Data Storage

BackBlaze's Hard Drive Stats for Q2 2017 (backblaze.com) 99

BackBlaze is back with its new hard drive reliability report: Since our last report for Q1 2017, we have added 635 additional hard drives to bring us to the 83,151 drives we'll focus on. We'll begin our review by looking at the statistics for the period of April 1, 2017 through June 30, 2017 (Q2 2017). [...] When looking at the quarterly numbers, remember to look for those drives with at least 50,000 drive hours for the quarter. That works out to about 550 drives running the entire quarter. That's a good sample size. If the sample size is below that, the failure rates can be skewed based on a small change in the number of drive failures.

Editor's note: In short: hard drives from HGST, a subsidiary of Western Digital, and Toshiba were far more reliable than those from Seagate across the models BackBlaze uses in its datacenters.

Television

Plex Responds, Will Allow Users To Opt Out Of Data Collection (www.plex.tv) 91

stikves writes: This weekend Plex had announced they were implementing a new privacy policy, including removing the ability for opting out of data collection and sharing. Fortunately the backlash here, on their forums, Reddit, and other placed allowed them to offer a more sensible state, including bringing back opt-out, and anonymity of some of the data.
Plex CEO Keith Valory wrote Saturday that some information must be transferred just to provide the service -- for example, servers still check for updates, they have to determine whether a user has a premium Plex Pass, and "we have to provide accurate reporting to licensors for things like trailers and extras, photo tagging, lyrics, licensed codecs and so on... [W]e came to the conclusion that providing an 'opt out' in the set-up gives a false sense of privacy and feels disingenuous on our part. That is, even if you opted out, there is still a bunch of data we are collecting that we tried to call out as exceptions." But to address concerns about data collection, Plex will make new changes to their privacy policy: [I]n addition to providing the ability to opt out of crash reporting and marketing communications, we will provide you the ability to opt out of playback statistics for personal content on your Plex Media Server, like duration, bit rate, and resolution in a new privacy setting... we are going to "generalize" playback stats in order to make it impossible to create any sort of "fingerprint" that would allow anyone to identify a file in a library... Finally, in the new privacy tab in the server settings we will provide a full list of all product events data that we collect... Our intention here is to provide full transparency. Users will have one place where they can see what data is being collected and where they can opt out of playback data that they are not comfortable with."
And he emphasized that "we will never sell or share data related to YOUR content libraries."
Television

Should Plex Stop Allowing Users To Opt Out of Data Collection? (www.plex.tv) 158

UPDATE: Plex has now made more changes to their privacy policy to address concerns about data collection, including "the ability to opt out of playback statistics for personal content on your Plex Media Server" and a promise "to 'generalize' playback stats in order to make it impossible to create any sort of 'fingerprint' that would allow anyone to identify a file in a library."

Here's what the original kerfuffle was about. Slashdot reader bigdogpete wrote: Many users of Plex got an email that said they were changing their privacy policy which goes into effect on 20 September 2017. While most of the things are pretty standard, users found it odd that they were now not going to allow users to opt-out of data collection. Here is the part from their website explaining the upcoming changes.

"In order to understand the usage across the Plex ecosystem and how we need to improve, Plex will continue to collect usage statistics, such as device type, duration, bit rate, media format, resolution, and media type (music, photos, videos, etc.). We will no longer allow the option to opt out of this statistics collection, but we do not sell or share your personally identifiable statistics. Again, we will not collect any information that identifies libraries, files, file names, and/or the specific content stored on your privately hosted Plex Media Servers. The only exception to this is when, and only to the extent, you use Plex with third-party services such as Sonos, Alexa, webhooks, and Last.fm."

What do you all think?

Programming

IEEE Spectrum Declares Python The #1 Programming Language (ieee.org) 372

An anonymous reader quotes IEEE Spectrum's annual report on the top programming languages: As with all attempts to rank the usage of different languages, we have to rely on various proxies for popularity. In our case, this means having data journalist Nick Diakopoulos mine and combine 12 metrics from 10 carefully chosen online sources to rank 48 languages. But where we really differ from other rankings is that our interactive allows you choose how those metrics are weighted when they are combined, letting you personalize the rankings to your needs. We have a few preset weightings -- a default setting that's designed with the typical Spectrum reader in mind, as well as settings that emphasize emerging languages, what employers are looking for, and what's hot in open source...

