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TIOBE's Surprisingly Popular Programming Languages: R, Go, Perl, Scratch, Rust, and Visual Basic 6

Slashdot - Sun, 2020-07-12 11:34
The R programming language is experiencing a surge in popularity "in the slipstream of Python," according to this month's TIOBE index, leaping into the top ten. "For historical context, we wrote of R's spot in TIOBE nearly two years ago, and it had just made the leap from #50 to #39," writes programming columnist Mike Melanson. ZDNet writes: In May, when R crashed out of the top 20 for the first time in three years, Tiobe speculated that the language could be a victim of consolidation in statistical programming, with more developers in the field gravitating towards Python. But there's been a lot of motion since then, Tech Republic reports: R rose one space to eighth place in July, but its comparison to 2019 is where the real surprise lies: It was in 20th place at the same time last year. TIOBE CEO Paul Jansen cites two reasons why R may be increasing in popularity: - Universities and research institutes have moved away from commercial statistical languages like SAS and Stata in favor of open source languages Python and R. - The increase in analytics being used to search for a COVID-19 vaccine.... The largest gainers in popularity between July 2019 and July 2020 are Go, which jumped from 16th to 12th place, Perl, jumping from No. 19 to No. 14, Scratch, jumping from No. 30 to No. 17, Rust, which moved from No. 33 to No. 18, and PL/SQL, which moved from No. 23 to No. 19. Ruby fell the most, moving from 11th place to 16th, while SQL, MATLAB, and Assembly Language also slipped down the list. ZDNet adds that "Besides R's upwards shift, Tiobe's July index doesn't show much movement in the popularity of the top languages. The top 10 in descending order are C, Java, Python, C++, C#, Visual Basic, JavaScript, R, PHP and Swift." Visual Studio magazine argues that the biggest surprise may be that the 29-year-old language classic Visual Basic is still in the top 20 — since its last stable release was 22 years ago, and by 2008 it was finally retired by Microsoft. "VB6 just refuses to go away, achieving cult-like status among a group of hard-core supporters."

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Newly-Discovered Comet Neowise: Now Visible at Dawn and Dusk

Slashdot - Sun, 2020-07-12 09:04
"A newly-discovered comet is giving skywatchers quite the show during the month of July," reports CBS News: Astronomers discovered the comet, known as Comet C2020 F3 NEOWISE, back in March. It was named for the NASA mission that spotted it, for the Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer... But astronomers knew they found something unique when they spotted Neowise. On July 3, Neowise was closer to the sun than the orbit of Mercury, coming dangerously close to breaking apart. The sun heated up much of the comet's icy makeup, erupting in a large debris trail of gas and dust. Measuring about 3 miles across, Neowise is considered a fairly large comet — providing skywatchers with a spectacular view from Earth. The comet, which has a bright opulent tail, has been putting on a stunning show in the early hours before sunrise in the Northern Hemisphere... But late sleepers need not worry — the comet will start appearing in the evening, just after sunset, starting Saturday. To view it, people in the Northern Hemisphere can look to the northwestern sky, just below Ursa Major, commonly known as the Big Dipper constellation. Scientists say the comet will be visible across the Northern Hemisphere for about another month. The comet is made up of material dating back 4.6 billion years, to the origins of our solar system, according to the article. "The event is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience — the comet takes about 6,800 years to complete its path around the sun, according to NASA..." "NASA says it will be one of the brightest comets this century."

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Is Our Solar System's Ninth Planet Actually a Primordial Black Hole?

