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Extreme Weather Events This Decade Have Cost America $750B

Slashdot - Mon, 2019-09-16 10:44
An anonymous reader quotes NBC News: An analysis of weather disasters that did more than $1 billion in damage from the National Centers for Environmental Information finds that such high-cost events are up markedly since the 1980s. (The dollar figures for the events were adjusted for inflation.) There have been 250 such events since 1980 and almost half them, 111, have occurred in the current decade. And the 2019 figure does not include any events after May, so Hurricane Dorian is not on the list yet. There were only 28 billion-dollar weather events in the 1980s. There is a wide range of events in that extreme weather calculation. Besides hurricanes, it includes floods, droughts, freezes, severe storms, wildfires and winter storms. And there are some trends in the data. For instance, there were seven freeze/winter storm events on the list in the 1980s, but only six (so far) in the current decade. But there were only seven severe storms on the 1980s list and 64 in the current decade... The 28 high-impact weather events in the 1980s cost a total of about $172 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars. But the current set of 111 storms this decade has cost a total of more than $761 billion dollars. Again, that does not include the costs of Dorian and of two other events on the list -- the March floods in the Midwest and May floods of the Southern Plains. When you tally it all up, the costs are likely to end up at three-quarters of a trillion dollars or more. And that's just for this decade. At this pace, the number seems all but certain to climb over the trillion-dollar mark in the 2020s. And then there are the human costs. The number of fatalities from these extreme weather events has largely been climbing -- from 2,800 in the 1980s to almost 5,200 this decade (again before Dorian's damage is added in).

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Has outsourcing public-sector IT worked? The Institute for Government seems to think so, kinda

TheRegister - Mon, 2019-09-16 10:00
Prepare Reg readers, it is time to enter an alternate reality where up is down, black is white and Capita is cuddly

The outsourcing of government IT projects has largely worked, according to a cornflake-spluttering report by the Institute for Government.…

Categories: Linux fréttir

COBOL: Five little letters that if put on a CV would ensure stable income for many a greybeard coder

TheRegister - Mon, 2019-09-16 09:09
EVALUATE COBOL-AGE WHEN 60 CONTINUE

COBOL is celebrating 60 years since its specifications were signed off. Darling of Y2K consultants, the language is rapidly approaching pensionable age, but many a greybeard owes their career to it.…

Categories: Linux fréttir

Pushing Verify in Brexit plans more about saving troubled project

TheRegister - Mon, 2019-09-16 08:10
Broken ID system isn't going to track you. No one's using it!

Analysis The Government Digital Service's troubled identity system Verify has been at the heart of a controversial plan to supposedly track users online in the run-up to Brexit. However, its unlikely role in Brexit preparations may be more about GDS finding an excuse to save the moribund platform than anything more sinister.…

Categories: Linux fréttir

Justice served: There is no escape from the long server log of the law

TheRegister - Mon, 2019-09-16 07:04
A handover or handcuffs? Take your pick, eh?

Who, Me? Bid farewell to the weekend and a cheery hello to work with a tale of a near-cuffing in our regular Who, Me? column.…

Categories: Linux fréttir

'Men In Black' Director Barry Sonnenfeld Calls 8K, Netflix HDR 'Stupid'

Slashdot - Mon, 2019-09-16 06:34
CIStud writes Barry Sonnenfeld, director of the "Men in Black" series, "Get Shorty" and most recently Netflix's "Series of Unfortunate Events", says 8K is "only good for sports" and High Dynamic Range (HDR) is "stupid" and "a waste." Sonnenfeld, speaking with actor Patrick Warburton at the CEDIA Expo last week in Denver, called for a "filmmaker mode" on all TVs that can turn off unwanted HDR. He says Netflix's insistence everything be shot in HDR altered the cinematography on "Series of Unfortunate Events" to his disliking. Sonnenfeld said Netflix and other streaming services feel HDR makes them appear "next level" from a technology perspective, according to the article, then conceded that "HDR is the future... but it shouldn't be. It's great for watching sports, like hockey, but nothing else... " He also said today's cinematographers are actually using older lenses and filters on digital cameras to make them look like they weren't shot with a 4K or 8K camera. "The problem with 8K and even 4K is that all it is doing is bringing us closer to a video game aesthetic. It just looks more and more 'not real.' I can't watch any Marvel movies because none of the visual effects look real." And both Sonnenfeld and Patrick Warburton believe that subscribers to streaming services should be able to watch first-run movies at home the same day the films are released in theaters.

