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Government

California Launches Mandatory Data Collection For Police Use-of-Force (seattletimes.com) 71

An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes the AP: All 800 police departments in California must begin using a new online tool launched Thursday to report and help track every time officers use force that causes serious injuries... The tool, named URSUS for the bear on California's flag, includes fields for the race of those injured and the officers involved, how their interaction began and why force was deemed necessary.

"It's sort of like TurboTax for use-of-force incidents," said Justin Erlich, a special assistant attorney general overseeing the data collection and analysis. Departments must report the data under a new state law passed last November. Though some departments already tracked such data on their own, many did not... "As a country, we must engage in an honest, transparent, and data-driven conversation about police use of force," California Attorney General Kamala Harris said in a news release.

It's an open source tool developed by Bayes Impact, and California plans to share the code with other interested law enforcement agencies across the country. Only three other states currently require their police departments to track data about use-of-force incidents, "but their systems aren't digital, and in Colorado's case, only capture shootings."
Cloud

A New Programming Language Expands on Google's Go (infoworld.com) 162

"One sure sign your language is successful: When people build other languages that transpile into it." An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes a report from InfoWorld: The Have project uses Go's toolchain, but sports a different syntax and makes key additions to the language... Previously, a language named Oden worked with Go's toolchain to add features that Go didn't support. Now Polish developer Marcin Wrochniak has introduced Have, a language that transpiles to and expands on Go.

In the blog post that introduces the project to Go developers, Wrochniak describes Have as a hobby project, with the goal of becoming a "companion" to Go that addresses some of its common "landmines"... Go uses curly braces in the manner of C/C++, while Have uses block indents, like Python... The way that variable declaration, structs, and interfaces work have all been modified in Have to be more consistent with each other and to avoid internal inconsistencies that Wrochniak feels are a common source of bugs.

The Almighty Buck

Accenture Patents a Blockchain-Editing Tool (techweekeurope.co.uk) 80

A blockchain "produces a permanent ledger of transactions with which no one can tamper," reports TechWeekEurope. "Until now." Slashdot reader Mickeycaskill quotes their report: One of the core principles of Blockchain technology has potentially been undermined by the creation of an editing tool. The company responsible however, Accenture, says edits would only be carried out "under extraordinary circumstances to resolve human errors, accommodate legal and regulatory requirements, and address mischief and other issues, while preserving key cryptographic features..."

Accenture's move to create an editing system will no doubt be viewed by some technology observers as a betrayal of what blockchain technology is all about. But the company insisted it is needed, especially in the financial services industry... "The prototype represents a significant breakthrough for enterprise uses of blockchain technology particularly in banking, insurance and capital markets," said Accenture.

They're envisioning "permissioned" blockchain systems, "managed by designated administrators under agreed governance rules," while acknowledging that cyptocurrency remains a different environment where "immutable" record-keeping would still be essential.
Social Networks

VR Devs Pull Support For Oculus Rift Until Palmer Luckey Steps Down (vice.com) 607

After it was revealed that Oculus founder Palmer Luckey backed a pro-Trump political organization called Nimble America that is dedicated to "shitposting" and spreading inflammatory memes about Hillary Clinton, several developers of the Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset have announced that they will stop supporting the headset until its founder steps down. One of the biggest developers for Oculus Rift, Insomniac Games, told Motherboard, "Insomniac Games condemns all forms of hate speech. While everyone has a right to express his or her political opinion, the behavior and sentiments reported do not reflect the values of our company. We are also confident that his behavior and sentiment does not reflect the values of the many Oculus employees we work with on a daily basis." Fez and Superhypercube developer Polytron also said in a statement, "In a political climate as fragile and horrifying as this one, we cannot tacitly endorse these actions by supporting Luckey or his platform." Motherboard reports: Motherboard has reached out to several other, more well-known VR developers who work with Oculus including Fantastic Contraption makers Northway Games and Job Simulator makers Owlchemy Labs. Northway Games couldn't be reached immediately for comment but tweeted the following: "What. The. Fuck. [accompanied with a link to the news via Kotaku]" and "Definitely using every fibre of my 'professionalism' to not tweet some tweets right now." Owlchemy Labs, which is currently developing for Job Simulator for the Oculus Touch controls, declined to comment either way. E McNeill, who has developed a couple of games for Oculus Rift and GearVR, suggested that like-minded VR developers raise money for Hillary Clinton's campaign to counter the money Luckey has raised for Trump. [E McNeill tweeted: "Idle Q: Would any Oculus devs join me in a donation drive for HIllary? We could aim to beat Nimble America's $11k. I'd start with $1k myself."] "This backlash is nonsense," said James Green, co-founder of VR developer Carbon Games. "I absolutely support him doing whatever he wants politically if it's legal. To take any other position is against American values."
Google

