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Aujourd’hui — 27 juin 2022Slashdot

Chinese Team Claims Stem Cell Breakthrough in Mice Study

27 juin 2022 à 03:41
"Researchers at Tsinghua University in China have developed a new drug cocktail that can convert cells into totipotent stem cells, the very seeds of life..." writes New Atlas: Not all stem cells are created equal — they sit in a branching hierarchy of differentiation potential. Multipotent stem cells are found in many tissues in adults, where they can turn into a few types of cells associated with that tissue or organ to help healing. A step earlier in the development tree are pluripotent stem cells, which are found in embryos and can become almost any type of cell in the body. But at the top of the chain sit what are known as totipotent stem cells, which can become any cell in the body as well as supportive tissues like the placenta. These mark the very beginning of development, including the first single cell that forms from a fertilized egg, and they persist for the first few stages of development. After that, the cells differentiate into pluripotent stem cells and further specialize into all the cells of the body as it develops. In recent years scientists have been able to take adult cells and induce a pluripotent state in them, which forms the basis of research into stem cell regenerative medicine. But in the new study, the Tsinghua team took things a step further, returning pluripotent stem cells to a totipotent state for the first time... This breakthrough could open up some major new opportunities, the team says. In the long run, scientists could potentially create a living organism straight from a mature cell, sidestepping the need for sperm and eggs. That could help people have children who otherwise couldn't, or aid conservation of endangered species. The researchers do acknowledge, however, that ethical concerns will no doubt arise. Thanks to long-time Slashdot reader hackingbear for sharing the news.

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What Happened After Amazon's $71M Tax Break in Central New York?

27 juin 2022 à 01:59
This week Amazon announced that "Approximately 1,500 local Amazon employees will operate and work with innovative robotics technology" at a new fulfillment center that's a first of its kind for Central New York. Amazon's press release says they've created 39,000 jobs in New York since 2010 — and "invested over $14 billion in the state of New York" — though they're counting what they paid workers as "investing" (as well as what they paid to build Amazon's infrastructure). Long-time Slashdot reader theodp writes: In 2019, Onondaga County (New York) officials unanimously approved $71 million in tax breaks to support the development of a giant warehouse in the Town of Clay... "I am very excited to see this tremendous investment in Central New York coming to fruition," said U.S. Representative John Katko. "The new Fulfillment Center will be revolutionary for our region, creating over 1,500 jobs and making significant contributions to the local economy." Driving home Katko's point, the press release added, "In April of 2021, Amazon furthered its commitment to invest in education programs that will drive future innovation in the communities it serves by donating $1.75 million to construct a new STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) high school in Onondaga County. Amazon's donation will fund robotics and computer science initiatives at the new school [presumably using Amazon-supported curriculum providers]." Unlike Amazon's Fulfillment Center, the new STEAM high school is unlikely to open before Fall 2023 at the earliest, as the $74-million-and-counting project (that Amazon is donating $1.75M towards) to repurpose a school building that has sat empty since 1975 has experienced delays and cost increases. Amazon's press release notes the company also donated $150,000 to be "the presenting sponsor" for the three-day Syracuse Jazz Fest. And it also touts Amazon's support for these other central New York organizations (without indicating the amount contributed): Rescue Mission Alliance: Working to end homelessness and hunger in greater Syracuse. Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science and Technology (MOST): Supporting the "Be the Scientist" program for Syracuse-area public school students to visit the museum and learn about STEM careers and sponsor planetarium shows for area students. The Good Life Foundation, a nonprofit serving youth in downtown Syracuse DeWitt Rotary Club

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Tesla Pays Powerwall Owners to Form 'Virtual Power Plant' in California

27 juin 2022 à 00:44
"Tesla has launched a new virtual power plant in partnership with PG&E in California that will pay Powerwalls owners to help stabilize the electric grid and end brownouts in California," reports Electrek. A virtual power plant (VPP) consists of distributed energy storage systems, like Tesla Powerwalls, used in concert to provide grid services and avoid the use of polluting and expensive peaker power plants. PC Magazine notes the program was launched in conjunction with California power utility Pacific Gas and Electric Company: As well as the personal feeling of satisfaction for helping to stabilize California's grid, you'll receive $2 for every additional kilowatt-hour delivered during designated "events," such as any time grid operator CAISO issues an energy alert, warning, or emergency. Contributors will receive push notifications before and during an event with details of its expected start and finish times. Once an event is over, each Powerwall will automatically resume normal operation. Electrek adds that "The $2 per kWh amount is quite significant and reflects just how much value a Virtual Power Plant can add to the grid in case of an emergency event where the grid needs more capacity. Depending on the events and the number of Powerwalls homeowners have, they could earn anywhere from $10 to $60 per event or even more for bigger systems." But in addition, "Tesla will dispatch your Powerwall when the grid is in critical need of additional power. That is when the least efficient generators would typically come online." And you get the distinction of being pat of "the largest distributed battery in the world — potentially over 50,000 Powerwalls.... Tesla said that it has about 50,000 Powerwalls that could be eligible for this VPP, which add up to a significant 500 MWh of energy capacity than can be distributed in any event... [I]t is basically going to turn the company into a major decentralized electric utility. It's already in operation in Australia. Now it's in California, and soon it is going to be in Texas."

