Programming

Java Creator James Gosling Joins Amazon Web Services (geekwire.com) 41

The legendary computer scientist and founder of Java, James Gosling, is joining forces with Amazon Web Services. Gosling made the announcement today on Facebook saying that he's "starting a new Adventure" with the cloud computing juggernaut as a Distinguished Engineer. GeekWire reports: Gosling wrote Java, one of the most widely used programming languages in the history of computing, while at Sun Microsystems in the early 1990s. After leaving Sun following its acquisition by Oracle, Gosling did a short stint at Google before settling in for almost six years at Liquid Robotics, which is working on an autonomous boat called the Wave Glider. He likely ruffled a few feathers in Seattle last year after speaking out about fears of cloud vendor lock-in. "You get cloud providers like Amazon saying: 'Take your applications and move them to the cloud.' But as soon as you start using them you're stuck in that particular cloud," he said at IP Expo according to The Inquirer, echoing the sentiment of some skeptical IT organizations burned by enterprise vendors in the past.
Data Storage

Microsoft Wants To Use DNA For Cloud Data Storage (technologyreview.com) 32

Last July, researchers from Microsoft and the University of Washington said that they had successfully encoded about 200 megabytes of data onto synthetic DNA molecules. The company is now planning to take the technology commercial. "Computer architects at Microsoft Research say the company has formalized a goal of having an operational storage system based on DNA working inside a data center toward the end of this decade," reports MIT Technology Review. "The aim is a 'proto-commercial system in three years storing some amount of data on DNA in one of our four centers for at least a boutique application,' says Doug Carmean, a partner architect at Microsoft Research." From the report: Internally, Microsoft harbors the even more ambitious goal of replacing tape drives, a common format used for archiving information. Major obstacles to a practical storage system remain. Converting digital bits into DNA code (made up of chains of nucleotides labeled A, G, C, and T) remains laborious and expensive because of the chemical process used to manufacture DNA strands. In its demonstration project, Microsoft used 13,448,372 unique pieces of DNA. Experts say buying that much material on the open market would cost $800,000. According to Microsoft, the cost of DNA storage needs to fall by a factor of 10,000 before it becomes widely adopted. While many experts say that's unlikely, Microsoft believes such advances could occur if the computer industry demands them.
Communications

FCC Won't Release DDoS Logs, And Will Probably Honor Fake Comments (zdnet.com) 82

An anonymous reader quotes ZDNet on the alleged denial of service attack which blocked comments supporting net neutrality. In a ZDNet interview, FCC chief information officer David Bray said that the agency would not release the logs, in part because the logs contain private information, such as IP addresses. In unprinted remarks, he said that the logs amounted to about 1 gigabyte per hour during the alleged attack... The log files showed that non-human [and cloud-based] bots submitted a flood of comments using the FCC's API. The bot that submitted these comments sparked the massive uptick in internet traffic on the FCC by using the public API as a vehicle...

Bray's comments further corroborate a ZDNet report (and others) that showed unknown anti-net neutrality spammers were behind the posting of hundreds of thousands of the same messages to the FCC's website using people's names and addresses without their consent -- a so-called "astroturfing" technique -- in an apparent attempt to influence the results of a public solicitation for feedback on net neutrality. Speaking to reporters last week, FCC chairman Ajit Pai hinted that the agency would likely honor those astroturfed comments, nonetheless.

