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Coalition Including Microsoft, Linux Foundation, GitHub Urge Green Software Development

Slashdot - Sun, 2021-05-30 01:34
"To help realize the possibility of carbon-free applications, Microsoft, the consultancies Accenture and ThoughtWorks, the Linux Foundation, and Microsoft-owned code-sharing site, GitHub, have launched The Green Software Foundation," reports ZDNet: Announced at Microsoft's Build 2021 developer conference, the foundation is trying to promote the idea of green software engineering - a new field that looks to make code more efficient and reduce carbon emitted from the hardware it's running on... The foundation wants to set standards, best practices and patterns for building green software; nurture the creation of trusted open-source and open-data projects and support academic research; and grow an international community of green software ambassadors. The goal is to help the Information and Communication Technology sector to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 45% before 2030. That includes mobile network operators, ISPs, data centers, and all the laptops being snapped up during the pandemic. "We envision a future where carbon-free software is standard - where software development, deployment, and use contribute to the global climate solution without every developer having to be an expert," Erica Brescia, COO of GitHub said in a statement. Microsoft president Brad Smith said "the world confronts an urgent carbon problem." "It will take all of us working together to create innovative solutions to drastically reduce emissions. Microsoft is joining with organizations who are serious about an environmentally sustainable future to drive adoption of green software development to help our customers and partners around the world reduce their carbon footprint." VentureBeat also points out that Microsoft "recently launched a $1 billion Climate Innovation Fund to accelerate the global development of carbon reduction, capture, and removal technologies." But Bloomberg explores the rationale behind the new foundation: Data centers now account for about 1% of global electricity demand, and that's forecast to rise to 3% to 8% in the next decade, the companies said in a statement Tuesday, timed to Microsoft's Build developers conference... While it's tough to determine exactly how much carbon is emitted by individual software programs, groups like the Green Software Foundation examine metrics such as how much electricity is needed, whether microprocessors are being used efficiently, and the carbon emitted in networking. The foundation plans to look at curricula and developing certifications that would give engineers expertise in this space. As with areas like data science and cybersecurity, there will be an opportunity for engineers to specialize in green software development, but everyone who builds software will need at least some background in it, said Jeff Sandquist, a Microsoft vice president for developer relations. "This will be the responsibility of everybody on the development team, much like when we look at security, or performance or reliability," he said. "Building the application in a sustainable way is going to matter."

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Categories: Linux fréttir

Amazon's 'Echo Show' Can Now Watch Your House For You

Slashdot - Sat, 2021-05-29 22:34
There's something new in Amazon's video-enabled Echo Show smart speakers. "If you have the version with a built-in camera, you can now turn your Show into a security device..." writes Kim Komando. "Once the monitoring has been set up, you can remotely view the feed from the Alexa app. CNET reports on Alexa's new "Home Monitoring" setting, "found deep within your Amazon Echo Show's device settings." It doesn't record video and you can only put it where you'd otherwise put a smart display... But still, it's useful for checking in on things, like kids, pets or your house while you're away... it might just replace that security camera you were thinking of buying. Plus, if you have the latest Echo Show 10, you can not only view the camera feed, but you can pan the room left to right (although, unfortunately, not up and down)... At first, only the new Echo Show 10 could pull it off, but a recent update seems to have changed all that and now the first-gen Echo Show 5 and Echo Show 8 have a Home Monitoring setting (presumably, so will the updated Show 5 and 8 when the arrive June 9)... Setting up your Amazon Echo Show smart display to appear as a security camera in the Alexa app is a bit trickier than enabling most features — for security reasons, you have to set it up on the device itself, not from within the app. Their article also notes two caveats: You can't record the video.There's no quick and easy way to set up motion-alert notifications.

