All posts on August, 2017


Jenkins Blue Ocean UI to provide code quality insights

Blue Ocean, the new user interface for the popular Jenkins continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) platform, will begin incorporating insights into code quality trends and static analyses, under an improvement plan detailed this week by the project’s creator.

The goal is to improve the developer’s visibility into the health of software projects, Blue Ocean creator James Dumay, director of project management at Jenkins technology vendor CloudBees, said. Plans also call for expanding the capabilities of Blue Ocean’s visual pipeline editor to better match what is available in Jenkins’ declarative pipelines for software delivery. The development team intends to outfit Blue Ocean with these capabilities in the next six to 12 months.

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Audio/Video

Alexa Can Make Music Echo All Through the House

Alexa has a new musical talent, Amazon announced Tuesday. “Today, we’re making Alexa even smarter with an all-new feature that lets you play music synchronized on multiple Echo devices to provide room-filling music throughout your home,” said Amazon Alexa Vice President Toni Reid. Setting up the syncing is easy. Using the Alexa app, you give a group of devices a name, such as “first floor.”

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What’s new in TypeScript 2.5

TypeScript 2.5, the upcoming upgrade to Microsoft’s popular typed superset of JavaScript, is now available as a release candidate. It includes an enhancement for try/catch statements for errors as well as compiler improvements.

The catch binding parameters capability in TypeScript 2.5 uses a late-stage ECMAScript feature to make catch binding optional in try/catch statements. Making catch binding optional “means we can just omit unusedError altogether,” said Daniel Rosenwasser, Microsoft’s program manager for TypeScript. The reason for that is there are times when developers expect something might fail by throwing an error, but the developer does not care what the error is.

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Users review the top cloud data integration tools

As the world of cloud computing becomes more globalized, IT professionals need multiple levels of security and transparency to manage cloud relationships. Using a cloud data integration solution, an enterprise can configure a number of disparate application programs sharing data in a diverse network, including cloud-based data repositories. This allows enterprise tech professionals to manage, monitor and cleanse data from various web-based and mobile applications more effectively.

IT Central Station users have identified agile data transformation, a clear, customizable dashboard and efficient data replication as valuable features when looking for a cloud data integration solution. According to their reviews, the IT Central Station community has ranked Informatica Cloud Data Integration, Dell Boomi AtomSphere,  IBM App Connect and SnapLogic as leading cloud data integration solutions in the market.

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Microsoft linker tool shrinks .Net applications

A long-requested and long-unfulfilled feature for .Net has finally been delivered by Microsoft and the Mono team: A linker that allows .Net applications to be stripped down to include only the parts of libraries that are actually used by the program at runtime.

The IL Linker project works by analyzing a .Net application and determining which libraries are never called by the application in question. “It is effectively an application-specific dead code analysis,” says Microsoft in its GitHub announcement for the project.

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Enterprise

Too Few Candidates to Fill Growing Number of Open Source Jobs

Open source hiring has been hampered by a lack of trained job-takers, according to The Linux Foundation, which released its sixth annual summary of career opportunities in open source last week. The report provides an overview of open source career trends, along with factors that motivate industry professionals, and methods employers use to attract and retain qualified talent.

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Exclusives

Congressional App Challenge Director Rachel Décoste: Get on Board the Tech Train

“Coding is one of the most in-demand skills. There’s a myth out there that you need to have this skill only if you work with computers, but as society develops, you’re going to see coding in every field. This is a skill that’s needed in all job sectors,” said Rachel Décoste, director of the Congressional App Challenge. “The jobs of tomorrow will require, if not coding, at least an understanding of how it works.”

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3 projects lighting a fire under machine learning

Mention machine learning, and many common frameworks pop into mind, from “old” stalwarts like Scikit-learn to juggernauts like Google’s TensorFlow. But the field is large and diverse, and useful innovations are bubbling up across the landscape.

Recent releases from three open source projects continue the march toward making machine learning faster, more scalable, and easier to use. PyTorch and Apache MXNet bring GPU support to machine learning and deep learning in Python. 

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Tech Buzz

Apple to Sate iPhone Curiosity Sept. 12

Apple plans to refresh its iPhone, TV and watch lines at an event scheduled Sept. 12. In addition to upgrading its iPhone 7 models, the company is expected to debut the “iPhone 8” to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the brand. It reportedly will have an OLED display with barely any bezel, a fingerprint scanner at the rear of the phone, and support for facial recognition and wireless charging.

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Pivotal, VMware team up to deploy Kubernetes on vSphere

Pivotal and VMware have teamed up to deliver commercial-grade Kubernetes distributions on both VMware vSphere and Google Cloud Platform (GCP).