AI

The Working Dead: Which IT Jobs Are Bound For Extinction? (infoworld.com) 545

Slashdot reader snydeq shares an InfoWorld article identifying "The Working Dead: IT Jobs Bound For Extinction." Here's some of its predictions.
  • The president of one job leadership consultancy argues C and C++ coders will soon be as obsolete as Cobol programmers. "The entire world has gone to Java or .Net. You still find C++ coders in financial companies because their systems are built on that, but they're disappearing."
  • A data scientist at Stack Overflow "says demand for PHP, WordPress, and LAMP skills are seeing a steady decline, while newer frameworks and languages like React, Angular, and Scala are on the rise."
  • The CEO and co-founder of an anonymous virtual private network service says "The rise of Azure and the Linux takeover has put most Windows admins out of work. Many of my old colleagues have had to retrain for Linux or go into something else entirely."
  • In addition, "Thanks to the massive migration to the cloud, listings for jobs that involve maintaining IT infrastructure, like network engineer or system administrator, are trending downward, notes Terence Chiu, vice president of careers site Indeed Prime."
  • The CTO of the job site Ladders adds that Smalltalk, Flex, and Pascal "quickly went from being popular to being only useful for maintaining older systems. Engineers and programmers need to continually learn new languages, or they'll find themselves maintaining systems instead of creating new products."
  • The president of Dice.com says "Right now, Java and Python are really hot. In five years they may not be... jobs are changing all the time, and that's a real pain point for tech professionals."

But the regional dean of Northeastern University-Silicon Valley has the glummest prediction of all. "If I were to look at a crystal ball, I don't think the world's going to need as many coders after 2020. Ninety percent of coding is taking some business specs and translating them into computer logic. That's really ripe for machine learning and low-end AI."


Businesses

'WannaCry Makes an Easy Case For Linux' (techrepublic.com) 408

An anonymous reader writes: The thing is, WannaCry isn't the first of its kind. In fact, ransomware has been exploiting Windows vulnerabilities for a while. The first known ransomware attack was called "AIDS Trojan" that infected Windows machines back in 1989. This particular ransomware attack switched the autoexec.bat file. This new file counted the amount of times a machine had been booted; when the machine reached a count of 90, all of the filenames on the C drive were encrypted. Windows, of course, isn't the only platform to have been hit by ransomware. In fact, back in 2015, the LinuxEncoder ransomware was discovered. That bit of malicious code, however, only affected servers running the Magento ecommerce solution. The important question here is this: Have their been any ransomware attacks on the Linux desktop? The answer is no. With that in mind, it's pretty easy to draw the conclusion that now would be a great time to start deploying Linux on the desktop. I can already hear the tired arguments. The primary issue: software. I will counter that argument by saying this: Most software has migrated to either Software as a Service (SaaS) or the cloud. The majority of work people do is via a web browser. Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari; with few exceptions, SaaS doesn't care. With that in mind, why would you want your employees and staff using a vulnerable system? [...] Imagine, if you will, you have deployed Linux as a desktop OS for your company and those machines work like champs from the day you set them up to the day the hardware finally fails. Doesn't that sound like a win your company could use? If your employees work primarily with SaaS (through web browsers), then there is zero reason keeping you from making the switch to a more reliable, secure platform.
Open Source

Open Source SQL Database CockroachDB Hits 1.0 (infoworld.com) 80

An anonymous reader quotes InfoWorld: CockroachDB, an open source, fault-tolerant SQL database with horizontal scaling and strong consistency across nodes -- and a name few people will likely forget -- is now officially available. Cockroach Labs, the company behind its development, touts CockroachDB as a "cloud native" database solution -- a system engineered to run as a distributed resource. Version 1.0 is available in both basic and for-pay editions, and both boast features that will appeal to enterprises.

The company is rolling the dice with its handling of the enterprise edition by also making those components open source and trusting that enterprises will pay for what they use in production.

Cloud

Microsoft Wants To Monitor Your Workplace With AI, Computer Vision and the Cloud (gizmodo.com) 112

"If you're an employee under the heel of a giant corporation you should probably be terrified by the vision of the future of connected gadgets that Microsoft just revealed at its Build developer conference here in Seattle," warns Gizmodo. Slashdot reader dryriver writes: Gizmodo reports on a Microsoft Workplace Monitoring demo where CCTV cameras watch a workplace -- like a construction site -- on 24/7 basis, and AI algorithms constantly oversee and evaluate what is happening in that workplace. The system can track where employees are, where physical equipment and tools are at what time, who does what at what time in this workplace and apparently use Cloud-based AI of some sort to evaluate what is happening in the workplace being monitored. Spotting employees misbehaving, breaking workplace rules or putting themselves and expensive equipment at risk may be the intended "value proposition" this system brings to the workplace. Another aspect may be reducing insurance premiums employers pay by creating a strict, highly monitored work environment. But the system is also very Big Brother -- an AI is monitoring people and equipment in a workplace in realtime at all times, and all the data ends up being processed in the Microsoft Cloud.
Gizmodo gave their article the title, "Microsoft's Latest Workplace Tech Demos Creep Me Out."
Education