Judge Skewers Oracle Attorney For Revealing Google, Apple Trade Secrets (arstechnica.com) 49

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The federal judge who presided over the Google-Oracle API copyright infringement trial excoriated one of Oracle's lawyers Thursday for disclosing confidential information in open court earlier this year. The confidential information included financial figures stating that Google generated $31 billion in revenue and $22 billion in profits from the Android operating system in the wake of its 2008 debut. The Oracle attorney, Annette Hurst, also revealed another trade secret: Google paid Apple $1 billion in 2014 to include Google search on iPhones. Judge William Alsup of San Francisco has been presiding over the copyright infringement trial since 2010, when Oracle lodged a lawsuit claiming that Google's Android operating system infringed Oracle's Java APIs. After two trials and various trips to the appellate courts, a San Francisco federal jury concluded in May that Google's use of the APIs amounted to fair use. Oracle's motion before Alsup for a third trial is pending. Oracle argues that Google tainted the verdict by concealing a plan to extend Android on desktop and laptop computers. As this legal saga was playing out, Hurst blurted out the confidential figures during a January 14 pre-trial hearing, despite those numbers being protected by a court order. The transcript of that proceeding has been erased from the public record. But the genie is out of the bottle. Google lodged a motion (PDF) for sanctions and a contempt finding against Hurst for unveiling a closely guarded secret of the mobile phone wars. During a hearing on that motion Thursday, Judge Alsup had a back-and-forth with Hurst's attorney, former San Francisco U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag. According to the San Francisco legal journal The Recorder, Haag said that her client Hurst -- of the law firm Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe -- should not be sanctioned because of "one arguable mistake made through the course of a very complex litigation."
Java

TypeScript 2.0 Released (arstechnica.com) 83

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Since its introduction, TypeScript has included new features to improve performance, enhance JavaScript compatibility, and extend the range of error checking that the TypeScript compiler performs. TypeScript 2.0 introduces a big step forward here by giving developers greater control over null values. null, used to denote (in some broad, hand-waving sense) that a variable holds no value at all, has been called the billion dollar mistake. Time and time again, programs trip up by not properly checking to see if a variable is null, and for good or ill, every mainstream programming language continues to support the null concept. TypeScript 2.0 brings a range of new features, but the biggest is control over these null values. With TypeScript 2.0, programmers can opt into a new behavior that by default prevents values from being null. With this option enabled, variables by default will be required to have a value and can't be set to null accidentally. This in turn allows the compiler to find other errors such as variables that are never initialized.
Programming

W3C Set To Publish HTML 5.1, Work Already Started On HTML 5.2 (softpedia.com) 84

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Softpedia: Members of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) are getting ready to launch the HTML 5.1 specification and have already started work on the upcoming HTML 5.2 version since mid-August. The HTML 5.1 standard has been promoted from a "Release Candidate" to a "Proposed Recommendation," the last step before it becomes a "W3C Recommendation," and officially replaces HTML 5 as the current HTML standard. As a Proposed Recommendation, HTML 5.1 is practically locked against major changes, and outside small tweaks here and there, we are currently looking at a 99.99 percent version of the upcoming HTML 5.1 standard. The vote to promote HTML 5.1 from RC to PR was approved in unanimity, a clear sign that major browser makers have reached a general consensus on what the standard should look like, and what they should be implementing in their browsers in upcoming versions. You can read more on HTML 5.1 here, the changes and support table here, and the HTML 5.2 specification draft here.
Medicine

Microsoft Will 'Solve' Cancer Within The Next 10 Years By Treating It Like A Computer Virus, Says Company (independent.co.uk) 258

Microsoft is serious about finding a cure for cancer. In June, Microsoft researchers published a paper that shows how analyzing online activities can provide clues as to a person's chances of having cancer. They were able to identify internet users who had pancreatic cancer even before they'd been diagnosed, all from analyzing web query logs. Several months later, researchers on behalf of the company now say they will "solve" cancer within the next 10 years by treating it like a computer virus that invades and corrupts the body's cells. The goal is to monitor the bad cells and potentially reprogram them to be healthy again. The Independent reports: The company has built a "biological computation" unit that says its ultimate aim is to make cells into living computers. As such, they could be programmed and reprogrammed to treat any diseases, such as cancer. In the nearer term, the unit is using advanced computing research to try and set computers to work learning about drugs and diseases and suggesting new treatments to help cancer patients. The team hopes to be able to use machine learning technologies -- computers that can think and learn like humans -- to read through the huge amounts of cancer research and come to understand the disease and the drugs that treat it. At the moment, so much cancer research is published that it is impossible for any doctor to read it all. But since computers can read and understand so much more quickly, the systems will be able to read through all of the research and then put that to work on specific people's situations. It does that by bringing together biology, math and computing. Microsoft says the solution could be with us within the next five or ten years.
Oracle

