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Open Source

Node.js's npm Is Now The Largest Package Registry in the World (linux.com) 133

Linux.com highlights some interesting statistics about npm, the package manager for Node.js.
  • "At over 350,000 packages, the npm registry contains more than double the next most populated package registry (which is the Apache Maven repository). In fact, it is currently the largest package registry in the world."
  • In the preceding four weeks, users installed 18 billion packages.
  • This translates into 6 billion downloads, "because approximately 66 percent of the installs are now being served from the cache."
  • ping.npmjs.com "shows that the registry's services offer a 99.999 uptime."
  • Every week roughly 160 people publish their first package in the registry

But what about the incident last year where a developer suddenly pulled all their modules and broke thousands of dependent projects? npm's Ashley Williams "admitted that the left-pad debacle happened because of naive policies at npm. Since, the npm team have devised new policies, the main one being that you are only allowed to unpublish a package within 24 hours of publishing it." And their new dissociate and deprecate policy allows developers to mark packages as "unmaintained" without erasing them from the registry.


Android

Android Users Are So Committed that Exploding Note 7 Did Little To Help Apple: NPD (appleinsider.com) 191

An anonymous reader writes: Like loyalty to a political party or hometown sports team, smartphone users are extremely passionate about their choices -- a commitment that led many customers to stick with Samsung, despite the disaster of its downright dangerous Galaxy Note 7. Earlier this week, mobile analytics firm Flurry published data from the holiday season, showing that Apple saw twice as many device activations as rival Samsung. Despite Apple's continued commanding lead in holiday sales of smartphones and tablets, however, the numbers suggested Apple's share was lower and Samsung's was slightly higher from last year. Attempting to explain the trends shown in the data, NPD analyst Stephen Baker told The Wall Street Journal he believes that Android loyalists are committed, and even dangerous exploding batteries in the Galaxy Note 7 were not enough to push significant numbers of customers over to the iPhone. "Most of those who bought or wanted to buy a Note 7 opted for a different high-end Galaxy phone," Baker said.
Medicine

Are Psychiatric Medications Hurting More Patients Than They Help? (scientificamerican.com) 432

An anonymous reader quotes Scientific American's Cross-Check blog: Two new posts on this website have me contemplating, once again, the terrible possibility that psychiatry is hurting more people than it helps. Reporter Sarah G. Miller notes in "1 in 6 Americans Takes a Psychiatric Drug" that prescriptions for mental illness keep surging. As of 2013, almost 17 percent of Americans were taking at least one psychiatric drug, up from 10 percent in 2011, according to a new study. "Antidepressants were the most common type of psychiatric drug in the survey, with 12 percent of adults reporting that they filled prescriptions for these drugs..."

This increase in medications must be boosting our mental health, right? Wrong. In "Is Mental Health Declining in the U.S.?," Edmund S. Higgins, professor of psychiatry at the Medical University of South Carolina, acknowledges the "inconvenient truth" that Americans' mental health has, according to some measures, deteriorated...

It's all more evidence of something their blogger wrote in 2012. "American psychiatry, in collusion with the pharmaceutical industry, may be perpetrating the biggest case of iatrogenesis -- harmful medical treatment -- in history."
Government

NSA's Best Are 'Leaving In Big Numbers,' Insiders Say (cyberscoop.com) 412

schwit1 quotes CyberScoop: Low morale at the National Security Agency is causing some of the agency's most talented people to leave in favor of private sector jobs, former NSA Director Keith Alexander told a room full of journalism students, professors and cybersecurity executives Tuesday. The retired general and other insiders say a combination of economic and social factors including negative press coverage -- have played a part... "I am honestly surprised that some of these people in cyber companies make up to seven figures. That's five times what the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff makes. Right? And these are people that are 32 years old. Do the math. [The NSA] has great competition," he said.

The rate at which these cyber-tacticians are exiting public service has increased over the last several years and has gotten considerably worse over the last 12 months, multiple former NSA officials and D.C. area-based cybersecurity employers have told CyberScoop in recent weeks... In large part, Alexander blamed the press for propagating an image of the NSA that causes people to believe they are being spied on at all times by the U.S. government regardless of their independent actions.

