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GNOME 3.24 released

LWN Headlines -

The GNOME Project has announced the release of GNOME 3.24, "Portland". "This release is the result of 6 months’ hard work by the GNOME community. It contains major new features such as night light, as well as many smaller improvements and bug fixes. GNOME's existing applications have been improved and there is also a new Recipes app. Improvements to our platform include refined notifications and several revamped settings panels."

Google Contemplating Removing Chrome 'Close Other Tabs' and 'Close Tabs to the Right' Options

Slashdot -

An anonymous reader shares a report: Chrome engineers are planning to remove two options from Chrome that allow users to quickly close a large number of tabs with just a few clicks. The options, named "Close other tabs" and "Close tabs to the right" reside in the menu that appears when a user right-clicks on a Chrome tab. According to an issue on the Chromium project spotted yesterday by a Reddit user, Google engineers planned to remove to menu options for many years even before opening the Chromium issue, dated itself to July 31, 2015. After several years of inactivity and no decision, things started to move again in September 2016, when usage statistics confirmed that Chrome users rarely used the two options they initially wanted to remove. Seeing no new discussions past this point, Chromium engineers assigned the issue in February, meaning engineers are getting ready to remove the two menu options it in future Chromium builds.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Acquia Developer Center Blog: 254: Mumbai Memories - meet Rakesh James

Drupal Planet -

My trusty microphone, camera, and I recorded a few great conversations at DrupalCon in Mumbai that have never been released until now. Today, a conversation with Rakesh James, who credits Dries for giving him a way to live and support his family with Drupal. Rakesh is an extraordinary and generous person; he's personally paid that forward, giving others in India the chance to change their lives, too, by teaching hundreds of people Drupal and giving them a shot at a career, too. He's also a top 30 contributor to Drupal 8 core.

Rakesh told me about the moment he both discovered and fell in love with Drupal. His manager gave him permission to check out Drupal for a project, "I started it with Drupal 5. I got a big error. My senior [colleague] said I could post on Drupal.org because he was sitting far away and could not debug for me. I posted the error ... After one hour somebody from the community replied that it would be better if you started with Drupal 6. That was amazing. If you post it, somebody from the [other side] of the planet replied to me, 'You should do this.' From that amazing [moment] till now, I have that feeling. All the time when you go to the community and post something, you'll be getting the right answer. In an hour's time. That is so amazing."

"I feel like when I have gotten something, I should give back to others who are struggling. If they have a little education, know how to play with the computer, I should teach them Drupal. That is the best way of doing it. I spread the word because I got something. The people are around, this magic should be with them also ... So they will have a better life. They'll have a better salary. It's a better way to do that; teach the kids in pre-university colleges. We should teach them. I volunteer my time for that. Two Saturdays a month, we go out to the colleges. Every first Saturday, we have a community meet-up; the other Saturday we go to a college and teach them Drupal."

If you have any doubts about Rakesh's sincerity in all this, watch how moved he is in the video from about 10:30 to 11:50 :-)

DrupalCon Asia Mumbai 2016 was almost exactly a year ago now. Of all the conferences I have been to, Mumbai was probably my favorite. I met an incredible, active, enthusiastic Drupal community that welcomed everyone with open arms, incredible food (!), and a LOT of selfies :-)

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Firefox for Linux is Now Netflix Compatible

Slashdot -

Brian Fagioli, writing for BetaNews: For a while, Netflix was not available for traditional Linux-based operating systems, meaning users were unable to enjoy the popular streaming service without booting into Windows. This was due to the company's reliance on Microsoft Silverlight. Since then, Netflix adopted HTML5, and it made Google Chrome and Chromium for Linux capable of playing the videos. Unfortunately, Firefox -- the open source browser choice for many Linux users -- was not compatible. Today this changes, however, as Mozilla's offering is now compatible with Netflix!

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Performance Bugs, 'the Dark Matter of Programming Bugs', Are Out There Lurking and Unseen

Slashdot -

Several Slashdot readers have shared an article by programmer Nicholas Chapman, who talks about a class of bugs that he calls "performance bugs". From the article: A performance bug is when the code computes the correct result, but runs slower than it should due to a programming mistake. The nefarious thing about performance bugs is that the user may never know they are there -- the program appears to work correctly, carrying out the correct operations, showing the right thing on the screen or printing the right text. It just does it a bit more slowly than it should have. It takes an experienced programmer, with a reasonably accurate mental model of the problem and the correct solution, to know how fast the operation should have been performed, and hence if the program is running slower than it should be. I started documenting a few of the performance bugs I came across a few months ago, for example (on some platforms) the insert method of std::map is roughly 7 times slower than it should be, std::map::count() is about twice as slow as it should be, std::map::find() is 15% slower than it should be, aligned malloc is a lot slower than it should be in VS2015.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

