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Dropbox Is Rolling Out a Private Network to Speed Up File Access

Slashdot -

Dropbox, the file storage company that last year moved 90 percent of its data out of Amazon Web Services cloud and into its own data centers, is at it again. From a report on Fortune: The San Francisco company is building its own international private network to make sure users abroad can access their files -- most of which reside in those aforementioned Dropbox U.S. data centers -- faster. "What people don't realize about the internet is that it is very 'bursty' and can hit bottlenecks," Akhil Gupta, vice president of engineering at Dropbox tells Fortune. That is why the company is ripping out third-party load balancers and replacing them with its own software running on standard Linux hardware. Insulating itself from the balky internet is also the reason Dropbox is contracting to use its own dedicated fiber cable to carry that traffic. "We want to make user experience as real time as possible since 70 percent of our users are outside the U.S. and most of the data lives in North America," says Dan Williams, Dropbox's head of production engineering. Dropbox still partners with Amazon for customers in some countries, like Germany, which require user data to stay in the country of origin.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

NASA Finds Evidence Of 10 New Earth-sized Planets

Slashdot -

NASA said Monday it has found new evidence of 219 planets outside our Solar System. Ten of those exoplanets appear to be similar to the size of the Earth and orbit their stars in the habitable zone. From a report: The new planets' existence must still be double-checked. But Kepler's latest haul -- which includes a planet that is only slightly larger than Earth and receives the same amount of energy from its sun as Earth -- is the latest triumph for Kepler, which has spotted roughly 80 percent of the planets orbiting stars other than our sun. Because of their potential for hosting life, the 10 Earth-size planets are the most glamorous of the newly announced planets from Kepler. But those 10 were joined by an additional 209 more garden-variety planets that are unlikely to be hospitable to life because they are too gassy, too hot, too cold or otherwise unlike the only known planet to host life: Earth.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Commerce Guys: Drupal Commerce integration with Square payments released

Drupal Planet -

Square's pitch is pretty straightforward: accept payments anywhere, no coding required. They nailed this first through their simple phone based card readers and their slick in-store tablet interface. They also made it easy to process all major credit cards, guaranteeing deposits as soon as the next business day.

They're now rolling out their same great support for merchants online with the steady release of open APIs for eCommerce applications. With our recently released Commerce Square module for Drupal 7 and Drupal 8, you can now pitch Drupal Commerce to existing Square customers in your area.

Thus far we integrate their payment APIs for full checkout and administrative support in Commerce 1.x and 2.x. We're working with Square to integrate new APIs as they become available in pursuit of our vision to enable the turnkey creation of online stores for Square merchants using Drupal Commerce.

Among the module's primary benefits, especially when used in conjunction with Square for retail sales, are:

  • You can sell online, and in person, with all of your sales in one place. Integrating your physical and online retail operations will ultimately simplify the management of your business.
  • Accept all major cards, (including Apple Pay and Android Pay in-store) and pay one simple rate per tap, dip, or swipe. (Note: Square also offers custom rates for qualifying stores processing over $250k annually.)
  • Integration is simple and seamless for Drupal Commerce on both Drupal 7 and Drupal 8. (Look for new features to come into the D8 branch first and be backported, as additional contributed modules may be required to make up for core features that were added in Commerce 2.x.)

Square’s eCommerce API is on the bleeding edge of integration technology, making PCI compliance easy; customer credit card information never touches your website, so you don’t need to worry or complete a single checklist. Each component of the payment method form is an embedded iframe hosted on Square's server and returns a payment token identifier used to capture payment. We actually designed the Commerce 2.x checkout form to treat these types of payment methods as first class citizens, so expect the integration to just work.

Sign up for Square and get free processing on your first $5,000 in sales.

As part of our module launch effort, Square has teamed up with us to offer free processing on your first $5,000 in sales. If you or one of your customers are interested in learning more, review the offer details here and hit us up in the issue queue if you run into any problems!

[$] Preventing stack guard-page hopping

LWN Headlines -

Normally, the -rc6 kernel testing release is not the place where one would expect to find a 900-line memory-management change. As it happens, though, such a change was quietly merged immediately prior to the 4.12-rc6 release; indeed, it may have been the real reason behind 4.12-rc6 coming out some hours later than would have been expected. This change is important, though, in that it addresses a newly publicized security threat that, it seems, is being actively exploited.