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You all know why you should encrypt your cloud data – now learn where and how…

TheRegister - Mon, 2019-09-16 06:30
AWS spills the beans

Promo You know it makes sense to go to the cloud, and you know it makes sense to encrypt your data. But just what should you be encrypting - and where? And what’s the most efficient way of carrying it out, and managing your encryption strategy in the future?…

Categories: Linux fréttir

Two years ago, 123-Reg and NamesCo decided to register millions of .uk domains for customers without asking them. They just got the auto-renewal bills...

TheRegister - Mon, 2019-09-16 06:03
... And they’re not happy

Colin McDermott was surprised this week to receive an invoice from the UK’s largest domain name registrar, 123-Reg, auto-billing him £11.99 for a domain name he never ordered.…

Categories: Linux fréttir

MIT Unveils the World's Most Advance Carbon Nanotube Chip

Slashdot - Mon, 2019-09-16 04:15
"A team of academics at MIT has unveiled the world's most advanced chip yet that's made from carbon nanotubes," reports MIT's Technology Review: Not only are nanotube transistors faster than silicon ones, studies have found that chips made from nanotubes could be up to ten times more energy efficient. This efficiency boost could significantly extend electronic gadgets' battery life. Researchers have been working on alternative chips involving the molecules for decades, but manufacturing headaches have kept the processors stuck in research labs. In a paper published in Nature, the MIT team says it has found ways to overcome some of the biggest hurdles to producing them at scale... [C]hallenges intrigued Max Shulaker, an MIT professor who has worked on other notable projects in the field, and has received funding from the US Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency to develop nanotube technology. The group of researchers he leads has developed a working 16-bit microprocessor [based on the RISC-V instruction set and running standard 32-bit instructions] built from over 14,000 carbon nanotube transistors that Shulaker claims is the most complex ever demonstrated. The techniques they have come up with can be implemented with equipment used for making conventional silicon chips, which means chipmakers won't have to invest in expensive new gear if they want to make nanotube processors... Researchers discovered that some kinds of logic gates, which are fundamental building blocks of digital circuits, were more resistant to problems triggered by metallic-like nanotubes than others. That led them to develop a new circuit design that prioritizes these gates, while minimizing the use of more sensitive metallic ones... The chip that the MIT researchers produced using these techniques is capable of running a simple program that produces the message "Hello, World." Shulaker says the significance of their research is it clearly points the way for a transition from silicon to carbon nanotubes. "There's no leap of faith required anymore."

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Pine64 Confirms $25 'PineTime' Smartwatch for Linux Smartphones

Slashdot - Mon, 2019-09-16 01:41
Besides their Linux laptops, single-board computers, and tablets, Pine64 is now also working on "PineTime," a new $25 smartwatch for Linux smartphones running open source software (and based on either ARM Mbed or FreeRTOS), reports Liliputing.com: The company describes the PineTime watch as a companion for Linux smartphones... you know, like the company's upcoming $150 PinePhone. For either or both of those reasons, it could appeal to folks who may not have wanted in on the smartphone space until now... The PineTime uses an existing watch body that's used by other device makers, but Pine64 is choosing custom internal hardware. The PineTime will support Bluetooth 5.0, a heart rate monitor, and multi-day battery life and the watch features a zinc alloy & plastic case and comes with a charging dock... At this point the PineTime is described as a side project, which means it's not a top priority for Pine64. While the company says the picture above is an actual photo of a prototype, Pine64 is still seeking software developers interested in contributing to the project, and the company's primary focus at this point will still be other upcoming devices like the PineBook Pro laptop and PinePhone smartphone.