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Intelligent NFT Created Linked to a Machine-Learning Chatbot

Slashdot - Sat, 2021-05-29 21:34
Decrypt reports on the world's first "intelligent NFT" (or iNFT), being auctioned off in June as part of a collection of digital artworks at Sotheby's. Her name is Alice: The brainchild of artist Ben Gentilli's Robert Alice studio and software developers Alethea AI, Alice is a non-fungible token (NFT), a blockchain-based token that can be used to prove ownership of a digital or physical asset. In this case, the asset in question is a machine-learning bot that uses a generative language model based on the OpenAI GPT-3 engine. That means she's able to hold (somewhat stilted) conversations about life, the universe and everything... Since Alice "learns" from each audience interaction, drifting further from the original seed text, it becomes a decentralized manifesto. "It's fairly loose, because the audience can take it anywhere," Gentilli says. Alice has strong views on NFTs, as you might expect. "Non-fungible tokens are a way to liberate artists and give them the power of the blockchain," she tells me. But she's a little hazy on the details. Asked how, exactly, that would work, all she can come up with is, "I don't know. I am not an artist..." So, is there an appetite for NFTs that talk back? Alethea CEO Arif Khan thinks so. "We're actually building a protocol that will allow you to take any NFT, put it into the smart contract infrastructure that we've built, and make it intelligent and interactive," he says. Your Beeple art piece or CryptoPunk could start talking back to you, he suggests. Or you could take your grandparent's diaries and use them as the seed text for a generative language bot. But do you want your CryptoPunk to talk to you? Chatbots already exist, and it's not clear why you'd need that bot to be attached to an NFT. On the other hand, art can be a way to explore the implications of new technologies, Gentilli argues: "When you think about the whole trajectory of synthetic media, artists have been the people probably most known for experimenting with it at its rawest edge."

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Could Zinc Batteries Replace Lithium-Ion Batteries on the Power Grid?

Slashdot - Sat, 2021-05-29 20:34
Slashdot reader sciencehabit shares Science magazine's look at efforts to transform zinc batteries "from small, throwaway cells often used in hearing aids into rechargeable behemoths that could be attached to the power grid, storing solar or wind power for nighttime or when the wind is calm." With startups proliferating and lab studies coming thick and fast, "Zinc batteries are a very hot field," says Chunsheng Wang, a battery expert at the University of Maryland, College Park. Lithium-ion batteries — giant versions of those found in electric vehicles — are the current front-runners for storing renewable energy, but their components can be expensive. Zinc batteries are easier on the wallet and the planet — and lab experiments are now pointing to ways around their primary drawback: They can't be recharged over and over for decades. For power storage, "Lithium-ion is the 800-pound gorilla," says Michael Burz, CEO of EnZinc, a zinc battery startup. But lithium, a relatively rare metal that's only mined in a handful of countries, is too scarce and expensive to back up the world's utility grids. (It's also in demand from automakers for electric vehicles.) Lithium-ion batteries also typically use a flammable liquid electrolyte. That means megawatt-scale batteries must have pricey cooling and fire-suppression technology. "We need an alternative to lithium," says Debra Rolison, who heads advanced electrochemical materials research at the Naval Research Laboratory. Enter zinc, a silvery, nontoxic, cheap, abundant metal. Nonrechargeable zinc batteries have been on the market for decades. More recently, some zinc rechargeables have also been commercialized, but they tend to have limited energy storage capacity. Another technology — zinc flow cell batteries — is also making strides. But it requires more complex valves, pumps, and tanks to operate. So, researchers are now working to improve another variety, zinc-air cells... Advances are injecting new hope that rechargeable zinc-air batteries will one day be able to take on lithium. Because of the low cost of their materials, grid-scale zinc-air batteries could cost $100 per kilowatt-hour, less than half the cost of today's cheapest lithium-ion versions. "There is a lot of promise here," Burz says. But researchers still need to scale up their production from small button cells and cellphone-size pouches to shipping container-size systems, all while maintaining their performance, a process that will likely take years.

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Categories: Linux fréttir

Now Generally Available: Microsoft's Open Source Java Distribution, 'Microsoft Build of OpenJDK'