Pivotal Container Service (PKS), launching in Q4 2017, runs Kubernetes atop VMware’s infrastructure management tools—vSphere, vSAN, and NSX. It also taps a project from Cloud Foundry, Kubo, originally created by Pivotal and Google, to deploy and manage Kubernetes on VMware’s stack.

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What’s new in .Net’s Microsoft C# 8

Version 8 of Microsoft’s C# language will have nullable reference types, to improve code quality, according to the latest roadmap for the programming language from the .Net Foundation, which oversees the open source .Net that C# is part of. The feature will add safe reference types in addition to the existing ones that will be called non-nullable. Compilers will warn you when nullable types are dereferenced or when null is values are assigned to non-nullable variable types.

The nullable reference type is intended to help developers prevent null reference exceptions. A core of the capability is expressing an intent to be null. The compiler will recognize when something is not null and warn you when you’ve assigned null to a reference that was not declared as null. With the capability, developers get an assist in finding bugs and making them go away.

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How much is a good deal worth?

If you knew that every single commercial or ad you ever had to see would only be for the exact products you wanted, what would you be willing to give up in trade? Would you be willing to post your home address for others to see? Your income bracket? Your birth date? Mind you, this information wouldn’t only go to your approved social media connections…would you be willing to tell the whole internet?

For most of us, the automatic answer is no, but the reality of social media isn’t too far off. Some platforms like Facebook rely on targeted advertising to keep the lights on, and to keep the service free for the public to use.

You might argue that it’s a small price to pay for the ability to connect to practically anyone in the world, and sure, advertising in and of itself is not inherently bad. But when advertising crosses the line into invasion of privacy, consumers have to ask hard questions about what personal data they’re giving away.

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OpenJDK may tackle Java security gaps with secretive group

To shore up Java’s security, a private group that operates outside the normal open source community process is under consideration.

The proposed OpenJDK (Java Development Kit) Vulnerability Group would provide a secure, private forum in which trusted members of the community receive reports on vulnerabilities in code bases and then review and fix them. Coordinating the release of fixes also would be part of the group’s mandate. (Java SE, the standard edition of Java, has been developed under the auspices of OpenJDK.)

The vulnerability group and Oracle’s internal security teams would work together, and it may occasionally need to work with external security organizations.

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Node.js forks again, this time over a political dispute

New dissension in the Node.js community, driven by objections to the conduct of a Node.js technical committee member, have led to another fork of the JavaScript runtime engine.

Ayo.js describes itself as  built on the Google Chrome V8 JavaScript engine. It features an event-driven, non-blocking I/O model to make it lightweight and efficient. That’s exactly how Node.js describes itself. A note on the Ayo,js GitHub repo even states a lot of the Ayo.js documentation still points at the Node.js repo.

Two years ago, the IO.js fork resulted from a dispute over technical directions in Node.js (IO.js was later merged back into Node.js), but the new Ayo.js fork seems to be the result of community infighting more than any arguments over technology. Node.js technical steering committee member Rod Vagg, chief Node officer at Node.js provider NodeSource, raised ire over his tweet supporting a code of conduct article that Node.js community members described as inflammatory. They also claimed he had interfered with the Node.js moderation process.

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What is data mining? How analytics uncovers insights

Organizations today are gathering ever-growing volumes of information from all kinds of sources, including websites, enterprise applications, social media, mobile devices, and increasingly the internet of things (IoT).

The big question is: How can you derive real business value from this information? That’s where data mining can contribute in a big way. Data mining is the automated process of sorting through huge data sets to identify trends and patterns and establish relationships, to solve business problems or generate new opportunities through the analysis of the data.

It’s not just a matter of looking at data to see what has happened in the past to be able to act intelligently in the present. Data mining tools and techniques let you predict what’s going to happen in the future and act accordingly to take advantage of coming trends.

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Microsoft’s Project Brainwave accelerates deep learning in Azure

Earlier this year, Google unveiled its Tensor Processing Unit, custom hardware for speeding up prediction-making with machine learning models.

Now Microsoft is trying something similar, with its Project Brainwave hardware, which supports many major deep learning systems in wide use. Project Brainwave covers many of the same goals as Google’s TPU: Speed up how predictions are served from machine learning models (in Brainwave case, those hosted in Azure, using custom hardware deployed in Microsoft’s cloud at scale). 