No, We Probably Don't Live in a Computer Simulation, Says Physicist

Slashdot -

Science doesn't have all the answers. There are plenty of things it may never prove, like whether there's a God. Or whether we're living in a computer simulation, something proposed by Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom. From an article on Gizmodo: This kind of thinking made at least one person angry, theoretical physicist and science writer Sabine Hossenfelder from the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies in Germany. Last week, she took to her blog Backreactions to vent. It's not the statement "we're living in a simulation" that upsets Hossenfelder. It's the fact that philosophers are making assertions that, if true, should most certainly manifest themselves in our laws of physics. "I'm not saying it's impossible," Hossenfelder told Gizmodo. "But I want to see some backup for this claim." Backup to prove such a claim would require a lot of work and a lot of math, enough to solve some of the most complex problems in theoretical physics.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Patents Are A Big Part Of Why We Can't Own Nice Things

Slashdot -

An anonymous reader shares an EFF article: Today, the Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that could allow companies to keep a dead hand of control over their products, even after you buy them. The case, Impression Products v. Lexmark International, is on appeal from the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, who last year affirmed its own precedent allowing patent holders to restrict how consumers can use the products they buy. That decision, and the precedent it relied on, departs from long established legal rules that safeguard consumers and enable innovation. When you buy something physical -- a toaster, a book, or a printer, for example -- you expect to be free to use it as you see fit: to adapt it to suit your needs, fix it when it breaks, re-use it, lend it, sell it, or give it away when you're done with it. Your freedom to do those things is a necessary aspect of your ownership of those objects. If you can't do them, because the seller or manufacturer has imposed restrictions or limitations on your use of the product, then you don't really own them. Traditionally, the law safeguards these freedoms by discouraging sellers from imposing certain conditions or restrictions on the sale of goods and property, and limiting the circumstances in which those restrictions may be imposed by contract. But some companies are relentless in their quest to circumvent and undermine these protections. They want to control what end users of their products can do with the stuff they ostensibly own, by attaching restrictions and conditions on purchasers, locking down their products, and locking you (along with competitors and researchers) out. If they can do that through patent law, rather than ordinary contract, it would mean they could evade legal limits on contracts, and that any one using a product in violation of those restrictions (whether a consumer or competitor) could face harsh penalties for patent infringement.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

[$] Unaddressable device memory

LWN Headlines -

In a morning plenary session on the first day of the 2017 Linux Storage, Filesystem, and Memory-Management Summit, Jérôme Glisse led a discussion on memory that cannot be addressed by the CPU because it lives in devices like GPUs or FPGAs. There is often a substantial pile of memory on these devices and it can be accessed much more quickly by the devices than the system RAM can be. Making it easier for user-space programmers to use that memory transparently is the goal of the heterogeneous memory management (HMM) patches that Glisse has been working on.

Amazon To Expand Counterfeit Removal Program in Overture To Sellers

Slashdot -

Amazon.com is expanding a program to remove counterfeit goods from its website this spring as part of a broader push to assure brand owners that the online retailer is an ally rather than a threat. From a report: As early as next month, any brand can register its logo and intellectual property with Amazon so the e-commerce company can take down listings and potentially seller accounts when counterfeits are flagged, Peter Faricy, vice president of Amazon Marketplace, said in an interview on Monday. The so-called brand registry, which had been in a test phase, will be widely available for free in North America, Faricy said ahead of his presentation at the Shoptalk commerce conference in Las Vegas.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Garrett: A new Shim review process

LWN Headlines -

Matthew Garrett announces a new, hopefully more efficient process for reviewing bootloaders to be used with Shim in UEFI secure boot systems. "To that end, we're adopting a new model. A mailing list has been created at shim-review@lists.freedesktop.org, and members of this list will review submissions and provide a recommendation to Microsoft on whether these should be signed or not."

Reddit To Transform Into a Social Network With New Profile Pages

Slashdot -

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Digital Journal: Reddit has announced it has begun trialling a radical new profile page design that's reminiscent of Facebook and Twitter. It will evolve the discussion board site towards being a social network by enabling users to post directly to their new profile page. At present, posts on Reddit have to be directed into a specific sub-Reddit community. You can't simply write a post and have it appear across the network which can make it difficult to get your voice heard. Unless you've got some reputation in a relevant sub-Reddit, your posts may end up going unnoticed. That could soon change. Last night, Reddit announced it's working on a drastic revision of its user profile page experience. The site has commenced testing of an early version of the design. According to a report from Reuters, just three "high-profile" users currently have access to the feature. When the new pages are eventually opened up to all, they'll showcase the user's profile picture and description. Below the header, posts from the user will be publicly displayed. The user will be able to add new posts to their page, without submitting to a sub-Reddit. Users will be able to follow each other to stay informed of new posts, effectively creating a social network atmosphere above the discussion boards.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Mediacurrent: Using Normalizers to Alter REST JSON Structure in Drupal 8

Drupal Planet -

Overview

Drupal 8 core provides for solid REST capabilities out-of-the-box, which is great for integrating with a web service or allowing a third-party application to consume content. However, the REST output provided by Drupal core is in a certain structure that may not necessarily satisfy the requirements as per the structure the consuming application expects.