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Hier — 26 juin 2022Slashdot

Here Come the Solar-Powered Cars

26 juin 2022 à 23:36
The Guardian reports on the "world's first production-ready solar car", a streamlined and energy-efficient sedan-style vehicle covered with curved solar panels called "the Lightyear 0." The Dutch company Lightyear hopes to be shipping the vehicle by November, priced at about $264,000 (€250,000 or £215,000) — though the company plans another solar-assisted car priced at $32,000 (€30,000) as early as 2025. Lead engineer Roel Grooten credits their car's efficiency to things like the "low-rolling resistance of the tyres, of the bearing s and the motor." It is this streamlined design that the company credits for allowing it to muscle its way into a space long overlooked by most car manufacturers...."If we would have the same amount of energy that we harvest on these panels on any other car that uses three times the amount of energy to drive, it becomes useless. It becomes a very expensive gimmick," said Grooten. "You have to build this car from the ground up, to make it as efficient as possible, to make it this feasible." In optimal conditions, the solar panels can add up to 44 miles a day to the 388-mile range the car gets between charges, according to the company. Tests carried out by Lightyear suggest people with a daily commute of less than 22 miles could drive for two months in the Netherlands without needing to plug in, while those in sunnier climes such as Portugal or Spain could go as long as seven months.... In an effort to use as much of this solar energy as possible, the windswept design eschews side-view mirrors for cameras and runs off lightweight electric motors tucked into its wheels. The body panels are crafted from reclaimed carbon fibre and the interiors are fashioned from vegan, plant-based leather with fabrics made from recycled polyethylene terephthalate bottles. The article notes that Mercedes-Benz also plans rooftop solar panels for an upcoming electric car, while Toyota's Prius hybrids also sometimes offer limited-capacity panels as add-ons. Other companies planning solar-assisted vehicles include Sono Motors and Aptera Motors.

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Facebook Agrees To Massive Settlement For Data Privacy Class Action Lawsuit

26 juin 2022 à 22:05
Here's an announcement from lawfirm DiCello Levitt Gutzler. This week a U.S. District court "granted preliminary approval of a $90 million settlement" with Facebook's parent company, Meta Platforms, "to resolve a long-running class action accusing Facebook of tracking its subscribers' activities on non-Facebook websites — even while signed out of their Facebook accounts." "The monetary component makes this the seventh-largest data privacy class action settlement ever to receive preliminary court approval." Long-time Slashdot reader destinyland quotes the announcement: Individuals who, between April 22, 2010, and September 25, 2011, inclusive, were Facebook users in the United States and visited non-Facebook websites that displayed the Facebook Like button, may be eligible for a payment from the settlement fund. Email notices from the claims administrator, Angeion, have started to go out, and will continue in batches through July 15, 2022. Recipients of an email notice should note an ID and confirmation code in the top left corner, which should be use in submitting their claim. However, even those who do not receive an email notice are still permitted to file a claim, and the administrator will determine whether they are eligible. The correct link to the class action lawsuit website is: fbinternettrackingsettlement.com/ The deadline to submit a claim is September 22, 2022. Komando.com adds that "While Facebook has denied any wrongdoing, it chose to settle the matter outside of court before it went to trial..." "It's impossible to tell how much you can get at this stage in the lawsuit, as the final payout will depend on the number of claims submitted and additional fees. All settlement class members will be paid in equal amounts."

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Are Air Taxis Getting Closer?

