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'Picat' Programming Language Creators Surprised With A $10,000 Prize ( 61

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."


Rust Implements An IDE Protocol From Red Hat's Collaboration With Microsoft and Codenvy ( 44

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.

Russians Seek Answers To Central Moscow GPS Anomaly ( 175

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 ( 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.

China Overtakes the US in iOS App Store Revenue ( 53

Sarah Perez, writing for TechCrunch: China has now overtaken the U.S. to become the largest market in the world for App Store revenue, according to a new report out this morning from app intelligence firm App Annie. The country earned over $1.7 billion in Q3 2016, which puts it ahead of the U.S. by over 15 percent. The U.S. had been the number one iOS market since 2010, the report notes. Today, Chinese consumers spend more than 5 times the amount they were spending compared with just two years prior. In addition, the report predicts that China will drive the largest absolute revenue growth for any country by 2020. The estimations are likely accurate -- App Annie had said at the beginning of the year that if China's rapid App Store revenue growth continued at the same pace, it would overtake the U.S. by year's end. And that has now occurred. This growth is largely being driven by games, and here, China's lead has also widened over the U.S. during the past quarter. Games drive 75 percent of App Store revenue, even though non-game apps make up the majority (75%) of those distributed in Apple's mobile marketplace.

Half of American Adults Are In a Face-Recognition Database ( 64

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Half of American adults are in a face-recognition database, according to a Georgetown University study released Wednesday. That means there's about 117 million adults in a law enforcement facial-recognition database, the study by Georgetown's Center on Privacy and Technology says. The report (PDF), titled "The Perpetual Line-up: Unregulated Police Face Recognition in America," shows that one-fourth of the nation's law enforcement agencies have access to face-recognition databases, and their use by those agencies is virtually unregulated. Where do the mug shots come from? For starters, about 16 states allow the FBI to use facial recognition to compare faces of suspected criminals to their driver's licenses or ID photos, according to the study. "In this line-up," the study says, "it's not a human that points to the suspect -- it's an algorithm." The study says 26 states or more allow police agencies to "run or request searches" against their databases or driver's licenses and ID photos. This equates to "roughly one in two American adults has their photos searched this way," according to the study. Many local police agencies also insert mug shots of people they arrest into searchable, biometric databases, according to the report. According to the report, researchers obtained documents stating that at least five "major police departments," including those in Chicago, Dallas, and Los Angeles, "either claimed to run real-time face recognition off of street cameras, bought technology that can do so, or expressed an interest in buying it." The Georgetown report's release comes three months after the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) concluded that the FBI has access to as many as 411.9 million images as part of its face-recognition database. The study also mentioned that the police departments have little oversight of their databases and don't audit them for misuse: "Maryland's system, which includes the license photos of over two million residents, was launched in 2011. It has never been audited. The Pinellas Country Sheriff's Office system is almost 15 years old and may be the most frequently used system in the country. When asked if his office audits searches for misuse, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri replied, "No, not really." Despite assurances to Congress, the FBI has not audited use of its face recognition system, either. Only nine of 52 agencies (17%) indicated that they log and audit their officers' face recognition searchers for improper use. Of those, only one agency, the Michigan State Police, provided documentation showing that their audit regime was actually functional."

The Linux Foundation Helps Launch the JS Foundation ( 34

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Softpedia: Today, the Linux Foundation announced the creation of a new entity named the JS Foundation that will serve as an umbrella project and guiding force for various open-source utilities at the heart of the JavaScript ecosystem. The JS Foundation is actually the jQuery Foundation, which was expanded with the help of companies such as IBM and Samsung. With jQuery slowly bowing out to newer tools, the jQuery Foundation's members and their unmatched expertise will most likely be put to good use in managing the slew of new tools making up today's JavaScript landscape. The list of JS Foundation founding members includes Bocoup, IBM, Ripple, Samsung, Sauce Labs, Sense Tecnic Systems, SitePen, StackPath, University of Westminster and WebsiteSetup. In alphabetical order, the JS Foundation's initial projects are Appium, Chassis, Dojo Toolkit, ESLint, Esprima, Globalize, Grunt, Interledger.js, Intern, Jed, JerryScript, jQuery, jQuery Mobile, jQuery UI, Lodash, Mocha, Moment, Node-RED, PEP, QUnit, RequireJS, Sizzle, and webpack. "Using jQuery can constitute the use of a sledgehammer for putting small nails into an Ikea TV stand; however, as a piece of engineering, it really is a thing of beauty," says A. M. Douglas, British freelance web developer. "[T]he word 'jQuery' has become synonymous with 'JavaScript' for many. As of today, jQuery's days as a relevant tool are indeed numbered, but I think jQuery's source code will always have relevance, as it is a brilliant example to study for anybody seeking to learn and master JavaScript," Douglas also adds.