'Star Trek: Discovery' Gets September Premiere Date On CBS & CBS All Access, Season 1 Split In Two

Slashdot -

Nellie Andreeva, writing for Deadline: Star Trek: Discovery will debut Sunday, September 24, with a special broadcast premiere on the CBS TV network airing 8:30-9:30 PM. The first as well as the second episode of the sci-fi series will be available on-demand on CBS All Access immediately following the broadcast premiere, with subsequent new episodes released on All Access each Sunday. Originally slated for a January 2017 premiere, Star Trek: Discovery's debut was first pushed to May and then to fall 2017. At CBS' upfront presentation, the company announced that Star Trek: Discovery's first-season order had been increased from 13 to 15 episodes. The expanded season now will be split into two. The first eight episodes will run Sundays from September 24 through November 5. The season then will resume with the second chapter in January 2018. The break also will allow the show more time for postproduction on latter episodes.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

'The Unwillingness To Foresee The Future'

Slashdot -

An anonymous reader shares a few excerpts from Ben Thompson's analysis: Back in 2006, when the iPhone was a mere rumor, Palm CEO Ed Colligan was asked if he was worried: "We've learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone," he said. "PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They're not going to just walk in." What if Steve Jobs' company did bring an iPod phone to market? Well, it would probably use WiFi technology and could be distributed through the Apple stores and not the carriers like Verizon or Cingular, Colligan theorized." I was reminded of this quote after Amazon announced an agreement to buy Whole Foods for $13.7 billion; after all, it was only two years ago that Whole Foods founder and CEO John Mackey predicted that groceries would be Amazon's Waterloo. And while Colligan's prediction was far worse -- Apple simply left Palm in the dust, unable to compete -- it is Mackey who has to call Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, the Napoleon of this little morality play, boss. The similarities go deeper, though: both Colligan and Mackey made the same analytical mistakes: they mis-understood their opponents' goals, strategies, and tactics.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Offensive Trademarks Must Be Allowed, Rules Supreme Court

Slashdot -

In a ruling that could have broad impact on how the First Amendment is applied in other trademark cases in future, the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday threw out a federal prohibition on disparaging trademarks as a constitutional violation in a ruling involving a band called The Slants. From a report: The opinion in Matal v. Tam means that Simon Tam, lead singer of an Asian-American rock band called "The Slants," will be able to trademark the name of his band. It's also relevant for a high-profile case involving the Washington Redskins, who were involved in litigation and at risk of being stripped of their trademark. The court unanimously held that a law on the books holding that a trademark can't "disparage... or bring... into contemp[t] or disrepute" any "persons, living or dead," violates the First Amendment. Tam headed to federal court years ago after he was unable to obtain a trademark. In 2015, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled in Tam's favor, finding that the so-called "disparagement clause" of trademark law was unconstitutional.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

[$] User-space access to WMI functions

LWN Headlines -

Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) is a vaguely defined mechanism for the control of platform-specific devices; laptop functions like special buttons, LEDs, and the backlight are often controlled through WMI interfaces. On Linux, access to WMI functions is restricted to the kernel, while Windows allows user space to use them as well. A recent proposal to make WMI functions available to user space in Linux as well spawned a slow-moving conversation that turned on a couple of interesting questions — only one of which was anticipated in the proposal itself.

Intel Quietly Discontinues Galileo, Joule, and Edison Development Boards

Slashdot -

Intel is discontinuing its Galileo, Joule, and Edison lineups of development boards. The chip-maker quietly made the announcement last week. From company's announcement: Intel Corporation will discontinue manufacturing and selling all skus of the Intel Galileo development board. Shipment of all Intel Galileo product skus ordered before the last order date will continue to be available from Intel until December 16, 2017. [...] Intel will discontinue manufacturing and selling all skus of the Intel Joule Compute Modules and Developer Kits (known as Intel 500 Series compute modules in People's Republic of China). Shipment of all Intel Joule products skus ordered before the last order date will continue to be available from Intel until December 16, 2017. Last time orders (LTO) for any Intel Joule products must be placed with Intel by September 16, 2017. [...] Intel will discontinue manufacturing and selling all skus of the Intel Edison compute modules and developer kits. Shipment of all Intel Edison product skus ordered before the last order date will continue to be available from Intel until December 16, 2017. Last time orders (LTO) for any Intel Edison products must be placed with Intel by September 16, 2017. All orders placed with Intel for Intel Edison products are non-cancelable and non-returnable after September 16, 2017. The company hasn't shared any explanation for why it is discontinuing the aforementioned development boards. Intel launched the Galileo, an Arduino-compatible mini computer in 2013, the Edison in 2014, and the Joule last year. The company touted the Joule as its "most powerful dev kit." You can find the announcement posts here.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Debian Edu / Skolelinux Stretch released

