.com) 213

Saeed Noursalehi, principal program manager at Microsoft, writes on a blog post: We've been working hard on a solution that allows the Git client to scale to repos of any size. Today, we're introducing GVFS (Git Virtual File System), which virtualizes the file system beneath your repo and makes it appear as though all the files in your repo are present, but in reality only downloads a file the first time it is opened. GVFS also actively manages how much of the repo Git has to consider in operations like checkout and status, since any file that has not been hydrated can be safely ignored. And because we do this all at the file system level, your IDEs and build tools don't need to change at all! In a repo that is this large, no developer builds the entire source tree. Instead, they typically download the build outputs from the most recent official build, and only build a small portion of the sources related to the area they are modifying. Therefore, even though there are over 3 million files in the repo, a typical developer will only need to download and use about 50-100K of those files. With GVFS, this means that they now have a Git experience that is much more manageable: clone now takes a few minutes instead of 12+ hours, checkout takes 30 seconds instead of 2-3 hours, and status takes 4-5 seconds instead of 10 minutes. And we're working on making those numbers even better.
Programming

GitLab Says It Found Lost Data On a Staging Server (theregister.co.uk) 101

GitLab.com, the wannabe GitHub alternative that went down hard earlier this week and reported data loss, has said that some data is gone but that its services are now operational again. From a report The Register: The incident did not result in Git repos disappearing. Which may be why the company's PR reps characterised the lost data as "peripheral metadata that was written during a 6-hour window". But in a prose account of the incident, GitLab says "issues, merge requests, users, comments, snippets, etc" were lost. The Register imagines many developers may not be entirely happy with those data types being considered peripheral to their efforts. GitLab's PR flaks added that the incident impacted "less than 1% of our user base." But the firm's incident log says 707 users have lost data. The startup, which has raised over $25 million, added that it lost six hours of data and asserted that the lost doesn't include users' code.
Data Storage

GitLab.com Melts Down After Wrong Directory Deleted, Backups Fail (theregister.co.uk) 356

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Register: Source-code hub Gitlab.com is in meltdown after experiencing data loss as a result of what it has suddenly discovered are ineffectual backups. On Tuesday evening, Pacific Time, the startup issued the sobering series of tweets, starting with "We are performing emergency database maintenance, GitLab.com will be taken offline" and ending with "We accidentally deleted production data and might have to restore from backup. Google Doc with live notes [link]." Behind the scenes, a tired sysadmin, working late at night in the Netherlands, had accidentally deleted a directory on the wrong server during a frustrating database replication process: he wiped a folder containing 300GB of live production data that was due to be replicated. Just 4.5GB remained by the time he canceled the rm -rf command. The last potentially viable backup was taken six hours beforehand. That Google Doc mentioned in the last tweet notes: "This incident affected the database (including issues and merge requests) but not the git repos (repositories and wikis)." So some solace there for users because not all is lost. But the document concludes with the following: "So in other words, out of 5 backup/replication techniques deployed none are working reliably or set up in the first place." At the time of writing, GitLab says it has no estimated restore time but is working to restore from a staging server that may be "without webhooks" but is "the only available snapshot." That source is six hours old, so there will be some data loss.
Facebook

Facebook's Parse Is Shutting Down Today (parse.com) 14

Facebook acquired Parse, a toolkit and support system for mobile developers, in 2013. At the time, the social network's ambitions were high: Parse would be Facebook's way into one day harnessing developers to become a true cloud business, competing alongside the likes of Amazon, Google and Microsoft. Three years later, Facebook announced it would be shutting down Parse. Today is that day. From Parse's status page: As we previously shared, the Parse service is shutting down today. Throughout the day we will be disabling the Parse API on an app-by-app basis. When your app is disabled, you will not be able to access the data browser or export any data, and your applications will no longer be able to access the Parse API.
Oracle

Oracle Effectively Doubles Licence Fees To Run Its Stuff in AWS (theregister.co.uk) 198

Oracle has changed the way it charges users to run its software in Amazon Web Services, effectively doubling the cost along the way. From a report: Big Red's previous licensing regime recognised that AWS's virtual CPUs were a single thread of a core that runs two threads. Each virtual CPU therefore counted as half a core. That's changed: Oracle's new cloud licensing policy says an AWS vCPU is now treated as a full core if hyperthreading is not enabled. A user hiring two AWS vCPUS therefore needs to pay full freight for both, effectively doubling the number of Oracle licences required to run Big Red inside AWS. And therefore doubling the cost as well. The new policy also says: "When counting Oracle Processor license requirements in Authorized Cloud Environments, the Oracle Processor Core Factor Table is not applicable." That table says Xeons cores count as half a licence. Making the Table inapplicable to the cloud again doubles the licence count required.
Communications