Slashdot - Sun, 2020-07-12 07:54
An anonymous reader quotes Forbes: Conventional theory has it that Planet 9 — our outer solar system's hypothetical 9th planet — is merely a heretofore undetected planet, likely captured by our solar system at some point over its 4.6 billion year history. But Harvard University astronomers now raise the possibility that orbital evidence for Planet 9 could possibly be the result of a missing link in the decades-long puzzle of dark matter. That is, a hypothetical primordial black hole with a horizon size no larger than a grapefruit, and with a mass 5 to 10 times that of Earth. In a paper accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, the co-authors argue that observed clustering of extreme trans-Neptunian objects suggest some sort of massive super-earth type body lying on the outer fringes of our solar system. Perhaps as much as 800 astronomical units (Earth-Sun distances) out... If they exist, such primordial black holes would require new physics and go a long way towards solving the mystery of the universe's missing mass, or dark matter. Their argument also constitutes a "new method to search for black holes in the outer solar system based on flares that result from the disruption of intercepted comets," according to a statement from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. The paper was co-authored by Avi Loeb, chair of Harvard's astronomy department, who points out that "Because black holes are intrinsically dark, the radiation that matter emits on its way to the mouth of the black hole is our only way to illuminate this dark environment." And in an explanatory video, Mike Brown, a planetary astronomy professor at CalTech, suggests another way it could be significant. "All those people who are mad that Pluto is no longer a planet can be thrilled to know that there is a real planet out there still to be found."

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Disney World Reopened Today in Florida, Joining Sea World and Universal

Slashdot - Sun, 2020-07-12 04:54
"Cinderella Castle has sat silent for 116 days..." reported CNN Business. But no more — at least, not at Disney World, which today began its grand reopening: "It's three times the size of Disneyland in terms of revenue," Michael Nathanson, a media analyst and founding partner at MoffettNathanson, told CNN Business. Nathanson estimates that Disney World alone generated $11.2 billion, or about 16% of the company's total revenue in 2019 and added that it's a massive driver of growth for the company. "It's probably their most important single asset," Nathanson said... The Florida Department of Health reported more than 10,000 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, bringing the state's total to more than 220,000. [Roughly 1% of the state's entire population.] The significant uptick in cases over the last couple of weeks has led to petitions from employees asking to delay the reopening and the head of the union representing Disney World's service workers to warn that Disney "has to get it right" in terms of the reopening... When reached for comment, a Disney spokesperson pointed out a blog post by Dr. Pamela Hymel, the chief medical officer for Disney Parks. In the post, Hymel wrote that Disney remains "deeply committed" to focusing on the well-being of guests and employees... Disney World is not the only theme park open in Florida. Other popular theme parks like Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando have already had guests. And Disney has opened some of its other theme parks overseas including Shanghai Disneyland, which returned on May 11. Disneyland, Disney's resort in California, was set to reopen this month, but was postponed. [It did, however, re-open the neighboring "Downtown Disney" business district.] But Disney World is different. It's not just the most popular theme park in America; it's the most popular theme park in the world, which can set the tone for the entire tourism industry, according to Robert Niles, editor of ThemeParkInsider.com. "This is the future of the travel industry at this point," Niles said. "It's just wreckage throughout the entire industry at this stage... So somebody's got to figure out a way to make this work if this industry is going to survive, and Disney's got more resources than anyone else. This is an obvious leadership opportunity for Disney." CNN reports that Disney World is allowing fewer people in the park, spacing them out in lines, requiring everyone to wear a mask — and taking everyone's temperature when they arrive at the park. This week the "Disney Parks jobs" Twitter feed also shared a slick ad titled "Welcome Home" — but they've apparently since removed the tweet after facing criticism online. "Some people on Twitter found the ad more eerie than welcoming," reports Newsweek, noting that the ad "ends with a stormtrooper from Star Wars putting his own spin on the greeting. 'Welcome, citizens,' he says."

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Rust Programming Language To Use 'Allowlist' in Place of 'Whitelist'

Slashdot - Sun, 2020-07-12 04:24
"Other terms are more inclusive and precise," reads a merged Pull request for the Rust programming language titled "Avoid 'whitelist'." "This doesn't look like it affects any 'user visible' flags or anything like that," core developer Niko Matsakis had pointed out in a comment on the pull request, asking "It's purely internal...?" The pull request has since been merged.