26 juin 2022 à 20:55
Last week a headline in the Los Angeles Times proclaimed "Look! Up in the sky! It's an air taxi. They're coming to Los Angeles." Even the British newspaper the Times took notice: Air taxis will be flying through the skies above Los Angeles in time for the summer Olympics of 2028 if city officials and entrepreneurs have their way. A Silicon Valley company is the latest to claim that it is close to creating viable electric vehicles that can offer short hops above the traffic-choked streets for not much more than the cost of an Uber ride. Adam Goldstein, chief executive of Archer Aviation, told the Los Angeles Times that his vertical take-off aircraft, designed to travel 60 miles on a single charge at up to 150mph, would "completely change the way we live, the way we work", and could be flying within two years. The Los Angeles Times cited estimates of $1 billion spent testing electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, known as eVTOL, just last year, and noted the "hundreds of companies competing" to build a new "transportation empire." And their opening paragraph paints the scene: Imagine avoiding that soul-crushing, hourlong slog — say from Santa Monica to downtown L.A. on a Tuesday morning. Instead, you hail a high-tech cab that will hop over the gridlock and get you there in nine minutes.... The promise of flying cars — for generations a Hollywood staple of a space-age future, from "The Jetsons" to "Blade Runner" — is finally becoming a reality, so much so that a Swedish company is already selling a single-passenger vehicle called Jetson 1. Los Angeles transportation officials are preparing for this new era and expect drone-like electric air taxis to be operational by the time the 2028 Summer Olympics roll around, if not far sooner.... While many detractors doubt that such travel will soon be viable, affordable or safe, the industry is working with cities to make the technology a reality in the next five years. The Observer also noted that another eVTOL pioneer, Germany's Volocopter, plans to launch commercial service for its two-seat VoloCity aircraft in 2024 in Europe, with a four-seater by 2026. But are there possible downsides? In cities like New York, wealthy commuters are already taking helicopter rides on a regular basis, and complaints about helicopter noise have skyrocketed in recent years, prompting the city to introduce a bill last week to ban non-essential helicopter uses, such as sightseeing and short-distance travel, in parts of Manhattan. eVTOLs are quieter than helicopters by design, but they are by no means silent. Even the Los Angeles Times acknowledges "There are concerns about safety, quality of life and affordability." While a single air taxi may be relatively quiet, what happens when there is a constant stream of them coming in and out of a landing spot? Should there be nighttime restrictions on flights? Will this just be a means for the ultra-wealthy to buzz over poor neighborhoods to Dodger Stadium or Crypto.com Arena? But the Times' article still drew angry letters to the editor, with one calling air taxis "a disaster waiting to happen." Instead of boosterism reporting and parroting industry marketing claims that these aircraft are some kind of a godsend, how about reporting on how many decibels these flying bubbles for the elite will blare onto the plebes below...? [T]he paper's naive reporting on the technology are disappointing. They'd also called the Times' claim of $50-a-flight prices "fanciful" — and a second letter writer also expressed skepticism about that low estimated cost. "That reminds one of the outlandish initial promise we were given that the bullet train would cost $33 billion to build."

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How 1982's 'Blade Runner' Defined the Sci-Fi Film Genre

26 juin 2022 à 19:48
Esquire celebrates the 40th anniversary of the movie Blade Runner: Based on Philip K. Dick's 1968 novel Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep, Scott's film created a world so rich, so dirty and wet and worn out, so visually stunning, that imitation was an inevitability. Less gym-bro than The Terminator, less wacky than Terry Gilliam's Brazil, and less all-out apocalyptic than Mad Max, Blade Runner arguably defined not just 1980s science fiction, but in the forty years since its initial release, sci-fi films in general. From Ghost In The Shell, to Total Recall and Minority Report and even Black Panther, Blade Runner is owed a debt of gratitude. Working from a formula he perfected in 1979's Alien, Scott brought his world of grimy industry and neon-lit shadows, rogue androids and put-upon protagonists to California, swapping Alien's body horror for the police procedural. Granted, Deckard isn't Ellen Ripley, but in its portrayal of the battered and bruised detective battling against the system, Blade Runner is a Chinatown of the future. That it was only Scott's third film as director makes it all the more impressive. (As an aside, has Harrison Ford's three film run of The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981), and Blade Runner (1982) ever been beaten?). Famously, the film was a critical and commercial flop in the U.S. with VHS sales and endless re-edits eventually leading to its cult status. (In 2004, it was even voted as the best science fiction film of all time by a panel of global scientists). Today, it's difficult to picture a sci-fi film that doesn't play homage. Would HBO's Westworld have updated its 1973 film version so successfully and stylishly without Blade Runner paving the way both visually and in terms of its musings on free will? And, decades before Elon Musk looked set to take over the world, Blade Runner's Tyrell Corporation (and indeed, Alien's Weyland-Yutani) was inspiring evil empires from Resident Evil's Umbrella Corporation to RoboCop's Omni Consumer Products and The Terminator's Cyberdyne Systems. The article argues that Rutger Hauer's replicant character Roy Batty "delivers one of the greatest speeches in cinematic history in his 'Tears in rain' soliloquy." And it points out that fans of Ridley Scott's prequels to Alien speculate those movies also exist in the same cinematic universe.