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Linux 5.3 Released

Slashdot - Sun, 2019-09-15 23:51
"Linux 5.3 has been released," writes diegocg: This release includes support for AMD Navi GPUs; support for the umwait x86 instructions that let processes wait for short amounts of time without spinning loops; a 'utilization clamping' mechanism that is used to boost interactivity on power-asymmetric CPUs used in phones; a new pidfd_open(2) system call that completes the work done to let users deal with the PID reuse problem; 16 millions of new IPv4 addresses in the 0.0.0.0/8 range are made available; support for Zhaoxin x86 CPUs; support Intel Speed Select for easier power selection in Xeon servers; and support for the lightweight hypervisor ACRN, built for embedded IoT devices. As always, many other new drivers and improvements can be found in the changelog.

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Online Lenders Publicly Shame Debtors in the Philippines Using Their Facebook Contacts

Slashdot - Sun, 2019-09-15 22:56
A man named Roger was surprised to hear from an old college friend after all these years, reports the Philippine Daily Inquirer -- and even more surprised to find out why. What she wanted to know was why he gave her number to an online lending company that was hounding him at that time. The company told her that he was in debt and needed to pay up. Roger took out a loan using the company's app back in May, after seeing an ad on Facebook. His payment had been overdue for a week when the company contacted his college friend. But in fact he didn't give the company her number. The company tapped his contact list, then messaged his college friend to get him to make good on his debt. The company also called his wife and threatened to report him to his boss so he would lose his job. Roger, 26, has since paid back the loan. And he vowed to never use the app again... Roger is not alone. The National Privacy Commission (NPC) has reported receiving 921 formal complaints since July 2018 about online lending companies who publicly shame borrowers to get them to pay up... Three companies are facing cases filed by the NPC for violating the Data Privacy Act of 2012... Privacy Commissioner Raymund Enriquez Liboro earlier released copies of the investigators' fact-finding reports, which recommended criminal prosecution of the board members of the three companies. "The investigation determined that their business practice specifically targets the privacy of persons, practically making a profit out of people's fear of losing face and dignity. These unethical practices simply have no place in a civilized society and must stop," Liboro then said... In an affidavit sent to the NPC, one complainant said Fast Cash threatened to post her selfies on Facebook. Another said the CashLending app changed her profile picture on Facebook to an obscene picture... None of these would have happened unless the users gave permission to these apps. But many users backed into a corner by circumstance didn't have a choice. Roger, for one, said he could not use the app unless he agreed that the company could access his contacts... [T]he NPC argued that although the users gave their approval, the lack of easily understandable and clear information, among other factors, meant that it was not a "valid" consent... Among the charges filed against the companies are noncompliance with the legal requirements of processing personal data, as well as malicious and unauthorized disclosure. Their operators may face imprisonment of up to seven years and fines of not more than P5 million [about $97,000 U.S. dollars] under the Data Privacy Act of 2012. One person who filed a formal complaint with the government later received a discouraging text message from the company in question. "Before you sue us, we already [sent] a text blast to all of your contacts. We know your home address, your office and even your ugly face. Good luck with your privacy law."

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FCC Fails, Robocalls (and Complaints) Increase, Along with Number-Hijacking

Slashdot - Sun, 2019-09-15 21:59
"Despite new initiatives by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and carriers, robocalls aren't on the wane," reports Forbes. "Americans are still facing a scourge of 200 million unwanted robocalls a day, according to a report from Transaction Network Services (TNS), a major telecommunications network and services company. And nearly 30% of all U.S. calls were negative (nuisance, scam or fraud calls) in the first six months of the year, TNS said..." Nuisance calls jumped 38% from the third quarter of last year, while high-risk calls -- such as scammers targeting identity theft -- were up 28%, TNS said. And the FCC actually saw an 8% increase year-over year in consumer robocall complaints when comparing February-June 2019 to February-June 2018, as cited by TNS in the report. There is a limit to what major U.S. carriers can do. They are only a small part of the problem, TNS said. While 70% of all calls (normal calls and unwanted calls) come from major U.S. carriers, only 12% of the high-risk calls are from the big carriers. That means the problem lies with lesser-known providers... A growing threat is robocall hijacking -- when a subscriber's number is hijacked by a bad guy -- doubling over last year's figure, TNS said. TNS estimates that 1 in 1,700 numbers were hijacked by spoofers in 28 day-period. In the last report the frequency was only 1 in 4,000. In one case of hijacking, a spoofer placed over 36,000 scam calls in a 3-day period according to the TNS report. Another spoofing threat cited in the report is that of legitimate toll-free numbers of leading tech companies. Here, the scammer will claim there is something wrong with the victim's account at the company and try to get personal information. You can stop getting robocalls with a "simple but very effective" solution, according to the article. Both Android and iOS phones have a "Do Not Disturb" option in Settings -- so just enable that for everyone except your own contacts.