Why Doesn't Harvard Want To Talk About Its Mystery Microsoft Azure Project? (geekwire.com) 51

theodp writes: GeekWire's Tom Krazit reports, "Microsoft Azure appears to have scored a high-profile customer: Harvard University's prestigious CS50 computer science class, not that anybody wants to talk about it." A deleted-today-but-still-cached Microsoft Technical Case Study on the software giant's GitHub account touts the success of a recent DevOps collaboration effort between Microsoft's Azure team and an unnamed "major U.S. research university." "This U.S. university is world-class," explains the case study, "well known for its research and its alumni. For now, they would prefer to remain anonymous, so this document will refer to them as 'the university' (the case study web page, however, is a not-so-anonymous 'CS50.html')." Like many IT projects, there seems to be a disconnect between the software vendor and the client. "The project we defined and delivered was exactly what they were looking for," boasts the case study's three Microsoft authors, who add that "full deployment and migration will wait until summer." Contacted for comment by GeekWire, however, Harvard CS professor extraordinaire David Malan seemed less committed to the relationship. "We're actually still on AWS," Malan wrote, "though most every summer we do tend to re-evaluate our apps' architecture for the coming year, with AWS, Azure, Google, et al. always among the candidates. So no plans yet, but happy to reach out toward summer's end if we've made any decisions!"
Microsoft

Microsoft Announces Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, the Next Major Update To Desktop OS (betanews.com) 121

At its developer conference on Thursday, Microsoft announced that the next major update to its desktop operating system will be called Windows 10 Fall Creators Update. It will be made available in September later this year. The update will come with several new features: Timeline, Pick Up Where You Left Off, Clipboard, OneDrive Files On-Demand, and Story Remix app among others. Timeline is a new feature that improves the Task View area to provide a list of apps and workspaces that you were using previously or on other devices. Think of it like a time machine for resuming old sessions. Timeline also combines with a new Pick Up Where You Left Off feature to let you resume sessions and apps on multiple devices. A report adds: "With Files On-Demand, you can access all your files in the cloud without having to download them and use storage space on your device. You don't have to change the way you work, because all your files -- even online files -- can be seen in File Explorer and work just like every other file on your device," says Jeff Teper, corporate vice president, Office, OneDrive and SharePoint teams. [...] Windows 10 Fall Creators Update will continue the use of Project Neon, which now has an official name of "Microsoft Fluent Design System." It is important to note that this design focus is not a Windows 10 FCU feature, but something Microsoft intends to implement in apps across platforms and device types. End users should start to experience it more with FCU, however. [...] Windows 10 Fall Creators Update will come with a new app called "Windows Story Remix." This app is designed to help users transform their existing photos and videos. This tool can be used to create stories from content in a fun way.
Databases

Azure Goes Database Crazy With One New NoSQL, Two New SQL Services (arstechnica.com) 39