LWN Headlines -

Debian Edu, also known as Skolelinux, is a Debian derivative aimed at making it easy to administrate a computer lab or a whole school network. Version 9 "Stretch" has been released. "Would you like to install servers, workstations and laptops which will then work together? Do you want the stability of Debian with network services already preconfigured? Do you wish to have a web-based tool to manage systems and several hundred or even more user accounts? Have you asked yourself if and how older computers could be used? Then Debian Edu is for you."

Using Texts as Lures, Government Spyware Targets Mexican Journalists and Their Families

Slashdot -

Mexico's most prominent human rights lawyers, journalists and anti-corruption activists have been targeted by advanced spyware sold to the Mexican government on the condition that it be used only to investigate criminals and terrorists, reports the New York Times. From the report: The targets include lawyers looking into the mass disappearance of 43 students (alternative source), a highly respected academic who helped write anti-corruption legislation, two of Mexico's most influential journalists and an American representing victims of sexual abuse by the police. The spying even swept up family members, including a teenage boy. Since 2011, at least three Mexican federal agencies have purchased about $80 million worth of spyware created by an Israeli cyberarms manufacturer. The software, known as Pegasus, infiltrates smartphones to monitor every detail of a person's cellular life -- calls, texts, email, contacts and calendars. It can even use the microphone and camera on phones for surveillance, turning a target's smartphone into a personal bug.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Security updates for Monday

LWN Headlines -

Security updates have been issued by Arch Linux (chromium, firefox, and thunderbird), Debian (exim4, expat, firefox-esr, glibc, gnutls28, irssi, jython, and kernel), Fedora (dolphin-emu, firefox, golang, mariadb, perl-File-Path, redis, and yara), Mageia (firefox, kodi, and thunderbird), openSUSE (chromium and lynis), and SUSE (mercurial).

Microsoft, Accenture Team Up On Blockchain-based Digital ID Network

Slashdot -

Accenture and Microsoft are teaming up to build a digital ID network using blockchain technology, as part of a United Nations-supported project to provide legal identification to 1.1 billion people worldwide with no official documents. From a report: The companies unveiled a prototype of the network on Monday at the UN headquarters in New York during the second summit of ID2020, a public-private consortium promoting the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goal of providing legal identity for everyone on the planet. The project aims to help individuals such as refugees prove who they are in order to gain access to basic services such as education and healthcare. Blockchain, first developed as a public ledger of all transactions in the digital currency bitcoin, is increasingly being used to securely track data in other fields.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Kernel prepatch 4.12-rc6

LWN Headlines -

The 4.12-rc6 kernel prepatch is out for testing. "The good news is that rc6 is smaller than rc5 was, and I think we're back on track and rc5 really was big just due to random timing. We'll see. Next weekend when I'm back home and do rc7, I'll see how I feel about things. I'm still hopeful that this would be a normal release cycle where rc7 is the last rc."

198 Million Americans Hit By 'Largest Ever' Voter Records Leak

Slashdot -

Political data gathered on more than 198 million US citizens was exposed this month after a marketing firm contracted by the Republican National Committee stored internal documents on a publicly accessible Amazon server, reports say. From a ZDNet article: It's believed to be the largest ever known exposure of voter information to date. The various databases containing 198 million records on American voters from all political parties were found stored on an open Amazon S3 storage server owned by a Republican data analytics firm, Deep Root Analytics. UpGuard cyber risk analyst Chris Vickery, who found the exposed server, verified the data. Through his responsible disclosure, the server was secured late last week, and prior to publication. This leak shines a spotlight on the Republicans' multi-million dollar effort to better target potential voters by utilizing big data. The move largely a response to the successes of the Barack Obama campaign in 2008, thought to have been the first data-driven campaign. Further reading: Republican Data-Mining Firm Exposed Personal Information for Virtually Every American Voter - The Intercept; The RNC Files: Inside the Largest US Voter Data Leak - Upguard; Data on 198M voters exposed by GOP contractor Data On 198M Voters Exposed By GOP Contractor - The Hill.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Amazon Plans Cuts to Shed Whole Foods' Pricey Image