Larry Ellison Says 'Amazon's Lead is Over' As Oracle Unveils New Cloud Infrastructure (venturebeat.com) 156

Oracle has unveiled its second generation of cloud infrastructure for third-party developers to run their applications in Oracle data centers. What is interesting about the announcement is that Oracle co-founder and chief technology officer Larry Ellison claiming that "Amazon's lead is over. Amazon's going to have serious competition going forward." From a VentureBeat report: One particular instance, or virtual-machine (VM) type, that Oracle is making available in this second-generation offering -- the Dense IO Shape -- offers 28.8TB, 512GB, and 36 cores, at a price of $5.40 per hour. This product offers more than 10 times the input-output capacity of Amazon Web Services (AWS), specifically the i2.8xlarge instance, said Ellison. Currently, AWS leads the cloud infrastructure market, with Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and IBM trailing behind. Oracle's public cloud was not included in the most recent version of Gartner's highly regarded cloud infrastructure as a service (IaaS) Magic Quadrant, which was released last month. "Oracle also does not have enough market share to qualify for inclusion," the authors of the report wrote.
Google

Google's New Angular 2.0 Isn't Compatible With Angular 1 (techcrunch.com) 118

An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes TechCrunch: When Google announced Angular 2 in 2014, it created quite a stir in the web development community because this new version wasn't just an update, but instead a complete rewrite that wasn't compatible with the older version... "Angular 1 first solved the problem of how to develop for an emerging web," the company writes... "Six years later, the challenges faced by today's application developers, and the sophistication of the devices that applications must support, have both changed immensely."
Announcing the final release version of Angular 2 last week, Google thanked the open source community, saying "We are grateful to the large number of contributors who dedicated time to submitting pull requests, issues, and repro cases, who discussed and debated design decisions, and validated (and pushed back on) our RCs." TechCrunch writes that Google's Angular team "now also recommends that developers use TypeScript to write their apps...a Microsoft-developed superset of JavaScript that adds features like static typing and class-based object-oriented programming."
Open Source

Apple Releases Swift 3.0, 'Not Source-Compatibile With Swift 2.3' (infoworld.com) 148

An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes InfoWorld: "Move fast and break things," the saying goes. Apple does both with the 3.0 version of its Swift programming language...its first full point revision since it became an open source project... In a blog post detailing the full body of changes for Swift 3.0, Apple singled out the two biggest breaking changes. The first is better translation of Objective-C APIs into Swift, meaning that code imported from Objective-C and translated into Swift will be more readable and Swift-like. The bad news is any code previously imported from Objective-C into Swift will not work in Swift 3; it will need to be re-imported.

The other major change... Most every item referenced in the standard library has been renamed to be less wordy. But again, this brings bad news for anyone with an existing Swift codebase: Apple says "the proposed changes are massively source-breaking for Swift code, and will require a migrator to translate Swift 2 code into Swift 3 code."

Apple will provide migration tools in version 8.0 of their XCode IDE, "but such tools go only so far," notes the article, questioning what will happen to the Linux and Windows ports of Swift.
Oracle

Will Oracle Surrender NetBeans to Apache? (infoworld.com) 69

An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes InfoWorld: Venerable open source Java IDE NetBeans would move from Oracle's jurisdiction to the Apache Software Foundation under a proposal... endorsed by Java founder James Gosling, a longtime fan of the IDE. Moving NetBeans to a neutral venue like Apache, with its strong governance model, would help the project attract more contributions from various organizations, according to the proposal posted in the Apache wiki.

"Large companies are using NetBeans as an application framework to build internal or commercial applications and are much more likely to contribute to it once it moves to neutral Apache ground," the proposal says. While Oracle will relinquish its control over NetBeans under the proposal, individual contributors from Oracle are expected to continue contributing to the project.

On Facebook, Gosling posted the proposal meant "folks like me can more easily contribute to our favorite IDE. The finest IDE in existence will be getting even better, faster!" InfoWorld reports that when aked if Oracle had neglected NetBeans, Gosling said, "Oracle didn't single out NetBeans for neglect, they neglect everything... I'm thrilled that the NetBeans community will now be able to chart its own course."
United States

Oregon Settles $6 Billion Lawsuit Over Oracle's Botched Healthcare Website (registerguard.com) 113

"While the crippled website eventually worked, Oregon failed to enroll a single person online [and] had to resort to hiring 400 people to process paper applications." An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes the AP: The state paid Oracle $240 million to create its Cover Oregon website but ultimately abandoned the site and joined the federal exchange to comply with the Affordable Care Act... The state initially asked for more than $6 billion in punitive damages when it filed the lawsuit in 2014 against the Redwood City company, but Oregon ultimately accepted a package that included $35 million in cash payments and software licensing agreements and technical support with an estimated upfront worth of $60 million...