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'King of Kong' Billy Mitchell Argues He Was Framed for Donkey Kong Cheating, Threatens Legal Action

Slashdot - Sun, 2019-09-15 20:59
"Billy Mitchell, the former Donkey Kong and Pac-Man high-score champion made famous in the 2007 film The King of Kong, has threatened legal action against the sanctioning bodies who threw out all of Mitchell's high scores in April 2018 after finding that two were illegitimate," reports Polygon. This week, lawyers for Mitchell sent a letter to Twin Galaxies and Guinness World Records demanding that both "retract their claims against Billy Mitchell" and restore the scores to their world record leaderboards, where Mitchell had been a fixture since the early 1980s... The letter to Twin Galaxies alleges that it defamed Mitchell, both in its findings and in later posts to their website. In banning Mitchell, Twin Galaxies also vacated records that were not in question, and banned Mitchell from further participation in their leaderboards. One of Mitchell's records thrown out was a "perfect score" in Pac-Man (reaching the maximum number of points available in its 255 levels). Mitchell's attorneys say Twin Galaxies implied that score was tainted by cheating, too. Guinness, say the lawyers, cited that disqualification in its 2019 Gamers Edition compilation of records in saying that Mitchell's "submitted scores were obtained while using [the emulator] MAME," which the attorneys take to mean as applying to all of Mitchell's scores, from 1982 to present day. They say that is factually incorrect and also impossible, as MAME was created in 1997... The letter also alleges that Twin Galaxies "did not provide Billy Mitchell fair opportunity to provide evidence to prove his innocence," and that "specific evidence was accepted, while evidence of equal stature was rejected." A 156-page package summarizing Mitchell's defense has been posted in Reddit's videogame speedrunning forum. It argues that the documentary's makers actually have filmed footage in which a videotaped high-score attempt at Funspot Arcade is clearly announced to be "not a score submission. This is for entertainment purposes only." And while the film-makers show that score being submitted, "this was only acting done for the movie...the scoreboard shown by the movie was forged.... Actually, in the King of Kong movie, the tape I hand Doris Self is a WWE Wrestling tape, not my 1,047,200 performance... The movie's portrayal that I submitted this performance is fictitious." Mitchell's documents say that that score was submitted later -- without his permission -- by a referee for Twin Galaxies, arguing that the footage suffers from a compromised chain of custody. The documents even include emails written by the owner of the web site fuckbillymitchell.com "saying he has a 'master plan' to take Billy Mitchell down," along with statements from two separate witnesses who say that man had even at one point asked for help in how to fake footage of a videogame. "I find the current accusation of Mitchell too close to exactly what Richard planned in 2009 to be overlooked."

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Inspired By Harry Potter, 150 Colleges Now Have Quidditch Teams