Slashdot -

When Amazon completes its acquisition of Whole Foods Market, Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos will try to keep the grocer's reputation for premium fresh foods while cutting prices to shed its "Whole Paycheck" image. From a report: Amazon expects to reduce headcount and change inventory to lower prices and make Whole Foods competitive with Wal-Mart Stores and other big-box retailers, according to a person with knowledge of the company's grocery plans. That included potentially using technology to eliminate cashiers. Amazon, known for its competitive prices, is trying to attract more low- and middle-income shoppers with its grocery push. The Seattle-based company already offers discounted Amazon Prime memberships for people receiving government assistance and is part of a pilot program to deliver groceries to food-stamp recipients.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

As AI Explodes, Investors Pour Big Bucks Into Startups

Slashdot -

Investment in AI startups is on a tear as venture capitalists and corporate investors scramble to stake out a leadership position in what could be the driving trend in technology for decades to come. From a report: The financial interest in AI, machine learning and related technologies is hardly new. CB Insights has tracked some $18.4 billion invested in 2,541 AI-related startups since 2012. But the trend is only accelerating. In the latest MoneyTree report from PricewaterhouseCoopers and CB Insights, which showed otherwise mostly stagnant startup funding, AI and machine learning companies shined, reaching an eight-quarter high of $820 million invested in 90 companies. A flurry of significant investments in a number of AI-related companies this past week underscored the point. On Wednesday alone, for instance, AI-powered analytics software provider CognitiveScale raised a $15 million round, voice AI startup Snips raised $13 million and, to top it off, machine learning consultancy Element AI got an unusually large $102 million early-stage investment just eight months after the company was launched. Then on Thursday and Friday, two other AI-powered companies, Conviva and Codota, announced fundings too.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

E-Commerce's Biggest Obstacle May Be Slow Postal Services

Slashdot -

Long-time Slashdot reader rudy_wayne writes: J.C. Penney CEO Marvin Ellison recently said that e-commerce companies' biggest challenge is that they are all expanding their businesses and pushing for faster delivery, but UPS, Fedex and especially the United States Postal Service aren't able to keep up, at least not at same cost that exists today, because they're not increasing their delivery capacity at the same rate e-commerce is growing, He said this will cause a supply and demand issue "that's going to be apparent here pretty soon."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Representative Line: Highly Functional

The Daily WTF -

For a brief period of time, say, about 3–4 years ago, if you wanted to sound really smart, you’d bring up “functional programming”. Name-dropping LISP or even better, Haskell during an interview marked you as a cut above the hoi polloi. Even I, surly and too smart for this, fell into the trap of calling JavaScript “LISP with curly braces”, just because it had closures.

Still, functional programming features have percolated through other languages because they work. They’re another tool for the job, and like any tool, when used by the inexpert, someone might lose a finger. Or perhaps someone should lose a finger, if only as a warning to others.

For example, what if you wanted to execute a loop 100 times in JavaScript? You could use a crummy old for loop, but that’s not functional. The functional solution comes from an anonymous submitter:

Array.apply(null, {length: 99}).map(Number.call, Number).forEach(function (element, index) { // do some more crazy stuff });

This is actually an amazing abuse of JavaScript’s faculties, and I thought I saw the worst depredations one could visit on JavaScript while working with Angular code. When I first read this line, my initial reaction was, “oh, that’s not so bad.” Then I tried to trace through its logic. Then I realized, no, this is actually really bad. Not just extraneous arrays bad, but full abused of JavaScript bad. Like call Language Protective Services bad. This is easier to explain if you look at it backwards.

forEach applies a function to each element in the array, supplying the element and the index of that element.

Number.call invokes the Number function, used to convert things into numbers (shocking, I know), but it allows you to supply the this against which the function is executed. map takes a callback function, and supplies an array item for the currentValue, the index, and the whole array as parameters. map also allows you to specify what this is, for the callback itself- which they set to be Number- the function they’re calling.

So, remember, map expects a callback in the form f(currentValue, index, array). We’re supplying a function: call(thisValue, numberToConvert). So, the end result of map in this function is that we’re going to emit an array with each element equal to its own index, which makes the forEach look a bit silly.

Finally, at the front, we call Array.apply, which is mostly the same as Array.call, with a difference in how arguments get passed. This allows the developer to deftly avoid writing new Array(99), which would have the same result, but would look offensively object-oriented.

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