Python Overtakes Java in New Language Popularity Ranking, As Rust Reaches Top 20
"Programming language Python is now firmly the second most popular programming language, for the first time
knocking Java out of the top two places in RedMonk's language popularity rankings," reports ZDNet:
RedMonk's influential programming popularity rankings are based on GitHub and Stack Overflow data. The company combines them "for a ranking that attempts to reflect both code (GitHub) and discussion (Stack Overflow) traction", says RedMonk analyst Stephen O'Grady, who notes "all numerical rankings should be taken with a grain of salt....
Five-year-old systems-programming language Rust, created by Mozilla, has hit a more positive milestone, for the first time becoming the 20th most popular language in RedMonk's rankings.
Last week IEEE Spectrum also declared
NASA Astronauts Are Undocking SpaceX's Crew Dragon from ISS, Returning to Earth
"NASA and SpaceX are
going ahead with plans to bring NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken home from the International Space Station for a splashdown this weekend, even though Hurricane Isaias is heading for Florida's Atlantic coast," reports GeekWire.
"Fortunately, SpaceX's Dragon capsule is heading for waters off Florida's
NASA said weather conditions are all systems go for the targeted site in the Gulf of Mexico, close to Pensacola, as well as for an alternate site off the coast of Panama City, Fla. That opened the way for preparations to proceed for the Dragon Endeavour to undock at 7:34 p.m. ET (4:34 p.m. PT) today, with a splashdown set for 2:41 p.m. ET (11:41 a.m. PT) Sunday.
The plan could be adjusted, before or after the docking, if the weather forecast changes. NASA and SpaceX had made plans for seven potential splashdown targets, but due to Isaias' strength, NASA concentrated on the westernmost sites.
Live coverage has begun online, and will continue for the next 19 hours.
Tomorrow's splashdown "will mark the first return of a commercially built and operated U.S. spacecraft from orbit," reports GeekWire, "and the first at-sea return of U.S. astronauts since the topsy-turvy splashdown of NASA's Apollo-Soyuz crew in 1975..."
"The next SpaceX Crew Dragon launch to the space station is scheduled for as early as next month. And Bob Behnken's wife, NASA astronaut Megan McArthur, is due to be part of a Dragon crew heading for the station next spring."
YouTube Criticized For Ending Its Community Captions Feature
Long-time Slashdot reader
xonen quotes the Verge:
YouTube plans to discontinue its community captions feature, which allowed viewers to add subtitles to videos, because it was "rarely used and had problems with spam/abuse," the company announced. It says it's removing the captions and will "focus on other creator tools." The feature will be removed as of September 28th.
"You can still use your own captions, automatic captions and third-party tools and services," YouTube said in an update on its help page. But deaf and hard-of-hearing creators say removing the community captions feature will stifle accessibility, and they want to see the company try to fix the issues with volunteer-created captions, rather than doing away with them entirely. Deaf YouTuber Rikki Poynter said on her channel in May that community captions were an "accessibility tool that not only allowed deaf and hard of hearing people to watch videos with captions, but allowed creators that could not afford to financially invest in captions." She tweeted Thursday that she was disappointed with YouTube's decision.
YouTuber JT, whose channel has more than 550,000 subscribers, highlighted the downside of the community captions feature last year, showing how viewers were adding abusive comments to videos by popular creators. But many creators say they relied on the captions not only to better reach deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers, but to help translate their videos into other languages, giving them a larger audience.
YouTube is offering a free six-month subscription to a subtitling service for regular users of the community contribution feature — but not everyone is satisfied, according to the Verge. A
petition calling on Google to reverse the decision has now garnered more than 155,000 signatures.
Pre-Clinical Test of Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Shows It Protected Monkeys from Covid-19
"Johnson & Johnson's
experimental coronavirus vaccine protected macaque monkeys with a single shot in a pre-clinical study, potentially gaining on other vaccines that are further along in testing but require two doses over time," reports Bloomberg:
Five of six primates exposed to the pandemic-causing pathogen were immune after a single injection. The exception showed low levels of the virus, according to a study published in the medical journal Nature...
The health-care behemoth kick-started human trials on July 22 in Belgium and in the U.S. earlier this week. Although other vaccine-makers have moved more quickly into development, with AstraZeneca having already administered its experimental vaccine to almost 10,000 people in the U.K., gaining protection with a single dose could prove an advantage in the logistical challenge of rolling out massive vaccination programs worldwide.... The primate data show that the coronavirus vaccine candidate generated a strong antibody response, and provided protection with only a single dose, said Paul Stoffels, the drugmaker's chief scientific officer.