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Satellites are Sinking Faster Toward Earth. Scientists Blame Solar Wind

26 juin 2022 à 18:34
"In late 2021, operators of the European Space Agency's Swarm constellation noticed something worrying," reports Space.com. "The satellites, which measure the magnetic field around Earth, started sinking toward the atmosphere at an unusually fast rate — up to 10 times faster than before. "The change coincided with the onset of the new solar cycle, and experts think it might be the beginning of some difficult years for spacecraft orbiting our planet." "In the last five, six years, the satellites were sinking about two and a half kilometers [1.5 miles] a year," Anja Stromme, ESA's Swarm mission manager, told Space.com. "But since December last year, they have been virtually diving. The sink rate between December and April has been 20 kilometers [12 miles] per year." Satellites orbiting close to Earth always face the drag of the residual atmosphere, which gradually slows the spacecraft and eventually makes them fall back to the planet. (They usually don't survive this so-called re-entry and burn up in the atmosphere.) This atmospheric drag forces the International Space Station's controllers to perform regular "reboost" maneuvers to maintain the station's orbit of 250 miles (400 km) above Earth. This drag also helps clean up the near-Earth environment from space junk. Scientists know that the intensity of this drag depends on solar activity — the amount of solar wind spewed by the sun, which varies depending on the 11-year solar cycle.... [S]ince last fall, the star has been waking up, spewing more and more solar wind and generating sunspots, solar flares and coronal mass ejections at a growing rate. And the Earth's upper atmosphere has felt the effects. "There is a lot of complex physics that we still don't fully understand going on in the upper layers of the atmosphere where it interacts with the solar wind," Stromme said. "We know that this interaction causes an upwelling of the atmosphere. That means that the denser air shifts upwards to higher altitudes." Denser air means higher drag for the satellites. Even though this density is still incredibly low 250 miles above Earth, the increase caused by the upwelling atmosphere is enough to virtually send some of the low-orbiting satellites plummeting. "It's almost like running with the wind against you," Stromme said. "It's harder, it's drag — so it slows the satellites down, and when they slow down, they sink...." The lower the orbit of the satellites when the solar storm hits, the higher the risk of the spacecraft not being able to recover, leaving operators helplessly watching as the craft fall to their demise in the atmosphere.... All spacecraft around the 250-mile altitude are bound to have problems, Stromme said. That includes the International Space Station, which will have to perform more frequent reboost maneuvers to keep afloat, but also the hundreds of cubesats and small satellites that have populated low Earth orbit in the past decade.... "Many of these [new satellites] don't have propulsion systems," Stromme said. "They don't have ways to get up. That basically means that they will have a shorter lifetime in orbit. They will reenter sooner than they would during the solar minimum." Thanks to long-time Slashdot reader schwit1 for sharing the article!

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Tim Berners-Lee Skeptical of Web3, Touts Decentralized Internet Without Blockchain

26 juin 2022 à 17:34
Sir Tim Berners-Lee "is skeptical about a blockchain-based internet," reports the Next Web. Instead, they describe his new vision as "a decentralized architecture that gives users control of their data" — on a Platform called Solid: Berners-Lee shares Web3's purported mission of transferring data from Big Tech to the people. But he's taking a different route to the target. While Web3 is based on blockchain, Solid is built with standard web tools and open specifications. Private information is stored in decentralized data stores called "pods," which can be hosted wherever the user wants. They can then choose which apps can access their data. This approach aims to provide interoperability, speed, scalability, and privacy. "When you try to build that stuff on the blockchain, it just doesn't work," said Berners-Lee. Berners-Lee says Solid serves two separate purposes. One is preventing companies f rom misusing our data for unsolicited purposes, from manipulating voters to generating clickbait.The other is providing opportunities to benefit from our information. Healthcare data, for instance, could be shared across trusted services to improve our treatment and support medical research. Our photos, meanwhile, could be supplied to Facebook friends, LinkedIn colleagues, and Flickr followers without having to upload the pictures to each platform. This evokes Berners-Lee's original aim to make the web a collaborative tool. "I wanted to be able to solve problems when part of the solution is in my head and part of the solution is in your head, and you're on the other side of the planet — connected by the internet," he said. "That was the sort of thing I wanted the web for. It took off more as a publishing medium — but all is not lost."

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How China Hopes to Fly Mars Samples to Earth Two Years Before NASA and ESA

26 juin 2022 à 16:34
"China's Mars sample return mission aims to collect samples from the Red Planet and deliver them to Earth in 2031, or two years ahead of a NASA and ESA joint mission," reports SpaceNews: Lifting off in late 2028... the complex, multi-launch mission will have simpler architecture in comparison with the joint NASA-ESA project, with a single Mars landing and no rovers sampling different sites. However, if successful, it would deliver to Earth the first collected Martian samples; an objective widely noted as one of the major scientific goals of space exploration.... The mission will build on the Mars entry, descent and landing technologies and techniques demonstrated by Tianwen-1 in May 2021, as well as the regolith sampling, automated lunar orbit rendezvous and docking, and high velocity atmospheric reentry success achieved by the 2020 Chang'e-5 lunar sample return mission.... Landing on Mars would take place around September 2029. Sampling techniques will include surface sampling, drilling and mobile intelligent sampling, potentially using a four-legged robot. The ascent vehicle will consist of two stages, using either solid or liquid propulsion, and will be required to reach a speed of 4.5 kilometers per second, according to the presentation. After rendezvous and docking with the waiting orbiter, the spacecraft will depart Mars orbit in late October 2030 for a return to Earth in July 2031. Sun Zezhou [chief designer of the Tianwen-1 Mars orbiter and rover mission], added that the Tianwen-1 orbiter will conduct an aerobraking test in Mars orbit later this year as part of the sample return mission preparation. Thanks to Slashdot reader Hmmmmmm for sharing the story!