Python has continued its upward trajectory from last year and jumped two places to the No. 1 slot, though the top four -- Python, C, Java, and C++ -- all remain very close in popularity. Indeed, in Diakopoulos's analysis of what the underlying metrics have to say about the languages currently in demand by recruiting companies, C comes out ahead of Python by a good margin... Ruby has fallen all the way down to 12th position, but in doing so it has given Apple's Swift the chance to join Google's Go in the Top Ten... Outside the Top Ten, Apple's Objective-C mirrors the ascent of Swift, dropping down to 26th place. However, for the second year in a row, no new languages have entered the rankings. We seem to have entered a period of consolidation in coding as programmers digest the tools created to cater to the explosion of cloud, mobile, and big data applications.

"Speaking of stabilized programming tools and languages," the article concludes, "it's worth noting Fortran's continued presence right in the middle of the rankings (sitting still in 28th place), along with Lisp in 35th place and Cobol hanging in at 40th."
Intel

Intel's Big Bet On Baseball (axios.com) 57

Ina Fried, reporting for Axios: Intel has been traveling the country this year, broadcasting one major league game a week in virtual reality. On Tuesday, the company's crew was close to home as the San Francisco Giants defeated the Cleveland Indians 2-1 in extra innings. How it works: The games are free to watch, but require the person to have a Samsung phone and Gear VR headset. To broadcast a game in VR, Intel has camera rigs on the first and third base side, as well as the traditional "deep home" shot. It also aims to have an additional camera or two in a spot unique to each stadium. In Arizona, for example, it has one near the stadium's swimming pool. Each camera setup has six pairs of cameras to capture high-definition footage in 180 degrees. In the parking lot, meanwhile, separate teams work in two adjoining vans. One group works on the sound and stitches the images together, while a second van houses a more traditional broadcast setup, including play-by-play announcer J.B. Long. Tweaking the product: Still new at this, Intel is constantly adding new tricks to its arsenal. Last night's game, for example, was the first time the company added real-time VR graphics to the mix, showing baseball cards with stats above the players. Intel CEO has said he wants VR sports to be a billion dollar business for the company.
Security

EternalBlue Vulnerability Scanner Finds Exposed Hosts Worldwide (helpnetsecurity.com) 38

Orome1 quotes Help Net Security:After the recent massive WannaCry ransomware campaign, Elad Erez, Director of Innovation at Imperva, was shocked at the number of systems that still sported the Microsoft Windows SMB Server vulnerabilities that made the attack possible. So, he decided to do something about it: he created Eternal Blues, an easy-to-use vulnerability scanner that he made available for download for free... The statistics collected by the tool, as well as the total number of downloads, show that after the NotPetya attack, people's awareness of the threat did increase... Over 8 million IP addresses were scanned, and a total of 60,000 vulnerable hosts were identified (out of ~537,000 that were responsive). Of the ~537,000 responsive hosts, some 258,000 still had SMBv1 enabled.
One organization in France found two vulnerable hosts after scanning over 13,000 IP addresses, and Erez believes that without his tool, "finding those two needles in the haystack would have been an almost impossible mission... Here is a lesson for IT/Security departments: don't be so certain that you know your network well. Deploy a multi-layered stack of security tools for both risk analysis and real time enforcement."
Education

In America, Most Republicans Think Colleges Are Bad for the Country (chronicle.com) 996