J&J aims to embark on the last phase of tests in September, compressing the traditional timeline as it races against others including AstraZeneca, Moderna Inc., Pfizer Inc. and GlaxoSmithKline Plc for a shot to end the pandemic.... The New Brunswick, New Jersey-based drugmaker will test both a one-dose coronavirus shot, and a shot coupled with a booster in its early-stage studies of more than 1,000 adults, which launched this month.
Spacecraft Made From Ultra Thin Foam Could Reach Proxima Centauri In 185 Years
An anonymous reader quotes Newsweek:
A hypothetical spacecraft made from an extremely thin layer of a synthetic foam could technically make it to our closest neighboring star Proxima Centauri in just 185 years, scientists have said. If Voyager were to make the same journey, it would take around 73,000 years, according to NASA.
In a study that is due to be published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, René Heller from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Germany, and colleagues, propose the spacecraft as a precursor to interstellar travel — beyond our own solar system. They estimate a prototype would cost around $1 million, while the launch of an interplanetary mission would be around $10 million.
The spacecraft would be made from aerographite. This is a carbon-based foam that is around 15,000 times more lightweight than aluminium. It is versatile and light enough that it could be used to create solar sails — "which harness energy from the sun for propulsion, a process called solar photon pressure... In most cases, photons would have little impact on an object. But if the target is an ultralight material, such as aerographite, then the target can actually be pushed to significant speed," he said.
"We found out that a thin layer of aerographite, with a thickness of about 1 millimeter (0.04 inches), can be pushed to speeds that are sufficiently high to let it escape the solar system. Once it has gained an initial push from the solar radiation pressure, it will simply float through space...."
Heller said these spacecraft could travel far faster than any probe ever sent by humans before.
Attention Rogue Drone Pilots: AI Can See You
The minute details of rogue drone's movements in the air may unwittingly reveal the drone pilot's location — possibly enabling authorities to bring the drone down before, say, it has the opportunity to disrupt air traffic or cause an accident. And it's possible without requiring expensive arrays of radio triangulation and signal-location antennas. So says a team of Israeli researchers who have trained an AI drone-tracking algorithm to reveal the drone operator's whereabouts, with a better than 80% accuracy level. They are now investigating whether the algorithm can also uncover the pilot's level of expertise and even possibly their identity...
Depending on the specific terrain at any given airport, a pilot operating a drone near a camouflaging patch of forest, for instance, might have an unobstructed view of the runway. But that location might also be a long distance away, possibly making the operator more prone to errors in precise tracking of the drone. Whereas a pilot operating nearer to the runway may not make those same tracking errors but may also have to contend with big blind spots because of their proximity to, say, a parking garage or control tower. And in every case, he said, simple geometry could begin to reveal important clues about a pilot's location, too. When a drone is far enough away, motion along a pilot's line of sight can be harder for the pilot to detect than motion perpendicular to their line of sight. This also could become a significant factor in an AI algorithm working to discover pilot location from a particular drone flight pattern.
The sum total of these various terrain-specific and terrain-agnostic effects, then, could be a giant finger pointing to the operator.
Google Threatens to Remove All Danish Music From YouTube
YouTube is "
embroiled in a very public spat with songwriters and music publishers in Denmark," according to one music-industry news site. They cite Koda, the group that collects royalties and licensing fees for musicians, as saying that YouTube is now threatening to remove
all music written by Danish songwriters:
The cause of this threat is a disagreement between the two parties over the remuneration of songwriters and publishers in the market. YouTube and Koda's last multi-year licensing deal expired in April. Since then, the two parties have been operating under a temporary license agreement... In a statement to media Friday (July 31), Koda claims YouTube is insisting that — in order to extend its temporary deal in Denmark — Koda must now agree to a near-70% reduction in payments to composers and songwriters.
YouTube has fired back at this claim, suggesting that under its existing temporary deal with Koda (which expired Friday), the body "earned back less than half of the guarantee payments" handed over by the service.
Koda says it "cannot accept" YouTube's terms, according to the article, adding that Google and YouTube "have now unilaterally decided that Koda's members cannot have their content shown on YouTube".
The director of YouTube Music, EMEA counters that "They are asking for substantially more than what we pay our other partners," according to the article — which also shares this statement from YouTube. "We take copyright law very seriously."
"As our license expires today and since we have been unable to secure an agreement we will remove identified Koda content from the platform."