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Are Today's Programmers Leaving Too Much Code Bloat?

26 juin 2022 à 13:34
Long-time Slashdot reader Artem S. Tashkinov shares a blog post from indie game programmer who complains "The special upload tool I had to use today was a total of 230MB of client files, and involved 2,700 different files to manage this process." Oh and BTW it gives error messages and right now, it doesn't work. sigh. I've seen coders do this. I know how this happens. It happens because not only are the coders not doing low-level, efficient code to achieve their goal, they have never even SEEN low level, efficient, well written code. How can we expect them to do anything better when they do not even understand that it is possible...? It's what they learned. They have no idea what high performance or constraint-based development is.... Computers are so fast these days that you should be able to consider them absolute magic. Everything that you could possibly imagine should happen between the 60ths of a second of the refresh rate. And yet, when I click the volume icon on my microsoft surface laptop (pretty new), there is a VISIBLE DELAY as the machine gradually builds up a new user interface element, and eventually works out what icons to draw and has them pop-in and they go live. It takes ACTUAL TIME. I suspect a half second, which in CPU time, is like a billion fucking years.... All I'm doing is typing this blog post. Windows has 102 background processes running. My nvidia graphics card currently has 6 of them, and some of those have sub tasks. To do what? I'm not running a game right now, I'm using about the same feature set from a video card driver as I would have done TWENTY years ago, but 6 processes are required. Microsoft edge web view has 6 processes too, as does Microsoft edge too. I don't even use Microsoft edge. I think I opened an SVG file in it yesterday, and here we are, another 12 useless pieces of code wasting memory, and probably polling the cpu as well. This is utter, utter madness. Its why nothing seems to work, why everything is slow, why you need a new phone every year, and a new TV to load those bloated streaming apps, that also must be running code this bad. I honestly think its only going to get worse, because the big dumb, useless tech companies like facebook, twitter, reddit, etc are the worst possible examples of this trend.... There was a golden age of programming, back when you had actual limitations on memory and CPU. Now we just live in an ultra-wasteful pit of inefficiency. Its just sad. Long-time Slashdot reader Z00L00K left a comment arguing that "All this is because everyone today programs on huge frameworks that have everything including two full size kitchen sinks, one for right handed people and one for left handed." But in another comment Slashdot reader youn blames code generators, cut-and-paste programming, and the need to support multiple platforms. But youn adds that even with that said, "In the old days, there was a lot more blue screens of death... Sure it still happens but how often do you restart your computer these days." And they also submitted this list arguing "There's a lot more functionality than before." Some software has been around a long time. Even though the /. crowd likes to bash Windows, you got to admit backward compatibility is outstandingA lot of things like security were not taken in considerationIt's a different computing environment.... multi tasking, internet, GPUsIn the old days, there was one task running all the time. Today, a lot of error handling, soft failures if the app is put to sleepA lot of code is due to to software interacting one with another, compatibility with standardsShiny technology like microservices allow scaling, heterogenous integration So who's right and who's wrong? Leave your own best answers in the comments. And are today's programmers leaving too much code bloat?

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Why MapQuest, Jeeves, and Other 'Internet Zombies' are Still Around

26 juin 2022 à 09:34
"The dream of the 1990s internet is still alive, if you look in the right corners," argues the New York Times' newsletter On Tech: More than 17 million Americans regularly use MapQuest, one of the first digital mapping websites that was long ago overtaken by Google and Apple, according to data from the research firm Comscore. The dot-com-era internet portal Go.com shut down 20 years ago, but its ghost lives on in the "Go" that's part of web addresses for some Disney sites. Ask Jeeves, a web search engine that started before Google, still has fans and people typing "Ask Jeeves a question" into Google searches. Maybe you scoff at AOL, but it is still the 50th most popular website in the U.S., according to figures from SimilarWeb. The early 2000s virtual world Second Life never went away and is now having a second life as a proto-metaverse brand.... There is something heartwarming about pioneers that shaped the early internet, lost their cool and dominance, and eventually carved out a niche. They'll never be as popular or powerful as they were a generation ago, but musty internet brands might still have a fruitful purpose. These brands have managed to stay alive through a combination of inertia, nostalgia, the fact they've produced a product that people like, digital moneymaking prowess and oddities of the rickety internet. If today's internet powers like Facebook and Pinterest lose relevance, too, they could stick around for decades. The article quotes Bloomberg Opinion columnist Ben Schott calling the older sites "almost cockroach brands. They're small enough and resilient enough that they can't be killed."