Slashdot - Sun, 2019-09-15 19:41
A reporter for SFGate describes what happened when he tried out for the quidditch team at the University of California at Berkeley: The person throwing me what's called a "quaffle" (actually a slightly deflated volleyball) looked at me to make sure I'm ready. I gave them a head nod and grip my "broom" (a PVC pipe), ready to run. "GO!" I run 20 feet and turn back to catch the ball. Success! But as I take my next step, I get decked by team captain Dara Gaeuman, fall to the ground, drop the quaffle, re-grab the quaffle, get back up, run over to the hoop and score. It's a triumphant moment for my post-healthy, 33-year-old self, regardless of the fact that this a drill. On the first day of practice. Of a sport I'm playing for the first time. With people who likely weren't born when the first Harry Potter book came out.... [I]n 2005, a pair of students at Middlebury College -- Xander Manshel and Alex Benepe -- translated quidditch into a non-flying sport. The game used to be played on wooden brooms until a few years ago when the game got too rough. There are still chasers (offensive players), beaters (defenders), seekers, keepers (like a goalie in hockey or soccer) and quaffles (again the balls, stay with me here) and bludgers (slightly deflated dodgeballs). But here the snitch is actually a person with sock-like pouch attached to their lower back that has to be snatched by the seekers, while the snitch tries to evade them... Almost 15 years after its inception, real-world quidditch has grown into a global phenomenon, with an International Quidditch Association (IQA) that has a World Cup every two years, a couple of semi-pro leagues, several regional and national leagues and more than 150 colleges and universities with club teams. During practice, Chanun Ong, a sophomore returning for his second year on the team, tells a freshman, "I wasn't a big Harry Potter fan, but this sport is pretty legit." There's a short video of the quidditch practice, and the the article's author remembers some crucial advice he received from one of the players. "Scrunch your body down if someone is about to throw a bludger at you, so you're a harder target to hit." Although he also acknowledges that most of the people watching the two-hour practice "were passersby trying to figure out what the hell is going on."

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The Next Energy-Efficient Architecture Revolution: A House Built By Robots

Slashdot - Sun, 2019-09-15 18:44
"Erecting a new building ranks among the most inefficient, polluting activities humans undertake," reports Qz. "The construction sector is responsible for nearly 40% of the world's total energy consumption and CO2 emissions, according to a UN global survey. A consortium of Swiss researchers has one answer to the problem: working with robots." Over four years, 30 different industry partners joined a team of experts at ETH Zurich university for a cutting-edge "digital fabrication" project: building the DFAB House. Timber beams were assembled by robots on site, it used 60% less cement, and it features some amazing ceilings printed with a large-scale 3D sand printer. "This is a new way of seeing architecture," says Matthias Kohler, a member of DFAB's research team. The work of architects has long been presented in terms of designing inspiring building forms, while the technical specifics of construction has been relegated to the background. Kohler thinks this is quickly changing. "Suddenly how we use resources to build our habitats is at the center of architecture," he argues. "How you build matters." DFAB isn't the first building project to use digital fabrication techniques. In 2014, Chinese company WinSun demonstrated the architectural potential of 3D printing by manufacturing 10 single-story houses in one day. A year later, the Shanghai-based company also printed an apartment building and a neoclassical mansion, but these projects remain in the development phase. Kohler explains that beating construction speed records wasn't necessarily their goal. "Of course we're interested in gaining breakthroughs in speed and economy, but we tried to hold to the idea of quality first," he says. "You can do things very, very fast but that doesn't mean that it's actually sustainable...." Beyond the experimental structure in Switzerland, Kohler and Dillenburger explain that they're interested in fostering a dialogue with the global architecture and construction sectors. They've published their open-source data sets and have organized a traveling exhibition titled "How to Build a House: Architectural Research in the Digital Age," opening at the Cooper Union in New York this week.

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Ask Slashdot: Can A Lack of Privacy Be Weaponized?

Slashdot - Sun, 2019-09-15 17:34
Slashdot reader dryriver asks a scary what-if question about the detailed digital profiles of our online and offline lives that are being created by "hundreds of privately owned, profit-driven companies operating with no meaningful oversight." Digital profiles are just a collection of 1s and 0s and are wide open to digital tampering or digital distortion. You could easily be made to appear to have done just about anything from visiting questionnable websites on the dark web, to buying things that you never actually bought or would have an interest in buying, to being in places in the physical world at given dates and times that you would never actually visit in real life. In other words, your digital profile(s) may make you appear to be a completely different person, doing completely different things, from who you objectively are in actuality. For now, these digital profiles mostly sit in data centers around the world, and try to serve ads to you. But what happens if someday your digital profile is weaponized against you? What happens in a situation where you need to prove that you are a morally upright, law-abiding person, and your digital profile(s) are accessed, and claim that you are anything but a moral, law-abiding person? What happens if these digital profiles are someday routinely examined by courts of law to determine whether you are a person of good character or not? What happens if one of your digital profiles is purposely leaked into the public realm someday, and your "digital mirror image" did all sorts of crappy things that you, in real life, would never do?