An anonymous reader quotes the Chronicle of Higher Education: A majority of Republicans and right-leaning independents think higher education has a negative effect on the country, according to a new study released by the Pew Research Center on Monday. The same study has found a consistent increase in distrust of colleges and universities since 2010, when negative perceptions among Republicans was measured at 32 percent. That number now stands at 58 percent. By comparison, 72 percent of Democrats or left-leaning Independents in the study said colleges and universities have a positive impact on the United States... In the Pew Research Center's study, distrust of colleges was strongest in the highest income bracket and the oldest age group, with approval levels of just 31 percent among respondents whose family income exceeds $75,000 a year and 27 percent among those older than 65.
Chrome

While Chrome Dominates, Microsoft Edge Struggles To Attract New Users (neowin.net) 172

An anonymous reader quotes Neowin's report on the newest browser-usage figures from NetMarketShare: Microsoft Edge only commands a market share of 5.65% -- which is an increase of only 0.02 percentage points compared to last month... it only grew by 0.56% year-over-year. On the other hand, Google Chrome has continued its dominance with a market share of 59.49%. As a point of reference, this is a sizeable growth of 10.84 percentage points year-over-year... Data from another firm, StatCounter, depicts an even more depressing situation for Microsoft. According to the report, Edge sits at 3.89%... Chrome is the king of all browsers according to these statistics as well, with a market share of 63.21% -- a decrease of 0.14 percentage points compared to last month. Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari command 14%, 9.28%, and 5.16% respectively.
The firm also calculates that when it comes to desktop operating systems, Windows has 91.51% of all users, followed by MacOS at 6.12 and Linux at 2.36%.
Ruby

Is Ruby's Decline In Popularity Permanent? (computerworld.com.au) 253

An anonymous reader quotes Computerworld: Ruby has had a reputation as a user-friendly language for building web applications. But its slippage in this month's RedMonk Programming Language Rankings has raised questions about where exactly the language stands among developers these days. The twice-yearly RedMonk index ranked Ruby at eighth, the lowest position ever for the language. "Swift and now Kotlin are the obvious choices for native mobile development. Go, Rust, and others are clearer modern choices for infrastructure," said RedMonk analyst Stephen O'Grady. "The web, meanwhile, where Ruby really made its mark with Rails, is now an aggressively competitive and crowded field." Although O'Grady noted that Ruby remains "tremendously popular," participants on sites such as Hacker News and Quora have increasingly questioned whether Ruby is dying. In the Redmonk rankings, Ruby peaked at fourth place in 2013, reinforcing the perception it is in decline, if a slow one.
Businesses

The iPhone Turns 10 (economist.com) 278

"Every once in awhile a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything," said co-founder and former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, as he kickstarted the iPhone keynote. Ten years ago, thousands of people around the world listened to him in a mock turtleneck talk about a phone. They liked it so much that they decided to wait outside Apple stores for hours on end to buy one. Little did anyone know the phone -- called the iPhone -- would go on to revolutionize, in the truest sense of the word, the smartphone industry as we know it.

From an Economist article: No product in recent history has changed people's lives more. Without the iPhone, ride-hailing, photo-sharing, instant messaging and other essentials of modern life would be less widespread. Shorn of cumulative sales of 1.2bn devices and revenues of $1trn, Apple would not hold the crown of the world's largest listed company. Thousands of software developers would be poorer, too: the apps they have written for the smartphone make them more than $20bn annually. Here's how some journalists saw the original iPhone. David Pogue, writing for the New York Times: But even in version 1.0, the iPhone is still the most sophisticated, outlook-changing piece of electronics to come along in years. It does so many things so well, and so pleasurably, that you tend to forgive its foibles. Walt Mossberg, writing for the Wall Street Journal: Expectations for the iPhone have been so high that it can't possibly meet them all. It isn't for the average person who just wants a cheap, small phone for calling and texting. But, despite its network limitations, the iPhone is a whole new experience and a pleasure to use. John Gruber's first impressions of the iPhone: The iPhone is 95 percent amazing, 5 percent maddening. I'm just blown away by how nice it is -- very thoughtful UI design and outstanding engineering. It is very fun. Jason Snell, writing for Macworld: To put it more simply: The iPhone is the real deal. It's a product that has already changed the way people look at the devices they carry in their pockets and purses. After only a few days with mine, the prospect of carrying a cellphone with me wherever I go no longer fills me with begrudging acceptance, but actual excitement. Recode has some charts that show how the iPhone has grown over the years. Here's the primer: 1. The iPhone put the internet in everyone's pocket.
2. The iPhone transformed photography from a hobby to a part of everyday life.
3. The iPhone App Store changed the way software was created and distributed.
4. iPhone apps changed everything, even how people work.
5. The iPhone made Apple the world's most valuable company.
Apple commentator Horace Dediu writing for Asymco: The iPhone is the best selling product ever, making Apple perhaps the best business ever. Because of the iPhone, Apple has managed to survive to a relatively old age. Not only did it build a device base well over 1 billion it engendered loyalty and satisfaction described only by superlatives. To summarize I can offer two numbers:
1. 1,162,796,000 iPhones sold (to end of March 2017).
2. $742,912,000,000 in revenues. $1 trillion will be reached in less than 18 months.
In closing, security researcher Mikko Hypponen tweeted, "iPhone is 10 years old today. After 10 years, not a single serious malware case. It's not just luck; we need to congratulate Apple on this."
Stats