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The Linux Team Approves New Neutral Terminology

Slashdot - Sun, 2020-07-12 01:34
An anonymous reader quotes ZDNet: Linus Torvalds approved on Friday a new and more inclusive terminology for the Linux kernel code and documentation. Going forward, Linux developers have been asked to use new terms for the master/slave and blacklist/whitelist terminologies... The Linux team did not recommend any specific terms but asked developers to choose as appropriate. The new terms are to be used for new source code written for the Linux kernel and its associated documentation. The older terms, considered inadequate now, will only be allowed for maintaining older code and documentation, or "when updating code for an existing (as of 2020) hardware or protocol specification that mandates those terms." Proposed alternatives for master/slave include: primary/secondarymain/replica or subordinateinitiator/targetrequester/respondercontroller/devicehost/worker or proxyleader/followerdirector/performer Proposed alternatives for blacklist/whitelist include: denylist/allowlistblocklist/passlist

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Why Did a Tech Executive Install 1,000 Security Cameras Around San Francisco?

Slashdot - Sat, 2020-07-11 23:34
The New York Times explains why Chris Larsen installed over a thousand surveillance cameras around San Francisco to monitor 135 city blocks: It sounds sinister. A soft-spoken cryptocurrency mogul is paying for a private network of high-definition security cameras around the city. Zoom in and you can see the finest details: the sticker on a cellphone, the make of a backpack, the color of someone's eyes... While violent crime is not high in the city, property crime is a constant headache. Anyone who lives here knows you shouldn't leave anything — not a pile of change, not a scarf — in a parked car... locals are tired of the break-ins. So how do they reconcile "defund the police" with "stop the smash and grabs"? Mr. Larsen believes he has the answer: Put security cameras in the hands of neighborhood groups. Put them everywhere. He's happy to pay for it.... Here is what he is doing: Writing checks for nearly $4 million to buy cameras that record high-definition video of the streets and paying to have them maintained by a company called Applied Video Solutions. The rest is up to locals in neighborhood coalitions like Community Benefit Districts, nonprofits formed to provide services to the area. Here is how the project works: Neighbors band together and decide where to put the cameras. They are installed on private property at the discretion of the property owner, and in San Francisco many home and business owners want them. The footage is monitored by the neighborhood coalition. The cameras are always recording... As proponents of Mr. Larsen's network see things, they get the safety of a surveillance state without the state... It is arguably more compelling evidence in court because the video is monitored by a third-party intermediary who can testify that it is a continuous feed. It is time stamped. And because the network covers many blocks, the footage can tell a broader story than a single camera about an event that might be moving from block to block, in the case of, for example, a fight.... "This has underscored the importance of not just cameras but of communitywide camera coverage," Mr. Larsen said. "Body cams show some pretty core weaknesses because we don't have universal access to police body cam footage, and there's a fundamental conflict of interest if the video shows something bad for the department." The answer is more cameras, he said, and then keep that footage in the hands of citizens. He argued that trust will come in the form of full city camera coverage, so police can play a smaller, more subtle role. Individual vigilantism will not work, he argued, but strong neighborhoods with continuous video feeds on every corner will. "That's the winning formula," Mr. Larsen said. "Pure coverage." The locally-stored footage is erased after 30 days. Thought it's not covered by the city's newly-enacted ban on facial recognition software, Larsen says "We're strongly opposed to facial recognition technology. Facial recognition is too powerful given the lack of laws and protections to make it acceptable."

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Spintronics Researchers Demonstrate How to Process Magnetic Vortices for Data Storage

Slashdot - Sat, 2020-07-11 22:34
Research continues in a field which involves using the spin and magnetism of electrons in solid-state devices — spintronics. hackingbear shared this report from Nature: Electric control of magnetic vortex dynamics in a reproducible way on an ultrafast time scale is a key element in the quest for efficient spintronic devices with low-energy consumption. Researchers in China and Germany demonstrated a simple method for controlling magnetic patterns that are useful for data storage and information processing. Magnetic nanostructures are engineered as to host swirling magnetic vortices. The vortex intrinsic properties such as the vortex sense of rotations or polarity are well defined and thus are predestinate as digital information carriers. Furthermore, the magnetic nanostructures are readily integrated in existing computers. Chenglong Jia from Lanzhou University, Jamal Berakdar from Martin-Luther Universitat Halle-Wittenberg and their co-workers demonstrated how to process the so stored information swiftly by switching both the vortex's sense of rotation and the orientation of its magnetic field using at a simple sequence of ultra-short, low average-energy electric-field pulses. The team believe that their method is scalable, non-invasive, reliable and reversible, fullfing thus important prerequisites for practical implementation.