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Stack Overflow Survey Finds Developers Like Rust, Python, JavaScript and Remote Work

26 juin 2022 à 05:34
For Stack Overflow's annual survey, "Over 73,000 developers from 180 countries each spent roughly 15 minutes answering our questions," a blog post announces: The top five languages for professional developers haven't changed: JavaScript is still the most used, and Rust is the most loved for a seventh year. The big surprise came in the most loved web framework category. Showing how fast web technologies change, newcomer Phoenix took the most loved spot from Svelte, itself a new entry last year.... Check out the full results from this year's Developer Survey here. In fact, 87% of Rust developers said that they want to continue using Rust, notes SD Times' summary of the results: Rust also tied with Python as the most wanted technology in this year's report, with TypeScript and Go following closely behind. The distinction between most loved and most wanted is that most wanted includes only developers who are not currently developing with the language, but have an interest in developing with it. Slashdot reader logankilpatrick writes, "It should come as no surprise to those following the growth and expansion of the Julia Programming Language ecosystem that in this year's Stack Overflow developer survey, Julia ranked in the top 5 for the most loved languages (above Python — 6th, MatLab — Last, and R — 33rd)." And the Register shares more highlights: Also notable in the 71,547 responses regarding programming languages was a switch again between Python and SQL. In 2021, Python pushed out SQL to be the third most commonly used language. This year SQL regained third place, just behind second placed HTML /CSS. And the most hated... Unsurprisingly, developers still dread that tap on the shoulder from the finance department for a tweak to that bit of code upon which the entire company depends. Visual Basic for Applications and COBOL still lurk within the top three most dreaded technologies. The operating system rankings were little changed: Windows won out for personal and professional use, although for professional use Linux passed macOS to take second place with 40 percent of responses compared to Apple's 33 percent. Most notable was the growth of Windows Subsystem for Linux, which now accounts for 14 percent of personal use compared with a barely registering 3 percent in 2021. But SD Times noted what may be the most interesting statistic: Only 15% of developers work on-site full time. Forty-three percent are fully remote and 42% are hybrid. Smaller organizations with 2-19 employees are more likely to be in-person, while large organizations with over 10k employees are more likely to be hybrid, according to the survey. InfoWorld delves into what this means: "The world has made the decision to go hybrid and remote, I have a lot of confidence given the data I have seen that that is a one-way train that has left the station," Prashanth Chandrasekar, CEO of Stack Overflow told InfoWorld. Chandrasekar says that flexibility and the tech stack developers get to work with are the most important contributors to overall happiness at work. "Many developers drop out of the hiring process because of the tech stack they will be working with," he said... Organizational culture is also shifting, and cloud-native techniques have taken hold among Stack Overflow survey respondents. Most professional developers (70%) now use some form of CI/CD and 60% have a dedicated devops function.... Lastly, Web3 still has software developers torn, with 32% of respondents favorable, 31% unfavorable, and 26% indifferent. Web3 refers to the emerging idea of a decentralized web where data and content are registered on blockchains, tokenized, or managed and accessed on peer-to-peer distributed networks.

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New Linux Foundation Podcast: 'Untold Stories of Open Source'

26 juin 2022 à 03:34
The nonprofit Linux Foundation pays Linus Torvalds' salary and supports many other open source projects. But they also launched a new podcast series this week covering "The Untold Stories of Open Source." "Each week we explore the people who are supporting Open Source projects, how they became involved with it, and the problems they faced along the way," explains the podcast's GitHub page (where you can put in a pull request to suggest future episodes or track the project's progress.) The podcast is available on its official web page, as well as on Spotify, Apple, Google, or "wherever you listen to your podcasts," according to an announcement from the Linux Foundation. An introductory page says the podcast will be "used to inform the Linux and Open Source communities as to the current state in development of open source initiatives and Linux Foundation Projects. It is vendor neutral, with no interviews of commercial product vendors or sales teams." Here's the first four episodes: Balancing Priorities at the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, with Priyanka Sharma, general manager A Life in Open Source, with Brian Behlendorf, general manager at Open Source Security Foundation A New Model for Technical Training, with Clyde Seepersad, senior vice president of the Linux Foundation's training/certification project The Business Side of Open Source, with Patrick Debois, "godfather of DevOps"

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Meme-Stock Probe Finds Robinhood Woes Were Worse Than It Let On