In comes normalizers that will help us alter the REST response to our liking. For this example, we will be looking at altering the JSON response for node entities.
 

Janez Urevc: Get ready for the Media workshop at Drupal dev days Seville

Drupal Planet -

Get ready for the Media workshop at Drupal dev days Seville slashrsm Wed, 22.03.2017 - 12:43

Tomorrow I'll be giving a workshop about the Drupal 8 media. As part of it we'll build a "media" site from scratch. We will start with the standard Drupal installation, add modules and configuration and see how far we can get.

If you are planning to attend the workshop and want to be fully productive I'd ask you to take some time and prepare your development environment. We will need Drupal 8 checkout with the following modules:

Besides that we'll also need Dropzone and Slick libraries, which you can install based on the docs provided in the README files of the respective modules ([1], [2]).

You can download all dependencies manually or use the project template that I provided for you. Simply clone the repository and run composer install in the project root.

Enjoyed this post? There is more! Want to learn Entity browser? Possible solution for knowledge sharing in the Drupal 8 media domain Call for Drupal 8 media ecosystem co-maintainers

CodeSOD: Dictionary Definition of a Loop

The Daily WTF -

Ah, the grand old Dictionary/Map structure. It’s so useful, languages like Python secretly implement most of their objects using it, and JavaScript objects imitate it. One of its powers is that it allows you to create a sparse array, indexed by any data type you want to index it by.

Catherine’s cow-orker certainly thought this was pretty great, so they went ahead on and used the Dictionary to map interest rates to years. Years, for this application, were not tracked as actual years, but relative to an agreed upon “year zero”- the first year of the company’s operation. There was a new annual interest rate tracked for each year since.

If you’re saying to yourself, “wait… this sounds like a use case for arrays…”, you’re onto something. Pity you didn’t work with Catherine. You probably wouldn’t have left this behind:

private static double FindInterestRate(int operationYear, Dictionary<int, double> yearToInterestRates) //where 0 is the first year { if (operationYear < 0) return 0; else { for(int i = 1; i < yearToInterestRates.Count; i++) { if (operationYear < yearToInterestRates.ElementAt(i).Key - 1) return yearToInterestRates.ElementAt(i - 1).Value; } return yearToInterestRates.Last().Value; } }

Now, even if you don’t know C#, this is obviously pretty bad, but it’s actually worse than you think. Let’s talk for a minute about the ElementAt method. Accessing a key in a dictionary is an O(1) operation, but that’s not what ElementAt does. ElementAt finds elements by indexes, essentially treating this Dictionary like an array. And how does ElementAt actually find elements in a non-linear structure? By iterating, meaning ElementAt is an O(n) operation, making this loop O(n2).

Remember, our goal, is to find a specific index in an array. Compare the efficiency.

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Why American Farmers Are Hacking Their Tractors With Ukrainian Firmware

Slashdot -

Tractor owners across the country are reportedly hacking their John Deere tractors using firmware that's cracked in Easter Europe and traded on invite-only, paid online forums. The reason is because John Deere and other manufacturers have "made it impossible to perform 'unauthorized' repair on farm equipment," which has obviously upset many farmers who see it "as an attack on their sovereignty and quite possibly an existential threat to their livelihood if their tractor breaks at an inopportune time," reports Jason Koebler via Motherboard. As is the case with most modern-day engineering vehicles, the mechanical problems experienced with the newer farming tractors are often remedied via software. From the report: The nightmare scenario, and a fear I heard expressed over and over again in talking with farmers, is that John Deere could remotely shut down a tractor and there wouldn't be anything a farmer could do about it. A license agreement John Deere required farmers to sign in October forbids nearly all repair and modification to farming equipment, and prevents farmers from suing for "crop loss, lost profits, loss of goodwill, loss of use of equipment [...] arising from the performance or non-performance of any aspect of the software." The agreement applies to anyone who turns the key or otherwise uses a John Deere tractor with embedded software. It means that only John Deere dealerships and "authorized" repair shops can work on newer tractors. "If a farmer bought the tractor, he should be able to do whatever he wants with it," Kevin Kenney, a farmer and right-to-repair advocate in Nebraska, told me. "You want to replace a transmission and you take it to an independent mechanic -- he can put in the new transmission but the tractor can't drive out of the shop. Deere charges $230, plus $130 an hour for a technician to drive out and plug a connector into their USB port to authorize the part." "What you've got is technicians running around here with cracked Ukrainian John Deere software that they bought off the black market," he added.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