Slashdot - Sat, 2021-05-29 19:34
"Microsoft has announced general availability of the Microsoft Build of OpenJDK, the open-source version of the Java development kit," reports ZDNet: The release follows the April preview of the Microsoft Build of OpenJDK, a long-term support distribution of OpenJDK... Microsoft announced general availability for the Microsoft Build of OpenJDK at its Build 2021 conference for developers. Microsoft is a major user of Java in Azure, SQL Server, Yammer, Minecraft, and LinkedIn, but it's only been supporting Java in Visual Studio Code tooling for the past five years. "We've deployed our own version of OpenJDK on hundreds of thousands of virtual machines inside Microsoft and LinkedIn," Julia Liuson, corporate vice president of Microsoft's developer division, told ZDNet. "Across the board Microsoft has over 500,000 VMs running Java at Microsoft. We're also providing that to customers as well for Azure...." "We believe Microsoft is uniquely positioned to be a partner in the language community. We can do a lot of direct contribution to the JDK community and we do world-class tooling, which is VS Code." Microsoft's contributions to OpenJDK — an open-source JDK for the most popular Linux distributions — includes work on the garbage collector and writing capabilities for the Java runtime. The Microsoft Build of OpenJDK is available for free to deploy in qualifying Azure support plans. It includes binaries for Java 11 based on OpenJDK 11.0.11, on x64 server, and desktop environments on macOS, Linux and Windows, according to Microsoft... Its download page at Microsoft.com touts it as "Free. Open Source. Freshly Brewed!" And they describe it as "a new no-cost long-term supported distribution and Microsoft's new way to collaborate and contribute to the Java ecosystem."

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Categories: Linux fréttir

A New Worker-Owned Cooperative Starts Competing With Uber and Lyft

Slashdot - Sat, 2021-05-29 18:34
The New York Times reports that for years, Uber and other ride-hailing companies "offered the promise of entrepreneurship to drivers" to drivers eager to set their own schedules. "But some drivers never received the control and independence they had expected." They struggled with the costs of vehicle maintenance, loans and insurance, and they questioned whether Uber and Lyft paid a fair wage. Legislative efforts to grant them employment benefits were thwarted. Now, dissatisfied drivers and labor advocates are forming worker-owned cooperatives in an attempt to take back some of the money — and power — in the gig economy. The Drivers Cooperative, which opened for business in New York this week, is the most recent attempt. The group, founded by a former Uber employee, a labor organizer and a black-car driver, began issuing ownership shares to drivers in early May and will start offering rides through its app on Sunday. The cooperative has recruited around 2,500 drivers so far and intends to take a smaller commission than Uber or Lyft and charge riders a lower fare. It is an ambitious plan to challenge the ride-hailing giants, and it faces the same hurdles that tend to block other emerging players in the industry: Few have the technical prowess, the venture capital dollars or the supply of readily available drivers to subvert an established company like Uber. Still, drivers who joined the effort said even a small cooperative could make a big difference in their work, allowing them to earn more money and have a say in the way the company was run. The Drivers Cooperative said it planned to pay 10 percent above the wage minimums set by the city's Taxi and Limousine Commission, and return profits to drivers in the form of dividends. One of the labor organizers who founded the Drivers Cooperative tells the Times that "I've never seen this hunger for change that exists with drivers."

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Categories: Linux fréttir

Would It Even Be Possible to Communicate with an Alien?

Slashdot - Sat, 2021-05-29 17:34
The senior technology editor at Ars Technica checked the plausibility of Andy Weir's new science fiction novel Project Hail Mary with an actual professor of linguistics and cognitive science at Northern Illinois University. It's another tale of solving problems with science, as a lone human named Ryland Grace and a lone alien named Rocky must save our stellar neighborhood from a star-eating parasite called "Astrophage." PHM is a buddy movie in space in a way that The Martian didn't get to be, and the interaction between Grace and Rocky is the biggest reason to read the book. The pair makes a hell of a problem-solving team, jazz hands and fist bumps and all. But the relative ease with which Grace and Rocky understand each other got me thinking about the real-world issues that might arise when two beings from vastly different evolutionary backgrounds try to communicate... The question I put to her was this: going by our current understanding of how and why human languages operate, do we think it would be practical—or even possible — for two divergently evolved sentient beings from different worlds to learn each other's languages well enough in a short amount of time (perhaps as little as a week) to usefully converse about abstract concepts and to be reasonably assured that both beings actually understand those abstracts...? And the professor's response? We ended up blowing an entire hour on linguistics, and it was easily the coolest and nerdiest conversation I've had in a long time. Nearing the end, though, I asked Dr. Birner for her final take on whether or not the language acquisition exercise portrayed in Project Hail Mary would work. Her consensus was "probably," but only given a number of extremely lucky — and extremely unlikely — coincidences in psychology and evolution (there's that anthropic principle of science fiction rearing its head!). If we can take it as a given that the alien is "friendly," and if we can also take it as a given that "friendship" in the alien's society carries along with it the same or a similar set of relationship expectations as it does for humans, and if we can take it as a given that the alien has similar emotional drivers, and if the alien values (or can at least intellectually conceive of) concepts like altruism and cooperation, and if the alien has a compatible sense of morality that places value on the lives of individuals and prioritizes the avoidance of death—if we can take all those things and more as givens, then things might work out. "I think that given a theoretically infinite amount of time, probably yes," communication would be possible, she said. "As long as there's enough goodwill that you are going to be there together working together." But in a long comment, long-time Slashdot reader shanen argues all sentient beings are basically Universal Turing Machines running mental programs in our heads, but still warns of "hardware-level incompatibilities not just at the level of sound systems, but in the kinds of programs that 'run sufficiently easily' in the more dissimilar Universal Turing Machines."