Phoronix Announces '2017 Linux Laptop Survey' (google.com) 66

Phoronix is hosting a 2017 Linux Laptop Survey. From their site: While Linux laptop compatibility is much better than where it was years ago, it's still not too uncommon to run into display/hybrid issues, shorter battery life under Linux than Windows or macOS, touchpad problems, and other occasional compatibility/performance shortcomings. So we've established this Linux Laptop Survey in conjunction with Linux stakeholders to hopefully gather more feedback that will be useful to many different parties...
The survey will be online until July 6th, after which the results will be publicly available, and will determine the most popular brands, distros, screen sizes, and GPUs, as well as common pain points and popular price points. And one particularly interestng question asks respondents what they'd like to see in a "dream Linux laptop."
Stats

Real Estate Firm Identifies America's 'Top 25 Tech Cities' (cushmanwakefield.com) 91

Cushman & Wakefield, one of the world's largest real estate firms, launched a new report identifying America's top tech cities. An anonymous reader quotes their report: Washington, DC has emerged as the promising tech city center after San Jose (Silicon Valley) and San Francisco... A dominating hub for life sciences and government, Washington, DC also serves as a significant outpost for tech companies seeking proximity to policymakers as well as for burgeoning cyber-security investment. The top 25 tech cities were determined by analyzing the concentration of factors such as talent, capital, and growth opportunity -- the key ingredients that comprise a tech stew. The heartiest of these tech epicenters are: 1. San Jose, CA (Silicon Valley); 2. San Francisco, CA; 3. Washington, DC; 4. Boston/Cambridge, MA; and 5. Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, NC...

Report co-author and Regional Director, Northwest U.S. Research at Cushman & Wakefield, in San Francisco, Robert Sammons, said that while it was not surprising to see San Jose (Silicon Valley) and San Francisco continue to dominate, that mass-transit issues and escalating housing costs in those areas have fanned a tech spillover into secondary markets such as Austin (no. 7), Denver (no. 8), San Diego (no. 9), and Salt Lake City (no. 24)... Mr. Sammons cited cost-of-living in Seattle (no. 6) as a lingering issue, somewhat mitigated by a recent uptick in residential development that's outpacing San Francisco's, as well as mass transit challenges.

There's also several cities in the Midwest among the top tech cities, including Madison, Wisconsin (no. 10), Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota (no. 11), Indianapolis, Indiana (no. 23), and Nashville, Tennessee (no. 25).
Stats

New Threat To Traditional Sports Leagues: Millennials Prefer Watching eSports (venturebeat.com) 189

Professional sports leagues "officially have a millennial problem," writes VentureBeat, citing some interesting findings from L.E.K. Consulting.
  • 40% of millennials prefer watching esports to traditional sports
  • 26% of millennial eSports enthusiasts reported a significant uptick in eSports viewing over the past year
  • 61% of esports followers said they spent less time watching TV over the past 12 months, and 45% said they had cut back on traditional sports viewing
  • Together millennials -- ages 17-34 -- and Generation Z peers -- age 16 and under -- comprise 45% of America's consumer base

"At a certain point, this comes down to a new form of media better serving an upcoming generation of consumers," concludes VentureBeat. "Esports leagues are all online. Most matches stream for free on sites like Twitch. They are available on the web or through smartphone apps. Competitive gaming is easily accessible, and it lives where Millennials are already spending their time."