26 juin 2022 à 02:44
Bloomberg writes that the makers of the Robinhood app "faced a more dire situation during the height of last year's meme-stock frenzy than executives at the online brokerage let on publicly, according to a report from top Democrats on a key congressional committee." A more-than-yearlong investigation by staff on the House Financial Services Committee concluded Friday that the frenzied trading in GameStop Corp. and AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. posed a significant threat to the online brokerage. Robinhood avoided defaulting on its regulatory collateral obligations in late January 2021 only because it received a waiver from its clearinghouse, according to the findings... "The company was only saved from defaulting on its daily collateral deposit requirement by a discretionary and unexplained waiver," according to the report. "Robinhood's risk-management processes did not work well to predict and avert the risk of default that materialized...." The 138-page document released on Friday provides the most detailed look yet at how alarmed Robinhood executives grew over the situation in late January 2021. According to the findings, those actions didn't match the firm's public assertions.

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US Proposes New Rules to Curb 'Meme Stock' Rallies

26 juin 2022 à 01:49
America's Securities and Exchange Commission "is considering broad changes to curb the frenetic trading of stocks based on social media activity," reports Reuters: The proposed overhaul would be the biggest change to Wall Street's rules since 2005 and would affect nearly every corner of the market, from commission-free brokerages to market makers and exchanges. The U.S. House Committee on Financial Services on Friday called for the SEC, along with other regulators, to do more to protect the markets from similar events.... The U.S. House Financial Services Committee on Friday urged Congress to adopt legislation mandating the SEC study how its rules need to change to address new technological developments, such as digital engagement practices and social media-driven market activity.

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Is Dyslexia an Evolutionary Advantage Rather Than a 'Disorder'?

26 juin 2022 à 00:49
LinkedIn recently added 'dyslexic thinking' as an official skill. And now the U.K. national newspaper the Telegraph reports on scientists arguing that dyslexia is not a "disorder" — but an evolutionarily beneficial willingness to explore: The experts suggested that dyslexia, which causes difficulty reading, writing and spelling, is a useful specialisation and not a "neurocognitive condition".... About one in five people have dyslexia, and their tendency to push the envelope would have been balanced out by other members of a prehistoric society, leading to a well-rounded group with equally useful skill sets. However, Dr Helen Taylor, from the University of Strathclyde, and Dr Martin Vestergaard, from the University of Cambridge, said that dyslexia was now seen as a problem because modern education systems focused on the things sufferers struggled with and neglected what they excelled at. They reassessed past studies on dyslexic individuals and disagreed with the prevailing theory that it was a cognitive deficit.... [S]ince the invention of written language, dyslexia has been seen as a problem, not a talent. "Schools, academic institutes and workplaces are not designed to make the most of explorative learning," said Dr Taylor. "We urgently need to start nurturing this way of thinking to allow humanity to continue to adapt and solve key challenges." They posit that dyslexic people are naturally more skilled "in realms like discovery, invention and creativity" and that this specialisation stems from millennia of human evolution.... Without the streak of curiosity and willingness to investigate that is commonplace in dyslexic brains, groups of people would likely struggle to survive, they said. "The deficit-centred view of dyslexia isn't telling the whole story," said Dr Taylor. "We believe that the areas of difficulty experienced by people with dyslexia result from a cognitive trade-off between exploration of new information and exploitation of existing knowledge, with the upside being an explorative bias that could explain enhanced abilities observed in certain realms like discovery, invention and creativity. The researchers argue this "explorative specialization in people with dyslexia could help explain why they have difficulties with tasks related to exploitation, such as reading and writing. "It could also explain why people with dyslexia appear to gravitate towards certain professions that require exploration-related abilities, such as arts, architecture, engineering and entrepreneurship." Thanks to Slashdot reader Bruce66423 for sharing the story

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Russia's Cyberattacks Thwarted by Ukraine, Microsoft, Google, and Western Intelligence