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: In its continued efforts to make Azure a platform that appeals to the widest range of developers possible, Microsoft announced a range of new features at Build, its annual developer conference. Many of the features shown today had a data theme to them. The most novel feature was the release of Cosmos DB, a replacement for, or upgrade to, Microsoft's Document DB NoSQL database. Cosmos DB is designed for "planet-scale" applications, giving developers fine control over the replication policies and reliability. Replicated, distributed systems offer trade-offs between latency and consistency; systems with strong consistency wait until data is fully replicated before a write is deemed to be complete, which offers consistency at the expense of latency. Systems with eventual consistency mark operations as complete before data is fully replicated, promising only that the full replication will occur eventually. This improves latency but risks delivering stale data to applications. Document DB offered four different options for the replication behavior; Cosmos DB ups that to five. The database scales to span multiple regions, with Microsoft offering service level agreements (SLAs) for uptime, performance, latency, and consistency. There are financial penalties if Microsoft misses the SLA requirements. Many applications still call for traditional relational databases. For those, Microsoft is adding both a MySQL and a PostgreSQL service; these provide the familiar open source databases in a platform-as-a-service style, removing the administrative overhead that comes of using them and making it easier to move workloads using them into Azure. The company is also offering a preview of a database-migration service that takes data from on-premises SQL Server and Oracle databases and migrates it to Azure SQL Database. Azure SQL Database has a new feature in preview called "Managed Instances" that offers greater compatibility between on-premises SQL Server and the cloud variant, again to make workload migration easier.
Government

FCC Should Prove DDoS Attacks Stopped Net Neutrality Comments (networkworld.com) 104

New submitter Michelle Davidson writes: After John Oliver urged viewers of HBO's Last Week Tonight to fight again for net neutrality and post comments in support of it, people hit a wall — the FCC's site essentially crashed. Originally, it was believed that the number of people trying to access the site caused the problem, but then the FCC released a statement saying "multiple" DDoS attacks -- occurring at the same time Oliver sent viewers to the site -- caused the site to crash: "These were deliberate attempts by external actors to bombard the FCC's comment system with a high amount of traffic to our commercial cloud host. These actors were not attempting to file comments themselves; rather they made it difficult for legitimate commenters to access and file with the FCC." The group Fight for the Future doesn't buy it, though, and wants proof. It says the FCC should release the logs: "The FCC should immediately release its logs to an independent security analyst or major news outlet to verify exactly what happened last night. The public deserves to know, and the FCC has a responsibility to maintain a functioning website and ensure that every member of the public who wants to submit a comment about net neutrality has the ability to do so. Anything less is a subversion of our democracy." No word yet from the FCC on whether it will release its logs, leading the interwebs to speculate about whether it was actually an attack to prevent commenting or if the FCC is ill-prepared to handle large amounts of traffic and blamed DDoS attacks to cover their inabilities. People are even questioning whether the FCC's tech team knows what a DDoS attack is.
Businesses

Canonical Founder Says Recent Changes In Ubuntu Were Necessary To Prepare the Company For an IPO (zdnet.com) 128

An anonymous reader writes: Canonical was doing well with Ubuntu and cloud and container-related technologies, such as Juju, LXD, and Metal-as-a-Service (MaaS). In addition, its OpenStack and Kubernetes software stacks, according to Shuttleworth, are growing by leaps and bounds on both the public and private cloud. Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth said "in the last year, Ubuntu cloud growth had been 70 percent on the private cloud and 90 percent on the public cloud." In particular, "Ubuntu has been gaining more customers on the big five public clouds." What hadn't succeeded was Canonical's attempt to make Unity the universal interface for desktops, tablets, and smartphones. Shuttleworth was personally invested in this project, but at day's end, it wasn't getting enough adoption to make it profitable. So, Shuttleworth said with regret, Unity had to be dropped. This move also means Canonical will devote more of its time to "putting the company on the path to a IPO. We must figure out what steps we need to take moving forward." That means focusing on Canonical's most profitable lines. Specifically, "Ubuntu will never die. Ubuntu is the default platform on cloud computing. Juju, MaaS, and OpenStack are nearly unstoppable. We need to work out more of our IoT path. At the same time, we had to cut out those parts that couldn't meet an investors' needs. The immediate work is get all parts of the company profitable."
Communications