Arm China Goes Rogue, Ex-CEO Accused of Blocking the Business
An anonymous reader quotes Bloomberg:
Arm Ltd., the chip designer owned by SoftBank Group Corp., accused the ousted head of its China joint venture of hurting its business there, escalating a dispute that's becoming a test of Beijing's willingness to protect foreign investment in the world's second-largest economy.
The U.K. chip giant in June announced it was firing Allen Wu, the head of its Chinese unit, over undisclosed breaches of conduct, but the executive has refused to step down and remains in control of the strategically important operation. Rather than the peaceful, rapid resolution that both sides have said they want, the situation has deteriorated. Wu has hired his own security and won't let representatives of Arm Ltd. or his board on the premises, said a person familiar with the situation. He's refused to hold a planned event to connect Chinese chipmakers with Arm Ltd. and avoided negotiations despite public statements to the contrary, said the person, who asked not to be named...
Resolving the conflict will be crucial to SoftBank's reported plans to sell Arm, a lynchpin in the global smartphone and computing industry that the Japanese firm bought for $32 billion in 2016.
William English, Engineer Behind 'The Mother of All Demos', Dies at 91
An anonymous reader quotes The Los Angeles Times:
On Dec. 9, 1968, the then-small world of computer engineering was shaken to its core by a presentation of new technologies projected onto a screen in a San Francisco hall. The attendees at the historic event saw demonstrations of video conferencing, the first public use of a computer mouse, hyperlinking in which clicking a word in a document transported the user to an entirely new document — and more. The man who was the star of the hands-on show seen in the hall was Douglas Engelbart, whose team at the research center SRI in Menlo Park, California, had been developing them for years.
But the man who had designed what is known now as "The Mother of All Demos" and was working behind the scenes to make sure they all worked was William K. English, who died Sunday at the age of 91. Bill English played an indispensable role in more than Engelbart's demo... In 1965 the lab received a NASA grant to invent a technology for moving a cursor and selecting an item on a display screen; Engelbart developed the concept, but it was English who designed the first prototype &mdash the mouse...
English essentially choreographed Engelbart's presentation. Just as important, he made sure there were no technical glitches. That was a challenge, since Engelbart would be in San Francisco demonstrating a system that was being operated 30 miles away in Menlo Park, the two sites connected via a microwave relay. The event went off virtually without a hitch, and a new world was born. "Doug wasn't doing it," recalls Roberta, who had worked as Engelbart's secretary. "It was all Bill." Engelbart died in 2013.
English also participated in an early research project "into the psychological effects of LSD," according to the article.
But a few years after the legendary demo, English was recruited for Xerox's legendary Palo Alto Research Center, "where he helped midwife PARC's invention of the personal computer and other innovations... He subsequently left Xerox to join Sun Microsystems and later the pioneering electronic game console maker 3DO."
Is It Possible to Implement Faster Binary Searches?
Last week Slashdot reader
the search for the most efficient sorting algorithm.
Now he's back, touting a
new implementation for binary searches (using the same GitHub repo, and written in 15 to 30 lines of C code) that he says may be "up to 40%" faster for 32-bit integers. ("Keep in mind performance will vary depending on hardware and compiler optimizations.")
The most commonly used binary search variant was first published by Hermann Bottenbruch in 1962 and hasn't notably changed since. Binary searches are one of the corner stones of computer science...
The reason the algorithms are faster appears to be a combination of simpler calculations, branch prediction, and a reduction in cache misses.
Google Victory In German Top Court Over Right To Be Forgotten
Germany's top court handed down its first ruling since the EU's GDPR laws went into effect in mid-2018. The court "
sided with Google and rejected requests to wipe entries from search results," reports German public broadcaster DW (in an article shared by long-time Slashdot reader
The cases hinged on whether the right to be forgotten outweighed the public's right to know...
In the first case, a former managing director of a charity had demanded Google remove links to certain news articles that appeared in searches of his name. The articles from 2011 reported that the charity was in financial trouble and that the manager had called in sick. He later argued in court that information on his personal health issues should not be divulged to the public years later. The court ruled that whether links to critical articles have to be removed from the search list always depends on a comprehensive consideration of fundamental rights in the individual case.
A second case was referred to the European Court of Justice. It concerned two leaders of a financial services company that sought to have links to negative reports about their investment model removed. The couple had argued that the US-based websites, which came up in the searches for their names, were full of fake news and sought to market other financial services providers.