Six years of unlimited Oracle software and technical support included in the deal will save the state hundreds of millions of dollars in years to come and ends a bitter legal battle that has damaged Oregon's "collective psyche," Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said in a statement. "The beauty of the deal is that if we choose to take full advantage of the free (software), we are uniquely situated to modernize our statewide IT systems over the next six years -- something we could not otherwise afford to do," she said.

"Oracle has insisted the website worked but former Gov. John Kitzhaber chose not to use it for political reasons."
Education

Code.org Disses Wolfram Language, Touts Apple's Swift Playgrounds (edsurge.com) 241

America is changing the way it teaches computer science. "There are now 31 states that allow CS to count towards high school graduation," according to an announcement this week by the White House, while a new Advance Placement course "will be offered in more than 2,000 U.S. classrooms this fall...the largest course launch in the history of the AP exam." But what's the best way to teach coding? theodp reports: Tech-backed Code.org, one of the leaders of the new CSforAll Consortium that was announced at the White House on Wednesday, took to its blog Thursday to say "Thanks, Tim [Cook], for supporting the effort to give every student the opportunity to learn computer science," giving a shout out to Apple for providing "resources for teachers who want to put Swift Playgrounds in their classrooms. (A day earlier, the White House said Apple developed Swift Playgrounds "in support of the President's call to action" for CS for All).

Curiously, Code.org CEO Hadi Partovi argued Friday that "the Wolfram Language has serious shortcomings for broad educational use" in an EdSurge op-ed that was called a "response to a recent blog post by Stephen Wolfram" on Wolfram's ambitious plan to teach computational thinking in schools. Partovi's complaints? "It requires login for all but the simplest use cases, but doesn't provide any privacy safeguards for young children (required in the U.S. through legislation such as COPPA). Also, a serious user would need to pay for usage, making implementation inaccessible in most schools. Lastly, it's a bit difficult to use by students who struggle with English reading or writing, such as English language learners or early elementary school students."

The submission ultimately asks how should computer science be taught to teenagers. "Would you be inclined to embrace Wolfram's approach, Apple's Swift Playgrounds, Microsoft TEALS' Java-centric AP CS curriculum, or something else (e.g., R, Tableau, Excel+VBA)?"
Software

Half Of US Smartphone Users Download Zero Apps Per Month (recode.net) 151

Apple's iOS users may have downloaded more than 140 billion apps since the App Store was launched in 2008, but the reality is that a huge number of people just don't try out so many apps anymore. We noted a few weeks ago how people were showing less interest towards apps, and now we have more confirmation on that front. According to comScore, some 49 percent of U.S. smartphone users download zero apps in a typical month. Recode reports: Of the 51 percent of smartphone owners who do download apps during the course of a month, "the average number downloaded per person is 3.5," comScore's report says. "However, the total number of app downloads is highly concentrated at the top, with 13 percent of smartphone owners accounting for more than half of all download activity in a given month."
Microsoft

Microsoft Has More Open Source Contributors On GitHub Than Facebook and Google (thenextweb.com) 118

An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Next Web: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has really embraced open source over the past couple of years. GitHub, a site that is home to a number of the web's biggest collaborative code projects, has counted more than 5.8 million active users on its platform over the past 12 months, and says that Microsoft has the most open source contributors. Microsoft has 16,419 contributors, beating out Facebook's 15,682 contributors, Docker's 14,059 contributors, and Google's 12,140 contributors. The Next Web reports: "Of course, this didn't happen overnight. In October 2014, it open sourced its .NET framework, which is the company's programming infrastructure for building and running apps and services -- a major move towards introducing more developers to its server-side stack. Since then, it's open sourced its Chakra JavaScript engine, Visual Studio's MSBuild compiling engine, the Computational Networks Toolkit for deep learning applications, its Xamarin tool for building cross-platform apps and most recently, PowerShell. It's also worth noting that the company's Visual Studio Code text editor made GitHub's list of repositories with the most contributors. You can check out these lists, as well as other data from GitHub's platform on this page." GitHub CEO Chris Wanstrath said in an interview with Fortune, "The big .Net project has more people outside of Microsoft contributing to it than people who work at Microsoft."
Windows