"What really bothers me is that the people of NSA, these folks who take paltry government salaries to protect this nation, are made to look like they are doing something wrong," the former NSA Director added. "They are doing exactly what our nation has asked them to do to protect us. They are the heroes."
Businesses

Inside Peter Thiel's Genius Factory (backchannel.com) 165

In 2011 the Thiel Fellowship "was created to prove that a college degree doesn't matter," writes Backchannel, saying it's now evolved into something much more Silicon Valley. mirandakatz quotes their article: What began as an attempt to draw teen prodigies to the Valley before they racked up debt at Princeton or Harvard and went into consulting to pay it off has transformed into the most prestigious network for young entrepreneurs in existence -- a pedigree that virtually guarantees your ideas will be judged good, investors will take your call, and there will always be another job ahead even better than the one you have.
This year's class are all established entrepreneurs -- some of whom have already graduated from college, according to the article, although having at least "stopped out" at some point remains a requirement for the program. "It's offensive, the way people ask about it," one fellow tells the reporter, who summarized his belief that "To go back [to Stanford] would imply personal failure. Why would he ever do that? He had his network started already, and clearly the opportunities came through the network... This network, he contended, was far more valuable than any he could build in college -- even at Stanford."
Businesses

Why MakerBot Didn't Kickstart A 3D Printing Revolution (backchannel.com) 274

Bre PettisâS once said MakerBot gave you a superpower -- "You can make anything you need." But four years later, mirandakatz writes that though MakerBot promised to revolutionize society, "That never happened." At Backchannel, Andrew Zaleski has the definitive, investigative account of why the 3D printing revolution hasn't yet come to pass, culled from interviews with industry observers, current MakerBot leadership, and a dozen former MakerBot employees. As he tells it, "In the span of a few years, MakerBot had to pull off two very different coups. It had to introduce millions of people to the wonders of 3D printing, and then convince them to shell out more than $1,000 for a machine. It also had to develop the technology fast enough to keep its customers happy. Those two tasks were too much for the fledgling company."
United States

Ransomware Compromises San Francisco's Mass Transit System (cbslocal.com) 141

Buses and light rail cars make San Francisco's "Muni" fleet the seventh largest mass transit system in America. But yesterday its arrival-time screens just displayed the message "You Hacked, ALL Data Encrypted" -- and all the rides were free, according to a local CBS report shared by RAYinNYC: Inside sources say the system has been hacked for days. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has officially confirmed the hack, but says it has not affected any service... The hack affects employees, as well. According to sources, SFMTA workers are not sure if they will get paid this week. Cyber attackers also hit Muni's email systems.
Though the article claims "The transit agency has no idea who is behind it, or what the hackers are demanding in return," Business Insider reports "The attack seems to be an example of ransomware, where a computer system is taken over and the users are locked out until a certain amount of money is sent to the attacker." In addition, they're reporting the attack "reportedly included an email address where Muni officials could ask for the key to unlock its systems."

One San Francisco local told CBS, "I think it is terrifying. I really do I think if they can start doing this here, we're not safe anywhere."
Network

Apple Abandons Development of Wireless Routers, To Focus On Products That Return More Profit (bloomberg.com) 238

Apple has disbanded its division that develops wireless routers in a move that further sharpens the company's focus on consumer products that generate the bulk of its revenue, Bloomberg reports. From the article:Apple began shutting down the wireless router team over the past year, dispersing engineers to other product development groups, including the one handling the Apple TV. Apple hasn't refreshed its routers since 2013 following years of frequent updates to match new standards from the wireless industry. The decision to disband the team indicates the company isn't currently pushing forward with new versions of its routers. Routers are access points that connect laptops, iPhones and other devices to the web without a cable. Apple currently sells three wireless routers, the AirPort Express, AirPort Extreme, and AirPort Time capsule. The Time capsule doubles as a backup storage hard drive for Mac computers.

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