A New Definition Would Add 102 Planets To Our Solar System -- Including Pluto

Slashdot -

The Grim Reefer quotes a report from The Washington Post: Is Pluto a planet? It's not a question scientists ask in polite company. "It's like religion and politics," said Kirby Runyon, a planetary scientist at Johns Hopkins University. "People get worked up over it. I've gotten worked up over it." For years, astronomers, planetary scientists and other space researchers have fought about what to call the small, icy world at the edge of our solar system. Is it a planet, as scientists believed for nearly seven decades? Or must a planet be something bigger, something more dominant, as was decided by vote at the International Astronomical Union (IAU) in 2006? The issue can bring conversations to a screeching halt, or turn them into shouting matches. "Sometimes," Runyon said, "it's just easier not to bring it up." But Runyon will ignore his own advice this week when he attends the annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Houston. In a giant exhibit hall crowded with his colleagues, he's attempting to reignite the debate about Pluto's status with an audacious new definition for planet -- one that includes not just Pluto, but several of its neighbors, objects in the asteroid belt, and a number of moons. By his count, 102 new planets could be added to our solar system under the new criteria. USA Today reports: "In the mind of the public, the word 'planet' carries a significance lacking in other words used to describe planetary bodies," the proposal states. "In the decade following the supposed 'demotion' of Pluto by the International Astronomical Union, many members of the public, in our experience, assume that alleged 'non-planets' cease to be interesting enough to warrant scientific exploration."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Satellite Navigation 'Switches Off' Parts of Brain Used For Navigation, Study Finds

Slashdot -

A new study published today in the journal Nature Communications reveals some of the drawbacks of using satellite navigation (SatNav) technology. After scanning the brains of 24 volunteers as they explored a simulation through the streets of London's Soho district, researchers from the University of London found that listening to a satellite navigation's instructions "switches off" activity in parts of the brain used for navigation. Scientific American reports: The researchers found that a brain structure called the hippocampus, which is involved in both memory and spatial navigation, appears to encode two different maps of the environment: One tracks the distance to the final destination as the crow flies and is encoded by the frontal region of the hippocampus, the other tracks the "true path" to the goal and is encoded by its rear region. During the navigation tasks, the hippocampus acts like a flexible guidance system, flipping between these two maps according to changing demands. Activity in the hippocampal rear region acts like a homing signal, increasing as the goal gets closer. Analysis of the brain-scanning data revealed activity in the rear right of the hippocampus increased whenever the participants entered a new street while navigating. It also varied with the number of new path options available. The more alternatives there were, the greater the brain activity. The researchers also found that activity in the front of the hippocampus was associated with a property called centrality, defined by the proximity of each new street to the center of the network. Further, they observed activity in the participants' prefrontal cortices when they were forced to make a detour and had to replan their route -- and this, too, increased in relation to the number of options available. Intriguingly, when participants followed SatNav instructions, however, brain activity in these regions "switched off." Together, the new findings suggest the rear portion of the hippocampus reactivates spatial memories of possible navigation paths, with more available paths evoking more activity, and that the prefrontal cortex may contribute to path-planning by searching though different route options and selecting the best one.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Spider Venom Might Protect Us From Deadly Strokes

Slashdot -

New submitter evolutionary writes: Apparently the Australian funnel-web spider's venom has amazing properties, if you can use it within 4.5 hours. From a report via Ars Technica: "Venom from the Australian funnel-web spider (Hadronyche infensa) contains a chemical that shuts down an ion channel known to malfunction in brain cells after strokes, researchers report Monday in PNAS. In cell experiments, the harmless chemical protected brain cells from a toxic flood of ions unleashed after a stroke strikes. In rats, the venom component markedly protected the rats' brains from extensive damage -- even when it was given hours after a stroke occurred. Researchers have years, if not decades, of work to figure out if their particular venom is safe and effective in humans. And very few potential therapies make the cut. But, this early study gives us reason to be somewhat optimistic: it follows years of research and hypotheses that such venom components and their ion channel-targets could be key to new stroke treatments -- which are desperately needed. The vast majority of strokes involve a blockage that stops or slows the flow of blood into an area of the brain (other strokes can be caused by hemorrhages.) This leaves brain cells without fresh blood and oxygen. To cope, the cells can switch to metabolic pathways that don't rely on oxygen. But this creates acidic conditions, and the pH outside of brain cells starts dropping fast -- a scenario called acidosis. In the acidic, oxygen-starved brain regions, brain cells become damaged and start dying off, causing irreparable damage. The only drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat these types of strokes tries to restore blood flow by breaking up clots. But this drug is only used in about three to four percent of stroke victims because it has to be used within 4.5 hours of the stroke. It also comes with the risk of causing hemorrhages."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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