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TikTok Pulls Out of Hong Kong

Slashdot - Sat, 2020-07-11 21:34
AmiMoJo quotes TechCrunch: TikTok announced that it would pull out of Hong Kong, which is facing an unprecedented wave of control from the Beijing government after the promulgation of the national security law. "In light of recent events, we've decided to stop operations of the TikTok app in Hong Kong," said a TikTok spokesperson. The company declined further comment on the decision... ByteDance, founded by Chinese serial entrepreneur Zhang Yiming, has been working to disassociate TikTok from its Chinese ownership and Beijing censorship. Efforts have ranged from keeping an overseas data center for TikTok that's supposedly out of reach by the Chinese authority, giving outside experts a glimpse into its moderation process, through to hiringDisney's Kevin Mayer as the app's new global face.

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The F-16's Replacement Won't Have a Pilot At All

Slashdot - Sat, 2020-07-11 20:34
"The next combat aircraft to enter the U.S. Air Force inventory will not be a manned sixth-generation fighter or even the Northrop Grumman B-21," reports Aviation Week. "By fiscal 2023, the Air Force expects to deliver the first operational versions of a new unmanned aircraft system (UAS) called Skyborg, a provocative portmanteau blending the medium of flight with the contraction for a cybernetic organism." The Skyborg family of aircraft is expected to fill an emerging "attritable" category for combat aircraft that blurs the line between a reusable unmanned aircraft system and a single-use cruise missile. As the aircraft are developed, Skyborg also will serve as the test case of a radical change in acquisition philosophy, with ecosystems of collaborative software coders and aircraft manufacturers replacing the traditional approach with a supply chain defined by a single prime contractor... At the core of the Skyborg program is the software; specifically, the military aviation equivalent of the algorithm-fed convolutional neural networks that help driverless cars navigate on city streets... The autonomy mission system core — as integrated by Leidos from a combination of industry and government sources — will be inserted into multiple low-cost UAS designed by different companies, with each configured to perform a different mission or set of missions... "Even though we call Skyborg an attritable aircraft, I think we'll think of them more like reusable weapons," says Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics.... "I expect that the pilots, depending on the mission, [will] decide: Does the Skyborg return and land with them and then go to fight another day, or is it the end of its life and it's going to go on a one-way mission?" Roper explains. In some cases, the pilot may decide a target is important enough that it is worth the loss of a Skyborg, even if its service life has not been used up, he adds. "The Air Force's goal is to build up a large fleet of armed, sort-of disposable jets that don't need conventional runways to take off and land," reports Popular Mechanics: Skyborg will be available with both subsonic and supersonic engines, indicating both attack and fighter jet versions. The basic design (or designs) will likely be stealthy, carrying guided bombs, air defense suppression missiles, and air-to-air missiles inside internal weapons bays. Interesting, according to AvWeek, the Air Force is considering Skyborg as a replacement not only for the MQ-9 Reaper attack drone but early versions of the F-16 manned fighter.... Unmanned jets like Skyborg promise to remake the U.S. Air Force and other air forces. Manned aircraft have become increasingly large, difficult to develop, and expensive. This in turn means the Pentagon can afford fewer jets, ultimately leading to a smaller Air Force. Unmanned jets, on the other hand, are smaller, easier to develop, and cheap — allowing the Air Force to buy lots of them... The drone will grow the fighting arm of the U.S. Air Force, move air power away from air fields, fly alongside fighter jets, and escort traditionally undefended assets like the E-3 Sentry. And it promises to do it all affordably. If the Air Force really can get Skyborg into the game by 2023 it will dramatically change the shape of aerial warfare.