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Categories: Linux fréttir

With 'Massive' Cybersecurity Labor Shortage, Will Corporations Compete with Local Governments?

Slashdot - Sat, 2021-05-29 16:34
it's high time for companies to start adding cybersecurity professionals to their teams, reports CNN. "The only hitch: There's a massive, longstanding labor shortage in the cybersecurity industry." "It's a talent war," said Bryan Orme, principal at GuidePoint Security. "There's a shortage of supply and increased demand." Experts have been tracking the cybersecurity labor shortage for at least a decade — and now, a new surge in companies looking to hire following recent attacks could exacerbate the problem. The stakes are only growing, as technology evolves and bad actors become more advanced. In the United States, there are around 879,000 cybersecurity professionals in the workforce and an unfilled need for another 359,000 workers, according to a 2020 survey by (ISC)2, an international nonprofit that offers cybersecurity training and certification programs. Globally, the gap is even larger at nearly 3.12 million unfilled positions, the group says... The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects "information security analyst" will be the 10th fastest growing occupation over the next decade, with an employment growth rate of 31% compared to the 4% average growth rate for all occupations. If demand for cybersecurity professionals in the private sector increases dramatically, some experts say talented workers could leave the government for more lucrative corporate jobs — a risk that is especially acute for smaller, local government agencies that manage critical infrastructure in their communities but have limited budgets. "Think of the criticality of what your local government does: water purification, waste treatment, traffic management, communications for law enforcement, public safety, emergency management," said Mike Hamilton, chief information security officer at Critical Insight. "But Amazon is out there waving around bags of cash to protect their retail operation." Hamilton — who was the former chief information security officer for Seattle, Washington, from 2006 to 2013 — added that local governments "cannot attract and retain these people when the competition for them is so high, which is why we've got to make lots of them." The article notes educational training/up-skilling programs working to address the shortage, including GuidePoint, which helps train veterans leaving the military for cybersecurity careers. CNN also notes U.S. President Joe Biden's $2 trillion American Jobs Plan included $20 billion for state, local and tribal governments to update and improve cybersecurity controls for their energy systems. "Still, experts say more needs to be done, suggesting a broad rethinking of education systems from elementary school through higher education to include more cybersecurity training."

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Categories: Linux fréttir

Freenode Apologizes as Prominent Open Source Projects Switch to Libera Chat

Slashdot - Sat, 2021-05-29 15:34
Slashdot reader AleRunner writes: Ubuntu has announced that, with immediate effect Ubuntu's IRC channels are moving to libera.chat. The move follows a "hostile takeover" of Ubuntu's namespace by Freenode's new management that appears to be happening to many other distributions including Gentoo as well as other projects that have used Freenode [including channels associated with the programming languages Raku, Elixir, and Haskell]. For Ubuntu, and many other FOSS projects, Freenode has long been one of the major official forms of communication... With IRC channels often used for important system advice, and project communication, this becomes not just an inconvenience but even a security problem. For this reason Ubuntu's replacement network, libera.chat has a more clearly open organisational structure than Freenode had before being taken over. "All told, it appears something like 700 irc.freenode.net channels have been seized and re-permissioned," reports The Register, "supposedly because the channels mentioned Libera Chat in violation of Freenode's advertising policy." Wednesday Freenode owner Andrew Lee posted a blog post explaining that "in retrospect, we should have handled the action of closing down channels slightly differently..." "The intent of doing this was not an attempt of a hostile takeover nor hijack like many people are saying. Since certain projects were disrupting their users' ability to chat on freenode via mass kicks, force closures, spam, we decided to enact this policy in those places which were deemed in violation and could cause an issue later... "We believe we should have done this in a much more communicative way to circulate the right message and keep things transparent which of course did not happen. As we move forward I'd like to fully assure you that we will be working in complete commitment to restore projects, namespaces and channels that were closed on accident as a part of this event and we welcome them to use freenode as before as their very own homebase. "Lastly, there are no excuses for this, and I'm willing to admit that I was wrong with Tuesday's move and apologize for the inconvenience that may have caused."