25 juin 2022 à 23:36
Russia's invasion of Ukraine is "the first full-scale battle in which traditional and cyberweapons have been used side by side," reports the New York Times. But the biggest surprise is that "many of the attacks were thwarted, or there was enough redundancy built into the Ukrainian networks that the efforts did little damage... more than two-thirds of them failed, echoing its poor performance on the physical battlefield." Microsoft president Brad Smith says the ultimate result is Russia's attempted cyberatacks get underreported, according to the Times: [A study published by Microsoft Wednesday] indicated that Ukraine was well prepared to fend off cyberattacks, after having endured them for many years. That was at least in part because of a well-established system of warnings from private-sector companies, including Microsoft and Google, and preparations that included moving much of Ukraine's most important systems to the cloud, onto servers outside Ukraine.... In many instances, Russia coordinated its use of cyberweapons with conventional attacks, including taking down the computer network of a nuclear power plant before moving in its troops to take it over, Mr. Smith said. Microsoft officials declined to identify which plant Mr. Smith was referring to. While much of Russia's cyberactivity has focused on Ukraine, Microsoft has detected 128 network intrusions in 42 countries. Of the 29 percent of Russian attacks that have successfully penetrated a network, Microsoft concluded, only a quarter of those resulted in data being stolen. Outside Ukraine, Russia has concentrated its attacks on the United States, Poland and two aspiring members of NATO, Sweden and Finland... But Microsoft, other technology companies and government officials have said that Russia has paired those infiltration attempts with a broad effort to deliver propaganda around the world. Microsoft tracked the growth in consumption of Russian propaganda in the United States in the first weeks of the year. It peaked at 82 percent right before the Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, with 60 million to 80 million monthly page views. That figure, Microsoft said, rivaled page views on the biggest traditional media sites in the United States. One example Mr. Smith cited was that of Russian propaganda inside Russia pushing its citizens to get vaccinated, while its English-language messaging spread anti-vaccine content. Microsoft also tracked the rise in Russian propaganda in Canada in the weeks before a trucker convoy protesting vaccine mandates tried to shut down Ottawa, and that in New Zealand before protests there against public health measures meant to fight the pandemic. Russians successfully "sabotaged a satellite communications network called Viasat in the opening days of the war," notes the Washington Post, "with the damage spilling over into other European countries. But Ukraine, working with private tech companies, Western intelligence and its own expert software engineers, has quickly fixed most of the damage..." "The close partnerships that have emerged between U.S. technology companies and Western cybersecurity agencies is one of the unheralded stories of the war...." "Cyber responses must rely on greater public and private collaboration," argues Brad Smith, Microsoft's president, in a new study... published Wednesday on Microsoft's "lessons learned" from cyber conflict in Ukraine. A White House cyber official explains the new cooperative approach this way: "Where companies see destructive attacks, that has driven partnerships with the intelligence community and other government agencies to see how best we can share information to protect infrastructure around the world." The tech world's sympathies lie with the underdog, Ukraine. That applies to giant firms such as Microsoft and Google.... Ukraine's cybersecurity defense benefited from an early start. U.S. Cyber Command experts went to Ukraine months before the war started, according to its commander, Gen. Paul Nakasone. Microsoft and Google became involved even earlier. Microsoft began monitoring Russian phishing attacks against Ukrainian military networks in early 2021, and through the rest of last year observed increasingly aggressive hacks by six different attackers linked to Russia's three intelligence services, the GRU, SVR and FSB, according to a Microsoft report released in April. Microsoft has spent a total of $239 million on financial and technical assistance to Ukraine, a company official said.... Google, a part of Alphabet, has also helped Ukraine fend off threats. Back in 2014, prompted by Russia's use of DDOS ("distributed denial-of-service") malware in its seizure of Crimea and eastern Ukraine, Google began what it called "Project Shield." Software protected news sites, human rights groups and election sites against crippling DDOS floods of junk internet messages. Today, Project Shield is used by 200 sites in Ukraine and 2,300 others in 140 countries around the world, according to Jared Cohen, the chief executive of Google's Jigsaw unit.

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On NetHack's 35th Anniversary, It's Displayed at Museum of Modern Art

25 juin 2022 à 22:02
Switzerland-based software developer Jean-Christophe Collet writes: A long time ago I got involved with the development of NetHack, a very early computer role playing game, and soon joined the DevTeam, as we've been known since the early days. I was very active for the first 10 years then progressively faded out even though I am still officially (or semi-officially as there is nothing much really "official" about NetHack, but more on that later) part of the team. This is how, as we were closing on the 35th anniversary of the project, I learned that NetHack was being added to the collection of the Museum of Modern Art of New York. It had been selected by the Architecture and Design department for its small collection of video games, and was going to be displayed as part of the Never Alone exhibition this fall. From its humble beginnings as a fork of the 1982 dungeon-exploring game "Hack" (based on the 1980 game Rogue), Nethack influenced both Diablo and Torchlight, Collet writes. But that's just the beginning: It is one of the oldest open-source projects still in activity. It actually predates the term "open-source" (it was "free software" back then) and even the GPL by a few years. It is also one of the first, if not the first software project to be developed entirely over the Internet by a team distributed across the globe (hence the "Net" in "NetHack"). In the same spirit, it is one of the first projects to take feedback, suggestions, bug reports and bug fixes from the online community (mostly over UseNet at the time) long, long before tools like GitHub (or Git for that matter), BugZilla or Discord were even a glimmer of an idea in the minds of their creators.... So what did I learn working as part of the NetHack DevTeam? First, I learned that you should always write clean code that you won't be embarrassed by, 35 years later, when it ends up in a museum.... Collet praises things like asynchronous communication and distributed teams, before closing with the final lesson he learned. "Having fun is the best way to boost your creativity and productivity to the highest levels. "There is no substitute.... I am incredibly grateful to have been part of that adventure."

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