FCC Says It Was Victim of Cyberattack After John Oliver Show (thehill.com) 205

On Sunday night, John Oliver urged his viewers to visit a website called "GoFCCYourself," which redirects users to a section of the FCC site where people can comment on the net neutrality proceeding. As a result, the FCC's site temporarily crashed. Now, it appears that the FCC is claiming its website has hit by a cyberattack late Sunday night. The Hill reports: "Beginning on Sunday night at midnight, our analysis reveals that the FCC was subject to multiple distributed denial-of-service attacks (DDos)," FCC chief information officer David Bray said in a statement Monday. "These were deliberate attempts by external actors to bombard the FCC's comment system with a high amount of traffic to our commercial cloud host." The FCC's comments site went down in 2014 after the first time Oliver rallied his audience in support of net neutrality. In that case, it was widely believed the site went down because of the amount of traffic generated in the wake of Oliver's show. But Bray on Monday said that this recent instance was caused by a cyberattack and not a flood of people trying to give input. "These actors were not attempting to file comments themselves; rather they made it difficult for legitimate commenters to access and file with the FCC," he said.
Microsoft

Microsoft Patents Flagging Technology For 'Repeat Offenders' Of Pirated Content (torrentfreak.com) 53

An anonymous reader quotes TorrentFreak's report on Microsoft's newest patent: Titled: "Disabling prohibited content and identifying repeat offenders in service provider storage systems," the patent describes a system where copyright infringers, and those who publish other objectionable content, are flagged so that frequent offenders can be singled out... "The incident history can be processed to identify repeat offenders and modify access privileges of those users," the patent reads. [PDF] The "repeat infringer" is a hot topic at the moment, after ISP Cox Communications was ordered to pay $25 million for its failure to disconnect repeat offenders...

As far a we know, this is the first patent that specifically deals with the repeat infringer situation in these hosting situations, but it's not uncommon for cloud hosting services to prevent users from sharing infringing content. We previously uncovered that Google Drive uses hash matching to prevent people from sharing "flagged" files in public, and Dropbox does the same.

Businesses

Startup Offers A Chip Based On The Open Source RISC-V Architecture (computerworld.com.au) 73

angry tapir shared this news from Computerworld: An open-source chip project is out to break the dominance of proprietary chips offered by Intel, AMD, and ARM... A startup called SiFive is the first to make a business out of the [open source] RISC-V architecture. The company is also the first to convert the RISC-V instruction set architecture into actual silicon. The company on Thursday announced it has created two new chip designs that can be licensed... but the company will not charge royalties. That makes it attractive alternative compared to chip designs from ARM and Imagination Technologies, which charge licensing fees and royalties.
One of RISC-V's inventors co-founded the company, and he says that support is growing -- pointing out that there's already a fork of Linux for RISC-V.
Oracle

In Oracle's Cloud Pitch To Enterprises, an Echo of a Bygone Tech Era (siliconangle.com) 55

An anonymous reader writes: Oracle sought to position itself once again this week as the best place for everything companies need to move to cloud computing. On Thursday, executives at the database and business software giant distanced Oracle from public cloud leaders such as Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure that provide computing, storage and other services to corporations looking to reduce or eliminate their data centers. "Our cloud is more comprehensive than any other cloud in the market today, a full end-to-end cloud," said David Donatelli, Oracle's executive vice president of converged infrastructure. "We design from the chip all the way up to the application, fully vertically integrated." What's interesting about that messaging, which Oracle has been refining since at least its OpenWorld conference last September, is not simply the competitive positioning. Oracle is essentially saying that the nature of cloud computing suggests customers need to move away from the notion that has dominated information technology since personal computers and PC-based servers began to displace mainframes and minicomputers: cherry-picking the best applications and hardware and cobbling together their own IT setups. In short, Oracle contends, it's time for another broad swing back to the integrated, uber-suppliers of a bygone era of technology. Of course, the new tech titans such as Google, Facebook and Amazon arguably wield as much power in their particular domains of advertising and e-commerce as the Big Blue of old. But it has been a long time since a soup-to-nuts approach has worked for enterprise tech companies, and for those few still attempting it, such as Dell and Oracle, it's far from obvious it will work. The cloud, Oracle contends, may well change that.
Google