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Categories: Linux fréttir

Free Software Foundation's Executive Director Resigns

Slashdot - Sat, 2021-05-29 14:34
John Sullivan became the Free Software Foundation's Executive Director back in 2003 (at the age of 26). But now after 18 years, "I've decided to resign my position..." he tweeted Friday, "effective at the end of a transition period." "We'll be sharing further details, including information about that transition, and a few more words, in the coming days." Meanwhile, the Free Software Foundation announced Thursday that it's seeking "a principled, compassionate, and capable leader" to be its new executive director, working remotely out of their Boston office with the Foundation's current staff and board of directors. "The executive director, working with the president, is the public face of the Foundation." The FSF faces many challenges as software becomes increasingly central in the exercise of all fundamental human freedoms, including speech, association, privacy, and movement, and as software owners seek to exploit their control over us to profit at the expense of those freedoms. The executive director has a vital role in enabling the FSF to continue meeting these challenges, starting from the strong base that has been built in the last thirty-five years. The Foundation has recently reached record-high membership numbers and was awarded a perfect score from Charity Navigator, as well as its eighth consecutive four-star rating. Efforts to improve the Foundation's governance are underway. The executive director is the FSF's chief employed officer. The position reports to the president/CEO and the board of directors, and is responsible for management of all other staff, all day-to-day operations, and oversight of the Boston physical office. The successful candidate will have the opportunity to hire for additional key positions in the management team. One interesting item on their list of job responsibilities: Mentor, inspire, coordinate, and manage all FSF staff, building a culture that upholds the FSF's ideological principles and includes accountability, empathy, efficiency, and excellence A blog post on the FSF site also notes that the last month saw 11 new GNU releases. "A number of GNU packages, as well as the GNU operating system as a whole, are looking for maintainers and other assistance: please see https://www.gnu.org/server/takeaction.html#unmaint if you'd like to help."

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Categories: Linux fréttir

Iran Bans Crypto Mining After Months of Blackouts

Slashdot - Sat, 2021-05-29 13:00
Iran banned bitcoin mining this week, after four months of continuous blackouts partially due to what officials say is a huge energy suck from illegal mining. Gizmodo reports: President Hassan Rouhani said at a cabinet meeting Wednesday that a drought in the region was responsible for crippling the country's supply of hydroelectric power. But, he said, the huge amount of illegal bitcoin mining that happens in Iran was tapping a staggering 2 gigawatts of power each day from the already-stressed grid. (Legal operations, meanwhile, used somewhere between 200 and 300 megawatts.) Rouhani said around 85% of this 2-gigawatt power suck was from unlicensed operations. Iran has become a hotspot for illegal mining after many miners began to decamp there to take advantage of the country's heavily subsidized energy (partially due to the fact that Iran can't sell its oil due to international sanctions). Around 4.5% of the world's total bitcoin mining now takes place in Iran, making it one of the top 10 bitcoin-producing countries in the world. The crackdown by the government may knock it off the chart, but miners will surely sniff out another cheap source of electricity somewhere else in the world and set up shop there. [...] The ban in Iran will take effect immediately and be in place until at least September, officials say, and will include legal as well as illegal operations. UPDATE: NBC News has additional converage — including these two interesting details: "Tehran allows cryptocurrencies mined in Iran to pay for imports of goods, which can help it get around the wide-ranging U.S. sanctions that had been imposed on the country..." "Around 4.5 percent of all bitcoin mining globally took place in Iran between January and April of this year, according to blockchain analytics firm Elliptic. That put it among the top 10 in the world, while China came in first place at nearly 70 percent."

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Categories: Linux fréttir

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