This is the first ruling by Germany's top court since the EU's general data protection regulation came into effect in 2018. It gives EU citizens extensive rights to demand corporations immediately delete personal data.
A New Lyme Disease Vaccine Is Showing Promise
An anonymous reader quotes a report from IFLScience:
Promising results have come out of the only active clinical trial for a vaccine against Lyme disease. Valneva, a French biotech company, recently announced its first Phase 2 clinical trial has shown that its vaccine against Lyme disease is both safe and effective. The vaccine works by triggering the body's immune system to produce antibodies for the six common serotypes of the disease that are found in North America and Europe. It does this by introducing an isolated protein of the pathogen to the body, allowing the immune system to recognize and respond to the surface proteins found on the bacteria responsible for Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdorferi.
Over 570 healthy adults in the US and Europe were given one of two dose levels of the vaccine in three injections, while others were given a placebo as a control. Both groups that received the active dose were found to have produced a significant amount of antibodies against each of the six most prevalent Outer Surface Protein A serotypes of B. burgdorferi. [...] This new potential vaccine, known as VLA15, is currently the only active Lyme disease vaccine in clinical development. Back in 1998, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a Lyme disease vaccine known as LYMErix. It was withdrawn from the market just three years later following doubts over its effectiveness and other contentions. Much of the controversy, however, was often said to have been kicked up by the anti-vaccination movement, which was growing in momentum at the time.
An Amazon Ad Prompted Steve Jobs and Phil Schiller To Block In-App Purchases of Kindle Books On iOS
According to a collection of internal emails recently released by lawmakers, as part of the House Judiciary Committee's antirust probe into Apple, a series of Amazon advertisements
prompted Steve Jobs and Phil Schiller to block in-app purchases of Kindle books on iOS. 9to5Mac reports:
As it stands today, the Kindle app for iPhone and iPad does not allow users to purchase ebooks directly. Users can read the ebooks they've already purchased, but to buy new ones, they have to use Safari. This is Amazon's way of avoiding giving Apple a 30% cut of ebook purchases, which would be required if Amazon sold ebooks directly within the Kindle app itself. What's important to remember is that this sort of arrangement wasn't always the case. Up until early 2011, you could buy Kindle ebooks directly in the Kindle app on iOS. As first uncovered by the Verge, two sets of emails included in the internal documents include conversations between Steve Jobs, Phil Schiller, and other Apple executives regarding this situation.
In one email, Schiller explained that Apple initially made an exception for Amazon because "users would be buying books on a Kindle device and later accessing them on iPhone." As Apple sold more iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches, however, Schiller thought it was time to drop this exception. In fact, what actually prompted Schiller to reinvestigate this situation, according to the emails, is that Amazon ran a series of advertisements on how you could still access your Kindle books if you switched from iPhone to Android or vice versa. [...] These conversations were taking place as Apple was also planning to announce new App Store policies for subscriptions. In his response, Jobs said that Apple could say Amazon "must use our payment system for everything" and say the change was triggered by the new newspapers and magazines subscription policies. "If they want to compare us to Android, let's force them to use our far superior payment system," Jobs wrote.
"It's time for them to use our payment mechanism or bow out," Jobs said in a separate email. In response to an email from Cue, Jobs also emphasized that iBooks would be the only bookstore on iOS devices: "I think this is all pretty simple -- iBooks is going to be the only bookstore on iOS devices. We need to hold our heads high. One can read books bought elsewhere, just not buy/rent/subscribe from iOS without paying us, which we acknowledge is prohibitive for many things."
Amazon To Invest $10 Billion In Space-Based Internet System
Yesterday, the FCC
approved Amazon's plans for its ambitious Kuiper constellation of 3,236 internet-beaming satellites. We have now learned that Amazon
will invest $10 billion into the space-based internet delivery system. From a report:
The U.S. tech giant said on Thursday it is moving forward with its Project Kuiper, one of several systems planned to bring internet to customers without land-based connections. Project Kuiper aims to deliver satellite-based broadband services in the United States, and eventually around the world, and may offer connectively for wireless carriers and 5G networks. Amazon offer no timetable for the project but said it would begin deployment of its 3,236 satellites after the Federal Communications Commission approved the project.
"We have heard so many stories lately about people who are unable to do their job or complete schoolwork because they don't have reliable internet at home," said Amazon senior vice president Dave Limp. "There are still too many places where broadband access is unreliable or where it doesn't exist at all. Kuiper will change that. Our $10 billion investment will create jobs and infrastructure around the United States that will help us close this gap."