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Right to Repair Advocates Accuse Medical Device Manufacturers of Profiteering

Slashdot - Sat, 2020-07-11 19:34
A new Motherboard article interviews William, a ventilator refurbisher who's repaired at least 70 broken ventilators that he's bought on eBay and from other secondhand websites, then sold to U.S. hospitals and governments to help handle a spike in COVID-19 patients. He's part of a grey-market supply chain that's "essentially identical to one used by farmers to repair John Deere tractors without the company's authorization and has emerged because of the same need to fix a device without a manufacturer's permission..." The issue is that, like so many other electronics, medical equipment, including ventilators, increasingly has software that prevents "unauthorized" people from repairing or refurbishing broken devices, and Medtronic will not help him fix them... Faced with a global pandemic, hospitals, biomedical technicians, right to repair activists, and refurbishers like William say that medical device manufacturers are profiteering by putting up artificial barriers to repair that drive up the cost of medical care in the United States and puts patient lives in danger. They describe difficulty getting parts and software, delays in getting service from "authorized" technicians, and a general sense of frustration as few manufacturers appear ready to loosen their repair restrictions during the COVID-19 crisis. For the past decade, medical device manufacturers have refused to sell replacement parts and software to hospitals and repair professionals unless they pay thousands of dollars annually to become "authorized" to work on machines. The medical device industry has lobbied against legislation that would make it easier to repair their machines, refused to release repair manuals, and used copyright law to threaten those who have made repair manuals available to the public. The technicians who are unable to gain access to repair parts, manuals, and software are not random people who are deciding on a whim to try to fix complex medical equipment that is going to be used on sick patients. Hospitals and trained professionals are regularly unable to fix the equipment that they own unless they pay for expensive service contracts or annual trainings from manufacturers. While hospitals deal with a resurgent coronavirus that is overtaxing intensive care units across the country, their biomedical technicians are wasting time on the phone and in Kafkaesque email exchanges with medical device manufacturers, pleading for spare parts, passwords to unlock diagnostic modes, or ventilator repair manuals. The article notes that newer medical devices even have "more advanced anti-repair technologies built into them. Newer ventilators connect to proprietary servers owned by manufacturers to verify that the person accessing it is authorized by the company to do so."

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'Guilty' Verdict for Russian Who Stole 117M Dropbox and LinkedIn Login Codes in 2012

Slashdot - Sat, 2020-07-11 18:34
In 2012 "Russian hacker" Yevgeniy Nikulin breached the internal networks of LinkedIn, Dropbox, and Formspring, and then sold their user databases on the black market, reports ZDNet. (He stole 117 million login codes, according to Bloomberg.) Nikulin was arrested in 2016 (while on vacation in the Czech Republic), and after an extradition battle spent years in U.S. prisons while awaiting his trial, which Bloomberg calls "an ongoing constitutional violation that deeply distressed U.S. District Judge William Alsup." Yesterday a jury finally found Nikulin guilty: It was the first trial in Northern California since the coronavirus pandemic shut Bay Area courtrooms in mid-March... The trial started in early March but was interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic and a shelter-in-place order for the Bay Area on March 16, when almost all in-person court hearings were postponed nationwide... Forced by circumstances to twice delay the trial, Alsup stood firm on a July 7 start. The judge, Nikulin and lawyers wore masks. Witnesses testified from behind a glass panel... Nikulin is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 29. The Justice Department said he faces as long as 10 years in prison for each count of selling stolen usernames and passwords, installing malware on protected computers and as many as five years for each count of conspiracy and computer hacking. He also faces a mandatory two year sentence for identity theft, according to prosecutors.