Google Releases DIY Open Source Raspberry Pi Voice Kit Hardware (betanews.com) 31

BrianFagioli writes: Google has decided to take artificial intelligence to the maker community with a new initiative called AIY. This initiative will introduce open source AI projects to the public that makers can leverage in a simple way. Today, Google announces the first-ever AIY project. Called "Voice Kit," it is designed to work with a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B to create a voice-based virtual assistant. Billy Rutledge, Director of AIY Projects for Google, explains, "The first open source reference project is the Voice Kit: instructions to build a Voice User Interface (VUI) that can use cloud services (like the new Google Assistant SDK or Cloud Speech API) or run completely on-device. This project extends the functionality of the most popular single board computer used for digital making -- the Raspberry Pi. The included Voice Hardware Accessory on Top (HAT) contains hardware for audio capture and playback: easy-to-use connectors for the dual mic daughter board and speaker, GPIO pins to connect low-voltage components like micro-servos and sensors, and an optional barrel connector for dedicated power supply. It was designed and tested with the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B."
Operating Systems

You Can't Change the Default Browser or Switch To Google Search In Windows 10 S (betanews.com) 302

BrianFagioli quotes a report from BetaNews: If developers do start leveraging the Windows Store, the Windows 10 S experiment could take off, as users won't find a need to install legacy programs. This will largely depend on web browsers being available there, as many users dislike Edge. Thankfully, Microsoft is allowing third-party browser installs from the Windows Store. Unfortunately, there is a big catch -- you cannot change the default. Buried in the Windows 10 S FAQ, the following question is presented -- "Are there any defaults that I cannot change on my Windows 10 S PC?" Microsoft provides the answer: "Yes, Microsoft Edge is the default web browser on Microsoft 10 S. You are able to download another browser that might be available from the Windows Store, but Microsoft Edge will remain the default if, for example, you open an .htm file. Additionally, the default search provider in Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer cannot be changed."
Microsoft

Microsoft Is Bringing Office to the Windows Store (venturebeat.com) 57

An anonymous reader quotes a report from VentureBeat: At its Microsoft EDU event in New York City today, the company announced it is bringing Microsoft Office to the Windows Store. We're talking about the full Win32 version of Office -- this is not a mobile version, Universal Windows Platform (UWP) app, or an otherwise dumbed-down release. Terry Myerson, executive vice president for Microsoft's Windows and Devices Group, confirmed onstage that Word, Excel, PowerPoint, "and more" were coming. He did not give a date for the launch (Update: Microsoft confirmed after the event that the target is June). Office is not the first set of Win32 apps in the Windows Store. This is part of a broader effort called Project Centennial, which lets desktop developers package and publish their existing .NET and Win32-based Windows applications to the Windows Store. The app type was first unveiled at Microsoft's Build developer conference in April 2015, but the first apps only started arriving in September 2016.
Windows

Microsoft's Surface Laptop With Windows 10 S Leaks Ahead of New York Unveil (hothardware.com) 74

MojoKid writes: Microsoft is holding an event in New York City tomorrow, the core theme of which is "Microsoft in Education." It's widely expected that the company will be unveiling a new Surface Laptop device running a Windows 10 Cloud version OS. As it turns out, images of a new Surface laptop leaked to the web tonight portray very much that type of product, though it's not necessarily a budget machine. For starters, it has a 13.5-inch PixelSense display with 3.4 million pixels, which appears to retain the 3:2 screen ratio that we've seen with previous Surface-branded products. Given that this is a laptop, there's no detachable keyboard here. The display is permanently attached to the base and features an Alcantara-covered keyboard deck (the same material used on the Surface Pro 4's optional Signature Type Cover). It also appears the Surface Laptop will be available in four colors: Platinum, Burgundy, Cobalt Blue and Graphite Gold. Other images of the machine show an SD slot, a single USB 3.0 port, mini DisplayPort and a headphone jack. Microsoft apparently hasn't equipped the machine with a USB-C port, unfortunately.

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