Maybe that's why Major League Baseball's video streaming company recently paid $300 million for the right to stream League of Legends through 2023.


Stats

Are There More Developers Than We Think? (redmonk.com) 191

JavaScript's npm package manager reports 4 million users, doubling every year, leading to an interesting question from tech industry analyst James Governor: Just how many developers are there out there? GitHub is very well placed to know, given it's where (so much) of that development happens today. It has telemetry-based numbers, with their own skew of course, but based on usage rather than surveys or estimates. According to GitHub CEO Chris Wanstrath, "We see 20 million professional devs in the world as an estimate, from research companies. Well we have 21 million [active] users -- we can't have more users than the entire industry"...

If Github has 21 million active users, Wanstrath is right that current estimates of the size of the developer population must be far too low... Are we under-counting China, for example, given its firewalls? India continues to crank out developers at an astonishing rate. Meanwhile Africa is set for crazy growth too... You certainly can't just count computer science graduates or software industry employees anymore. These days you can't even be an astronomer without learning code, and that's going to be true of all scientific disciplines.

The analyst attributes the increasing number of developers to "the availability, accessibility and affordability of tools and learning," adding "It's pretty amazing to think that GitHub hit 5 million users in 2012, and is now at 20 million." As for the total number of all developers, he offers his own estimate at the end of the essay. "My wild assed guess would be more like 35 million."
Medicine

The Older the Doctor, the Higher the Patient Mortality Rate, Study Finds (arstechnica.com) 136

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The age of your doctor may impact the quality of the care you receive -- and even cut your chances of survival -- researchers report in the British Medical Journal. Harvard researchers looked over data on more than 700,000 hospital admissions of elderly patients cared for by nearly 19,000 physicians between 2011 and 2014. They found that mortality rates crept up in step with physician age. Patients with doctors under the age of 40 had a 30-day mortality rate of 10.8 percent. With doctors aged 40 to 49, mortality rates inched up to 11.1 percent, then to 11.3 percent with doctors 50 to 59, and 12.1 percent with doctors aged 60 or above. The stats are adjusted for a variety of variables, such as hospital mortality rates and severity of patients' illnesses. All the patients were aged 65 or older and on Medicare. Though the age-related mortality trend was significant overall, it broke down when researchers sorted doctors by caseloads. Older doctors who saw high volumes of patients didn't see their patients' mortality rates increase.
AI

Swarm AI Spectacularly Fails To Predict Kentucky Derby Winners A Second Time (techrepublic.com) 83

Thursday TechRepublic described the big prediction: In May 2016, a relatively unknown startup called Unanimous A.I. made big headlines when its AI-based platform used collective intelligence to create a prediction for the Kentucky Derby superfecta -- the top four horses, in order of finish. It made exactly the right pick, which returned $541.10 on a $1 bet... Churchill Downs took notice last year and decided to collaborate with Unanimous A.I. to create an official AI swarm made up of handicappers and racing analysts to predict the top finishers for this year's Derby. The track is calling this the "super-expert" Derby pick. On Wednesday, the handicappers logged into Unanimous A.I.'s UNU platform from across the US, and answered a series of questions that gradually narrowed down their picks from the field of 20 horses until they created consensus on the top four picks and the order of finish.
Here's my report on the results...
Stats

As Print Surges, Ebook Sales Plunge Nearly 20% (cnn.com) 206

An anonymous reader quotes CNN: Sales of consumer ebooks plunged 17% in the U.K. in 2016, according to the Publishers Association. Sales of physical books and journals went up by 7% over the same period, while children's books surged 16%. The same trend is on display in the U.S., where ebook sales declined 18.7% over the first nine months of 2016, according to the Association of American Publishers. Paperback sales were up 7.5% over the same period, and hardback sales increased 4.1%...