Google's Go Language Surges In Popularity ( 252

2016 saw a big spike in the popularity of Go, attributed to the rising importance of Docker and Kubernetes. An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes InfoWorld: Ranked 65th a year ago in the Tiobe Index of language popularity, it has climbed to 16th this month and is on track to become Tiobe's Programming Language of the Year, a designation awarded to the language with the biggest jump in the index...which gauges popularity based on a formula assessing searches on languages in popular search engines...

Elsewhere in the index, Java again came in first place, with an 18.799 rating while C, still in second place, nonetheless continued its precipitous drop, to 9.835% (it had been 16.185% a year ago). In third was C++ (5.797%) followed by C# (4.367%), Python (3.775%), JavaScript (2.751%), PHP (2.741%), Visual Basic .Net (2.66%), and Perl (2.495%).

The article also cites an alternate set of rankings. "In the PyPL index, the top 10 were: Java, with a share of 23.4%, followed by Python (13.6%), PHP (9.9%), C# (8.8%), JavaScript (7.6%), C++ (6.9%), C (6.9%), Objective-C (4.5%), R (3.3%), and Swift (3.1%)."

Shadow Warrior 2 Developers Say DRM Is a Waste of Time ( 99

zarmanto writes: Ars Technica reports that one particular game studio might finally get it, when it comes to DRM'ed game content. They're publishing their latest game, Shadow Warrior 2, with no DRM protection at all. From the article: "We don't support piracy, but currently there isn't a good way to stop it without hurting our customers," Flying Wild Hog developer Krzysztof "KriS" Narkowicz wrote on the game's Steam forum (in response to a question about trying to force potential pirates to purchase the game instead). "Denuvo means we would have to spend money for making a worse version for our legit customers. It's like the FBI warning screen on legit movies." Expanding on those thoughts in a recent intervew with Kotaku, Narkowicz explained why he felt the DRM value proposition wasn't worth it. "Any DRM we would have needs to be implemented and tested," he told Kotaku. "We prefer to spend resources on making our game the best possible in terms of quality, rather than spending time and money on putting some protection that will not work anyway." "The trade-off is clear," Flying Wild Hog colleagues Artur Maksara and Tadeusz Zielinksi added. "We might sell a little less, but hey, that's the way the cookie crumbles! We hope that our fans, who were always very supportive, will support us this time as well," Zielinski told Kotaku. "...In our imperfect world, the best anti-pirate protection is when the games are good, highly polished, easily accessible and inexpensive," Maksara added.

Google Creates AI Program That Uses Reasoning To Navigate the London Tube ( 76

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Google scientists have created a computer program that uses basic reasoning to learn to navigate the London Underground system by itself. Deep learning has recently stormed ahead of other computing strategies in tasks like language translation, image and speech recognition and even enabled a computer to beat top-ranked player, Lee Sedol, at Go. However, until now the technique has generally performed poorly on any task where an overarching strategy is needed, such as navigation or extracting the actual meaning from a text. The latest program achieved this by adding an external memory, designed to temporarily store important pieces of information and fish them out when needed. The human equivalent of this is working memory, a short-term repository in the brain that allows us to stay on task when doing something that involves several steps, like following a recipe. In the study, published in the journal Nature, the program was able to find the quickest route between underground stops and work out where it would end up if it traveled, say, two stops north from Victoria station. It was also given story snippets, such as "John is in the playground. John picked up the football." followed by the question "Where is the football?" and was able to answer correctly, hinting that in future assistants such Apple's Siri may be replaced by something more sophisticated. Alex Graves, the research scientist at Google DeepMind in London who led the work, said that while the story tasks "look so trivial to a human that they don't seem like questions at all," existing computer programs "do really badly on this." The program he developed got questions like this right 96% of the time.