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AI Site Claims Simulated Conversations With Famous Dead Scientists

Slashdot - Sat, 2020-07-11 17:34
Slashdot reader shirappu writes: AI|Writer is an experiment in which artificial intelligence is used to simulate both real and fictitious famous personalities through written correspondence. Users can ask questions and receive explanations from simulated versions of Isaac Newton, Alfred Hitchcock, Marie Curie, Mary Shelley, and many more. The Next Web calls it "a new experiment by magician and novelist Andrew Mayne," pointing out that it's using OpenAI's new text generator API. Other simulated conversations include Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing, Stephen Hawking, Richard Feynman, Isaac Asimov, Benjamin Franklin, and even Edgar Allen Poe. "We have all kinds of theoretical ideas about AI and what counts as real or not," Mayne said on Twitter, "however I think you just have to be pragmatic and just ask: What can it do? I think this gets lost in a lot of discussions about AI. The end goal isn't a witty chatbot. It's to expand our knowledge." There's a wait list for access to the site "so we can make sure everything works right and we don't accidentally create Skynet," Mayne jokes on Twitter. But assuming this isn't another magic trick, The Next Web is already reporting on some of the early results: The system first works out the purpose of the message and the intended recipient by searching for patterns in the text. It then uses the API's internal knowledge of that person to guess how they would respond in their written voice. The digitized characters can answer questions about their work, explain scientific theories, or offer their opinions. For example, Marie Curie gave a lesson on radiation, H.G. Wells revealed his inspiration for The Time Machine, while Alfred Hitchcock compared Christopher Nolan's Interstellar to Stanley Kubrick's 2001... The characters could also compare their own eras with the present day... Mayne says the characters did well with historical facts, but could be "quite erratic with matters of opinion" and "rarely reply to the same question in the same way." He demonstrated these variations by asking both Newton and Gottfried Leibniz who invented calculus. "Newton almost always insists that he invented Calculus alone and is pretty brusque about it," Mayne wrote on his website. "Leibniz sometimes says he did. Other times he'll be vague." At one point, Leibniz even threatened to kill Mayne if he tried to take the credit for the discovery. As well as historical figures, the system can respond in the voice of fictional characters. In fact, Mayne says the most "touching" message he's received was this reply from the Incredible Hulk. Another conversation shows Bruce Wayne's response when asked to make a donation to support freeing the Joker...

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Terry Pratchett's Earliest Stories To Be Published In September

Slashdot - Sat, 2020-07-11 16:34
Long-time Slashdot reader sjritt00 writes: A final collection of Terry Pratchett's early stories will be published in September as The Time-Travelling Caveman. These stories appeared in the Bucks Free Press and Western Daily Press in the 1960s and early '70s and introduce many of the themes which later power his Discworld series. The Guardian reports that the stories "range from a steam-powered rocket's flight to Mars to a Welsh shepherd's discovery of the resting place of King Arthur." In a statement Pratchett's editors said "It is very fitting that some of the first stories he wrote will be in the last collection by him to be published..."

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Is Twitter Shifting the Balance of Power From Companies to Their Employees?