Desktop Apps Make Their Way Into the Windows Store (arstechnica.com) 74

With Windows 8, Microsoft introduced Windows Store, which consisted of "Metro / Modern UI" apps which worked best on touch capable devices. Since the release of Windows 8, many users complained that they wanted traditional apps -- the applications they had grown accustomed to -- to be included in Windows Store. This would have come in handy to especially Windows RT users, who couldn't easily get traditional applications installed on their devices. Well, guess, what, that's changing now. Though only for Windows 10 users who have gotten the Anniversary Update -- and guess what, many haven't and might not for another month and a half. At any rate, ArsTechnica elaborates: Until now, applications built for and sold through the Windows Store in Windows 10 have been built for the Universal Windows Platform (UWP), the common set of APIs that spans Windows 10 across all the many devices it supports. This has left one major category of application, the traditional desktop application built using the Win32 API, behind. Announced at Build 2015, codename Project Centennial -- now officially titled the Desktop App Converter -- is Microsoft's solution to this problem. It allows developers to repackage existing Win32 applications with few or no changes and sell them through the store. Applications packaged this way aren't subject to all the sandbox restrictions that UWP applications are, ensuring that most will work unmodified. But they are also given the same kind of clean installation, upgrading, and uninstallation that we've all come to expect from Store-delivered software. Centennial is designed to provide not just a way of bringing Win32 apps into the store; it also provides a transition path so that developers can add UWP-based functionality to their old applications on a piecemeal basis. Evernote, one of the launch applications, uses UWP APIs to include support for Live Tiles and Windows' notification system. In this way, developers can create applications that work better on Windows 10 but without having to rewrite them entirely for Windows 10.
Democrats

Guccifer 2.0 Releases More DNC Documents (politico.com) 333

For the past several months, the hacker who calls himself "Guccifer 2.0" has been releasing documents about the Democratic National Committee. Today, he has released a new hoard of documents. Politico reports: The hacker persona Guccifer 2.0 has released a new trove of documents that allegedly reveal more information about the Democratic National Committee's finances and personal information on Democratic donors, as well as details about the DNC's network infrastructure. The cache also includes purported memos on tech initiatives from Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine's time as governor of Virginia, and some years-old missives on redistricting efforts and DNC donor outreach strategy. Most notable among Tuesday's documents may be the detailed spreadsheets allegedly about DNC fundraising efforts, including lists of DNC donors with names, addresses, emails, phone numbers and other sensitive details. Tuesday's documents regarding the DNC's information technology setup include several reports from 2010 purporting to show that the committee's network passed multiple security scans. In total, the latest dump contains more than 600 megabytes of documents. It is the first Guccifer 2.0 release to not come from the hacker's WordPress account. Instead, it was given out via a link to the small group of security experts attending [a London cybersecurity conference].
Government

World Anti-Doping Agency Says It Was Hacked By Russia (theverge.com) 97

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is accusing Russian state-sponsored hackers of hacking its database of athletes involved in this year's Olympic Games in Rio. Whether it's in response to the WADA banning 119 Russian athletes from participating in the games due to a doping scandal, it has yet to be determined. The Verge reports: The agency claims the state-sponsored group Fancy Bear is behind the attack, although it doesn't clarify how that attribution was made. The accessed data included medical information, like Therapeutic Use Exemptions issued by International Sports Federations and National Anti-Doping Organizations. The group has reportedly released some of this data and threatened to release more. The attackers reportedly relied on spear phishing emails to gain access to the database and eventually used credentials specifically made for the Rio Olympic games. Fancy Bear was the same group responsible for hacking the Democratic National Committee earlier this year.
Programming

Vandalism Detection Contest Sponsored For Wikidata (wsdm-cup-2017.org) 38

Remember when Bing Maps lost a city because they used bad Wikipedia data? An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: Since knowledge bases like Wikidata are poised to be integrated into all kinds of information systems, wrong facts are not just displayed on Wikidata's pages but may propagate directly to all systems using the knowledge base. Hence, detecting and reverting vandalism and other kinds of damaging edits is an even more important task than on Wikipedia. Recently, German scientists published the first machine learning-based approach on vandalism detection in Wikidata, and now Adobe sponsors a competition on vandalism detection, the WSDM Cup Challenge, awarding $2500 for the best-performing solutions that will also be published open source.
"Given a Wikidata revision, compute a vandalism score denoting the likelihood of this revision being vandalism (or similarly damaging)," read the official rules, pushing for a near real-time solution to be submitted before December 22. And the winners will also be invited to the headquarters of Wikimedia Germany to discuss implenting their solutions.

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