US Intelligence Seeks a Universal Translator For Text Search In Any Language (arstechnica.com) 47

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency (IARPA), the U.S. Intelligence Community's own science and technology research arm, has announced it is seeking contenders for a program to develop what amounts to the ultimate Google Translator. IARPA's Machine Translation for English Retrieval of Information in Any Language (MATERIAL) program intends to provide researchers and analysts with a tool to search for documents in their field of concern in any of the more than 7,000 languages spoken worldwide. The specific goal, according to IARPA's announcement, is an "'English-in, English-out' information retrieval system that, given a domain-sensitive English query, will retrieve relevant data from a large multilingual repository and display the retrieved information in English as query-biased summaries." Users would be able to search vast numbers of documents with a two-part query: the first giving the "domain" of the search in terms of what sort of information they are seeking (for example, "Government," "Science," or "Health") and the second an English word or phrase describing the information sought (the examples given in the announcement were "zika virus" and "Asperger's syndrome"). The system would be used in situations like natural disasters or military interventions in remote locations where the military has little or no local language expertise. Those taking on the MATERIAL program will be given access to a limited set of machine translation and automatic speech recognition training data from multiple languages "to enable performers to learn how to quickly adapt their methods to a wide variety of materials in various genres and domains," the announcement explained. "As the program progresses, performers will apply and adapt these methods in increasingly shortened time frames to new languages... Since language-independent approaches with quick ramp up time are sought, foreign language expertise in the languages of the program is not expected." The good news for the broader linguistics and technology world is that IARPA expects the teams competing on MATERIAL to publicly publish their research. If successful, this moonshot for translation could radically change how accessible materials in many languages are to the rest of the world.

Japan

Japanese Government Requires Java and Internet Explorer 11 X86 81

Long time reader AmiMoJo writes: Japan has introduced "My Number", a social security number assigned to citizens and used to access government services. Unfortunately, the My Number management web portal requires the Java plug-in. Because this plug-in is deprecated in many browsers, only Internet Explorer 11 (32 bit) and Safari on Mac are supported. The explanation (translated) given for this is that in order to access My Number contactless card readers Java is the only option. Some browsers support IC card access but it seems that it is not mature enough to be viable.
Programming

Software Engineers Are the Heroes of New Computer History Museum Exhibit (ieee.org) 115

Tekla Perry writes: The Computer History Museum set out to turn the spotlight on software engineers and show how they are the changing the world. But what projects to feature in the new, permanent exhibit [called "Make Software: Change the World!"] (that opens to the public this Saturday, January 28th)? The curators whittled a list of 100 technologies that owe their existence to breakthroughs in software down to seven: Photoshop, the MP3, the MRI, car crash simulation, Wikipedia, texting, and World of Warcraft. They expect these choices to be debated at length, in particular, World of Warcraft, but hope the exhibition elevates the prominence of software engineers and gets more than a few middle schoolers talking about targeting their career plans in that direction.
Databases

Breach Notification Website LeakedSource Allegedly Raided By Feds (csoonline.com) 35

Breach notification service LeakedSource may be permanently shut down after the owner of the site was raided earlier this week. "At the start of the new year, LeakedSource indexed more than 3 billion records," reports CSO Online. "Their collection is the result of information sharing between a number of sources, including those who hacked the data themselves. Access to the full archive requires a membership fee." From the report: On the OGFlip forum Thursday, a user posted vague details about the LeakedSource raid, but Salted Hash has been unable to verify the claims. The U.S. Department of Justice will not comment, refusing to confirm or deny any investigations related to LeakedSource. The operators of the notification service itself have been offline for several days, and the LeakedSource website stopped working late Tuesday evening. The message from OGF reads as follows: âoeLeakedsource is down forever and won't be coming back. Owner raided early this morning. Wasn't arrested, but all SSD's got taken, and Leakedsource servers got subpoena'd and placed under federal investigation. If somehow he recovers from this and launches LS again, then I'll be wrong. But I am not wrong. (sic)"
Google

Gmail Will Soon Block JavaScript File Attachments (androidpolice.com) 53

Starting February 13, 2017, Google will not allow JavaScript files to be sent as an attachment via Gmail in an effort to reduce malicious attacks. Android Police reports: Malicious emails often attach various forms of executable programs and trick users into running them. These include standard Windows executables (.exe), batch files (.bat), and even JavaScript files (.js). If you're not familiar with web development, JavaScript is a common language used when developing web applications, and JS files are often loaded as part of web pages. However, opening an unknown JS file on Windows can be dangerous, as it runs inside Windows Script Host by default. From there, the script can easily run Windows executables. While blocking .js attachments is a step in the right direction, it is unclear if any warnings will be shown when receiving emails with JS files attached. Source: G Suite Updates
Oracle