Google News Introduces Fact Check Feature -- Just In Time For the US Election ( 367

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Next Web: Google today introduced a new feature that will tag and help find "fact checking in large news stories." Tagged articles will show up in the new story box on, as well as in the Google News and Weather app for iOS and Android in the US and UK. There's a two-pronged approach to detecting fact checking. First Google looks for actual markup in the site's source code. Then Google looks for pages "that follow the commonly accepted criteria for fact checks." You can learn more about the process here. To be clear, the tags show up in small grey text above the article links -- Google itself isn't passing judgement, nor does it tell you the source article's conclusion in search results. It's merely a sign that says "hey, read me to find out the truth." Still, it's a nice way to make sure readers are at least forming opinions based on fact rather than fiction.

4Chan Hackers Claim To Have Remotely Wiped John Podesta's iPhone and iPad ( 269

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Gizmodo: For the past several days, WikiLeaks has been publishing thousands of emails belonging to Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta -- and the leaks are starting to cause some serious damage. Gizmodo reports: "Many of the leaked emails contained contact info, cell phone numbers, and account data, none of which was redacted by Wikileaks before being posted. With this information accessible to anyone with the time and energy to read through it all, users on 4chan's /pol/ (politically incorrect) board were able to gain access to Podesta's Twitter account, tweeting a message in support of Trump. Imageboard posters also stumbled on an email containing Podesta's Apple ID -- and appear to have exploited it. 'iPad/iPhone info and data wiped out,' a post on Endchan claimed, show screenshots of what seems to be the hacker gaining access to Find My iPhone using Podesta's credentials. If Podesta's Apple ID was compromised, it stands to reason that his iCloud account was similarly vulnerable. And sure enough, Redditor's on r/The_Donald claim Podesta's iCloud data was downloaded. A hacker known as CyberZeist also appears to have uncovered the passwords to dozens of senators' email addresses, as well as social security numbers and credit card info for many Democrats including Vice President Joe Biden, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and acting Chair of the DNC Donna Brazile. The information was posted to pastebin.

Inventor of C Dennis Ritchie Honored With Second Death ( 91

An anonymous reader writes: Dennis Ritchie invented the "C" programming language, so a second round of honors comes as no surprise. Although five years ago he passed away, some confusion over a tweet started the social media avalanche known as "second death syndrome". The problem, especially if you look at it from Ritchie's perspective, is that he's been dead for five years -- exactly five years. That time gap seems to have escaped some of the biggest names in tech, including Google CEO Sundar Pichai, who late Wednesday tweeted out Wired's five-year-old obituary on Ritchie, thanking him for his "immense contributions." Om Malik, a partner at True Ventures and the founder of tech site GigaOm, retweeted Pichai's tribute before soon recognizing his mistake and tweeting an apology for "adding to the confusion and noise." Craig Newmark, founder of the popular online bulletin board Craigslist, also paid his respects, saying, "this guy made a huge contribution to the world."

O'Reilly Gives Away Free Programming Ebooks ( 87

An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: There's now a section on offering free ebooks about computer programming. There's four free Java ebooks and seven about Python, as well as an "Other" section which contains ebooks like C++ Today, Swift Pocket Reference, and Why Rust? But there's also some broader categories for Open Source and Software Architecture ebooks, as well as separate sections for their free ebooks about Data, Security, Web Development, and the Internet of Things.

Why Linus Torvalds Prefers x86 Over ARM ( 150

Linus Torvalds answered a question about his favorite chip architecture at the Linaro Connect conference. An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes PCWorld: People are too fixated with the instruction set and the CPU core, Torvalds said. But ultimately "what matters is all the infrastructure around the instruction set, and x86 has all that infrastructure... at a lot of different levels. It's open in a way that no other architecture is... Being compatible just wasn't as big of a deal for the ARM ecosystem as it has been traditionally for the x86 ecosystem... I've been personally pretty disappointed with ARM as a hardware platform, not as an instruction set, though I've had my issues there, too. As a hardware platform, it is still not very pleasant to deal with."
You can watch the whole half-hour conversation on YouTube. My favorite part is where Linus candidly acknowledges that "sometimes my grumpiness makes more news than my being nice... 99% of the time I'm a very happy manager, and I mentally pat people on the head all the time. That maybe then highlights the times when things don't work so well a bit more."

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