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When identity data eclipses digital identity

When I first became involved in the identity space, which was about 10 years now, the definition of ‘digital identity’ was being hotly debated. This debate raged on over the years, but out of it, a stoic pragmatism has emerged. Digital identity is many things, but what it has in common across all definitions, is data. You are what your attributes say you are…well if you have had them verified to a decent degree of probability that is.

Identity data is a valuable commodity. In terms of attractive assets, it has cybercriminals chomping at the bit to get at it. According to a study by the Identity Theft Center, data breaches increased by 40% in 2016 over the 2015 figures. Identity data is also, of course, highly valuable to the individual behind the data, and service that individual wants to access. We need to make the identity data work for the individual, not the cybercriminal. But to do this, we need to start to break the silo barriers down.

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Oracle doesn’t want Java EE any more

Oracle wants to end its leadership in the development of enterprise Java and is looking for an open source foundation to take on the role.

The company said today that the upcoming Java EE (Enterprise Edition) 8 presents an opportunity to rethink how the platform is developed. Although development is done via open source with community participation, the current Oracle-led process is not seen agile, flexible, or open enough. ”We believe that moving Java EE technologies to an open source foundation may be the right next step, to adopt more agile processes, implement more flexible licensing and change the governance process,” Oracle said in a statement.

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What features to expect in Apple’s Swift 5

Version 5 of Apple’s Swift language used for iOS and MacOS application development will arrive in late 2018 with ABI (application binary interface) stability in the standard Swift library a primary focus—delaying a feature originally intended for the upcoming Swift 4 release.

Locking down the ABI iin Swift 5 will mean any future compiler versions can produce binaries that conform to the stable ABI. “Once an ABI is stable, it tends to persist for the rest of the platform’s lifetime due to ever-increasing mutual dependencies,” according to Apple documentation.

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13 frameworks for mastering machine learning

13 frameworks for mastering machine learning
13 frameworks for mastering machine learning

Image by W.Rebel via Wikimedia

Over the past year, machine learning has gone mainstream with a bang. The “sudden” arrival of machine learning isn’t fueled by cheap cloud environments and ever more powerful GPU hardware alone. It is also due to an explosion of open source frameworks designed to abstract away the hardest parts of machine learning and make its techniques available to a broad class of developers.

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The most popular IDEs? Visual Studio and Eclipse

Microsoft’s Visual Studio leads the way in desktop IDE (integrated development environment) popularity, with Eclipse close behind, according to PYPL’s August index of IDE popularity. Android Studio was a distant third.

Visual Studio takes a 22.4 percent share in this month’s index. Eclipse follows with a 20.38 percent share. Much further back was Android Studio, with a 9.87 percent share. “It’s surprising how a couple of IDEs have about half the popularity,” PYPL’s Pierre Carbonelle said.

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Oracle’s Hurd, AT&T’s Donovan on their massive cloud migration deal

If worries about digital transformation projects keep you up at night, imagine how it would feel to be responsible for moving thousands of internal databases to the cloud for a company with more than $160 billion in annual sales and 260,000 employees. That’s the job that AT&T Communications CEO John Donovan is undertaking, and he’s working with Oracle CEO Mark Hurd to do it. 

When the companies announced in May that they were working together, Hurd called the agreement “historic.” While hyperbole is part of everyday life in tech, lessons learned from the massive project are bound to reverberate across enterprises in a variety of fields, as Hurd noted in the following discussion with Donovan and IDG News Service Editor in Chief Marc Ferranti.

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What is machine learning? Software derived from data

You’ve probably encountered the term “machine learning” more than a few times lately. Often used interchangeably with artificial intelligence, machine learning is in fact a subset of AI, both of which can trace their roots to MIT in the late 1950s.

Machine learning is something you probably encounter every day, whether you know it or not. The Siri and Alexa voice assistants, Facebook’s and Microsoft’s facial recognition, Amazon and Netflix recommendations, the technology that keeps self-driving cars from crashing into things – all are a result of advances in machine learning.

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IBM speeds deep learning by using multiple servers

For everyone frustrated by how long it takes to train deep learning models, IBM has some good news: It has unveiled a way to automatically split deep-learning training jobs across multiple physical servers — not just individual GPUs, but whole systems with their own separate sets of GPUs.

Now the bad news: It’s available only in IBM’s PowerAI 4.0 software package, which runs exclusively on IBM’s own OpenPower hardware systems.

Distributed Deep Learning (DDL) doesn’t require developers to learn an entirely new deep learning framework. It repackages several common frameworks for machine learning: TensorFlow, Torch, Caffe, Chainer, and Theano. Deep learning projecs that use those frameworks can then run in parallel across multiple hardware nodes.

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