Oracle Lays Off More Than 1,000 Employees (zdnet.com) 171

An anonymous reader writes: According to the Mercury News, Oracle is laying off approximately 450 employees in its Santa Clara hardware systems division. Reports at The Layoff, a discussion board for technology business firings, claim about 1,800 employees company-wide are being pink-slipped. Oracle claims the company isn't closing the Santa Clara facility with this reduction in force. Instead, "Oracle is refocusing its Hardware Systems business, and for that reason, has decided to lay off certain of its employees in the Hardware Systems Division."
Programming

C++ Creator Wants To Solve 35-Year-Old Generic Programming Issues With Concepts (cio.com) 339

C++ creator Bjarne Stroustrup is arguing that we can improve code by grounding generic programming in concepts -- what's required by a template's arguments. An anonymous reader quotes Paul Krill's report on a new paper by Stroustrup: In concepts, Stroustrup sees the solution to the interface specification problem that has long dogged C++, the language he founded more than 35 years ago. "The way we write generic code today is simply too different from the way we write other code," Stroustrup says... Currently an ISO technical specification, concepts provide well-specified interfaces to templates without runtime overhead. Concepts, Stroustrup writes, are intended to complete C++'s support for generic programming as initially envisioned. "The purpose of concepts is to fundamentally simplify and improve design. This leads to fewer bugs and clearer -- often shorter -- code"...

Concepts, Stroustrup believes, will greatly ease engineers' ability to write efficient, reliable C++ code... The most obvious effect will be a massive improvement in the quality of error messages, but the most important long-term effect will be found in the flexibility and clarity of code, Stroustrup says. "In particular, having well-specified interfaces allows for simple, general and zero-overhead overloading of templates. That simplifies much generic code"

Concepts are already available in GNU C Compiler 6.2, and Stroustrup wants them to be included in C++ 20. "In my opinion, concepts should have been part of C++ 17, but the committee couldn't reach consensus on that."
Databases

Database Attacks Spread To CouchDB, Hadoop, and ElasticSearch Servers (bleepingcomputer.com) 67

An anonymous reader writes: Two weeks after cybercriminal groups started to hijack and hold for ransom MongoDB servers, similar attacks are now taking place against CouchDB, Hadoop, and ElasticSearch servers. According to the latest tallies, the number of hijacked MongoDB servers is 34,000 (out of 69,000 available on Shodan), 4,681 ElasticSearch clusters (out of 33,000), 126 Hadoop datastores (out of 5,400), and 452 CouchDB databases (out of 4,600). Furthermore, the group that has hijacked the most MongoDB and ElasticSearch servers is also selling the scripts it used for the attacks.
Two security researchers are tracking the attacks on Google spreadsheets, and report that when a ransom is paid, many victims still report that their data is never restored. But the researchers also identified 124 Hadoop servers where the attacker simply replaced all the tables with a data entry named NODATA4U_SECUREYOURSHIT. "What's strange about these attacks is that the threat actor isn't asking for a ransom demand," reports Bleeping Computer. "Instead, he's just deleting data from Hadoop servers that have left their web-based admin panel open to remote connections on the Internet."
Education

The 32-Bit Dog Ate 16 Million Kids' CS Homework (code.org) 161

"Any student progress from 9:19 to 10:33 a.m. on Friday was not saved..." explained the embarrassed CTO of the educational non-profit Code.org, "and unfortunately cannot be recovered." Slashdot reader theodp writes: Code.org CTO Jeremy Stone gave the kids an impromptu lesson on the powers of two with his explanation of why The Cloud ate their homework. "The way we store student coding activity is in a table that until today had a 32-bit index... The database table could only store 4 billion rows of coding activity information [and] we didn't realize we were running up to the limit, and the table got full. We have now made a new student activity table that is storing progress by students. With the new table, we are switching to a 64-bit index which will hold up to 18 quintillion rows of information.
The issue also took the site offline, temporarily making the work of 16 million K-12 students who have used the nonprofit's Code Studio disappear. "On the plus side, this new table will be able to store student coding information for millions of years," explains the site's CTO. But besides Friday's missing saves, "On the down side, until we've moved everything over to the new table, some students' code from before today may temporarily not appear, so please be patient with us as we fix it."

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