Slashdot - Sat, 2020-07-11 15:34
Last week leaked audio surfaced of investors arguing that journalists have too much power. But the Verge's Silicon Valley editor asks, "What if you take the whole discussion of "tech versus journalism" and reframe it as 'managers versus employees'? Then, I think, you get closer to the truth of what's going on." After all, this conflict started with employees. They were the people who initially described their working conditions under Steph Korey at Away, leading her to step aside as CEO. (She later returned, only for the company to say she would step aside later this year after her comments about the media on Instagram.) The employees made their comments at a time of increasing activism inside workplaces. Since the Google walkout in 2018, employees of venture-backed startups and public companies have become increasingly comfortable in speaking out — often using social media platforms to call out their employers. This trend has only accelerated since the Black Lives Matters protests swept the nation last month — which, among other things, led to the first-ever virtual Facebook walkout a few weeks later. Workers still face significant obstacles as they lobby to create more fair and equitable workplaces. But Twitter in particular has given them a place where not only can they be heard, but — crucially — employers can't really fight back... [T]weets have given workers an asymmetric advantage in the unrest — a one-sided argument is easy to win — and we're seeing it play out in new ways all the time. This dynamic, which is tilted heavily against bosses, goes a long way in explaining the disdain that the managerial class has for what they call "hit pieces." A "hit piece," in angry Twitter parlance, is typically a piece of journalism in which one or more employees are granted anonymity to talk about their working conditions. Journalists, myself included, would simply call that reporting. But it's the kind of reporting that tilts the balance away from managers and toward their employees — and in ways that are difficult to fight back against... And so it shouldn't be surprising, when a prominent reporter like Taylor Lorenz calls attention to posts like Korey's, the managerial class rises to Korey's defense. When CEOs can be held accountable not just for their working conditions but for social media defenses of their work, that represents a threat to the entire managerial tribe. And that explains how venture capitalists, who have millions of dollars at their disposal and could comfortably retire without ever participating in a single Twitter fight, have nonetheless come to see themselves as the underdogs in this situation. They got where they are in part because they've been good at winning arguments, and now they find themselves living in a world where they get punished for arguing... [T]he next time you see journalists and tech overlords going a few rounds online, ask yourself whether what you're looking at isn't, on some level, a labor issue... Workers are justifiably outraged about the state of affairs in this country, and some of that outrage is being captured by journalists. David Heinemeier Hansson, creator of Ruby on Rails and the founder of Basecamp, called the piece "a wonderful framing of the issue" in a series of tweets. "While I decry this website as the bane of modern living half the time, the other half it has probably done more to move my own position on many issues than anything else online. "Which is why I'm not actually sure that VC Twitter should be so eager to cheer on 'citizen journalism'. The number of citizens that count themselves in the worker class vs. manager class are far more plentiful. And their unfiltered stories really do add up to paint the picture."

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DuckDuckGo Restored in India, Responds to Favicon Concerns

Slashdot - Sat, 2020-07-11 14:34
DuckDuckGo made the news twice this week. First its service was reinstated across India last Saturday, after being unreachable for nearly three days, for reasons which remain unclear. "We have contacted the Indian government but have not yet received a response," a DuckDuckGo spokesperson told The Verge. "We are bewildered on why the Indian government would instruct Indian ISPs to block DuckDuckGo, but are optimistic that this will be resolved soon." But at roughly the same time the search engine faced another controversy about how DuckDuckGo fetches favicons, according to one cybersecurity blog: First submitted as an issue in July 2019, GitHub user Tritonio flagged the offending script, saying: "This seems to be leaking all(?) the domains that users visit to your servers." The script in the Android version of the DuckDuckGo application showed that favicon fetching was routed through DuckDuckGo systems, rather than made via direct website requests. Daniel "tagawa" Davis, communications manager at DuckDuckGo, said at the time that the "internal" favicon service was used to simplify the favicon location process, but as the service is rooted in DuckDuckGo's existing systems, the script adhered to the company's privacy policy which pledges not to collect or store any personal user information. The case was then closed. However, when the issue became public on the GitHub tracker this week, this assurance was not enough for everyone. Some users requested that the case be re-examined, citing potential information leaks caused by the script choice, considered by some as an inherent 'design' flaw or human error. In response to the discussion concerning the favicon telemetry, founder and CEO Gabriel Weinberg said he was "happy to commit us to move to doing this locally in the browser" and will address it as a matter of priority. He added that as DuckDuckGo's services are encrypted and "throw away PII [personally identifiable information] like IP addresses by design", no information was collected, stored, or leaked. The company's slogan is "Privacy Simplified". It is this concept, Weinberg told The Daily Swig, that led to the rapid decision in changing how favicons are managed. Weinberg acknowledged that there is an ongoing security debate concerning which option for fetching favicons is more secure, and arguments can be made for each choice — but added they both offer "basically a similar amount" of privacy... You can ask a browser to connect to a website and fetch the favicon — potentially making multiple requests in the process — or you can use the firm's encrypted service... "It's a known anonymous service," Weinberg told us. "You're already connected to DuckDuckGo because you're using the app. It's not that it is leaking any more information, because you conduct a search with us which has the favicons anyway." DuckDuckGo's service is also faster and uses less bandwidth as the service is running server-side and favicons are cached, Weinberg says.