Sales of e-readers declined by more than 40% between 2011 and 2016, according to consumer research group Euromonitor International. "E-readers, which was once a promising category, saw its sales peak in 2011. Its success was short-lived, as it spiraled downwards within a year with the entry of tablets," Euromonitor said in a research note.

The article includes an even more interesting statistic: that one-third of adults tried a "digital detox" in 2016, limiting their personal use of electronics. Are any Slashdot readers trying to limit their own screen time -- or reading fewer ebooks?
Programming

Flawed Online Tutorials Led To Vulnerabilities In Software (helpnetsecurity.com) 96

An anonymous reader quotes Help Net Security: Researchers from several German universities have checked the PHP codebases of over 64,000 projects on GitHub, and found 117 vulnerabilities that they believe have been introduced through the use of code from popular but insufficiently reviewed tutorials. The researchers identified popular tutorials by inputting search terms such as "mysql tutorial", "php search form", "javascript echo user input", etc. into Google Search. The first five results for each query were then manually reviewed and evaluated for SQLi and XSS vulnerabilities by following the Open Web Application Security Project's Guidelines. This resulted in the discovery of 9 tutorials containing vulnerable code (6 with SQLi, 3 with XSS).
The researchers then checked for the code in GitHub repositories, and concluded that "there is a substantial, if not causal, link between insecure tutorials and web application vulnerabilities." Their paper is titled "Leveraging Flawed Tutorials for Seeding Large-Scale Web Vulnerability Discovery."
America Online

Verizon.net 'Gets Out Of The Email Business' (networkworld.com) 73

"We have decided to close down our email business," Verizon has announced -- in a move which affects 4.5 million accounts. Slashdot reader tomservo84 writes: Strangely enough, I didn't find out about this from Verizon, itself, but SiriusXM, who sent me an email saying that since I have a Verizon.net email address on file, I'd have to update it because they were getting rid of their email service. I thought it was a bad phishing attempt at first...
Network World reports that customers are being notified "on a rolling basis... Once customers are notified, they are presented with a personal take-action date that is 30 days from the original notification." But even after that date, verizon.net email addresses can be revived using AOL Mail. "Over the years we've realized that there are more capable email platforms out there," Verizon concedes.

"Migration is going well," a Verizon spokesperson told Network World. "I don't have any stats to share, but customers seem to appreciate that they have several choices, including an option that keeps their Verizon.net email address intact."
Medicine

88% Of Medical 'Second Opinions' Give A Different Diagnosis - And So Do Some AI (mayoclinic.org) 74

First, "A new study finds that nearly 9 in 10 people who go for a second opinion after seeing a doctor are likely to leave with a refined or new diagnosis from what they were first told," according to an article shared by Slashdot reader schwit1: Researchers at the Mayo Clinic examined 286 patient records of individuals who had decided to consult a second opinion, hoping to determine whether being referred to a second specialist impacted one's likelihood of receiving an accurate diagnosis. The study, conducted using records of patients referred to the Mayo Clinic's General Internal Medicine Division over a two-year period, ultimately found that when consulting a second opinion, the physician only confirmed the original diagnosis 12 percent of the time. Among those with updated diagnoses, 66% received a refined or redefined diagnosis, while 21% were diagnosed with something completely different than what their first physician concluded.
But in a related story, Slashdot reader sciencehabit writes that four machine-learning algorithms all performed better than currently-used algorithm of the American College of Cardiology, according to newly-published research, which concludes that "machine-learning significantly improves accuracy of cardiovascular risk prediction, increasing the number of patients identified who could benefit from preventive treatment, while avoiding unnecessary treatment of others."

"I can't stress enough how important it is," one Stanford vascular surgeon told Science magazine, "and how much I really hope that doctors start to embrace the use of artificial intelligence to assist us in care of patients."

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