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Google's Search Results Begin Prioritizing 'Original Reporting'

Slashdot - Sun, 2019-09-15 16:34
In the future Google will promote news articles that feature original reporting in its search results, the Hill reports. "While we typically show the latest and most comprehensive version of a story in news results, we've made changes to our products globally to highlight articles that we identify as significant original reporting," Richard Gingras, Google's vice president of news, said in a blog post. "Such articles may stay in a highly visible position longer. This prominence allows users to view the original reporting while also looking at more recent articles alongside it." On top of the change for individual articles, Google's search raters will also begin identifying outlets that have a track record of original reporting in order to boost their content in search results... For Google, the shift will mostly come in a change in guidelines for the 10,000 employees at the company who operate its search algorithms. The guidelines will now emphasize promoting an article that "provides information that would not otherwise have been known had the article not revealed it." And it will push raters to boost outlets with strong journalistic reputations. "Prestigious awards, such as the Pulitzer Prize award, or a history of high quality original reporting are strong evidence of positive reputation," the new guidelines read.

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Categories: Linux fréttir

IOS 13 Lock Screen Lets Anyone See Your Address Book

Slashdot - Sun, 2019-09-15 15:34
Slashdot reader dryriver writes: A security researcher discovered that if you get your hands on someone else's iThing running iOS 13, and place a phone call to it, you can choose to respond with a TXT message, and get to see the contents of the address book on the iThing without actually getting past the lock screen... The security researcher who found the flaw was not financially rewarded or acknowledged by Apple, but rather given the cold shoulder. The security researcher says all he'd wanted was a $1 Apple Store card to keep as a trophy, according to The Register: The procedure, demonstrated below in a video, involves receiving a call and opting to respond with a text message, and then changing the "to" field of the message, which can be accomplished via voice-over. The "to" field pulls up the owner's contacts list, thus giving an unauthorized miscreant the ability to crawl through the address book without ever needing to actually unlock the phone. They also report that while the insecure-lock-screen iOS 13 will be officially released on September 19, a fixed version, iOS 13.1, "is due to land on September 30."

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Python 2 Sunsets in 107 Days. JPMorgan Isn't Ready

Slashdot - Sun, 2019-09-15 14:34
In 107 days, Python 2 -- first released in 2000 -- will officially sunset, according to an announcement this week by "volunteers who make and take care of the Python programming language." But according to TechRepublic, not everybody is ready: Given Python's popularity and ubiquity, the amount of business logic hinging on Python is quite vast, presenting an issue for organizations still clinging to Python 2. JPMorgan's Athena trading platform is one of those applications -- while access has only been available directly to clients since 2018, the Athena platform is used internally at JPMorgan for pricing, trading, risk management, and analytics, with tools for data science and machine learning. This extensive feature set utilizes over 150,000 Python modules, over 500 open source packages, and 35 million lines of Python code contributed by over 1,500 developers, according to data presented by Misha Tselman, executive director at J.P. Morgan Chase in a talk at PyData 2017. Migrating 35 million lines of code from Python 2 to Python 3 is quite the undertaking -- and JPMorgan is going to miss the deadline, according to eFinancialCareers, stating that JPMorgan's roadmap puts "most strategic components" compatible with Python 3 by the end of Q1 2020 -- that is, three months after the end of security patches -- with "all legacy Python 2.7 components" planned for compatibility with Python 3 by Q4 2020. Modern developer practices are needed to maintain a project of this scale -- fortunately, JPMorgan uses Continuous Delivery, with 10,000 to 15,000 production changes per week, according to Tselman. The eFinancialCareers site argues that banks "have been dragging their feet," adding that JPMorgan is not the only bank that still hasn't migrated to Python 3. The Python volunteers are pointing concerned individuals to the Python 2.7 Countdown Clock, and their announcement also links to a list of support and migration vendors, adding "If you can pay to hire someone to help you, post on the job board or hire a consultant. If you need free help from volunteers, look at this help page."

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