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Apple To Teach Teachers To Teach Coding For Free

Slashdot - Sat, 2020-07-11 13:00
theodp writes: From the Home Office in Cupertino: "Apple today announced a new set of tools to help educators teach coding to students from grade school to college. In addition to significant enhancements to the Develop in Swift and Everyone Can Code curricula, Apple is also starting a new professional learning course for Develop in Swift, available to educators at no cost. The course is designed to supplement the need for computer science educators in the US, and helps instructors of all skill levels build foundational knowledge to teach app development with Swift. In addition, with many institutions operating remotely, Apple is adding resources for educators and parents to help ensure they have the tools they need to help students learn and grow from anywhere. [...] To support parents with kids learning to code at home, Apple is adding a new guide to its set of remote learning resources. 'A Quick Start to Code' is now available and features 10 coding challenges designed for learners ages 10 and up, on iPad or Mac. [...] In 2016, Apple launched Everyone Can Code, a comprehensive program and curriculum to help students of all abilities, from kindergarten to college, learn coding to solve problems and prepare them for the workforce. Develop in Swift was released in 2019, and today more than 9,000 K-12 and higher education institutions worldwide are using the Everyone Can Code and Develop in Swift curricula from Apple." Back in 2018, Apple CEO Tim Cook claimed that most students shunned programming before Apple introduced Swift "because coding languages were 'too geeky.'" As Apple introduced Swift in 2016, Cook called for requiring all children to start coding in 4th grade (9-10 years old), which Cook reiterated to President Trump in a 2017 White House meeting with tech titans.

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Continuous Lifecycle Online is this Thursday: Get your ticket while you can, and tune into these fantastic sessions

TheRegister - Sat, 2020-07-11 10:00
We've brought together experts across the DevOps field to bring you practical advice and answer your Qs

Event Our annual Continuous Lifecycle London conference is online for 2020 – but that doesn’t mean it’s lacking whatsoever, and will be packed with the high-quality content you’ve come to expect.…

Categories: Linux fréttir

US Secret Service Creates New Cyber Fraud Task Force

Slashdot - Sat, 2020-07-11 10:00
The U.S. Secret Service announced the creation of the Cyber Fraud Task Force (CFTF) after the merger of its Financial Crimes Task Forces (FCTFs) and Electronic Crimes Task Forces (ECTFs) into a single unified network. Bleeping Computer reports: CFTF's main goal is to investigate and defend American individuals and businesses from a wide range of cyber-enabled financial crimes, from business email compromise (BEC) scams and ransomware attacks to data breaches and the illegal sale of stolen personal information and credit cards on the Internet and the dark web. Consolidating the two task forces into CFTF will allow the Secret Service to boost its agents' ability to prevent, detect, and mitigate financially-motivated cybercrime by improving coordination, sharing of resources and expertise, and best practices dissemination. "The creation of the new Cyber Fraud Task Force (CFTF), will offer a specialized cadre of agents and analysts, trained in the latest analytical techniques and equipped with the most cutting-edge technologies," said Michael D'Ambrosio, U.S. Secret Service Assistant Director. At the moment, the Secret Service has already operationalized CFTFs in 42 domestic offices and in 2 international locations (London and Rome). The Department of Homeland Security federal law enforcement agency also plans to increase the number of CFTF locations through its network of more than 160 offices across the U.S. and around the globe.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Linux fréttir

The world's nonsense keeping you awake in middle of the night? Good news. Go outside and see this two-tail comet

TheRegister - Sat, 2020-07-11 08:26
At 65 million miles away, that's what we call social distancing

A two-pronged comet with billowing tails of gas and dust will streak across the sky this month.…

Categories: Linux fréttir

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